Decoding and Cracking the IIT-JEE

6 min read

Kamlakar Dwivedi
IITian & Senior Career Counsellor at ICS Career GPS


(Image Credit: Freepik)

IIT-JEE is one of the most competitive exams in the world. This is because less than 1% of the aspirants get admission into one of the 23 prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

However, the entrance exam also helps in getting admission into the NITs / IIITs / IISER / IIST and some other top institutes. So, once you clear the JEE-Mains, you have a fair chance to get admitted into any of the Top-100 STEM Institutes in India.

Why is it so difficult to get the score required in the IIT-JEE – Mains, which is the first stage of the entrance exam process?

Are you aware that the cut-off percentage for the JEE-Mains was ONLY 17.5% for the General Category students in 2020? So, why was it so difficult for almost 90% of the students who took the test to get even this ‘very low percentage’?

Decoding the IIT-JEE

There are two stages to clearing the IIT-JEE, i.e. the JEE-Mains, which will allow approx. 1,20,000 General Category students and another 1,20,000 from the OBC / SC / ST / PWD categories to proceed to the JEE-Advanced stage. Depending on the results of the JEE-Advanced, the top-ranking students are selected to join the IITs and other prestigious institutes.

This exam is unique in many ways and unless the students are able to understand this difference, they will be unable to crack the test with a good enough rank. (your rank or percentile score is the key for selection).

Here are some factors that students must understand before embarking on their IIT-JEE journey:

  • The IIT-JEE questions are very different to what is asked in the board exams i.e. questions are framed with mixed concepts taken from one or more chapters. This requires a deeper understanding of the concepts & their applications – going beyond the mostly formulae-based questions asked in board exams. Higher order thinking skills are needed to solve these questions.
  • Not a single question in the IIT-JEE entrance has ever been repeated in the last 50+ years (nor will it be repeated in the next 50!). Meanwhile, the board exam, questions are often repeated (with some data changes or minor tweaks).
  • The IIT-JEE is an Objective Test Paper with a negative marking system. Many students struggle to develop the skills required to tackle such a test.
  • Time management during the test is a challenge. This is because you have limited time to solve all the questions each of which is expertly crafted to test your understanding of concepts. Whereas, the board exams usually allow you ample time to solve the questions – with
    little or no pressure for good academic performers.

Cracking the IIT-JEE

Having understood the above points, how do you go about cracking the JEE?
By understanding and working on the following:

1. Start serious preparation from Class 11 onwards

The syllabus for the IIT-JEE is synchronous with that of Classes 11+12 (Physics-Chemistry-Maths or PCM). It does not matter which board you’re from because the entrance exam takes into account all the 31 boards (CBSE / ISC / State Boards / Cambridge International / IB, etc.). So, the preparation for IIT-JEE should start from Class 11 onwards.

2. Build a strong foundation of PCM in Classes 9-10

We are all aware that the level of PCM in Classes 11-12 is much higher than what’s taught in Classes 9-10. Also, we have already talked about the IIT-JEE being a few notches above the board exams level.

Therefore, it is essential to build a strong foundation of PCM in Classes 9-10 and then move ahead.

This is done by following a rigorous process of giving maximum time to PCM and practising higher level problems designed to develop your Analytical Skills – beyond the formula-based learning outcomes.

3. Use special tools to master the IIT-JEE level questions

Once you have built a strong foundation in Class 9 and Class 10, you move forward with even more rigour and dedication in Classes 11 and 12, using some special tools to master the JEE level questions. These tools are:

  • Study materials that are in sync with the requirements of the IIT-JEE, keeping in view the pattern and the level of the exam which changes every few years.
  • The All-India Test Series (mock tests) to help you develop the time management and the best strategies needed to crack the competition and secure a top rank.

Self-Study is the Master-Key

Contrary to popular beliefs, Coaching is not the answer to the above! Self-Study is the master-key to succeed in the JEE (or any other exam for that matter).

What you may need is someone to mentor you on:

  • How to do self-study
  • How to manage your time and stress levels
  • How to clear your fundamentals
  • How to equip yourself with the additional tools that you may need to stay ahead of the competition & improve your strike-rate for a better score

For all this, you may seek guidance from our experts.

IIT-JEE Success Mantras

Below is an illustration spelling out the 10 mantras needed for cracking the IIT-JEE. A strategically planned approach will help you develop all of these attributes and be a top ranker.

The 10 success mantras for acing the IIT-JEE. (Image Credit: ICS)

Myths & Facts / FAQs about IIT-JEE


  1. MYTH – I have to be a genius to crack the IIT-JEE.

FACT – More so called ‘average students’ with strong concepts & analytical skills crack the exam than the ‘90 per-centers’ of board exams.


2. MYTH – IIT-JEE is a very difficult exam.

FACT – No. It is only a different exam. It tests your grasp over concepts and their applications rather than rote learning.


3. MYTH – The syllabus of IIT-JEE is different from that of CBSE / ISC.

FACT – More than 90% syllabus is common!


4. MYTH – Only the ‘best teacher/coach’ can help me make it.

FACT – Even the ‘best PCM teachers’ can’t guarantee you success. You are the Key. A strategically planned approach, hard work and the right mentoring will get you there.


5. MYTH – Chemistry is easy. I only need to focus on Physics and Maths.

FACT – All 3 subjects carry equal weightage and there’s a minimum cut-off for each. You need to focus on all of them.


6. MYTH – I need to study long hours (10-12 hours) per day to succeed.

FACT – Quality wins over quantity. You need to strategically plan your studies.


7. MYTH – I can’t manage boards and IIT-JEE together.

FACT – Many who get high ranks in the JEE are those who take their Class 12 board exams the same year.


Liked this post? For more such helpful articles, click on the button below and subscribe FREE to our blog.


Download our mobile app, ICS Career GPS, a one-stop career guidance platform.

8 Replies to “Decoding and Cracking the IIT-JEE”

Leave a Reply