Here are some candid thoughts on how to prepare for the DSE entrance exam. This post is focused on Option A (Economics) of the DSE entrance. I'll write a follow up post on Option B. The objective of this is to help any and all students going for the DSE entrance exam (or any other MA economics entrance exam) irrespective of whether you choose to work with CrackDSE or not.
1. Choosing the right option
At the time of applying the DSE entrance exam, you will have to choose whether you want to go for "merit" based or "exam" based consideration for admission. The former is only for students who are studying or have studied B.A. (Hons.) Economics at Delhi University. If you are from any other course or any other university, pick the "exam" based approach.
The DSE entrance exam will test your knowledge of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Probability, Statistics, Econometrics, Game Theory, Mathematics and Logical Ability. The percentage of marks from each section varies quite significantly each year, with little to no predictability. See the table below for instance (the percentages are estimates)
Option B: now scrapped.
This option is no longer provided. It used to focus on Mathematics, and was ideal for candidates with a Mathematics background. Now, all students give the same exam, irrespective of their academic background.
2. Pattern of the paper (DSE Entrance Option A)
DSE entrance option A consists of 2 sections:
- Section 1: 20 multiple choice questions. Marking scheme: +1 for the correct answer, -1/3 for a wrong answer, 0 for unattempted question
- Section 2: 40 multiple choice questions. Marking scheme: +2 for the correct answer, -2/3 for a wrong answer, 0 for unattempted question
From 2014, even JNU SSS entrance exam has shifted to this pattern!
3. Books you can refer to
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. I welcome suggestions for other books that you may have found useful for the DSE entrance exam (please mention them in the comments section below)
- Microeconomics: Hal Varian (Intermediate Microeconomics), Hal Varian Workbook, Osborne (for Game Theory), Bernheim & Whinston (also a good book)
- Macroeconomics: Dornbusch and Fischer, O. Blanchard, Development Economics by Debraj Ray (for Solow and Harrod Domar growth models), William Branson's book (for general equilibrium questions). Alternatively, you can get hold of the Macro reading prescribed by Delhi University for the 2nd year students (3yr program). This should have most of the relevant content from the first three books.
- Econometrics and Statistics: Gujarati’s Introductory Econometrics, Degroot and Schervish
- Mathematics: Sydsaeter and Hammond, A. Chiang's "Fundamental Methods of Mathematical Economics". However, the exam also goes into a fair amount of maths that you learnt in Classes 11 and 12 in school. I recommend digging up those old R.S. Aggarwal/ S.P. Sharma books and go through the relevant topics in those books (i.e. solve questions; the relevant topics are probability, functions, limits and continuity)
If you don't know where to get the readings from, ask your peers/ seniors. These should be easy to get hold of.
4. Additional Resources
The most important thing to do (as with any exam in India) is to solve the past years' exam papers. You can find them in the "Resources" section of this website (or click here)
There are several people that offer coaching for this exam now. You will find that the available options span the entire range from terrible to over-priced 🙂 . So, please be careful about who you choose, if any. Some criteria you should consider when deciding to pick a tutor (feel free to suggest others in the comments):
- How big is a batch? (most are too big to be effective)
- How many lectures are offered? How long does a batch last?
- What is the structure adopted for preparation?
- What will be the fees? (what do you think is a reasonable price to charge a student?)
- Do they cover all the subjects: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Probability, Statistics, Econometrics, Game Theory, Mathematics and Logical Ability? (refer to the table above for the relative importance of the subjects)
- Does the preparation extend only to DSE? Are there different classes for ISI, JNU or IGIDR for instance?
- What do they teach that you haven't learnt in graduation already? Is the extra stuff they teach necessary? -- THIS IS THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION (you'll find that some tutors deliberately go for an overkill on specific subjects. And this is done at the cost of not teaching you what you actually need to know in other subjects! Why do they do this? Beats me. In any case, students' welfare is definitely not the reason!)
- What are the credentials of the teachers? Are these teachers actually good at teaching?
- Ask why they are better than the competition!?
5. A couple of parting thoughts...
There is no right time really, but start preparing as soon as you can (start of your final year in college is a great time to start). For an average student, I would say 4 to 5 months of preparation time is needed for the various entrance exams. So, at the very latest, start by January of the year in which you plan to give the exam (which is almost always in June).
Also, a lot of students worry about the cutoff for the exam. In my opinion, trying to guesstimate that is a cardinal sin. Instead of spending time on that, do a few more questions -- that would help a lot more 🙂
Keep calm and study hard! Good luck!
If you have any other queries, post below as a comment. You can also email me at [email protected]