Design Entrance Exams – Stages, Tips And Tricks To Get Through | Prepare for Design Entrance Examinations


Most of us are relieved when our 12th board exams get over, but within a few days loom large. Even before our final boards have started, many colleges hold their entrance exams. It’s funny how most of us envision a period of relaxation after the boards, but in reality, we are only able to relax once we have completed our entrances, irrespective of whether all the results are out or not.

Just like any other entrance exams, design entrances are equally hard. Moreover, unlike medical or engineering papers, when it comes to the drawing section of the paper, the assessment is subjective and no answer or interpretation is right or wrong.

Design colleges such as NID, NIFT, UID, MITID, Srishti follow a similar format of design entrances. The 3 step design entrance test is as follows:

  • Part 1 consists of the written paper
  • Part 2 is your studio test ( it’s where they assess you on the basis of your knowledge of materials and how to use them)
  • Part 3 is your interview and portfolio review.

Tips and Tricks to get through Design Entrances

Here are some tips and basic facts regarding design entrances:

1. It’s not all about drawing.

While a design entrance does consist of some forms of drawing, it is not only about your drawing skills. There is a section that is completely dedicated to general knowledge and awareness. This section could deal with events from the present or can be facts related to famous inventors, and tidbits from history.

TIP: To get through this section, you can either refer to the GK book Manoramma, regularly and you can en-grain the habit of reading the new paper for daily updates.

2. Focus on your strengths

I have noticed that in certain questions, there can be options regarding the medium one can use to fill in a drawing. Always choose the medium you are most comfortable with. This reduces the risk of messing it up and also allows you to display your skill and while boosting your confidence in your work.

TIP: Unless specified, do not fill in any picture you draw. It takes up time that is unnecessarily wasted. At the most simply outline the drawing so that it looks neat and presentable.

3. Look at previous years question papers

Going for coaching classes or simply attempting the paper with some basic knowledge is what many people do. Another way to boost your knowledge and know what kind of questions are asked in such papers is to look for mock tests or previous years papers. Each college like NID, MITID, Srishti, UID and NIFT has a different format for the written exam, so knowing the format allows you to prepare for that particular college.

TIP: Most of the college websites release model papers for the students to get to know the format. Visit the respective college sites to find them and gain insight into what they are expecting and what they can ask.

4. Take with you what you feel is necessary

A lot of times the colleges ask you to bring certain materials that are necessary.

The basics such as pencils, pens, rulers, fine-liners and erasers etc. are a must. At the same time there are materials that are asked for but might not be used. A good example is that of paints. Painting is time consuming and may cause a mess, but color pencils, sketch pens and crayons are not.

TIP: Since you would have made yourself aware of the type of question paper you will be attempting, you would know the duration of the paper. Therefore, carry what’s necessary (other than the basics) and those items that will make your strengths stand out.

5. Know the basics of design

Shading and drawing objects in their natural form is important, there are certain basics that allow the elevator to know that your fundamentals of design are clear. Design principles and elements like symmetry and lines, the color wheel and the primary, secondary and tertiary colors are fundamentals.

TIP: Be aware of the symbolism of colors and their corresponding emotions. Know the complementary color cycle and more importantly, know PERSPECTIVE thoroughly.

While most of these tips deal with the written entrance paper, this is simply the first stage in a design exam. The studio entrance is the next big thing in a design entrance, provided you have cleared your first stage. (Some colleges don’t have a studio stage while some do)

6. Know your material

During a studio test, you are given certain kinds of material. You are given a question regarding the creation of a product or object and are expected to create it with the given material. During your preparation, know the various material with which they can ask you to make something, know the properties of each material such as malleability or strength.

TIP: a good way to explore material is by making basic objects such as cubes and cones and pyramids first with paper and then moving onto more not so flexible materials such as cardboard. I personally started with these basics and challenged the shapes by making complex objects such as cupboards or cars, each time increasing the difficulty level.

Another good way to understand how your materials function and get a glimpse of what kind of questions they can ask during the studio, you can YouTube the tutorials that focus on preparation for studio tests.

And lastly be as original, creative and innovative in your creations as much as possible.

If you manage to get past the studio level as well, you will reach the final procedure which brings an end to this prolonged entrance procedure. The final step to this is the portfolio review and viva session. In this session, you are seated in front of a panel and present all your artwork, discuss some of it with them and during this entire process, you are also interviewed.

7. Be original

When the panel members look at your portfolio they don’t look at the neatness or the aesthetic per say. They focus on how your work is unique and stands out from the rest. They look for hints of originality. They try and recognize a coherent style and pattern in your works.

TIP: While always producing original work might be a natural for some people others may occasionally struggle. A good way to build content in your portfolio is to take inspiration from already present works. It could be from Instagram pictures to some DIY you saw on Pinterest. While all the methods of inspiration are good, blindly copying amounts to plagiarism. So, while transforming an existing piece of art work try to incorporate your original style.

Throughout this entire process of design entrances, a point I could not emphasize more is the originality of work. From your written paper (the drawing and analysis section) to your studio and portfolio review stage, make sure that your work spells out your own style.

In the end, originality is the crux of being successful in this field.