PERFORMERS PAR EXCELLENCE
New Delhi May 31 Class X & XII results have brought in a rush of near-perfect marks. Team Avenues talks to some brilliant performers to bring you their success mantra
‘Boards no big deal’
RANKING: ALL INDIA 1
SCHOOL: STEP BY STEP, NOIDA
Seventeen-year-old Noida resident Meghna Srivastava is on cloud nine. Reason? She has broken the record of the previous highest All India CBSE topper Raksha Gopal who had scored 99.6 per cent in 2017. A Humanities student of Step By Step School, Meghna scored 499 out of 500, or 99.8 per cent, the highest in 12th Boards thus far.
If she had not fallen one mark short in her English paper, she would have made history of another level — scoring a perfect 500. But Meghna is happy about the loss. “I’m happy and grateful that I lost that one mark in English as one can’t score 100 marks in a language paper. I’ve scored 99 in English and I am glad I did,” she said. She scored 100 per cent in four subjects — Psychology, Geography, History and Economics.
PREP MODE: Meghna studied throughout the year and included everything in her schedule, right from social media to books, movies and music. “It’s a choice – whether you want to be organised and schedule your studies, or you want to take stress and panic. It’s the story you tell yourself,” she says.
SUCCESS MANTRA: It was consistent hard work that paid off. “There was no secret formula for success. Just work hard, consistency and positivity. Students and parents should not stress over Boards exams. You don’t need tuitions. Make your own notes. I have been organised throughout, I had told myself that I don’t want to succumb to pressure,” she says.
The re-exam of the Economics paper due to paper leak made her unhappy but she was confident that she would do well. “I think Board exams stress is overrated. Everyone is like ‘Oh! This year you have Boards.’ But it’s not just the Boards, this goes on for the entire year, you take so many tests and when you give your first Board exam, you’re like, ‘What was the big deal? It’s just another exam’!” Meghna adds.
HIGHER STUDIES: The only child, studying in Delhi University has never been part of her plan. She wants to pursue Psychology (Hons) from the University of British Columbia. “Delhi University was never a part of my plan. I wanted to study psychology and I will be going to the University of British Columbia, Canada. Even after scoring these marks, my plan has not changed.”
INSPIRATION: Apart from Psychology, her favourite subject is History, she said. “I never had a fixed number of hours devoted to studies, nor did I attend any coaching or tuitions. My school, parents and teachers have been my torch bearers,” she says. Her father Gautam is an associate professor at Manav Rachna University, while her mother Alpana is a human resource manager at a multinational company in Gurgaon. They have been living in Noida for 20 years. Meghna is engaged in community projects such as adopting flood-affected villages and helping ensure sanitation, water purification and first-aid facilities. An avid reader, she enjoys books by Malcolm Gladwell.
‘Pursue dreams that make you happy’
RANKING: ALL INDIA 2
SCHOOL: SAJ SCHOOL, GHAZIABAD
Self studies, no tuitions and advance preparations was Anushka Chandra’s mantra of success in the Boards examination. The second All India topper in Humanities from SAJ School, Ghaziabad, Anushka scored 498 marks out of 500. Scoring 100 per cent in Economics, Political Science, Psychology and History, Chandra lost two marks in English.
“I might have lost two marks in English writing but not sure where exactly. It is difficult to score a 100 in English,” Anushka says.
SCHEDULE: To cover everything, she divided the syllabus into topics and set a deadline for each. “I started my preparation for Boards from Class XI itself. I would write down the syllabus I had to cover and accordingly set time for each subject and topic,” Anushka adds.
Explaining her schedule, she says: “I used to get up and study and in my break time, I would check my social media messages and spend time with parents, before getting back to studies.”
Anushka was the head girl of her school and, thus, involved in many extra-curricular activities. She participated in debates, painting competitions, anchoring and organised school programmes.
