Monday, January 17, 2011

Tips From My Side

Here's an article that I recently wrote for a magazine. It contains most of the things that I usually talk about in seminars and while interacting with future IITians.

                SELF-STUDY  MAKETH  A  RANK,
                   PRACTICE MAKETH PERFECT   

“Practice makes a man peRFect.” This perhaps is the one golden rule that I have followed throughout my preparations for IIT-JEE as well as all other competitive exams. So, my dear readers, here I am to share some of my experiences and to give you some advice on how to prepare for these deadly-looking exams. I hope you will definitely find something worthy in this article of mine and will be glad if this can benefit any of my dear juniors.

Writing an article on such a topic, the one dilemma I face is where to start from. So, let me begin from the beginning itself. Born on 29th November, 1991, I was declared by doctors as a child who could possibly be mentally retarded in the future (seems weird, ain’t it?? read on…). I believe it has only been the strength of mind and the determination of my parents and one of my teachers that has brought me up to this level, sort of reversing the doctors’ prophecy. I still remember when I was in primary school, I was quite shy, but then I started participating in a lot of competitions, often emerging on top. Those gave me a lot of confidence and I slowly started rising up and opening myself to this world. People believe that these high ranks are meant for ‘born-geniuses’. But that is far from the truth. In my case at least, I was born an anti-genius. So, it’s mostly about practice, starting early, using your time to the utmost. Edison rightly said “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.”

It was only in class VI that I got my first go at a national level science competition (the National Science Olympiad) and obtained All India Rank (AIR) 13. Then, in class VII, I finished East Zone runner-up in the India’s Child Genius quiz conducted by Siddhartha Basu, missing an opportunity to meet President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam by just 0.2 seconds in the buzzer round. I have never looked back since then, always learning from my mistakes and practising endlessly in order to attain that ever-elusive state of peRFection.

Now, having built up a sort of prologue let me come to the major issue: JEE (Joint Entrance Examination). These three letters seem to weigh so heavily on the minds of so many youngsters. Here, I will be basically discussing how to plan out your preparations so that this exam looks a bit easier. Having interacted with lots of students from all over India through live seminars, e-mail, social networking sites, etc. and most importantly, having been through that crucial stage myself, I am well aware of the questions that JEE aspirants have in mind. So, I will be going through the rest of this article in a sort of your question – my reply format.

First and foremost, the one question that always turns up is “What is the mantra of success?” I would say it's utilizing even that tiny moment for self-study which you are giving to pondering over this question. According to me, it is time-management along with self-belief. Every single moment that you are wasting in some not-so-important activity, thousands of other competitors are striving hard to get ahead of you. So, you simply cannot afford to waste time. A bit of relaxation here and there after some continuous study is a must, but you should be able to contain that “I have had enough” feeling.

People also ask me when exactly did I start my JEE preparations. Now, I am not very clear about the question itself. I started studying the JEE syllabus topics in the middle of class X, but I had started concentrating on science-maths and strengthening my basics from class VI itself. I had joined a JEE-directed correspondence course for the first time in class IX while I had my first major confidence booster at the India’s Child Genius in class VII. So, its been quite a long journey with a beginning which I myself am unable to figure out. This therefore turns out to be a question which I neither understand nor have a definite answer for.

Then, why did I join FIITJEE and not any other institute. Every student has his own capabilities and requirements. I knew that given sufficient time for self-study, I could understand concepts well on my own but I needed some good teachers for doubt clearance. That’s where FIITJEE came into the picture and they filled the void extremely well, better than I had ever imagined. Enrolled into the PINNACLE program, I used to get the entire evenings free as all classes would be over by 2:30 pm at the school campus itself. So, I had lots of time with me and I would sit down, think, solve, practise, get my doubts cleared the next day, etc.

This last point I just mentioned: Doubt Clearance is one thing I have seen missing in most aspirants’ priority lists. As a student, you ought to have faith in your teachers and approach them with your doubts. I have seen colleagues who never even asked their school teachers any doubts. You need to try them out first. If they are unable to satisfy your query, only then should you go to external tutors. They are the teachers because they know things better than you do. Many students feel that a good teacher is the one who explains things well and solves questions on the board. I would say a good teacher is one who clears your doubts well. That’s because you can do the understanding and solving part yourself too but those inevitable doubts here and there require a strong tutor.

Coming to my next point: Time Management, students keep fretting about this simple concept. I have seen students in my city who spend evenings performing stunts on bikes, eating out with friends (mostly girlfriends), watching movies, etc. and then let out a cry on the JEE day, “Why do these guys set such unsolvable papers?” As you can very well see, they haven’t been true to themselves and hence can’t expect to get into IITs, NITs, etc. in place of those who have burnt the midnight oil. I myself have given everything to it during those 2 years and am definitely reaping rich rewards. It’s better to utilize pre-JEE time and then enjoy life in IITs (I must tell you it’s a beautiful place to be in) rather than wasting it and regretting later.

