Suren, a 17-year old student from Hisar, Haryana has obtained gold in the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA). Apart from the international front, Suren has also cracked one of the toughest exams in India too. He has obtained 100 percentile in JEE Main and got an All India Rank 19 in JEE Advanced.
JEE Advanced or IIT entrance exam, said the teenager, helped him to crack one of the multiple stages to qualify to represent India on the international front. The first stage for the selection in the Olympiad is National Standard Exam in Astrnomics (NSEA). The teenager claims that the mathematics and physics sections of the MCQ-based exam are aligned with the JEE Advanced syllabus. He took coaching from FIITJEE Punjabi Bagh for the same. For the astronomy section, he self-studied.
After cracking the first round there was no looking back for Suren. He has managed to grab gold for India. In fact, out of five students who represented the nation, four won gold and one managed to grab a silver medal.
The olympiads are tests of in-depth knowledge and the level of difficulty of questions keeps increasing with each level. For Suren, it was his keen interest in astronomy that had inspired the teenager to study for the Olympiad and win among one of the best minds in the subject from across the world.
“Overall it was a very good experience attempting new kinds of problems and making new friends who shared similar interests like me. In India, four of us won gold medals and one won a silver medal," says Suren.
Suren has been interested in astronomy since secondary school. “There are a total of four Olympiads out of which I gave the physics, chemistry, and astronomy olympiad when I was in class 11. It was only after clearing these olympiads that I developed an interest in astronomy," says Suren.
When it comes to the selection of subjects at the higher education level, however, he has opted for computer science. Currently pursuing computer science engineering at IIT Delhi, Suren said, “We have astronomy and physics clubs in the IIT. If we become a member of the club, I can also simultaneously pursue astronomy. However, I’m yet to decide if I want to pursue astronomy any further. I also have a keen interest in math and computer science."
Rounds of Olympiad
The Olympiad was held in the online mode this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic via video conferencing. Suren further cracked four levels of IOAA that were held between November 14 to 21.
The competition began with a theoretical exam, followed by a data analysis round featuring problems from physics and astronomy. The third was the observational round — the planetarium observation and the solar observation. The last was the team competition round wherein the Indian team won the second prize.
To be able to reach this level, Suren had to crack three stages of the exam. After clearing the MCQ-based round 1 which he called JEE-like, he took the Indian National Astronomy Olympiad (INAO) which features long-form answers. Suren claims that he mainly practised from the past years’ Olympiad papers and managed to crack it.
After this round, 30-35 students were selected following which another round was conducted. Thereafter, five students from India got selected for the international event, Suren being one of them. As many as four Indian students have managed to win at the Olympiad. A total of 298 students participated in the Olympiad from across 52 countries.
A bright student through his academic life, Suren completed his 12th this year from SM Arya Public School wherein he secured 95.2 per cent. In JEE Main 2021, he scored 100 percentile and an all India rank 20. He also cracked JEE Advanced 2021 and secured AIR 19.
Both his parents work in Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (CCSHAU). While his father works as a technical assistant in the university, his mother works in the campus office. He also has a brother who is studying in class 10.