21 August 2013

Tips for CEED Exam Preparation

CEED exam generally tests candidate's design and communication ability. Here, we will discuss some general tips that are required for a designer as well as CEED aspirants. The following preliminary guidelines might help you make a preparation plan for CEED and helps you think like a "real designer". At the end of this page; list of preparations for PART-A and PART-B were separately given. This article is especially useful for the design thinking and design aptitude part of the CEED exam.

Note : You may watch the video tutorial at the end of this section if you don't want to read this entire article 

Observation & Problem Identification

Before diving into the actual topic, let me clear you the importance of observation by the following exercise.

Below shows a picture of mine along with one of my colleague taken during my vacation. Please observe the picture carefully because i'm gonna ask you some questions from it.

Are you ready ?

Ok, without looking at the picture (cover the picture with your hands), answer the following questions 

  1. What is the color of the hat that i'm wearing ?
  2. Did you see a water bottle ? What is the color of it ?
  3. Where am I standing ?
  4. How many girls/women, did you see in the picture ?

If you answer such type of questions, then I may consider you as a good observer, else you need to develop the same with proper practice, within time. Such is the importance of observation and every designer must be keen in observing everything - that they come across.

As said earlier, CEED tests your knowledge in creativity and innovation. Now what does it mean by creativity/innovation?  It’s your ability to develop an all new idea or modifying the existing idea based on the requirements/demands of the user or of your own identification. Unless you know about the existing idea, you cannot develop an alternative solution for that. This is where your observation skills help you. You are required to be keen about the surrounding things, products, mechanisms as well as people’s interest. Start analyzing and you will find some interesting facts as well. Trust me - this exercise will prove to be fun and help you improve your creative thinking skills. 

I will clear this with an example. In your student life, you might have used hundreds of pens, but did you ever thought (at least once) about the material of the pen, its shape, diameter and so on. Did you ever compare any two pens ? Small things appear silly, but actually they may help you. Keep an eye on your environment and develop a hobby of more exposure.

Did you notice; I combined observation and problem Identification under a single heading. There are reasons for clubbing. When you start observing things, you will come to know some problems as well as alternatives. In fact you need to identify the problems. Problem identification is one most important tool for a designer besides sketching. As discussed in my other posts, every product will undergo frequent changes in design, usability and functionality. Now do you think this happens because the companies get negative feedback from the customers ? 

It’s not like that. The companies look for problems and developments by analyzing the users mind, trend and innovation. Even the CEED examiners expect the same from you. So, be a problem generator as well as solver.  For example you take day-to-day things; say a water bottle, identify or generate problems associated with it (keep in mind the age category also), make a list and develop a new concept for this. You can do this for simple objects.

"Be a problem generator"

Being Creative

Think like a child. Children’s seems to be more creative than adults. Do you know why? Because most of the time they raise the question why? That we don’t do. Even during your child age, you might have done some interesting creations (say art, drawings, prototypes and more). So, for every small thing - raise the questions: 

Why like this? 

Why can’t be like that? 

In that way you can bring back your creative skills. 

Creativity may not be educated; one cannot force you to create. It can be improved by your inner thoughts, personal passions and exposure to creative ideas of others. Design - definitely should be a passion for you, just for doing some degree or to choose some career path you cannot choose design, that won’t seem to be successful because a good number of awesome designers are out there competing with you.

Sketching and rendering

By now you should be in a position to understand why I put the sketching topic as a third discussion instead of first. The very first focus of a designer is to develop the concept or Idea, next comes the way to express/communicate that. Without a proper concept, you cannot start sketching. For this reason only, the idea part of this session was discussed first (all the above topics). Note that not all artists are designers, but almost all the designers are good artists.   

It’s not like you can neglect sketching. Your design process is complete only when you show case the same through proper channel (and its hand or digital sketching for designers). Sketching is the process of showing your overall expression, concept or idea. It even shows your talent. Drawing is a form of visual communication (VC) and you may be aware that VC is the most powerful form of delivering ideas.

