How To Prepare For UGC NET Exam 2020

Gearing up for UGC NET 2020? Our UGC NET preparation tips can help you understand how to prepare for NET and how to crack UGC NET 2020.

By Parama Gupta  • 18 min read

How To Prepare For UGC NET Exam 2020

The National Testing Agency (NTA) conducts the UGC NET (University Grants Commission -National Eligibility Test) exam twice a year to select candidates to be appointed as Assistant Professors in various disciplines in colleges and universities across India. If those meritorious candidates who had opted for UGC NET cum JRF (Junior Research Fellowship) while applying are declared eligible for JRF, they can pursue research in their area of specialisation availing the UGC scholarship in colleges and universities in the country.

Like every year, lakhs of candidates will appear in the UGC NET 2020 exam to prove their mettle. But, even when the competition is so high, a well-planned strategy can help aspiring candidates crack the UGC NET exam in the very first attempt.

From devising an effective UGC NET preparation strategy to offering useful UGC NET preparation tips, this article can help a candidate crack the exam. So, if your child wants to become a professor, then, as a parent, you should help him realise his dream and encourage him to take up this exam. Here's what he'll need to know about the exam –

How to prepare for NET

Good preparation for UGC NET is a combination of a smart strategy and concerted efforts. Here’s how to prepare for NET.

When to start UGC NET preparation?

An aspirant should start preparing seriously at least one year before the exam. It is important to begin early considering that preparation involves doing a lot of things like getting to know the syllabus and pattern of the question paper, preparing a study schedule, making notes, taking mock tests, revising and so on.

What is included in UGC NET 2020 syllabus?

The NET syllabus 2020 for Paper 1 (Teaching and Research Aptitude) is common for all candidates, irrespective of their chosen discipline.

It includes the following ten units:

  1. Teaching Aptitude
  2. Research Aptitude
  3. Comprehension
  4. Communication
  5. Mathematical Reasoning and Aptitude
  6. Logical reasoning
  7. Data interpretation
  8. Information and Communication Technology
  9. People, Development and Environment
  10. Higher Education System

Currently, 102 disciplines are covered under Paper 2. The syllabus for Paper 2 generally includes topics and concepts studied at the master’s and undergraduate levels. The complete syllabus can be downloaded from the UGC website

What is the UGC NET exam pattern?

  • Paper 1 of UGC NET exam tests a candidate’s knowledge and aptitude for both teaching and research. This paper is common for all candidates, irrespective of their area of specialisation. There are 50 questions in Paper 1, which must be answered within 1 hour.
  • Paper 2 tests a candidate’s knowledge in his/her subjects of specialisation. This paper consists of 100 questions, which must be answered in 2 hours.
  • Every correct answer carries 2 marks.
  • There is no negative marking for wrong answers.
  • There can be only one correct answer and no ‘partially right’ answers.

To qualify, a general category candidate must obtain at least 40% marks in both Paper 1 and 2. The qualifying mark is 35% for OBC (NCL)/PWD/SC/ST.

However, getting qualifying marks will not lead to selection. Only those who obtain the cut-off marks will make it to the merit list. Every year, the UGC releases cut-off marks after declaring the results.

UGC NET preparation tips: Reference books

For the general paper on teaching and research aptitude, several reference books are available. These provide information on all the units of various chapters prescribed in the syllabus. They also include question banks and answer keys at the end of each chapter.

Here’s a list of popular books for Paper 1

  • NTA UGC NET/JRF/SET General Paper-1 – Teaching & Research Aptitude, 2020 Edition by Dr Rashmi Jain Farah Sultan, Mridula Sharma, Varun Bali, Neetu Gaikwad
  • Trueman's UGC NET/SET General Paper I – Teaching & Research Aptitude 2020 Edition by Sajit Kumar and M Gagan
  • UGC NET/JRF/SLET General Paper-1 – Teaching & Research Aptitude, 2019 Edition by Arihant Experts
  • Oxford NTA / SET / JRF - Paper 1 – 2020 Edition by Harpreet Kaur
  • NTA UGC - NET/SET/JRF Paper I - Teaching and Research Aptitude, 2019 Edition by K V S Madaan

Get at least one of these or a reference book of your choice. However, while studying from reference books, also refer to other sources of information for all-round preparation.

