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Poll: Do CSIR-NET-JRF entrance examination changes your carrier ?
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Making Career with CSIR-NET-JRF: Life Sciences
Making Career with CSIR-NET-JRF: Life Sciences.

In this world of extreme competition success not only goes to those who work differently but also to those who plan differently. NET (National eligibility test) has been described as a pioneer step towards becoming a top notch research worker or a lecturer in the country.

It was in 1983 that CSIR started a common research fellowship for identifying young talents with scientific temper in the form of NET (National Eligibility Test) and providing financial support to the eligible young talents. Since, 1986 the JRF entrance examination has been shared with UGC, thus the exam was renamed as CSIR-NET-JRF entrance examination. UGC had also recognized NET as the minimum eligibility for lectureship in 1989. Today CSIR with its 19 scholarship schemes acts as the strongest pillar, supporting academicians and researchers. Amongst its entire support scheme, the most popular and competitive is the CSIR-NET-JRF entrance examination.

Amendments in Examination pattern:
NET is conducted twice in a year in the month of June and Dec., and the results are announced within three month of the examination. It was in Dec, 2010 the pattern of CSIR-NET-JRF entrance examination changed from subjective to objective one. Moreover the validity of the CSIR NET JRF examination for availing fellowship was also increased from one to two years in 2012 extending the eligibility to even graduate students under the jurisdiction that they should be able to complete their post graduation within a time period of two years while the validity of NET-LS has remained lifelong. Age limit for appearing in JRF-NET is 28 years and for NET-LS, there is no upper age limit has been set.

Advantages of Qualifying CSIR-NET-JRF:
Clearing CSIR-NET-JRF is unlike any other examination, especially in Life Sciences. The fellowship gives you a token to entry into the topmost labs of the country and if science is your passion, it is this fellowship which will quench your thirst. Majority of the Gov. & all private university & colleges exempt qualified candidates from any written examination and are able to directly appear into interviews both for lectureship and PhD.

With the legal announcement of the Supreme Court dated 23rd March, 2015, CSIR-NET-JRF has been made compulsory requirement for appointment as a lecturer in Indian universities, making the examination even more important.
Moreover, the fellowship of the CSIR has also been revised recently to Rs 25,000/- + HRA (JRF) & Rs 28,000 + HRA (SRF) w.r.t 1st Nov, 2014. This has made the fellowship amount to sum up to more than Rs 17 lakhs for five years of research. There are also norms available for an enhanced promotion of CSIR-NET-JRF qualified candidate working as a lecturer. The recognition and respect one gets from the fellow candidates, interviewers, students, adds flavor to one's success. All the above reasons have fascinated lakhs of students to appear for the examination seriously.

Fig No. I: Detailed summary of funding schemes to research scholars:

Strategy for Preparation: Idea
Examination Pattern:
  • There are three sections/parts in CSIR- NET entrance paper Part ‘A’, ‘B’ & ‘C’ each having different pattern of questions thus requiring special strategy for each.
  • Each question in Part ‘A’ & ‘B’ carries 2 marks, while Part ‘C’ consists of questions of 4 marks each. There is a negative marking of 25% for each wrong answer.

Section A consists of 20 questions out of which 15 have to be answered. Among these 20 questions at least 10 questions are basic mathematical (topics are): Mensuration (2-3 Q), Series completion (2-3 Q), Graphical representation & analysis (3-4 Q), Gen. Aptitude (5 Q). Total marks allotted to this section are 30 Marks (15 X 2).

Section B consists of 50 questions out of which 35 have to be answered. All questions in this section are based on general Life Sciences. Questions of medium level of difficulty are asked in this section. The topics of utmost importance are as follows: Biochemistry (5-6 Q), Cell Biology (4-5 Q), Molecular Biology (8-10 Q), Genetics (4-5 Q), Embryology     (3-4 Q), Classical Zoology and Botany (5-6 Q), Experiment based questions (3-4 Q), Instrumentation (4-5 Q). Total marks allotted to this section are 70 Marks (35 X 2).

Section C consists of 75 questions out of which 25 have to be answered. All questions are analytical based on fundamental knowledge and concepts. Strenuous questions are asked in this section. The most important fact about this section is that none of the questions are repeated, but yet there are fixed topics from which the questions are asked on a regular basis. The topics which have been asked quite a number of times include:
A. Biochemistry (6-8 Q): Protein hierarchy, Hb/ Mb O2 dissociation curve, Inborn errors of metabolism, Enz. Inhibition, Glycogen metabolism, β oxidation, Ketone bodies, Photosynthesis, Plant hormones.
B. Cell Biology (8-10 Q): Protein translocation in E.R, Intracellular protein trafficking, Nerve impulse translocation, SNARE hypothesis, Cell signaling, Cancer.
C. Molecular Biology (8-10 Q): Cot-curves, Transposones, Replication, Transcription, Translation, Mutational studies in lac operon, Attenuation, Trp- Operon, Translation, Chaperons.
D. Model Organisms (3-4 Q): λ-Phage, ABC Model in A. thaliana, Vulva development in C. elegans, Embryonic development in D. melanogaster.
E. Genetics (4-6 Q): Double C.O. Chromosomal maps, Pedigree analysis, Hardy Weinberg, Maternal inheritance, Non Allelic Interaction.
F. Instrumentation (5-8 Q): Questions based on a hypothetical experimental design & analysis.
G. Other Imp. Topics (8-10 Q):  Cladogram & Dandrogram, Lotka Volterra model, Succession,  MHC, ELISA, At-Ab Interactions, Gene sequencing through Conjugation, transduction, Bact. Growth curve analysis.

