Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth;...I shall be telling this with a sigh “delight“Somewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.
NOTE: Those who don’t want to read how I ended up in love with Physics but are here take notes regarding my preparation can head-up straight to the heading: “The Journey to AIR-22 (IIT-JAM) & AIR-54 (JEST)”
My Eternal Love for Physics
It was November of 2018 I was worried about what to do after engineering; like any other 3rd-year engineering lad. I was literally googling “can an Electronics Engineer pursue Physics after B.Tech.” and I landed upon Quora: Can an electronics and communication engineering student pursue Ph.D. in physics after under graduation? From here I came to know about IIT-JAM, searched more ’bout it, and downloaded a few previous years’ papers. The first thing I realized was that I could have attempted almost 40% of the questions right away. I am not talking about answers being correct or not I just meant that I was acquainted with the syllabus. Then after some consultations, I decided to prepare for it.
I had a friend in B.Sc.-Physics, AMU, so I contacted him. He helped me in collecting notes and study material of Career Endeavour and AVS-Fiziks from his seniors in M.Sc. Fast forward to June-2019 I got an internship with “Cummins India“, Pune. So I was occupied there till the mid of July. So preparations no yet. I just started the Vectors from Mathematical Physics (I’ll explain why maths 1st) but no progress. The fear of ending up at a dead-end started to haunt me. I was so freaked out that I even finished my internship 2 weeks earlier than the schedule and returned home. It was in the last week of July when I hit the REAL JACKPOT: Physics After Engineering especially: How to do MSc Physics after B.Tech (any stream)? What happened after was unprecedented at least for me…
The Journey to AIR-22 (IIT-JAM) & AIR-54 (JEST)
I was welcomed to the community by the great “Niket Shah” himself.
As people learn from their mistakes thus I decided not to repeat the same mistake I did during JEE preparations, which was following the herd and waste your resourceful time in coaching. So I decided to prepare on my own without attending any classes.
- The first thing I would advise you is to take out the print of the detailed syllabus of your exams paste it in your room. Divide the topics and assign months to them and fix an order. Something like this:
- The second thing I will advise you to fix a pattern for studying any topic. Different people use different strategies. Some people strictly follow some prescribed books and then practice questions. For me, this strategy failed and I ended sticking on the “Vectors” itself for the whole of August. Because I used to study the same topics again and again from different books or PDF materials of coachings (I strongly advise against this practice). Then, I somehow arranged a photo-stated version of the study material of “AVS Fiziks” from Jia Sarai (Thanks to my best friend, who brought it for me). Now when it comes to me I am sort of theory-guy than the numerical-ones. I can solve a numerical in an exam even if I have practiced just one or two numericals of each kind, provided I have read all the complete derivations and theory. So these packages served as an elixir for me as they had enough theory content and numericals to supplement my needs. This is what I possessed:
- The third thing I did was making my own handwritten notes for a better understanding of the subjects and for the revision in the future. You will also get these handwritten notes from the photostat shops or their PDF versions on the G-drive of PAE. But I again will advise you to make your own notes ‘coz there are a lot of things say, acronyms you won’t get in someone else’s notes. I personally filled around 9 large notebooks; containing theory notes and numericals. My White Gold looked something like this:
- The fourth thing is of prime importance. Do solve previous year questions (PYQs). It will help you estimate the standard of examination and the exact type of questions asked in the paper. There can be two ways of doing them, one is described by Rishabh Kaushik, I chose the other one, in which I attempted them subject-wise just after I finished any subject. You will get subjectwise PYQs on the official website of AVS-Fiziks for JAM, JEST & GATE. Initially, I solved PYQs of all the 3 exams but as the time started to fall short towards the end I opted to solve for JAM and wither one of JEST or GATE. I was so short of time that I almost skipped most of the JAM PYQs of the last subject I studied (QM). I strongly advise against it. You should try to solve each and every PYQs.
- The fifth & final thing is selecting a good All India Test Series for analyzing your performance. I personally chose Career Endeavour’s as I heard Fiziks’ one had many mistakes, was quite easy and had a very few tests. But on a fair note CE’s one was no different in terms of mistakes but yeah was a bit difficult than JAM exams and had considerably more tests. But after a point of time, I was so much fed up, that I stopped appearing for those tests and solved PYQ (year wise) with a 3-hour timer. Since I had already done those before, this exercise was extremely good for “Confidence Building“. The CE test series also had 1 hr. unit tests (subject wise) which I attempted for every subject just after finishing it and doing PYQs. But the point that most people miss regarding Test Series is the proper “Analysis” of each and every test you appeared for. They are not just for practicing how many questions you can attempt in a given time frame but also for evaluating what you did wrong, what kind of silly mistakes you are doing, which topic is troubling you, and how the hell we use that online Sci-Calc.