UGC NET preparation tips: How to prepare for UGC NET Paper 1

Given below is an overview of the different units covered in the syllabus of Paper 1 along with relevant strategies.

1. Teaching Aptitude

What this unit covers

  • various types of teaching methods such as expository, experiential and demonstrative
  • levels and objectives of teaching
  • needs and characteristics of different learners
  • traditional and modern technological teaching aids
  • methods of evaluation and various other concepts related to teaching

How to prepare for NET Teaching aptitude

  • Apart from reference books for Paper 1, candidates should also refer to other books related to teaching and education.
  • Also, search online for education and teaching-related terminology to add to your knowledge base.
  • Instead of learning by rote, try to relate the concepts to real world learning and classroom situations. For example, identify different kinds of learners and understand their specific needs. Then read the relevant material to get a better understanding of the concepts.

2. Research Aptitude

What this unit covers

  • definition and nature of research
  • different approaches to research such as positivist and phenomenological
  • different types of research such as action research, applied research, descriptive research and analytical research
  • common types of research methods, both qualitative and quantitative
  • sampling techniques and data collection tools
  • steps involved in research
  • ethical issues involved in research
  • research writing

How to prepare for NET Research aptitude

  • Apart from covering the syllabus, candidates should have a thorough knowledge of the general terms related to research and their meaning.
  • There are several books available on general research methodology that one can refer to, in addition to books for Paper 1. Usually programmes under almost all disciplines offer a course on Research Methodology specific to that discipline. Subject-specific books prescribed for such courses also provide information on research methodology.
  • Like the previous section, it is important to relate concepts of research to actual examples of research studies. This will not only make studying this unit interesting but also help gain greater clarity of concepts.

3. Comprehension

What this unit covers

  • This unit tests a candidate’s comprehension skills. An unseen passage is given along with questions based on the passage in the test.

How to prepare for UGC NET Comprehension

  • The habit of reading regularly can enhance one’s ability to score well in comprehension questions.
  • Candidates should develop the habit of reading a passage every day and making short notes based on what they read. They should write down new words from the passage, and guess their meanings before checking the dictionary to verify the explanation. This will help build vocabulary, enhance comprehension skills, and improve the ability to answer questions based on identifying synonyms and antonyms.
  • Read the questions before reading the passage, as having the questions at the back of the mind will facilitate quicker identification of answers.

4. Communication

What this unit covers

  • types of communication such as verbal, non-verbal, group, face-to-face, interpersonal and intrapersonal
  • different types of barriers to communication
  • classroom communication
  • mass communication, media and society

How to prepare for UGC NET Communication

  • Candidates can refer to NCERT textbooks on Mass Communication for additional reference on this unit.
  • Also, refer to general communication glossaries available online.

5. Mathematical Reasoning and Aptitude

What this unit covers

  • profit and loss
  • time and distance
  • ratio and proportion
  • percentage calculation
  • cracking pictorial codes
  • finding the missing number in arithmetic progressions or letters in a series

How to prepare for UGC NET Mathematical Reasoning and Aptitude

  • Regular practice is the key to score well in this unit. Students should spend at least one hour every day on solving questions from this unit. If a candidate is not very good in mathematics, then he should spend more time and solve at least one problem of each type every day.
  • Most reference books cover all possible types of questions for this unit, with detailed explanation of formulae, solved examples and question banks with answer keys. For additional practice, students can refer to NCERT mathematics textbooks of secondary classes.

6. Logical reasoning

What this unit covers

  • structures of arguments
  • uses of language
  • fallacies in reasoning
  • methods of arriving at logical conclusions
  • types of inferences
  • Venn diagrams
  • difference between inductive and deductive reasoning

How to prepare for UGC NET Logical Reasoning

  • The reference books for Paper 1 cover this unit comprehensively, with detailed explanations and illustrations for solving all possible types of questions. Candidates should spend time understanding how to solve the different types of questions before attempting to solve question banks. For more practice, one can find question banks online as well. This section requires daily practice.
  • Use the process of elimination to tackle questions from this section.

7. Data interpretation

What this unit covers

  • The questions from this unit test a candidate’s ability to read numerical data presented through tables and graphs, and answer questions based on their observation as well as simple mathematical calculations.

