The NATA – National Aptitude Test in Architecture

Official webpage

For those who aspire to become an architect, I think you should be aware of and start preparing for NATA in 10th or 11th.
I didn’t, but I think it will help.
NATA is a test. As in a TEST. Probably the most thorough test in India. You can’t really ‘prepare’ for it. It tests YOU, not what you’ve prepared, unlike your Board exams or JEE.

The whole test is of 200 marks.
It is divided into 2 parts:
      1. Drawing test (100)
      2. Computer based aptitude test (100)

The drawing test consists of 3 questions. One 50 marks question and two 25 marks questions.
The first question is a full A4 sheet question and the other 2 are half each on the same sheet; one below the other.
There are examples of these questions all over the internet. The best source- Google.
Please note: There are no ‘Previous year question papers’ or anything for NATA. No coaching or tuition either. There are some people and institutes that provide ‘coaching’, but I guarantee you, it won’t improve your score by more than a few marks. A very famous institute of this kind is ‘NICS’. I joined such classes myself. Very soon I realized that all they did was guide the students. Nobody can ‘teach’ for NATA. And all the guidance you need can be provided by thorough research on the great Internet. And I hope this blog provides you with half the guidance you need anyway.

The computer based part can be very easy or very tough. It depends on you.
The system of evaluation is quite complicated; very hard to understand, and very easy to misunderstand.
First off, there is no set number of questions.
The questions are almost never repeated.
You can’t go back to an attempted or not-attempted question.
Each question has different marks depending on it’s predefined difficulty level.
Also, each question has different time limits depending on the difficulty.
The most important:
   If you answer a question correctly, the next question will have a higher difficulty level.
If it’s wrong, the next question will have lower difficulty.
This means, a student who answers less questions, but all correctly, may score more than a student who answers more questions. Because the questions the second student answered might have lower difficulty levels.
Although the test does not have negative markings, this system makes it worse.
Also, only the score does not matter. The average difficulty of the questions you answered, on a scale of 1-10, matters a lot.
If two students have the same score, the student with higher difficulty level will be preferred.
Yes, it’s extremely complicated. I hope I didn’t miss something.

There is no set syllabus for the drawing part, but mostly they ask for sketches and compositions. Remember, don’t go overboard with preparing for this part. A drawing a day will keep bad marks away. Try 3 drawings a day, but don’t try becoming a professional artist.
Remember- They don’t expect your drawings to be as perfect as an Architect’s. You’re a student. They only test if you can draw at all. And I have mentioned in a previous post, a free pdf book. That might help you in drawing perspective sketches.
Try sketching 3D sketches properly. 2D compositions are easier. Try combining colors in an appealing way and try restricting yourself to a set number and type of shapes. For example, draw a composition using 3 triangles, 4 squares, 2 circles and a hexagon. For 3D, try making compositions with spheres, cubes, cuboids, etc. Use SketchUp to render it and then try and copy first. Later try without SketchUp. Also try making weird scenes.
For example: You are a fly. You are sitting on a banana in a roadside vegetable stall. Draw what you see.
You are on the 4th floor of an apartment building, standing on the balcony, looking down. It is raining. Draw what you see.

For the computer based test, logic and language.
Attempt aptitude questions and practice mental maths. There will be difficult questions related to geography as well. Have a good idea of the directionorientation of the sun in different seasons.
Also, practice 3D related questions. I suggest this book by P.K. Misra (alternate).
This book has a few irrelevant things which aren’t required, but it’s a good book for practicing for the computer based test.
Many times, they ask questions like ‘How many sides are there in this figure:’ and they provide a 3D figure.

One more thing; 120 is considered an excellent score. The highest score achieved in the history of NATA is around 165. I got 122.
And a difficulty level of 4.5 above is also excellent.

Don’t try to Prepare for this test too much. It really tests only you; not your preparation.
All the best 🙂

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