I am in class XII. I want to know, whether I should join biotechnology after class XII or after college. Also, should I go for an allied field of biotechnology, or for the main branch. Please advice me, as I am quite very confused.

Most biotechnology experts has interviewed over the last few years are of the view that the earlier the better. It’s ideal to catch a student young.

In fact, this is what Prof Sunil Saran, director, Amity Institute of Biotechnology, had to say: “Earlier, science students had just two streams to choose from – engineering or medicine. That led to a lot of frustration also, because students attempted pre-medical or premedical test, often did not get selected, and entered any BSc course. Their minds were still set on medical studies or engineering. They spent their three years in this manner and ended up with a BSc degree. Now this BSc degree has huge gaps of knowledge because all along these students were thinking in terms of becoming a doctor or an engineer. It was then that they thought of doing biotechnology at masters level. But they entered the biotech scene without any understanding of what biotech is. Now the feedback we have got from the industry is that these students were totally incompetent to handle anything. So they had to be sent for one year for training, before they can be put to job.” So you should not have any dilemma about joining a biotech course after school.


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I am a student of Std X. I am interested in Journalism. I want to know what courses I should do to become a journalist. Please help me with the list of courses and colleges.

Journalism is all about gathering and disseminating news and information. It is often seen as glamorous and exciting but, as with any occupation, success is only achieved after much hard work and routine activity.

You can go for  a 3-year-journalism course after 10+2 (any stream). The course is called Bachelors in Journalism and Mass Communication (BJMC), Bachelor of Mass Media (BMM) or Bachelor of Mass Communication (BMC). It teaches students the skills necessary for careers in reporting, writing, and editing functions with newspapers, wire services, magazines, and special publications. In the third year, emphasis is given to field assignments and practicals. A good course in journalism gives you the chance to do an internship with some of the best names in the business, besides teaching the basic skills. Admission is generally through an entrance test, conducted by the individual institute. The objective of these tests is to judge awareness of current events and the essential skills required to be a conscientious journalist. Personal qualities rather than training are more important for becoming a good journalist.

Some of the institutes are Department of Communication Studies, University of Pune, Pune (; Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication, Pune (; Xavier Institute of Communication, Mumbai (; Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi (; Asian College of Journalism, Chennai (; Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore (; Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), New Delhi (; Makhanlal Chaturvedi Rashtriya Patrakarita Vishwavidyalaya, Bhopal (; AJK Mass communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi (; Times School of Journalism, New Delhi (


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I am a student of Std X and I am aspiring for the NTSE examination.I am confused as to how to focus on the boards as well as NTSE examination as both are equally important.

The National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) is a national-level scholarship programme conducted by NCERT to recognize and nurture talented students throughout India. The question paper is divided into two sections – Mental Ability Test (MAT) and Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT).

MAT judges your ability to think, power of reasoning, ability to evaluate, visualize in space, etc. questions are asked from series, analogies, pattern perception, classification, coding-decoding, problem solving, hidden figures, block assembly, etc. SAT consists of a language (English or Hindi) test and a test for Science, Math and Social Sciences.

Both the tests carry equal weightage. Start your preparation by solving last year’s NTSE papers. It does not matter if you have not prepared for it before. Just sit down and write the test. This will help you gain knowledge of NTSE and also give you a fair idea of your standing. Then analyze your performance and study your weak areas. Make a plan, allocating more time to weaker subjects. The final word is practice and more practice. As you practice, you will also get confident of your speed, subject knowledge and accuracy.

The NTSE examination is held in November, so you have enough time to prepare for the boards. Make sure that you attend all your classes in school and do your homework.


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How to start preparing for my UPSC/IAS Exams from my XII even.?

I am student of class XII. I want to know how to start preparing for UPSC civil services examination from now on, so that I can do focussed studies in my graduation.

