How I studied for the IIT-JEE

(I had written this as an answer to a question someone asked me to answer on Quora. I am a bit surprised by the amount of popularity and the kinds of reactions it garnered.)

I managed to get a rank of 14 in JEE (1988) in a very unconventional way.

I will first give a conventional answer about how I studied (or rather did not study), and in the latter part of the answer, I will speculate on why I think I did well.

The things I did NOT do:

  • No classes: I did not join any JEE coaching classes – for the simple reason that I lived in Nashik, and at that time, there were no JEE classes in Nashik. In fact, few people had even heard of JEE or IITs. (I did join coaching classes for 11th/12th board studies, and my performance in board exams is directly attributable to those classes. (Thank you Gadgil and Vanzari Sir.))
  • No skipping college: I attended all the lectures and all the labs and my classes in my 11th/12th.
  • No other exams: I did not appear for any entrance exams other than my 12th std board exams, and JEE.
  • No losing sleep: I used to sleep for 8 hours every day.
  • No sacrificing 12th std: I was not really expecting to clear JEE, so JEE studies were a second preference, and I studied hard for 12th std (HSC, Maharashtra) exams. I did well (2nd in Pune board merit list).
  • No Resnick and Halliday / Feynman / Irodov: I did have my own copies of the two volumes of Resnick and Halliday, but to this day, I have not read more than one page. I hadn’t even heard of Irodov or Feynman.
  • No marathon/heroic study sessions: I never studied for more than 3 hours per day (except in the last month). In the last month, I did study about 8 to 12 hours per day.
  • No JEE preparation/classes in school: I hadn’t even heard of IIT or JEE until my 10th std, so there was no question of doing any IIT-related preparation in 5th/6th/7th as kids seem to be doing these days. I started in 11th.
  • No practice exams: I did not appear for any mock tests.
  • No study buddies: As I mentioned above, I did not know anybody else in my city who was appearing for the JEE seriously. So, I did not study with someone else.

What I actually did:

  • Agrawal Correspondence Course: In those days, Agrawal classes of Bombay (which no longer exists, I believe) had a correspondence course. I signed up for that. I used to get one packet of study material, and practice questions every month. I would go through the study material, and then solve all the practice questions (by myself). Agrawal would also have practice tests, and mock exams, and other such things. I never did any of those. If you sent them your answers to their practice questions, they would send back corrected copies. I never did any of that either.
  • Board exams vs JEE: For most of my 11th std., I attended all my classes, labs, and the (non-JEE) coaching classes, and did some studies, but not a lot. I started seriously studying for JEE around the end of 11th std. From then on, for most of 12th std, I did only JEE studies, and did not bother with college studies (except attending all lectures and labs and coaching classes). About 2-3 months before the 12th board exams, I stopped JEE studies entirely, switched to studying only for the board exams. After the board exams, I had about 1 month of studying for the JEE.
  • Regular Studying – 3 hours per day: Starting from (roughly) the second half of 11th std, I studied 3 hours everyday. Regularly. This included JEE studies as well as college studies. I would start studying at 10pm, after a good dinner, and watching about an hour of TV with my family. I would study until 1am. Sometimes I would go on till 2am if the problem set I was working on had particularly difficult problems. In any case, I would sleep until 9-9:30am in the morning, and then go off to attend college (10:30 onwards), and labs (afternoons). I did not do any studying other than during those 3 hours (except in the last month before my board exams and the month before JEE, when I did not have to attend college, so I would study the whole day, roughly 5-6 hours during the day, and 3-4 hours at night.)
  • Doing everything else: I attended college during the day. In the evenings (starting around 6/7pm) I would go for a long walk. I had various friends and relatives who stayed 3-5km from home, an I would walk to their house, spend an hour with them, and walk back home. In case of friends, I would either goof off with them, or if close to college/board exams, I would help them with problems in their studies. In case of relatives, I would play with my cousins (who were babies at that time). After coming back home, I would watch TV (we had just 2 channels at that time) until 10pm.

Was it a fluke?

Since I never appeared for any mock tests, I had no idea how I would do in JEE. Only 1 guy from Nashik had made it into IIT 2 years before I did, with a rank of around 200, and he had been a state topper in the board exams. I did not believe that I was as smart as he was, so I would have been very happy if I had gotten a rank between 1000 and 1500. But, I believed that there was a very good chance that I would not get in at all.

So, I was flabbergasted when I got a rank of 14. Agrawal classes had invited the top-100 rank-holders for a 3 day celebratory trip to Bombay, and when I met and talked to the others, I quickly realized that I had not done any of the things that the others had done to crack the JEE. This feeling got even more pronounced in my first few days in IIT-Bombay. A lot of my classmates were students from Ruparel college, who used to talk about Feynman’s lectures in physics, and the difficult problems from Irodov, and some particularly arcane paradoxes involving angular momentum, and other such things. In general, they had far, far more exposure than I did, and I managed to get myself a massive inferiority complex, and would often wonder whether my JEE rank had been a mistake or fluke of some sort.

