What English medium students should know about engineering university admission exams

Students inside a classroom
Photo: Orchid Chakma

The months of May and June have marked the end of O and A Level exams for students across the country. With classes scheduled to start after Eid, I am sure they are spending their few days of vacation either worrying about results or considering what they wish to do after high school.

If you're an English medium student and have decided to give public engineering universities in Bangladesh a shot, here are some tips for you – in the context of preparation for the admissions tests – that I wish someone had told me before.

Be ready to learn a lot of new information
Although it's common sense because you'll be studying content from an entirely different curriculum, many students often either fail to keep this in mind or simply don't realise the significance of the statement when they first embark on their admissions prep journey.

It won't matter if you're an Edexcel or Cambridge student, there will be certain topics, especially in Mathematics (e.g. complex numbers, conics and permutations and combinations) and Chemistry (e.g. vocational chemistry), that you will have to learn in depth, from scratch. This is why it's important to walk into this journey with sound knowledge of the syllabus and willingness to work on it daily because that way, the workload will always be doable.

Be ready to unlearn a lot of information
On the flip side of the coin, there are also certain things that you will need to unlearn during this time.

For instance, something as familiar as the Periodic table will become quite different later on. It's not just the content you study, either. As Showvik Biswas, a CSE student at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and Dhanmondi Tutorial alumnus, recalls, "One thing I had to unlearn while I was studying for the admissions tests was relying on last-minute efforts. Last-minute efforts can definitely take someone a long way during A Levels but that will not amount to anything here. You have to be on the grind from the very start."

Know that classes at coaching will not cover everything in the syllabus.
Gone will be the days of teachers guiding you through the entire syllabus. At admissions tuition, teachers place a lot more responsibility on you and trust you to do your research on what has not been covered in class and to study those concepts on your own. These untaught topics are always ones that you have already studied during your A Levels and should not need assistance understanding.

While this sounds fairly rational, again, many students often don't figure this out for a while and depend blindly on the notes given at class and once they do take a few tests and understand that they have to self-study a lot as well, there's already an overwhelming workload awaiting them at their study tables.

Ultimately, it's crucial to realise that the chaos surrounding public university admissions is just white noise. It certainly is difficult; it requires plenty of hard work, even more smart strategising and a sprinkle of luck but if you think about it, that's like almost any goal you'll have in life. The best you can do is believe in yourself to give your best and more importantly, believe in yourself to thrive no matter what the outcome.

Fabiha is secretly a Lannister noblewoman and a Slytherin alum. Pledge your allegiance and soul to her at [email protected]