Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A Guide to prepare for CBSE - UGC - NET / JRF Exam

How to crack the CBSE - UGC - NET / JRF Exam?
Tips for cracking CBSE - UGC - NET / JRF Exam...

A.      Am I eligible to write this blog?
I have prepared for UGC-NET/JRF for around three and half years without taking any risk and any coaching. During this journey of my dreams, I qualified NET (LS-Lectureship) for five times and NET (JRF) once with two complete failures (LS was also a failure for me as I was looking for JRF). When I received the news of my being qualifying the exam, at that time I was preparing for my last attempt (as per age constraints). I have neither taken any coaching nor done preparation in a dedicated way. I have played safe and prepared and qualified the exam while working in the industry and academics. You might be thinking as why have I qualified it so many times. The reason is that I was looking for JRF but I was failing each time and so…

NOTE: Whatever I am going to share here is all on the basis of my experiences. There can be n-ways for preparing for this exam. I am just sharing the way I prepared. Moreover, I belong to Computer Science background but I believe this guide is generic and applicable to all.

B.      Prerequisite for SUCCESS in UGC NET/JRF
There are two prerequisite for SUCCESS in UGC NET/JRF:

         1.       Complete Material
Before you start the preparation, just make sure you have complete material. The idea is very simple: If an army personnel has no weapons then what do you think, would he be able to fight a war? No, he can’t. Similarly if you don’t have complete material for all the subjects and all the papers then forget about succeeding in NET. One major reason for my all the failures is that I was not having complete material.

        2.       Consistent Efforts
Somebody has rightly said, “It’s very easy to start something but difficult to persist with that.” Consistent or persistent effort is required for success in UGC NET/JRF. Make a plan and study daily. Study daily, may be only for a few hours but don’t break the continuity. One more thing, if you get failures then don’t get disappointed, keep trying like me. IF you study for 3-4 days and then take a break OR you prepared and appeared for exam but failed and then you didn’t appear for next time and then appeared the next time THEN the probability of your SUCCESS is very small.

C.      Where to Start?
Start with the Paper-I. Yes prepare the first paper until you are confident of securing 30-40 (questions). Most of us take the first paper for granted (especially with Computer Science background) because it is. We think, it is easy and so we will study it later, after preparing the 2nd paper and then we never get sufficient time to prepare it properly. Why am I stressing that much on 1st paper? This is because every mark has its importance in the final merit for LS and JRF. Paper-I is easy to prepare and it can help you get into the final merit. As for as my case is concerned I used to score 28-32 (questions) in the paper-I except the final time when I scored 36 and qualified for JRF. Most of the time, I missed the JRF by 8-10 questions and with low score in 1st paper. So if you could score 30-35 questions in 1st paper, you have good probability to qualify for NET-LS and if you could score 36-45 questions in 1st paper, you have good probability to qualify for NET-JRF. Once done with the 1st paper, you can move towards the 2nd paper.

D.      Get into the Depth
First accept this thing as there is no short-cut for UGC NET/JRF. You have to study if you want to succeed. Now how to prepare for second & third papers? You have to study the complete books. Yes you have to study the complete books and need to have in depth understanding of all basic concepts. Fixed type of questions are not asked in the exam. Sometimes simple and sometimes in too much depth, this is how questions are asked in the NET exam. So take a good book for each subject and go through it with in depth. Repeat this process for all books. Otherwise it would reduce your probability of SUCCESS.

E.       Practice Numerical Problems
Once you have prepared the 1st paper and studied all concepts (books) in detail, the next step is identify the different types of numerical problems from different subjects and practice to solve them. You can look into the previous papers for identifying the questions. This is very important as you will definitely find numerical problems in the exam but you won’t find all of them in the books. So you need to practice numerical problems separately.

F.       Study Materials and MCQ Books
Once you have done the detailed study, next step is to study some materials and practice some MCQ books. You can look for study materials like ‘Made Easy’, ‘Brilliant’ (in Computer Science) etc. They don’t contain the complete material but are very good for quick revisions. Moreover it is better to practice different types of MCQ books also. By studying them we get an idea of type of questions that can be asked in the exam and they prepare our mind to learn to apply the concepts (learnt in the books) to problems/questions.
You might be thinking as why I am asking you to go through these materials when we have already studied the books in detail. This is because most of the time, books don’t contain complete materials and secondly study materials help us to quickly go through the concepts (especially for revision). And MCQ type material prepare our mind for the exam.

