To become a scientist, should I choose PCB or PCM?

To become a scientist, should I choose PCB or PCM?

Short Answer: To become a scientist, PCMB will give you many advantages over PCM & PCB students. So you know 🙂

  • For example, some of the best research institutes in India, such as IISc Bangalore, IIT Madras BS medical science and engineering program IISERs, etc offer admission through JEE Mains, JEE Advanced, NEET, or IAT. Still, they also require mathematics as a compulsory subject. So, if you are a PCB student, you will not be able to apply for these institutes, unless you study mathematics separately. On the other hand, if you are a PCMB student, you will have no such problem, and you will have more opportunities to pursue your scientific dreams or to be a scientist. 
  • Opting for PCMB offers several advantages compared to choosing either PCM or PCB. With PCMB as your main subject, you can tackle all four sections in exams like IAT giving you the potential to score higher compared to those students who focus only on PCB or PCM. It’s a smart move for a broader skill set and better performance in these competitive exams. If PCM or PCB is your main subject, it would be quite tough for you to get admission into top institutes like IISc Bangalore because attempting only three subjects limits your maximum score to 180 or below. The competition is fierce, with even a score of 215 marks out of 240 in the IAT exam not guaranteeing admission to IISc Bangalore. For IIT Madras, the closing rank is above 200 marks out of 240, and IISER Pune and IISER Kolkata require scores above 175 marks. That’s why choosing PCMB is a good idea – attempting all four subjects in IAT increases your chances of getting into these remarkable institutes. For more details regarding IAT 2024 cutoff marks, click here.

Here’s the long answer & full details:

Hello, Dear students! 

Congratulations on passing your class 10th exams and entering the exciting world of science. Now I am sure that you are highly confused about which stream to choose for your higher studies. If you are passionate about science and scientist and want to pursue a career in research or as a scientist,  but you are not sure whether to opt for PCB (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) or PCM (Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics).  Both streams offer a wide range of opportunities and challenges, but which one is more suitable for your interests and goals? In this blog post, we will help you understand the differences between these two streams and the career opportunities they offer.

PCB vs PCM: A General Overview

When it comes to science or (scientist), students often have to decide between PCB (Physics, Chemistry, Biology) and PCM (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics). Each path leads to exciting careers, tailored to different interests and skills.

However, these are only some of the options available to you. If you’re not inclined towards pursuing a career in engineering, explore this blog further to gain insights about various research institutes and entrance exams associated with them: Wanna know career options other than JEE or NEET? Click here to know more. 


Whether you choose PCB or PCM, both offer exciting research opportunities. Research can be conducted in any field of science, whether related to living organisms or physical matter. However, the opportunities and scope of research and scientist factor may vary depending on the stream and specialisation of the student. 

  • For PCB students, some of the popular fields of research are biotechnology, microbiology, genetics, pharmacology, immunology, forensics, biochemistry, etc. These fields offer the chance to explore the mysteries of life, health, and disease, and to develop new products, drugs, and vaccines. PCB students can pursue research-oriented bachelor’s degrees, such as B.Sc. Biotechnology, B.Sc.Microbiology, etc., or they can enrol in internship programs, summer research programs, or junior research fellowship programs offered by various research institutions and laboratories. 
  • PCM students have a wide range of options to explore the scientific aspects of nature, matter, and technology. They can choose from various fields such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, computer science, and more, where they can conduct research and innovation. They can also work as data analysts, actuarial scientists, statisticians, or teachers. Some of the degrees they can pursue are B.Sc. Physics, B.Sc. Chemistry, B.Sc. Mathematics, etc., or they can participate in research activities, workshops, or seminars offered by different institutions and organisations. Additionally, they can also become scientists in various domains such as space, biotechnology, nanotechnology, environmental science, etc.

