Cracking the UGC NET Exam – Anuj Jindal’s Journey

ugc net preparation

After college, I appeared for several different government exams but wasn’t able to crack any of them. I tried and tried, sometimes I would clear the phase 1 exams, but something would go wrong in the phase 2 exams. 

Thus, I decided to take a break, I.e., go on a 4 to 5-day vacation and think about where I was going wrong. While on my hiatus, I got to understand the key reason why I was failing. 

The reason was the absence of a dedicated study plan that takes into account my strengths and weaknesses from time to time. I realized that solving past years’ papers after completing the syllabus was not enough. Rather they had to go hand in hand.  

Furthermore, I also realized how important it was to compare our past years papers practice scores to the cut offs of those particular years’ papers. 

Now I know this might sound pretty commonsensical to you all, but considering that I had no one to guide me then, it was a pretty big realization for me. 

That year, I made a foolproof UGC NET preparation strategy, analyzed all the UGC NET past year papers, the UGC NET cut offs, and then took & cleared the UGC NET exams, twice, once with AP, and the other with JRF. 

UGC NET Previous Year Papers

As I have mentioned above, when it comes to cracking the UGC NET exam, the UGC NET previous years’ papers will play one of the most important roles in your UGC NET preparation.  

Furthermore, if we were to select the most important out of the lot, the question paper that came the immediate year before holds the most prominence.

Therefore, I have provided for you below, the links to download the UGC NET 2020 Question Papers of June cycle: 

Year/Cycle Subjects & Shifts Links
June 2020 Commerce Shift 1 Download PDF
Commerce Shift 2 Download PDF
Management Shift 1 Download PDF

Let me not beat around the bush much and say that to qualify for the NET you must spend a whole lot of time solving UGC NET previous years; question papers. 

And, I say that not just because they helped me clear my UGC NET exams, but because I have seen hundreds of my students crack their own, by practicing on the question papers of past years. 

Moreover, let me tell you, some of the questions that came in my UGC NET paper were the exact ones that I had already solved in the previous years’ question papers earlier. 

So, you can imagine how important past years’ papers are. 

With that said, let me now run through the benefits of solving UGC NET previous years’ question papers. 

Importance of Solving UGC NET Question Papers

In this section, I will highlight the importance of solving previous years’ papers of UGC NET. In a nutshell: They essentially help us understand our weaknesses by making us learn from our mistakes. 

With that said let me list out the key benefits of solving the UGC NET past year papers.

Key Benefits are:

1. Helps understand the Exam Pattern –

Rehearsing Previous Year Papers will assist you with understanding the test design followed by NTA NET.

This not only increases your speed at attempting the exam but also ensures no end-minute jitters for the exam.

2. Helps Prepare for the difficulty level of questions –

Let’s be real, this examination isn’t going to be a joyride for you. So why not squeeze the hell out of the lemons in hand and make as much lemonade as we can.

When you will go through the UGC NET Previous Year Question Papers, you will get acquainted with the difficulty level of the questions asked from the topics and sub-topics of both the Papers, i.e., Paper-I and Paper-II.

3. Develops understanding of the Important topics –

Rehearsing on the UGC NET Previous Year Question Papers will help you in recognising significant topics that are regularly asked in the exams. For your convenience, I have already listed down the important topics from the UGC NET syllabus in one of my other blogs; you may want to check that as well.

In any case, to speed up your exam preparation for 2021 you should concentrate on rehearsing the significant subjects first. This can effectively be done by recognizing them through the Previous Year Question Papers.

4. Identify and balance Strong and Weak areas –

It’s no rocket science to know that we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Rather than being ignorant towards the weaknesses and overconfident about the strengths, why not focus on finding a balance between the two?

While I recommend focusing on both of them, always work a little harder towards topics you’re a little weak in.

Not just from the point of view of the exam but also in general, so that you don’t lack in any skill.

As the exam has no negative marking, try to make your strengths a solid case so that you can absolutely nail the exam.

5. Avoids Panic Attacks –

Come on, admit it, have we all not had those exams where we got so cocky about knowing everything that we took our own time, only to find later that there’s literally no more time left, and we still had 4 or 5 more questions to solve? 

So, what better way to avoid panicking in the exam than taking a version of the exam, before the actual exam, I.e., past years papers. 

Moreover, while practicing on UGC NET Previous Year Papers, my advice to you would be to try attempting the papers from various different sides, for instance once from the back side, once from the front, and once, randomly from the middle. 

Then, pick the pattern which will permit you to ideally use your time and score the maximum marks. 

Additionally, make an effort to not waste any more time on one question than absolutely necessary.

6. Increases Accuracy –

It’s a known fact, the more you rehearse your speech before going on stage, the lesser you’re bound to fumble or make a mistake.

Similarly, the more you rehearse on the UGC NET Previous Year Papers, the more accurate you will be, which in the long run will lead you to secure a high score in the test.

Having said all that, you must be wondering where to find these important previous years’ question paper pdfs.


The UGC NET final answer key, cut off and results are released by NTA on its official website approximately on the same day or one after the other for a particular UGC NET cycle. 