G.     Practice Previous NET/GATE Exam Papers
Collect previous 10 years NET and GATE solved papers for all the three papers and prepare them. They are easily available on the web. Sometimes few questions are repeated from previous papers, questions on the same patterns are asked or those questions tune our mind to solve problems.

H.     Prioritize Subjects
Prioritize the subjects according to number of questions asked in the exam and then prepare them in that order with more focus on high priority subjects. This idea of prioritization of subjects is also useful while we have limited time to revise the syllabus near exams.

I.        How to Attempt Papers?
You may be well prepared for the exam but if you have not planned to attempt the papers then you can get confused in the exam and can lose some valuable time. This generally leads to not getting enough time to solve all the questions and you might have to mark some questions blindly. Some points which need to be considered while attempting the papers are:

1.       Elimination Method
Suppose you don’t know the exact answer to a question in the paper, then what to do? This scenario will occur 100% surely. So, how to attempt such questions? Answer is Elimination Method: It is a general tendency in objective questions that its one or two answer options are completely absurd and can’t be the correct choices. So ask yourself, which are the options that are not possible at all and eliminate them from the answer choices. If we are able to eliminate one or two options from four that means we are left with three or two options only and Mathematically it means the probability of selecting the correct answer will increase from 25% (1/4) to 50% (1/2) or 33% (1/3).

2.       Easy First
Yes, as for as 1st paper is concerned, you should attempt those sections first which are quicker and easy. This builds up confidence level while attempting the paper. But if you are stuck with difficult section or difficult section takes more time then you come under pressure and in a hurry you could make some mistakes. So it’s better to attempt sections like ‘Information and Communication Technology’ first and questions like data analysis in the end.

3.       Plan – How to Attempt?
Make a strategy at home about attempting the paper. If you are well prepared, and if you have chances of qualifying NET exam, then every minute will be valuable to you and you will not have a single minute free in first two papers. So in order to avoid any kind of confusion and wastage of time during exam time, you need to make a strategy for yourself, right in advance and this strategy would be as per your expertise and comfortability with different subjects.

4.       Circling at the End
Don’t start circling every question as you solve, it can consume a lot of time. You can mark ovals either 15 minutes before the end of exam or page by page, i.e., solve questions on one page and mark them before proceeding to next page. But don’t mark them in the last because it is possible that you might not get time to mark questions in end.

J.        Should we take Coaching?
Yes, if you can then you should take. When you take coaching two things happen –
a) You are able to devote time which otherwise you won’t be able to devote.
b) It helps in revising the concepts in depth.
c) You get good study material.
I am not saying everybody should take coaching, one can skip under following situations- If you have studied the books/concepts thoroughly during your masters, you could devote sufficient time for the preparations and you have sufficient materials.

K.      Mantra for Motivation

1.       We have control only on Actions
Just remember this shloka from The Geeta-

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥
You have the right to work only but never to its fruits.
Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.

You have control only on preparing or not preparing but no control over qaulifying the exam. So don’t worry about the results rather just keep doing what you can do.

2.       True Meaning of Success
‘Success is Counted Sweetest’ by Emily Diskinson, a beautiful English poetry, highlights the importance of failure. Only those people can understand the true meaning of SUCCESS who have been failed. So point is don’t worry from failures, they are the stepping stones to the success.

3.       Buddha Shared What He Learned
Great people shared what they experienced in life. Whatever Buddha said, he personally experienced all those things in his life. Just think, if he had not faced all the hardships in his life then would had he become so great. The answer is no. So point is, don’t worry from hard time/failures, these are only preparing you for the purpose of your life. Just face the situation and keep doing your best.

L.       Dedication
You need to spare dedicated time for preparation. If you don’t have dedication then your chances are very less to qualify the exam.

M.    Guide for Currently Studying Students
Students who are currently doing their masters must do in depth study of the books in their syllabus, keep preparing notes from different books and keep this thing in mind that they have to appear in the NET exam. I strongly believe that this is the first and the last time when you will get full six months to study each subject. So friends don’t waste this time and go through each subject in detail and keep preparing notes. Truly speaking, I studied subjects in detail only during my masters and after that I couldn’t get time to even revise those concepts. So this is the best time, just exploit it and later you don’t have to put much efforts and it is possible that you could qualify it during your masters.

