NEET UG 2023: Preparation strategy, high cut-offs and if repeaters have better luck with the exam

Here's the report | (Pic: EdexLive)
Here's the report | (Pic: EdexLive)

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test - Undergraduate (NEET-UG), India’s biggest entrance examination is just around the corner. With more than 21 lakh applicants registered for the test competing for just over one lakh MBBS seats in Indian medical colleges, the competition is indeed high.

The exam will be held on Sunday, May 7 from 2 pm to 5.20 pm in 499 cities across the country. With just three weeks until the examination, we bring you a few tips and strategies from industry experts, educationists and career guides.

Cut-off expected to be high                                                                                                          
With only three weeks until the exam, the students need to focus on solving mock tests instead of taking up new topics, experts say.

“Before the examination, the students need to solve at least five to ten mock test papers and try to aim for a good score in them. If you are aiming for government colleges, you need to score at least 600 marks as the cut-off is expected to be high this year. You also need to analyse the score for your mock tests and see which college you can get into,” said medical education counsellor and Founder of Career Xpert, Gaurav Tyagi.

Experts added that solving mock papers can help the students with time management which is crucial for good performance.

“By this time the students must have gone through multiple revisions of their syllabus. Now, it is high time that they begin with the revision tests for all three subjects. With this, the student’s confidence level will go up and they will also understand where the gaps are and how they can fill these gaps. It is important that the students solve at least one mock paper every day for the last few weeks,” said Dr Milind C, National Head, Knowledge Management & Academic Excellence, Deeksha Learning.

Impact of negative marking
Negative marking can make all the difference in one’s rank and thus, students should try their best to avoid it, suggest educationists.

“Many students lose almost 10-15 marks from their correct responses due to negative marking. They should be very careful about this,” explained Jayaprakash Gandhi, career consultant and analyst.

For the NEET-UG, the students are awarded four marks for each correct response, whereas, one mark is deducted for each wrong attempt.

“The students should first answer what they are confident about and then move on to the ones they are 75 per cent sure about. If you are attempting 150 questions and 50 questions are incorrect, then you lose 50 marks straight which will downgrade your rank by a lot,” added Tyagi.

Biology is crucial, don’t underestimate it
“Students need to be very thorough with their Biology preparation and should aim to score at least 320 to 350 in Biology to do well in the paper. I always suggest the students attempt Biology first,” explained Jayaprakash Gandhi.

Biology contains the highest weightage out of all three subjects in NEET-UG. Out of 720 marks, 360 are allotted for the Biology section. As many as 90 questions appear in the Biology section of the paper, 45 each from the Botany and Zoology sections.

“However, students often make silly mistakes in the Biology section as they think it is comparatively easier than Physics and Chemistry. There is a saying, ‘What is easy to see is easy to miss’. That is why they should be very careful while attempting the Biology section as it is crucial,” said Gandhi.

Repeaters have better luck?
One of the common concerns that many first-time test takers share is that they will be competing against a large number of repeaters for the MBBS seats. The number of repeaters in NEET-UG has increased over the years making the examination even more challenging. However, the experts suggest that instead of focusing on the number of applicants or repeaters, the students should only focus on their individual preparation.

“If you note the track record, almost more than 60 per cent of the students getting into government medical colleges are repeaters. It happens because the freshers have to balance both Board exams and entrance test preparation but many of these students actually end up performing better as well. It all depends on how strong your hold on basic concepts is,” added Jayaprakash Gandhi.

Experts stressed that students should focus on giving their individual best.

“They need to make sure that with every mock test that they attempt, they have some improvement of at least five to ten marks. If they have this confidence, they will do well in the exams, irrespective of the number of applicants,” Dr Milind from Deeksha Learning added.

Math is still indispensable
“Mathematical knowledge is very important for cracking the Physics section so the students should focus on that,” explained Jayaprakash Gandhi and added, “I always tell the parents that Math is crucial for NEET aspirants too. A few students from Pure Science (Biology, Physics, Chemistry) backgrounds might find the numerical portion a little more challenging. They should try to have a strong hold on their mathematical skills.”

However, the experts also added that with good clarity of basic concepts and mathematical skills, most students can manage to get a good score.

“One or two numerical questions might be a bit more challenging for the students who did not have Math as a compulsory subject, but they can leave these questions. In fact, many such students opt for MBBS courses and even in college, the course does not require a very high level of mathematical skills,” explained Dr SP Singh, MD, Head of the Department of Physiology at the Amrita School of Medicine, Faridabad.

Don’t over-exert yourself
One of the most important things is that the aspirants be in a good mental and physical state on the day of the exam, added industry experts.

Dr SP Singh said, “Before the exam, it is important that the student is well-rested and in a good physical state. So, you should try to take a half-hour walk every day in order to get some physical exercise and proper sleep as well. Do not pressurise yourself too much and only focus on mock tests during the last days.”

Experts added that taking short breaks in between study sessions can help increase concentration levels and increase productivity.

“Meditation is something that helps with exam anxiety, especially guided meditation sessions that one can find easily on YouTube. Along with that, having a study plan for every day is very important,” added Prateek Jain, an educator at Unacademy.

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