In Pakistan, every year, after the Independence Day, the most preparations are made for NUST entrance test which they have shortened to NET nowadays. There is no special reason behind the shortening except that it’s a trend to uniquely identify the entrance test of your university and abbreviations just sound hip. Coming back, NET is the gateway to Pakistan’s best university and has the power to keep students hooked to their books even after the exams the over.
So let us have a look at the structure of the entrance test. Before that, let me clarify that we will proceed keeping in view the “Engineering and CS” entrance test with a little flavor of the “Business Studies and Social Sciences” test. Reason, ask anybody “What is NUST?” and 80-90% will tell you that it’s an Engineering university. Moving on, the entrance test is a big, fat booklet and a page with circles that I’m sure everyone has practiced coloring. According to my memory it lasts for three hours and is composed of four subjects Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and English. Mathematics being the easiest and Chemistry being impossible to solve but that is my personal assessment. According to masses, the most difficult portion English. But don’t worry about that, you’ll have an opinion of your own after you walk out of that room. The Business Studies test is comparatively simpler and any one of you not busy staring at the opposite sex provided that s/he has sufficient common sense should be able to get through easily. That’s the gist of it. More details are here.
In a Nustian’s list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) one question has remained at the top of the list since ages, “how did you prepare for the test?” Frankly, for me this question indicates lack of self-confidence. So don’t ask me this question after studying the same course books as I did, I won’t be much help because my methodology of preparation was to trust in what I know and revise tidbits from the curriculum.
Now let’s go through the pre-entrance test period in a bit detail. By the time your exams conclude, a publicity war between the academies is well underway. You see publicity material everywhere; Glued to the walls, sandwiched between your wiper and windscreen and in the form of pamphlets that someone hands to you in market places. By taking a brief glance at some of those pamphlets, I have established two things. One, that every academy apparently guarantees you a place in a university of your choice. All you have to do is get enrolled. Second, all universities have a position holder in the entrance test of almost every university for the preceding year. But it’s the big boys like Zawiya and KIPS that do the most business. Another interesting fact is that the lesser the time you have, the more expensive these academies get. This year, KIPS set the enrollment fee to be Rs. 16,000 for their FAST, UET, NUST and GIKI program which they call FUNG. But of course they call this NUST enrollment fee. In addition to that, they give books and handouts to prepare from as well. But all this argument is no use as I am sure most of us did join an academy and are well aware of all this. I know the stats because my sister is appearing for NET this year and she went to KIPS after an extensive research on which academies are most promising.
Why does there have to be an entry test? Naturally, a question came to my mind that if these F.Sc. marks will stand for nothing in the merit list, why I am ruining my nights staring at books. I bet all of the high-scorers who don’t make it to NUST this year will be thinking the exact same thing. But the answer to this will only be uncovered by those who actually make it to NUST and two words sum it adequately, “Aptitude Assessment”. We are all subject to a very slow paced and less competitive environment for the initial twelve years of our education. Stepping into a university changes all that. A student experiences drastic changes as he is exposed to a highly competitive and rigorous learning environment. The entry test is a means to assess whether a student can survive that change and exist in that environment or not. I think that most of us would agree that the entrance test is a very powerful tool in an institution’s belt to maintain the standard of their graduates and the university reputation. Which is why, clearing NET has become a matter of pride. Secondly, if there was no entry test, where would people with 75% marks like me go? Because of the test, Pakistan’s top university gives us an almost equal chance to contest for a seat in the institution unlike some other universities. Yes, UET, I’m talking about you.
My verdict, based on my experience is that this whole entrance test procedure is overrated. Waking up at 7 in the morning, going to our respective academies, sitting continuously through the five hour classes and then, coming back to the same old books and start going through them again. Sleeping at the time you should be playing and revising at the time you should be hanging out with your friends, unfair isn’t it. Academies are not worth all that money. Buy a phone.
But we’re talking about your future here and the more seriously you take it the better. If you join an academy, make the most out of it and rather than bunking it, pay attention. You can go through all sorts of preparation material, but if your mind stops working when you are in the hot seat, nothing will be of any use. I know there is too much hype about NET but at the end of the day, the one who controls his nerves the best, takes it. Be confident, think and don’t jump to conclusions because they will mostly be “I don’t know the answer to this one”. Look nowhere, everything you need to know is in your F.Sc. course books. Get adequate sleep, fresh minds work better. And pray that it’s not one of your bad days. That is how I did it.