Journey Of Practice To Success In UGC-NET: Madhusmita Dungdung

Journey Of Practice To Success In UGC-NET: Madhusmita Dungdung

To become a master, one has to be a skilled amateur. From being a science student in her intermediate years to pursuing a Master’s degree in Development Studies at NIT Rourkela (Batch of 2018-20), Madhusmita Dungdung has proved it that dedication and perseverance are the keys to success and satisfaction by clearing UGC NET-JRF examination in Sociology.

UGC NET stands for University Grants Commission- National Eligibility Test. This examination is conducted for the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) program to determine the students’ eligibility for Assistant Professors in Indian Universities and Colleges. The candidates having or pursuing their Masters’ degree in both Science and non-Science Stream are eligible to take this exam.

Team Monday Morning caught up with Madhusmita to know more about this exam as well as her journey of preparation. Read below to know more.

MM: Walk us through your schooling and your experience pursuing a bachelor's from B.J.B. Autonomous College, BBSR.

Madhusmita Dungdung (MD): I did my schooling till 10th from Mount Carmel School, Rourkela, and 12th from Ispat English Medium School, Sector 20, Rourkela. If I talk about my experience pursuing a B.A. in Sociology from B.J.B Autonomous College, BBSR, it was a roller coaster journey according to me. In my first year of college, I was facing difficulties in understanding the subject because my stream was science in my 12th grade. So, I had no idea about the subject. And it took me some time to get familiar with the subject. I built my sociology foundation stronger during my Bachelor’s days.

MM: Why did you choose NIT Rourkela to pursue your Master's? How would you judge your decision now? 

MD: To be honest, “Kyun Ki NIT Rourkela Ghar ke pass tha”. Of course, that’s not the only reason but you can say one of the reasons. The main reason for choosing NIT Rourkela was I wanted to pursue my Master’s in Development Studies which is an interdisciplinary subject. And this institute is one of those rare technical institutes which offers this course.

I’m happy with my decision of opting this programme. When I joined here, I had lots of expectations just like every other kid who comes to NIT Rourkela, but one thing we need to know that all your expectations can’t be fulfilled. You just need to be ready for the unexpected things which are going to happen in your life and perhaps that would be a turning point for you.

MM: How were teaching, exposure, and environment at B.J.B Autonomous College different from that in NIT Rourkela?

MD: The only difference between B.J.B Autonomous College and NIT Rourkela is about the campus environment. B.J.B College doesn’t have such a beautiful campus as here. But if I talk in terms of teaching and exposure then I didn’t find any differences because, in my both Bachelor’s and Master’s, I was blessed with brilliant professors.  

MM: You actively participated in sports during your time at NIT Rourkela. Did such participation help you develop a wider set of transferable skills? 

MD: Sports has always been an important part of my life. Engagement in sports helped me to develop teamwork, leadership quality, how to handle failure, and verbal communication as well. Being a girl’s volleyball team captain, the biggest challenge I faced was forming a girl’s team but I’m glad that somehow, we managed to form a team, and this year we performed well in the inter-NIT sports competition which was held in January.

MM: Share your experience participating in extracurricular activities and how it helped as a stress buster.

MD: I have always been oriented towards sports. Apart from volleyball, I had also played Kabaddi in the Institute Kabaddi girl’s team. Sports helped me a lot in dealing with stress. Because all day we used to have classes, along with that we used to get a lot of assignments and presentations for each subject. So, to deal with my academic stress every evening I used to go to play volleyball and those 2 hours used to be the best part of my day. It acted as therapy for me.

MM: How did you decide upon appearing for the UGC NET exam? What were your expectations for the same?

MD: I sat for the placement but unfortunately couldn’t make it. And during the lockdown, we all witnessed the declining job opportunities. So, at that time I decided to appear for UGC NET-JRF Exam.

Talking about my expectations from the NET-JRF exam, to be honest, I didn’t expect that I would clear in my first attempt so I was mentally ready for my second attempt. But I guess God had a different plan for me.

MM: Discuss the pattern of the questions and your approach to the different sections in the question paper.

