‘Studied with one coaching centre only’: NEET 2021 topper shares exam strategy

NEET UG 2021: Candidates are trained to attempt biology first, physics last. Mrinal Kutteri, one of three in NEET AIR 1, did the opposite.

‘Studied with one coaching centre only’: NEET 2021 topper shares exam strategy NEET 2021 result was declared on November 1. Representational image (Source: Shutterstock)
R. Radhika | Nov 3, 2021 - 2:04 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Declaration of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET result 2021 on the eve of Monday was a surprise for Mrinal Kutteri who bagged the first rank with a perfect score.

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Kutteri shares his first rank with two other students who also scored perfect 720 marks. The other two NEET toppers 2021 are Tanmay Gupta, Karthika G Nair. Short-term targets and a relaxed schedule with adequate breaks helped Hyderabad boy ace the national level medical entrance test. Starting preparation in Class 11, Kutteri dedicated his two-and-a-half years of preparation with only one coaching centre.

“I got enrolled in the two-year classroom programme at Aakash, Hyderabad in 2019 while studying in Class 11. It was an intensive batch for medical aspirants. I attended physical classes every day before the pandemic happened. After that I continued with Aakash through virtual classes in Class 12,” Kutteri told Careers360.

Allen, another name in the coaching sector, had also featured Kutteri in their advertisement. He had enrolled in Allen’s online test series, however, it did not help him in NEET preparation. “In Class 11, I took Allen’s paid online test series but I could not go through with it. Allen follows a different order of chapters compared to what I was learning already,” he explained. “I was not able to synchronise it. They did not provide any study material, it was just a series chapter-wise test and later, on the full portion of Classes 11 and 12,” he added.

Allen coaching centre has been one of the top players in the medical and engineering entrance test preparation industry. Several toppers including Joint Engineering Entrance (JEE) Advanced AIR 1, Mridul Agarwal, are also students of ALLEN. This time, ALLEN’s advertisement claims Kutteri as their student enrolled in a distance programme.

Also Read| Why JEE, NEET toppers appear on multiple coaching institutes’ ads

“Yes, Allen’s advertisement has my face because of that test series. Anyone who did not attend their classroom teaching comes under a distance programme. It is a vague term. There may be students who must have taken their study material also but in my case, it was just a test series. I did not receive any study material from them,” said Kutteri. “I did enroll for an additional online test series but as time went on, I did not have the time or energy to complete it. I realised I had enough trouble managing Aakash’s study schedule,” he further added.

NEET 2021 preparation strategy

As opposed to the common practice of following a timetable among NEET 2021 aspirants, Kutteri swears by his strategy to set targets for each day.

Mrinal Kutteri, NEET topper 2021

“I had a free-form strategy. Whenever I tried to micromanage my day, I failed miserably. Instead of trying to keep up with a detailed schedule and failing at it, I decided to do what suits my limitations. I started the day with a target in mind — for instance, a number of lessons — and how to finish the target was figured out as the day went on,” he elaborated. “You can never predict how the day will go. Sometimes you have unexpected engagements and you end up using the time which you had dedicated to your preparation. At the end of the day, you feel disappointed,” he added.

After being postponed twice, NEET UG was held on September 12 with over 16 lakh students from across the country taking it. Admission to all undergraduate medical and dental education seats will be done based on NEET results 2021. With an extended period of preparations, Kutteri tried to balance studies with hobbies to unwind and destress.

Also Read| NEET 2021 counselling dates: Know complete process

“For me, mental fatigue was a real thing. Especially towards the end of it, as they say, the last mile is always the most difficult. Whenever I felt tired, I did what I had to do to unwind. I played table tennis, listened to music, or watched something on Netflix or Prime Video. I did not beat myself over taking breaks,” he said.

NEET topper exam strategy

Going against teachers’ suggestions, Kutteri built his own strategy to write the exam. “Majority of the students I know and even the teachers tell us to attempt biology first, chemistry second and save some time for physics at the end. Whenever I attempted the test I used the exact reverse. I started with physics first, then chemistry and biology at last,” he explained.

Kutteri emphasised the importance of finding the right strategy that works best for a student individually. Among the three subjects, physics, chemistry, and biology, Kutteri focused on attempting physics to score well.

“My reasons are pretty simple: If the paper is lengthy and I don’t have sufficient time for physics, I felt I was not able to think through it under stress. I found that I can do physics with a calm mind at the beginning of the exam because towards the end you are struggling for time. Biology is mostly memory-based, you read the question and tick the answers. It is rare to find biology questions that require thinking. That is the exam strategy that I followed. Of course, it is different for different people,” said Kutteri.

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Apart from NCERT textbooks and coaching centre study material, Kutteri did not find the need to attempt online test series. To remain motivated throughout an exhausting preparation phase, Kutteri decided to limit his coaching experience.

“ I attempted a couple of tests but I could not utilise it fully. Other than that I did not take help from any other institute. For me, my relaxation time is very precious because of that I personally did not wish to take up more help and my parents agreed to it. I am sure other students do it to get more exposure to a wide range of questions and perspectives to concepts. Personally, I was satisfied with what I had at Aakash,” he said.

When asked about the multiple coaching centres claiming credit for toppers in advertisements: “I remember after seeing all these advertisements, I used to think how much effort they have put into this,” he laughed. “ For me it was always about not getting intimidated by these advertisements,” he added.

Hoping for a career in surgery, Kutteri wishes to study MBBS at the All India Institute of Medical Science, Delhi. “For a while now, my aim has been to study in AIIMS, Delhi. To be frank, that is possible now. I would like to pursue my MBBS there. I believe that I don’t even know the vast scope of medicine right now. But I have five years to figure this out. Based on my limited knowledge, I think I will be more interested in surgery or something along those lines,” he said.


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