It makes better sense to discuss this question with parents. The discussion that follows could be shared with parents, without any need to edit.
If career choices are made in Classes XI or XII, then Engineering is the only feasible option; engineering offers the easiest admission opportunities in India – there is always an engineering ‘seat’ waiting for an additional admission. Waiting for the end of Class X is often too late to explore on other career choices.
Competitive exam preparations must start early, may be from Class VI onwards. However, it should not be through coaching – not the extra teaching way; it must be without stress and without reducing the investment of time, attention and money on nurturance of all the multiple intelligences in every child. Time, attention and resources must be duly invested in building interest and realistic capabilities to get a range of choices in career opportunities by Class X.
Career exam preparations must be organised in schools, and by school teachers only, in incremental doses along with the regular syllabus coverage (e.g. chapter-wise), starting from Class VI itself. Higher level questions and discussions on each chapter could be offered to students as career exam preparatory.
To illustrate the methodology by way of specific steps in career exam preparation, we present the following scenario for a school. All students may wish to target IITs, AIIMS, Law schools or St. Stephens College at the Class VI level and they may be allowed similar level of career exam preparatory support for one year (Class VI) or two years (Class VI and Class VII). They must be assessed for the achievement of their competitive level at the end of Class VI/VII and offered feedback on the next step – they should either pull-up their competitive performance to continue preparation for IITs/AIIMS/ best colleges or ‘get real in their expectation’ to target NITs/IIITs (or similar colleges).
After a year of preparation after the first feedback at the end of Class VI/VII, another competitive assessment must follow at the end of Class VII/VIII and they must get a feedback to either continue at NIT level or IIT level or ‘re-calibrate expectations’ further. By the end of Class X, each student will know their realistic competitive position in their chosen competitive exams. Thus, students should be preparing over many tiers and no tier should be ultra-competitive or too stressful.
To summarise, the following steps are recommended for a realistic, ‘stress-free’, and interest-led career exams preparation:
a. Start early (Class VI) as an extension of syllabus coverage in school, chapter by chapter
b. Quarterly formative assessments for diagnostic inputs on the chapters already covered in class
c. Remedial inputs and re-assessments for quarterly syllabus goals
d. Annual summative assessment for competitive benchmark of performance
e. Annual re-pegging of target or effort
f. Widest opportunities for preparation across career interests (engineering, medical, law, CA, college education, vocational skills etc.)
g. Continuous career information, trends and updates
h. Annual apprenticeship opportunities ( in several domains)
i. Continuous investments in a wide range of co-scholastics, starting from Class III (gateway to competitive advantage in many careers – directly and indirectly)
j. Focused and rigorous preparation (but not unduly stressful) for the targeted career exams in classes XI and XII