Should you take a year drop to clear IIT JEE

Malay Krishna   (On Spanedea since July 21, 2013)


B.Tech. from IIT Delhi in Civil Engineering, 2016

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Posted on 29 June 2015

The announcement of results is almost exclusively all about the toppers, the top performers; the winners. There are however, only a few who succeed in this cut-throat competition of grabbing a prized seat in one of the top engineering colleges of the country. Sadly, most of the aspirants come nowhere close to achieving the goal they had set out to achieve.

Apart from these two kinds of aspirants, there is another kind too. The ones who fall agonizingly short of realizing their dream. These comprise of the students who have achieved results which are decent within themselves but are not good enough to secure a seat in one of the top IITs and NITs of the country.

So, after the initial brouhaha of the winners and the discontentment of the losers fade away, the aspirants who are unable to make the cut have a crucial decision on hand. They have the option to either resign to their result while settling for a college of a reputation level below their aspiration or to make an intrepid decision of taking a drop.

In an attempt to reduce the brain-congestion associated with such a decision, here are a few factors you might want to factor in before taking the all important decision.

1. Why do you want it?

Sometimes, the desire to surpass our peers or at least be on par with them makes us take decisions that we otherwise would have avoided. All aspirants caught in a slew of these thoughts need to analyze critically and objectively the reason they want to get into an IIT. Quite often the answer to this question is much to the contrary of what it ideally should be. A lot of the aspirants are in it only because their family wants them to have a crack at it or their close friends are appearing for the same; taking a drop with such thoughts almost always guarantees catastrophic results.

While it might sound like a cliché, the importance of self evaluation is pivotal. Any student with even a shadow of a doubt about his prime reason for appearing in the JEE should put some serious thought into the probable improvements he can make to his score.

2. The First Performance

A lot of the aspirants, who face failure in their first attempt, shrug their performance off as inconsequential and immaterial. This probably is the gravest mistake one can do while taking such a decision. Accepting failure and using it as a base to climb onto greater heights is one thing, discarding failure as meaningless is quite another. While rejecting failure might seem the more positive outlook, using it as a yardstick to one’s potential is the smarter outlook. An aspirant failing to qualify for JEE Advanced by a fair margin in his first attempt is very unlikely to end up among the top 1000 with his next attempt.

Students need to utilize their performance as a measure of their potential and analyze how much they can add to it in the eight or so months they are likely to get for rigorous preparation. The ones who have narrowly missed the stream or college of their liking and are confident of having the mental toughness and discipline to continue their preparation for close to another year must definitely opt out of the counseling processes and indulge in meticulous preparation.

3. Consulting the Experts

An aspirant is likely to spend most of his preparation time with his teachers; be it at school or at coaching. Teachers are hence the most well equipped to gauge their students’ potentials and provide valuable advice. Students must realize the gravity of such a decision and not take it recklessly. A proper session with a teacher with experience in the field is necessity rather than a luxury in such situations. Peers who are contemplating on the same lines or even the ones who have prepared with you and have succeeded could help an aspirant in knowing the optimum performance he can deliver in the given time span.

The JEE is notoriously famous for testing the candidate on skills that are intangible or cannot be measured only by performances in mock tests. To assess yourself on such grounds, you need help from people who have watched you prepare and take exams from close quarters.

4. Mental Toughness

The drop year is probably the toughest year of an engineering aspirant’s academic life. It not only comes with the pressure of being the final chance of qualifying for one’s dream college, it also demands extreme discipline as the aspirant is likely to be out of sync with a daily routine that a regular school or coaching is likely to offer. There is a lot of time for self study and while that appears to be a good thing on the face of it, it might lead to disastrous consequences. I for one, personally know a lot of aspirants who had a decent showing on the first attempt but got caught in the vicious circle of time-wasting; with so much time on hand, one starts to feel more relaxed than one ought to. This is the recipe for inevitable disaster.

If you are going to spend one year in a bid to achieve something, you have to make sure that you are focused on it at all times during that year. Falling into a false belief of having the need to unwind after a study session and wasting too much time on it is very easy during a drop year. Ignoring such tempting opportunities to unwind requires a lot of mental resolve and even more dedication. If you are going to go for it, make sure you are ready to be sad, depressed and questioning yourself at several junctures of your preparation. The secret of course, lies in moving on from such low points and keeping up with the hard work.

5. Having Company

This factor might not be as important in influencing the decision one takes but is more of a checkbox to kick starting your preparation during drop year. The importance of having someone to both boost you when you are low on confidence and challenge you when you are full of confidence cannot be overstated. No one can do this better than a peer who is also a friend. Although it is an idealistic situation to have someone as focused and as dedicated as you are and also in the same boat as you are, but that is where you need to be smart. Coaching centers will definitely have people in situations similar to the one you find yourself in and making friends with such aspirants will only benefit your preparation.

Although not a necessity, having this friend will certainly boost your chances at getting into the sanctum of an IIT.

The points I have touched upon here are by no means exhaustive, however they cover the major decision making pillars. You need to give proper thought and before you take this bold step, you must make sure that you have a lot more probability of gaining on your performance rather than stagnating or may be even losing ground.


IIT JEE, Tips & Tricks, Exam Strategy, Engineering Entrance Exam