This year, Aditi Godara has secured rank 1 in CSIR -JRF-NET Life Sciences June 2020 exam. Biotech Express got in touch with Aditi Godara to learn more about her preparation strategy. Here are the excerpts.
How you are feeling and how will you celebrate your success?
The feeling is surreal. Its been a week now, since the results were out but still I’m euphoric about it. I think the happiness and pride on my husband and parents’ face is my celebration in itself.
When did you start your preparations for the NET exam? Is this your first attempt?
I have been serious with life science throughout my bachelors and masters as there need to be a strong background behind rank 1. It’s a fruit of years of hard work. Still to name, I started preparing for June 2020 from October 2019; It was my second attempt. My first attempt was in first year of my masters which followed a major eye surgery that took me months to recover and there was no other attempt for two years. After post graduating I got married and I almost thought to quit this exam altogether, but then my husband who is my biggest inspiration asked me that you shouldn’t give up anything you wanted to do. ‘Our life journey will always have good additions and no subtractions’ he said.
How challenging it was to prepare for NET?
Vastness of syllabus is itself most challenging thing about this exam.
How did you plan your preparations?
There are 13 units in the syllabus. At one time, I would run 3 units dividing my day into 4 parts in which 4th part would only have revisions. so, this is how I planned my preparations. I have been thorough with all topics because superficial knowledge never helps in this exam. I inculcated quick and repeated revisions in my daily schedule since its important to keep topics fresh from beginning till end of the preparation span.
When and what inspired you to go for research?
I just love science and I have been always a very curious student. I would frequently ask “how” and “why” for the information delivered to me by my teachers. I think this is where it comes from.
In which research institute you aspire to take admission?
IISc is dream for me but since it is a very sensitive pick as it will be a long journey ahead so I will take some time to decide.
How did you manage to prepare for NET during the lockdown? Had it affected your preparation?
Lockdown phase was initially very disturbing because exam got postponed and there was no date announced for 5 months but it eventually turned out to be an advantage as we could revise and practice more. This phase required a lot of patience and we had to keep ourselves strong and firm.
How much support you got from your college and university teachers?
I did my graduation from a private college in a small city where focus is more on clearing exams rather than learning. But few of my seniors were very helpful and they exposed me to some good reference books-
1. Lehninger for Biochemistry; 2. Watson for Molecular Biology; 3. Bruce Alberts for Cell Biology; 4. Kuby for Immunology; 5. Snustard and Simmons for Genetics; 6. Gilbert for Developmental Biology; 7. Taiz and Zeiger for Plant Physiology
I used to visit Library and started studying these books. So, I would like to communicate this to aspirants that if you also feel that college lectures are not helpful, start reading good books as a good reference book is the finest teacher.
And start reading these books during Graduation only as it will take time to be covered.
Luckily, I got to study from really distinguished Professors during my post graduation from Department of Botany, Panjab University Chandigarh. Prof. Harsh Nayyar and Prof. Daisy Batish taught us Plant Physiology and Ecology respectively and these two units (out of 13) got prepared during then only.
Did you take any coaching for NET 2020? By what means you were in touch with your teachers for doubts regularly during the lockdown?
I had my mentors from Pathfinder Academy. Took their classes and also read dedicated reference books for several topics alongside since they are important for the background story behind a concept which helps a lot in solving part C questions which are meant to test one’s research aptitude and scientific temper. So there were lot of personal efforts besides coaching. I used to clear my doubts through online discussions and over phone call with my mentors.
Which subject is your weak and which one is strong?
I had my masters in Botany from Panjab University, Chandigarh. So plant sciences were always strong ,animal portions used to scare me.
What was the difference in preparation from the early days to just a month before NET exam?
There were more mock tests that I went through in the last one month. No other major difference as such since I had my revisions strong since day 1 of my preparation.
What strategy did you follow on exam day?
I didn’t study 3 days prior my exam at all. Kept myself cool and calm, had a hearty meal on exam day and solved question paper in a very controlled and careful manner leaving aside any fear or panic.
What was the roughest and the easiest section according to you?
I was not good in maths and calculations so found part A bit tough. Part B and C, I found easy.
How did your family support you and motivate you during the preparations?
All credit for what I achieved today, goes to my Parents and My husband. My in-laws have been very supportive always, they never discriminated between daughter and daughter-in-law. My grandmother used to daily bless me with good wishes and success in my preparation, whenever I used to see her.
Any takeaways for the future NET aspirants?
For future aspirants , I will say, just be a life science student in your learning irrespective of your background or stream of specialization, be it botany/zoology/biochemistry/ Biotechnology, be open to all topics in syllabus leaving aside any kind of biases.