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Special Content

volume-41,12-18 January 2019


How to Choose the Best Course after Class 12 if You are a PCM student

RruchI  Shrimalli

Soon, students will be taking their Class 12 exams. Many of the Science students from PCM (Physics, Chemistry, Math) stream will sit for their engineering entrance exam (such as JEE exam or BITSAT) while a majority of those from PCB (Physics, Chemistry, Biology) stream will sit for their medical entrance exam (NEET). But there are many students who fall out of the realm of these two engineering entrance exams or just want to try a different career.

In this article, we will talk about different courses you can do after Class 12 if you are from Physics, Chemistry, Math (PCM) stream - and the careers they can potentially lead to:

B.Tech (Bachelor of Technology) or B.E. (or Bachelor of Engineering)

JEE Main exam is a gateway to enter 31 NITs (National Institutes of Technology), 23 IIITs (Indian Institutes of Information Technology), 23 CFTIs (Centrally Funded Technical Institutions) and a number of other institutes participating in the exam. You may also crack the JEE Advanced exam and get an entry into the most prestigious engineering institutes of India - the IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology).

Some other engineering entrance exams in India that PCM students can try out for B.Tech admissions are:

  • AMUEEE (Aligarh Muslim University's Engineering Entrance Exam),
  • BITSAT (Admission Test for Birla Institute of Technology and Science),
  • COMEDK UGET (Undergraduate Entrance Test for admission to the Consortium of Medical Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka),
  • IPU CET (Common Entrance Test for Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University),
  • KIITEE (Entrance Examin-ation for Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology),
  • MET (Manipal Entrance Test which was earlier known as Manipal University's Online Entrance Test (MU OET)
  • SET (Symbiosis Entrance Test),
  • SRMJEEE (Engineering Entrance Exam for SRM Institute of Science and Technology), and
  • VITEEE (VIT University's Engineering Entrance Exam).

Armed with a B.E. or B.Tech degree, students can later apply to become a government contractor (for example, civil or electrical engineers), opt for an MBA and move into management, do M.Tech, M.E. or M.S. from a prestigious Indian college or foreign university and work as an engineer or perhaps teach in an engineering college, try for the UPSC exam to become an IAS officer (or opt for other administrative exams), or sit for the IES (Indian Engineering Services) exam and work in Railways or public sector companies.

If you are interested in Merchant Navy jobs, you can opt for maritime courses such as B.E. or B.Tech in Marine Engineering. After completing your degree, you'll need to do one-year long Graduate Marine Engineering (GME) course before you can work as a Marine Engineer in a Merchant Navy ship.

Technical Entry in Indian Army

Unmarried male candidates between the ages of 16 years 6 months and 19 years 6 months can apply for Permanent Commission in the Indian Army right after Class 12. You need at least 70% aggregate marks in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics in Class 12 board exams. Selected candidates are given a stipend of Rs 21,000 per month and given 4 years of training. After completion of 3 years, candidates can join NDA while on completion of 4 years, they can directly join the Army at the rank of Lt (Lieutenant).

Eligible candidates can apply for the Services Selection Board (SSB) interview through the Join Indian Army website. The interview is held for five days which unfolds as follows:

Day 1: Stage I Screening Test (Intelligence Test) - It includes the Intelligence Test which checks the logical or analytical aptitude of the candidate, and the Picture Perception and Discussion test which checks how you describe a picture, your command over language, and your overall performance during discussions and tasks.

Those who pass Stage I have to take the Stage II test.

Day 2: Stage II Psych-ological Test - It includes different psychological tests, group tasks and personal interview. You'll be expected to have the 15 Officer Like Qualities (OLQs) to clear this stage.

Day 2 to 4: Stage II Interview - The interviewing officer is a senior and experienced officer of the armed forces and tries to discern whether you are suited for the life of an army officer or not. Lying and false pretences can go against you in this interview. Be honest. Your general knowledge and awareness about your strength can be big assets to clear this stage.

Day 3 and 4: Stage II Ground Testing Officer (GTO) Test - It includes two group discussions, Group Planning Exercise (GPE) (where group members have to come up with a solution for the given problem), Group Obstacle Race, Progressive Group Task (PGT) (where the group needs to clear obstacles with the help of props like ropes or planks), Half Group Task (where a group is divided into two and then, has to complete the tasks), Lecturete (where candidates have to speak on a topic for 3 minutes), Command Task (where a candidate has to lead two subordinates from his group across a short obstacle on his own), Individual Obstacle (where an individual has to cover ten obstacles in a space of 3 minutes), and Final Group Task (which is similar to the PGT but only lasts for 5-10 minutes).