I had an unhappy couple of months until the first mid-semester exams, when I out-scored most of them and it slowly began to dawn on me that in spite of my lack of exposure to Messrs. Resnick, Halliday, Irodov, and Feynman, my JEE rank was not a fluke.

So, what was my secret?

I don’t know. But over the course of my 4 years in IIT, I realized one thing: my basics in Physics and Maths were extremely clear. (The same couldn’t be said for Chemistry, but that is another story.)

I now believe that my success was probably due to some of the books (related to Maths, Physics, and general Problem-solving) that I read (just for fun) between the ages of 5 and 15. (A list of the books is included at the end of this answer)

When I was 6, my aunt (who lived in the US) gifted two books of brain teasers (Master Mind Brain Teasers, and Master Mind Pencil Puzzles – both by Joseph and Lenore Scott) to my sister (who was 4 years older). Many of the problems were too complicated for me, but I would simply read the question, and then read the answer. I do think it helped me develop very good problem solving skills (in spite of the fact that I did not actually solve most of the problems myself). Over the next 3-4 years, I would periodically return to those books and re-read them. (Thank you, Krishna Rajadhyaksha)

When I was 9, my school gave me: Figuring the Joy of Numbers (by Shakuntala Devi). This got me started on a life-long love of numbers and maths. (Thank you, Mrs. Roy.)

When I was 11, I got books on Physics and Maths by Ya. Perelman: Algebra Can Be Fun, Figures for Fun, Physics for Fun and Entertainment, Parts 1 and 2. (I can’t find a link to these exact books on Amazon, but I believe this and this are newer editions of the same books). These books I continued to read on-and-off for the next 3-4 years.

Important point to note: these books are not text books, and were not supposed to be “study” books, and were not prescribed by any teacher or class. All of them are ‘fun’ books that I read just out of interest. In fact, my parents would (mildly) complain that I never studied. But it is because of these books that I have very strong fundamentals in Physics and Mathematics (based on intuition, and not just rules and formulas), and good problem solving skills.

I do believe that these books helped build the foundation on which I was able to crack the JEE with much less effort than it takes most other people.

Random tidbits:

  • The only reason I had even heard of IIT and JEE was that I had a classmate in school who had moved to Nashik from Bombay, and he had a brother who was an IITian. He told me that I should appear for the JEE. (Thank you Suyog Moogi). He himself did not appear for the JEE (in spite of the fact that he would get roughly the same marks as I did in school).
  • As you can see from the “So, what was my secret” section above, I did not have a strong foundation in Chemistry. This ensured that I hated studying for Chemistry for JEE, and I continued to hate it after I joined IIT. At the end of my 1st year, on the day of my Chemistry test, I literally burned my Chemistry textbooks because I knew that I would not have to study Chemistry again in my life. A note to those who are going to use this as an excuse to stop studying Chemistry: The fact that I hated Chemistry meant that I had to spend more time studying it, not less. In fact, that is the reason I hated it.
  • These days I routinely give copies of the 4 Perelman books as gifts to any school kids of my friends/family if they show an interest in Science/Maths. Sadly, many of them never read the books 🙁 but I hope there are at least one or two who are inspired by them the way I was.
  • After all the 12th std exams were over, I promised myself that I would never again give this much importance to academics (or indeed my career) again. I decided that I would take an active interest in things other than studies/work. I have largely kept that promise, and as a result, my career graph has not been as impressive as some people expect (based on my JEE rank – e.g. went to a top-10 Univ in the US, not top-5; did not become a fellow/CXO in a large company; and now struggling with a startup that I *want* to do instead of a lucrative job that I *should* be doing; etc), but I have no regrets. I have done other things that I am proud of.
  • It is important to remember that not cracking the JEE does not mean that you’re not smart enough, or that you’re not going to be successful in your career. Students will appear for JEE, or have appeared and failed, and especially parents of such students – do not give up hope just because of bad JEE scores. I have seen enough people who barely managed to get into tier 2 or even tier 3 colleges, and even there, barely managed to pass their exams, but are now running extremely successful companies in which they hire IITians and later fire (some of) them for being too lazy. I have also seen people who are clearly not as smart as some of the other people around them, but when you look at their career over a period of 10+ years, you see them outperforming the others simply through hard work. Do not make the mistake of underestimating someone (especially yourself) due to lack of academic success.

(Check out some of the comments on this answer, and other related discussion on Quora.)

