Lets’s try to cover the basics of ideal preparation, especially for exams like NEET, one by one.
Mastering concepts completely: Begin by reading and understanding the entire topics/concepts based on your level of difficulty. There are chances that you may see new, fresh topics for the very first time. Don’t be surprised if that happens.
Divide the topics based on how strong or weak you think your foundation of them is. Prioritise the topics as per the difficulty levels. You can do this by either beginning with the topics with relatively higher level of difficulties and understanding and then moving to relatively easier topics that you are comfortable with or vice versa by beginning with the easier topics that will consume less time and then moving to the difficult topics that you have a hard time with.
Less time can be spent on topics you are comfortable with and are easier to understand. Focus on them to improve your chances of scoring. At the same time relatively difficult topics must be handled with more confidence and gusto so that this previously weak topics becomes a strong topic.
Be sure to cover all topics and not ignore any topic because of fear of not wanting to get confused or lack of trying. You don’t have to love the topic but you need to make an effort to like it by logically understanding it.
Definitions, Names and Examples are important: All biological organisms have scientific names and most have common names as well. Both are important from the exam point of view and need to be remembered. Similarly, definitions of terms and examples, whether general or specific should not be ignored.
If the main concept/theory is important, so will its exception, if it exists. Focus on them as well.
One of the student who secured a place in the merit list of NEET 2015 has this to say about Photosynthesis: “I am in awe of Photosynthesis. It might appear like a simple, single step reaction but in reality it is a complex interaction and regulation of several different pathways and interactions that it can easily confuse anyone. For this I would recommend that you carefully analyse and study the equations. Most pathways will have common reactions since they are interdependent on each other. Focus on them which will make it easy to connect the pathways. Also of importance are the enzymes and cofactors involved. Write down the different reactions on the same piece of paper. I can assure you that once you make a diagram of the different pathways on the same paper, you will be able to spot the common reactions which will surely help you remember better. Stay calm and don’t get nervous by big names.”
Past Year is the favourite: Probability of questions which have appeared in previous years of NEET Examinations appearing again this year’s Examination is always high. Focus on these questions. Mostly the arrangement of the question or its language is varied but the idea of the question will remain same.
Doubts arise and need to be solved: Having questions after reviewing new concepts or even easier concepts is a sign of you being human and learning effectively. It is good to have doubts and questions. But getting them solved/rectified as soon as possible is highly recommended and should be your highest priority. So whenever you have queries, no matter how trivial, just ask around with your teacher, mentor, peers, friends who have a better understanding of the topic. Not asking questions or not getting your doubts cleared will only build stress and anxiety, so avoid it. Try to eliminate the feeling of “I feel stupid since I do not understand such a simple concept, do not know the answer and hence will not ask for the fear of being ridiculed” when it comes to asking questions. You are not inferior if you do not understand something or cannot solve a problem. It’s only in your mind and you would rather ask the questions than not. Be confident, patient and resilient when it comes to doubts but get them clarified. We are all humans who have limitations/drawbacks and we do not know the answer to all the questions.
Do not always rely on Google to give you the right answer. Several times the answer is right in front of your eyes and you may not see it.
Meticulous, thorough, and systematic step-by-step planning as well as preparations are highly essential for achieving success in competitive, entrance examinations. Examinations by the different boards in India namely State Board Examinations, CICSE, CBSE, IB boards are simultaneously (sometimes consecutively) conducted leading to a lot of uncertainties, confusion and time crunch. The goal of effective planning is to get you thoroughly acquainted with the entrance examination while understanding and relying on your strengths and weaknesses in properly define timeframe. Try to look at it as an elaborate timetable defined to reduce your anxiety and stress associated and generated with the entrance exam. It is very essential to stick to this designed timeframe with sincerity and honesty and you need to keep time for leisure activities, small breaks, festivals and gatherings.
Effective Management: Time Management schedule needs to be practiced so that the entire syllabus can be covered in the most efficient manner and there remains sufficient time to revise the topics which have been covered already. Remember retaining what you learnt is very crucial.
Three hours atleast: Most chapters in Biology will require you to commit atleast 3 hours of your time per day (will be more for larger chapters with more concepts) for their completion.
Revision: Reviewing and revising the concepts which have been studied atleast once every now and then is very essential and effective so as to not forget any of the topics. This can also serve as a good brain racking challenge for you as it will test your memory and capacity to remember.
Every now and then take a break. Having ‘Time Out’ session is very essential. For every 3 hours of study try to take a 20-30 minutes break.
Follow your passions and interests. Do not ignore them.
Here are some quotes from one of the top rankers from NEET 2015 to get you motivated and inspired. When asked ‘How did you gain confidence?’ the response given by him was
“Visualization of concepts and theory is the key to gaining confidence. Whenever I had the time, I made videos of the theory, concepts and examples that I just read and then went through the recordings to check if it matched the text that I read. This helped me calm down while reducing my time to revise since all I had to do was watch the recordings again.”
Another student who was asked ‘What was the approach taken to develop interest in subjects?’ she responded by saying
“I mastered the basics of every subject. For Biology, I always related the theoretical knowledge to a practical example. Nature is the best teacher and there is so much diversity out there, that it is natural to be fascinated by it. Covering the basics actually helped me delve more deeper in the topic and somehow increased my interest and passion in it. The topics which I considered boring and annoying suddenly started becoming easy once I developed this approach.”
All of them agreed on the same answer when asked ‘How did you manage to balance NEET syllabus and the school board’s syllabus?’ They all said that
“NEET syllabus is very much like the School’s syllabus but much easier and filled with examples. It is so easy that you really don’t have to get very anxious about either. We know it is very tempting to study only at the very end thinking we will be able to manage and retain better but please DON’T CRAM ALL THE CONCEPTS AT THE VERY LAST MOMENT, JUST BEFORE THE EXAMINATION. Plan the entire day in such a way that the study material is spread at different times of the day. The most important thing is to study regularly and with sincerity from day one.”