Draw a Career Design

There is roughly about a month to go before the National Institute of Fashion and Technology (NIFT) writ ten entrance examination, to be held on the 10th February, 2008. The exam is designed to test the knowledge, skills and aptitude of applicants who wish to enter the fashion industry .

Every aspirant who is preparing for this written entrance examination is into his or her last lap of preparation and already knows what he or she needs to study. But everyone wants to know what they should focus on. Here is some last minute advice from experts in the field.

Says Dinesh Kumar Rangra, Registrar (Admissions), NIFT, "Although the selection to NIFT’s Bachelor’s programmes is a two-stage process, the first screening stage is very crucial. Candidates who want to get called for the second stage must do well in the first exam." Usually those who score between 70 and 80 per cent get called for the second stage of examination, he says, and insists that if candidates appearing for the exam prepare as per the instructions and difficulty levels specified in this year’s prospectus there won’t be any problem in cracking the exam.

The written exam has two components: General Ability Test (GAT) and Creative Ability Test (CAT). GAT is similar to any other competitive exam that tests a candidate’s Communication Skills, Analytical Reasoning, English Comprehension and Business Domain Test in two-hour period.

"Amongst the two key areas which all students – from both Science and non-Science streams – should get set to score well are the English and business domain areas," says Ulhas Vairagkar, Director, T.I.M.E. For this paper, a general awareness about the business domain and the big players in the fashion world is a must, he says but adds that this is one area in which most students are found to be weak. Therefore his advice is that all students should brush up their knowl edge on fashion-linked General Awareness, especially related to Indian designers, fashion celebrities etc.

As students from both Maths/Science and non-Maths/Science streams appear for the exam, there is no particular fixed format or game plan that an aspirant can follow to come out a winner. For students who are not from a Science or Maths background, the focus of the last minute preparation should be on problem solving and Analytical Reason ing. "Practice sessions, timed mock papers etc should be con centrated upon. Paper solving within the timeframe of the exam is another area that students should practice," says Vairagkar.

English is another scoring subject and good scores can be attained in it especial ly by students of non Maths/Science backgrounds. Plan to attempt all the questions, as there is no negative marking. One can try and guess intelligently by the method of elimination of choices, advises Vairagkar.

The second two-hour exam, to be held in the second session, is the Creative Ability Test (CAT), which is designed to check the creativity of candidates.

Even if you are good at drawing nature or landscapes, do practise object drawing. Because unlike the two-dimensional landscapes, objects need to be drawn in three dimensions that too with a perspective. Therefore, do try your hand at sketching items like sofas, purses, apparel or garments etc, else it may not be as easy as you may think. An ability to merely draw is not sufficient. "Draw clearly as per the directions or broad guidelines. It is not just your ability to draw that is put under the scanner but also your skills of creative thinking and designing that is being tested," says Rangra.

Adds Vairagkar: "To do well in CAT you must have an aptitude for drawing. If you do not have it then you can’t do much, as you won’t be able to learn how to design in a month’s time. But if you are good at drawing then devote most of your time to practising sketching, as the maximum marks are allotted… Not only will you have to draw the objects but draw them in such a manner that they stand out – that is to say with embellishments, colours, etc. My suggestion is to learn from sketches and designs in fashion books, lifestyle magazines and even fashion channels. Practise drawings these things."

CAT is very important as it proves to be the litmus test for non-serious candidates. The NIFT Director General Rajiv Takru as well as the institute’s faculty feel that an aspiramt who is not really interested in designing should not opt for this field. "As the lead focus here at NIFT is on creating new things, if you are not good at drawing or creative and imaginative thinking then do not jump headlong into the field merely because everyone you know is going for it," says Takru.

Cracking the exam should not be your only objective, says the Director General, because you may do well in the exam and clear all the stages but if "you are not born to be a designer" you will feel stifled and suffocated later. You may not find yourself happy or really successful because if the design element is missing from your thought process it is not something that can be acquired with training," he adds.

Another section that may require a little alertness on the part of the candidate is the Thematic Appreciation Test (TAT). This is to judge a candidate’s reaction to a series of images.

Last to be conducted is the Situation Test. Short-listed candidates from the entrance examination are required to undergo a situation test which is a hands-ontest that evaluates a candidate’s skills at handling materials and his innovative ability at a given situation with a given set of materials.

So, if you have the creative ability to design well, you can romp home the only thing to remember is to plan and time your exam preparation.

Winner’s WARDROBE Here are some dos and don’ts for students appearing for the NIFT exam.

DO Attempt all the questions: even if you do not know the exact answers to all. You can use the method of ‘elimination of choice options’ for reasoning out a correct answer choice. As there is no negative marking an intelligent guess can help add to your score.

DO Try to answer all the English questions correctly. This helps in building an edge over others as most students who do well are known to have scored cent per cent in English. To do this, strengthen your vocabulary.

DO Brush up your general knowledge and awareness especially about the fashion industry and associated topics

DO Revise your basics in Maths and learn to solve mathematical problems in the simplest method, to save time. Those who are not from a Mathematics background should give more emphasis to Analytical Reasoning and Mathematical calculations

DO Take full length practise tests within the stipulated time frame

DO Read the instructions on the booklet very carefully

Do not lose track of time while answering questions

DO Darken the ovals well

DO Try and go through the entire question paper

DO Put a question mark against any answer you are not sure about and move on to the next one. After writing the exam, go back to any undone questions and rethink the answers

DO As the weightage for both GAT and CAT papers is equal, the key to assured success would be to score reasonably well in both tests.

Do not begin any new topic in the last lap of your preparation

Do not get stressed out, Do not lose heart if the paper seems tough, it is the same for all

THE FINAL WORD The paper, gauging by the previous years patterns, does not appear to have any section or sectional cut-off or too many surprises, which are restricted to about 20 per cent of questions. This is really in favour of all candidates. Go ahead and attempt as many questions as you can, of course with a high degree of accuracy! Have faith in yourself and trust in God! All the best!

courtesy Ajita Singh