Institutes and Entrance Exams:

Many other exams and institutes cater to students who want to pursue a career in research and science. Some of these are:

1. IISc, Bangalore (Indian Institute of Science)-

  • IISc, Bangalore is a premier research institute in India, known for its cutting-edge research in science and engineering and was ranked as the best university in India by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) in 2023. 
  • It offers a 4-year B.Sc.(Research) programme for students who have completed 12th standard or equivalent with PCM as the main subject and a wide range of postgraduate programs.
  • Entrance exams: If you want to get admission at IISc Bangalore, you need to pass one of the four main entrance exams: IAT, NEET, JEE Mains, or JEE Advanced. Admission to IISc is based on performance in any of these exams. For more details, click here.

2. IISER (Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research)-

  • IISERs are a group of seven autonomous institutions established in India that aim to integrate teaching and research in basic sciences. They offer five-year integrated BS-MS programs in various science disciplines. 
  • Placement record: IISER graduates have a wide range of career options, including research, teaching, and industry. Many get admitted to prestigious institutions such as MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge, etc. or get awarded prestigious fellowships such as Fulbright, Rhodes, Gates-Cambridge, etc. For more information regarding IISERs placement, click here.
  • Entrance Exam: The IAT is an entrance exam open to students from both PCM and PCB streams, as well as those who have studied both mathematics and biology in 12th. The exam consists of four sections: physics, chemistry, mathematics, and biology. The exam is conducted in May- June every year. You can learn more about the IAT and the IISERs here.

3. NISER and CEBS-

  • National Institute of Science Education and Research NISER, Bhubaneshwar and the Center for Excellence in Basic Sciences CEBS, Mumbai are remarkable institutions established by the Department of Atomic Energy, Govt. of India to promote high-quality education and research in the sciences. It offers five-year integrated BS-MS programs in fundamental sciences to students who have completed their 10+2 Higher Secondary education. 
  • Excellent placement: NISER graduates have been placed in reputed institutions and organizations across the world. Some have joined research labs like CERN, ISRO, BARC, etc. Do you want to know about more career options and job opportunities after NISER, watch this.
  • The NEST is the gateway to these notable institutions NISER & CEBS and is open to students from both PCM and PCB streams, as well as those who have studied both mathematics and biology in 12th. The exam consists of four sections: physics, chemistry, mathematics, and biology, and students have to attempt any three of them. You can learn more about the NEST and the institutes here.

4. IACS (Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science)-

  • This is one of the oldest and most prestigious research institutes in India, located in Kolkata. It offers a 6-semester course leading to BSc (Honours) degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science or Mathematics and Physics.
  • The entrance exam for the program is called the UPST (Undergraduate Program Screening Test) and is open to students who have studied PCM or PCB in 12th. The exam consists of four sections: physics, chemistry, mathematics, and biology, and students have to attempt any two of them. The exam is conducted in June every year, and the registrations start in April. 

These are just some of the examples of the exams and institutes that you can apply if you want to become a scientist either you have chosen PCB or PCM as your main subject in class 12th.

But, choosing PCB in class 12th might limit your eligibility for careers in certain scientific fields and for certain colleges like IISc Bangalore,  IIT-Madras, ISI, and CMI that heavily rely on mathematics and have made mathematics a compulsory subject for getting admission. 

Such entrance exams are open to students who have studied mathematics in 12th and test their aptitude and skills in mathematics and logical reasoning. 

PCMB: The best of both worlds

If you are interested in both engineering and medicine or if you want to become a scientist in future, then PCMB is the best option for you. PCMB will give you a strong foundation in the core concepts and skills of physics, chemistry, mathematics, and biology, which are essential for becoming a scientist and pursuing your research career.

By choosing PCMB, you will have access to the widest range of career options, as you will be eligible for both engineering and medical and research-oriented exams, and pursue careers in fields like research, innovation, technology, medicine, life sciences, etc. You can also pursue higher studies in any of the pure sciences, such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, or biology, and become a researcher or a professor at institutes like IISc, IIT etc.

