Take One

Topic: Engineering after 12th

Readers: Students


It’s 2017 and students and teachers across India are gearing up for yet another year of entrance examinations. I too went through this process myself, and as a result, was really amazed by it all. Here, I plan to put major things in perspective. Please note that this article is purely based on my opinions as well as information gathered from several sources and colleges.

STAGE 1: Before entrances

Preparation for entrances from 10th

Now, I do not say that it is bad. Coaching classes advertise that it is absolutely necessary to do so, owing to the enormity of the syllabus needed for entrances. However, I sincerely believe that this puts unnecessary pressure on you, since studying 10 subjects (Science ICSE) is a big deal in itself. And if you mess up your boards, you’ll have to go about explaining stuff to all kinds of people (not to mention nosey relatives, who start judging you).

Reality: All you’ll be taught in 10th for entrances is the basic concept of chapters in 11th and 12th, which will further be brushed up again in the further years.

Advice: If you can manage it, nothing’s better. But do NOT compromise on your boards since further down the line, during interviews, only your 10th and 12th percentages will be seen, and NOT your entrance scores.


The biggest debate which the nation is trying to know. Rumour has it that CBSE is “more entrance-oriented”, while ISC isn’t much so relevant, and HSC is just a namesake. (***peace***)

Reality: From 2018, ISC and CBSE shall have the same syllabus, so that conflict is rested. HSC is still on its own. Now, I’m personally from an ISC school, one of the best ones of Mumbai. But do not think I am biased or anything.

CBSE has a whole lot more schools across the country, so choices are much more, all offering more or less similar facilities, and is a bit on the cheaper side. The advantage is that it is easier to find more friends eager for the same entrance test in your batch. Teaching quality maybe is a little down.

ISC comparatively has lesser number of schools, and good ones are pretty rare (by good, I mean faculty, student care & results). Tuition fees are much higher, of course. You’d find more students preparing for undergraduate studies abroad (SAT, TOEFL etc), though I’m not saying you won’t find JEE  students. Teachers have a much higher quality of teaching, and are much more connected with the  practicalities of education. Not to mention, there’s an added benefit of English (some call it a burden 😉 ) but it helps in higher studies and interviews.

The board examinations and syllabus of both CBSE and ISC are going to be similar from 2018 onwards, so nothing to say there.

HSC is a whole different story altogether. The books have literally nothing styled as per JEE . Only MHT-CET aspirants get an advantage here, while a major lot opt for it to give more time to Mains and Advanced preparation, and sometimes end up scoring an average score in both boards and entrances.

Again, I’d like to point out one thing. Do NOT compromise on boards. The eligibility criterion of 75% for JoSAA is just a show. You might not be considered for interviews after your B. Tech at all or preferred last, so to say, even if you’re from a top tier engineering college, if your 10th and 12th % is pretty low.

Classes or no classes?

A problem which hogs millions across the country, with some people saying it’s better for preparation, while others say it’s a big time waste. I’d say, both are right in their own aspects, since they’ve most probably faced two sides of the coin independently.

Reality: Consider this. You’ve got 6~7 hours school, followed by homework and regular tests as part of the academic curriculum. Then you’ve got coaching classes to handle, along with their series of material and weekly tests. Some get by it, and some don’t. All coaching classes advertise students who ranked well in these entrances (let’s say, around 30) in the daily newspaper, but everyone forgets the one lakh or so who utterly gave up (seemingly due to pressure) or didn’t make the cut.

Embed one thing in your mind: It’s NOT easy. It wasn’t ever meant to be. But the journey is what teaches you some essential life skills.

If you’ve been a good student until 10th, you could opt for coaching classes or study purely on your own. The first path ensures a systematic study pattern, and a simulated competitive environment, though there might be a compromise on quality concepts content. Classes tend to pay more attention to solving problems, rather than spending lectures on the explanations and nitty-gritties. The second path, self study, is a purely independent venture. You NEED a plan. ASAP. Or a mentor. Else, you’ll be lost in the ocean of knowledge on the Internet and books by foreign authors. It’s not a bad thing, but studying and pondering on irrelevant stuff in this time-bound journey sometimes takes a toll.

In the end, it’s your decision. If you opt for classes, keep separate time for self study, and don’t blindly follow teachers. If you opt for self study, enrol for a test series or distance learning program of any coaching institution to keep yourself abreast of the updated types of questions.


In simple words, it’s here to stay. Many consider this education hub as a mandatory stopover for chasing a seat in a top-notch engineering college. Needless to say, the only benefits are a rigorous preparation format, decent faculty, focus only on entrances, things which students might find missing in the conventional schooling system back home.