The General cut-off for securing a seat of JRF is 55 % marks and for NET is 47 % marks in Gen category while in reserve category it is much lower than this.
Before a student gets himself prepared for the CSIR entrance examination, he/she should plan according to his/her category so as to clear the cut off. Individual category vise cutoff are provided in the figure.I

Fig. I: Minimum cut-off percentage for the award of fellowship/ lectureship (Dec, 2015):
Subject             General       OBC          SC/ST/PH/VH             General            OBC          SC/ST/PH/VH
Life Science        52.00         46.80                41.60                        46.8                42.12              37.44

Misconceptions & Myths: Undecided
The greatest misconception among students is that there is a separate cutoff for the three sections but there is none, instead a student has to score total marks overall. There is yet another common query among students that whether applying for JRF would make them eligible for NET-LS or not (just in case they don't make it to JRF).

The answer to their query is: Yes, those who have filled the form for JRF will be considered for NET-LS if they are able to cross the cutoff of CSIR-NET-LS but those who have filled the form for only NET-LS are not considered for CSIR or NET-JRF.

Some students are fascinated by Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (SPMF) fellowship for PhD scholars and as only top 30 Rank holders of CSIR-NET-JRF are eligible for it, so students tend to over attempt questions, ultimately landing nowhere with negative marking.

To all these students I would like to suggest that it hardly matters in NET-JRF entrance examination which rank one scores because the fellowship for both CSIR-JRF & UGC-JRF is the same. The only thing that matters is that : "whether you are able to make it to the JRF candidate list or not"

Formula For Success: Idea
CSIR-NET-JRF exam is about selecting the right questions to be answered while escaping the ones from classical biology or ones which are time consuming or lengthy in nature.
  • Part-A is decorated with time consuming mathematical questions, any miscalculation may fetch you negative marks!, so I would suggest not to spend more than half an hour over this section.
  • Part B consists of simplest questions to be answered and one should finish this section within half an hour.
  • Part C checks one's control over his/her nerves. There are questions which are too hard to be attempt, do not lose your hope & temper, just move to another question because there are only 25 Q to be attempted out of 75 Questions!

    Please do go through each and every question at least superficially so that you can attempt max no. of questions, also make sure that you don't make any unnecessary over attempts.

If you could score correctly only 50 % in total, even then you will definitely make it to JRF/LS.

Alternate Approach to Success: Confused
There are several other competitive examinations such as NET-JRF-UGC, ICMR-JRF, IARI-JRF, CU-SET, HSCRT-JRF, ARS-NET, ASRB, GATE-Xl/Bt, etc in which one could also appear so as to increase their chances of getting selected. Moreover it is also advisable to students to apply for the nineteen different scholarships schemes provided by CSIR as indicated on

All's Well that Ends Well:   Smile
At the end I would like to mention that it is hard work that conquers all, never be afraid of your failures. Always remember whether or not you make up to JRF, the preparation will transform you into an able student, with increased knowledge which will be reflected in other entrance examinations, interviews and even in your academics and daily life to make you confident enough.

• Hasan, S.A., Khilnani, S. and R. Luthra. 2013. Are CSIR-UGC NET qualified junior research fellow going away from science? Current Science, Vol. 104 (4).
• Gupta, A., Inderpal and S. mallick. 2004. Are bright students coming back to Science?- A Study. Jou. of Scientific & industrial. res., Vol. 63: 248-250.

Nitin Wahi
Director, The Genome Coaching Inst., Agra & Mathura.
UGC- Fellow, PhD Scholar, G.L.A University, Mathura,
Ω 08923944414.

The Passion Of Biotech Goes On !
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This is certainly a very comprehensive and impressive article for CSIR-NET-JRF .. should really benefit students and achieve a pretty good readership over time. We were notified about grammatical errors in the article, which we will try to fix. Thanks
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(04-30-2015, 11:33 PM)BioWritEditors Wrote: This is certainly a very comprehensive and impressive article for CSIR-NET-JRF .. should really benefit students and achieve a pretty good readership over time. We were notified about a grammatical errors in the article, which we will try to fix. Thanks

Nitin Wahi 
Sleepy Tried to just give out the best from my experience had a bit problem while uploading the paper, please do excuse me up for my mistakes !
The Passion Of Biotech Goes On !
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Its really a great piece of work has opened a new door of opportunities for me as well has grealt inhanced my knowledge !
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The classification of the fellowships makes the article highly useful.
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It is helpful for me, i wish i could have read your blog one months before so that i could have prepared well, but its never too late, so! thank you for posting this.
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Thank you so much Sir for this evaluation. It would be grateful if you suggested the best books to study for covering these topics.
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Making Career with CSIR-NET-JRF: Life Sciences00