MD: UGC NET-JRF Exam consists of two papers. Paper 1 consists of 50 questions which include teaching & research aptitude, communication, logical reasoning, ICT, GK, Higher education system. And paper 2 (Sociology) which is a core paper consists of 100 questions.

And if I talk about my approach to different papers then, I focused more on paper 1 because I found it quite difficult. And for sociology, I divided topics into three parts (strong, moderate, and weak) according to my knowledge and gave time accordingly.

MM: What are the different study materials/resources that you referred to, for the preparation? How did you strategize the preparation for different sections?

MD:  My strategy for preparation was to cover the easy topics first before going to difficult topics just to gain confidence. I used to focus more on PYQs (Previous Years Questions) because that helped me to get an idea about the level of the questions that were asked in the exam. And I started my preparations accordingly. I used to solve a lot of questions unit wise. And to boost up my preparation I also joined Unacademy’s crash course in sociology one month before my exam which helped me a lot in my preparation.

Study materials/resources I relied on for paper 1 was K.V.S Madan’s book, Google, YouTube. And for paper 2, I followed UGC NET Sociology by Arihant Publications, IGNOU materials, and Unacademy’s pdfs.

MM: How would you compare the difficulty level of the UGC NET exam with other competitive exams? Is the syllabus covered in the department adequate to qualify for the exam?

MD: If I compare UGC NET with other competitive exams for instance GATE, the level of UGC NET is moderate compared to that of GATE. If I talk about whether the syllabus covered in the department adequate to qualify for the exam then I want to inform you that our department offers M.A. in Development Studies which is an interdisciplinary subject and the course structure framed in such a way where we study sociology, economics, and psychology, etc. So, I can say 30%-35% of the UGC NET Sociology’s syllabus is covered in the department.

MM: The exam scheduled for June got delayed till September due to lockdown. How did you cope up with the anxiety surrounding the situation? What problems did you face in preparation? 

MD: This delay due to lockdown turned into a golden opportunity for me. I was not prepared for UGC NET JUNE 2020 exam because it was too immediate after my end semester exam. So, I filled the form just to gain experience and see what type of questions were asked in the exam. But my luck was so good that the exam in June got postponed and I got time to prepare for my NET exam. And I turned this lockdown into my opportunity to prepare well for the NET exam.

Talking about the problems, I didn’t face many problems related to topics and concepts because I used to get those cleared on Unacademy.

MM: How has the delay affected your plans for the future and how do you plan to tailor the situation?

MD: I had no other plans except to appear for the NET-JRF exam and clear it. This delay affected my plan positively. Had it not been delayed I wouldn’t have got time to prepare for my NET exam.

MM: Would you go for the fellowship or post of asst. professor or consider applying for jobs in PSUs?

MD: I want to go for higher studies, so would go for a fellowship

MM: There are various avenues to excel in sociology. Which sphere are you interested to explore in? Comment on the importance and opportunities under the field of your study.

MD: The sphere in which I’m interested in Environmental Sociology. It is the study of society’s interaction with the environment. The importance of this field is that it focuses on studying the social factors which cause environmental problems and how those environmental problems are affecting society in return. But under environmental sociology, the specific study area in which I’m interested in is development induced displacement in marginal areas.

About the opportunities in the field of environmental sociology, there is advisory in public policy, environmental advocacy, academics, Corporate Social Responsibility, and NGOs, etc. 

MM: Sociology offers a wide range of career opportunities. Which career prospect would you like to take up?

MD: If not into research then probably I would like to go for public services.

MM: Would you like to share some tips and do's and don'ts with the future NET aspirants?

MD: For future NET aspirants one tip I would like to give them is to be sincere to yourself during preparation. Find your weak points work on them but at the same time don’t forget to focus on your strong points too.

Do’s

  • Divide the topics into 3 categories according to your knowledge (Strong, medium, weak) and give time accordingly.

  • Focus on clarity of the concepts.

  • Practice as many mocks, PYQs as you can, and in every mock test try to score more than your previous mock test.

  • Revision is very important.

  • Try to enjoy the process of preparation rather than taking stress.

Dont’s

  • Don’t doubt yourself.

  • Don’t be inconsistent during preparation.

Team Monday Morning congratulates Madhusmita Dugdung for the outstanding result and wishes her the best for her future endeavours.

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