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CSIR-UGC-JRF-NET exam in Life Sciences



Once you have joined for  post-graduation in any of the disciplines in life sciences, may be doing  botany, zoology, microbiology, biotechnology whatever be the subject you have made an important decision of taking a subject for specialization and at the end you are supposed to be the master of science in that subject.  Remember, you are going to spend two more years of your life for specializing a subject. If you are a B tech or M.tech students (in any stream of life sciences), the thing is the same you may be devoting 4 -6 years for specializing a subject. In short, you made an important decision in life by opting a subject for a period of 4-6 years. Then the most pertinent question is what for? Why you have taken this subject?


I think, aiming low is a crime. After spending a good amount of your life time, you should aim high. You should aim for the best opportunity you have in your subject. The first option that rushes to my mind is undoubtedly qualifying CSIR-UGC NET JRF examination, a national exam that is conducted twice in a year by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and University Grants Commission.

Who can apply?

MSc in Life sciences, any stream (Botany, Zoology, Biotechnology, Microbiology). Now, B.Tech or M. tech biotechnology students are also eligible.
MSc, B.Tech or M.tech final year students can also apply. You will be considered in the result awaited category (RA category). But my suggestion is you should appear in the 3rd semester itself that will be a great opportunity to understand the pattern of the exam. You can prepare accordingly. But accidently,  if you qualify, no use as you have to submit the final year mark list in order to get the certificate. Don’t worry very very  very rare happening. You can choose exam centres in all major cities all over India.
Remember, you are competing with all life science students across India. Specialisation has nothing to do here. You need a change in your attitude. You are a life science student in this exam. In order to qualify, you should have a fair knowledge in all these areas. So preparation should be vast, and should begin as early as possible.

 Why you should aim this exam?
The exam is conducted jointly by Council of scientific and industrial research (CSIR) and University grants commission (UGC). Qualifying this exam (national eligibility test or NET) is the prerequisite for applying assistant professor (previously college lectures) post in colleges and universities across India. Remember, even a PhD degree without qualifying this exam is of no use, if you want to become a lecturer (presently assistant professor) in colleges or universities. So qualifying this exam is the minimum eligibility for becoming a college lecturer in India.
Exam Month : June & December (twice a year)
If you qualify this exam, your roll number will be in any of the following categories:

      1. Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (SPM) fellowship

Top students in the CSIR UGC NET JRF exam will be considered for a special fellowship namely Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (SPM). Final list of the awardees will be published after an interview. This  fellowship is open to top CSIR UGC NET awardees of the  two NET exam (June and December). This opportunity is applicable to top GATE score card holders also.  This fellowship has some extra benefits to general CSIR UGC JRFs. The fellowship amount is Rs.20000 per month during first year. Second year onwards: 24000 per month and a contingency grant of 70000 per year awarded only after first year assessment. SPM fellowship will be a preferential qualification in recruitment to CSIR jobs.

b) CSIR / UGC - NET-JRF qualified:

You are eligible for lectureship + you can join for M.Phil or PhD at all CSIR laboratories and other reputed institutes and Universities across India with a fellowship amount of 16000 per month for first two years (UGC/CSIR JRF). An assessment will be conducted at the end of second year and you need to send a report regarding the progress of the work and after that the fellowship amount will be 18000 per month for the next three years (UGC/CSIR-SRF). 

c) NET qualified: Eligible for lectureship. 
You are eligible for lectureship but not eligible for fellowship for your M.Phil or PhD. But if you are NET qualified, you can join directly for PhD in different university centres across India without appearing for PhD entrance conducted by these universities. But fellowship amount will be provided by the University itself.  It may vary with universities (approximately 8000-12000 INR per month). Read for more on other fellowships 
Syllabus:Here is the link.
Syllabus is very vast. It includes all major streams of life sciences. You are a life science student rather than a student of botany, zoology or biotechnology. Believe me; nobody could cover all these topics given in the syllabus.  So strategize yourself for the exam. 
  Exam & Question Pattern

Time: 3 Hours                                                                                        Max Marks: 200


Single Paper Test having Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) consists of 3 parts

Part A: Answer 15 MCQ questions out of 20 questions in General Aptitude.
                 Each question shall be of marks (15x2=30 Marks).
Part A comparatively easy. You can expect many general questions. Even some memory based questions.  Now the number of such questions is becoming low. You should be able to attend maximum number of questions in this section. Remember, negative marks are the main villain in this exam. Take extreme care while picking the options. 
Question Pattern:
1. A box of sticks of equal lengths is provided. The minimum number sticks needed to build a frame to enclose a 3 dimensional volume is
a) 6
b)12
c)3 
d)8

Model Question Paper: General Aptitude.

Part B: Answer 35 MCQ questions out of 50 questions (of topics in the syllabus).
                Each question shall be of marks (35x2=70 Marks).

Part B: tough, good knowledge is required to pick the right option. Read the questions and options carefully. Mostly tricky questions

Question Pattern :
1. The mode of action of the anticancer drug methotrexate is through its strong competitive
inhibition on
a. dihydrofolate reductase.
b. thymidine synthase.
c. thymidine kinase.
d. adenylate cyclase.
2. Which class of immunoglobulins will increase in case of a chronic infection?
1. IgA
2. IgG
3. IgM
4. IgE

Part C: Answer 25 MCQ questions out of 75 questions (application level questions).
                Each question shall be of marks (25x4=100 Marks). 
Part C: toughest, elaborate questions that will check your understanding in the topic rather than your memory. Application level questions. Depth of your knowledge in a particular area will be tested. Read and reread the question. Don’t rush to pick the option. Think, take your time. Take one question at a time. Read re read and understand the question. But options are often more tricky and confusing. Each right answer will definitely boost your confidence.
Question Pattern :
1) Conversion of proto-oncogene to oncogene may involve the following processes:
A mutation in coding sequence
B gene amplification
C chromosome rearrangement
D mutation in non-coding sequence
Which one is appropriate?
1. A, B and C
2. B, C and D
3. A, C and D
4. All
2) Which of the following statements is true about dorso-ventral patterning of
drosophila embryo?
(A) This is dictated by the location of the nurse cells
(B) dorsal is the default fate
(C) The whole process is regulated by preventing the entry of a transcription factor to
the nucleus of dorsal cells
(D) Homeobox containing genes play a critical role in this process.
1. (A), (B) and (C)
2. (A),(B), (C) and (D)
3. (A) and (D)
4. (B) and (C)
            Negative marking: ¼(25%) for each wrong answer

Ultimately, what I could do with this post is just to tell you directly what this exam is all about?. And probably some tips from my experience. 
When you see the question paper of this exam for the first time, most often majority may not even answer 10 questions correctly with confidence. Don’t worry, this is the case with everyone. Later many will qualify the same exam.  Just work it out.


How to take this exam if you want to qualify?
Remember, this is undoubtedly the best quality exam in Life Sciences in India. Of course this is a national exam and should have the quality to pick out the best.  In order to qualify this exam, first and foremost you should learn to love the subject. Begin your preparation as early as possible. Your preparation should be focussed, and you have to devote time specifically for CSIR exam preparation, work out previous questions, fix your basics, understand your limitations, strategize and work hard but enjoy learning. When you learn and understand different aspects of the subject, as your horizons of knowledge in the subject broadens you will definitely feel the confidence. That is all what matters. You love your subject and you have faith in your subject and I think that should be the reason you have taken the same for your specialisation. Aim high, enjoy learning biology “the science of life”, and bring back that old childhood curiosity to know more and hope and prepare for the best. 

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Wishing the very best.
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