So, a CEED examiner usually expects you to be a good communicator and this is confirmed by your sketching assignments in the exam. Drawing does carry more marks. A simple narrow sketch with only pencil shades is recommended. You need not use expert drawing techniques like oil painting and other coloring techniques. This of course takes hell lot of time and you will be struck with a single question without attempting others. 

Time is a major factor during CEED exam and you are required to draw all your sketching works in that constrained time.  The examiner simply expects your ideas to be rightly communicated, and mostly not impressed by your coloring. Even some persons who are excellent in pencil sketching are poor in coloring. Take my case; I used to draw pencil drawings of Gods at the age of 14, the drawings looks awesome, but whenever I apply colors to them, the drawings look dull.  

There are different views of drawing; of the all, perspective drawing is the most natural one. You should be good at perspective drawing (with pencils and pens) and even you should give importance to shading techniques. You must learn pencil shading of objects on different surfaces (materials). Now please note that in your question paper, lots of space will be given for rough work. Utilize this space and show case your sketching process in a rough way. Remember that the examiner is interested in your stages of design process and he might be going through it.

At this point, I will give you a strategy of what I follow usually. Take a look at the below picture; you will see roads and houses in a typical Indian street.

But to my eyes, I visualize the scene as shown in the next picture. I started looking in a perspective style. Wherever I go; whenever I travel by bike or car; whenever I sit idle in a room or office; I look things, scenes and even individual objects similarly as mentioned. This is definitely improving my visualization skills and I hope this will even reduce time to learn and practice sketching. Give a try and you will understand the difference within two or three days. You can also make a habit of drawing whatever you see.

Customer oriented

Ultimately it’s the end-users who are going to enjoy your designed product. Be like a psychologist; understand user’s necessity, expectations, demands and trends. Necessity for different age groups will be different. So whenever you are doing some exercises as practice, be user-oriented. Think yourself as a user and list what you expect from that product and what you don’t want to be included in the product.

Video Gaming

Trust me, keeping your mind engaged with some mind and video games will help you develop alternative thought approach. Video gaming frees your boredom, and keeps your mind active. Gaming also helps you improve your problem solving skills. Alternative thinking is one most important quality of a good designer. Some preferred games are minesweeper, dots, sudoku and pewpew (in ios device).
"A person in bore mood cannot create ideas"

General Ability tests

There are some good tests that I recommend you to go through (as there is more time for preparation). Most of the times, this type of questions may not appear in CEED exams. But it does improve your creative thinking power and also helps you with patterns. These tests are fun and you can spend a little time for this part.
  1. Abstract test
  2. Creative writing
  3. Mechanical Reasoning
Note  You can get this tests samples from Resources for CEED exam  post.

Social networking

Social media became a hub for knowledge sharing. There are many designers, who regularly shares their creative works in creative social platforms. Social networking acts as a platform for this type of groups. Following and knowing them will help you expose to various design aspects, alternatives, concepts and also lets you identify your position and role as a design graduate.  

The best social networking sites that I recommend to get in touch with creative people are listed below
  1. Pinterest        connect here
  2. Behance         connect here
  3. Google +        connect here
  4. Flickr               connecthere
  5. Stumble upon : connect here
  6. Path                connect here
  7. Twitter            connect here
  8. Facebook       connect here
  9. Tumblr            connecthere
You may also follow some designer blogs if you find more time.

Comic strips

It seems funny, but if you go through comic strips (like manga), you will come to know about how the author communicated the plot pictorially. Comic strips are really an amazing way of expressing your ideas in a funnier way. Japanese are famous for making manga. During leisure, you may go through some of the comic strips. You may even practice some stories in comic strip format.

Note : I suggest you to keep all your exercises (even though it is silly) with you. It may be helpful for your portfolio preparation.   


