UCEED Topper Interview: In talk with Siddharth Camarushy- AIR 1 in UCEED 2021
For every Design aspirant in our country getting through UCEED or Undergraduate Common Entrance Test for Design which is the gateway for entering the Design courses at IITs is not less than a dream come true. In these tough times when all Board Examinations and Entrance Examination dates are getting postponed or cancelled making a good preparation strategy and working on it is getting challenging every day. Also, there are new aspirants as well who have just entered class 12th and will be attempting the UCEED 2022 along with the students who will be reattempting the examination in 2022.
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To solve all the preparation related queries, we contacted the UCEED 2021 AIR 1- Siddharth Camarushy for an exclusive interview with us to help all the UCEED and other Design Entrance Exams aspirants.
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Siddharth hails from Navi Mumbai and has almost secured his seat at IIT Bombay and wishes to pursue a career in Industrial Design. Being a design aspirant, the creativity level of this gentleman is really high and you can sense the same from the article pictures which has some of the designs made by him. To check more of his awesome creations, you may visit his Instagram Handle: https://www.instagram.com/sid_that_camarushy/.
Here are excerpts from the Interview:
Educere India: With your level of preparation, we are sure that getting a good rank in UCEED was always there in your mind but did the thought of getting AIR 1 in UCEED 2021 ever occurred to you?
Siddharth: Frankly speaking, before, during and right after the exam, it is always hard to say what sort of a result you can expect. In that moment, you do not think about the result, you only think about your performance. I went into the exam with the mindset that everyone else there was as well prepared, or better prepared than me, and that pushed me to perform with maximum alertness.
Once the answer key for part A (logical reasoning) was released a few days later, having checked my answers I realised that with roughly 185 marks out of 240, I had in fact scored well and could expect a good rank for sure. However, since I never took any coaching for the exam, I really did not have anyone to compare my score with, which meant that I was in suspense till the results were out. Besides, the marks scored per section change each year for toppers, depending on the difficulty level of the paper, so I could not use last year’s top scorers as a reference either.
In the end, an AIR 1 was quite a shock for me and my family, because while I had dreamt about it, I never really expected it.
Educere India: Students start their preparation for Examinations like JEE and NEET mostly just after passing class 10th or sometimes even before that or after they enter class 12th. When did you start your preparation for UCEED and how did you go for it? Kindly take us through your journey
Siddharth: UCEED is unlike any other mainstream examination because it does not test a student’s understanding of certain textbook concepts and their ability to apply these concepts and formulae in exams. Instead, it focuses on your ability to think out of the box, based on real-life observation, common sense, and simple math. So, preparation is not necessarily intense. That being said, while most of the questions are not hard, they are tricky, which is why alertness is important.
I started seriously preparing for design examinations only late in 2020, around October because prior to that, I had been focused mainly on my course for JEE and other engineering exams as well. However, I had always kept the aim of UCEED in my mind, right from when I was in class 9. I enjoyed solving mentally challenging questions, especially math-based. Because of my JEE coaching classes, I was also provided with ample mental ability-related questions to do, as we were also trained for the NTSE examination in class 10. By the end of class 11, I had already solved some of the past papers of UCEED and a few mock tests to gauge my level, and I was already scoring decent marks in the mental aptitude section. By October, I bought some books from BRDS, a well-known coaching institute for design exams. The books gave me tons of questions to practice before the actual examination in January of 2021. In addition to these questions, I also got papers from past years and sample papers. I never really had any set hours per day, I would just switch to design exam preparation when tired with my science-related exam preparation, and vice-versa to keep a healthy balance.
Educere India: How important according to you is solving past year papers in UCEED preparation? Do tell their significance in detail.
Siddharth: They are unmistakably important. Definitely the most significant part of my preparation, despite occupying only a few days. While I had already solved some papers by the end of class 11, the main bulk of solving papers came right before the examination. In the week before UCEED, I solved every single past paper starting from 2016 up until 2020 and a couple of sample papers, with full honesty and dedication. The reason they are of such significance is that they help you condition your mind to the level of questions you can expect in the actual examination. It also gives you practice for time management, so that you can effectively use the 3 hours you have in the examination. Like I said the questions are easy but tricky, which means for the more challenging ones, you will need good time to think. As a result, I solved as many papers as possible a few days before the actual examination.
