Which subject to attempt first in JEE Advanced/Mains

For an IIT aspirant, this is a difficult question to answer, even more difficult than the JEE Advanced one. I am not kidding… just ask any IIT aspirant. In this article, I will try to answer this question in little details. This is solely based on my own successful experience long back as well as experience of my students who cleared JEE advanced and now studying in various IITs.

While I have mentioned JEE Adavanced in this article, this can be very well applied to JEE mains test too.

Before we attempt to answer this question, first answer this. If you are given 1 hr for each subject, what would you choose? I am sure you would look at your strongest subject and choose it because you can score maximum in the given time thus increasing your chances of success.

However, the real test does not divide time between subjects. This hard task is given to you to divide your time as you wish. Indeed, man is condemned to be free. In the real test, you are given 3 hrs and about 75 questions (roughly 25 from each subject). In my view, if you are reasonably good or strong at Chemistry, start your answers with chemistry. There is good reason for this. In the beginning, you should not only solve questions right but also maintain the good attitude for the next 3 hrs. Chemistry will help you achieve this.

At the same time, restrict your time to chemistry. Make sure that you do not spend more than 40-45 minutes on it. It is extremely important to restrict the time because you will need the saved time in mathematics and physics. Any extra time spent on one subject will make you regret when you have to leave few easy questions because of lack of time later. But if you are not good at chemistry, avoid it in the beginning as starting with it will frustrate you in the very beginning spoiling your chances in mathematics and physics. Start with the strongest subject.

Once you are done with chemistry, you can choose the relatively stronger subject out of Mathematics and Physics. If you choose Mathematics, again restrict the time to 1.25 hrs. Do not cross this because you will have only an hour for Physics. Then go for Physics. If you choose physics, follow the same timeline.

The reason for spending maximum time on your strongest subject (out of mathematics and physics) is that you can deliver more marks per extra minute, i.e. your marginal productivity will be much higher (remember marginal word from your application of derivative problems…). For example, if I spend 15 minutes extra in my strong subject, I can possibly solve 3 questions right while spending the same amount of time in other subject may make me score just 2 questions right.

Finally, do remember that JEE Advanced has individual cut-off apart from overall cut-off. Hence you cannot ignore any part of the question paper. Moreover, this advice is purely from my experience, if you have been taking JEE Advanced mock tests and have other ways to approaching different subjects, please continue with the same if you manage to score well. At the end of the day, all we want is your success in JEE.


~ Pankaj Priyadarshi


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