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ICSE toppers

ICSE 2022: #1 rank holders share success mantras

July 19, 2022

The Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) exams results announced Sunday (July 17) saw four students – Hargun Kaur Matharu of St, Mary’s School, Pune, Anika Gupta of Sheiling House School, Kanpur, Pushkar Tripathi of Jesus and Mary School and College, Balrampur and Kanishka Mittal of City Montessori School, Kanpur making it to the national toppers list at 99.8 percent. The CISCE #1 rank holders talk to Dipta Joshi of EducationWorld about the power of practice – their secret sauce to achieving success.  

Hargun Kaur Matharu, St. Mary’s School, Pune


Scoring #1 rank at national level come as a surprise to you?  

I was expecting to do well but being one amongst the country’s top rankers was beyond my imagination since competition amongst top rank holders boils down to a difference of decimals. It’s a nice feeling to represent Maharashtra on a pan-India level as one of the four toppers since the other three CISCE national toppers belong to Uttar Pradesh.

What helped you to perform so well?

I believe in understanding the lesson well in the classroom and then revising it at home the very same day. This method ensures longer retention and is helpful when dealing with a vast syllabus. Before the exams during the study leave, I kept revising my lessons according to the timetable and doing a lot of practice papers.

Did you have to sacrifice your extra-curricular interests?

As the school head girl, I remained involved in organising events like debates etc. while school was on. I also continued to pursue my interest in drawing and art and used it as a tool to relax after long hours of studies.

Having the exams in two phases and the MCQ format during semester I prove to be an advantage?

I think there were pros and cons to the new format. I think MCQ format made it easier in some subjects like geography etc. where just knowing the answer was enough instead of having to learn the definitions etc. However, it didn’t help in a subject like maths where in a regular exam we are marked for our method too. I also think having exams for each of the semester allowed us to focus on the topics alone though it did extend the period of rigorous studies to two months (before the two exams).

What is your preferred stream for class XI?

I am interested in taking up the science stream with physics, chemistry and maths (PCM) in for class XI and XII. I will be preparing for JEE and I am checking my options between robotics or research in pure sciences.

Study tips for students

Firstly, instead of focusing on your marks, focus on understanding the concepts well. Ensure you practice solving previous years’ papers too. My school teachers made us do many papers during both the semesters which helped a lot.

Pushkar Tripathi, Jesus and Mary School and College, Balrampur

Were you expecting to make it to the national topper’s list?

My parents and school teachers were expecting me to do really well at the state level based on my past performance. I too was expecting to perform well but making it to the national level topper’s list was a big surprise for me and my family.

Did you follow a disciplined study routine?

No, but I did go back and put in extra efforts on topics that I needed help in. I used to refer to videos available and solve the previous year’s question papers. I also had my teachers to go to whenever I required deeper understanding of a topic.

Having the exams in two phases and the MCQ format during semester I prove to be an advantage?

Having to write the exams in two phases didn’t make a difference to me personally. I had done well in my semester one as well. I think you need to prepare just as much for every exam whatever the format.

What is your preferred stream for class XI?

My parents are both doctors but I have varied interests that I am exploring right now. I enjoy biology and geography and am also interested in studying computer applications. I am currently studying at Kota preparing for the national eligibility cum entrance test (NEET).

Study tips for students

We have the advantage of having multiple resource avenues (Google, YouTube videos etc.) besides the notes given by the school teachers. Students should use these to clear one’s doubts. One should also take pictures and keep links of our study material handy on our phone, so that we always have access to it no matter where we are.

Anika Gupta, Sheiling House School, Kanpur

AnikaWhat was your first reaction on learning you are one amongst the four  national toppers?

I was really shocked to learn that. I had scored a full 100 percent in my first semester and everyone at school had high expectations from me. My parents never put any pressure on achieving high scores.  They simply asked me to make an honest effort and I expected to score around 98 percent this time around.

Did you have to sacrifice your other interests during the year?

I had a lot of fun throughout the year even as I put in four to five hours of studies. I love to sketch and read novels, and balanced my breaks and study hours well. 

Having the exams in two phases and the MCQ format during semester I prove to be an advantage?

Having semester wise exams was a big relief as the entire syllabus was divided which meant I could focus on the topics well. Also while I am ok with both the MCQ and the long form format, I personally prefer the MCQ format since it prepares me for my future entrance exams all of which are in the MCQ format. Numerical and tricky questions in the physics MCQ paper proved that students need to be thorough with their concepts and have good practice too.

What is your preferred stream for class XI?

My parents are both doctors and I want to be one too. I will appear for the central universities entrance test (CUET).

Study tips for students

Schools take a lot of trouble to provide students with mock tests, papers from different schools etc. I believe students benefit a lot if they follow their teacher’s recommendation. Students also need to practice writing the long answers especially in the language subjects where comprehension etc. is important.

Kanishka Mittal, City Montessori School, Kanpur

Kanishka MittalWhat was your reaction on being amongst the four national toppers?

Gratitude! I am really grateful to everyone who contributed to my achievement. I had scored 99.75 in my semester one results so my teachers had faith in my abilities to do better. Personally I believe ranks and marks are not the ultimate criteria but doing your best, knowing your limits and pushing yourself to go beyond those limits is important.

Was there any particular subject that you found difficult?

I think the ICSE board is quite predictable and yet every subject needs a different approach during preparation. For instance, while English remains the same, decoding how to tackle the grammar and comprehension section is a touchstone to preparing for the subject. I feel if you have the guidance of seasoned faculty and peers, you can prepare well using different approaches.

Did you have to sacrifice your other interests during the year?

Yes, I did sacrifice a lot.  I have varied interests and indulge in oratory, writing articles etc.  I also strive to manage my time well. So each time, I deviated from my schedule, I struggled to revert to my routine.

Having the exams in two phases and the MCQ format during semester I prove to be an advantage?

The MCQ format did bring a novelty to the exams in the first semester. I think, while having two exams did make it easier in some ways, it also added the burden since you spent more hours in both the terms preparing for the exams.

Study tips for students

I would say students need to focus on managing the multiple resources available since there are loads of guides and mock tests available. It is also important to have easy access to both online information as well as hard copies on a topic. Our teachers asked us to solve the same papers repeatedly instead of solving different papers each time. This allowed us to extract the predictability factor in the papers as well as understand our weaknesses while writing the papers.

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