Sitting for long hours to study is no longer a mandate to become a topper. Gurugram-based Sarthak Maheshwari has scored a 100 percentile score in JEE Main 2022 session 1 and has performed better than more than 8.5 lakh students who took the exam. This is not the only feat of the teenager. The 18-year-old has also cracked KVYPY - the entrance exam for IISc as well as is RMO qualified and has obtained NTSE scholarship. Now, he is preparing for JEE Advanced. Despite cracking these national-level exams, Sarthak is far from a typical topper.
He has keen interest in science and loves his subjects. He claims that it is not the answer but the process of solving the questions that helps. Unlike most toppers, he did not sit for 10-12 hours a day for studies. In fact, he claims to have taken a break after every hour or hour-and-a-half of continuous studies. “I took a break after every 1 hour or 1.5 hours of study and took a walk for around 10-15 minutes," he said, adding, “I never jumped to solutions. Sometimes it took me 2-3 hours to solve a single question, but I could succeed because I kept at it. It helped me clear concepts."
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Despite getting a 100 percentile, Sarthak would still give another shot at JEE Main in the second session as it might improve his test-taking skills. He now is preparing for JEE Advanced and claims that if his revision continues as per schedule, he would take the engineering entrance once again.
He has been preparing for JEE since class 9. He enrolled with coaching centre FIITJEE in Gurugram and since class 11 is preparing for JEE Advanced. Only those who get a place in the top 2.5 lakh ranks of JEE Main can appear for JEE Advanced - the entrance exam for IITs. He claims to have prepared the entire syllabus and will now be focusing on IIT entrance.
While he has been preparing for the past four years for the engineering entrance, the topper claims that it is the extra two months that helped him the most. “JEE was first scheduled for April but was postponed to June. This gave me extra time for revision. I took about 35-40 mock tests before taking the exam. This helped me gain speed. During the exam, I finished chemistry within 25 minutes and gave more time to mathematics and physics as they have lengthy calculations," he said.
He referred to Cengage books for mathematics and physics and Himanshu Pandey for Chemistry. Son of software engineering parents, Sarthak took wishes to study computer science at IIT Bombay. If he manages to crack JEE Advanced, he will be first in his family to get admission to an IIT.
Cracking IIT, said Sarthak is not just his dream but also of his maternal family’s. “My mausi (maternal aunt) cracked IIT entrance and was eligible for a seat to IIT Kanpur, however, she could not continue her IIT journey," said Sarthak who wants to realize her dream.
A student of DPS Sushant Lok, Gurugram, Sarthak said that he missed offline classes, studies, and interactions with friends as the school remained closed for the most part of the past two years. The pandemic, however, helped him with his preparation. “I saved a lot of commute time which I could dedicate to my studies in a way Covid-19 was a blessing for my preparation, but for a short duration, my parents had caught coronavirus. Though they have recovered now, it was a scary phase," he said. He also has a younger sister who studies in class 9.
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