Coming to the order of subjects which I followed (and Why?) & different books that can be referred to. Remember you can follow any particular order for your preparation if mine doesn’t suit you. All you need is some motivation and loads of hard work, smart work, and perseverance.
- Mathematical Physics: I started this the very first ‘coz of 2 reasons. First, there is a very popular saying in the world of Physics- “Mathematics is the language of Physics“. So I chose to learn the language first before entering the territory of Physics. Second, its syllabus was exactly the same I studied for mathematics in my first 3 sems of engineering. Now, apart from the coaching package, you can refer to Advanced Engineering Mathematics by Erwin Kreyzig, Mathematical Methods in Physical Sciences by Mary L. Boas, Mathematics For Engineers by Chandrika Prasad as well as his book on Higher Mathematics. For Differential & Integral Calculus, you can also watch videos of Technion (An Israeli YouTube Channel), it has an about of 100 videos on the mentioned topic (Another reason why it took me this much time finishing maths). Note, you can watch these videos at 1.5x or 2x rate.
- Classical Mechanics & Relativity: After dedicating more than one and a half month maths due to my strategical mistakes (which I won’t advise anyone who has started preparation from mid-August). I chose CM next as I wanted to finish up subjects that I knew at a rapid rate now. Since CM was a major part of the JEE syllabus so I didn’t face any significant difficulty in it. TBH I didn’t refer to any book in case needed I referred my preserved JEE notes. But if you want you can follow HC Verma by heart. For Relativity refer to Introduction to Electrodynamics by David J. Griffiths, in the last few chapters it explains relativity so beautifully.
- Electrodynamics: I had no reason not to opt for it next. It was entirely what I loved during my entire ELECTRONICS ENGINEERING. Fiziks package had loads of errors in this subject and to my surprise, they have copied each and every line from Electrodynamics by David J. Griffiths and did typos even in copying (feeling sad for the coaching culture of our country).
- Thermodynamics & Statistical Physics: At this point in time I almost planned for skipping Modern Physics & Waves-Osci. due to a shortage of time and decided to pick up the remaining subject other than the Electronics. I finished up the entire subject in 10 days from the package and didn’t refer to any book. In case needed people told me to refer to Fundamentals Of Statistical and Thermal Physics by F. Reif or to Statistical Mechanics by Raj Pathria.
- Electronics & Solid State: I had every possible reason to hold it till this last (1st week of January) ‘coz this is my “Forté“. I finished the entire course of Electronics in just 5 days and took another 3 days to wind up Solid State. BTW, I would not advise this stunt to any engineer other than the Electronics, ‘coz you won’t get it in 5 days. I can suggest as many as books you want in this subject. Electronic Devices and Circuit Theory by Robert Boylestad, Microelectronic circuits by KC Smith & AS Sedra, Digital Logic and Computer Design by M. Morris Mano. For Solid State, you can refer to Solid State Physics by RK Puri & VK Babbar. AVS-Fiziks dittoed their package from this book. I personally watched YouTube Tutorials of raystudies. He teaches in a very beautiful and simplified manner. In fact, if possible try watching his videos in fast forward mode. I watched at 2x speed😆. It will save time.
- Waves, Oscillations & Optics: For a person who is in the 2nd week of January (keeping in mind that JAM was on 9th Feb) It was an easy choice to choose between QM or this. As a matter of fact, I had studied a portion of it in my engineering. As for the waves and SHM, JEE notes were handy else you can refer Waves and Oscillations by N Subrahmanyam & Brijlal, The Physics of Waves and Oscillations by NK Bajaj, and as usual, AVS-Fiziks dittoed their optics from- Optics by Ajoy Ghatak. It took me around 8-9 days to wind this up (are you catching up on my speed?😂 from 45+ days for maths to a week per subject!!). The Survival Instincts of an Engineer were at play. As the great Albert Einstein said: “Hunger, love, pain, fear are some of those inner forces which rule the individual’s instinct for self-preservation“. By now I was studying around 15+ hours a day or so. To all the aspirants making this far in this long text you already had the patience to read such long thread, now the only element you need is this hard work I mentioned just above.