88 thoughts on “How I studied for the IIT-JEE”

  1. I have read this on Quora and thats how I followed you on the same. The suprising thing is that I have seen ‘Algrbra is Fun’ book in my home, but I didnt go furhter than 10 pages.

    MS

  2. sir,

    my daughter is studying in 11 th science and joined iit coaching .could you please advise as how to prepare for iit entrance

    1. Sorry. I did the JEE 25+ years ago. I haven’t kept up with how the test and the process has changed over the years, so don’t have any specific suggestions.

  3. Now i am in 12th so hw shuld i prepare fr iit plz can u give some suggestions sir

    1. @Shefali, Whatever I could think of, I have already written in the post above. If you have any specific questions that are not covered above, then you can ask them here.

  4. I am in 11th standard and yet not joined school classes . Please , give me some suggestions either to join school classes or to remain non attending to crack iit jee. I have joined a cocaching class for iit but I am really worried about my basics and concepts. Please , give me some suggestions .

    1. @preeyadarshee, Whatever I could think of, I have already written in the post above. If you have any specific questions that are not covered above, then you can ask them here.

      1. Hello
        You give an extraordinary information I really like it I have some question for you
        My son is in class 5 what can I do for clear his concept in science and maths
        2 solve school book are enough For clear concepts in science or maths
        3 how many maths problem solve daily for make concept clear

        1. @Prachi, In my experience, school books are not really enough to clear concepts (and even if the textbooks that are well written, it is difficult to get the kids to read them – because that becomes “studying” and they don’t like that). Hence, I prefer suggesting books like Ya. Perelman’s or Shakuntala Devi’s books. These days, Khan Academy videos another excellent source of material for concept clarification.

  5. Navin, Very nicely put! You are being very modest, you are one of a kind.
    That said, inspiration and curiosity are the keys, isnt it? I am so glad you point out that getting into IIT (or any good college) is by no means any measure of success. It just makes it easy.

    The real keys to success are inspiration and curiosity.
    Inspiration comes through great teachers who point you in a direction and your curiosity and imagination take care of the rest.

    1. @Murali, inspiration and curiosity are definitely the key. And great teachers can work wonders. But in India, great teachers are not easy to come by. In the absence of that, the books that I mentioned in the post really help towards building the inspiration and curiosity. And TV series like Cosmos. And now with the internet, kids have many more avenues.

  6. Hello sir,i have read your put,you are amazing.I am from a poor family In a village.I came to know about IIT in class 11,in A.P board exam in class 10 I got 9.2 grading out of 10 points,in class 11 I have wasted my time on changing from one college to another college,I have got 410 out of 470, now I am in class 12 I didn’t yet started preparation for IIT jee,I have only one year for the preparation to the exam in 2015,I need to crack IIT for my family basis,can you give me some suggestions.

  7. Sir I am a father of 8th class son. I am a Jr.E.engineer in Railways. I have never feared in my career. But as of my son is studying now, I am afraid of his career. But after I gone thru ur article, ure amazing on part of cracking iit jee. I would like to know as a father, how can I guide my son from here itself to become iitian. Your valuable suggestion can change my thought to guide my son. Plz.

    1. @Bhushan, I would suggest that you don’t guide your sun to “become an IITian”. Guide him towards finding out what he’s really good at – is it maths/science, or writing, or art, or history, or something else – and then taking a passionate interest in that subject/activity, and using the internet, and great books (like I did), and to work hard at becoming good at that.

      By doing this, he might or might not get into IIT (nobody, and no method/process can guarantee this), but I am sure that if he does it sincerely and intelligently, his career will be a great one.

      1. i am sure u will be a great parent 🙂
        im in 12, i’ll be giving jee this year and i’m so unprepared. after topping my class 10 boards it was Decided that i was to get into iit. but for some reason the marks kept falling. i tried really hard to get back to where i was in school for 2 years but for some reason i’m still only say 40 percent prepared for jee. its so difficult to accept all this :'(
        but thing is it was never MY dream. my parents wanted me to do whatever i wanted but deep down this was it and like always i wanted to show them that they have the coolest kid ever but its such a fail. also the only reason im doing this is cuz though i hate it, academics is the only this i have ever been good at.

        anyway, thank you for reading through my very depressing rant and thank youfor helping those who still have time. set out to be 🙂

        1. @ramyani, read @Kanakraj’s story in the comments below. Just because you haven’t lived up to some specific expectations of society, don’t give up. It is never to late to find something that you’re really good at *and* you love to do. Miguel de Cervantes at the age of 58 was a failed writer, disabled (couldn’t use one hand), been to prison 2 times for embezzlement, and at that age wrote Don Quixote – which is considered one of the finest novels of all times – which brought him fame and success.

  8. Very nice your cracking the JEE. For my daughter now going to be studing 11th/12th where could I get the above said books. Thanks and regards.