Officials at Kota hardsell the coaching hub as a bridge that covers the gulf between conventional schooling and the “rigorous” entrance tests, with focus on “application-based understanding” facilitated by IIT graduates as faculty.

This is done, they claim, by focusing solely on science subjects, dividing course material into six parts and holding an endless series of revision tests, even on Sundays.

And this is why, they claim, that despite the number of suicides by students rising from 13 in 2013 to 24 in 2015 so far, the count of those who enrolled in the over-300 institutes in Kota rose from 1.3 lakh to 1.5 lakh over the same period.

However, faculty at IITs, where many of these students end up, and teachers at CBSE schools warn that the lure of Kota is a “vicious cycle” that thrives on a lack of regulation and flaws in the primary schooling system. School teachers say the solution is to provide specialised coaching as an option in CBSE schools for those who are keen to crack the entrance tests, with more weightage given in entrance tests for Class 12 marks.

They give what schools fail to: This of course, is subjective. But I do not think there’s a single full-fledged school in India dedicated to both boards and entrances. For boards, by studying a set of questions and enough practice, you can get decent marks, atleast in PCM. Conventional teaching in schools is half the time “trend-teaching” and utter disregard for out-of-syllabus stuff, which is beneficial for the average and mediocre students, but utterly pointless for entrance aspirants or students studying purely out of love for the subject. It is even tough for teachers at schools to compete with faculty at coaching centres, due to the haunt set up by such institutes in the student’s mind that it is essential to attend classes. If schools set up extra classes for weak students, children fail to turn up, just to attend coaching classes.

Entrances cannot be blamed, since they need to set up a “hard paper”, for what is essentially an elimination test. In the early days, 75,000 students appeared for the IIT exam and 1,200 got selected, most of them came from urban areas where the schools were very good and there was no need for coaching. But now over 14 lakh students appear for the exam and just 10,000 are selected. They come from both rural and urban backgrounds. People believe that if you get into IIT, life is set and sorted. Because of the social and cultural disadvantages, sometimes good candidates are sidelined. Coaching classes aren’t cheap. But that’s what people opt for.

Every couple of years, the government has a discussion on changing the format of the examination to reduce the need for coaching institutes. By changing the format, the government unsettles students, who then flock to coaching centres, giving their businesses a boost. Schools should make the efforts because what is taught in Class 12 is inadequate for IITs. Just because of their laid-back attitude, and aim to cater to only the average and weak, is one of the primary reasons for the flourishing coaching business. Schools should have advanced courses for those students who wish to appear for the entrances. This will also put an end to malpractices like dummy schools.

Before you embark onto your journey for the next 2 years, set your goals clear and firm in your mind. Consult seniors and make up the best possible and absolutely feasible study plan.

STAGE 2: During entrance preparations



  • Textbook of Coordinate Geometry /Calculus/Algebra/Probability by Dr K.C Sinha
  • IIT Mathematics /Vector Algebra by M.L Khanna
  • IIT Mathematics/Differential Calculus by A. Das Gupta
  • Problems in Calculus of One Variable by I.A Maron
  • Course in IIT Mathematics by TMH
  • Trigonometry/Geometry by S.L Loney
  • Objective Mathematics/XI/XII by R.D Sharma (CBSE) and/or XI/XII by M.L Aggarwal (ISC)
  • MTG Maths for JEE Mains
  • Play with Graphs by Amit Agarwal


  • NCERT (CBSE)/Nootan or S.Chand (ISC) – XI & XII
  • Modern Approach to Chemical Calculations by R.C. Mukherjee
  • Numerical Chemistry – P. Bahadur
  • A textbook of Physical Chemistry Vol I, II, III, IV, V by K.L Kapoor
  • Conceptual Physical Chemistry by Prabhat Kumar, Adarsh Kumar
  • Elements of Physical Chemistry by S. Glasstone and D. Lewis


  • Inorganic Chemsitry by J.D Lee
  • Modern Inorganic Chemistry by R.D Madan


  • Organic Chemistry by O.P Tandon
  • Reactions, Rearrangements and Reagents by S.N Sanyal
  • Organic Chemistry Vol I by I.L Finar
  • Organic Chemistry by Morrison and Boyd
  • Reaction Mechanism in Organic Chemistry by S.M Mukherji, S.P Singh
  • Schaum’s Outline Series in Organic Chemistry & Chemistry (3000 Solved Problems)
  • Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry by T.W Solomons
  • Principles of Organic Chemistry by Roberts and Caserio
  • Organic Chemistry by Stanley H. Pine


