Hi! I am Ritam Pal, and I have been a JEE/NEET aspirant like you just some time ago… I qualified KVPY in the year 2018 and 2019(both SA and SX), and after JEE and NEET, I got a chance to study MBBS in Calcutta National Medical College as well as BS at IIT Kanpur. I personally took no coaching as such, and I strongly dislike the idea of one. Neither is good coaching available everywhere nor is it possible for every student in the country to have access to good coaching facilities nor is everyone financially sound enough to be able to manage their steep fees. Surprisingly, JEE and NEET have become a game of the coaching giants, and the success of students is nowadays predicted on the basis of their coaching institute. Gone are the days when students use to have a craze for books. However, I can safely assure you that you CAN get amazing ranks in JEE, NEET, or KVPY if you stick to few books only. On top of that, with the advent of the internet, almost every book is available online and every minute concept is thoroughly explained in YouTube videos. But which books to follow is the big question. Having experienced almost all competitive exams of India, I can safely guarantee you that the below-mentioned books are more than enough for obtaining a wonderful rank through just self-study!
The most “interesting” section of all and my favorite!!. Many hardcore physics lovers cannot control their curiosity and go on to read standard foreign author books straight away! However, the competitive exams of India want students to be analytically good as well. While KVPY focuses strongly on concepts, JEE main physics is boringly calculative and JEE advanced physics is a mixture of both. Below are some of the best books I have used in my preparation journey and ALL of them are available as pdfs to download if you search them properly. If the blog gets good responses, I will surely attach the pdf links as well.
- Ashish Arora’s “Physics Galaxy” series– The best series of books by far I have encountered, it surpasses B M Sharma’s Cengage series. The book has been written by a very celebrated author, and it has very good quality theory to clear away every confusing concept in each chapter. The number of questions as exercises is not extremely high, and each question has a different type. This book is highly recommended for every domain of physics- be it optics, mechanics, electrodynamics, and all… The quality of problems is exceptionally good and conceptually challenging (just what a physics enthusiast might like), and as it so happened, a similar question from this book was asked in jee advanced 2020! I would strongly recommend this book for both NEET and JEE advanced aspirants. Trust me, after following this book religiously, Irodov and Krotov will both feel silly to you..
- David Morin’s “Introduction to mechanics”– Yes, a rather unheard book for JEE aspirants. But as it so happens, paper setters of JEE advanced are IIT professors, who obviously have zero idea about the type of questions spoonfed to students at top coaching institutes. The first year at all IITs have a compulsory mechanics and electrodynamics course, and guess what, their recommended book is David Morin and Kleppner Kolenklov. Coming to the point, this book is meant only for its tough exercise, and I would recommend students to try and practice ( or even sit and look at the problems and their solutions) at the end of each chapter. These will strongly improve your concepts(especially rotational mechanics) and trust me, the type of questions coming in JEE advanced are VERY similar to the questions in these books. This book is not needed for JEE main or NEET.
- Kleppner Kolenklov Mechanics– David Morin is more than enough for a tough dose of problems. K k is a good book but the problems of this book will seem silly to you if you complete the above two books.
- Purcell’s Electrostatics and magnetism – Use similarly to David Morin. Some questions may look “out of syllabus” and indeed they are! But the first few chapters are a very good source of problems in electrostatics and electric potential.
- Problems in Physics By Shashi Bhushan Tiwari 1 & 2– This is no doubt a very good book for practicing questions from each chapter. Solutions are provided at the back of the book and the quality of questions is very very good. The chapters on fluid statics, viscosity, surface tension have very good problems and are a must to try.
- Aakash’s Success Magnet– Has a good collection of unique problems, and the questions are similar to the ones asked in KVPY. It’s not JEE Advanced type though, but completing this book is a great boost for JEE main and KVPY.
- Matrix method to solve electric circuits (a very powerful method, you can solve ANY circuit without Kirchoff laws extremely easily and quickly), Mesh-loop analysis, and knowledge of Norton and Thevenin’s theorems.