TOUGH SUBJECT: Economics was the most difficult subject for Anushka. Ask how she managed her time she tells you: “From nursery I was involved in extra-curricular activities, so I learnt how to multi-task and devote time to both. For Boards, I used to pick the most difficult or time consuming topic first and the easy ones later. I organised my time-table and completed my course on time,” Anushka adds.
support system: Her school was her backbone of support and she appreciates the out-of-the-box approach to teaching. “My teacher would give us notes and teach every topic in class. We would discuss every topic. Humanities is more of debate work and my school organised debates frequently. This helped me throughout. Our syllabus was completed way before so we had time to clear our doubts in class,” she tells you. Anushka says her parents played a major role in her success. “My family never pressurised me. I chose Humanities and they supported my decision. My mother was my pillar of support. She guided me whenever I felt emotionally weak. My father helped me in my academics,” she adds.
SUCCESS MANTRA: Anushka’s success mantra was that she enjoyed studying. “When we do what we enjoy, we excel in it. I would advise everyone to do what interests them the most. Students should never feel the pressure of scoring good marks. There are many people who are not good at academics but have done well in their careers. We should all pursue our dreams and do what makes us happy,” she says.
Anushka’s future plans include doing her graduation in Political Science from Delhi University and then study for the Civil Services.
— Musba Hashmi/New Delhi
All about thorough study & revision
RANKING: ALL INDIA 3
SCHOOL: CAMBRIDGE SCHOOL, NOIDA
Seventeen-year-old Supriya Kaushik, the third All India topper in Humanities from Cambridge School, Sector 27, Noida, made her parents proud by scoring 497 out of 500. Sharing the third position with six other students, Supriya lost two marks in Geography (the most difficult subject) and one mark in Political Science.
“I started preparing for Boards from Day 1 of Class XI so that the work load was reduced for the Final exams and I was able to revise thoroughly. I used to study seven to eight hours daily, depending on the subject but did not follow any strict schedule. I did self-study and referred to NCERT books and hand notes,” Supriya says.
She managed time by studying a lot. “I would wake up and just start studying because morning is the best time to study. I could understand and remember things better. I would take a break after two to three hours of studying.” Supriya reveals.
This performer solved question papers of the last 10 years as part of her preparations, which not many students do. “Unlike others, I would cover every topic in detail. I was very consistent. I made sure I was thorough with NCERT books,” she tells you.
Revision, she says, made her thorough in all concepts. “I never mug up but revise a lot. You just can’t read things once and remember them till your exams. So I read many times until it was clear in my mind,” she adds. Apart from academics, Supriya was also involved in other extra-curricular activities like singing and learning French for which she took tuitions.
About the challenges, Supriya says: “There was a lot of mental pressure. At times when I felt depressed and when I just didn’t want to study. But then I was able to recall everything and start afresh. I was not happy with my datesheet as I had two consecutive exams,” she says. Supriya gives credit to her family and friends for the support she got. “My parents and brother used to motivate me when I felt depressed. My friends used to give me a motivational speech whenever I felt bad,” Supriya tells you. Her goal is to study Psychology Honours from Delhi University but she has applied for the same in Symbiosis, Pune, too.
— Musba Hashmi
Managing Boards and entrance was tough
SCORE: 497 / 500
RANKING: ALL INDIA 3
SCHOOL: NEERJA MODI SCHOOL
Studying throughout the year was the mantra that helped the third all rank holder of CBSE — Chahat Bodraj from Neerja Modi School, Jaipur score 497 out of 500. Scoring 99.4 per cent in Humanities, Bodraj took no tuitions for the exams. It was her school studies and mock tests that helped her to excel.
“I studied throughout the year, making notes and revising everything again and again. Though all the subjects were my favourite, History was a little harder,” Bodraj said.
Speaking of the challenges she had to face, Bodraj said: “I didn’t have to face many problems but two of my entrance tests for colleges were very close to my Boards. So, I had to study for them as well as for my Board exams which caused some difficulty. Having studied throughout the year helped me a lot. I also had full support from my parents which made everything much easier.”
Apart from having aced in the exams, she did not miss out on any of the school activities. She always took part in competitions, quizzes and other events in the school. Though with reduced frequency but she was active on social-media too during her exams.
