Dr. Deepu Philip
Most people, when they think about Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs), they think about it as a great technology (or engineering) institution. However, very few realize that IITs do offer advanced degrees for the bright aspirants of the pure sciences stream. From academic year 2004-05, IITs started conducting the Joint Admission test for MSc (JAM), which is a standardized test that is designed to assess the performance of students from the science stream. Successful candidates, then seek for admissions in the MSc., M. Sc. -Ph. D. Dual Degree, Joint M.Sc.-Ph.D. and all other post-bachelor degree programs at the IITs and to the Integrated Ph.D. programs at Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
The M.Sc., Joint M.Sc.-Ph.D, M.Sc.-Ph.D. Dual Degree and other post-bachelor degree programs at IITs are high quality programs within their respective disciplines; quite on par with the best in the world. These programs have well designed and most updated curricula, aimed at providing better exposure to the students with opportunities to develop academic talent, leading to a rewarding professional life.
The curricula is quite interdisciplinary in nature, and undergoes frequent updations and modifications to include the latest knowledge in the respective files; creating opportunities for utilization of scientific knowledge for practical applications. The major eligibility criterion for appearing for JAM is a graduate degree in the required discipline and should have completed the degree before September 2014. Also, IITs requires a minimum of 55% aggregate marks for General and OBC candidates, whereas 50% marks for SC/ST and Physically Disabled (PD) categories. This year, it should also be noted that IIT Guwahati has slight variations in the eligibility criteria. However, IISc requires a first class for the General/OBC category and the SC/ST/PD category condition is the same as IITs.
For JAM 2014, the application forms will not be sold through banks. Instead, the application process will be accepted only through online process. For this candidate should apply through the online portal (http://gate.iitk.ac.in/jam/index.html), which will be open till October 12, 2014. The fee can be paid through net banking or through bank Challan, which will be generated by the website. However, the limitation of Challan is that it should be presented to any core banking branch of State Bank of India on the next payment day. It will take 48 hours to update the Challan payment information on the website, after which the candidate can login and print the application form. The last day of payment through Challan mode is October 12, 2014, which is also the date on which the online registration process on the website. However, the applicants can continue to take printout from the website until October 16, 2014.
Once the online form is printed, a passport size photograph is to be affixed along with the signature in the appropriate boxes on the application form. The form should have an extra photograph, which will be used for creating admit cards and so on. It is important that details like name and application number are to be written in the back of the photograph. Also, caste certificate in the prescribed format is also to be attached along with the printed online form. Last date of receipt of JAM forms to the chairperson office is October 23, 2014.
Also, for JAM 2014 Computer Applications (CA) and Geophysics (GP) papers are discontinued. Papers of Chemistry (CY), Geology (GG), Mathematics (MA), Biological Sciences (BL), Biotechnology (BT), Mathematical Statistics (MS), and Physics (PH) will be in two parts. So the candidates wanting admission in the GP program should take PH paper. Part-I will be an objective paper, whereas Part-II will be subjective. The objective part has negative marking, whereas the subjective part is devoid of negative marking. The paper of BT has both parts objective type.
The initial short listing will be done based on the performance of the Part-I paper, and only those candidates who qualified for Part-I will have their Part-II papers evaluated. Performance in both parts together will be used for creating the final merit list. This merit list will be an All India merit list, from which admissions to different programs at different IITs and IISc will be conducted. This year, the JAM 2014, which is a national level exam, is conducted by IIT Kanpur. The exam date will be February 9, 2014; the exam date will not change, and there will be two sessions. Session-I will be from 9 AM – 12 Noon, with papers of BT/CY/GG/MA and Session-II will be from 2 PM – 5 PM with BL/MA/PH papers.
Application fees for JAM 2014 for all male candidates in General/OBC category will be Rs. 2100 for two papers, and 1500 for one paper. Similarly, SC/ST/ PD candidates and all female candidates will only have to pay half of the fees, Rs. 1050 and Rs. 750 respectively. Each candidate can appear for either one or two test papers; however, it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that both papers are not offered at the same time.