Limitation: Managing the Challenge-

We won’t sugarcoat it – PCMB is undeniably challenging. If you choose PCMB, you will have to study four subjects instead of three, which means more syllabus, more workload, and more pressure. You will also have to manage your time and energy efficiently and balance your studies and interests. You will also have to be clear about your goals and priorities, and not get confused or distracted by the multiple options available to you. Balancing four subjects can be demanding, but remember, challenges are the stepping stones to success. Embrace the difficulty, stay focused, and you’ll find yourself thriving in the world of science.

How to choose between PCM, PCB, and PCMB in class 11th?

Here are some factors that you should consider before making your decision:

  • Identify your interest and passion-

The first and foremost thing to do is to identify what you are interested in and passionate about. Do you enjoy learning about living organisms and their functions or love solving mathematical problems and creating innovative solutions? These are some of the questions that can help you discover your interests and passions.

  • Assess your aptitude and skills-

The next thing to do is to assess your aptitude and skills for the subjects that you are interested in. Do you have a good grasp of the concepts and principles of physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics and the ability to apply them to different situations and problems? These are some of the skills that can help you excel in the subjects that you choose.

  • Explore the career options and opportunities-

Another thing to do is to explore the career options and opportunities available for the subjects you choose. Do you know the scope and demand of the fields that you are interested in? Do you know the eligibility criteria, entrance exams, admission process, fees, and scholarships for the courses that you want to pursue? These are some of the factors that can help you make an informed decision.

  • The advice and guidance-

The last factor is the advice and guidance that you can get from various sources, such as your parents, teachers, counsellors, seniors, friends, and online platforms such as SciAstra. Explore the experiences of those who’ve studied your chosen subjects, or some experts who worked in the fields that you’re aspiring to. SciAstra guides mentors from some of the top institutes such as IISc Bangalore, IISER, Niser, etc. Their insights can be a great help on your academic path. You should also use online resources and tools, such as blogs, websites, videos, podcasts, and so on, that can provide you with valuable information and insights. 

SciAstra also offers crash courses and specialized guidance designed specifically for non-bio or non-maths students. Whether you’re looking for free study materials, free mock tests, or crash courses, the SciAstra app has got you covered. For Class 11th students, you can be admitted into the Homi batch, while Class 12th students and droppers can benefit from the VIKRAM & VIKRAM 2.0 batch. This comprehensive program includes full guidance, and live classes featuring mentors from prestigious institutions like IISERs, NISER, ISI, CMI, and more. The courses provide a range of resources, including live classes, recorded sessions, mock tests, doubt-clearing sessions, and the ability to message mentors at your convenience.

Conclusion: Choose what suits you best

To conclude, choosing between PCM, PCB, and PCMB in class 11th is a crucial decision to shape your future as a scientist. You should remember that there is no right or wrong choice, and each option has its advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Remember, whatever subjects you choose, you can become a successful and happy scientist, as long as you work hard, learn well, and follow your passion. And be prepared to face the challenges and difficulties that come with each option and work hard and smart to achieve your goals. Remember, science is a wonderful and exciting field that can offer you a lot of opportunities and satisfaction. All you need is passion, curiosity, and perseverance. 

About us:

SciAstra is a team of scientists and research scholars from the top research institutes around the world like Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge, and so on. Our vision is to promote critical thinking and scientific temperament by helping students pursue careers in science.

We offer many free and paid courses where our mentors from the top research institutes like IISER, NISER, IACS, CMI, ISI, IISC Bangalore, etc teach students in live classes, with study materials,  mock tests, books, and everything needed. We have taught more than 10,000 students already since 2021 and achieved over 1000 selections with AIR 1, 7,10, 12, and 13 in  IISc Bengaluru, IISERs, NISER, IACS, and so on.  If you are looking to prepare for IAT / NEST 2024, you can check out our courses and get access to live classes, recorded lectures, study material, mock tests, doubt-clearing classes, and much more!

To know more about us, click here OR download the SciAstra App from the Play Store and App Store!

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