- Modern Physics & Nuclear Physics: Now it was around 23rd January I had to choose either entirety of Modern Physics (including QM) or the test series? As I mentioned in the text above I am more of a theory guy than of numericals. So I decided to go for GATE which was on 1st Feb. without appearing much of the test series. Again I wouldn’t advise it to any aspirant as I ended performing average in GATE (#2455) despite it being the easiest paper in history. Coming to the books, I would say the fiziks package will suffice, with some corrections, as Modern & Nuclear Physics were just a collection discrete but small topics. But for QM you can refer- Quantum Physics by HC Verma, Quantum Mechanics by DJ Griffiths, Quantum Mechanics: Concepts and Applications by Nouredine Zettili (Fiziks dittoed the package from this book). Anyways to my surprise, I was so high on exam survival instincts that it took me just 5 days to finish up the whole of Modern Physics. In reality, I just played smart and studied exactly only those topics of it that were appearing again and again in PYQs. A teacher of mine once told me: “Getting marks in an exam is an art, all you need is to master it“, and in engineering, we almost had mastered this art of studying a day before an exam.
That’s how I winded up everything and moved ahead towards attempting the test series I bought in the last 1 and a half week. On a personal note, I would advise you to give more time to the test series, around 15+ days.
If I would be honest I did no extra efforts for JEST other than the preparation of JAM + learning Langrangian & Hamiltonian Mechanics. This was largely due to the fact the about 70-80% syllabus of JEST comes in JAM but in the form of easy questions. In fact, I just solved 2 previous year papers in the gap of a week between JAM and JEST. Sometimes all you need is a stroke of good luck.
In case I would have missed anything (though its chances are rare) I have some Miscellaneous pieces of advice for people trying to find their path to this world.
- Prepare notes while reading and try to explain the topic you read to someone or yourself. I even bought a whiteboard to teach topics to myself (Personal Choice). I came to know this is called the Feynman Technique. I practiced it throughout and came to know that it has actually got a name from Deepmala Wadhwani‘s article.
- Just a week before your exam prepare “Micro-Notes” of the whole syllabus in about 10-15 pages so that you can revise the entire syllabus daily in just 1 or 2 hours.
- If you face any problem in solving questions of some books or PYQs or package, then I will advice you to download “Doubtnut” app it has an awesome interface with an OCR, all you need to do is just click the photos of the questions using the app and it will find you the video or text solutions of your questions. And incase you use some books whose solutions are not available on Doubtnut then go to “Slader” they have solutions of all standard books and have a playstore app too.
- Decide upon a Paper Attempting Strategy (PAS), which suits you the best and enables you to attempt a maximum number of questions without negatives. For JAM my PAS was: Single Correct Types⟶ Numerical Answer Types⟶ Multiple Selection Types. As MSQs carried the least marks and needed more time compared to other sections so I chose it to be the last. Practice strategy enough number of times in Test Series. By this method, I was able to attempt 58/60 questions. The 2 questions I left were by choice ‘coz I wasn’t so sure of their answers and didn’t want any -ves. I faced the -ve marking of only 1.33 (i.e. 4/3).
- Well, last but the most important one is to relax your brain sufficiently when you study for such long hours. I learned from peeps preparing for UPSC, that for relaxing you need to have your very own “Charas” (“Kick”- in English). My charas was to watch “Bigg Boss-13” during my Dinner and Lunch Time. I know you all will judge me for this crime. But honestly what else can be more relaxing than watching a bunch of people confined in a house and fighting with each other? In fact! I have known a person who used to make his dog smoke cigarettes along with him (Now this is weirder!!).
Finally, the last driving force you all need is a very “Personal Motivation“. I was just madly motivated to see those priceless tears of joy again in the eyes of my Father. The only time I had seen him with tears, in my life was when I qualified the Mains and got 8th rank in the 12th Board on the very same day! And then it was the day when I told him my result and said, I’m gonna make it to the IIT-Bombay!!
Mr. Harshul Gupta has secured an All India Rank of 22 in JAM & 54 in JEST in the year 2020! He also, like Rishabh achieved this feat while still in his final year of engineering. We, the PAE (Physics After Engineering) community, are delighted to about his achievement and wish him the best in all his future endeavors. He is currently looking forward to joining a Master’s programme in one of the premier IITs in the Country.