Day 5: Stage II Conference - During this stage, all the board members and three assessors meet to discuss the results of individual assessments of a candidate and his strengths and weaknesses in detail. Candidates with higher intelligence rating receive extra credit here. Results are finalized on this day and communicated to the candidates.

National Defence Academy (NDA)

If you are interested in joining the Indian Army, Navy or Air Force, you can do so directly after Class 12. The National Defence Academy near Pune is the Joint Services Academy where cadets of all the three services train together before joining their respective academies for further training.

To join NDA, you need to appear for its entrance exam which is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), New Delhi twice a year. Only unmarried candidates between the ages of 16 ½ to 19½ yrs are eligible to write the exam. The exam consists of two papers:

  • Paper 1: Mathematics (for 300 marks), and
  • Paper 2: General Ability Test (which has two sections: English worth 200 marks, and GK worth 400 marks)

The exam contains objective- type questions and has a duration of 3 hours or 180 minutes.

If you clear the written exam, you'll have to appear for the Services Selection Board (SSB) or Air Force Selection Board (AFSB) interviews. The SSB Interview process for NDA is same as the one mentioned above for the technical entry in Indian Army.

Those who clear the 5-day SSB or AFSB interview process will also have to undergo the medical examination and be declared fit for the job.

B.Arch (Bachelor of Architecture)

You can take the JEE Mains Paper 2 exam to get admission in the under-graduate Architecture course offered by the NITs, and centrally funded government institutes. To take admission in the IIT's B.Arch courses, you need to take JEE Mains Paper 1 exam, crack the JEE Advanced Exam, and then write the AAT (Architecture Aptitude Test) for the IITs.

National Aptitude Test in Architecture (NATA) opens your gateway to the architecture courses offered by the private colleges and universities in India. There are several individual state university and private university entrance exams that you can take to get admission in the course (such as Aligarh Muslim University's B.Arch Exam, and KCET exam for Architecture conducted by the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA)).

After you complete the 5-year B.Arch course, you may do a Diploma course in Interior Designing or Landscape Designing if you are interested.

  1. Plan (Bachelor of Planning)

Students with at least 50% marks in PCM stream can apply for the 4-year Bachelor of Planning courses. Some of the tests that you can take to get admission in this course are:

  • JEE Main Paper 2 exam
  • NATA (National Aptitude Test in Architecture)
  • JUEE (Jadavpur University Entrance Exam)
  • UPSEE (Uttar Pradesh State Entrance Exam)
  • TANCET (Tamil Nadu Common Entrance Test)

Some of the top institutes offering this course are the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) in New Delhi, Sushant School of Art and Architecture  (SSAA) in Gurgaon, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT) in Bhopal, and Lovely Professional University (LPU) in Jalandhar.

You can make a career as an Urban Planner, Design Architect, Interior Designer, and Project Planner after completing this course.

B.Des (Bachelor of Design)

If you are interested in Fashion Designing, Product Designing, Interior Designing, or Textile Designing, this is the course you should opt for. Different colleges offer it as a 3-year or 4-year program.

Some of the top colleges where you can do Bachelor of Designing are:


One has to take the UCEED (Undergraduate Common Entrance Examination for Design) to get admission into the B.Des program offered by IIT Mumbai, IIT Guwahati, IITDM Jabalpur, and IIT Hyderabad.

UCEED is a computer-based test and has one question paper which has a duration of three hours. It has three sections:

  • Numerical Answer Type (NAT) questions
  • Multiple Select Questions (MSQ) where each question can have one or more correct answers out of the four given choices.
  • Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) where each question has only one correct answer out of the four given choices.

Besides the IITs, many other institutes that accept the UCEED scores include Nirma University, Ahmedabad; VIT University, Vellore; UPES, Dehradun; Lovely Professional University, Phagwara, Punjab; Delhi Technological University, Delhi; ARCH College of Design and Business, Jaipur; and U.P. Institute of Design, Noida.

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad

NID Ahmedabad's selection process has three stages:

  • The first stage is the Design Aptitude Test (DAT) which is an offline written exam for 100 The paper has a duration of 3 hours during which students have to solve 64 MCQs and 3 subjective questions. Those who clear this exam are called for the second stage of the selection process.
  • The second stage is a Studio Test worth 100 It includes drawing or sketching, handicraft modelling, group discussions and presentations. Some of the important aspects of this exam are 3D Modelling, Making Portfolios, Observation Tests, Material Manipulation, and Creative Thinking. If you clear the Studio Test, you will be immediately called for the Interview.
  • The third stage or the Interview is conducted at the same centre. This is the final round of the NID selection process.

