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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Edition1: IIT Entrance Tips

Studying in one of the IITs is a much cherished dream of every student. And why not, IITs have produced some of the best engineers not only for India but also have successfully positioned itself as a much respected global Indian brand. Therefore it is a little surprise that every parent wants their child to study in IIT. It is a matter of pride indeed.
However, it is often found that a few of us get the wrong or incomplete idea of preparation for the entrance examination. Remember that it is not just the knowledge of the subject that matters, how effectively you prepare to deliver in the examination are of utmost importance. Whether it is the board examination or state level entrance examination or IIT JEE, the subject content is more or less similar. However, the examination patterns and the type of questions will differ vastly. Most of the students get a bit confused while studying the same subject matter but mentally preparing differently for different examinations. If you go through the question papers of IIT JEE carefully, you will observe that the stress is on fundamental concepts and its application rather than general knowledge of that subject. The latter is more prevalent in board examinations. In the next few sections I intend to provide some ideas, tips and tricks to perform better in IIT JEE.
Career Planning
Most of the students appear for various examinations because they heard about it or their friends and relatives are appearing for the same. That is not the right way to plan your career. It recommended that you study various options available to you and choose an optimal set of examinations that you want to appear for. If you prepare for too many engineering entrance exams of different patterns and syllabi your preparation may become ineffective. There is no harm appearing for as many examinations as possible and in fact you must take an optimal number of examinations, but do not overstress yourself and lose focus during preparation phase.
While studying Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics for IIT JEE, make sure you study the right set of books which focus more on concepts rather than making a long list of problems to solve. You can solve problems quicker if and only if your fundamental understanding is good. Studying some portions of Mathematics like Calculus in advance will tremendously help understanding Mechanics and other chapters of Physics in particular. Therefore if possible, try to complete Mathematics syllabi as quickly as you can. Calculus is easiest of all chapters in Mathematics syllabi, if you study it the right way and you need not wait till standard 12 to study the same. While studying Chemistry, focus on why things are the way they are rather than getting scared at the idea of memorizing so many equations. You will find a pattern to memorize them and then it will not be as scary as they may seem.
Problem Solving
Today it is very easy to find various books on IIT JEE which has huge number of sample problems and mock test papers for the students to prepare. You must solve as many problems as you can but keep note of the following
· You will often find that the books are flooded with similar problems or problems on the same concept. Solving all of these problems will not increase your effectiveness after a certain stage. This is why it is important to study from a book which focuses on concepts rather than listing huge number of sample questions.
· There is no one-size-fit-all. It means that no two students are same and therefore you yourself have to identify tricks or tips you learn and memorize while solving problems so that you can apply them later. You can’t find these in text books and only you can discover them while preparing.
· Often you see other students carrying books which you never saw and then you get impatient to study the same book in the fear of losing out. This actually doesn’t help. Every examination including IIT JEE, has a fixed syllabi and nobody knows which problems will appear in the forthcoming exam. Therefore obtain an optimal set of good books and focus on the same.
Preparing for the Exam
Preparing for any examination needs special attention over and above studying for the same. All of us consult previous years question papers, take mock examinations at home, time our speed of answering and the likes. These are time tested methods which have no alternatives. But remember that taking more and more mock examinations will not help after a certain stage and in fact it may reduce your effectiveness due to fatigue. If we keep doing the same thing over and over again, our effectiveness tends to increase at the beginning, and then remain flat for some time and then decreases due to fatigue. Therefore timing of these mock tests and preparation must be done while keeping the exam dates in mind with a view to attaining the peak at the right time.
Before the exam
Close to the exam dates don’t get to studying something which you haven’t studied before. That is because most probably you will not be able to reach the level of maturity to solve problems in that area. Don’t start taking more and more mock exams or burn midnight oil and get tired. Instead, revise the text books and the notes you have gathered during the preparation phase and review the solved problems. Remember, you are not going to the exam hall with a hope to see some previously solved problems, but to apply the concepts you have learnt to solve an unseen set of problems.
Tips, tricks and wishes for you
It is all fair to apply tricks while solving problems in the exam hall. This is especially true for multiple choice questions. Even if you can’t solve the problem in the classical way, you may find that you can eliminate all the choices but one or you can arrive at the final result by applies some tricks. Here are two examples for you.
Problem 1 : A railway bridge having mass M, length L KM, and width W meters is jolted in an earthquake and performs a Simple Harmonic Motion (ignore damping). The Young’s Modulus of the material of the bridge if Y. Which of the following is a possible time period of the motion of the bridge?
1. 2π Sqrt(Y)
2. 2π Sqrt(M/Y.L)
3. 2π Y/M
4. 2π Sqrt(Y/M.L.W)Note: these values are not actual values but chosen for illustration only.
Answer: Observe that the time period is a physical quantity having a dimension if Time. Only the 2nd choice has a dimension of time and therefore the other three can be eliminated. The actual calculation of the time period is a subject matter of Civil Engineering!
Problem 2: In a game of pulling ropes, N numbers of kids are positioned in the vertices of a regular polygon of N+ 1 vertex, one vertex being left out (Figure A). There is a pole at the center of the polygon and each of the kids are pulling rope normally outward with a force measuring F. Calculate the net force on the pole due to pulling by kids.

Answer: If you observe carefully, you can identify that if another kid joins the team at the unoccupied vertex and starts pulling the pole with force F outward, all the forces will cancel each other and the net result is zero. Therefore the answer should be – a force of magnitude F and directed as shown in Figure B, and this is independent of the value of N. From this you can also deduce that Cos Ѳ + Cos 2Ѳ + Cos 3Ѳ + … + Cos NѲ = 0 if Ѳ = 2π/N because Cos nѲ represents the X component of the force applied by the nth kid, for a suitable choice of Ѳ. This holds for Sine function as well and you will learn these the hard way in Trigonometry.
It is also not necessary to solve the problems in the given sequence nor are you asked to attend Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry in a given order (unless there are specific instructions in the question papers). Therefore you should go by your favorite method that you have identified while taking mock tests. Even if you see a completely unforeseen pattern or unusually difficult problems, don’t panic. It is not the absolute score that matters; it is your relative score against others that counts. Therefore, everybody is on the same boat. Good luck!

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