Armed with a mentorship spanning a quarter-century, Charu Smita has made it her life’s mission to make many medical aspirants’ dreams come true. One of her students bagged All India Rank 1 in NEET in 2018. Charu, an M.Sc in Zoology with top honours, has changed the common perception that the subject requires rote learning through her teaching methods. She encourages and advocates concept-based method, making the subject not only interesting but easy to grasp and remember. Her students have been selected in top medical colleges including AIIMS, MAMC and JIPMER.
Let’s accept it: NEET is one of the most strenuous exams among undergraduate college entrance exams in India. It takes a long preparation time to write the exam with confidence. As a NEET aspirant, you might have several questions lurking in your mind: when do I start the preparation? How much time is enough to complete and revise the syllabus? Will I lose steam while preparing? Will exhaustion take over before I reach the finish line? In recent years, students have started preparing for NEET in Class 8 or 9. Is that wise? In the following article, I will try to clarify some of your doubts based on my experience as a teacher who has taught hundreds of NEET candidates who have succeeded in securing admissions.
When should you start preparing for NEET?
Before considering when to start preparing for NEET, you should thoroughly go through the NEET syllabus. Once you do, you will understand that a majority of topics come from Class 11 Board syllabus and the remaining are from Class 12. The fundamentals of understanding these concepts are taught in Class 9 and Class 10. So, based on my experience, I believe the best strategy to cover NEET syllabus effectively is as follows, depending on which Class you are in:
Class 9 and Class 10: Don’t burden yourself by diving into NEET preparation in these early years. It’s difficult to stay focussed for four years at a stretch. However, use these years to strengthen yourself conceptually, and mentally. Here’s how:
- study the syllabus of Class 9 and 10 carefully. Get a clear knowledge of all the concepts. This way when you start Class 11, you can focus wholly on the topics being taught that year, instead of scrambling to understand and clarify Class 9 and 10 topics.
- get into the habit of studying for long hours. Usually, 2-3 hours of self-study may be enough for students in early secondary school. But remember, NEET requires a whole new level of dedication. Hence, build your concentration and aptitude for sustained effort in the future years.
- prepare for competitive exams like NTSE and Olympiads. These exams require you to hone your logical thinking and delve deep into concepts. These exams also create an excellent base to prepare you by providing a fair idea about NEET and helping you develop the correct approach to tackling NEET.
Class 11: Start full-scale dedicated preparation for NEET from Class 11. As explained before, the syllabus for NEET is from Class 11 and 12 and a large percentage of the paper is from Class 11 topics. Stay focused on the syllabus of Class 11, do not try to get a jumpstart into Class 12 topics. You will have sufficient time for that in Class 12. Instead, try to build a better foundation for Class 12. Make sure that along with learning theory, you are getting sufficient practice as well.
Class 12: Class 12 is the time to collate everything you have learnt in the last three years. You will need to pencil in time for learning Class 12 topics, revision of Class 9 to 11 topics and practice. You should also attempt several mock tests and write previous year NEET papers this year to test your preparation and you should before the exam.
Things to consider
Mindset: The most important part of the preparation is not the books, the notes or the classes. It’s the mindset you have towards the exams and learning. Don’t look at exam preparation as a burden. If you believe it to be, it will feel so. Treat it as an opportunity to learn and improve yourself. Set a goal for yourself and work towards it. Talk to students who successfully cracked the NEET, and try to inculcate their healthy habits into your routine. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the journey.
Strategy: Along with the mindset comes strategy. Given the vast syllabus of NEET, it’s imperative to have an intelligent, comprehensive plan in place to use your time optimally. Set monthly, weekly and daily targets for yourself. Initially, you might feel overwhelmed but if you have joined NEET preparation coaching, you will be provided with a schedule. Since coaching class teachers have several years of experience training NEET students, they will have the best plan aligned for you. Also, trust your teachers and follow their guidance faithfully. For example, Amazon Academy’s NEET Full Syllabus Course offers you the benefit of a carefully curated course that aims to maximise your retention. You will also be taught by teachers in Live Classes from the comfort of your home, get to clarify your doubts anytime and have access to a proper study timetable without having to waste time making one yourself. If you have worked hard in Class 9 and 10, Class 11 and 12 will be easier to sail through.
Consistency: You may have a positive mindset and a fool-proof strategy, but it will all go to waste if you don’t capitalise on these from the start. Reap the benefits of your smart strategy by following your plan with diligence and consistency. Don’t miss any lectures. Study regularly. Complete daily practice problems available. Clear your doubts. Practice questions at the end of chapters. Take part tests and chapter tests. Avoid backlog. Don’t waste time on unnecessary books or reference material. Stay focused.
Right Study Material: Fortunately, NEET does not require a lot of supplementary books or material. NCERT is more than sufficient for Biology in NEET. NCERT is also the base textbook for both Physics and Chemistry, but you can use other common textbooks for practice. In Physics you can use HCV for deeper conceptual understanding. Your teachers will be able to advise you on what books are best for the practice of topics. Do not try to gather a mountain of books that you will never have time to go through. Focus on completing the books that you have and your coaching modules.
Practice: One of the key reasons to start NEET preparation early is that you have sufficient time to thoroughly practice the questions and work on your mistakes. You can practice with thousands of high-level NEET questions on Amazon Academy. Also, on Amazon Academy, along with All India Mock Tests, full tests, part tests and chapter tests to improve subject-wise preparation, you can analyse your preparation by keeping tabs on your test performance. Try to improve your accuracy and speed over time.
In conclusion, it is necessary to lay foundation for NEET preparation from Class 9 and 10 so that you have ample time for revision and practice with sufficient time, you will get a boost of confidence as well. If you look back, top rankers tend to be those who have dedicated two full years to their preparation along with school. I hope these pointers will prove valuable for your preparation. Remember, stay focused, stay on the winning path.
All the best!