I will give you an example. All of us get this 1.5 to 2 month gap after the class X exams. Instead of visiting places and enjoying yourself, you can give a week or so to refreshing yourself and then get back to studies in order to get a good head-start. This will enable you to understand concepts better when they are taught in class. Then, you can also utilize those small intervals during change of classes to solve some questions. People around you will laugh at you, try to derail you from that right track but you need to ignore them. In the end, it doesn’t even matter. I tried so hard, I got so far. Those who try to derail you are inflicting losses upon themselves.

It’s not that I gave up everything for my preparations. I used to solve sudoku everyday, read the newspaper, played (although rarely), did a bit of social networking in the last few months but I wasn’t obsessed with these things. I knew my goal and its importance in my life. You just need to prioritize your time-table.

Returning to academics, if you prepare well for JEE, you are almost done with your board exam PCM (Physics+Chemistry+Math) syllabus as well. And as I said earlier, if you choose your tutors wisely, you will also be able to find ample time for English and the 5th subject. Many students go to particular classes just because their friends have joined them or because they have heard lots of people praising that teacher. This isn’t the right approach. You need to understand your own requirements and choose accordingly. There might be a teacher who is very good at mechanics but doesn’t teach electromagnetism well. You don’t need to continue going to him just because you feel a sense of loyalty and gratitude towards him. It’s your life, your career, you have to decide keeping in mind your own good. Then try to give more time to practising questions of different varieties and from different books. I wouldn’t recommend reading the same concept again and again from different sources/teachers as it would simply be a waste of your precious time. Instead grasp that concept from 1 or 2 books and then move on to practice.

Now I feel I should address the question on how to study in general? It’s better to finish topics one by one. Doing 3 or 4 topics all at one time will make it quite difficult for you to handle everything. Two topics from different subjects is quite okay because if you feel bored after studying one of them for 5-6 hrs., you can switch to the other one and then return. Try to prepare compendiums for each topic as it will be helpful in the later stages of preparation. If you notice some trick in some book, note it down and revise it later so that you get an idea of where it works and how to apply it. Such tricks and option elimination prove very useful in saving time for the tougher questions.  

Coming to books, here’s a list of books that I covered during my JEE preparations:

Physics : Irodov (mechanics only), H C Verma, Arihant (all topics)
Chemistry: R C Mukerjea, O P Tandon, Paula Bruice
Mathematics: Arihant (all topics except algebra), TMH (class XIth syllabus)

In addition, I completed all NCERT books, packages of FIITJEE as well as BRILLIANT and solved FIITJEE's GrandMasterPackage and RankersTestPaperFile. The latter two are very good for practice and revision in the last few months.

In class IX and X, I used to read books by Dinesh Publications (PCMB), H C Verma (physics), R D Sharma (maths) and correspondence courses from Brilliant Tutorials and BMA. I found these books by BMA to be very good and interesting. In addition, I had covered the first few chapters of physics plus differential calculus plus bonding and hybridisation (thanks to Nitu Sinha Mam) in class Xth itself. Organic chemistry was one topic that I felt a bit tough to handle, but I feel I was fortunate enough to have another great chemistry teacher (Arun Sharma Sir) in XIth; who advised me to gain a headstart by reading Paula Bruice and it really turned out to be a fantastic interest-arousing book.

Next comes the issue of how to prepare for all other exams that occur round the clock in these 2 years. I personally feel that NSO, IMO, NSTSE, etc., although considered easy by many, are very good exams to get an estimate of where you stand and of your strengths and weaknesses. Any national level exam, tough or easy, is competitive and as easy for you as for someone sitting in any other part of India. Then come the physics, chemistry, maths and astronomy olympiads. The math olympiad requires a bit of extra preparation on topics like number theory, combinatorics, etc. The other three olympiads (IPhO, IChO, IAO) can be cracked if you have been thorough with the JEE syllabus. If you clear the first two levels, then you go to the camp at HBCSE, Mumbai where you need some experimental skills too. It’s here that your presence (both mental and physical) in school labs plays an important role. Then you have KVPY in class XI which has no pre-defined syllabus. The paper basically tests your mental ability and clarity of concept. You need to have knowledge of topics that will be covered in class XIth and a bit of the formulae and laws from the early days of class XIIth. The interview is meant to test your confidence and clarity of aim in life.

I would be writing an incomplete article if I didn’t talk about what to do during the last few months before JEE. I suggest you should complete all your syllabus atleast by mid-December and then begin with revision of your class-notes and of the chapter-wise summaries you must have created in the two years. Then, move on to practising question-papers of 6 hours duration. Solving questions from individual chapters is quite different from solving them when they are all thrown together at you. It might happen that you are able to solve mechanics alone very well but in exam time, the pressure created by being unable to solve optics may take you down in mechanics too. So, you need to have good practice of sitting own for 6 hours and handling that pressure. Utilize the board exams preparatory leave very well. I had given 15 days to JEE preparation and the rest to my Board exams. Then, I had an 11-day gap before my maths board exam. So, I didn’t study CBSE level maths in February and also devoted 5 days out of 11 to JEE. You need to find time and plan very well. The 14 day gap between last board exam and JEE should go into revision and practice only. Do not try to read/learn something new in that period, it will just add to the pressure.

