All India rank (AIR)2, Anant Gupta is a diligent small town engineering aspirant from Rajpura in Punjab, which is an hour's drive from Chanidgarh. A student of Scholar's Public School in Rajpura, he worked hard and made his dream turn into reality. "I feel out of this world!" he smiled. Anant also stood 7th in JEE 2012 and now plans to join Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and do B.Tech in Computer Science. "I am very happy. This has been my target and I am glad I could accomplish what I had set out for," he told GyanCentral.
Ask him if he had any particular methodology that helped him in achieving such feat on his first attempt and pat comes the reply, "I did not have any strategy as such, neither did I follow any well charted out time table. I used to study for five to six hours daily, sometimes even seven hours. I kept my study duration long, with short intervals. Most importantly, I live in Rajpura, and had to travel to Chandigarh which took almost two hours to and fro, so managing time had been a tight rope walk for me, but I managed."
He admits that he has nurtured the IIT dream since he was in school. "My father's dream was to make me an engineer despite the fact that he is a doctor," he said. Anant took the weekend test series at Narayana classes and gave about ten mock tests. "Other than these, I did not practice any papers at home. I did not join any full time coaching class but took help of private tutors." He gives a lot of importance to these preparatory tuition classes. "They play a very critical role and set the right environment required for studies. At home students tend to get lax but that is not the case in tutorials. Also, in case of a doubt it is always preferable to have a teacher solve or help you out. So, in my opinion coaching classes play a significant role in helping student's clear their doubts."
So, how much does exams like IIT JEE or AIEEE help in gauging a student's aptitude for various engineering programs? "Not much," says Anant. "In my opinion most of these exams do not reflect the individual aptitude of the student appearing for the exams, since most of the students study with the intention of getting into prestigious colleges, achieving a particular rank. Their main focus is not on being a learned individual or a smarter person. As a matter of fact, I do not believe that this is a good education system to gauge an individual's aptitude."
Then how can one change that system? "I do not have a solution but I would like to pin point a problem ailing the system. From what I understand, the problem is that there is intense competition among students and not that many excellent engineering colleges in India. So, getting admission becomes an issue. If we look at the foreign countries they do not encounter such problems since they have enough educational infrastructures in place."
Quiz him on what materials he used for preparation and he says, "I studied from the regular notes and also the notes that I got from Narayana classes. Books have been important throughout though there is no single book as such that I can suggest."
He truly believes that one needs to be passionate about their dream. "Passion will drive them towards their goal and help them achieve it. If one devotes sincere time and attention to their goal, then one can definitely be successful," he says with conviction. Does he have an idol in life? He pauses for a while and says, "No, I do not have any role model or idol. I have just strived to be perfect in whatever I have done so far."
Like any other kid his age, Anant also loves to play cricket, badminton and computer games. He says that his parents have been very happy. "My Parents are overwhelmed with my success and my teachers have been happy too, but have pointed out that there's always a scope for further improvement."
Where does he see himself 10 years down the line? "After finishing my engineering in Computer Science, I wish to join a good company like Google or Facebook. I aspire to become the CEO of such a good company one day," he smiles.
Ask him to give some tips to future IIT aspirants and he stresses, "IIT is not the end of the world. Even if you do not get a good enough rank, do not get dejected. Most importantly don't let failure take over you. Have an aim, be passionate about it but don't take everything so seriously in life."
Mumbai boy Pratik Pramod Fegde, who had secured an AIR 16 in JEE 2012, secured AIR 34 in AIEEE 2012 in the General Category and topped in the OBC category by getting 327 marks out of 360.
"It feels really nice. After two years of hard work and the sacrifice made by my family, it feels very good. I am going to join IIT Bombay and do a B. Tech in Computer Science." On asking him, how he prepared for AIEEE, he said, "I didn't separately prepare or study for AIEEE. I was mainly focusing only on IIT-JEE." He had joined IIT'ans PACE for their two years integrated program at the Mulund College for his preparations. "I used to study for 4 to 5 hours initially. However, this gradually increased to about 6 to 7 hours daily as the examination came near," said Pratik.