The entrance examination for entrance to the covered civil services is open to those who have done their graduation. However, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has suggested a national exam for recruitment to the civil service right after class XII, rather than after graduation. Under the proposed system, Class XII students, who pass this test, would be sent to a National Academy for a five-year course. At the end of three years, a graduate degree would be given to those clearing the normal examinations. The best candidates would be given to their service allotments on basis of merit and choice at the end of three years. They will go in for a two-year service specific course that will cater to requirements of their respective fields. But those at the bottom of the pool would be “released” for seeking other jobs in the market. However, till his suggestion come into effect, induction to IAS will be after graduation.

As of now, civil services exam is conducted in two stages : preliminary exam, held in May/June, followed by main written exam, held in October/November, and ultimately an interview. The preliminary exam is an objective-type exam. There are two papers : general studies, carrying 150 marks, and one subject, carrying 450 marks. The subject paper can be selected from among the following subjects : agriculture, animal husbandry and veterinary science, botany, chemistry, civil engineering, commerce, economics, electrical engineering, geography, geology, Indian history, law, mathematics, mechanical engineering, medical science, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, public administration, sociology, statistics, zoology.

The syllabus is what is followed at the graduation level. Marks obtained in the main exam will determine whether a candidate is called for an interview, which is of 300 marks. Marks obtained in the main exam and interview determine the final ranking.

The two of you, at this stage, can take care of your general studies and current awareness. To begin with, get into the habit of reading newspapers and magazines back to back. Not only should you be abreast of events around you, you should also formulate views on what’s happening around you. World events, Indian politics, arts happenings, sports achievements should be on your tips. But also read the view columns in newspapers and magazines and the debates on TV, so that you know what are the issues involved in each event.


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A class in careers

I am a student of class IX. My queries are : I have heard about NTSE. What is it and who can apply for it? What are the subjects included and which book to consult for it? Also, is coaching necessary for IIT / civil services? Tell me how to prepare for IIT-JEE and civil services.

First, about the National Talent Search  Examination (NTSE). NTSE is conducted by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT),New Delhi. NCERT under its National Talent Search Scheme awards 1,000 scholarships, including 150 for scheduled castes and 75 for scheduled tribes candidates, each year. The objective of the scheme is to identify brilliant students at the end of Class X and give them financial assistance towards getting good education. The scheme, launched in 1963 and extended to the rest of the country in 1964, and has undergone several modifications in the last four decades.

All students studying in Class X in any recognised school, including Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas and Sainik Schools, are eligible to appear for the state level examination in the state in which the candidate’s school is located. The talent identification is done in two stages. The first selection is done by the states / union territories, whereas the second stage selection, at the national level, is carried out by NCERT.

Each state/UT conducts its own examination. It has the freedom to lay down its own norms for the purposes of determining the eligibility of the candidates. The state determines the candidates to be sent for the national-level examination, on the basis of its own written examination. The state level screening examination is conducted in all states/UTs on the fourth Sunday of November, except in Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram where it is conducted on the fourth Saturday of November every year.

Students studying in Class X in the country should be on the look out for the advertisement in the newspapers or circular in the school by the respective government of their state/UT for the examination and act as per the requirement in the state advertisement / circular. They should submit the filled-in application form to the state liaison officer through the principal of the school before the due date as advertised/circulated by each concerned state/UT.

The Mental Ability Test has 100 multiple-choice type items, with five alternatives. Each item carries one mark. A variety of questions, such as analogies, classification, series, pattern perception, hidden figures, coding-decoding, block assembly and the like are asked. Candidates are required to answer the items on a separate answer sheet as per instructions given both in the test booklet and on the answer sheet.

SAT consists of 100 multiple-choice questions of one mark each. Each question has four alternatives, out of which only one is the correct answer. There are 40 questions from sciences, 40 from social sciences and 20 from mathematics. In science, there are questions from physics, chemistry and biology. Similarly, in social sciences there are questions from history, geography and civics. The question in mathematics cover algebra, arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry, statistics and mensuration. Candidates are required to answer the items on a separate answer sheets.