N.     Don’t make these Mistakes
Don’t make any of these mistakes otherwise they will reduce your probability to qualify the exam.

1.       Notes
Prepare notes, YES prepare complete detailed notes. I never prepared notes before qualifying for JRF and this was one of the strong reasons (My Bigest mistake) that it took several years for me to qualify for it. Why to prepare notes? Look it takes a long time to go through a book and study the relevant contents but very small time to go through the notes and this factor becomes very big when number of subjects are 20-30. Notes occupy and takes less space also. You can quickly revise them easily during exam time but difficult to pick every book and go through that. I believe you understand the meaning of notes better than me as I prepared and used notes only once (during PhD course work).

2.       Material
As I pointed out earlier, if you don’t have complete material for NET exams then it’s better that you just drop the idea of preparation. Since without complete material, your probability to qualify the exam is very less. So first collect proper material, i.e., Books, MCQ questions, Previous Years papers and Notes etc., and then start the preparation. This was another mistake that I committed during my preparation.

3.       Dedicated Time
Another mistake that I made is that I never prepared for NET in a dedicated way. I prepared in the left-over time from my job and at weekends. Actually I didn’t want to take the risk so kept preparing with job. But if possible for you then take complete time and do preparation in a dedicated way.

4.       Consistent Efforts
Yes, this is one of the most important things for qualifying the exam. I can proudly say that this one is not my mistake rather this is my strength and this is one of the factor that helped me to reach my goal. You have to take time to prepare for the exam daily otherwise it would reduce the probability of your selection. For more on this point, you can go through 33rd Chapter – “It’s Difficult to Persist” from my book “My Experience with TRUE LOVE…” from following link-

O.     How to get Motivation?
When you do something there is some probability that you would fail in that task (or quit even before passing/failing). So it’s necessary to face this failure and collect your energy and start the preparation again. There are many things that could help us and motivate us but I will tell you only two things-

1.       Meditate
Yes Meditate, this will help you to face the failures, will increase the efficiency of your mind, help you face stress etc. You can just search for it on Google. Yes this was another positive factor in the journey of my dreams and will always be…

2.       Positive Energy
Don’t associate anything negative to your preparation like a) Associate a positive purpose to qualify the exam, e.g., don’t think of qualifying this exam to beat others or make others feel low. Do it for yourself for your Success and like that. If you associate positivity with your actions then nature comes to help you at every step. This was another important positive point that helped me to qualify JRF.

P.      Books for Computer Science
Some good books for Computer Science are: (I don’t remember exact names so wear with it)
1.       Operating System: Galvin
2.       DBMS – Navathe, Date
3.       Data Structures – Samiran Chatopadhya, R.S. Salaria
4.       C – R.S. Salaria,  Bala Guruswamy
5.       Networking – Behroz Ferozon
6.       TOC – Peter Linz, Ullman
7.       Software Engineering – Aggarwal
8.       Discrete Mathematics: A Text Book of Discrete Mathematics by S. Sarkar (perhaps Swapan Swaroop Sarkar) This is very good.
9.       Fuzzy Logic: SN Deepa and SN Sivanandan

P.S. (Miscellaneous Topics as per the suggestions or questions)

Q.      What kept me motivated inspite of so many failures?
I don't know the exact answer but yes I believe perhaps two things kept me motivated inspite of failures, strong passion to realise my dream and spiritual energy. Yes, it's true that some nights I couldn't sleep because of overthinking about my dreams. Moreover, I am doing meditation since Feb/March 2010 daily and also used to read spiritual and religious books so that might have helped me to face the failures and keep moving. (One of my student asked this question so I thought of adding it to the blog).

In short, I want to say that “First collect complete material and then put consistent effort by prioritizing the subjects. Moreover start 2 & 3 papers only when you are sure to solve 35+ questions in the 1st paper".

NOTE: You can also share your experiences in the comments or can suggest any improvements.

“In My Experience There is only One Motivation and that is DESIRE”- Jane Smiley.



Dedicated to - My Parents...☺