Nowruz Camps Offer Respite to Konkoor Takers

Nowruz Camps Offer Respite to Konkoor Takers Nowruz Camps Offer Respite to Konkoor Takers

With the Persian New Year (Nowruz) around the corner, family trips and vacation is uppermost on the minds of most Iranians. But for the one-million plus university applicants, the entrance exam or Konkoor in early summer, it’s quite different.

Since a couple of years there is the option of joining the ‘Konkoor Camp’ for students who don’t want to put a damper on the Nowruz spirit. The field trips give applicants the opportunity to study in a peaceful place.

Nowruz study camps held by private ‘Konkoor schools’ are gaining popularity: one school owner says that last year over 4,000 applicants from Tehran participated in his school’s special Nowruz camp.  The camps usually 7 to 12 days, offer a rigorous study schedule from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm. Some have lesser study hours from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

The tuition fee for the programs can vary from $160 to $500 in Tehran but in other towns it is lower. The venues are usually serene places like gardens or student camp sites.

 Spartan Rules

Although the camps may invoke images of fun and pleasure, the reality is that most are conducted in serious and school-like atmosphere with strict rules. One such camp in Tehran warns that any misconduct or violation of rules will result in expulsion.  No furloughs are allowed and attendance of all sessions and programs is mandatory. Students have respite only during the recess. In some camps, students are denied access to cell phones, laptop or mp3 players.  

The applicants who are grouped based on the 3 main majors of the National Entrance Exam - Mathematics, Science and Humanities – have to put in 136 hours of study and solve at least 2, 500 multiple choice questions.

 Attractive Features

The camps offer a variety of programs to distinguish themselves, with some enhancing the quality of educational content and others inviting top rank-holders of previous exams to share their success story; some others even hire top-notch teachers and expert nutritionists to give students academic and dietary advice.

Some camps have launched online programs for college applicants who either live in remote areas or can’t stay in Tehran or other big cities during the holidays.  

Mitra Ansari who is now a dental student at the prestigious Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences told the Persian Shargh newspaper that although she was initially opposed to the idea of attending a camp, she was finally convinced to sign up at the behest of her counselor. ‘’I think the camp experience was very helpful in my exam performance,’’ she says.

Mozhan Javahero Pey, a student of electrical engineering at the renowned Sharif University of Technology, says her study time during the Nowruz holidays was “most decisive to her success” since she could stick to her schedule. One might as well call them “boot camps since monitors did not let one moment go by idly,’’ she says. The distraction-free environment as well as help from experts “set my mind at ease and doubled the pace of my note-taking.’’


Nowruz has many enticing activities: travel, visiting relatives, and watching the spring blooms are all too tempting to resist. Thus the season is not in favor of students facing tough competition for coveted seats in prestigious state universities.

‘’Nowruz holidays inevitably come with boisterous family visits and thrilling TV programs and hence the camps are significant in providing an atmosphere conducive to studying,’’ says Mehdi Darbanm, a school counselor.

Reza Heydari Zadeh, an applicant for the exams is of the opinion that the biggest advantage is the opportunity for students “to share with peers.”


There are some drawbacks however, including the “homogeneous nature of programs that fail to consider the different intellectual levels of applicants.” Hamid Behboudi, a school counselor says it is important for the students to stick to a viable study plan during the final critical days, which can tilt the balance in their favor. ‘’I recommend an effective study plan which will finally pay off,’’ he adds.