How did Students Clear IIT JEE earlier

  • Know the views of six IITians/BitsPilani on did they take coaching classes, how IIT benefited them, why they chose MBA post IIT and tips for youngsters going to appear for IIT.

Whilst writing why CA students do not commit suicide like some Kota students do, I wondered how students prepared for IIT JEE before Kota Classes came into being!


So I prepared a list of simple questions and asked some IITians who had joined between 1977 and 2010. The questions are which year did you appear for IIT, did you take Coaching Classes, what made you do an choose MBA post IIT, how did IIT studies help in your working life and tips for youngsters going to appear for JEE.


Their answers are enlightening. Plus I have shared excerpts from what some IIT students told the Indian Express who did a series of articles on Life in IIT.


Key points made by respondents and observations are:

1. They relied on study material sometimes from Agarwal coaching classes. 

2. Life before joining IIT has turned different from what they dreamt. 

3. IIT helped develop the mind esp. analytical skills. Do students need to go to IIT for that and all the stress associated with preparing for JEE? Any good engineering college would do! Most respondents chose to do an MBA thereafter.

4. From the protected environment of their homes, IIT is their first step into the world. A bit of idealism is expected initially. Post IIT it is the real world.

5. Most IITians feel the need to do an MBA.    


I believe that the hype about IITs have gone up since before. Brand IIT is seen as a key to financial success. Huge packages and their success in U.S.A. have increased the need to have an IIT degree. A respondent says, “I have seen enough and more students from IIT who have settled into mediocrity in their professional lives.” From experience say that a degree is only a passport to a job, eventually it is your attitude and approach that matter. 


Here are six responses to the questions.  


1. IIT 1995 from BHU/IIM Calcutta-from Dewas, today Technology Entrepreneur. 

Q1. Which year did u appear for IIT?



Q2. Did u take Coaching Classes?

I grew up in a small town (Dewas, MP) where there were no coaching institutes. I did correspondence coaching with Brilliant Tutorials (Chennai). In those days, training material was sent by India Post (as couriers were not available easily). The student was expected to read the material and solve questions at their own pace. Once in six months, there was one contact session (typically one day long) scheduled in Bhopal (about 150 kms away from Dewas) for doubt clearing.


Q3. IIT specialised in which subject?

Mechanical Engineering. 


Q4. What made you choose MBA post IIT?

Once I joined the institute post JEE, I realized that almost everyone around me was smarter and more exposed than I was. They were already thinking and preparing for the next milestone. Most of the seniors (3rd and 4th year students) were seriously preparing either for a Master in Engineering (GRE) from a US university or for MBA (typically from IIMs, XLRI).


During the first six months of being at the IIT, I spent some quality time reflecting on my life and career choices. I soon discovered my strengths. I was good at planning, organizing, communicating and leading. The self discovery helped me realize I would be successful in the management stream. Thus, pursuing an MBA from IIM became a natural choice.


Q5. How did IIT studies help in your working life?

IIT helped learn the art of learning anything quickly. It helped me develop a curious mind with a scientific temperament. I learned to ask questions and seek information to better understand any problem or situation and how to look at a problem in different ways and come up with solutions given the resources available.


Some of the key learning’s were the art of defining a problem, breaking it down into its component parts, identifying the resources required and at my disposal to solve the problem. 


Q6. Any tips for youngsters going to appear for JEE?

This is my 25th year post completion of IIT. In hindsight, my attitude towards IIT preparation and admission changed drastically over the years.


Before I got admission, I thought my life and its success depended on IIT. However, I realised that IIT was a means to an end and one of the stops in my larger journey of life. If I had known that studying at IIT is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for success, my approach to it would have been very different. I see numerous examples, such as Satya Nadella, who never went to IIT but is the architect of one of the most respected companies in the world.


My advice to a young aspiring engineer is to understand that they should work hard to get into an IIT. There is value in pursuing a degree from this esteemed institution. However, a degree from an IIT does not guarantee long term success. I have seen enough and more students from IIT who have settled into mediocrity in their professional lives.


The skill is to learn continuously and consistently. The world is changing faster than ever before. IITs can only teach you to learn anything faster.


Q7. You specialised MBA in which subject?

Major in Systems (Information Technology) and Marketing, Minor in Strategy & Operations


2. IIT Bombay 1980 / Wharton Finance – from Mumbai, today Venture Capitalist.

Q1. Which years were you in IIT?

1980 to 1985.


Q2. Did u take Coaching Classes?

Yes. Agarwal Classes (Mumbai).


Q3. IIT specialised in which subject?

Electrical Engineering.


Q4. What made you chose MBA post IIT? 

Realized I was a terrible engineer and more interested in finance and management.


Q5. You specialised in MBA in which subject?

Finance and Management.


Q6. How did IIT studies help in your working life?

It gives you a solid grounding in logical thinking, problem solving, networking amongst peers.


Q7. Any tips for youngsters going to appear for JEE?

Think whether you are passionate about Engineering or are you using it as a stepping stone to something else and decide your career path.


Indian Express carried a series ‘Lessons from IIT’. Sukanya Mondal wrote, “Being part of an IIT teaches a student the art of management and balancing”. 


3. IIT 1985 / IIM B (Finance) – from Agra, today entrepreneur in BFSI sector.

Q1. Which year did u appear for IIT?



Q2. Did u take Coaching Classes?

I took a correspondence course with Agarwal Classes, Mumbai. We received study material that we studied.


Q3. IIT specialised in which subject?



Q4. What made u chose MBA post IIT?

Job options then were mostly on the shop floor, something I was not interested in.


