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Study smart, work hard and be motivated: Soham Gaunekar

How does it feel to know that you topped the IIT JEE exam in Goa?

I expected to qualify with a decent rank. However, before the results were declared I prepared myself for the worst while hoping to qualify with an all India rank in the top 3000. I had studied extremely hard leading up to the JEE advanced examination. To be perfectly honest I was a bit disappointed with the results. The JEE Advanced is conducted at an all India level and topping in Goa was never really my aim. My parents and teachers however were overjoyed on hearing that I topped so that was a proud moment for me.

Which IIT are you heading to?
Having been a computer science student for over four years now, I have developed a keen interest in mathematics as well. I have hence opted for a course in computing and mathematics at IIT Kharagpur, the oldest and biggest IIT in India.

How did you prepare for the exam?
The JEE (Advanced) is one of the toughest examinations. Preparing day and night for two continuous years, yielded the results. The most difficult part though, was waking up every morning, having exhausted yourself the previous day. It was taxing as I had to stay alert during school hours.

What sacrifices did you have to make to achieve what you have?
Practically everything from parties and family functions to facebook and sleep just seemed like waste of time.

Who comprised your support system?
My parents, teachers and friends have been extremely supportive and understanding. My mother, who sacrificed a lot too, would wake up at 3 a.m. every day to check on me or prepare something for me to eat. My teachers were all very accommodating, always approachable and eager to help in any which way possible.

How did you manage academics, studying for this competitive exam and co-curricular activities?
I would make time after school to play basketball with friends. I represented my school in basketball this year, and used to take regular breaks between study sessions. It is very important to have breaks between study sessions. I would join my friends in play between lectures. I did however end up neglecting the Goa board tests by bunking most of the lectures in order to make enough time for competitive exam preparations.

What do Goan students lack when they compete for national exams?
Generally speaking, Goan students, while highly intelligent, lack the competitive culture and drive to succeed in national level competitive examinations. They also aren’t given access to the best faculty and resources for the right kind of preparation.

What do you think are the solutions?
Hopefully with the rise of initiatives like the Dempo- IITian’s PACE collaboration, this will change over time giving Goan students an edge in competitive exams.
The initiative by Dempo- IITian’s PACE to bring the highest quality of education to Goa in coaching the students for various national level engineering as well as medical competitive exams as well as Olympiads and SATs is getting a tremendous response. Here an integrated approach is taken to build strong fundamentals by providing all the required preparation material.

Do you think tuitions are necessary why?
Tuitions are not necessary to prepare for competitive exams, especially in an integrated program. Regular studies and the right preparation will get you where you want to be.

Your take on the education system in Goa
Although by and large Goa has one the of better systems in place in India, the education system here gives way too much importance to theoretical knowledge and rote learning (mugging or memorising). The system should devise means to focus on analysis and application of knowledge in subjects.

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