There is a separate subject for drawing in engineering first year called “Engineering Graphics”. I recommend CEED aspirants to go through them. The subject minds you to draw geometric objects in front, top, side as well as isometric views. By doing this drawing exercise, it’s likely that you will improve your thinking and visual perception skills. Also if you go through the previous CEED question papers, you will see pictorial questions similar to this and sometimes you are asked to draw three quarter views. For doing this quickly these exercises helps you.  

I will now summarize the basic preparations for PART-A and PART-B sessions of CEED exam. Although there is no prescribed pattern for CEED examination, some of the below list may help you

PART-A preparation check-list

  • Isometric drawings
  • General Knowledge
  • Tessellations
  • Companies and Brand logos
  • List of famous Artists/designers and their works
  • List of famous personalities in India
  • Knowledge on color patterns
  • Focus on regular “Fonts”
  • Abstract Tests 

PART-B preparation check-list

  • Regular observation
  • Problem generation
  • Creativity and Lateral thinking
  • Perspective and Isometric drawings
  • Day-to-day simple mechanisms
  • Sketching and shading techniques
  • Developing habit of raising the question "why?"      

CEED Preparation Time

It depends on personal capabilities. If you are a born-designer, then I may say one month preparation is enough, for others a minimum of two months is required to go through every process.

Here is a quick video tutorial on "Tips and steps for CEED exam Design-part preparation" :

You may also want to watch "How to start and what to practice for CEED exam ?"

Sharing is caring. Leave your suggestions, additions or views about this article in the comment section below. People will be happy to hear your views and might learn many things !

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  1. Thank you for such a descriptive blog

    1. Most welcome my friend, but you could have at least left your name .... :)

  2. It helped me a lot

  3. Sir do u have solutions of ceed papers before 2011 ??
    It would really help to prepare in much possible way !

    1. Hi,
      If you observe the pattern of CEED papers before 2011, you will find that examiners mostly concentrated on design and observation concepts with little focus on GK or awareness. But today's CEED is bit different.
      Anyway, I'm covering the topics of papers before 2011 under separate headings like problem identification, design problem solving and more. I will be posting that soon.
      Thanks for commenting .... :)

  4. I am a total beginner in terms of drawing, sketching and anything related to art. I had 0 confidence as to how I might crack CEED. But your blog has given me a lot of hope and I can think of a good starting point where I can start learning. I am gonna put my heart into learning up from all the resources that you have put up. Thanks a ton, buddy! You are a life-saver!

    1. Hi,
      Good to hear your interest towards CEED/M.Des. Thanks for your comments. As a little motivation and to boost your initial confidence, you may check this article specifically written for that

      Little Motivation for CEED

      Best of luck ............. :)

    2. Thank you for your valuable concern for the CEED applicants. Your videos are motivating and knowledgeable too. 22 more days to go for the exam I hope I'l crack it.

  5. sir like ths pprtion tipsfor ceed ...could u pls givepprtion tips for uceed..it wuld be vry useful nd how much tym it wuld take to prepre for uceed16???

    1. Tips are already available for UCEED in the post 'how to start and what to practice'. This tips are specifically for design part of ceed. Anyway, I will check if i can derive some tips for uceed too. I will share once/if it gets ready.

  6. sir can you tell me the process of ceed exam. like part A question types cut offs etc.

    1. It's available i nthe CEED official borchure. You can chk this - http://ceed.iitb.ac.in/2017/CEED2017_Brochure_1.3.pdf

  7. Hey can you please tell me how to prepare on poster designing que. Like how can i design posters...

    1. i've included some online websites for poster making in this page

  8. hi sir...your blog is great, do you know that can we use alcohol based markers in DAT and CEED exam?if not then what materials can we use?

    1. Thanks. regarding materils, for CEED, mostly pencils are preferred. Some ques will have special mention that only pencils are to be used. If not you can use any other medium like pens, color pencils etc based on the quality of the gievn paper. For NID, I guess u can use as per ur choice. Any way, be prepared to use pencils extensively. That saves ur time too, if i'm not wrong.


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