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ATTENTION!! : If you are here just for books, I’d recommend you go through the updated post – Physics Book for JAM, JEST & GATE along with comprehensive reviews. This current post has the perspective of a single person, but the above post is written by a number of brilliant people from our community (which also include this author) with different perspectives. The editor highly recommends going through the above post.
List of Books used for JAM:
These books are strictly for JAM preparation. I did not focus enough on statistical physics, so I wouldn’t call my study source for it relevant. The rest is good enough, I believe.
Mechanics: Start with Concepts of Physics by H C Verma (HCV). This one covers almost 70% of mechanics. Use ‘Introduction to mechanics’ by kleppner for new concepts and also for conceptual depth. I used Physics by Resnick, Halliday, and Krane for the Special Theory of Relativity.
Electromagnetism: Griffith is very intuitive, has great concepts. Coupled with HCV, this would cover your entire syllabus (Only except parallel AC circuits, I guess. Refer some basic electrical engineering book or refer online)
Quantum Mechanics: Griffith teaches the mathematics of Quantum Mechanics well. Use for conceptual understanding of mathematics and wave functions. You can also use ‘Concepts of Modern Physics’ by Arthur Beiser for a brief understanding. You might have to refer online sometimes for particular expressions or stuff, like reflection and transmission coefficients in various potential wells.
Mathematics: Use Mary L Boas for all the new stuff, good basic concepts. Use NCERT for 12th level Mathematics
Optics: HCV has the basics. I used applied physics book by kshirsagar and avadhanulu which we used in engg. for diffraction and polarization. I am sure you can find a better book (Ajoy Ghatak’s book is recommended by many).
Waves: HCV again for the basics. For damped and forced oscillations, superposition of oscillations, use ‘Oscillations and waves’ by H J Pain
Thermodynamics: HCV for basics once again. Heat and Thermodynamics by Robert Dittmann for everything not covered in HCV
Statistical physics: Referred to some random notes online. (Kunal, a topper in JAM Physics 2019 recommends Berkeley Physics course on Statistical Mechanics by F Reif)
Modern Physics: Everything remaining in this topic can be found in ‘Concepts of modern physics’ by Arthur Beiser.
Electronics: Principles of Electronics by V K Mehta.
My story of preparation
Hello, fellow physics lovers. Let me begin by telling you the most important truth you will ever know in your life. ‘IIT-JAM is a very important exam in India!'(for our new readers, please don’t judge me, this is an inside joke). For pure physics aspirants, IISc and IITs are some of the best places to study physics in this country. But well, just like pure sciences, this exam too suffers a fate of ignorance which is why you might face hurdles in your preparation due to the inexistence of reliable study resources (Or due to time wasted in proof-reading the study material you buy). Hence, I pen down my preparation methodology here. I wish to warn though, that there can’t be a universally accepted correct method to prepare. It is very individualistic, and you need to be the best judge of your own self. Use this and other blogs only to pick some points which you think can be useful to you.
Like most other aspirants, I decided to prepare for GATE and JAM both. I started preparing in my 7th semester, but with the B.Tech project and other coursework related stuff, I could not study much. And I didn’t even qualify GATE Physics 2018 (Trust me, not qualifying is really hard work!). I decided on dropping a year to prepare. But misjudging my own capacity again, I thought an entire year is too much time for just exam prep. I took up a 2 months physics project. After this was finished on August 20, I sat down for real exam preparation.
I prepared a study plan, considering every topic in GATE. Most were completely new and unfamiliar territory. Unlike many others in this community, my capacity to sit for long hours studying continuously is very diminished(It’s just euphemism for pure lazy and stupid). However, the plan clearly indicated that I will have to finish one topic in 10/15 days, which was too much for me. I started preparing initially but realized it was too risky. I couldn’t ask doubts to anyone. I was really stressed out. So finally, in September, I decided to completely focus on JAM alone.
Now more than half of the JAM syllabus is 11-12th Physics (Yes, back to H C Verma!! Nostalgic already). My 12th Physics was relatively strong. So, I started preparing new topics first. I started with Electronics, Quantum Mechanics, Optics. I prepared using only books (no video lectures or any other method), most of them by foreign authors(List of books mentioned at the beginning of the post). I couldn’t find all the syllabus in one book. Hence, I would use multiple books to study one topic, all the while, not deviating from the syllabus at all. I would finish every line of the syllabus given for a particular topic and solve problems to practice and confirm I did not miss out on any stuff on that topic. Making brief notes (both concepts and formulae) assists deeper understanding and memory, and also helps in revision. Hence I highly recommend that. After that, I quickly revised the known topics and was done by mid-Jan.
My primary focus was on understanding. I would miss out on my syllabus deadlines (almost all the time! Scares the hell out of you when you have so less time! Try avoiding this) if I feel I haven’t understood a topic well. And by understanding, I don’t mean being able to solve all the problems. Understanding means being able to imagine the concept. It takes some work, searching for the appropriate source/answer. But I believe it’s worth it. This sort of commitment goes a long way if you truly want to ‘romance with physics’.
The final word on preparation. Understanding is very important. So is solving lots of problems. Solving also assists understanding and imagination. One word of caution. Don’t simply leave a problem which you couldn’t solve. Try finding a solution to it from sources available to you(I believe the community of Physics After Engineering will be sufficient most of the time). Such problems quite often involve concepts or understanding you might have missed out on. Also, those little steps in the solution of problems that you could not solve, make sure you have understood them well. Please don’t get disheartened if you can’t solve a lot of problems or if you make a lot of mistakes. The more mistakes you make now, the lesser mistakes you make in your exam. Moving on, from mid-Jan onwards I solved all previous year JAM papers, even the subjective ones(Do this at any cost). You may solve additional problems from the study material of classes, problems from reference textbooks, whatever. You can also use Schaum’s outline series for various subjects if you need more practice. Revise your notes even for the little concepts in the syllabus, which weren’t used in problems. There is no rocket science here, no universal funda, no magic notes, or study material. All it requires is the completion of the syllabus, enough problem-solving practice from any source, consistent work, and revision.
Lastly, why physics? No doubt, physics is hard. Getting into a good institute is hard work, mainly because we are engineers. But is it worth it? This is what I feel about it.
Dilo me tum apni betabiya lekar chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tumNazar me khwabo ki bijliya lekar chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tum
Do you remember the scene in ‘ZNMD’ where the lead trio is enjoying deep-sea diving? Can you imagine being drowned deep into yourself like that? Feeling each breath, each moment of your life? Understanding how nature around you works, how those fancy mathematical equations reveal nature’s secrets, all the while feeling all alive, the happiness of knowledge, and deeper understanding charging up your nerves? I believe, being able to deeply engross yourself in something and feeling tremendous pleasure doing it is a privilege which only scientists and artists can avail themselves of. I imagine a beautiful life romancing physics. And yes, I believe it’s worth it!
About the author:
scored 6th rank in JAM Physics 2019, did his B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from Sardar Patel College of Engineering, Andheri. He’s about to start his M.Sc. Physics course at IIT-Bombay.