    1. Search on flipkart and amazon.in : all of them are available. One of them has a cheap Indian edition. The others are a bit expensive 🙁

  9. You are pass out in 1998 and things now have totally changed.Also figure out no. Of candidates and full data to compare your time with ours and then speak

  10. Hey, the competition in olden times was “so so” nowadays a student starting from 7th class prepares for JEE . And also the toughness and pressure, iit JEE appearing candidates have to cope is different thing as compared to olden times. Nowadays even a kid too, starts learning calculus, higher algebra and higher physics to start his/ her s jee prep. Talking about olden times for example 1988 is a altogether different thing and no so ever co- related with the modern JEE Advanced exam. Well it is only a dilemma about the author about how he cracked to AIR 14 or whatever. Congrats Kidos, for cracking JEE in no efforts. Nicely presented post. That was entirely I think LUCK only LUCK. Stay updated about today s patterns.

    1. Absaloooootely..
      NAVIN is d worlds most polite man….
      He is 1 of d species of Edison n Einstein…
      Its a bit 2 read bt 2days iitaspirants he noting 2 do wit it.
      Except learning 13 hrs a day…

  11. Dear sir,
    You have mentioned above that you studied 3hrs a day. So,i would like to ask u how time u have spent particularly on mathematics out of those 3hrs.

    1. @Saisrikar, I did not specifically devote time to any one subject. On a given day, I would take one subject, and just study that for the whole 3 hours. Basically, no context switching – so that entire 3 hours was very focused. Repeat this every day without any specific pattern.

  12. I thought I add a bit here. Comment readers would find the last paragraph more helpful if short on time.

    To digress a bit, Navin sir, I was an avid follower of your articles two years back in Quora(don’t check anymore) since being CS student it was always relevant whatever you wrote. Also, the collection you put together of Ghalib’s work is fantastic for a beginner like me who doesn’t know Hindi.

    Russians have very good math and science basics(An exemplar that comes to mind is the Russian mathematician, another Perelman(Grigori Perelman full name googled it) who single handedly solved one of the Clay Mathematical Institute’s seven Millenium problems(again googled it – it is Poincare conjecture). There might be many reasons but one of them is that since the teachers back there realized that teaching in person was difficult due to geographical span of Rossiya(I like this better than Russia), they came out with very good books for high school students. (See this link under maths section for more good books on maths and see other subjects too)

    In this introduction of The Method of Coordinates – one such books, I M Gelfand writes:

    These books were quite popular and hundreds of
    thousands ofeach were sold. Probably the reason for
    their success was that they were useful for independ­
    ent study, having been intended to reach students
    who lived in remote places of the Soviet Union
    where there were often very few teachers in mathe­
    matics.
    I would like to tell you a little bit about the Mathe­
    matical School by Correspondence. The Soviet
    Union, you realize, is a large country and there are
    simply not enough teachers throughout the country
    who can show aIl the students how wonderful, how
    simple and how beautiful the subject of mathematics
    is. The fact is that everywhere, in every country and
    in every part of a country there are students interested
    in mathematics. Realizing this, we organized the
    School by Correspondence so that students from 12
    to 17 years of age from any place could study. Since
    the number of students we could take in had to be
    restricted to about 1000, we chose to enrol those
    who lived outside of such big cites as Moscow,
    Leningrad and Kiev and who inhabited small cities
    and villages in remote areas. The books were written
    for them. They, in turn, read them, did the problems
    and sent us their solutions. We never graded their
    work — it was forbidden by our rules. If anyone was
    unable to solve a problem then sorne personal help
    was given so that the student could complete the
    work.
    Of course, it was not our intention that aIl these
    students who studied from these books or even
    completed the School should choose mathematics as
    their future career. Nevertheless, no matter what they
    would later choose, the results of this training re­
    mained with them. For many, this had been their first
    experience in being able to do something on their own
    — completely independently.

    The last paragraph is exactly the thing that produces excellence no matter what, for, once the curiosity is sparked it in a fun way it can never be satiated.

    Though India is very small when compared to Russia, because of population problems and lack of available inspiring teachers, the Indian Govt should heavy subsidize these books and distribute them freely.

    In my high school, I had very good language teachers who have helped develop good literary sense in those of us who listened to them intently in class and all those years I thought maths was such a waste and difficult subject to learn. But it was in Comp Sc Engineering in a okay-type ‘autonomous’ tier 2 college , we had a fantastic Discrete Maths professor(though he had disdain for Indian education, he never blamed the students for their ignorance and appreciation of basic mathematical concepts) who opened my eyes to the Mathematical aesthetics and understanding in 2nd year.

