National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, commonly known as NEET, is one of the scariest words in a student’s life after completing their 10th board exams. Even despite having an interest in the field, and having the dream of becoming a doctor, thousands of students give up beforehand, just because they are afraid to try and fail. You keep thinking of all the negative ‘what if’ situations, after hearing stories of friends and relatives, and neighbors. But do you take a moment and think ‘but what if I pass, get through to my dream college, and then have the ability to make a difference in the lives of many?’
How Can I start preparing for NEET after Class 10?
Honestly, cracking through the NEET entrance exam – especially in the first attempt itself – is like an extremely sweet dream. But it is a dream that can be turned into a reality, with proper hard work, determination, focus, and zeal. And most importantly, the right plan to help you do everything in a systematic manner. You should be happy that you chose of going for a career in the medical stream, at this point of your life, when you still have sufficient time to prepare for your exams, in the right manner.
Here, we list down some of the key points for you to keep in mind and follow, which might act as a guide for you in the next two years, and make the entire process seem a bit easier.
- Doing general research: The first, and the most major step is to do adequate research, on understanding what exactly NEET is, what is its exam pattern, what are the subjects included, and so on. You should have the answer to all the queries you might have had in your head for a long time now. You should familiarize yourself with what you are getting into, by talking to mentors and knowledgeable seniors around you. It is advisable to go through the official websites, and check out all the latest data and information, to get a complete and authentic overview of the entrance exam.
- Analyzing your relationship with science: Now, we all know the core of this exam is science, i.e., Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Since you have already studied these subjects in the past, you can take a step back and check your progress in these subjects till date. It can be helpful to talk to your class 9-10 science teachers, who might guide you with a proper understanding of your strong and weak points in each of these subjects, and inform you of the parts where you are capable of making silly mistakes in, the subject portions which you can grasp easily, and so on. This can definitely prove to be useful in planning for the next 2 years.
- Checking out the syllabus:After getting a complete understanding of your relationship with science, you should check out the complete syllabus of the entrance exam. Focus on the major topics and the broad subtopics under them. Remember that you have sufficient time on your hands at this point, and do not panic seeing the syllabus. Make a chart of the topics that might require more attention and the ones that you might have the ability to sweep through. You can also mark the same in your books, so that you can easily call to mind, the areas to focus on, at a glance.
- Taking an informed decision: Now, since you have proper knowledge of what is in store for the future, you should deliberate on whether you can handle it on your own, if you might need the assistance of a tuition teacher, if you might have to join a coaching center that specifically helps in preparation for the exam, or maybe some other option specific to your situation. You should make a list of pros and cons of all the options, talk the same with your family, deliberate on the choices your seniors made in their past, and then finally, take a firm decision.
- Making the right schedule: After all this, it is now time to sit down and plan out a proper schedule. It is necessary to remember that you are making a schedule for yourself, according to your own capabilities. If your friend studies for 10 hours at a stretch, and you study in 4 sessions of 2 hours each with breaks in between, you should not feel demotivated. Your schedule should reflect you, and your studying pattern, otherwise the entire thing will turn out to be nothing less than a waste of time. Some people can follow a rigid, daily basis schedule, with even the tiniest goal pre-planned, while some have a flexible weekly or sometimes even monthly schedule, with larger goals, that they achieve in their own manner. So, it is important to understand the kind of pattern that might suit you better, and choose accordingly, so that it actually turns out to be a schedule that is attainable and realistic enough for you. Also, it is advisable to not make a schedule for 3-4 months or more, at once. You should make these for smaller periods, and then make a new, updated one, after that period. This helps in better planning, since you have an idea of all that you got through, and otherwise, from the previous lists.
- Following the schedule: The most crucial step in the whole two years is to stick to your schedule. It is not enough to make a huge list of daily tasks, and hang it in your room. You must follow it, and go through each task step by step. You should sit at night for a few moments and contemplate if you had a productive day. Put a small tick mark against some topics, cross out others, and so on, to feel satisfied and confident that you are working hard, and going along the right path. Keep in mind that each small tick brings you a bit closer to your goal, a bit closer to becoming a medical student.
- Understanding time management and balance: Next comes understanding time management, something most of us struggle with. Many students sometimes go off the path by concentrating on their school studies and therefore, neglecting the preparation for the entrance exam. You should know how to balance school, and exam preparation. And, even if you join a coaching center, you should keep some time for self-study.
- Avoiding distractions: Furthermore, it is also essential to not get distracted by social media and other hobbies, etc. Although some students cease all recreational activities, you might be someone who prefers to study with breaks in between and so, might spend some part of their day on their hobbies. Although we all have the mindset that we are wasting our time at this stage, whenever we close our textbook, it is necessary to do something other than study, which helps the body and mind refresh and recharge, and even helps in studying better.
- Going for advanced learning: It is important to gain a holistic understanding of every topic you study. If you have covered the basics from NCERT books, you can step on to something a bit more advanced. You should always keep in mind your strengths and weaknesses and focus accordingly.
- Solving mock exam papers: After studying the topics for a few months or more, (according to your pace), you can start looking for mock exam papers. Practicing mock tests properly and regularly gives you a good insight into how the actual exam goes about, and might even help you in planning the topics to study further accordingly. Furthermore, it helps in understanding your own speed, and time management skills that might hinder you on the day of the exam. It is essential to not get too cocky if you score well in these mock exams, and not too let down, if you do not, because no one knows what is in store for your exam paper, so you need to keep working.
- Solving previous year’s question papers: After getting done with all this, or maybe simultaneously, you can start checking out the previous year’s entrance exam papers. Although mock tests give you a good understanding of the actual paper, it is much more advisable to sit and actually solve some papers from previous years. You should try and answer at least some of them using a stopwatch, alone in a room, to get the actual feel of sitting for an examination. This will also help you develop a strategy and a proper plan for when you give the actual exam.
- Understanding topic weightage: As and when the date seems near, you should understand the weightage of the topics, according to the latest question paper pattern, and spend time on each topic accordingly.
- Doing continuous revision and practice: After doing self-assessment using methods like mock tests and previous year papers, you should figure out the areas you might be lagging behind in, and spend some time on them. And, you should try and continuously revise and practice previous topics, which helps in better retention.
Although, the above basically covers everything that you might have to deal with in the next two years, the most crucial aspect is to stay calm and level-headed, to neither become overconfident, nor criticize yourself continuously and unnecessarily. You should be proud that you have chosen a career that is going to help millions in the future, and take motivation from that itself. It is necessary to have faith in yourself, and not doubt the choices of your past self.
Also, remember to maintain a work-life balance in the next two years. Although it is essential to stay focused and work hard, you must not alienate people around you in the process, or completely forget about your favorite pastime activities. You must not lose yourself in this entire ordeal and/or become completely burned out by continuously working. The passion inside you to pursue medicine must always be kept alive.
Sit for group studies, if you prefer it. Discuss your progress with fellow aspirants (but stay away from those who bring negativity to your table), and teachers. Do not hesitate to ask a question in class and get your concept cleared out. And most importantly, sleep well. Follow a healthy schedule, and do not ignore your body in the process, keep in mind that the whole ordeal will be worthless if you fall sick on the day of the exam.
Strive for the best and you will get there. Keep in mind that you are not alone in this process and everyone around you is there to guide you through. Lastly, we wish you all the best for the next two years! We have complete faith that you will be able to crack your way through this entrance exam, and fulfill all your dreams very soon!