  • Inorganic, Organic, Physical Chemistry by P.L Soni & others.
  • MTG Chemistry for JEE Mains, Advanced Explorer
  • University Chemistry by Bruce Mahan
  • Textbook of Organic/Inorganic/Physical Chemistry by R.K Gupta, R.K Amit


  • HC Verma – Concepts of Physics (Part I)
  • HC Verma – Concepts of Physics (Part II)
  • IIT JEE Physics – DC Pandey
  • Problems in General Physics – I.E. Irodov
  • Physics for IIT-JEE – Resnick, Halliday, Walker.
  • Physics XI and XII (NCERT/Nootan for CBSE/ISC)
  • Physics XI and XII by S.L Arora
  • Physics for competitions by G.C Agrawal
  • Comprehensive Physics by Narinder Kumar
  • Enjoyable Physics by Neil Chatterjee
  • Problems in Physics – S.S. Krotov

Okay. Everything listed here need not be bought and solved entirely. There’s simply not enough time. Ask your teachers (not friends and rumours) for relevant content. If you aren’t planning on classroom courses in coaching centres, opt for a correspondence course and test series program (offline/online try to practise both). Do not jump chapters. Keep the flow, and proceed only when you’re satisfied that everything’s kinda okay.


Mentality and Environment

These two words are the ‘make or break’ decision makers.

Always have a positive outlook. I know tests in coaching classes are depressing. Fail to perform? Get the worst teachers to teach you. Only the top-notch students are lovingly nurtured by the top-grade teachers to sabotage the worked-hard-for marks as their “coaching class achievement”. Don’t let this bother you. They are purely a business venture, and it is likely that this will happen, especially when they cater to a huge number of students. Work day and night to get into the top batch. Do NOT give up. Ever. You’re a human being. You were born to strive. This uneven system isn’t going to stop anytime soon, so you’d better develop a thick skin.

Don’t be depressed. Usually, under-performance by someone in some test leads him to develop a dislike for studies. Let the failure not bother you. See where you went wrong. Be after teachers (even if they’re annoyed) to tell you the answers. Be in the loop of studies. Once you come out of it, it’s very difficult to get back in.

Friend circle. *Phew*. Make friends who’re much like you in many sorts of ways. Help each other make notes. Try to compete only against him/her. Then slowly, start raising your level to the high-rankers. If any person, turns out to be a snob, be done with him/her immediately. Set a competitive streak among friends. Make small and realistic goals together, and work to achieve that. This cumulative effort indeed plays a huge role.

Don’t mingle with the bad sort, even if you’re tempted. Remember your reason to be in the institute. Try to set your mind on the Almighty, to keep yourself from being swayed off from the track.

Study atmosphere. If your workplace is too small, or is situated in an uncomfortable position, correct it. Ensure a peaceful atmosphere, especially applicable for big cities. Keep doors closed and locked if your family is too noisy or unrestrained. Ensure that there is sufficient air-flow and cross-ventilation in the room. Otherwise, depleted oxygen levels will make your mind go into ‘freeze mode’.

Make judicious utilisation of resources. But do NOT compromise on health for just an exam. Hydrate yourself, and keep visiting the washroom. Eat meals on time. And if you think studying till late adds up in your performance (unless you’re a night-study type of guy), you’re dead wrong. You’ll probably end up wasting time next morning, or not having sufficient sleep.

Keep your workplace clean and organised. Tricks your mind into liking stuff. Colour coding notes also helps.

Electronic gadgets?

Your choice. Yes, you read that right. It’s completely up to you to decide. But I’d recommend not spending too much time on social media, one of the most major time-killers of society. Follow useful stuff on Facebook and Instagram (if you cannot live without them). There are tonnes of groups, pages and accounts offering free material, tests, daily questions, advice etc. They might come in use.

Do NOT spend your time looking at shit memes and stupid videos.

STAGE 3: After entrances

Have patience.

Some colleges and universities in South India and elsewhere might already start calling students for counselling sessions within two weeks of their entrance tests, as this is the best time for them to maximise profits, feeding off the uncertainties of parents and students. Keep a calm head, and apply only if such options are feasible, since B. Tech is a course of 4 big years, which might just decide your future career. Hasty admissions in low grade colleges is very, very foolish.

Keep your options open. Some students believe this is just for the weaker students, because “unka toh IIT mein pakka”. Admitted, this confidence is good. But, if your luck runs out, you’ll be in a lot of trouble, and might just have to take admission through management quota in some local college.

Newly formed universities or “Deemed to be university” safe?

You might be surprised to know, that many State and Central administered colleges are opting to become their own universities.

While some say this is primarily to increase seat intakes, the institutes put it as “freedom in structuring syllabus as per industry needs”.

