Why a Good Student at Board Exams may not get a High Rank in a Competitive Exam or Vice Versa ?

The Board Exam and Competitive Exam are real oil and water – they do no mix. This the common impression.

There is some truth to this theory as the patterns of the Board Exam consists of more descriptive type of questions and Competitive Exam usually consists of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ).

Both have their own level of difficulty but the strategies to attempt these exams need to be different.

Board Exam:

Board Exam is a test of “memory, concepts and problem solving” and Competitive Exam is a test of “application of concepts and advanced problem-solving with the right speed and accuracy”.

Board Exam is the culmination of rigorous classroom learning in each subject like Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.

Each of these subjects have about 20 chapters at Class XI level and about 20 more chapters at Class XII level.

In some boards, Board or Public exam essentially focuses on Class XII syllabus whereas, in certain other boards, they consider all the portions taught in both years which raises the bar of difficulty.

Total marks or percentage is what determines how good one has performed at this exam. The challenge is writing long answers which also requires its own skill and time management.

Competitive Exam:

Competitive Exam is used as a hurdle which one has to cross to get into an engineering college.

There are usually 75, 90 or 120 questions in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics put together than one needs to solve in 3 hours’ time.

There are marks assigned for right answers and, in some cases like IIT JEE, there are negative marks for wrong answers.

But these marks are not revealed but these are used to rank the students based on their performance.

So, rank matters and higher the rank in a particular Competitive Exam one gets to choose their Campus and desired stream of Engineering.

In India, most Class XII students have to write the Competitive Exam around the time of their Board Exams – either before or after.

So, these two vastly different patterns of exam need to be prepared for concurrently. This is where the trouble begins.

High Board Exam marks can be an “insurance” in case a student fails to get rank or meaningful rank in the Competitive Exams.

Also, Board Exam is a score that will be with someone through their whole life. Considering these factors, Board Exam cannot be neglected.

So, we see there is an importance to both these Exams in a student’s future and so either one of them cannot be taken for granted.


Testbee recommended approach is always performing “concept building”.

This can be best done while studying for the Board exam and answering all the Quiz questions chapter-wise at the Testbee site.

Once the concept is formed well, then the student can start attempting Competitive Exams.  Else “hit and miss” approach in Competitive Exams without the right foundation will definitely backfire.

You can see judge well from the percentage accuracy when you start taking Testbee full-length tests.

If you are scoring very poorly to begin with it is always good to go back to basics assuming there is still enough time for the Competitive Exam.


In summary, let us examine the secret to score well in a Board Exam and also to get a good rank in a Competitive Exam. It is simple – joint planning at the outset preferably 1-2 years before.

Common syllabus needs to identified and differences to be taken up separately.  If syllabus is common then start learning “concepts” using Board Exam textbooks and notes and become proficient in applying formulae to simple problems. Thereafter, attack the tougher problems as given in Competitive Exam.

In Testbee, we have made Quiz Levels “1” to “4” for each Chapter with this objective so that a student can slowly graduate.

So, attempting Competitive Exams by stretching oneself but being grounded on the Board Exam can allow a student to be successful in both.  All the best to you and hope you come up tops in both types of exams !

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