Studying at FIIT-JEE
Chaitanya K, a student of National Public School (NPS), attended the FIIT-JEE four-year program, starting from class nine. In retrospect, he believes that he shouldn’t have attended the program for four years, adding that peer pressure was one of the reasons for joining. Chaitanya says that it he found it hard to balance the work from the school and the coaching classes. He felt more stress towards the end because of the mock tests [from the coaching centre] and the board exams. Because his school had extra-curricular activities, Chaitanya felt that it was helpful in managing the stress.
“Coaching classes give you a hard time because the question papers are tough and this can be discouraging. There is a mental barrier concerning the JEE and hype as well, probably because it is the first entrance exam that students have to face. But, guys who work hard do well,” Chaitanya says.
Chaitanya was not happy with his JEE performance but believed that he would get a low rank. He ended up with a JEE rank of 4148. He said that he would probably end up studying at BITS (Birla Institute of Technology & Science), Pilani or NIT (National Institute of Technology), Suratkal. He has no plans to write JEE again.
Studying at ACE
Harsha, a student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, attended the two-year course at ACE. He says that he was able to manage balance between his school and coaching centre because he feels there is an overlap of concepts to some extent. Far from feeling stressed, he says that he actually enjoyed the experience. He feels that the coaching at ACE supplemented by their notes was “more than sufficient”.
According to Harsha, his parents expected him to perform well and were a “driving force”. He says that when he was going through the course, he sometimes felt it was tough but looking back that he’s happy with whatever happened.
Harsha says that one should make an effort to make friends at the coaching centres because it makes life easier; otherwise, you feel left out. According to him, teachers are more interested in students getting through JEE than the students.
When we spoke to him, Harsha was confident about his JEE prospects. He ended up with a JEE rank of 4346, which he said was “bad”. He did very well at CET with a rank of 41. His plans were to go to BITS, Pilani or RVCE (Bangalore). When we asked him about writing JEE again, he said, “I don’t want to waste another year.”
One student who wrote the JEE but did not prepare a great deal was Suma Suswaram. She attended coaching classes in the 10th standard but found it difficult to manage and left after six months. Her only preparation for the JEE was after the board exams, which she concedes is not enough. She feels that one needs “two years of systematic coaching” to prepare for the JEE. Though she attended a CET crash course and wrote the CET, Suma is planning to study in the field of speech and hearing.
Studying at BASE
Amit M. Warrier, a student of NPS, Rajajinagar, is in the enviable position of being able to choose which IIT to attend and which subject to study. His JEE rank was 78.
Warrier, who studied at BASE, says that he was able to balance the demands of school and the coaching classes. Because he had to attend coaching classes only three days a week, he had the time to study on the other days. He says that the coaching classes moved at the same pace as the school and that made it easy to cope.
According to him, the advantage at BASE is that they don’t give assignments and pressure you to finish them—you are encouraged to self-study and put in the work that’s required. The only times that he felt were problematic was when the school tests and BASE tests clashed. However, he adds, “What matters is the final exam.”
During his preparation, he noticed that he had a problem with his Chemistry scores, which he puts down to a mental block. He said that a technique called the Emotional Freedom Technique, which is a self help technique, helped with Chemistry especially towards the end.
His parents didn’t put any pressure on him to perform or forced anything on him. He felt some peer pressure from a fellow student but his father was able to provide sensible advice to help him handle the situation. He also explained that BASE handles students well citing the mentoring sessions (not mandatory) and reports on students’ progresses. He adds at BASE “they motivate you from the beginning”.
On what advice he would give JEE aspirants he says, “Don’t let the pressure get to you. The last thing that you want do is pressure yourself—you need to work when you are comfortable. Ensure that you plan your work and spend time on each subject.” He adds, “Sometimes people spend a lot of time on the areas that they are weak in, but neglect their strengths. Working on your strengths is extremely important.”