How to prepare for IIT JEE

How does one prepare for IIT JEE?    Written by an IIT graduate

There are several coaching institutes all over the country that coach high school students to get into IIT.  Fees for these institutes go into several lakhs.  There are also postal and internet based coaching institutes.

I, for one, am certainly no fan of these institutes. They are in the business of selling Hope to millions of parents in India. They flash full page newspaper ads very regularly in all major newspapers publishing mugshots of students they claim figured in the Top 100 of IIT JEE, implying you could be on those photos as well in future if you enrol for their courses.

Let us be rational for a moment and look at statistics. About 14,00,000 (Fourteen lakhs or 1.4 million) students take the screening level IIT JEE Mains, and roughly 10% of those qualify for the second level JEE Advanced. With the number of coaching institutes mushrooming all over India, there is no official data, but it is estimated that almost 4 to 7 lakh students enrol in various coaching institutes for JEE Prep. If you are one among the 7 lakh students enrolling in a coaching institute, that still makes your chances of entering the hallowed portals of IIT 11,000/7,00,000, i.e. 1.5%.

So by enrolling in a coaching institute, your chances of getting into IIT improve from 1% to 1.5%!  So parents, please be clear on this before you fall prey to marketing campaigns that sell you hope on a platter. I want to hammer in the thought that enrolling in a coaching institute does not guarantee you a seat in IIT.

Parents of high school students assume that their children will make it by simply enrolling in a coaching institute. They could not be more wrong.  Several of the coaching institutes drill hard the fundamentals, and offer lots of practice courses.  The point I was trying to make is that  it is NOT ESSENTIAL for you to enrol in coaching prep classes to gain admission to IIT.

My peers who joined coaching institutes and made it to IIT all had certain hallmark credentials. They were hard-working, they had dedicated themselves to JEE prep for two years, and they displayed determination. Several others who did not join coaching institutes, including me, innately demonstrated the same characteristics, even more so as we had gambled by not enrolling for any additional prep coaching institutes.

I can assure you these credentials have not changed over the years, although the format of the IIT JEE papers may have.

I will vouch for (what I felt was) the method that got me through IIT JEE several years back – and it is neither coaching institutes or internet based prep classes. I was an average student, and I worked hard on my class 11 and 12 courses, and practiced thoroughly papers from previous years.

Now, here is the deal. You can not work on past papers and practice when your fundamentals are not in place.  So you need to clearly have a good foundation in Math, Physics and Chemistry.  Your class text books are probably good enough for this job, but there are different state boards and curricula all over India.  As I have personally not reviewed each and every class books, I would like to recommend a few classics that have been used as fundamental required reading all over the World.

At the end of this article, I will list the names of some very common basic text books in these subjects that are considered very good. By no way does this mean that without these books you will fail. Certainly not.

So, at the risk of being repetitive, I will summarize the mantra that will enhance your chances significantly of getting into IIT or other premier educational institutes –

  • Get a strong foundation in Physics, Math and Chemistry.  Start early, say in Class 10, and focus on one chapter a week. Seek additional help. There are tons of resources that are available free of cost on the internet, for eg, Khan Academy.
  • Be regular. You can not plan to cram in everything over two months, and have a relaxed lifestyle for ten months. IIT JEE prep requires dedication. So for this purpose, I recommend making a time table for the year with goals set.  Never lose track of the end goal, and focus on building baby steps which will take you there.   I will try to include a template for a suggested timeline in another post.
  • Have faith in your abilities. Biologically, your brains are not inferior to others. I do not believe in the myth of a born genius. You are as good as any one else. Having confidence does not mean taking it easy and blindly believe that an invisible hand of God will guide you during the crucial exam.

List of suggested text books for Math, Physics, and Chemistry

MathematicsHigher AlgebraHall and Knight
Elements of Coordinate GeometryS.L. Loney
Plane Trigonometry Part IS. L. Loney
Plane Trigonometry Part - 2S. L. Loney
The Elements of COORDINATE GEOMETRY Part-1 Cartesian CoordinatesS. L. Loney
PhysicsProblems In GENERAL PHYSICSI. E. Irodov
Physics, Vol 1, 5edResnick and Halliday
Resnick and Halliday
IIT JEE Related40 Years IIT-JEE Advanced + 16 yrs JEE Main Topic-wise Solved Paper PCM with Free eBook O.P.Agarwal and Deepak Agarwal

There are several such books that feature past papers.

Here is one that is available on Amazon for less than Rs 1000, and there are probably several more similar ones.  Treat each of these papers as if they are real exams, and simulate an exam-like ambiance.  You may also find some of these in your local bookstore.