    I still remember the time I cried in 2nd year Engg, when I understood what the concept of matrix is all about(see this if interested ) after having been drilled to remember the matrix formula right from class 9th or 10th(don’t remember) and to use it to applied physics too. So even this day though I have more than 85% marks (10th ICSE,12th State board and engg) and having graduated from engg, I feel uncomfortable and insecure when I question myself if I have really learnt science from 9th std conceptually. Now, whenever time permits I try reading those books again with the fresh and critical eyes our Discrete Maths prof taught us. Hopefully, my plan of leaving CS all together for Indian civil services(Quizzing and general knowledge has always been my passion) will ‘silence those lambs’ in me if it turns out well.

    I always wondered why rich people(and to a certain extent people in urban areas) get more rich or better, it is because of the knowledge they pick up in their ladder to the top or the money or network that buys them knowledge(in Navin sir case it was his aunt from USA for his maths, in my case the insane amount of money my parents splurged on me for my ICSE education (although unintentionally,they never knew the difference between ICSE and State board when I joined that school in 6th, they wanted their son to study in a residential school) above their means for my literature love) .

    For the poor and their children esp in developing countries like India(double whammy if in remote places and in far away villages), only god can help these people.

    PS : To add, this is ethically questionable, but considering the expense of knowledge(these books) and the purchasing power of Indians, I suggest anyone wanting to read those books can check this site (again a Russian initiative) where some of the books in the list I mentioned above and also some mentioned in these site are available in pdf format. By all means, hard copy is always better for students(recent studies are also in the same direction), nevertheless these pdf can help too if only in the short term.See this link under maths section at the last in appendix(I think) for more good books on maths and other subjects too(repeating for the tldr readers).Also see thissite for interesting math articles.

  13. This story sounds like my own. I joined IIT Delhi in 1980, after grade 12. The program was for 5 years. I only did Agarwal classes via correspondence in grade 12. My strong point was math – probably scored over 90%. I did my chemistry exam well too but messed up my physics. In those days, if you did math well – 70% or above, you would clear JEE.

  14. Sir I am studing in class 12 and its december, you tell me can I crack jee in these left 3 months along with board..
    I had not taken my studies seriously in 11 as well in 12 ,, I think I did not study much what is needed for iit…
    class 12 I joined coaching for iit and my school is also there meana my time table was like at 7 in the morning I go to school and 3 in aternoon come home and at 3:15 went coaching and come back at 9… so I did not get time for self study and dis time table is daily as my classes are regular … I know I could have studied late night but I did .. but after coming home I use to eat food and sleep
    so in all I am not able to manage..
    And today my status is that I am neither prepared well for jee nor for board ..
    I did not solve all the material given in coaching and not done ncert well…
    Its not like that I did not know anything but I have not solved questions I just read notes and solve very little or very less numericals…
    I feel as if I do not know anything..and how can score well when I have not prepared..
    But anyways I want really to get very good rank in jee please help me can I do??????

    1. hi 🙂
      im exactlly in your position. though i have studied a lot , it was done in such a messed up way that im still not very well prepared.
      i dont have the expertise to advice you but just trying to help.
      after a lot of planning -this is what im doing.

      1)
      divide your day into two halves. till say three pm do your boards stuff( either one subject only or half half karke two) . that very evening finish same chapters ka joint from arihant or whatever mcq book you have.
      2) do the same subject for 3 days and FINISH IT.
      like at very high speed.( you wont finish but by thinking that you have to you will get about 70 percent done)

      3) do this for all 3 subjects
      4)keep repeating till february
      5)DO NOT try to finish the full syllabus now. do full class 12 and only the important chapters from 11
      6) put your heart and soul into this. dont regret anything and believe that you CAN do this.