Let me explain it in a bit more detail. After all the UGC NET exams of a particular cycle are conducted, the results are announced in a few weeks’ time. That is the time when the UGC NET cut offs are usually also released. 

Now, it should be noted that the cut off lists for the posts of ‘Assistant Professor’ and Junior Research Fellowship (JRF)’ are released separately. Meaning that through these two different lists, a candidate will be able to understand if the scores he secures is equivalent to the UGC NET qualifying marks for the JRF, or that for the post of Assistant Professor. 

That said, in this section I have mentioned in detail about the topics of UGC NET cut offs and also “how it is calculated”. 

UGC NET 2021 Cut Off

The National Testing Agency released the category-wise cutoff marks of UGC NET 2021, comprising of December 2020 and June 2021 merged cycles, on February 19, 2022.  

You can find the category-wise UGC NET June 2021 Cutoffs for the subjects of Commerce, and Management below: 

Subject Category Assistant Professor JRF & Assistant Professor
Cutoff Percentile Total Cutoff Percentile Total
Commerce Unreserved 97.29 2230 99.458 421
EWS 93.052 549 98.614 116
OBC (NCL) 90.479 1560 97.597 310
SC 82.787 570 95.033 98
ST 81.229 228 94.442 37
Subject Category Assistant Professor JRF & Assistant Professor
Cutoff Marks Total Cutoff Marks Total
Management Unreserved 160 719 176 94
EWS 148 108 168 13
OBC (NCL) 144 446 164 62
SC 138 188 158 30
ST 136 68 152 8

UGC NET Cut Off: Calculation Procedure 

The organization of NTA uses a unique approach to calculate the UGC NET Cut Off. In this section, I will help you understand it better. 

Bear with me, it might get a little complicated. 

So basically, NTA comes out with two cut offs for the UGC NET. One for ‘AP’ or Assistant Professorship and the other for ‘JRF’, JRF being Junior Research Fellowship. 

They are both announced to inform students about the UGC NET qualifying marks for the ‘AP’ and ‘JRF’. 

Now, let’s try to understand in a step-wise manner, how the cut offs for the JRF and AP positions are decided: 

Step 1: As per the official notification for the December 2020 Cycle (May 2021), only 6% of the candidates who will appear for the UGC NET exam will qualify (total slots or Eligible for Assistant Professor).

Step 2: The total slots will then be allocated to different categories based on the GoI’s reservation policy. 

Step 3: In addition to this, a candidate must have appeared in both papers and secured a minimum of 40% aggregate marks for General and a minimum of 35% aggregate marks for the reserved categories to be considered for either of the posts (‘JRF & AP’ and ‘AP’).

Also to be noted is that, the UGC NET is conducted for 81 subjects and the Cut off score contrasts from subject to subject.

Step 4: The number of students qualified in any subject for each category is determined according to the methodology endorsed by NTA. I have tried to simplify it below with the help of an example.

Methodology to calculate UGC NET Cut Off for Assistant Professor (AP)

As mentioned earlier, NTA employs a formula to determine the number of qualified candidates from various categories for each subject. This is based on the total slots determined for each category, as mentioned in ‘Step 2’ above.

Now, let’s understand the formula with the help of an example (Subject – Commerce & Category – General):

A comparative method will be executed for determining the UGC NET subject-wise qualifying marks for all classes.

Number of candidates to be declared qualified for eligibility for Assistant Professor in the subject ‘Commerce’ for the General category The Number of candidates belonging to General category
who secure at least 40%* aggregate marks in both the papers taken together for General category for ‘Commerce’ (x) Total slots derived for General category as per Step 2 (÷) Total number of candidates belonging to General category overall subjects who secure at least 40%* aggregate marks in both the papers taken together.

The same will be 35% for reserved categories.

So, this formula above gives us the total number of qualifying candidates.

From there, NTA utilizes the aggregate percentage of the two papers in relation to the no. of candidates arrived at (utilizing the above formula) to determine the Cut Off for eligibility for AP.

Similarly, the cut off can be determined for different subjects for all categories.

Methodology to Calculate UGC NET Cut off for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF)

Now, the candidates who had applied for both ‘JRF & AP’, from the total number of qualified candidates as determined above, will constitute the consideration for JRF.

That said, it is the assessment authority or the NTA, that determines the total number of slots available for awarding JRF.

Also, the total number of slots accessible for granting UGC NET JRF is distributed among various categories according to the reservation policy of the Government of India (GoI).

Now, let’s understand the formula with the help of an example (Subject – Economics & Category – ST):

Methodology for the subject-wise cum class-wise distribution of JRF spaces is down below:

Number of candidates to be declared qualified for JRF & Eligibility   for Assistant Professor both in the subject ‘Economics’ for the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category The Number of candidates belonging to ST category who have opted for JRF and have qualified for Eligibility for Assistant Professor both in the subject ‘Economics’ (x) Total JRF slots available for ST category (÷) Total number of candidates belonging to ST category overall subjects who have opted for JRF and have qualified for Eligibility for Assistant Professor.

The aggregate of the two paper scores compared to the numbers of JRF openings calculated above will decide the passing Cutoff for JRF in ‘Economics’ for the ST classification. 


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