The medium of examination is English or regional languages, as provided in the Constitution of India. The language in which a candidate wants to take the test has to be mentioned in the application form for the state-level examination. Accordingly, a question booklet in that language is made available to the candidate. No request for change of medium is entertained. The state level examination also has two-part examinations – MAT and SAT. The medium of the test is announced by each state/UT.

The test demands both speed and accuracy. So work on improving both. Use your time wisely. If you find a question difficult, skip it and move ahead without wasting too much time on it. You can always return to these questions once you have completed the entire test.

Though there is no negative marking, wild guessing does not help. The trick is to make intelligent guesses. If you can rule out one or two options as definitely wrong, you improve your chance of scoring in that question.

Whenever you come across a question that has got more than one correct answer, choose only the most appropriate one.

In MAT, questions of the same type are grouped together. Since the instructions for all these questions are the same, read them carefully and answer the questions together.

As regards coaching for IIT-JEE and civil services, it helps to join a course, for a number of reasons. It channelizes your preparation. You can take advantage of a qualified faculty that has perhaps been through the examination process itself, knows the examination pattern thoroughly well and guides you how to approach the paper. This last part is important because even bright students at times mess up an exam if they don’t know the right approach. Also, you get to interact with a whole batch, you take a number of tests in stimulated conditions and you know where you stand.

As regards preparation for IIT-JEE, we carry an article in this issue regarding the changed IIT-JEE pattern. For civil services, the answer to the next question will help you.


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Maths Phobia

I have just started my class X. After class X I want to join the science stream. But maths is a problem. The teacher who taught me in class IX is also taking class X. I don’t understand anything in her class. I had been hoping to get another teacher but I was quite disappointed when I saw her entering the class in the maths period. How will I do well if I don’t clear my doubts? Even though my interest is in biology, I want to do well in maths in well. How can I do well in maths?

Mathematics is all about understanding and practising. It is of great help not just in the science stream, but in other streams too. The more you practice, the more you learn. If there is no chance of the teacher being changed, you should look for someone in or around your home who can help you clear your doubts regularly.


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Career in Bio Technology

My daughter is a student of class XII, pursuing science stream. She wants to do BTech in biotechnology. Please provide information regarding admission and names of colleges.

We hope that your daughter has filled the forms for various entrance exams for admission to BTech biotechnology offered by various universities/institutes. If she has not, she will have to apply next year. Or else she might think of BSc biotechnology, offered by a large number of universities.

The IITs have been offering a four year BTech course in Biotechnology for quite some time. IIT Kharagpur offers a BTech degree programme in biotechnology and biochemical engineering; IIT Chennai and IIT Guwahati offer a BTech degree in biotechnology; IIT Delhi and IIT Kharagpur offer a five-year dual degree MTech course (after completion of 10+2) in biochemical engineering & biotechnology; and IIT Chennai offers a similar MTech course in biotechnology. Admission to these courses is through a Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE) after class XII.

Among the other institutes offering BTech are: Anna University, Chennai (BTech in industrial biotechnology); Bharathidasan Institute of Engineering and Technology, Tiruchirappalli; Guru Gobind Singh University, Delhi; Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar (BTech chemistry and Bio engineering); UP Technical University, Lucknow; Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore (Tamil Nadu).selection is on the basis of All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE), or the entrance exams conducted by various state governments.


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I have Love for law, how can I make career in this stream?

I have recently finished my board exams. I aspire to become a lawyer. I want to shape my career right away. What subjects one opt to become eligible? Apart from institution-based studies what other types of studies and coaching do I need to take up? Please give me a list of institutions, particularly those in Kolkata. How do I prepare for the various competitive exams? Please explain the entrance procedure. How else do I realise my aim?

The admission procedure to the National Law School league – the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore; National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR), Hyderabad; National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata; National Law University (NLU), Jodhpur; and National Law Institute University (‘NLIU’) in Bhopal is already underway. The last date for forms is over. In fact, by the time, you receive this magazine these institutes would have conducted the entrance exam. You have not mentioned whether you have appeared for your class X or class XII exam. If you have just appeared for your class X board exam, the reply will be relevant for you.