The online portal of IIT Kanpur for JAM 2014 is designed such that the candidate can get all relevant information from the website, including detailed syllabus and past question papers. The results of JAM 2014 will be announced on April 16, 2014 at 5 PM. Also, it should be noted that this year, after the JAM results are announced, qualifying candidates should apply using the online form to the organizing institute (IIT Kanpur), irrespective of the institute the candidate would like to get admission.
The application forms for the qualifying candidates will be available from April 17, 2014 to April 24, 2014, with the last date of receipt of completed applications being April 30, 2014. Whether the candidate has qualified for one paper or two papers, there will be only one application form. All these changes are implemented to streamline the process and make it more efficient and transparent.
The exam allows the usage of non-programmable calculator. No other electronic gadgets are permitted. Also, it should be noted that the answers to the subjective questions should be written in blue, black, or blue-black ink only. Candidate should choose centers from the approved list of centers as per their likings. It is advised that candidates should provide their first and second choice of the cities/towns. If any of the chosen cities/towns are dropped from the final list, due to less number of candidates, nearest city/town will be allotted. In Kerala, the allotted centers are: Ernakulam, Kollam, Kottayam, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thiruvanathapuram, and Thrissur. Also, nearby cities include Bangalore, Mysore, and Coimbatore.
Having seen the basic dynamics of the exam, it is important to know how to prepare for and crack the exam. Given that the exam has both objective and subjective papers; preparations should also reflect in the same way. It is advised that aspirants should prepare from the degree 1st year onwards in a through manner such that the basic concepts are thorough and clear. It should be noted that one should use standard textbooks for the subject paper that you plan to appear in JAM. Minimize your dependency on guides that are designed for university examinations. Ideally, one should have multiple standard and well known textbooks for the paper.
The importance of reference books cannot be stressed enough. While standard books provide the basic concepts and problems, advanced problems are mostly available from the reference books. Also, for Physics and Mathematics papers, it is imperative that the high and higher secondary school textbooks should also be studied and working out those problems. Learn the theorems and formula in such a way that their applications to problems – both conceptual and numeric – are clear.
The syllabus is very vast and almost everything is important. Hence, preparing for PH
and MA would need major time commitment. Similarly the preparations for BL, BT, and CY require different level of efforts. Lot of the effort should be put onto memorization of information, and as well as application of the information to solve scenarios or problems. Flash cards consisting of major reaction details, compounds, etc. are typically what students appearing for chemistry paper use to assist in memorizing the details. Also, for Chemistry, preparation should comprise of Analytical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry and Organic Chemistry, and Physical Chemistry; because the exam covers topics from all these areas of Chemistry.
The BT paper typically comprises of Biology – around 44% weightage, Chemistry – around 20% weightage, Mathematics – around 18% weightage and Physics – around 18% weightage. The questions are usually from the 10+2+3 level concepts of these subjects. However, given the vast syllabus, it is better to get large number of past year question papers, like 10 years, go through the questions to identify the topics that are repeated mostly and then do a selection study.
Lastly, the paper of MS comprises of Mathematics – 40% weightage and Statistics – 60% weightage. The syllabus comprises of 10+2+3 materials with main mathematics topics include: Sequences and series, differential and integral calculus, matrices, and differential equations. Statistics topics are mostly from the +2+3 books. The best way to identify the topics will be by solving the previous year question papers and look for repeating topics and question patterns.
Since the exam is conducted in English only, and descriptive questions are part of the process, one should be able to write neatly and precisely. Practicing using the previous year question papers will definitely help. Remember that the person who is grading the subjective paper is looking for your solution approach as well. Hence, writing clearly, neatly, and in logical order will help the evaluation
Dr. Deepu Philip
(The author is a faculty in the Industrial & Management Engineering Department of IIT Kanpur. The author also holds his master’s and doctorate degrees from US Universities)