Educere India: Having the right set of Books and study material is always a must for any exam preparation. What Books and Study materials would you recommend for UCEED preparation?
Siddharth: Books with a good level of mental aptitude questions, be it puzzles, number series, verbal reasoning, clock and calendar, etc are very important for UCEED preparation. UCEED is unique in the sense that it focusses more on mathematical parts of mental aptitude than creativity. But again, simple, logical math only. Other than such questions, observation power is very important, and can be best understood by attempting past and sample papers. In 2021, not much GK was asked, so I would not consider it very important. However, it is always good to be in the know about current affairs. My preparation for design exams was done mainly from BRDS books, but it is not just these books that are the key to success. The fact is this- dedicated preparation from any book with a lots of good mental ability questions can ensure a great rank. Not only books, even the internet is a great source for questions of different types.
Educere India: The Drawing section in UCEED is also a must to crack the examination. So, how did you prepare for the drawing section of UCEED?
Siddharth: The drawing section in UCEED is where an aspirant’s observation power is tested most. Generally, you are asked to depict real life places such as a kitchen, a living room, an office room, and so on. Usually, they do not ask you to draw humans, but you must still know how to make them. Your ability to draw minute details that make up such real-life places is tested, and for these details, you require that strong observation sense, and quick recollection. The best practice for UCEED thus is to make as many memory drawings as possible.
However, you also need to be quick, because you are only given 30 minutes for the drawing section, which is of 60 marks, these 60 marks are very scoring if done properly. Your lines need to be confident and most importantly, you must be proficient with perspective. Quick shading is essential. I would suggest not spending more than 15 to 20 minutes on sketching, and not more than 10 minutes for shading and/or colouring. Your initial sketch is what matters, so make sure your lines are defined. If you do need to shade, keep it light so that you do not waste time. A quickly done, but complete looking sketch is much better than a slowly done, incomplete sketch in UCEED. And they look for your quick sketching, sense of perspective, observation and precision more than your shading and rendering abilities. I know this because I made a very good sketch but shaded my drawing very roughly due to less time. I still got 57.5/60 in this part.
Educere India: Students give a lot of Mock Tests for examinations these days in order to analyse their performance and check their stand among competition. What according to you are some of the best mock tests if any that a student must appear to test their preparation for UCEED?
Siddharth: The best mock tests are really the papers from previous years. They give a very accurate representation of what to expect in the real paper, and to do them in a timed manner is highly beneficial. 2 hours and 30 minutes for part A (logical reasoning) and 30 minutes for part B (drawing). Past papers are best done a few days before the actual examination. Several other sample papers can be found on the internet. If you are a part of any coaching institute, then I am sure well curated sample question papers will be given as well. Even when doing questions from a book, students can time themselves. Try averaging 2 minutes per question for maximum speed, but do not loose out on your accuracy. If you encounter a tricky or difficult question, move on to the next question and come back to it in the end. UCEED has negative marking, so you should know which questions to leave and which to solve. While attempting these papers, it is best to start fast and maintain a good pace so that you do not miss any questions in the end.
Educere India: We are sure UCEED was your first preference but what if not UCEED? Are there any other examinations as well that you appeared for? Please share some of the major Design Entrance Exams that a student should appear for in India.
Siddharth: Of course, I aim to join the Industrial Design Centre at IIT Bombay this year, but I have still kept all of my options open. There are a lot of options in India for an aspiring designer. UCEED is a common entrance test, so various other institutes also accept a UCEED score. One of my other aims was the NID-DAT for National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. I had also registered for universities where I could pursue Industrial/Transportation design such as Unitedworld Institute of Design, Karnavati (UID-DAT) and MIT Institute of Design, Pune (MIT-DAT). However, I made these choices based on the fact that I wanted to pursue Industrial or Transportation design only. If one wants to pursue a different field in design, such as fashion, graphic, textile, product, etc, there are a wide variety of great institutes in India, such as NIFT, Srishti, Pearl institute, ISDI, and so on. Students must research on what they are passionate about, and where it is in their interests to pursue a said course. Dare I say, one may even look abroad if they have the resources.
