JEE Main vs JEE Advanced: Pattern Differences

Getting admission into the IITs isn’t simple. You need to first attempt JEE Main, an exam usually held in the first or second week of April. If you manage to score above a certain threshold, then you have the eligibility to appear for the JEE Advanced, which is after the JEE Main and held around the end of May.

Holding two exams may seem redundant to people, especially since the time gap between the two is vast. However, both these exams are quite different and are used to test different aspects of the candidate’s capabilities. Let’s look at some of the ways that these exams are different from one another — JEE Main vs JEE Advanced!

jee main vs jee advanced, student - magoosh

Image by Tatiana Frank

Syllabus for JEE Main vs JEE Advanced

The syllabus for the JEE Main is more extensive compared to the JEE Advanced. For example, the JEE Main covers topics such as Electronic Devices and Mathematical Reasoning that are not included in the JEE Advanced. It is necessary for you to be familiar with all of the topics that are included in each exam. This will help you prepare accordingly.

But since the JEE Main also acts as an entrance for various other colleges, including the NITs, you need to do well on this. To score more you’ll have to cover a lot of topics. The JEE Advanced, on the other hand, likes to focus on just a few topics, but in greater detail. Though the syllabus is smaller, the questions are more complex–and you are expected to cover those few topics in greater depth.

JEE Main vs JEE Advanced Question Comparison

People often associate the IIT entrance exams with tough questions. However, this belief stems from the questions that are asked in the JEE Advanced. Because the JEE Main covers many more topics, it does not ask very tough questions. You should be able to answer the questions even if you have only a basic understanding of the concepts. Also, as there are ninety questions to be solved in three hours, they do not require you to spend too much time on each question. In contrast, the JEE Advanced tests whether you have a thorough understanding of the concept. They might change the assumptions behind a formula and ask you to derive the new one.

jee main vs jee advanced, read instructions - magoosh

Image by ibreakstock

The style in which the questions are asked is also different. The JEE Main relies on asking MCQs with one of the four options being correct. The JEE Advanced is more complicated in this respect. The format for this exam changes, but some of the formats used before are multiple choice multiple correct and integer type questions. These formats are harder because you can’t get the correct answer by simple elimination. There might also be a new format introduced when you attempt the paper! To secure good marks, spend the initial few minutes reading the instructions carefully, in order to understand how the scoring works and in what format you are supposed to enter your answers.


The JEE Main consists of two papers. You may give Paper 1, Paper 2, or both. Paper 1 is three hours long and is for students vying for engineering colleges. Paper 2 is the architecture exam for students trying for B.Arch. Each of these Papers is three hours long. It is necessary to clear the first paper to be allowed to write the JEE Advanced. This exam consists of two papers which are three hours long each, for a total of 6 hours.

The timing for both exams is critical and should be taken into consideration while preparing. Each paper of the JEE Main is only for three hours. Keep in mind that it continues without breaks, so you should be able to sit through the entire duration while keeping your focus. The JEE Advanced, on the other hand, is effectively six hours long with a lunch break in the middle. You’ll have to practice sitting through six hours of the exam while keeping your mind nimble enough to answer the tough questions. You’ll have to give as many mock exams as you can to get your body and mind used to the rough timings of the exam.

jee main vs jee advanced, timing - magoosh

Image by isak55

This is a major difference between the two exams. This may play a part in you scoring well in the JEE Main but not in the other. It is a good idea to use the two months gap between the exams to practice for the JEE Advanced. If you’re not physically and mentally used to sitting for 6 hour exams, this may be the one thing pulling you back from performing your best.


Since the papers differ in their syllabus and timings, it is imminent that students will perform differently in both the papers. Typically, JEE Main is said to be a more scoring exam than JEE Advanced. This is a culmination of all the above differences. Since neither the pattern nor the difficulty level of the JEE Main differs much from one year to another, it is easy to benchmark your performance based on scores from previous years.

This is not possible with the JEE Advanced. The total marks may change and so can the format of the questions asked. This makes it hard to know how well you’ve done or where you stand merely on the basis of your marks. One year scoring fifty percent would get you a top 1000 rank but in another year, you might expect a rank around 3000-4000. This unpredictability makes it a tough exam to crack.

The way the questions are marked can also differ. The JEE Main sticks to a constant scoring pattern, but the JEE Advanced changes it frequently. For example, the paper set by IIT Guwahati in 2016 introduced a new type of marking in multiple-choice multi correct questions. The students could get partial marks for every choice they got correct if they hadn’t marked the wrong ones. This was something new! People took some time to understand how it worked–as the first time they came across it was during the exam.

jee main vs jee advanced, unpredictable - magoosh

Image by Sampien

The difference between the two exams can be summed up in one word: unpredictability. The JEE Advanced doesn’t have a set pattern or scoring rules. It depends year by year on the IIT in charge of conducting the exam.

The JEE Main, on the other hand, follows the same format year after year. This obviously means that students don’t have to get used to something new out of the blue during the exam. As an aspirant, you need to train your mind to be able to take on any curve balls thrown at you during the exam. You’ll need to put in the efforts to build the right temperament, which can be achieved by giving a lot of mock exams.

Hope this was helpful. All the best for your exams. 🙂

Crack the JEE! Start here..

Comments are closed.

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!