Pratik likes to spend his free time by reading a lot of fiction, along with science magazines. "My favorite authors are Jeffrey Archer and Dan Brown. I also like listening to music and follow sports like cricket and tennis." His father is also an engineer, employed with Larsen & Tourbo, while his mother is a housewife. "I would like to continue studying in the field of science even further," he said, when asked about his future plans.
A student of Bal Niketan School of Chandigarh, Shivam Garg has secured AIR 44 in AIEEE 2012 by getting 326 out of 360. "It feels as if my two years of hard work has finally paid off," he smiled. Shivam, who also secured AIR 66 in JEE 2012 admits that cracking AIEEE for him was 'secondary'. "I always aspired to join the IIT and I am really glad with my results," he said.
Now, Shivam wants to join IIT Delhi and pursue engineering in Computer Science. "IIT Delhi has always been my dream Institute and since it near my home town Chandigarh, it works in my favor," he explained.
Shivam juggled his daily study schedule, preparations and attending school with equal elan. "In the morning, I used to go to school and in the evening coaching classes used to keep me busy. Despite the tight schedule, I would carve out good two to three hours daily for self-study. I never pulled out any all nighters, since in the morning I had to attend school. This had been my daily study schedule and I managed to crack the exam in my very first attempt," he said.
Interestingly, he did not practice any mock test series. "But I did solve a good deal of topic specific question to better my understanding of concepts and get a good grip on them," he said. "I practiced few mock test series perhaps a week or two before my JEE exams with the intention of revising the topics, to determine how much I have understood the concepts and to get the necessary exam practice." He did not even get into any 'big banner' coaching classes, but took only individual tutor's assistance. "I had a separate tutor for various subjects," he said.
Shivam has no qualms in admitting that getting into the prestigious IIT and become an engineer has always been a dream since his childhood. "I remember as a kid I used to be fascinated by machinery and was always curious about how they operate," he laughs. "I was interested in toys, computers and was always curious in understanding how they function."
He thinks that the strategy to prepare for AIEEE is almost the same as for IIT-JEE. According to him, "The only difference is that AIEEE demands speed in answering the questions. Its portions are vast but the questions are relatively simple. Whereas, in IIT-JEE the concepts are checked, though the questions to be answered are relatively less, they are challenging. What is noteworthy is that, if a student is preparing for JEE you will automatically get prepared for AIEEE, since the major topics for AIEEE are same as that for JEE."
His preparation materials were given by his tutors. "Apart from that I did not refer to any additional study material. Standard text books, NCERT topic specific notes along with tutor notes covered all topics required for IIT-JEE adequately, so there was never a need to study from any additional, outside material," he said. Shivam thinks there isn't anything 'magical' about being a topper in JEE or AIEEE. "I always had a goal in my mind and I continuously worked towards it. We just have to work hard, be sincere and study. This alone will help in getting the concepts crystal clear. Being regular with studies and school will help tremendously and one just needs to be guided right towards their goal," he shared.
Obviously, everyone in the family had been celebrating his success. "They are very happy and in fact, had anticipated my success. They knew I had worked hard and my papers went good, so they expected me to perform well." So where does he see himself 10 years down the line? He laughs. "I have not planned what i will do even after four years from now! Ten years is still far away. You cannot have everything planned at this point. The market is changing, and I believe we need to be dynamic and mould our choices accordingly. There are many options open. I could take up a job, do an MBA or attempt UPSC. But as of now, I have no plans."
The sincere student who likes to watch television, read science fiction and other 'science related books' during his free time, gave some last minute advise. "If you wish to excel, there is only one mantra - work hard and be sincere in your work," he signed off.
(Photograph from left to right - Pratik Fegade, Anant Gupta and Shivam Garg)