Complete 90 Day Plan for Success in JEE: Chemistry Edition

January 23, 2018

These JEE Chemistry tips were contributed by Shravan K, a HashLearn Tutor who is currently a project-assistant at the National Institute of Technology, Trichy.

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Why This Guide?

The Joint Entrance Examination conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is widely regarded as one of the toughest entry-level examinations conducted anywhere in the world.

There are two aspects that give the JEE a unique albeit infamous identity

  1. The sheer number of students that appear for this examination
  2. The quantum of understanding that is expected from the students writing it.

As a result, the chances of scoring high in this exam are difficult, but not impossible.

Chemistry: It’s easier than you think

Being a Chemistry major, I can safely say that it is quite easy to ace the Chemistry section of the JEE with just 3 months of preparation. Now, when I say 3 months, I don’t mean 90 days of extensive jostling with your Chemistry textbooks. I’m asking you to devote 90 days of your overall preparation duration for Chemistry. These 90 days can be peppered across a larger time-interval, say 8 months or a year. This rule applies to both fast and slow learners.

What is it about Chemistry that sends shivers down the average aspirant’s spine?

Is it the vagueness of Organic Chemistry?

Or, the volume of reactions that one should memorize in Inorganic Chemistry?

Or, the mathematical complexities of Physical Chemistry?

If you could relate to any of the questions given above, then I’m afraid that your vision of Chemistry is a bit myopic. I don’t blame you for it. Our school system has essentially reduced this beautiful scientific discipline into a series of irrelevant equations, reactions, and formulae.

How to Approach Learning Chemistry

What I’m about to say might seem utopian, but hear me out.

The first step towards acing any subject is to appreciate it. No subject is bad. When people say “Oh! I’m a good student, but Mathematics is not my cup of tea!”, aren’t they contradicting themselves? Every subject is easy provided you acknowledge its profundity.

Chemistry is the mother-science. It is the link between the macroscopic and the microscopic world. It’s the science of dynamism, of change, of life and everything else.

Yet, when I say the word ‘Chemistry’, the first thing that comes to your mind is a set of oddly-shaped diagrams and equations. That’s the root of the problem, and we’re going to address it there.

Appreciate Chemistry, fence with issues that plague you, and emerge victoriously.

Right, coming to the topic at hand. How can a 90-day study period help you conquer the mountain that is Chemistry?

Studying is a complex art. At the heart of it is an interplay of all five sensory perceptions. You first look, then you read it out loud, hearing the content as it is being recited, then you write and finally take a breather.

The 90 Day Plan for cracking JEE Chemistry

Step 0: Look

Looking at the content to be studied is extremely crucial. Most students tend to overlook this key aspect and start memorizing right-away. When you look at what’s there to be studied, you get a general idea of the volume and nature of the content.

Then, you devise a schedule and work on it.

Looking and studying are two different things. When I say ‘look’, I’m literally asking you to look at the book and riffle through the pages.

This will give you an idea of how the content is to be broken down, which leads us to our next step

Step 1: Fragmentation

Understanding what-to-study and what-not-to-study is the deal breaker. Fragment your content into small, comprehensible sub-units and tackle them one-by-one.

For instance, if you’re studying Organic Chemistry, break it down into Reactions, Preparations, Mechanisms, and Properties.

So, how do you fragment Chemistry into comprehensible sub-units?

Follow this mental map which helped me during my school days.

Fragmenting Chemistry: Part 1 – Organic Chemistry

Fragmenting Chemistry: Part 2 – Inorganic Chemistry

Fragmenting Chemistry: Part 3 – Physical Chemistry

There, seems simple, doesn’t it?

However, sticking to it is the hard part. With practice, anything is possible.

As far as physical chemistry is concerned, there is bound to be a lot of overlap with Chemical Physics and hence you can use the information gained here for your Physics preparation as well.

Step 2: Choose Your Sources Wisely

The next step is choosing your sources. For a CBSE or an ICSE student, the prescribed textbooks should be the only sources of information. Some people feel that the content in these textbooks is watered-down and has to be supplemented by cheap guides and reference books.

I strongly condemn this attitude. Barring mathematics, which consists primarily of problems and solutions, all other subjects are concept and application oriented.

In an exam conducted by the CBSE, the conceptualization used by their textbooks is the standard against which your answer scripts will be graded. Diversity is good, but authenticity is better.

But, if you’re looking to supplement your foundational knowledge, you can use these standard textbooks.

Step 3: Practice, Practice, Practice

In addition to these basic tenets, you need to shown discernment while studying. A topic like Thermodynamics is way too expansive to be contained in a 7-day session. But, you can pick and choose topics that you need to learn.

How do you do this?

Go through old question papers, identify the topics that are frequently tested. Odds are, questions will appear from these areas in your exam well.

From my experience, this is a list of topics that are frequently tested in several competitive exams.

Organic Chemistry

  • Nomenclature
  • Isomerism
  • Resonance and Tautomerism
  • Acidity and Basicity
  • Carbocation and Carbanion Stability
  • Aromaticity, Non-aromaticity, and Antiaromaticity
  • Nucleophilic Substitution Reactions
  • Directing Effects
  • Competing Reactions
  • E/Z and R/S stereoisomerism

Inorganic Chemistry

  • VSEPR, VBT and Lewis Dot Structure
  • Aufbau Principle and Electronic Configuration
  • Coordination Nomenclature and Isomerism
  • Reasoning Questions on p-block and d-block elements
  • Inert Pair Effect, Electronegativity, Electron Affinity and Ionization Energy
  • CFT and CFSE
  • Denticity and Bioinorganic Chemistry
  • Metallurgy- Electrochemical Reduction and Pyrochemical Reduction

Physical Chemistry

  • Hess’ Law
  • Laws of Thermodynamics
  • Gibbs-Equilibrium Constant Relation
  • Ionic Equilibrium
  • pH, pKa, and pKb
  • Types of Conductance
  • Nernst Equation
  • DHO Theory
  • Cells and Cell Potentials
  • Rate constant and Half-life Calculation
  • Ideal Gas Equation
  • P-C relationship

To conclude, everyone has a different take on exam preparation. Every theory has its merits and pitfalls. ‘Every method is not everyone’s method’ is a key adage in this regard.

What I’ve said might not be applicable to everyone, but it’s certainly a starting point, a blueprint that will aid you in your process of self-discovery.

Happy Learning!

These tips were contributed by Shravan Kousik, a HashLearn Tutor who is currently a project-assistant at the National Institute of Technology, Trichy. Shravan obtained his Bachelors’ degree in Chemistry from SRM University, Chennai and his Masters’ degree from NIT, Trichy. He is a gold medalist at both the Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels. Shravan specializes in Synthetic Organic Chemistry specifically asymmetric catalysis and transition-metal aided C-C coupling reactions. He is also a prospective doctoral candidate and will be joining a Ph.D. program soon.


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