JEE is not only about concepts but also about time management and solving skills

An Electrical Engineering graduate from IIT-Bombay, Lalit Kumar’s passion for teaching inspired a number of students to crack the JEEs. He is the Chairman and Founding Director of the Prime Academy, a division of Prime Tutorials Pvt. Ltd at Pune, Maharashtra. He has the distinct achievement of becoming the youngest author of IEEE publication in 2001 by presenting his technical paper on ‘Power Distribution and Automation’ which was a part of his B.Tech project in IIT- B.

Here is a take-5 with Lalit Kumar by PaGaLGuY.

You are an IIT- Bombay graduate, how and why did you decide to teach?

I have always liked teaching. I have been teaching my classmates and juniors, ever since I was in 10th standard. Back then it was more about helping them rather than coaching them. When I got admission to the IIT, I took tuitions as a source for pocket money. By the time I was in the fourth year of my, one of the students of my very first batches, Sushant Sachdeva, a class 12th student, went on to secure the AIR 1. Soon I realised this was my calling and entered the teaching profession keeping aside all the other job offers. 

Ever since you began coaching, how has preparing the students for engineering exams changed over the years?

The paper pattern has changed drastically. Previously, only the students who were excellent in their academics would attempt the JEE. In Maharashtra since they also had the CET, not many students aspired to attempt IIT entrances. But since the CET was scrapped, and the paper pattern changed to multiple choice questions, the number of aspirants wanting to crack these exams drastically increased. Today it is not a matter of intelligence alone, but paper solving skills and tactics in attempting the questions, also play a huge role.  These days even average students can clear the JEE, provided they have started their preparation at the right time, with dedication, and under expert guidance. Apart from imparting the basic concepts we also need to coach them on time management. It has also become important to constantly motivate them and to keep them in a positive frame of mind.

Why has Engineering coaching these days become so expensive?

There is a lot of competition in the market today and all the coaching classes are trying to get the best faculty. The teachers who we hire, expect a good pay and this comes from the student’s fees. Better the teacher, higher the expectation of salary – this is one major factor. Apart from that, students need to be provided with the best of infrastructure and study material. All this culminates to higher fees .

A lot of coaching classes have introduced mobile applications for coaching their students. Do you think this will be an effective method?

It could help them in terms of revision but it cannot replace the classroom teaching. Online videos may also be effective for a student to get their concepts clarified after their lectures are over, but technology can only serve as an accompanying study material for students. Moreover 11th-12th standard students need lots of motivation apart from study material – this is not possible through online or mobile applications. 

What do you see this year’s cut offs to be like?

Difficulty level of the questions was not very high. But multiple- correct -answer problems with heavy negative marking, made it one of the toughest papers I have ever seen in my entire teaching career.  If for a question with three correct answers, the student chose only the correct two, straight away the student is down by 6 marks, as the student would get minus 2 instead of 4. So with this kind of difficult questions and marking system, I see the cut offs to go down.