How To Improve Speed And Accuracy in JEE

Speed and accuracy have a really complex relationship. Perhaps they are the most vital things to take care of while attending a highly competitive exam like JEE Main or Advanced. If you don't have the required pace, you will be snatched off your opportunity and left with the regret of how you could not attempt an easy question. On the other hand, accuracy is quite subtle when it comes to making you regret. You are going to realize your mistake after leaving the hall, or sometimes after the result comes out. But speed and accuracy -- they just do not get along. Precision requires time, and speed is all about reducing the amount of time. So let me be honest here, it's not easy to manage both of them at once, in fact, it's one of the hardest jobs - but maybe not as hard as cracking the exam with an acceptance rate of 2% and 12 lakh candidates.

Did I Make You Nervous? Don't Be.

Nervousness and stress are the arch-enemies of speed and accuracy. When you are nervous, your brain cannot function it its expected ability. On the other hand, when you are confident and stress-free, your brain produces Dopamine, which improves your concentration and problem-solving skills, eventually improving your speed and accuracy.

The Art Of Time Management

Time management is necessary for learning or revising as well as for acing the exam. When done correctly, it is nothing short of an art. During revision, you need to make a compact plan for how you are going to handle each and every topic. You have to stick to your own routine. Procrastination is not an option. When you have a specific deadline for finishing a topic, your brain will start working faster. Your subconscious mind will be trained to respond to the urgency, and nothing will be able to distract you at that time.

During your exam, you have to take a similar approach, only less aggressive. This is not a training for your brain, so precision matters. Your strategy should be well-planned, but cautious. Start with the easier problems and make your way up to the harder ones. If you practiced time management during your mock tests and revisions, speed should not be an issue for you, and the extra cautiousness would take care of the accuracy.

The Cognitive Approach To Problem-solving

During your revision, gradually increase the level of problems' difficulty, and try to reduce the usage of pen and paper. Initially, you might face problems, the answers might not be accurate, but as you continue, the improvement in speed and accuracy will be noticeable.

Soon you will be confident enough to do short mind calculations and skip steps to solve the problems quickly. But don't be overconfident. Always be extra cautious during your exam.

Creative Thinking Makes A Difference

No one will check if you solved the problem in a traditional step by step method, so you have the chance to be creative while solving a problem. During revision and mock tests, always try to find a better and quicker way to solve a question. You will discover a lot of reliable shortcut methods that were never taught to you. Your problem-solving speed would increase as you keep thinking creatively.

Now, here is the important part, don't try this during the exam, unless really necessary. Stick to the methods that you are 100% sure about. Your brain has already been trained to function faster, don't be deliberate to prove that during your exam.

Smartness Is As Important As Knowledge

You have to be smart while solving the problems. Unconventional ways are not discouraged at all. Learn some calculations beforehand. Memorise some square roots, cube roots, derivatives, and integrations. Skim through the shortcut techniques, memorize multiplication table up to 20, apply elimination technique when necessary. These techniques might not be good for learning, but they will prove really helpful in JEE. So practice these during your revision and apply only when they are the most viable options.

Don't Get Stuck

Never, and I repeat, never get stuck in a single problem during the exam. Once you make a time management strategy at the beginning, you would have an idea how much time you can spend on a single problem. So stick to the plan and avoid being stuck at a particularly difficult problem. Move on, solve the other problems, and come back to it later if you are left with enough time for a revision.

Practice - The Ultimate Advice

Okay, don't skip the paragraph - I know you are tired of hearing people advising you to “practice, practice and practice”. But trust me, this reminder is necessary, as practicing problems on the same concepts for 2 years is a really frustrating job. Just think about it for a moment, how much have your problem-solving speed improved since the first day you started studying for JEE? No matter how much boring this advice may sound, it always proves to be the most important one.

Prepare through mock tests with proper timing, and every time try to finish quicker than the last time. If you are taking offline mock tests, and your plan is to appear for the online JEE exam, be careful with the time management. The shading process does eat up a lot of time. Be careful about silly mistakes. Try to identify if there is a pattern in what kinds of mistakes you are making, and rectify them.

Double-checking, Something We All Love To Hate

After answering the 90 questions, you will not feel too enthusiastic about the idea of going through all of those questions and rough works once again, searching for some silly mistakes which you are sure you didn't make. But double checking is the key to achieving accuracy. The options given for an MCQ can often be misleading and too close to reason out. Keep your rough work organized to make the process less frustrating. You will thank yourself later for saving at least 8 to 12 marks, which is enough to make a significant difference in your rank.

So, that was all for this article. Do your best to establish a friendship between speed and accuracy; the result will be worth the effort. Best of luck.

Harshita Srivastava
IIT Kanpur
13 September 2019