Most importantly, one should understand that it is not only the top institutes such as IDC in IIT, NID, NIFT that matter. In the end, your portfolio decides how your career gets shaped, not what college you go to. Going to the “best institute” can only give you a platform but cannot guarantee success. Yes, you may get more opportunities because of the reputation a certain college has, but if you are an enterprising designer who knows how to make the best out of every opportunity offered to you, then no matter what college you go to, you can become a successful designer.
Educere India: Being a Design aspirant, we are sure that even your dreams would be highly creative. So, what is that you dream of now? Please tell us in detail about your future aspirations, career goals and of course your dreams.
Siddharth: My passion for design has stemmed from car design, and in the end, it is what I aspire to do as I grow up. The field in itself has fascinated me since childhood and continues to do so even today. My career goals are all centred around creating a path into the industry, and I hope to create the automobiles of the future. Right now, it is a dream, but it is a dream I am hopefully taking effective steps towards.
Career aspirations aside, I want to create awareness for the scope that design has in India. I consider myself as one of the lucky few who are able to follow their passion so freely, as many parents in India are still hesitant to allow their children to pursue art and design as a career because of how underdeveloped an industry it is here, and their concern is not misplaced. That is the reality of most portions of the design industry in India. It is an issue that I constantly think about because I personally know individuals who are stuck in the competition for mainstream fields but are passionate about the art and design. I hope that I can contribute something of value to the design industry so that for the future generations, design does not have to be a choice full of insecurity.
Educere India: We wish you all the best and hope you achieve all that you desire and make our country proud. Before ending the Interview, we would like to ask one last question: In these tough times, when offline classes are not being held and there is a lot of mental stress on all including students. What advice would you like to give the future UCEED aspirants for maintain their good mental health? Please share your own experiences as well since you went through your preparation during Covid-19 time.
Siddharth: There is no doubt, Covid-19 has caused tumultuous times in our country. It is another type of challenge for students who are preparing for exams that decide their colleges and their futures. Without offline classes, remaining focussed is in itself a challenge, coupled with the lack of real interaction between student and teacher. There was definitely an element of stress for me too, however I was lucky enough that it had nothing to do with covid itself. My family and I were safe then. My parents stopped letting me of the house for a month before the exam, to ensure that I did not contract the virus, and risk missing something I had worked so hard for.
One of the biggest challenges because of closed schools and classes however was maintaining a fixed routine every day. If a student can ensure that study hours are well appointed over the course of the day, and can stick to this plan from the start, success is inevitable. However, some recreation and exercises were always an important part of the day for me, be it yoga, meditation, skipping, sketching, or even social media. However, I learned to use social media to acquire new skills, make new friends and network with all types of designers. Thus, I can say that social media helped me, instead of distracting me.
What I am effectively trying to say is that if one uses his/her time effectively and productively, then stress can easily be avoided. The next UCEED attempt is in January of 2022, which means there is still a lot of time till then. Even a few hours every week for the first few months can give you a massive head start and ensure that your workload is reduced in the end. That is something I learned the hard way, because I myself started preparing later than I should have. Luckily, I managed to cope with it well enough, and found success in UCEED. But it goes to show that with sufficient dedication, talent and hard work, anybody can score well and obtain success in the exam.
UCEED is conducted every year by IIT Bombay for admissions into the B. Des or Bachelor of Design Courses in the various Design Fields offered at the Faculty or Department of Design at IIT Bombay, IIT Guwahati, IIT Hyderabad and IIITDM Jabalpur. Having a total of just 179 seats in these 4 institutes makes it one of the toughest Design Entrance Examinations in India.
The UCEED Topper Interview will not just help in making your preparation strategy for UCEED and other Design Entrance Examinations like NID DAT, UID DAT, NIFT Entrance Exam etc. But it will also help you in deciding a good design career goal for your life. The UCEED Topper Interview is very inspirational and a must for every UCEED aspirant to read in order to get a good rank in UCEED.
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