- NCERT Physics – Only for NEET, since the paper setters are sticking to NCERT books very exhaustively. Read the examples thoroughly and since the AIIMS exam has been merged with NEET, the previously asked Assertion Reason questions which used to come in AIIMS(picked from NCERT again) has a high probability of appearing in NEET as well.
Considered the most “Boring” of all, chemistry can be a real game-changer. In KVPY as well as JEE and NEET, chemistry questions are the easiest and can help to score a lot of marks if you are conceptually sound enough with a good grasp of practice. I attempted chemistry first in all competitive exams so far and did reasonably well. I have mentioned some of the best books available in the market for a strong grasp of chemistry.
- Neeraj Kumar’s Advanced Problems in Physical Chemistry– This book surpasses N. Awasthi, O.P Tandon, and the lot because this book is a collection of the problems from the above two books along with many more concept-clarifying MCQs. It is essentially a problem book and has a vast collection of problems in each chapter, with proper solutions in the latest edition. All MCQs need to be solved and trust me, they will improve your concepts a lot, especially stoichiometry, chemical and ionic equilibrium, kinetics, and thermodynamics. It is a relatively new book and a damn good one.
- M.S Chauhan’s Problems in Organic Chemistry– This is an obviously popular book and a lot in demand because it goes by name and fame. However, this book is to be used only after completing all the chapters of organic chemistry because the questions in this book tend to be based on mechanisms and their exceptions.
- Akshay Chaudhury’s Advanced problems in Organic chemistry– The best book for practicing concepts in organic chemistry so far, contains an exhaustive set of questions with answers given as well. The comprehensions in this book are very conceptually enriching…
- NCERT for inorganic chemistry– As it so happens, most of the data-driven questions are coming from NCERT these days. It is mandatory for NEET and JEE aspirants to have a thorough knowledge of the inorganic chapters of NCERT as questions asked are directly picked up from this book.
- Clayden’s Organic Chemistry– Hands down! This is THE book of choice for even JAM aspirants, and the book has a wonderful theory surpassing Puala Bruice, Solomons Fryhle, and the lot… Many conceptual questions in JEE advanced have been picked up from this book only!!. Not all chapters are relevant for JEE though, I would strongly suggest sticking to the syllabus released by IITs before JEE Advanced exam.
- Cengage Books For Organic and Physical– I had little knowledge of which books would be good when I initially started my preparation. Cengage helped me a lot in my initial struggle, it was vastly comprehensive and explained each concept well enough. The inorganic book of Cengage is also good but I didn’t mention it because having extra knowledge and talent in inorganic is seemed to be neglected in all India’s exams as only NCERT is being given high importance. Besides, the inorganic textbook of cengage had a few errors in its exercises otherwise, the book had more than need-to-know info about each chapter of inorganic. However, I would strongly recommend studying thermodynamics from a Physics point of view, from Physics textbooks. Thermochemistry may be dealt with separately.
- K.Kumar’s Inorganic Chemistry– The book has very good concept clearing theory for inorganic, along with moderately good conceptual questions at the end of each chapter
- V.K Jaiswal’s Inorganic Chemistry– As a problem book, it has a vast range of problems and similar types of questions are frequently asked in KVPY.