How to prepare for UGC NET Data Interpretation

  • This section also requires practice. So, the candidates should spend at least 30 minutes every day practising the problems given in this unit. Sufficient practice material can be found in the reference books, previous years’ question papers and online.
  • Develop a hobby of collecting graphical representations such as infographics with bar graphs, pi charts and line charts. These can be found in newspapers, magazines and articles on the Internet. Spend time analysing the data in these representations.
  • Alternatively, practise representing different kinds of raw data through graphs. It will help you understand how to present data graphically and learn data crunching.

8. Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

What this unit covers

  • terminologies and abbreviations related to ICT
  • concepts and terms related to Internet, Intranet, E-mail and so on
  • modern digital tools and initiatives in education
  • use of ICT in governance

How to prepare for UGC NET ICT

  • The reference books cover most of what should be learnt. Additionally, candidates can refer to NCERT Computer Science textbooks of classes 8, 9 and 10 as well online glossaries related to ICT.

9. People, Development and Environment

What this unit covers

  • terms and concepts related to development studies and environmental science, and their relation to human well-being
  • types and causes of environmental hazards and pollution
  • international and national policies on environmental protection
  • environmental legislation

How to prepare for UGC NET People, Development and Environment

  • Reading material in the reference books and the newspaper will help candidates stay updated on these issues.
  • Candidates can also read environmental bulletins on sites that help prepare for various competitive exams held by the UPSC.

10. Higher Education System

What this unit covers

  • the structure of India’s higher education system – both ancient and modern
  • the governing bodies of education
  • relevant policies and administrative matters related to education
  • history of Indian education system
  • initiatives to enhance professional, technical and skill-based learning
  • various types of learning programmes

How to prepare for UGC NET Higher Education System

  • Apart from the common reference book for Paper 1, candidates should keep track of higher education-related news and developments.
  • Candidates should also follow updates and information provided on the official website of the Ministry of Human Resources and Development.

According to the syllabus available on the official website of UGC, each unit of Paper 1 carries equal weightage. For the detailed syllabus, refer to the UGC website

Tips to prepare for Paper 2

Paper 2 of UGC NET exam is designed to test the prospective teachers’ knowledge in the subject of their choice. So, the preparation strategy needs to be meticulous, extensive and systematic.

The strategy for preparing for Paper 2 of the UGC NET exam varies according to the discipline chosen and the subject matter. However, a few general guidelines for aspiring candidates would be:

  • Organise all the notes and study material on important courses collected while studying for undergraduate and post-graduate programmes. Read from well-known textbooks on the subject to learn more.
  • Read as extensively as possible on all topics. Understand all the concepts related to the subject thoroughly. Also, look for more information online. Besides core concepts, a candidate should know important dates and places, people and their contributions, names of books and authors, key organisations, glossary, and any other general information of importance relevant to one’s discipline.
  • Along with the syllabus provided by the UGC, also refer to the syllabus of other well-known institutions across the country offering programmes related to one’s area of specialisation. This will help identify more relevant topics for study and give preparation an edge.
  • Stay updated with the latest developments in the subject of one’s choice.

Mistakes to avoid while writing UGC NET exam 2020

Here’s what a candidate should not do when preparing for and writing this exam:

  • Do not waste chances by 'trying your luck'. Lack of practice, in-depth knowledge and understanding will only lead to a low score and failure to qualify. So, prepare well for the exam.
  • Do not cram before the exam. It hardly helps to gather bits of information in the last few days of the exam. There is no substitute to a sustained period of concerted efforts.
  • Do not neglect any of the two papers as it is important to pass in both to qualify.
  • Do not restrict yourself to limited sources of information during preparation. It is important to read as widely as possible.
  • Do not spend too much time on a difficult question. Answer all the easy questions first and then come back to the ones which take more time.
  • Do not be overconfident or be in a hurry to mark the answers. Read every question carefully, at least twice, before marking the answer.
  • Do not skip answering any question. As there is no negative marking, it is safe to guess the answer for questions you aren’t sure of.
  • Do not forget to revise the answers, particularly those involving mathematical calculations.

With the right strategy, and diligent effort and support from everyone around, a candidate can crack the UGC NET exam in the first attempt itself. So, get ready to bag the entry ticket to the world of teaching in colleges and universities across the country.

About the author:

Written by Parama Gupta on 10 Mar 2020

The author is a freelance writer. Her areas of interest include education (primary, secondary and higher), travel, children's literature and films.

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