This is definitely not bad, since the content taught as per the Universities of various states is certainly not updated regularly, and aren’t engaging enough to keep students engrossed. They are only updated when someone high up in the education department suddenly gets an inspiration owing to public pressure. This is certainly not good for creation of engineers, who are just gonna be “learning stuff from books” and passing in exams. Fourth years suddenly realise that the B. Tech degree is just a certificate to prove you’re ‘educated’, and is taken for granted by major companies. Placement interviewers demand more expansive skill-sets and diverse specializations for recruitment.

Re-structuring the syllabus with inputs from people in industry certainly helps in these areas, so private universities can actually make students better candidates by equipping them with necessary and more relevant skills in today’s time, as opposed to the conventional ‘book & paper’ exam syllabus in colleges which are known for their brand-name only.

Remember, unless a really old institution switches to being private, one can’t really pass judgement as to whether a private college is better than IIITs or NITs. A newly formed university takes at least 5~7 years to stabilise its syllabus and faculty. This is a key factor in choosing any college.

IIT. BITS. NIT. IIIT. Private. Does it matter?

Cut to the chase.

I’d say, rarely. Unless you count relatives pride as a key factor.

IITians are believed to be hard-working. Not all are. And thanks to the wonderful reservation system, the only guys slapped left right on the face are the General Open category.

For the pursuit of a stream (CS just to say), seats in other streams remain empty sometimes. And by God’s grace, to pursue CS, you need to have best marks in PCM, due to the high cutoff, just because of popular demand. Students who have zero experience in the stream can study it, and someone who knows five programming languages beforehand, and who’d really benefit from having a degree from the premier institutions doesn’t get it.

And don’t let the media fool you. One crore package offered to an IITian makes no sense. Why? Because the company is bound to be a multinational one. And the offer price is quite around $ 155,000 (which is wittily converted to rupees and advertised) which is a standard salary in Silicon Valley. And mind you, day-to-day living abroad is a whole lot more expensive than in India. If every meal costs around $ 12.75 , you’re bound to pay $38.25 just for food. That’s $1147.5 for food monthly (approx. ₹74000). Moreover, renting an apartment is $3895 or so (approx. ₹ 2,50,000). Other expenses are of course, understood. So don’t let the popularity-addicted media of India fool you.

The institute does not really matter. Especially if you plan to go abroad for MS. Your institute will be last on the checklist for consideration. Your CGPA has the highest weightage, along with GRE scores. Of course, you might get respect because of your “IIT tag”, but that’s where it ends. The average package in IITs and BITS is about 8 lpa. High package offering companies visit other institutes as well. But if you’re looking for a job back in India, after completing your MS, that’s where your tag might come in handy.

Faculty matters. What and by whom you are taught matters a lot. All kinds of teachers are found in colleges, some seem God’s gift, others God-forsaken. Try to keep in contact with the top notch faculty members for further studies or placement tips. Keep trying. And the real battle begins in Engineering itself.

Work on improving yourself. There are times when you might wonder that everything portrayed in your life two years ago, was a farce. Yes, to a great extent. Remember your goal, and why you’re here. Utilise the best of resources, and be self-sufficient. Keep reference texts for immediate use. Don’t dwell on textbook inaccuracies for too long. Keep your goal in mind. Don’t just get the degree. Earn it.

Don’t be stupid. Do NOT stick to books. You’re an engineer. You were made to build stuff. Use real-world stuff to understand concepts. Keep building things yourself. Make self projects, which could add on to your resume. Keep a track on companies offering internships. Take part in competitions and stuff, but avoid if you feel you’re wasting your time. It’s true that recruiters search for extra skills, but if you have a bad track record, you’ll be straightaway rejected.

Study smart. College environment is very different from school. Nobody is going to tell you anything, but if you don’t prepare adequately, get ready to face surprises in the semester examinations. Don’t let the freedom and your friends’ laid-back ‘chalta hai’ attitude get to your head.

The MBA game. Gah. A recruitment gimmick. Tricks students into thinking that a Masters is enough to handle the job. Mind you, it might get you in, but you might just be missing out on promotions. You might become stagnant at one point of time, after which it is nearly impossible to get back to education to get another degree.

The start-up plan. You need a plan. A proper business model. And the right people, with the right amount of luck and investor’s state of mind.

And lastly, don’t get influenced by others’ opinions. You don’t have anything to prove to anybody. Figure out your real passion and follow it. In today’s dynamic world, it’s hard to do something unique. Try your best. Justify your tag and/or degree. Earn people’s respect. What more do you want?

I need a break.


One thought on “Take One

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