      hope this helps. we can do this! okay bye 🙂 best of luck

  15. I am 46, and I have not done IIT. But I like and can relate to every word said here. My son is in 10th std now and I was generally browsing and I found this article.
    I am from a very rural b/g in Tamil Nadu, did my complete schooling, including +2 in vernacular (tamil) medium in my village. When I completed +2, I couldn’t speak a word of English. I was not aware of IIT even when I was doing +2.
    In TN, there are small government libraries in most of the villages. During my 6th / 7th annual vacation I used to spend / kill sometime in the library in my village reading stories, and I stumbled upon the Tamil translation of Physics for entertainment by Y Perelman. I started uninterestingly and within a few pages, Perelman could engross me in curiosity. I completed both volumes within weeks and read them again and again. It was a fantasy for me, that when I was cycling the 2 kms to the library in the scorching heat of May in the early 80s, I used to think that I should make a vehicle that moves with steam power. (I recall the picture of one guy sitting with a lever in his hands in the steam powered vehicle).
    As I could not get into any engineering college after +2, I did BSc Applied Sciences. Then worked in a local fertilizer company for few months for a paltry sum (my monthly salary couldn’t buy a pizza today). I used to cycle for 15 +15 kms a day to work and back. I used to play cricket and badminton in the evening with friends. This went on for 4-5 months. All my BSc classmates went to higher studies at IISc, MSc, MIT, Anna University etc. My awareness was so low. At that time There were only 2-3 people who had completed graduation within 5 kms radius of my village. No one was there to guide me.
    Then slowly a kind of fear started griping me, that I may end up my life in the fertilizer factory with lowest salary levels, and though I should do something about it. I wrote to one of my BSc classmates (no phones / mobiles in 1988) who joined MIT in Chennai. He said I could prepare for MIT entrance. My chances were very slim in any case as I had to compete on Open competition (in TN 69% is reserved and only 31% is available for open competition).
    However, I did not prepare much as I had no material and went to the entrance like a picnic and took it. Then I completely forgot about it as I thought my chances were nil.
    One day when I returned from work, my mother told me that there was a letter for me. And to my utter surprise, it was a selection letter which said that I was selected for B Tech Automobile Engineering! I was in seventh heaven.
    When I joined MIT, I was into another rude shock. All my other classmates has 98-100 % in their BSc course and here I was with 71%. I felt like I was out of place for the first 6 months. Then came the results of the first semester where I stood close to the top, and I gained immense confidence. I still could not speak good English but my technicals were very strong and it was almost a cakewalk for me to complete my B Tech and got placed in the Top company at that time (still it is).
    I again faced the discomfort in the initial months in the company because of my lack of communication but quickly proved because of technicals.
    Today, I am proud to say that I am close to, if not at par, with others who studied in English medium convents in metros. And looking back, it is clear that Perelman was the trigger for the turning point of my career.
    I am writing this to tell people from rural b/g that it is never late to start learning if you have the curiosity and interest. And English is a medium of communication and NOT knowledge itself.
    Best Wishes !

    1. @Kanakraj, that is a very inspiring story. Thanks for sharing. I hope people all over take to hear the lessons in your story, especially the last two sentences.

      1. I have read the stories of both of you Navin and Kanakraj, its a tremendous help to all new aspirants as it is coming from heart, otherwise you can spend lots of money on coaching classes and still not get that confidence.

        I will read the books by Y.Perelman and discover what i lacked when i appeared for JEE.

        Himangshu

  16. Sir,
    I am going to 11 standard
    Could you please suggest me some books to make my physics and maths basics clear.

  17. Q. Sir, Your story of success is very impressive. I have a question rather advice from you. I am from cuttack, Odisha. Hope you reply because it’s the question for my career. I passed my class x from St Xavier’s High School cuttack which was a ICSE school with 70% and applied for the state board affiliated college. As my percent was low I was afraid of not getting selected in any college of state board for +2 science. And gradually I got selected in a good Govt. College in spot. But some of my relatives and friends let me into a misconception that state board is harder and complicated in terms of getting right result than national board. So, I took a decision of getting into a CBSE college but in cuttack there were 4 CBSE colleges.
    1. Kendriya Vidyalaya- Where the selection procedure was different there you need to have hands in upper level to get selected in the school otherwise you should be a student of that school completed 10 there.
    2. DAV- Here they give admission to there school students first and if seats are vacant then preference is given to other school students to take admissions.
    3. DPS- Here the fees are very high that too more than 7lakh pa.
    4. Arihant Gurukul- Here I took admission at last,but here the problems are as follows:-
    -> Bad Faculty.
    -> I have no friends among 20.
    -> Not attended the. college since November.
    -> Paid less attention in class xi.
    But they are saying that they will be providing me board questions, so I can pass xiith with 90-95%.
    What should I do, should I continue there or drop a year and go somewhere else to study xi again. Is xi and xii interrelated these days . Sir please do reply.

    1. @Sarada, I can’t really give advice sitting here without knowing the details, and without knowing how things work in your state. In general, though, I’m not much in favor of a drop year. Just do the best you can with your existing college and then continue to improve. Your career is long – a bad 12th std college will affect only the first few years of your career. If you continue to work hard+smart you will do well in spite of being in bad colleges and bad faculty. Remember, the internet is your friend. What your faculty aren’t teaching you, Salman Khan can.

  18. sir,
    m in my 11th and m not at my best with the basics which r the key for any higher studies…this is the reason cuz of which I get demotivated a number of times…sort of getting afraid abt how to tackle the problems…..how can I get my confidence back????

  19. Sir i have just completed my ssc exam .my basics are also clear .plz tell me that iit is really tough or not?

  20. sir i give my class 12th board exams, (no preparations of iit jee) and expected to got 60 -75 % marks. i want to do engineering in best college but they all see the rank in jee. but i have not filled for this test and not have prepare for this. so i drop my 1 year and want to take coching. so i request to you please give your opinion is coching classes is good for the preparation or not, and anything else…. i wait for your opinion

  21. hello sir once again, sir I am not that much prepared in class xi and am not getting confidence to go for xiith and am totally stressed and confused regarding my career and life? Any Suggestions please.