The entrance exams are usually of around two hours’ duration and contain both objective and subjective type questions. The subjects tested are: English, analytical reasoning (Logic), legal reasoning, general knowledge (including legal awareness) and mathematics.

None of the sections in the papers are usually tough, keeping on mind the standard of the board exams in India. More than the toughness of the question it is time pressure and the number of applicants that make the selection procedure tough. The English section tests students on vocabulary, reading comprehension, structuring of sentences among other things; the analytical reasoning section tests students on identifying weak and strong arguments, syllogisms, relationships, sequencing etc; the legal reasoning section tests students on their ability to correctly apply a principle to a given set of facts and decide whether something is correct or incorrect; the general knowledge section tests students on their general awareness of basic laws and legal developments; and the mathematics section tests students mainly in basic commercial maths.

General knowledge and English vocabulary are two areas that require long term preparation. Make sure to read a good newspaper daily – not at the end of the week or once in a while. Keep an eye out for news relating to law or international affairs in some way or the others. Take it one step further by maintain a scrap book of relevant cutting from the papers. Pick up a weekly magazine to boost your knowledge. Do it regularly. Build it in your routine. Similarly, pick up new words and phrases from newspapers and magazines, not just for making a word list of your own. Use them in your day-to-day conversation. These are practices you will be thankful for when you sit for the exam.

It should be noted that these are areas where one has to rely upon oneself. You can’t expect a tutor to tell you ‘OK! Today we will do facts about the Olympic Games’ or ‘Today we will do the word iconoclast!

As regards the other areas mentioned above, these can be covered through an exhaustive preparation a month or two before exams. It will help you to take help of an experienced tutor for these areas.


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Give details about entrance of CFA @ ICFAI


I am B.Com Pass final year student. After my graduation I want to pursue chartered financial analyst course. Please suggest some institutes, along with their websites, which are offering this course. Please give me the details of the entrance exams like minimum cut-off in B.Com availability of forms and duration of the course. What are the prospects of the course?

The CFA qualification is given by Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI). It’s a three-year post-graduate programme, admission to which is done on the basis of a written test. Graduates from any discipline with at least 50 per cent marks can apply to the course. CFAs can have promising careers in finance, insurance and banking sectors.

The ICFAI website is as follows:


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Being Girl, How can I join defence services of my nation?

I am a resident of Pune, appearing for my CBSE board exams. It’s my dream to serve the country by joining the defence services. My plan was to get educated at NDA. Unfortunately, I came to know that NDA at Pune prefers only boys. I want to know whether any NDA branch is for girls too. If there is, how can I join it as soon as I complete my class XII. What subjects should I opt for in class XI so as to satisfy the qualifications essential for entering NDA? Is Air Force for girls too? Can a girl be a pilot to serve the nation when there are wars in our country? What qualifications are necessary for being a squadron leader?

NDA doesn’t have any branch. And NDA is for boys alone. Entry for girls to the Armed Forces is possible after graduation. You can fulfil your ambition of joining the Air Force and becoming a pilot. But you will be able to fly helicopters and transport planes. Eligibility is BSc physics or maths or BSc general with physics and maths. Selection is on the basis of SSB tests, interview, a medical exam, and pilot aptitude battery test.

But there are scores of other opportunities for women candidate in the Indian Air Force and the other two wings of the Armed Forces. Thus, for example, there is direct entry for science graduates in air traffic control. There’s also direct entry for graduates in ground duty branches like administration & logistics and education.

In the Indian army women are recruited to the army service corps, army ordnance corps, Army intelligence corps, in the signals, and in engineering corps (technical services require an engineering degree). In the navy too women get entry in the education branch, logistics branch and Air Traffic Control, the last one being open to science graduates. Women can also join the Armed Forces Medical Service, after an MBBS at Armed Forces Medical College, Pune. If you are an NCC ‘C’ certificate holder, you can avail of the vacancies reserved for them in the three wings.

