Fortunately or unfortunately, competitive exams have become a strict norm for selection to various professional courses in our country. Notwithstanding the demerits of such a system, competitive exams are a reality for the lakhs of students who appear in them every year.
In such a scenario, everyone wants to success. Success in these exams brings immense glory and confidence to the individuals, besides giving them a clear cut break into the career line of their choice. However, seats are limited and not everyone who appears can be selected. This does not mean that those who are not selected do not deserve a training in these courses. It only means that there aren't sufficient seats to accommodate all the deserving candidates.
Keeping this background in mind, let us explore what it takes to succeed in these competitive exams particularly at the undergraduate level.
To my mind, the first prerequisite for success in these examinations is determination. The candidate must be quite sure of his level of motivation. Without a high level of motivation, no one can go through the rigorous preparation process. Thus, you must be absolutely determined to give your best efforts in your endeavor.
Once one is sufficiently motivated, one needs to be ready to give sufficient number of hours of his or her time in studies. This is real hard work and involves significant sacrifices on the part of the individual. "All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy". Therefore it is also important that the candidate does take out some time for relaxation either through sports, music or other art forms. Regular exercise ( about 15 - 20 minutes ) every day will help maintain a healthy body which in turn will house a healthy mind.
The third requirement, is selection of the right study material. One should not go for shortcuts. Instead, try to understand the chapters / concepts in detail and practice sufficient number number of questions. Therefore go for standard textbooks, study materials provided, as various correspondence courses and other coaching institutions serve as supplementary and complementary material to the textbook material.
The fourth consideration is an appropriate 'Study Strategy'. A very common question which students ask is, How to balance the school studies with competitive exam study. Think that school studies can be incorporated within the broad framework of one's competitive exams' preparation strategy. One strategy is to look at each chapter as a chapter to be learnt, a material to be mastered; rather than dichotomizing it as school & competitive exam-related study material. Ultimately, if one's clear about the concepts of say, "Current & Electricity", and has practiced sufficient number of questions / numericals ; one can face any examination whether of school or competition. One can use periodical tests in school as an opportunity to master the material that one has collected rather than restricting yourself to the limited knowledge & practice that is needed for doing well in the periodical test itself. Of course, you may not be able to complete all the practice material for one test but clear the concepts. You can use the rest of the practice material for revision and self evaluation at a later time. As the examinations come closer, practicing previous years papers is also key to doing well in these examinations.
Also revise the important concepts, facts, problems that you would have marked during during your 1.5 - 2 years of preparation before the examination.
On the day of examination, keep your cool and attempt the questions. Remember, if you have given your best during the last 1.5 - 2 years, you need not fear anything. Ultimately, only effort and not the result is in your hand. Which you should do to your maximum capability as outlined above. Rest is your destiny or luck. So go ahead, give your best and leave the rest!