To perform well in the IIT JEE, the toughest entrance exam in the world, one has to have a very firm grasp over the fundamental concepts in math, physics and chem.<quoted text>
To make it to those qualifying exams, does one first have to rise up thru the ranks, and more significantly have the means and opportunity to rise up thru the ranks?
Or could a very smart but undereducated person perform well on them?
High school syllabus is insufficient.
The questions are usually based on topics taught in Grades 11 and 12 in a sketchy manner and more in detail in university and are deep, tricky and combine several concepts.
In the past, during my times, the degree of difficulty was really high and the questions were so tough that most students would fail the first time and only after a second or third attempt clear the entrance if they managed to get a decent score.
The IIT JEE topper usually scored around 85% or so in all the 3 papers, while the candidate with an AIR (all India rank) say 2000 would score a measly 10 or 12 marks or lower. The rest of the candidates numbering say around 400,000 or more would score 3, 4, 5 or 0 marks and would be eliminated.
Later, the brutal style of questioning was changed under political pressure and on account of a storm of protests from the parents.
The IIT JEE is usually taken by candidates at the end of the course work of Grade 12.
The questions are quite on par and at times a bit tougher than the questions asked in the IMO (International Math Olympiad), IPhO and IChO. The IIT JEE questions are penetrating and most university students would find them difficult to answer.
I began preparing for the IIT JEE in Grade 9 by enrolling for a postal training program with a well-known private coaching institute whose faculty were drawn from ex-scientists and ex-professors. They posted great notes on the basics of each topic, worked out a few examples and drafted a series of really difficult questions for solving. We'd solve these exercises and mail them to the institute and the corrected sheets would be posted back with remarks and better solutions, if need be. Besides, I referred to several well-known university level text books like say Halliday & Resnick, Irodov, Sarin & Sarin, Hall and Knight, Morrison & Boyd, etc when in Grade 10, 11 & 12 as part of my IIT JEE preparation. It was all hardwork and tears.
The ISC (Grade 12) board exams were a breeze and then the main test of one's knowledge in math, physics and chem which was the IIT JEE approached.
A week before the entrance we went mad and became frantic as we revised the concepts and rushed off to the residences of scientists and professors known to our families for extra help and tips. The day of the IIT JEE, I was nervous and revised the main concepts and was driven to the test center alloted to me by my Dad and Mom who were equally nervous. Around 400,000 students all over India took the IIT JEE on that day and the atmosphere was tense. Each paper lasted several hours with a small break in between. A huge gang from Cathedral appeared for the IIT JEE. The results were declared after a month and the pic of the IIT JEE first ranker was published in leading newspapers by the various coaching academies. I ranked in the first 250 in India and could have entered a select discipline in engineering like electrical, aeropspace, chemical etc but I was firm about wanting to study pure science and so rejected the offer of a seat in engineering.
The ISC board syllabus is the best in India though the physics syllabus in the CBSE board is great. Teachers in India lack the basic skills in many ways and without being trained well by the school teachers and without enrolling with a private tutoring academy it would be almost impossible to clear the IIT JEE. Other entrances are not as difficult as the IIT JEE but students need special coaching.