It is a justification regarding my two-year gap in academics for a job interview.

I took a gap of 2 years after my 12th(intermediate college) for IIT-JEE(entrance examination for the admission in premier engineering colleges of India like IIT).

I failed to crack it in first two attempts.

In the third attempt, the admission policy changed due to which I got a very low rank.

During that time of my gap, I gained three qualities in me

  1. To analyse and research things minutely
  2. Thinking based on logic and reasons
  3. Self-learning capability

So how about if I justify my gap like this:

I took two years off to prepare for the IIT-JEE but was not successful in achieving that goal. It taught me that one must pursue a goal for the sake of learning along the way, not just for achieving the goal. I inculcated a habit of analysing the problems, research about them in detail, think logically and self-learning ability.

I unsure about the word "not successful". How to make the whole justification sound more positive?

  • 2
    I don't think you should try to make the failure sound "more positive"; if I were your reader I would be more impressed by the straightforward presentation than by any attempt to make it "more positive"--the positive part comes in your response to the failure. ... But that is a matter for The Workplace, not ELL. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 1:07
  • I was of two minds, but I do now think this is a proofreading or editorial question, unfortunately. Importantly, though: is fluency in English a requirement for admission, @PiyushMalvia ? Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 1:27
  • @P.E.Dant I'm sure it's not proofreading -- in the Help Center's words, "the source of concern is clearly specified". Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 2:03
  • Editorial, then? The "not successful" portion is obvious, but I'm not sure how to answer the second question without sending it to rewrite! Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 2:06
  • @P.E.Dant I think that this question has enough context, and a specific concern. It's difficult for learners to know sometimes whether their phrasing will be poorly received for some reason that is not obvious from the dictionary definition of the words they put together. For example Is grow up in my career OK?. I think this is on-topic.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 2:26

2 Answers 2


You might present your explanation of the two-year gap as follows:

I took two years off to prepare for the IIT-JEE. Although I did not achieve my goal of passing the examination, I found that the time spent in preparation benefitted me in many other ways. I developed the ability to study without supervision. I learned that one must pursue learning for its own sake, not just to achieve a specific goal. I cultivated the habits of analysing problems, researching them in detail, and thinking logically.

  • Thank you so much for resolving my issue with such a detailed answer :) Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 12:44

I took two years off to prepare for the IIT-JEE but was not successful in achieving that goal.

The phrase "not successful" in this sentence is neutral to me. The main problem is "that goal" is referring back to "preparing for the IIT-JEE" and so the sentence doesn't exactly say "I didn't pass the test" although readers would likely assume that's what you meant.

You might add what your goal was specifically"

I took two years off to prepare for the IIT-JEE but was not successful in achieving my goal of (passing the examination/entering IIT).

Also, inculcated is a fairly rare word (at least in AmE) - P.E. Dant's suggestion of using "cultivated" in its place is a good one.

  • 1
    Also, inculcated almost always refers to the other; the sense is that a virtue is inculcated in someone through drilling ("forced in" in the Latin) by an outside agency. He would have to say inculcated in myself, and the verb is not used there with its customary affect. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 3:30

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