1.Congratulations on achieving such an amazing feat. Tell us a bit about yourself. Please also tell us your individual marks in each subject.
Thank You. So I’m Nidhi Lanka, from Pace Junior Science College, Powai. I’m currently studying in Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College, Mumbai. I secured 191 in CET 2016 with 45,49 and 96 in Physics, Chemistry and Biology respectively and a rank of 208.
2.So, when all of this is new and the rest of us are still busy figuring the head and tail of the subject, how did you tackle and master the syllabus?
Well, initially I was figuring out how to study as well! With the consistent tests I could gauge what worked for me and I incorporated those into my routine. This is roughly how my 2 years went – When a lesson was first being taught, I tried to absorb maximum in the class itself so that I didn’t have to do much at home. Then I solved MCQs on that topic, got my doubts cleared, gave a test on it and got those doubts cleared too. The chapters that were half-baked, I sat down and understood after all the portion of the 2 years was completed. And the last couple of months were almost completely devoted to paper solving and doubt clearing.
3.Did you have a different methodology of tackling the subjects? Any special notes that you prepared?
Well, we had Pace booklets for each chapter which were quite exhaustive in themselves. I also referred to Marvel for Physics and Target for Chemistry and Biology (I honestly didn’t use Target all that much). I also solved a couple of chapters from HC Verma for Physics though it’s not needed. I didn’t really make my own notes as that doesn’t work for me, but you need to devise your own strategies.
4.Do you have any special pointers for specific subjects? The do’s and don’ts of it?
Yes, each subject requires different kinds and levels of efforts as per your affinity to them.
In my opinion, Physics needs the most consistent study sessions with 40-60% attention to theory and practice respectively. Physics can’t be mastered overnight, you can only revise the formulae the previous night, but your fate in Physics is decided by your efforts in the past few months. The same can be extrapolated for Physical and Organic Chemistry.
Inorganic requires some basic concept clearing but most of it is factual and has to be learnt (especially the rections).
And of course, in Biology, I feel Zoology, especially the Human Physiology should have a rock-solid foundation as it overlaps with lots of MBBS topics. Botany is again quite factual, though it needs constant revision especially the metabolic cycles like Chemistry reactions.
Some subjects require a 110% while some can be managed with your 60%, so work hard but also work smart.
5.Was there any help that you acquired while exam preparation? Like any visual aids any professional guidance? Or those little tit bits that the professors tell us but none other than the toppers pay attention to? Please share with us.
There are various lecture videos and test series that are available though I didn’t make use of any. Getting doubts cleared, like legit, just owning that topic is something I would recommend. Students generally ask only the questions they get wrong but take a moment to analyze your paper and ask any question that raises even the slightest doubt, ones you may have guessed and gotten right. Apart from all your efforts throughout your course, the last month, like the last lap in the race, is the most crucial. Keep your motivation high and head clear and you should be fine.
6.How vital is the Question bank during exams? Does it come highly recommended or you advice thorough reading of the text and having confound knowledge of the subject?
Oh we had very regular test series almost on a weekly basis, so it would easily be 200+
7.How do you propose the students study and what kind of discipline should be followed during exam time?
YES. I still remember I had solved 2015’s CET paper just a day before the exam and a lot of the questions followed a similar pattern. Do make it a point to solve the last 5 year’s papers if possible. In the last month, solve papers till quick thinking, decision making and OMR filling come as second nature to you. Trust me, it matters a lot if you can’t decide which question to leave and which to solve or if your OMR sequence goes entirely wrong because of a single question.
8.So, do you have any parting thoughts? Or any special tricks and tacts for the students who would be reading this?
Well, stay true to yourself. Different toppers will give you different advice but find what works for you. And you can find what works for you by trying different studying techniques and testing it in the weekly exams. Apart from the academics, you need to have a strong mental headspace that’s ready to give it your all, all day, every day. You have to do enough to score in particular subjects whether you need to study 2 hours or 15 days for it. And very importantly, you have to keep your motivation levels high, as talent withers and hard work is inhibited if motivation levels decrease. Depression and anxiety are common ailments affecting us at such times but just know, that things will get better. Just take a deep breath and keep going no matter how tough the journey. After all, if it wouldn’t be tough, it wouldn’t be worth it, now would it?