In case you are looking for a yes or no sort of answer from me, let me save your time by saying that I can’t give you one.
This is your call to take. As you are the best judge of your level of preparation. I will, however, give you some guidelines if you really need coaching classes.
I have written this post in terms of resources which are needed to succeed in any competitive exam. This will help you to see if you can arrange for these resources by yourself, or need to knock on the doors of some coaching class.
I am not going to talk about time (you need time to prepare right?). Because I assume that if you are reading this post you have that luxury available.
Let’s dig in.
Organised Study Material
I have written several times about the importance of organised material and books and why you should not waste your time looking for free study material.
Coaching classes normally provide study content in an organised manner. This helps to study topics along with the useful tips and tricks, during the limited time you may have.
But, if the other factors (listed below) don’t bother you, you can also buy exam oriented books + previous year’s papers and study yourself. In fact, many small time coaching classes depend on books available in the market and do not really develop their own content.
Access To Experience & Guidance
This point may seem to overlap with the first one, but it is not. It is really important that you have a strategy for both exam preparation and also for your final exam event.
Let me explain this to you.
While preparing, due to the limited time available, you can’t be expected to cover the whole exam syllabus thoroughly. There are some topics where you need to focus more, there might be some which you may leave out.
Even once you go for the exam, you need to have a plan of how you will write it. For eg. which section to do first, how much time to give to a question and so on.
And you need to have practiced this plan! Just because I have seen Dhoni hit the helicopter shot, I can’t confidently hit it if I have never done it before 😀
Coaching centres are expected to have experience about previous year’s exam pattern and topic weightage. By tapping into their experience, you can make your preparation process efficient and adopt a smart strategy.
However, this is not to say that a substitute is not available.
If you know how to use Google, you can search for preparation plans, exam analysis, paper strategy and similar stuff on the internet.
The Three Ds — Dedication, Diligence, And Determination
No matter what choice you make. Whether you study by yourself, or you join some coaching class. You will fail miserably if you do not study by yourself.
Your tutor at the classes already knows the subject. The author of the book you buy is quite possibly a master in the field. But you are not. To get knowledge from them you need to practice and work hard. And you need to do it every day. But can you?
If you decide to join some classes, the simple act of going there, sitting, studying and practicing helps you build a good preparation routine.
Of all the three points, I think this one is the most important.
On the other hand. Even, if you are only a mediocre student, BUT you can sincerely sit down and dedicate a few hours to study, every day, then I don’t think you need to join any classes. Points 1 and 2 can be covered using books (subject books, previous year’s solved papers, and sample practice papers) and the internet.
If discipline is a problem for you, it would be better to join a class.
Still Confused? Try These Simple Steps
If you still cannot make up your mind. Try these things,
- If available, look at the exam syllabus. Does it make your stomach twist and give you butterflies? Or do you feel confident?
- Try to get the previous year’s question paper, preferably with its solutions. Sit down for whatever duration the exam is supposed to be and solve the paper. After that check your score. If you get a decent score, chances are high that you will do well with self-study.
- To check your discipline, think about your schedule and decide a weekly time table to study and follow it. Don’t be too rigid but neither should you be too lenient. If you are successful at the end of the week, then continue studying!
One thing which you have to realize is that whether or not you take coaching, you will still have to do self-study. There is no substitute for this. Especially if you are working, then you may not have a lot of time to join any coaching.
Your decision should not be based on whether or not you have the money required for coaching or not. It should depend on whether you need it or not. Money spent on self-development is an investment. If you put in enough hard work, you will get that job and possibly recover all your money in a few months.
Final word of caution, coaching classes are always going to promise the moon. But you have to think hard about what to do. Joining a coaching is not a guarantee for success. But if you need it, take it.