Q5. You specialised MBA in which subject?



Q6. How did IIT studies help in your working life?

IIT gave me the ability to be able to understand issues quickly, improved my grasping power.


Vedant Gittie, a student from IIT Kanpur, told the Indian Express, “After Class 10, I got enrolled in a coaching institute for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) in the same city i.e. Pune and appeared for the JEE in 2020.”


4. IIT 2009 / Wharton Finance – from Mumbai, today works with a Start-up. 

Q1. Which year did u appear for IIT?

I wrote JEE in 2009, and was at IIT from 2009 to 2013


Q2. Did you take Coaching Classes?

Yes in Mumbai. (physical classes).


Q3. IIT specialized in which subject?

Mechanical Engineering.


Q4. What made you chose MBA post IIT?

I worked in education for 5 years post IIT, and wanted some time to reflect and recalibrate, while expanding my intellectual horizons. The MBA was a great way to do this, especially since it entailed meeting and working with people from across the world.


Q5. You specialized MBA in which subject?

Operations, Information & Decision Making (it is a single major at Wharton).


Q6. How did IIT studies help you in working life?

It instilled an analytical and data-driven mindset, which enabled me to become a better problem-solver.


Q7. Any tips for youngsters going to appear for JEE?

What matters more than getting into IIT (or any other engineering college) is what you do with the opportunities that are afforded to you.


5. IIT 1977 / IIM A – from Patna, today retired. 

Q1. Which year did u appear for IIT?



Q2. Did u take Coaching Classes?

No. I studied on my own and at a hostel in Patna. 1st attempt. 1 exam for all 4 papers. I was all of sixteen years when I appeared for IIT entrance. 


Q3. IIT specialized in which subject?

Mechanical engineering.


Q4. What made you chose MBA post IIT?

Everyone was doing an MBA so I also applied.


Q5. You specialised MBA in which subject?

I took more subjects in marketing.


Q6. How did IIT studies help u in working life?

IIT made me diligent, built ability to work hard, analytical skills. These skills helped in IIM entrance.


Q7. Any tips for youngsters going to appear for JEE?

Study regularly, every day three hours. Please write what you read and understand. Try explaining to others what u understood. Today, there is a start up system then options were few. The requirements, then and now are very different.


6. Bits Pilani 2010/ IIM – Marketing Manager FMCG

1. Which year did u appear for IIT/Bits Pilani

Appeared for exams and joined BITS Pilani in 2010.


2. Did u take Coaching Classes?

Yes. I was enrolled in FIITJEE classes, classroom program after school.


3. IIT specialised in which subject?

Computer Science engineer.


4. What made u chose MBA post IIT? 

I realized that even after an engineering degree, would eventually be in a position where management experience is required. Hence, I decided to do MBA immediately after engineering.


5. U specialised MBA in which subject.

General Management


6. How did IIT studies help u in working life?

It helped develop a strong analytical and problem solving bent of mind - that helps in everyday business. Engineering develops first principle thinking which is more important than anything else. 


7. Any tips for youngsters going to appear for JEE.

Understanding the core concepts very clearly helps more than solving 100s of similar questions. Plan out the workload over two years well.


I found Shruti’s story in a Forbes India article, “She did her engineering from IIT-Delhi, MBA from Harvard Business School, and started her professional career with Bain & Company in 2012. After two years, she moved into the field of impact investing. Today, she has become entrepreneur.”


Times have changed.


Madhvi D of Bhopal told the Indian Express, “IITs provide us with multiple opportunities to participate in several competitions. One such competition was Invention Factory at IIT Gandhinagar. I had a wonderful experience there. At the competition, we had to invent a product from scratch. We had six weeks to create a prototype and prepare a pitch. We literally stayed in the lab.”


In another article Akshit of IIT Indore says, “As for the future, I want to pursue a Master’s degree in Robotics. I am looking at options abroad as well.” 


It would be interesting to track these students and see where they reach. Analysis of the Alumni might help find answers.


Are coaching classes a must?


You can form your opinion. Here are some views.


Rajsekhar Ratrey told (VP education company) the Indian Express, “Coaching classes add to the clutter of responsibilities while you are preparing for JEE. They do provide guidance and support, but this is done in a time consuming manner, in an extremely large batch size with no personal attention. “


Prof B.S. Murty of IIT Hyderabad told the Indian Express, “We come across several students who have cleared JEE without coaching. Clearing JEE needs strong fundamentals, the ability to apply those and focused preparation.”


Some students study by themselves. Sandeep Kumar of Vizag told the New Indian Express, “In our town, no good coaching centres were available. To access good coaching, we had to go to Visakhapatnam, which financially burdened us due to our limited means. Consequently, I relied on YouTube tutorials and lessons to study and prepare for IIT admission.”


A senior IITian with an understanding of local issues says –

1. Getting into IITs has been overhyped by coaching classes to maximise profits and by parents for dowry demands.  

2. Classes help gain admission into IIT but cannot help you become engineers, a fact lamented by employers but overlooked by the hype.

3. The qualifications are neither necessary nor sufficient to succeed in career and life.

What happens to coaching class students who do not get into IIT? How they deal with it? Are there any success stories amongst such students?


As coaching classes spread their wings across Bharat, sooner or later the Central and state governments might need to step in if Brand IIT has to retain its sheen.


Also read

1. Understanding why TN government is opposing NEET

2. IIT aspirants should look beyond placement packages

3. Talks on Maths in metrical form

4. Vedic concept of education

5. Education in the vision of Swami Vivekananda

6. Indian Foundations of Modern Science

7. Understanding mysticism through quantum physics

Receive Site Updates