Cracking competitive exams just don’t define your life
None, 16 Mar 2016, #NEET
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Meet Raj Kumar (name changed to protect his identity) from a well-to-do family in Patna, sitting in a tiny room, with no laptop, smartphone or TV, not even proper ventilation, studying close to 16 hours every day. Either he is previewing next day’s lessons or reviewing yesterday’s. Not a second to spare, even for his parents, jumping from one question to the other. Welcome to Kota, Rajasthan, capital of India’s cram schools or ‘coaching centres.’

Kumar, an eighteen-year-old, is hell bent on cracking AIIMS 2016, the gateway to the glamourized profession of a medical practitioner. Why does he study so hard, not even thinking about his friends? He does want to; but cut-throat competition comes in the way. “The only thing I want to know is whether my friends are scoring better than me in the weekly test,” says Kumar with a sheepish grin. He might be one of the lucky ones. Not his neighbour (name withheld), housed in a jail-like hostel, who committed suicide, unable to take the stress anymore. 

A scary picture

Every year over 60-70,000 thousand students make a beeline to Kota, the hub of the multi-billion-dollar coaching industry. Cracking JEE Advanced will get you a seat in an IIT. Cracking AIIMS could get you a seat in India’s most prestigious medical college. This guarantees excellent pay packages or a ticket to the UK or US. By a conservative estimate, a two-year coaching will set back parents by cool 4-lakh rupees and if you add boarding and lodging the figure could cross Rs. 5 lakhs, making India’s coaching industry worth more than USD 7 billion.

When results come, newspapers get full-page advertisements that proudly announce the details of students who have cracked the toughest possible entrance tests to qualify for medical or engineering colleges. The fact of the matter is that the winners make only a tiny percentage of students across the country that flock to Kota-like hubs to attend coaching classes.


Pressure cooker situation

A recent spate of suicides among these teenagers has highlighted the amount of pressure they face every day in order to secure top ranks. This pressure is not only about pursuing a dream career but also an emotive issue of social status. But for a few, a majority of the students would have joined these coaching institutions under parental or peer pressure. The tough schedule at the coaching centres makes life miserable for these teenagers who earlier enjoyed a cozy lifestyle with their parents. Emotional breakdowns become common among students these days; a major reason being peer pressure and family expectations. Eagerness to outscore the peers also triggers a breakdown.

 “Some students feel that they are not intelligent enough to compete with their classmates and some others feel that their parents’ hard-earned money will be wasted if they do not perform well,” says Aakash Chaudhary, Director of Aakash Educational Services, a dominant player in the coaching industry.


Fear of failure



Psychologists say that students’ inability to accept failure under pressure mostly leads to emotional breakdowns. “The cut-throat competition, inability to accept the failure and blindly following the rat race under pressure from parents and peers lead to high pressure and depression resulting in suicides,” says Dr. Rakhi Anand, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at New Delhi’s Indraparstha Apollo Hospital.


Role of parents

Psychologists are of the view that parents should accept their children the way they are in terms of ability, intellect and inclination towards a career. Coaching experts accept the fact that along with parents, they too have to connect with the students and build an environment of trust. “Children should not be judged on the basis of comparisons, instead let them know that they are loved and worthy,” Chaudhary said.


Mumbai-based psychologist, Gagandeep Bhatti believes that parents should take proactive steps and guide students on the wide career opportunities available to them. “Parents should educate students on aftermaths of studies and extensive scope of careers. Also, help them be motivated and driven with goal rather than pressuring to be ahead in race,” says Bhatti. The highly-charged atmosphere makes students vulnerable. “Simply because of the atmosphere they are introduced to, which is highly placed on the ‘marks’ obtained rather than their ‘talent’. The scenario is that the person’s self-worth is scaled on the result of such exams and thus students are made to believe that these examinations are life defining,” Bhatti added.


