Dynamics of low scoring exams

Given the limited amount of time you get to prepare for an exam, what exact skills should you work on to achieve the best performance? The answer to this question depends on your own personality as well as the nature of the exam.

Exams such as IIT-JEE (or whatever form it takes in the future) have two properties that distinguish them from other exams that students face during their school education:

  1. It’s surprisingly low-scoring. For qualifying, you usually only need an aggregate of 40% and people who score more than 80% get All India Ranks in the top 10.
  2. Most of the questions test how deeply you have understood a topic, instead of how well you have memorized certain facts or can perform some simple calculations.

So how do these two properties affect your preparation? Well, there’s a good news and a bad news. The bad news is that if you don’t develop a deep understanding for any of the topics, then you will not qualify.


Here’s what makes IIT-JEE one of the best exams you have ever prepared for in your life. It might even make you want to change your career path if you were not thinking of going into engineering.

Since you only need a score of around 40% to get in, you can completely ignore 15-20% of the syllabus that you dislike the most and you will still be fine! Imagine sitting in an exam where you go in knowing that you won’t be able to answer 20% of the questions, then you attempt 80% of the questions after seeing them, you correctly solve only 50% of them and are still called the cream of the nation! Is that fascinating or what?

Of course, you will have to make sure that for the 80% of the topics you do study, you understand them thoroughly. But fortunately, most of these topics will be the ones you handpicked from the syllabus yourself, based on your own likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses and so understanding them well will be enjoyable!

Of course, the same strategy will not work for other exams. So don’t do this with your 12th board exams! A 40% score in the 12th board is a horrible score! It will not only kick you out of the nation’s cream, but will probably put you into the nation’s undisolved sugar.

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012. Written by admin. No comments.

Get regular study tips in your inbox for free. Subscribe for our newsletter.