Pratheek Rebello: Goa’s golden boy



Ramandeep Kaur | NT KURIOCITY

While many of us find it difficult to answer regular exams; but Pratheek Rebello, 18, a student of Mushtifund Aryan Higher Secondary School of Panaji has been cracking national entrance exams one after the other. He recently secured the 77th position in the all-India ranking at IIT-JEE Advanced with 84 per cent and the 189th position in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) with 660 marks – the best-known score in Goa.

Studying in Sharada Mandir School, Miramar (ICSE affiliated) from playschool right up till the tenth standard, Pratheek then joined Goa Board affiliated Mushtifund Aryan HSS, for an integrated course in class 11 and 12. “I have always had a strong liking for mathematics and studying engineering has always been the natural choice for me ever since I was a five-year-old,” replies Pratheek when asked why he chose engineering.

Explaining how he prepared for IIT JEE Advanced, he says: “JEE Syllabus encompasses physics, chemistry and mathematics we learn in class 11 and 12. Most of us start studying in class 11, first beginning with the basics in each chapter, and then progressing to understanding higher concepts, and solving more complex problems.”

He adds that JEE is one of the toughest exams in the world and the difficulty arises from its unpredictability. “You must be prepared to face problems that you have never seen in any text book, and figure out how to solve them.”

Talking about chemistry a little in detail, he says: “Chemistry has three sections: Physical which requires continuous practice of problems, from class 11 onwards; Inorganic is largely memory based, mainly from NCERT text books; and organic where both theory and practice is required. Physics and mathematics again require practice and problem solving. Theory is of less importance.”

Pratheek also advised students not to be afraid or averse to attending coaching classes. He says: “It will no doubt increase pressure, but it will also boost your level.”

And from time to time we all need motivation to achieve our goals. Similarly, what kept Pratheek motivated to achieve his dream are his parents, teachers and friends. “And also the hope that at the end of two years, I would be in a college of my liking with a viable future ahead of me,” he adds.

Pratheek who will now be pursuing computer science in IIT Delhi qualified the IIT JEE (Main) exams and therefore was eligible to answer the IIT JEE Advanced test. He says: “JEE Main is like a preliminary exam, conducted in late March or early April which is answered by over 10 lakh people across India or outside. It is a three hour paper consisting of only single correct multiple choice question. 30  questions in physics, 30 in chemistry and 30 in mathemathics.”

He adds: “JEE Main ranks will then decide admissions to NITs and other engineering colleges.’

Those who clear the JEE Main cutoff can answer JEE Advanced, conducted in late May. This is tougher as it consists of two papers, each of three hours, without a fixed format. The pattern of questions, number of questions changes every year. And JEE Advanced ranks decide admissions to the IITs.”

Informing about the procedure to apply for JEE Advanced, Pratheek says: “If you clear the JEE Main cutoff, you must apply for JEE Advanced within the given window (usually about five days in the latter half of April). It’s important to remember that application for JEE Main and Advanced are separate.”

Pratheek apart from being an ace student and being extremely busy preparing for his entrance tests, finds time to pursue his hobbies that include reading, listening to music,participating in debates and also doing less productive things like watching TV, keeping in touch with politics. He adds: “Though I tried my level best to cutdown my hobbies while preparing for the exams but sometimes I had to cut down on my hobbies during these two years.”

Commenting on whether Goans lack the inclination to attempt these exams, he says that most Goan higher secondary schools are focused on the board exams and securing high percentages, and many students have little to no knowledge of such competitive exams. “Students need to be taught how to attempt them and score well. They need guidance, training, books and experienced teachers. If Goan students are given more of this kind of exposure, I can guarantee that more of them will want to compete at a national level,” he adds.

When asked if he feels that Goa has good coaching for the exams or did the students from other metros have an edge over the Goan students when competing at a national level, Pratheek replies: “Many students in metros begin preparing from class 7 or 8 for JEE. They are at an advantage, in this regard, of course. But from my own personal experience, my school gave me all the facilities that I needed in class 11 and 12 to compete at a national level.”

Pratheek who secured an all India rank of 189 at NEET out of the 11 lakh students that appeared for the exam across the country says: “Preparing for JEE Main and Adnanced helped me prepare for NEET. I was more inclined towards engineering so I had already studied physics and chemistry. It was only biology that I had to study for the exam.”

The other exams answered by Pratheek include, Goa Common Entrance Test (GCET) where he scored the first rank in physics, chemistry, mathematics and third in biology; VIT Engineering Entrance Examination (VITEEE) – seventh rank at all India level, Manipal University Online Entrance Test (MU OET) – first rank all India, BITSAT – 426/450 marks,  AIIMS – 86th rank at all India level.