JEE Main 2021 Topper Interview: In conversation with Siddhant Mukherjee
JEE Main February Session Exams were conducted from February 23-26. NTA announced the result on March 7. A total of 620978 candidates appeared for the JEE Main Paper 1 in the February session, Siddhant Mukherjee scored 100 percentile in JEE Main. I had a talk with him where he talked about his reaction to his score, preparation strategy, board preparations, future plans, and a lot more.
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Here are the excerpts from the Interview:
Ojasvi: First of all Siddhant, congratulations on your exceptional result in JEE Main February exam. How did you react when you got to know?
Siddhant: I initially could not believe that I had scored full marks in the exam after checking the answer key. I had expected to do reasonably well but I had no such target of a perfect score. I then waited anxiously for the declaration of results, knowing that I could secure 100 percentile.
Ojasvi: Could you share your preparation strategy for JEE Main? When did you start preparing for it?
Siddhant: I had been preparing for JEE Advanced in a goal-oriented manner since 11th standard. In the last 2 months before the mains exams, I shifted my focus to mains. I then proceeded to curtail mistakes and cover the weak points in my preparation both theory and time-bound questions.
Ojasvi: After JEE Main, how will you be preparing for JEE Advanced? Since the Board exams are right around the corner too, how do you plan to manage?
Siddhant: My first focus is on the CBSE boards. For me, I think it will be sufficient to learn writing answers in a proper format as required by the board. I plan to give a significant portion of my time to the boards.
JEE Advanced requires a different pattern of thinking than JEE mains. Typically, questions are longer and require more time with higher-order thinking. This requires the practice of questions of that nature. This will be a priority after I am satisfied with my board preparation.
Ojasvi: The pandemic was unexpected for everyone. How did it affect your preparation? What was your daily routine in the lockdown?
Siddhant: COVID-19 actually had an academic benefit for me. I saved nearly 2 hours a day in the commute which allowed me to make more out of the day. However, some amount of in-person interaction was missing which was in my opinion outweighed by the time I saved.
My daily routine looked something like this-
Ojasvi: Why do you want to study engineering and when did you decide to study it? Which branch would you be interested in? Any reason?
Siddhant: I solved nearly 30 past papers of JEE Main 2019 and 2020 and identified the topics with higher weightage or the ones that needed more extensive preparation. It is best to take these up when you are well-versed with the material and have to get into the mindset of NTA examiners and think through their typical patterns. This usually helps with ambiguous questions in the paper.
Ojasvi: How extensively did you solve Mock tests and Sample Papers? When is the ideal time to start solving Mock tests, Sample Papers, and Past Year Question Papers?
Siddhant: People find it hard to believe but I did not go for any exotic books for JEE Mains. My marks simply came from making fewer errors than everyone else. I focused a lot on NCERT. NCERT books contain many gems that have to be discovered with a thorough reading. Please don’t dismiss them as “easy books”.
For physics and maths, it is sufficient to focus on minimizing mistakes by analyzing the patterns in them if one’s conceptual foundations are clear. If not, it is best to focus on that first. For chemistry, NCERT books are sufficient to cover all the questions in JEE Main. My advice would be to focus on all the fine points in the books such as the trends given or have a general idea of the data in the tables.
Ojasvi: What books did you use for your preparations? Do you think NCERT textbooks adequate for preparing for JEE Main and Class XII?
Siddhant: I personally believe that books do not play that much of a role, but here’s my list (looks incomplete but this is all I had time for during preparation along with coaching materials)
HCV (very important for fundamentals). This might be clichéd but please go through the questions for short answer)
Irodov (more for advanced though)
NCERT- the single most important book for JEE. As I said before, it is important to study line by line. My shift had several offbeat questions from obscure/ignored parts of the book (the question on flame test)
SL Loney trig and coordinate geometry
Ojasvi: Which subject was the easiest and which subject was toughest for you in JEE Main? And how did you overcome what you found difficult?
Siddhant: In my opinion Chemistry was the trickiest subject (based on very fine points) and Physics was the most straight-forward (formula-based or routine situations) for me. The most crucial thing in the exam is to maintain cool confidence. If you do not have unshakeable confidence in yourself, I believe that JEE Main will seem harder than it actually is. In the exam, it is best to stay loose and adapt to the exam. I found chemistry a little unusual so I went for physics to build momentum.
I have a very troubled history with Maths. I struggled a lot with it in 11th and suffered from a severe lack of confidence in the subject. In my opinion, it is best to keep working on the subject even if it seems your efforts are going into a bottomless pit. It is only a matter of time that you will realize the difference in skill level. It is harder for one to see one’s own progression or regression. Believe in the process when it seems fruitless and leave the rest to God.
My biggest advice to you would be to STAY CALM and CONFIDENT!! The day before the exam I felt like I have forgotten everything. These thoughts or feelings are natural. DO NOT PANIC!!
I have also faced problems such as low scores on tests or silly mistakes. The answer has always been confidence. Avoid comparisons to other students. It completely sucks the energy out of you.
Ojasvi Gupta has worked for the Indian Express and Enactus DSC as a writer. Currently pursuing BCom Hons from Delhi University, she loves to spend her free time listening to music, reading, or playing with her dog. With her strong inclination towards writing, she serves as an author for Educere India.
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