National Institute of Fashion Technology

The NIFT entrance exam is conducted in three parts. Students first have to appear for the 3-hour long Creative Ability Test (CAT), followed by a 2-hour long General Ability Test (GAT). The final stage for the B.Des course is a Situation Test.

NIFT has its headquarter in Delhi but it has several centres across India, including Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Jodhpur, Kangra, Kannur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Patna, Raebareli, Shillong and Srinagar.

Besides, there are several other reputed institutes that offer B.Des courses, such as Symbiosis Institute of Design, Pune; and Pearl Academy of Fashion Management, Jaipur.

B.Sc (Bachelor of Science) or B.C.A (Bachelor in Computer Application)

You can opt for a BCA or BCS (Bachelor of Computer Science) course which leads to MCA or MCS courses. These courses open up careers in the field of software development, programming, network administration, hardware development or ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services). Banks and government departments advertise jobs for candidates with MCS or MCA degree from time-to-time. Besides, the education sector and a number of private firms also absorb software developers and IT experts at various levels.

B.Sc courses open a wide array of job options. You can do M.Sc later, write the NET (National Eligibility Test) exam and become a lecturer. You may also do basic teacher training for international teaching jobs.

There is lot more you can do as a Bachelor in Science besides teaching. You can apply for the position of Commercial Inspector/ Supervisor, Traffic Inspector/ Supervisor and Ticket Collector in Indian Railways; clerical and Probationary Officer (PO) positions in the banking sector; civil services, defence jobs, and other government and private sector jobs.

Looking for Skill-Based Training?

In case, you feel that you chose the wrong stream in Class 11th and would like to go for a career in the film production or TV show production or perhaps, Hotel Management, it is not too late. You can still choose to do a relevant degree course and carve out a niche in the career of your choice.

Under the Skill India programme, the government is also running several schemes to train the youth in different industry-related skills to increase their employability. Some of these initiatives include:

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)

This is the flagship scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE). You may find the PMKY training centre near your home at:

http://www.pmkvyofficial.org/find-a-training-centre. aspx

You can also search the training centre by the job roles you aspire for or the sector you want to join. Some of the sectors for which you can do training from these centres include Agriculture, Apparel, Automotive, Beauty and Wellness, Electronics and Hardware, Food Processing, Retail, Power, Telecom and many others.


This is a Special Industry Initiative (SII) for the youth of Jammu & Kashmir. It is run by the Ministry of Home Affairs and implemented by the National Skill Develop-ment Corporation (NSDC). If you are from J&K, you can look forward to train under the Udaan scheme after completing your 3-year Diploma or Degree program for three to six months and get good job opportunities.

The boarding and lodging facilities during the training period are provided by the Udaan corporate. One-way travel costs are also reimbursed. Those who get selected for the training programmes get a stipend for the duration of the programme.

International Skill Training

India International Skill Centres (IISCs) set up by the NSDC offer world-class skill training and certification programmes. If you want to go abroad, these programmes can help you prepare for overseas jobs. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also offers the Pre-Departure Orientation Training (PDOT) under its Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PKVY).

The One-Day PDOT program offers country-specific orientation, brushing up language skills and some Digital Literacy modules. If you are interested in working in another country, it might be a good idea to visit your nearest IISC once.

Several private-sector training institutes and educational institutions also offer skill-based Diploma or Degree programmes that can help you earn good money in the future.

How to decide which career suits you the best?

Many students are confused about what careers they should opt for. In such a case, taking a Career Aptitude Test can be highly beneficial for you. In case you are a DIY (Do It Yourself) type, you should write down:

  • Your Personal Strengths
  • Your Personal Weaknesses
  • Activities and Subjects You Love To Do
  • Work Environment and Life Style You Would Like
  • Personal Values Close to Your Heart

Once you have these ready, research different types of careers and see which ones cover most of the points in your list. For example, if you feel strongly for people who suffer even though they have done nothing wrong, you might want to be a lawyer. On the other hand, you might feel attracted to high-tech gadgets and smartphones and wonder how they work. In this case, you might go for mobile software or hardware courses or app development courses.

Google for 'list of careers in India' to see thousands of options open for you.

Rruchi Shrimalli is a career counsellor e-mail: rruchi shrimalli@gmail.com.