Importance of Practicing Subjective Problems for the JEE

Greetings! Hope you are doing well with your studies. You are likely aware that the JEE is an objective type exam, wherein you are not supposed to write down answers as you do in the Boards. This is why a lot of students will argue that there is no need to work on solving subjective problems when the questions asked in the exam are objective in nature. Almost all books or study material packages you come across have a section on Subjective Problems on all topics, so there must be some reason! Let’s explore some possible reasons. I will quote some instances from the recent JEE Advanced Papers so as to convey my point.

How Do JEE Subjective Questions Help?

Solving subjective problems eliminates the very bad habit of guessing the answer. Generally, when you solve a question with four options below it, you try to relate the options with the given question. For example:

• one option gets eliminated due to dimension mismatch with that of the quantity asked,
• the second gets eliminated as it does not satisfy the given equation,
• the third option gets eliminated due to having the opposite sign of what is expected, and
• you get the answer without even putting your pen on the paper.

This practice may help you get marks in a couple of questions, but in the long-term it hampers your problem-solving ability. You get in the bad habit of searching for the answer by looking at the options first, rather than by solving the question.

This problem can be overcome by solving a sufficient number of subjective problems which demand in-depth analysis, rather than getting the answer by guessing well. This is what the JEE Advanced Paper Setters focus on these days. Questions are hardly a straightforward application of formulae. Instead, they now involve multiple concepts in a single question.

Confidence

Solving 100 objective problems generally doesn’t give candidates the confidence which he/she gets after solving even 5-6 questions from I.E. Irodov. The reason is simple. Subjective problems help you overcome the fear of solving questions without having the slightest knowledge of what the answer could possibly be.

When solving an objective problem, you may plan your steps after looking at the options given. The possible answers affect your analysis. Now I don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t solve objective problems! They are the only way to build your speed and accuracy. But the real conceptual clarity comes when you are exposed to a large number of subjective problems.

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Developing Out-of-the-Box Thinking

Let’s take a simple case to understand the scenario. Let’s say that you are given an organic compound A on the Reactant side and another organic compound B on the Product side, and you are asked to carry out the reaction A to B using only 3 steps. This is the only information that has been provided to you. Seeing this kind of problem straightaway in the exam hall will leave you with nothing much to do as you never came across such problems during the preparation phase. Here comes the reason to solve subjective problems. They teach you how to use your concepts in various dimensions.

The point is that when you solve problems, you generally do it one topic at a time. And it is rare that you would develop the required out-of-the-box thinking just practicing like this. Take for instance the paragraph type question which was featured in Paper I of the JEE Advanced 2018. It involved identifying the starting reagent using the concepts of polymers, and carrying out a series of reactions on it over two pathways to form two very different products than what one would expect out of the reactant. At first sight to most of the people, the question seemed impossible to solve. But if you had practiced similar grueling exercises, the question might have turned out to be a pretty simple one.

The JEE Is Changing

Generally, JEE Papers these days draw inspiration from the subjective papers of the early ’90s. The questions generally follow a similar pattern to what was previously asked—only in an objective format. This fact is generally seen in Chemistry questions. In those days students where asked to write out the reactions on paper, but these days the questions take the form of comprehension and matching lists. Questions in Physics asked these days are modifications of problems present in the book by I.E.Irodov.

Finally, subjective problems teach you how to handle papers like the JEE Advanced 2016 (especially Physics and Mathematics), and 2018 (Chemistry). If you carefully observe both of these papers, 2016’s paper required a very strong command of Physics and Math to crack. These questions required a lot of thinking which could only come from the rigorous practice of quality subjective problems.

What Is Required in 2018 and Beyond?

2018’s paper was a classic example of what cracking the JEE demands these days. 48 numerical type questions with no options proved to be a nightmare for most students. Why? For the very simple reason that they were not able to think without looking at options. Although the questions didn’t carry negative marking, they turned out to be the toughest nuts to crack.

This clearly indicates what IITs want. They mentioned that there will be short-answer type questions, which was a clear indication of the pattern of the paper becoming more subjective in the years to come.

So on an ending note, I hope you are convinced that just solving tons of objective type questions is not what will get you into an IIT with a decent rank. I don’t ask you to do I.E. Irodov or an equivalent of it for other subjects—but I urge you to inculcate the habit of solving subjective problems. They may be from any reference book or even your coaching material, but make sure to do them all.

Cheers and All the Best!