Normally a student ends up scoring fewer marks than his or her maximum potential when he/she tries to attempt a question paper without a strategic plan. This shows that apart from the subject knowledge what is equally important is the strategy to write the exam.
Strategy 1: Linear approach to attempting paper
This is the most simple and straight forward approach to attempt a paper. In this approach you attempt a paper as it comes, which means you start from question 1 and go to question 180 in a fixed sequence. A slightly modified and better form of this approach is that you spend initial 5 minutes to decide the sequence in which you would like to answer the question paper.
For example, if after browsing you find that Physics is easiest followed by Biology and then Chemistry so you attempt the paper in that sequence but once you start with one subject you attempt it sequentially and completely. The disadvantages of this approach are
- Since all the subjects have individual cut-off so over-performing in one subject and under performing in another subject is not the right approach. While solving through this approach you may land up in a situation where you may not be able to attempt one section of the paper at all.
- Since you are attempting the questions in a sequential manner there is a possibility that you may not be able to reach the last question. So you may end up leaving some questions which are easy and you could have attempted if you would have read it.
Strategy 2: Divide Time between different sections
In this approach you spend 5 minutes to browse the paper and than decide the sequence in which you would attempt the paper and also allocate time to different sections of the paper and follow it subsequently.
Strategy 3 :Jayasuriya Approach to attempt a paper
Jayasuriya, the Sri Lankan Cricket Captain changed the way one day cricket is played. Initially the playing strategy used to be to play safe in initial 15 overs so that you do not loose wickets but Jayasuriya played with a different strategy to take advantage of field restrictions in the initial 15 overs. He adopted an offensive approach with the objective to score maximum runs in the first 15 overs. In Jayasuriya approach you spend 15% of total time (i.e. approximately 25 minutes in case of NEET) to run through the entire paper. During this time you find out memory based or direct questions and solve them immediately. So by the end of this time
- You have seen the entire paper
- Solved all easy/direct questions of all the subjects
- Clearly decided the sequence in which you would like to attempt the paper
This approach is based on the objective that you should not miss even a single easy question from the paper. So in step one you find all easy questions and attempt them. After this step you attempt the balance paper in the second round.
Strategy 4 : Three Round Approach to solve a paper
This approach is based on the examiner mind of setting the paper. So before we understand this approach in detail let us understand how does an examiner makes a paper. Normally questions in any competitive exams can be categorized into following types
Easy: Approximately 25% questions are easy
Average: Approximately 60% questions are average
Difficult: Approximately 15% questions are difficult
In this approach we attempt the paper in 3 rounds
- First round is for easy questions and should ideally be of 15 % of the total time
- Second round is for average questions and should ideally be of 70 % of the total time
- Third round is for difficult questions and should ideally be of 15 % of the total time
Remember what percentage of easy and average questions you are able to solve decides whether you will get selected or not whereas what percentage of difficult questions you are able to attempt decides what merit or rank you will get or in other words easy and average questions ensure selection whereas the difficult questions make the merit (i.e. rank) so you should focus on careful selection of the easy and average questions and avoid difficult questions in the first and second round. Come back to them once you have completed the entire paper.
After completing second round you have two options Either you can move to difficult questions as suggested above or you can move to easy and average questions attempted in first two rounds and attempt some of the questions you had left initially.
So do the easy questions first. Skip the difficult ones and go back to them later. Plan to make three passes through the questions: first for the easy ones, second for those you have to think and work hard to answer, and a third round for the difficult ones. Your goal is to make certain you answer all the easy ones first and get those marks. Getting stuck on hard ones early in the exam not only wastes time, but builds frustration that blocks the free flow of recall. The confidence building that occurs as your get several questions correct will relax you and help your recall for the more difficult questions later.
How to finalize which strategy to use?
To know this, one should practice a lot of model test papers in the stipulated time under artificially created exam conditions. After attempting model test papers one should come out with the following things.
(A) The sequence of subjects which suits you most. I used to follow first Chemistry, then Biology and lastly Physics.
(B) Time to be allotted to different sections.
(B) What kind of silly mistakes you do, try to remove them. The common one is poor eye contact leading to not reading the question or its choices completely or correctly, filling wrong circles, skipping the questions unknowingly and making simple calculations wrong.