I have given InPhO only once and did not have the best score so take my ‘advice’ with a grain of salt. It was held on Feb 2, 2020 and I had the Pradhan Mantri Bal Puraskar the week before. I couldn’t prepare much from the faculty as the JEE syllabus was complete, with extensive revision, and they doubted that the questions would be out of the covered topics. So, the only preparation I had was solving about 5 previous year papers. In my opinion, the INPhO is generally one of the tougher ones among PCA and was very difficult in 2020. However, the marking scheme was made more lenient to compensate for that. (This had unexpected consequences to the point that someone who made it to the team last year didn’t clear the cutoff :0). I couldn’t say much except that solving subjective books like Irodov helped and solving previous year papers helped a lot.
In the end, I, unexpectedly, scored 49/80 while the cutoff was 43.5/80.
Advice/tips from IPhO gold medalist
I can’t say much about this as I didn’t prepare for it full-heartedly. I gave INChO in 12th so almost all of my JEE syllabus was complete. The organic chemistry questions are amazing in the sense that we are making compounds used in everyday life, but they require a lot of practice to deduce intermediates from start and/or end products and also some steps/questions have reaction/mechanism which needs to be learnt and is usually out of JEE preparation. Physical chemistry is quite standard and one question felt like a mixture of Irodov and RC Mukherjee. Finally, I, personally, solved primarily previous year papers and some model test papers and made it through.
In the end, I scored 69/119 (Cutoff was 54.5)
I asked IChO gold medalist to write some ‘tips/advice’ for NSEC/INChO/OCSC, so be sure to check this out later on.