BE @ MU, Part 2: FAQs & Examination Tips

Well, I haven’t been a professional counselor but I have helped everyone who has approached me with questions regarding the engineering course at . Here are a few frequently asked questions that I would like to share and some examination specific tips.

How do you study?
I use reference books throughout the semester and a ready-reckoner that I take up at the end to mould my preparation to suit the exam. If not solve, one should atleast have an idea about the question papers in reference to the question pattern and also the way questions from various chapters are clubbed, usually a pattern is maintained. With the revised pattern, nothing can be left for option, however if you are sure, you can attempt anything & everything from the rest you have prepared, one might opt out on a chapter or module.

How much do you study?
I usually study about 3 (good) hours right from Day 1 of the semester and slowly try to reach 4 hours. During the study leave, I usually aim at about 6-6.5 hours, not more. I prefer morning hours. Try rising early and making the most until lunch as evenings get a little dull. I think an average of 4-4.5 hours per day throughout the semester can easily fetch a Distinction (this may vary from person to person).

How much can I afford to leave optional? What all can be left for option?
One question that keeps coming every semester. I would say, not a word! If this is not acceptable, one has to make sure that everything else is known to the depth. Else, you will loose on both, what you haven’t studied & what you thought you had studied. But please try and avoid leaving things optional.

What should be done on the last day?
I would say, don’t try doing modules you haven’t even read before. Instead work on strengthening what you have previously studied. For people who have used reference books and have their notes ready, work thoroughly on the notes and then glance through the main book trying to recollect everything. Scanning the book is important to notice either things you missed before or diagrams & illustrations that were too difficult for you to include in the notes. For the ‘not-so-prepared’, I would recommend picking up a text-book (a modest way of saying ready-reckoner or paper solution) and prepare the last 4 papers properly, hoping that enough is repeated.

What if the paper is tough?
Trust me, I hardly ever found a paper tough. A paper appears tough due to one’s inefficiencies. However, sometimes, papers do pop out of the black. At such times, you can’t help it except for attempting as much as you can. I feel that however tough a paper is, the paper-setter always leaves a scope of getting 40 marks.

What is the best defensive strategy?
When you are really not aiming at scoring in a paper, try to maximize your attempt. Make enough places (not empty ones) for the examiner to mark you. If you are compelled to solve problems, make sure you at least write the formulae.

I have two papers on consecutive days, should I appear for the less critical* one?
You never know how the paper is going to be. I have observed that people who remain absent for a paper to study for the next cannot usually concentrate during the actual duration of the paper. So might as well attend. If at all the paper is simple, you may be able to write enough based on your previous study. If not, there is always a scope for Information Exchange 😉
* By critical I mean subjects you have to clear to avoid a year drop

The subject is a combination of theory & problems? Where do I focus? Can I leave out the problems?
A very common question, but difficult to answer. Problems sometimes are formula-based & at other times require little application of concepts. They save a lot of time, as in, you can wrap up with a 10 mark problem in less than 10 minutes, thus saving 8 minutes (assuming a 100 mark – 3 hours paper). However, if your solution goes wrong, you may loose too much. Steps & formulae do earn some marks, but you may loose a larger fraction. Theory questions on the other hand will take up time but at the same time assure you few marks (unless what you write is irrelevant). Thus, if you are confident about a problem & a theory question, choose a numerical as it will guarantee 100% marks (if completely correct) where are the best you can get out of a theory question is about 75-80%.

Examination Tips

  • Make sure you carry your Hall-Tickets, Identity cards and identify your Exam Hall well before time
  • Please avoid depending on your environment
  • Carry all accessories that you require for drawing etc. If you have too many, carry them in a Transparent plastic bag (>100?)
  • For a drawing paper (ED, MD), practice only & only on a drafter, believe me its very quick. Also learn to manage your sweat.
  • Write as neatly as you can. Illustrations are weighted more than theory in Engg exams, so draw where-ever you can
  • Maximize your attempt, make sure you attempt all your 7 questions
  • Take enough time to read the question paper thoroughly and to choose the right questions
  • When you know 2 questions half-way, choose the question in which you are confident of maximum sub-questions so that you can score more
  • Manage your time effectively, avoid writing slow, else you will have very little time left at the end where you may have to compromise on neatness & the size of the answer. Time management is very crucial
  • Constantly track time, and compare it with the time per mark ratio
  • Preferably choose questions that have one theory & one numerical question, with these you can manage your time most effectively
  • Attempt problems only when you are sure of the solution. Theory does take time but guarantees some marks. Choose the one that breaks-even between marks, confidence & time.
  • You have to be well aware of the question paper pattern before hand, the sections, compulsory questions, the way questions are clubbed, etc
  • Don’t take too many suggestions (look who’s talking! the one who is making so many) try doing your own thing, you’ll do better

Note: This post comes out my old website, writen in my final year, hence the jazzy colors.