Coaching institutes step in

Concerned over the issue, Kota institutes are taking corrective measures, trying to de-stress students and instill positivity in them. Some of the coaching institutes observe Saturday as ‘fun day’, encouraging students to take part in recreational activities such as yoga, meditation, indoor games etc. to relive their stress. Coaching institutes are replacing their billboards with pictures of small children with a tagline of ‘happiness’.


How to handle competitive exams and board exams together?




Students are often at their wit’s end, when it comes to preparing for competitive exams along with board exams. They get tense at the prospect of handling the syllabus of both the exams. “The troika of efficient time-management, customized preparation strategy and careful planning can help students in balancing both board exams as well as competitive entrance tests,” says Chaudhary, which is easier said than done.


The big divide

With a creaking state education system, and at least 5 lakh students competing for 10,000-plus seats in IITs and an equal number vying for around 32,000 medical seats across 400+ colleges, the competition is bound to get tougher. This creates a severe drain on the parents’ finances while putting their children under tremendous stress. But what most parents don’t realize in this scenario is the destructive emotional trail that could take a toll on the careers of their wards. From a social point of view, the divide between those who make it and those who couldn’t is getting wider. The only way out could be to significantly increase the number of higher education institutions, especially in the engineering and medical domains. Could public-private-partnership be the way out?  

Stay tuned to for more stories on competitive exams


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is there is some criteria to marks in neet that one should get ? i am a general category student.

Papeya Dubey Student Expert 19th Oct, 2019


You just need to fulfill the following criteria for NEET-

Passed 10+2 from a recognized board with Physics, Chemistry, Biology/Biotechnology and English as core subjects, those having Biology as an additional are also eligible to apply.

Eligibility Criteria for NEET is based on PCB aggregate only against each category mentioned below-

  • UR - 50%,
  • OBC/SC/ST - 40%,
  • PWD - 45%

There's no upper age limit in NEET, so no restriction also in terms of appearing for this examination.


Which akash coaching center in new delhi is best for physics and biology subject for neet entrance exam.

Apoorva Student Expert 19th Oct, 2019

Hello dear student,

As you said which coaching institute of aakash is best in delhi . So dear student akash all over Delhi  is the best institute and you will find the best teacher in akash but still if you want to know the best then I will suggest you to take admission in aakash south ex because it's the main branch and you will find the best teachers there . I hope this was helpful to you

Best wishes


i am girl 75% low vision.can i get pwd quota for neet exam for mbbs graduation or i get in engineering graduation.

Payal 19th Oct, 2019

Hii aspirants

let me clear your doubt. There is no reservation under low vision disability, not in neet neither in engineering exam.pwd quota is for those people who are completely blind or have any other disability in their bodies.

I hope my answer will help you out

Good luck


how to study for biology for neet ?

Apoorva Student Expert 19th Oct, 2019

Hello dear student,

To score marks or to fetch marks in biology in NEET is is easy task if you study and study thoroughly. To get marks in biology section in NEET you really have to go through NCERT as many as time you can I would really suggest that because this is the best option as 95% of the questions directly come from NCERT  and it's been recommended to all the students to get marks in NEET in biology section really good because that helps to gain better rank . I would recommend you to study d topic in biology study chapters in biology and after that solve topic wise solved topic wise questions and also solve previous year question because that helps to get and understand what types of questions can be asked in paper.

I hope this was helpful to you

Best wishes


i am way too much worrid for neet help me out how to get marks?

Apoorva Student Expert 19th Oct, 2019

Hello dear student,

Please Don't worry you have sufficient time to study.  just focus on ncert to obtain good marks . Dear student you don't have to worry about the exam is coming take it positively and start preparing take chapters of topics prepare them and then try to solve MCQs based on those topics I would suggest you to continuously solved MCQs as many you can and then also solved previous year question papers because that will help you to get marks and it will help you to understand what are the type of question that is being asked in examination. I hope this is helpful to you.

Best wishes

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