The UAE is witnessing a rise in the popularity of crash courses tailored for competitive exams like Neet and Jee, mirroring the demand in India. These entrance exams are known for their intense competition and vast syllabi and often leave students grappling to cover all materials while balancing academic commitments.

Consequently, an increasing number of students are turning to crash courses to boost their preparation and get an intensive overview of key topics, aiding students in effectively revising the syllabus.

Students reiterate that crash courses, which condense a vast amount of information into a short period, can benefit them but in a limited way.

A Grade 12 student at St Joseph’s School, Abu Dhabi, Sanjana Parigi, said, “I will be writing Neet this year, and I joined a Cochin institute at the beginning of Grade 11. That means I’ve spent two years with these people, taking tutorials and preparing for the exam. The tests that were conducted were regular, and the questions were very relevant."

Sanjana pointed out that a sustained approach to preparation is critical to succeed in these competitive exams. “We have an ongoing crash course, so the syllabus taught during this period is geared towards covering the course efficiently. The offline tests are beneficial. It provides the same environment as the actual Neet paper. The materials provided are relevant and to the point. The classes are conducted six days a week.

"I feel these crash courses are a good way to revise the concepts one has prepared. It will be difficult if you start from scratch,” added the student of Allen Oveseas.

Students also emphasised that they may need more time to fully understand complex concepts or critically think about the material during these crash courses.

Grade 12 Student at DPS Dubai students, Eshal Ashraf, who is also preparing for her medical entrance exams, said, “If a student already has that mindset that he/she will appear for these entrance exams and has been preparing throughout the year, then such courses prove to be helpful. However, for students who haven't considered it beforehand and haven't prepared in advance, opting for a last-minute capsule course might make it difficult to tackle Neet or Jee exams.”

What do these capsule courses do?

Keshav Maheshwari, Managing Director of Allen Overseas, said, “The Neet Capsule Course is aimed at preparing students for the Neet-UG Exam. Our course commenced on March 21 and will be offline at our Bur Dubai, Sharjah & Abu Dhabi centres. This capsule course is designed for students who have completed their board exams and are preparing for Neet. It provides an effective programme to enable students to summarise and plan their Neet learning, revise thoroughly, and focus on their weak chapters.”

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate (Neet-UG) conducted by India’s National Testing Agency (NTA) is the qualifying exam for admission s to MBBS (undergraduate medical degree) and other undergraduate medical courses in India. The Neet exam is scheduled to take place on May 5, ’24.

He added, “Our capsule course is a 1.5-month programme that covers all the relevant Neet chapters of Grades 11 and 12, which include lots of practice assignments and tests. Additionally, students can attempt Neet-based mock and practice tests, along with the All-India Test series, where they can compare their ranks with their Indian counterparts.”

Meanwhile, the Joint Entrance Examination (Jee) also stands out as a rigorous assessment for admission into India’s esteemed engineering colleges. Comprising two distinct components - the Jee-Main and the Jee-Advanced - it is widely renowned as one of the toughest examinations globally.

Exams help identify gaps in preparation

Experts highlighted that any high-stakes exam requires exam-taking skills, and students need to answer in time-bound situations accurately. Therefore, such courses enable students to gauge their performance and identify areas of improvement for the next session once their board exam results are declared.

But they also warn why banking on these courses alone is not a sure-shot way of cracking these challenging exams. “We haven't seen any student getting admission in the best medical colleges just by attending the crash courses. Though we have students who have shown remarkable changes in their scores, all these students took the exam the second time. When they sat for the exam the first time along with their Grade 12 board exams, their scores were low, but after dropping a year and again revising through these crash courses, they improved their score drastically,” added Maheshwari.

Are customised programmes better than crash courses?

Therefore, instead of offering pre-packaged crash courses to students, certain institutes conduct an assessment to determine if a customised programme can be developed for individual students before admitting them.

Atinderpal Singh Sethi, Founder and CEO of ATP STEM, headquartered in Dubai, which also prepares students for Jee and Neet examinations, said,

“We don’t provide off-the-shelf crash courses to any student. Instead, we assess whether a tailored programme can be made for a particular student before accepting them. A custom program bridges the gaps required for maximum performance in minimal time.”

Sethi added, “Statistically, very few students excel in courses spanning two years by studying for just two to three months. These short-term courses generate significant revenue for coaching institutes and are therefore marketed heavily. Such programmes mainly advantage students who are already top performers.”

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