Though she had no fear of exams, sometimes she used to get stressed and forget what she has studied. “All my teachers had high expectations from me. I also had confidence but I feared losing marks for silly mistakes and stupid errors.” Bodraj aspires to pursue Communication and Design in the coming years. She is searching for colleges in Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai and US. She already has scholarships from three colleges but is yet not sure which one to choose for her higher studies.
“I was always interested in animation and designing and anything that is creative and artistic. It fascinates me and I enjoy spending my time doing this. Also, some of my family members and cousins are from this field which may have aroused my interest in it too,” Bodhraj said.
— Muskaan Jain/New Delhi
Self-analysis & motivation was the key
SCHOOL: VIDYA GYAN LEADERSHIP ACADEMY, BULANDSHAHR
Eighteen-year-old Sudeeksha Bhati, daughter of a small farmer, is a first generation learner in her family and has topped in her school Vidya Gyan Leadership Academy at Bulandshahr, scoring 98 per cent in Humanities. She has received full scholarship to pursue her undergraduate studies in entrepreneurship at the Babson College in Massachusetts, US.
“As my father couldn’t get Education, it became his dream to educate my siblings and me. People used to mock him for sending me to school but he never lost hope. My family always supported me so I never felt I was being challenged. Since I am the eldest among six siblings and three cousins, I am determined to open doors for them and improve my family condition,” Bhati says.
Till Class V, Bhati studied in her village school. In 2011, she cleared her entrance exam for Navodaya Vidhalaya and Vidya Gyan. Her father opted for the latter since it’s a boarding school. She gives credit to her school for her achievement.
“Whatever I am today is because of my school in terms of resources, guidance and financial support. The school is for economically underprivileged, meritorious students from rural UP. I was lucky to receive an education here as most other girls drop out of the school due to eve teasing which is a major concern in my locality,” Bhati tells you. Unlike other children, who start Boards preparations later, Bhati started hers from November 2017. Before that she was busy preparing for SAT and TOEFL to study at US universities. “A few students were exempted from regular classes and the whole day I would study for SAT and TOEFL. Once I cleared that exam, I focused on my Boards. Since Humanities is my favourite, I enjoyed studying the subjects. In the pre-Boards, I didn’t prepare and scored only 65 per cent. I was in depression but my teachers helped me catch up with my studies. During winter vacation, I didn’t go home and devoted all my time in studies,” Bhati says.
She says her secret to success is self-analysis and remaining self-motivated. “I believe in introspection and self analysis and always being self-motivates to do something in life that will leave an impact. I prioritise and strategise my preparation as per my strengths and weaknesses. Political Science was easy so I started it late but Economics was tough so I made unit wise notes and attended classes. Making notes is labourious but it helps you, especially when you read other reference study materials. English required regular practice as my writing speed is slow. I used to study for 12 hours. Friends and teachers helped me all the time.
“I could never compromise on my sleep even willingly. I thought I would study through the night and get ample time to seep in the future,” Bhati tells you, adding that she was expecting somewhere around 95 per cent.
Since January, she started her revision by solving practise papers. “I evaluated question papers from 2009 to 2017 and segregated questions as per chapters and topics. I evaluated how many questions had come more often and the marking process. I analysed how much time I was taking in solving each section and where I was spending more time and why. I used to think a lot during the exam which was a drawback,” Bhati says.
During the exam, she had an anxiety attack but managed by focusing on her purpose. “The key is to not panic and never let yourself go blank and feel that you don’t know anything. “Have confidence and faith in yourself. The initial 15 minutes of the exam is very important as you read and strategise how you will go about answering the paper within a timeframe. I wrote my answers point-wise and underlined keywords,” she says.
Bhati plans to study global entrepreneurship and work for women empowerment. “I went to the US for a one-month student exchange programme and realised that I wanted to make a career as an entrepreneur and work for women-related issues that can leave an impact. I started the ‘Voice of Women’ (VOW) initiative to encourage girls to go to school and fight against eve-teasing in my district and raised awareness through street-plays, speeches and door-to-door interactions,” Bhati tells you.