Maths is the most challenging section of all among PCM in JEE or KVPY. KVPY maths is extremely challenging and as years pass by, I am finding papers of KVPY to be increasingly difficult and lengthy. Try to score highly in coordinate geometry ( these might be loong and super lengthy sometimes, so it is better to leave THAT type of question when you recognize it), and calculus. KVPY algebra is the toughest of all and I would advise not to attempt it because these may consume a lot of time. For JEE, the method is different. JEE mains allows you to score highly in maths because JEE main maths is very doable and scoring. Many people prefer beginning their paper with maths. JEE Advanced, on the other hand, gives lengthy questions, to be honest. They will all be doable, but doing them takes time. Try scoring highly in coordinate and calculus. I am mentioning few books which have helped me immensely throughout my JEE prep and even as a NEET aspirant, I was able to crack advanced because of these books:
- G. Tewani’s Cengage Series & Arihant’s Series– Both series are wonderful, and when it comes to theory, Arihant is better. Problem practice-wise, I would say Cengage wins. Cengage books now come with a free practice booklet with many more problems of each chapter authored by a different author ( Seema Saini, as far as I remember), and ALL the problems in the book have a proper detailed solution. It’s up to you which series you would prefer to buy, although both series are available as pdf files and if you buy one or have already purchased one series, you can keep the other series as a reference in pdf form.
- Sameer Bansal’s “Problems in calculus”– Again, a highly popular book, it is a very good one and I have no complaints as of such. This book needs to be rigorously followed, eaten, chewed, and digested, to be honest. The problems are indeed very very good and need a good analytical approach.
- Knowledge of Cayley Hamilton Theorem – Yes, this is the naughty theorem the question paper setters use when making questions on matrices. Learn it from YouTube, (it’s a ridiculously simple theorem, but a powerful one), and you will appreciate its beauty in matrix equation solving…
- Some knowledge about Rank of matrices, Row reduced echelon form, Trace, Eigenvalues, and Eigen vectors-Only for JEE advanced and KVPY.
- Knowledge of Langrage’s Method of Undetermined Multipliers– Learn it from YouTube, although it will be explained for finding maxima minima in 3 variables subject to a constraint, you can jolly well use it for two dimensions subjecting to constraints. This makes the whole chapter of maxima minima ridiculously simple as you need to know just how to PARTIALLY differentiate. Besides, in abnormal questions of coordinate geometry where they ask to find the locus of points and all, you CAN cleverly use it to find maximum distance minimum distance, and so on… As a warning, You may not get its application easily, it will need time and clever practice.
- Sameer Bansal’s “Problems In Coordinate Geometry”– Again, it’s a very good book for tough analytical questions on coordinate geometry I strongly recommend.
- Harvard MIT mathematics Tournaments– They are a good source of tough problems in permutations combinations and probability theory. This is however only for JEE Advanced.
- FIITJEE GMP– Has a very good collection of the toughest questions out there, I would recommend it exclusively for JEE advanced
Comprising 50% of NEET paper, Biology is an EXTREMELY easy section to score super high marks. Also, for KVPY, biology can take you to the topmost ranks very easily if you develop a good conceptual base in ecology, genetics, and biotechnology. I owe me cracking KVPY twice to biology mostly.
- NCERT– Unfortunate but true, in NEET, ALL questions in the 90 questions come from each and every LINE and SENTENCE from NCERT biology. Even the pictures below diagrams and the scientist descriptions before each chapter. For NEET purpose, you totally need to mug up this book although I am never a fan of NCERT textbooks because they are very unexplanatory with insufficient info and totally uninteresting to read. For real biology enthusiasts, I would recommend the books below.
- Aakash’s Biology Books for Zoology & Botany– The packages of Aakash were wonderfully made, with close connection to NCERT topics and having sufficient explanation and detailed analysis of the topics. Some say it also has the theory of old NCERT textbooks. Overall, my concepts in genetics and biotech have become so thorough reading from Aakash textbooks that I scored extremely nice marks in biology in KVPY twice, cracking it twice, and even acing both interviews twice!!
- Campbell Biology– Recommended for Olympiads mostly, this book has a very good description of each chapter with a thorough interesting analysis. Even the exercises were conceptually good and interesting. As such, (although I couldn’t get time to sit for it), IBO is very easy to crack if you have thorough conceptual knowledge of aakash and campbell books. NO need of using ALLEN textbooks because they are very uncorrelated and sway faar from each topic. I personally never wasted my time in MCQs of biology because I strongly believe that if you have your knowledge and concepts right, there is absolutely no usefulness in doing MCQs.