  22. Hello Sir,

    I am entering class 11th now. and i am totally confused about should i choose to pursue iit jee.

    I have been a very good student especially fascinated by science and maths.

    but in 9th standard i struggled a bit with my maths and science ,, and i got average marks,, for which i and my family cursed me a lot… i myself also lost confidence that i can ever do great in my favorite subjects..

    now i am very confused because i belong to a middle class family and my parents won’t be able to finance me more..

    though i have strong self belief now,,but the fear of failing frights me and prevents me to leave it all…

    i expect a reply soon…

    1. @Ashutosh,
      Don’t forget that academic success is not the same as success in life, and vice versa. Just because you’re an average student does not mean that you will not do well in life. Stop being so scared. Find out what subjects/activities you’re good at. Find out what subjects/activities you like. Find out which teachers are the most passionate and knowledgeable and see if you can get them to give you suggestions. Take an interest in studies. If you don’t understand things in your textbooks, read up the same topics on the internet (from places like Khan Academy). Do all of this sincerely, and you should do well.

      More importantly, stop making one entrance exam the focus of your attention, and make *learning* the focus of your attention. Accept the fact that you might not get into the best college; but equally, remember, that if you have the discipline, and a focus on learning, then you can do well in life even after studying in an average college.

  23. Sir! i completed 10th. i want to crack IIT after my 12th . can you give me some suggestions to prepare for iit from now onwards? my father is not ready to buy the books wat u have mentioned there . so can You suggest me any other ways to prepare for iit from now?

    1. @Sundeepti, use the internet. There is a lot of material available online, including Coursera Courses, Khan Academy, etc. Also, the books that I mentioned are themselves available online for illegal download, if you know where to look.
      Generally, focus on material that helps clear your fundamental concepts – those will help you far more in the long term – instead of “test preparation” websites.

  24. sir I appeared for 12 board and expecting to get 90 %+
    and also I got 95% in 12 I want to crack IIT jee with best rank but now a days without coaching it seems to hard but I have not enough money to pay the coaching fee so what I can do? my father told me to do bsc or join IAF but doing bsc and preparation for jee becomes too much complicated pls suggest me what I can do?

  25. Sir, If I am dropping a year and repeat class xi despite of passing xi will it be a good idea as I feel like I am not prepared well because of the college responsibility. And the college is saying that they will give xi pass tc. expecting a reply.

    1. @Sarada, It’s extremely difficult to give specific advice like this without knowing the full details of the situation; and even after knowing the full details, it is unclear which option is the best. In general, I would say, if you keep in mind the broad principles I enumerated in my comment earlier, and follow those, then whether or not you repeat 11th, whether or not you really get great marks in 12th, whether or not you get into a really good college, will not matter in the long run. These are things that only affect the first 4-5 years of your career – but don’t forget, your career is going to be 40+ years…

  26. Sir, i have just entered in 11th standard. I got 10 CGPA in the 10th board exams though i did not attend any coaching classes till 10th. I won’t be preparing for IIT in 11th because i have seen my friends struggling between their IIT coaching classes and 11th class preparations.
    Is it the right choice ??
    Also i wanted to ask should i join any coaching classes for my 11th std ? Teachers in my school are not that supportive…tend to skip few topics.
    Waiting for ur reply…

    1. Priya,
      Note 1: It is my understanding that these days you need to appear for the IIT-JEE exam for admission to any Engineering college. So if you’re hoping to do engineering, you have to prepare for the IIT-JEE. I agree that many students are getting stressed out by the normal methods of IIT coaching. In my opinion, it is quite possible to do well if you choose not to get stressed out by regular IIT-JEE coaching classes and instead study by your own methods. Cracking the JEE is anyway not something that can be guaranteed, and has a significant element of luck. But if you prepare well – focusing on concepts rather than exams, even if you don’t do well in the JEE, you will do well in life in the long term.

  27. Sir, i’ve just passed out my 10th boards and now i’m confused between being attending or non attending because my school is not very good and i think i understand the concepts better through self study. Being non attending will give me 10 – 12 hrs time of self study everyday but everybody is telling to attend school because that will help me to have some fun and spend time wid friends. ( i am preparing for iit) So do you think staying home and preparing is not a good idea??

    1. @Nidhi, I don’t think you should stay at home. College isn’t just about academics. One of the most important things you learn in college is dealing with other people, working in groups, organizing festivals/events etc. Don’t give up on that.

