June 29, 2014 will be a testing time for all aspiring teachers in the country with the National Eligibility Test (NET) being held on that day. The test, conducted twice annually by the National Educational Testing Bureau of the University Grants Commission (UGC), is meant to decide eligibility of candidates for lectureship. It determines awarding of Junior Research Fellowships (JRF) to ensure minimum standards for the entrants in the teaching profession and research.
NET is conducted usually in June and December in humanities (including languages), social sciences, forensic science, electronic science, computer science and applications and environmental sciences.
It has three papers which comprise objective type questions. Paper 1 assesses teaching/research aptitude. It also tests reasoning ability, comprehension, divergent thinking and general awareness. There are 60 multiple choice questions of two marks each in this, out of which the candidate is required to answer any 50.
Paper 2 consists of 50 objective type compulsory questions based on the subject selected by the candidate. Each question carries two marks.
Paper 3 has 75 objective type compulsory questions from the subject selected by the candidate, with each question carrying two marks.
All questions of Paper 2 and Paper 3 will be compulsory, covering the entire syllabus (including all electives, without options). Being subject-specific, Paper 2 and 3 are aimed at testing the knowledge and understanding of the subject. In these papers, questions are related to factual information, conceptual information and applied knowledge of the discipline.
Candidates who cracked the NET say that its vast syllabus makes it one of the most competitive tests in the country. With a little over a month to go for the next edition of NET, it is necessary to be prepared for any surprises. “No matter how prepared you are, you will come across at least 15 questions in the test which are totally new. You need to study consistently and practice exercises taking sample papers. Read as much as you can about your subject and try to understand the key concepts,” says Ankit Kumar Singh, a postgraduate in mass communication from Banaras Hindu University who has joined his alma mater as a JRF for his PhD.
Paper 2 and 3 ask questions related to your field, ie education, with more emphasis on stats and research, say students. “Building a base on easier concepts of these two will help a lot. Generally, the distribution of questions is equal for every subject,” says Reetu Yadav, studying for an MEd from the Central Education Institute, Delhi University.
According to Surendra Singh, UGC NET coach and author of several books on the test, “A total of 95 subjects have been identified by the UGC for this test. It has been observed that a postgraduate in any discipline, who has studied his/her subject exhaustively, can handle Paper 2 and Paper 3 relatively easily. However, many candidates find Paper 1 to be tough. It is because in this paper, every candidate finds some components of the syllabus that he/she has not studied in postgraduation. Hence, a candidate has to study the syllabus of this paper specifically to qualify the test.”
The components of the syllabus dealing with research and teaching aptitude may seem easy to candidates who have either done a BEd or an MPhil course but the rest of the candidates find them difficult, feel experts. Likewise, many candidates from social sciences and languages find questions related to environment difficult. “Reasoning and data interpretation components appear difficult to candidates having no background in mathematics. Hence, a comprehensive reading of the syllabus for this paper is necessary to qualify this paper,” says Surendra Singh.
“One should read original texts and as much as possible from one’s discipline. Experience suggests that one should avoid depending on quick crash courses or so-called help books,” says Manoj Chahil, who is pursuing PhD from the Department of Education, University of Delhi.
* Paper 1 comprises 60 multiple choice questions of two marks each, out of which the candidate has to answer any 50
* Paper 2 consists of 50 objective type compulsory questions based on the subject selected by the candidate. Each question carries two marks.
* Paper 3 has 75 objective type compulsory questions from the subject selected by the candidate, with each question carrying two marks