As to your query regarding qualification for a squadron leader, you become a squadron leader after promotions in the Indian Air Force. And you don’t have to be a fighter pilot for that. Ground duty officers also get that designation, or even higher designations. In fact, in 2002, Padma Bandopadhyay, became the first woman officer of the Indian Air Force to be promoted to the rank of Air Vice Marshal. She has risen to this high position as part of the medical service.


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How can I laugh in stress even?

Everyone in my family is tensed all the time – my father, my mother, my sister and myself. Money is not an issue. My parents earn well. There are no quarrels or anything. But no one really laughs heartily. Something is lacking. Can you make out what it could be? Does it have to do with the Vaastu of the house? Is it because of some part deeds – maybe in previous lives? How can one learn the art of living properly?

I do not know anything about Vaastu or the effect of the past etc. To be happy is within one’s own ability. If you want to be happy, no one can stop you from it. In some families people are little more serious than persons in other families. This is not unusual. However, if you do think that people are not ‘happy’ at home, you can look for the causes. Find out what makes them unhappy. If you know the cause, you can always remedy it. Remember, however, that ‘laughing’ by itself does not mean ‘happiness’. What makes one happy may not make another happy. Happiness is a relative term.


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How to understand about Learning curve of an individual ?

My elder daughter is in class VIII and younger one in class III. Nowadays, when I read news reports about young school students and even mothers committing suicide because of bad performance in exams, I become very upset. How can parents keep a constant tab on their child’s mood? My second worry is, even if parents are not pushy, the school – including teachers and peers – forces them into thinking that way. I remember that in the first year of our elder child’s school we were quite carefree and thought that the child would learn at her own pace. But soon complaints started coming in – if our child lagged behind in any respect. Soon we too started worrying about our child’s performance even at nursery and KG stage. True, there are exceptional stories of a child and his/her parents not bothering about academic record and the child doing very well in some creative field or the other. But what is the way out for a normal, middle class family?

I can understand your concern at parents and children committing suicide because the child did not perform well in the exams. Performing well in studies is indeed important but it is not the end of the world. What is important is that the child learns the subjects well, has a good grasp of it, is able to concentrate upon his work, completes the assignments and keeps pace with the class. If this is ensured, the performance of the child will not be below the level at which it should be. Parents should facilitate the child to do his work at his pace and to help complete whatever is expected of him or her (without doing his work for him. Parents must be alerted to any adverse changes in the child with regard to his studies, like sudden deterioration in studies, getting very poor marks in most subjects etc. Learning at one’s pace is fine, so long as the pace is in tune with the pace expected in the school and according to his age level and the class in which he studies. One need not expect a child of class III to perform at class V or VI level. If he is keeping pace with his age and class, the school will also not bother and you as parent need not worry.


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Lizard phobia

I am very scared of lizards. In fact, so grave is the problem that if I spot one in my room I cannot even enter it. It becomes extremely difficult in summers, when they are everywhere. Is this some kind of phobia? Can I get over it?

Many people are scared of lizards. If the lizards is driven away and the person is able to enter the room and carry on working, it is not a phobia. But if, despite knowing very well that there is no lizard in the room, you cannot enter the room or carry on your routine work, this may amount to phobia. Phobias are curable.


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How can I drag attention among the group.

I am not an introvert, but I can’t stand it if people don’t give me importance. I feel neglected at parties. How can I interact with people when they are discussing their own issues? How to get along with them, so that they give me importance?

You should stop thinking that you are the center of the world. Instead of thinking about yourself, start focusing on what other re talking about, what is the topic of their conversation and try to present your ideas about the topic concerned. People of your age usually want to talk about clothes, the latest fashion, studies future plans, latest happenings in the sports field, politics, films etc. Keep yourself updated by reading youth magazines, newspapers etc, so that you can express your views. Keep yourself abreast of these topics and join in the conversation of your friends rather than waiting for them to talk about your topic. This is the age when you start forming ideas, thinking differently and holding on to certain views on different topics. If you show your knowledge and contribute to the topic, they would welcome your ideas and the conversation will move on from there. Then you don’t have to worry that others are ignoring you.


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