UGC NET: Why experts call Paper 1 'Kingmaker' and how you can crack it

UGC Experts are of the opinion that students mostly neglect the importance of scoring in Paper 1 in UGC-NET and that is one of the reasons why they have been unable to qualify despite working hard
Experts opine | (Pic: EdexLive)
Experts opine | (Pic: EdexLive)

Paper 1 in University Grants Commission - National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) examinations has always petrified students despite their cent per cent confidence in Paper 2, which is based on the course they have pursued during their graduation and thereafter. 

Paper 1 consists of questions from topics varying from Comprehension, Communication, Logical Reasoning to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to People, Development and Environment that assess a student’s awareness of topics and questions their inherent understanding.

Where should be your focus?
KVS Madaan, an established author and mentor associated with Pearson Education says, “The UGC-NET is essentially a competitive exam held to verify a candidate's eligibility for the job of assistant professor in Indian universities and colleges as well as for the award of research fellowships.”

Students qualify this exam, which is essentially an aptitude test in order to procure these jobs.

When asked why students struggle with Paper 1, he said that there is always a certain “immediacy” at work within the students. “After the completion of their graduation, students tend to get overly preoccupied with their postgraduate coursework in subjects like Business, History and Literature, which leads to them neglecting more general themes.”

He further adds that few students, while preparing for the exam, start their preparation with topics that they are already familiar with and are more generic in nature, which leads them to neglect the themes that would require more attention. 

He shares an example by sharing, “ A student studying History or Literature might struggle with topics like Math or Logic, a student studying Commerce might struggle with People, Development and Environment. Despite knowing their weaknesses, students tend to not gain control over it, they rather think it to be an inaccessible part of the paper and may not even go through it.”

Toshiba Shukla, a UGC-NET mentor, an academician and a YouTuber who has been mentoring aspirants for years, called Paper 1 the ‘Kingmaker’, something that can have a decisive impact on your overall score. 

“Sometimes students are reluctant to study these topics and focus on Paper 2 and that never works. They sometimes do not make the cut as they have only scored around 30 or 40 in Paper 1 and despite them performing well in Paper 2, they could never qualify.”

Madaan also emphasises the optimal use of time. He says, “The candidates' entire time commitment should be for both papers. Given that many of the concepts in Paper 1 are new to them, better planning is necessary.”

Can Paper 1 be more scoring?
Shukla on the importance of scoring in Paper 1 says, “Paper 2 alone cannot make students win the race. They have to get 42+ correct questions in Paper 1 and have a conceptual and detailed understanding of whatever they are studying.”

KVS Madaan says that students will be able to perform better in Paper 1 by exerting less effort as compared to Paper 2. “Since many of these topics were covered in their prior classes, they are well-versed with them.”

“Topics such as Research Aptitude and Teaching Aptitude are something that one must be familiar with as they are related to research and teaching, so it must not be that difficult to understand and comprehend. The only subjects that students do not study in their higher education are logical thinking and the increasingly dynamic subjects of Environment and ICT, hence, updates to these aspects should therefore, also be included in the strategy,” he adds. 

Multiple attempts? 
Students despite multiple attempts fail to qualify for the exam, so what could be the students’ renewed strategy towards approaching the exam in a way so as to not repeat the mistakes? 

Toshiba Shukla shares, “Students must evaluate and reevaluate their performance; go through previous years' question papers and practically overhaul their past preparation and start anew.” 

She also harks on a critical point on how students suffering from low confidence tend to desert the whole module completely. In order to counter this, she states that if studied diligently, Paper 1 becomes conquerable and is much easier in comparison to Paper 2, which takes some time to grasp.

KVS Madaan sees time as an important tool. “The areas that need improvement must be given priority. Spend more time and effort learning and practising those particular subjects.”

He also adds the tools you can use for reference, “Prior year questions, reference books, online tools and other pertinent study materials should be your main focus. It is also beneficial to listen to mentors' advice.”

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