Another extremely important question that arises is: How to cope with the pressure? I would say: Just keep practising, sit down for lots of national level tests, when you see that you are able to solve questions and getting some good ranks, you will gain confidence and it’s this much required self-confidence that will help you sail through the JEE day. If you are unable to get those ranks, look at the mistakes you committed, discuss them with your teacher, try to correct them in the next paper, get your fundamentals cleared, and dedicate more time to that topic where you are prone to mistakes. It might take some time for that change to show up, but it will certainly happen over a period of time. You know, thousands of people (and almost everyone in Kota) wish to achieve a top 100 JEE rank but only those few who have stuck to their basics, who have been regular, who have practised a lot and hence built up their speed and accuracy, achieve it. There’s always this competition. You can’t afford to give up or lose time.

I hope I have already said a lot now, so its time for me to take leave and allow you to ponder deeply over what you have read above and to see if you can gain something out of it. Thank you reader for having been so patient to have gone through my article. And finally, keeping in mind my own advice, I would suggest you not to read this article over and over again as that would be a waste of precious JEE-preparation time. Thanks again,

 Vipul Singh
(Marathoner - NYC 2016;
Machine Learning R&D, Bloomberg LP;
Master's in Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University 2014-15;
Department Rank 1, Computer Science, IIT Bombay 2010-14;
AIR 5, IIT-JEE 2010;
AIR 1, AIEEE 2010;
Silver medallist, World Rank 41 at International Physics Olmpiad 2010;
KVPY scholar;
CBSE topper of Chhattisgarh state, 2010)

For further queries, you can contact me on facebook or at or 




  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Vipul bhaiyaa..lot to learn frm dis article...very nice n precise..thank u!

  3. Hello vipul bhaiya.myself debasish parida from fiitjee bhilai .i am in pinnacle program.i need your desperate help.isee u as an inspiration me preparing for iitjee.plzzzz do email id is

  4. Thanks Mr.Vipul. My respects to you. Excellent article. Just what i was looking for as a parent of an IIT aspirant. I am putting him in Pinnacle program for 2014 JEE.
    Dr.Thiagarajan, Chennai

  5. Following national outrage over the police action, Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal had said he was “deeply saddened” by the arrests, and that the IT Act should not be “misused” to “throttle dissent”.jee 2013

  6. First I have to master NCERT isnt it

  7. Vipul, the day I saw you and spoke to you as Mogli during a school function, I knew I was talking to a future leader who is confident clear and helping. I still remember your INDIA'S CHILD GENIUS journey.A wonderful article by a wonderful boy[oops a person]

    1. Thank you Madam. I remember that function too, I think I was in 2nd standard when I had enacted Mogli.

  8. Bhaiya I am a jee 2016 aspirant and I am in the initial phase my preparation. I wanted to ask you that if you couldn't solve questions from the various sources you used then did you ask your teachers or attempted it till you found the solution

    1. I used to spend a reasonable amount of time (maybe an hour or two on a tough physics or math question, a bit less on chemistry) trying to figure it out. If I couldn't, then I would much rather ask my teacher the next day than risk spending so much time on a question that might possibly be wrong. It also differs from book to book. If it's a question in a reputed author's book, I would give it more time. If it was from some Indian publication, then I would be more skeptical and move on.

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  11. hey there,
    first, i found your blog very useful. i am a jee 2017 aspirant and i have joined aakash in april and till now i have just wasted time and now i have realized my mistake and my dream is to get AIR <50 and i can do anything for it.but main problem is many topics i am reading now have topics which were taught before and i am not able to understand the topics. due to this my base in all PCM is bad and if continue i will not able to achieve my dream. and my name is always last in tests results and i feel demotivated seeing my friends getting more than 95% in every single test. even my parents dreams and money is involved in it. now i want to build strong bas in PCM and want to fall in LOVE with PCM. how should tackle this problem.and sometimes i think that to get AIR<50 you should be god gifted and you should have by-birth talent. and i just scored 9.6cgpa in 10th.
    i am feeling very low and i am feeling that IIT-B is just for god gifted people.
    please help me bro how should i tackle this problem and achieve my dream.

    hoping a lot from you.

  12. Hi bhaiya.I am a jee 2017 aspirant.I like phy and chem but maths is somewhat boring.I used to get very good marks in maths till 10 std .But in 11th now maths is quite difficult.How to prepare for jee maths

  13. Hi bhaiya.I am a jee 2017 aspirant.I like phy and chem but maths is somewhat boring.I used to get very good marks in maths till 10 std .But in 11th now maths is quite difficult.How to prepare for jee maths

  14. Thank you for ur words of advice sir. Hope you will keep guiding JEE aspirants in future as well.
    Your admirer.

  15. How should I devote my time to SAT,JEE and IMO preparation,if I will be joining Pinnacle programme in Class 11,Given that I know and have practised almost all of JEE Maths syllabus except Calculas.

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