Getting into the field of theoretical sciences is not easy, particularly if you have already opted for the most sacred degree in this country – Engineering. And the difficulties increase tenfold when your area of interest is pure Mathematics. But I had an undying passion for the subject, a will to fight, and a single mantra – TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS, AIM HIGH. And this is how I did it!
The First Step
In my second year of Btech, I thought of preparing for GATE but I didn’t have any idea about the eligibility criteria and was befuddled about what to do after engineering. Amid lockdown, after a lot of research, I came across a post that BTech students are eligible for MSc in mathematics through IIT JAM. Then I found out about IIT JAM, where I found Maths after Engineering of CoS. In this group, I have contacted a few people and admin Dushyanth who resolved my doubts regarding the IIT JAM examination. And through a few telegram channels, I came across Dips material which was very helpful for my preparation. I have gathered as many resources as possible to start my preparation.
I had almost prepared for six months, and a year would be adequate to prepare for anyone with proper strategy. It’s best to get started as soon as possible. Studying for 5-6 hours daily would be sufficient. I would suggest preparing a plan which suits you because everyone has unique abilities and talents, and any plan can’t be a universal procedure that will yield success for all.
Facing the Obstacles
By the time the examinations were over, I had already forgotten about 30% of the concepts I had read shortly before the exams.
Interruption by academic examinations severely affected the preparation. Due to my academic schedule, I wasn’t able to complete the syllabus at once. By the time the examinations were over, I had already forgotten about 30% of the concepts I had read shortly before the exams.
I’m not aiming at talking about the standard textbooks because, as I didn’t have enough time, I have gone through the books only to understand a few topics. I wouldn’t advise you to follow textbooks if you have a lack of time. The Dips material was great for all concepts, but I couldn’t find the material for integral calculus so I chose Samvedana publications.
Details of the Strategy
Initially, I revised all the basics required for jam preparation. My JEE preparation was quite beneficial to me. Since I am a Btech student, I’m unaware of a few topics like group theory, linear algebra, etc.
Starting the journey of IIT JAM preparation with real analysis would be incredible as most of the concepts are already known to us and require less time and cover a large portion of the total syllabus. Next, coming to sequences and series, a little practice is required. After that, integral calculus and differential equations take a little more time as a few topics are new and we need to understand the concepts thoroughly. Coming to linear algebra, I have gone through some YouTube videos and made notes on it. I found video lectures by the Dips academy for group theory which were good, but time devouring, you can watch them in 2x comfortably.
Very often we can revise the concepts by having a timetable, so a month before the exam, I had made a schedule for each day, like Mon-D.E, Tue- Seq, and series. etc.
A few people prefer books over video lectures, so it’s entirely up to you. If you (engineers) have limited time, you can cover group theory up to permutation groups, which needs less time. Many people leave group theory completely, as it’s new and requires more time to study, but once you understand the concepts you require very little time to solve problems and can save time in your final test.
Next, with the completion of my syllabus, I began to solve the previous year’s papers within a stipulated time. At that point, I have gone through the explanation of the problems and made notes of concepts where I have gone wrong.
Very often we can revise the concepts by having a timetable, so a month before the exam, I had made a schedule for each day, like Mon-D.E, Tue- Seq, and series. etc. During the evening and night, I took a topic-wise test on these topics and made notes of mistakes. On Sunday, I would give mock tests or mini-mock tests as many as I could. Analyze how the paper was, make note of mistakes, on which topics I must improve, time management, and how to rectify silly mistakes which we often make, like calculation mistakes, improper reading of questions (‘which of these is FALSE’, as we don’t read the question completely, we lose marks).
I emphatically recommend you to take any test series to have a real-time experience with tests and to have acquaintance with a scientific calculator. Even though there may be mistakes in the test series, they are necessary for improving time management and withstanding the pressure of the test. Moreover, don’t take test series results so seriously as they might discourage you or build overconfidence in you.
My proposal for preparation
‘Fail tests but don’t fail to learn from your mistakes. I had attempted previous year’s papers, gone through the mistakes, and after a few weeks, I attempted them again and I observed that the majority of questions which I did wrong in the 2nd attempt were those which I did wrong in the 1st attempt. From this incident, I started to learn from my mistakes. I brush up on my mistakes every time before I take a test to minimize the chances of repeating the same mistakes. Try to revise your mistakes more often than you revise the concepts. Attempt the previous year’s papers beyond any doubt, because it helps you understand the standards of the paper and your performance.
Finally, don’t take any tests during the last week before the final examination and just brush up on the mistakes. Make short notes of the whole syllabus and try to study it instead of studying the textbooks. On the exam, the day feels relaxed, get good sleep, read less and deliver your best. Many factors other than talent, hard work, exam pressure, paper toughness, health condition, etc. play a critical role in scoring good marks. Getting a rank is purely luck-dependent. I scored 71.33, which is quite a low score to get AIR 2.
“HOPE FOR THE BEST, BUT PREPARE FOR THE WORST”