Competitive Examinations Myths & Realities
Competitive Examinations Myths & Realities: Most of the questions in competitive examinations are not difficult but are different from that of the board. All they need is a different approach and a strategic mindset. Before we talk more about how to adopt a strategic approach and succeed in different competitive exams, it is very important to understand how they are different from regular board exams.
Board Exams vs Competitive Exams
- In board exams the focus is on understanding the concepts whereas in competitive exams the focus is on application of the concepts. The board exams test whether you know the fundamentals or not but competitive exams are designed to test whether you can apply these fundamentals to real life situations or not.
- The question pattern in board exams is subjective whereas most of the competitive exams follow an objective type question pattern. Therefore, in board exams handwriting and presentation skills are given importance but in competitive exams the emphasis is not on your writing skills but understanding of the fundamentals and their application.
- In school exams the competition is marginal and you just fight to outshine among the bunch of students of your class of 50–60 students whereas in any competitive exam you will have to compete with the entire nation or at least state.
- In Class 12 board exams absolute marks are given importance (% scored) whereas in competitive exams relative marks are important (% doesn’t matter what matters is how many students have scored more than you). So in board exams your target is let us say to score 95% marks whereas in competitive exam your target is to get Rank in top 100 or 99.5 percentile score. In boards both 95% and 98% are good but in competitive exams just one mark can make a huge difference and can result in selection or rejection.
- Board exams are designed to filter below average students from good whereas competitive exams are designed to filter excellent students from not only the average but also the good students. Only top 5-10 % students are selected in competitive exams.
- Board trains the raw mind whereas competition trains the ripe mind. So the former is easier than the latter.
- Competitive Exams have an element of surprise whereas Board exams can be predicted to a large extent
What makes competitive exams different is the cut-throat competition for the limited seats. Therefore, students should adopt an altogether different approach to crack any competitive exam
Type of Questions
The questions in competitive exams can be categorized as follows:
• Memory based questions: These are direct questions & can be solved without /bare minimum calculations
• Application-based questions: These questions involve practical situations & involve application of fundamental concepts. These problems can be further categorized into:
– First level application: involve the application of only one concept
– Multilevel application: involve the application of more than one (usually 2 to 3) concept.
Most of the questions in competitive examination are not tough, they are like riddles, which have a catch in them and involve application of several concepts. Each question has an element of surprise in it and a student who is adept in tackling surprise questions is most likely to sail through. The questions in most of the competitive examinations are new & have not been taken from any of the books. So it is important for the candidate to be regularly exposed to such questions so that he doesn’t lose his confidence on the examination day.
Last But Not Least: The Time Pressure
Competitive Exams is often understood as a selection process, but in real sense it is nothing but an elimination technique. The basic objective of the test is to filter excellent candidates from an average one. In a competitive examination it is not important whether you know the question or not, whether you can solve the question or not, what is important is whether you can solve the question in the shortest possible time or not. So your success in competitive exams depends upon your approach towards these questions i.e. the way you attack these questions because that defines the time you would take to solve the question. Most of the questions can be solved by two or three methods but it is important to understand the trick and adopt the shortest method so as to solve the question in the shortest possible time. So, apart from the type of questions what makes Competitive Exams different is the time pressure that they impose on you. Out of 180 minutes that you get in a Competitive Exam normally a candidate uses 18 to 20 minutes of it for darkening the circles that means in the remaining 160 minutes you have 200 questions in front of you. Isn’t that race against time?
To summarize, Competitive Exam is not only a test of your knowledge but it is also a test of your aptitude, time management skills, nerves, consistency and ability to apply basic fundamentals to real life situations.