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Lessons from my not so certain journey to IISER, Tirupati – Arpita Bhat

Arpita Bhat

Arpita Bhat

Hi Folks! I'm Arpita Bhat from Jammu. As of July 2022, I am a 1st-year BS-MS student at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Tirupati (IISER- TPT), following my passion for becoming a Researcher.


Through this column, today, I will shed light upon my personal road to the IISER-TPT. How I transitioned from NEET aspirant to an IAT aspirant & what my Study looked like for IAT preparation. At last, on the spur of the moment, I will also share some tips, which, in my opinion, make your tiresome preparation a little less tiring!

My 10th grade made me realize that I am more inclined toward Biology. So after clearing my 10th board, I opted for Biology, Physics, and Chemistry (PCB) stream for my 11th & 12th. Following my interest and passion, I enjoyed learning the concepts and acquiring knowledge in Subjects. It was the 11th that made me realize that I was more interested in research. Being ignorant of IISER, I started preparing for NEET, considering it the only option for Biology students. Leave preparation; I didn’t even give a complete thought to the IAT exam separately as I was oblivious of these Research Institutes like IISERs, NISER, CEBS, etc. It was only after I heard about IISERs from one of my relatives that I started preparing for IAT besides NEET.


IISER Aptitude Test (IAT), a 3-hour computer-based exam held annually in India for IISER Admissions. People have cleared the IAT exam by attempting the Math or Biology, along with Physics & Chemistry sections. The vast majority of people who make it to IISER via IAT have either Bio. or Maths in their 10 + 2.
Feel free to check the official website of IISER Admissions if you want an in-depth guide about IAT itself.

How to Crack IAT, Arpita?

Getting started with Syllabus, the same way you prepare for JEE (mains /advanced), NEET, or NEST. They all follow the standard syllabus of 11th & 12th grade.
Below are some tips, you wouldn’t keep yourself stumbling from:

Four Sections & The Cut-offs

There are 4-Sections (Physics, Chemistry, Biology & Mathematics), carrying 45 marks each. The primary requirement in IAT is to score 110+ by studying correctly.

  • Now, if you’re a PCB student, you’re left with only 135 marks. You must ensure you get at least 40 in Bio. & Chem. This leaves us with 30 marks. Try to get it from the physics section itself. The questions are more accessible than exams like JEE-Adv. To add features to your score, you can also look up to some easy, but scoring Maths topics if you have time to prepare. It is not necessary to attempt the Math section. It just adds to your score, & you are on the safer side! However, above all, make sure you don’t get many negatives.
  • For a person coming from PCM background, worry not! Bio. will not be your nightmare. NCERT, along with standard Arihant books, are enough to do well. Even if you do not have biology in your 11th & 12th, you will be asked questions from the Biology portion, as it is compulsory. So it would be better if you do some light Biology topics, e.g., Genetics, Ecology, Reproduction, etc. Just reading the Bio. NCERTs will provide you with a score boost for the Biology section.
  • Do the Basics First. NCERTs should be thoroughly done, every bit of it! Solve thought-provoking standard problems. NCERT Exemplar and NCERT chapter-end questions should also be done to understand the topics better. Solving 40-45 out of 60 questions would surely get you into IISER.

PYQ Matters

The most critical aspect of any exam preparation is solving questions from the previous years. They help you to become more acquainted with the pattern of the paper. These questions must be practiced to get a good rank in entrance examinations. Therefore you must solve it along with your daily studies.

Time Tracking helps

You can also set timers while solving Questions. This will help you to gauge your preparation in a better way. At the same time, your time management & exam-solving skills will also blossom, which I think are essential.

How did I prepare for the Exam?

I’ll go subject-wise here;

Physics: Aakash module and NCERT textbooks were mainly for Theory. Then to get the gist of the topics and to understand better, I watched videos of Alakh Pandey on YouTube. I practiced numericals from NCERTs, Aakash modules, & PhysicsWallah modules. Noted all the formulas as short notes & practice numerical from all topics. One piece of advice here will be to make sure to revise the formulas before your IAT exam.

Chemistry: For Physical Chemistry to solve numericals, PhysicsWallah modules, Aakash modules & video lectures (…) became my clear inclination. For Inorganic Chemistry, I only followed NCERT. I used OP Tandon for theory & MS Chauhan for problem-solving on Organic Chemistry.

Biology: Since the bio section is not that difficult, I referred to 11th & 12th NCERTs to understand the basic concepts. For MCQs practice, I used MTG fingertips. Solved previous years’ question papers. Mock Tests are also available on the IISER admission website, I solved & you should solve them too. Again, for a person coming from PCM background, don’t worry for Bio, it will not be that much tough.

Maths: Since it is not mandatory to attend the 4th section, so don’t stress over studying the 4th subject if you didn’t have it in your 11th & 12th grade. It is not compulsory, so you can ignore it if you don’t feel like attempting any of the questions.

I attempted roughly 3-4 questions of Maths & I am still an IISERite. Instead, I suggest you ensure that your PCB is fully prepared and that all the concepts are within your reach. If you want to boost your score, focus on topics like Probability, Sets, Series and Sequences, Determinants, etc., so that you can attempt at least 2-3 questions from the section.

I have tried to include the best of my learning & experience here. Feel free to email me regarding your doubts & expectations at: Apart from this, follow & connect to me in my journey & life through my LinkedIn profile.

Edited by: Harsha Vardhan

3 thoughts on “Lessons from my not so certain journey to IISER, Tirupati – Arpita Bhat”

  1. Hello mam, thank you so much for your advice . If possible can you guide me a bit as I am appearing for IAT this year, I studied PCMB in 12th but chemistry and maths is my weakest of all . So how should I prepare those two subjects to ensure a good score ? Please do reply if you are active here

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