  28. Sir,
    Presently iam studying in Ramaiah institute who provides
    an excellent coaching for iit
    I had been selected their by the means of entrance exam SAT
    Sir,
    I am presently in 11th class
    and by inspiring from you and some other successful iitians I am feeling very eager to study hard as much as I can. So sir can you please send me some tips on how to do a better study.Please sir I will be very grateful to you.

  29. Ek suggestion chaHiye tha i think ki me bsc karu n sath sath jee ki coaching bhi lu Kya Yeh Thik Rahega ?? Plzz Reply

    1. If you’re definitely interested in computer science, and you can get into one of the top 6 or 7 IITs, then those are definitely better. If you feel you might change your mind, and are interested in exploring things other than CS, then going abroad would be better.

  30. sir, what was your pattern of studying during those three hours….like did you study a single subject or multiple subjects
    and also sir if you could give some tips as to completing the homework and studying alongside
    i am in my 10th std now and believe it is a very crucial year for me
    kindly guide

  31. Hi sir I m in class 11… I searched a lot on google for Agarwal Correspondence course, if I could find a pdf… But nothing like that I could find. If you know or have something like that.. Please let me know… I would b grateful to you.
    Thank you.

    1. Sorry. Agarwal’s went out of business a long time ago. And it was all for the older pattern. So even if you find it, I don’t know how useful it would be.

      1. Okay.. Then can you suggest which material would be best so that I could make my concepts strong and clear..

  32. Okay.. Sir but what used to be your strategy and planning while doing sums and problems. Like how did you analyse the problems??

  33. Then sir can you tell how did you study like, what used to be your strategy and planning, how did you approach the problems… And were you able to solve all types of questions in just a single attempt. And if you faced any problems did you consult your teacher or tried to solve it on your own anyway.

  34. I am living in gondia(a small city). I am in 11 class.I am studying in state board college.and I am regular in my college and coaching studies. All my friends are now in kota,Nagpur for preparation of jee. I am doubtful that whether I can crack iit from gondia and with my regular board studies. Please tell.

  35. On an other note: I want your guidance on an approach/way of solving puzzles:
    1. Is there any course or a method of learning to solve various puzzles step wise so that a person may not lose his/her interest.

    1. @Sridhar, No idea. Sorry. The only way I know of hearing to solve puzzles is to just keep finding and solving a lot of them (or at least looking at the solution, if you can’t solve it yourself).

  36. Dear Navinji,
    Thank you for clearing misconceptions regarding the preparation of IIT-JEE.Really You have given the message of making conceptions clear by sharing your method of preparations.
    Thanking You,
    Nishith
    Kolkata

  37. Sir, You are exceptional.

    I am boy belonging to small town in bihar,i have been pretty good in studies from my childhood remaining in the top notch in my school untill 10.now I am in 11th standard, and i don’t think my preparation for IIT JEE has been up to the mark so far. May I know if I still have a chance in getting into IIT.

    I hope you’ll reply

  38. Sir, in these six months I have been struggling through negativity and absence of concentration. All that happended in these 6 months had never happened in my life. No matter how much effort I put on, I am unable to get such motiation and will power to continue on my studies. I always think about what will happen 2 years later and get scared, resulting in stress and depression.

    How can I get out of this situation??

    1. @Ashutosh, I suggest you get help from a psychological counselor or psychiatrist. Anxiety and/or depression are very common, and counselors/psychiatrists can help you with techniques that can be used to reduce the stress/depression. In some cases, it might because of chemical imbalances, in which case they can give you medicines which can help. I know many people who have managed to do this successfully.

      1. I know my question is a little bit personal but,sir, where are you now and what are you doing in your life with such a reputed academic status. I just want to know what iitians do for rest of their life…
        I hope you’ll answer.

        1. @Ashutosh,
          I live in Pune, and I have a software startup. Here is a list of things my IIT classmates are doing:
          – Many are in senior positions in the software industry, in India or abroad
          – Many are in senior positions in the banking industry (after having done an MBA)
          – Many have their own software (mostly in the software space)
          – Some are profs/researchers (mostly in the US, or in TIFR)
          – One is in the advertising industry
          – One is a writer/director in Bollywood
          – One works for a global charity organization

          I hope this answer helps.

  39. I know my qyestion is a little bit personal but,,

    sir, where are you now and what are you currently doing and how has been your journey so far as an iitian.

  40. What all can u do in 3 hrs sir?!!
    There are 5 subjects in 12std. Just doing homework takes one to two hours. Then studying it all takes 5 hour+ (just talking of reading chapters) & when it comes to maths limit less hours of textual workout are needed for me to get it hard to 60%.
    As I think dont u feel that u have got a magical extravagent *brain*.

    I would like to know the ‘ exquisite three hour schedule’ so that i can also see to it ; expecting no wonder 1st ranks but to pass 12th with quality marks.

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