Interview: CBSE Class XII Science Topper Aryaman Mihir Seth
What does it feel like to have scored 99.4% in the CBSE Class XII Examinations?
Honestly, I was dazed and it took a while for everything to sink in. I hadn’t expected such a result as I’d been preparing for JEE Advanced as well, which left me with little time for the board preparation. I felt indescribably euphoric, especially because of the 100 in English! My mother and brother were overjoyed, and after a long wait I was able to get through to my father in Ladakh, who was delighted to get the news. Soon, congratulatory messages and wishes started pouring in from family, teachers and friends. It was amazing!
How did you prepare for the examinations?
I didn’t enroll in any tuitions and relied entirely on self-study. My school teachers were very helpful and more than willing to solve all my queries. I tried to maximise my effort by making my preparations more time-bound and goal-oriented. Carefully analysing previous papers and their marking schemes helped me understand the best practices. Being innovative and thinking out of the box also played a role, especially in English. Towards the end, I practiced meditation and other calming techniques to reduce stress.
Who would you like to credit for your success?
The credit for this result goes to my parents and my brother, who were always there when I needed their guidance. I’d also like to thank my school teachers for their dedication and commitment and for all the help and encouragement they provided throughout my preparation.
Can you tell us more about your extracurricular accomplishments?
I’ve always enjoyed participating in diverse activities outside the classroom. Being a black belt and two-time national medal-winner in taekwondo, I was selected to represent India at the International Student Games at St Petersburg, Russia. I’m an avid quizzer and have won awards at the The Doon School Infinity Quiz, The Welham Girls Eureka Science Quiz, the Cambrian Hall GK Quiz and the Convent of Jesus and Mary Maths Quiz, among others. I also harbour a keen interest in debating and was adjudged the ‘Best Speaker’ at the Mother Isabel English Debate held at CJM. Being interested in drama and theatre, I landed a role in Vandana Kataria’s award-winning film, ‘Noblemen’.
The post-COVID world would demand a different education system. Do you think an online education system will achieve the holistic development of students?
Implementation of online classes is a challenging task as a large number of students belonging to the economically backward strata of society lack the required infrastructure. However, even if we somehow overcome this hurdle, online classes are no substitute for classroom teaching, which ensures engagement and discipline and involves a lot of interaction and deliberation. Moreover, if students are not able to attend school physically, extracurriculars will take a backseat, which will hamper their overall development.
Can you tell us more about your other scholastic achievements?
I secured 99.94 percentile in the JEE Main 2020 and have been awarded the National Talent Search (NTS) Scholarship by MHRD and the National Fellowship in Basic Sciences under the Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY). I topped the state in the National Standard Examinations in Physics, Chemistry and Astronomy. I represented the state at the Indian National Mathematical Olympiad and secured AIR 40 in the Earth Science Olympiad. I was also the national winner of the Scholarship Programme for Awareness, Reasoning and Knowledge (SPARK).
Who or what kept you inspired throughout the process?
My elder brother, Shubhankar, is my greatest source of inspiration, not only in academics but in all aspects of life. He is exceptionally intelligent, wise and empathetic and mentors me in everything I do. My parents have taught me the importance of being a good and principled human being above everything else and I hope I can be like them someday. I also adore the gifted astrophysicist Stephen Hawking for his ideas and books and the fact that he overcame a near-fatal illness to become the world’s most famous and loved scientist.
What suggestions would you want to give to the students preparing for exams during the lockdown?
I feel that concentration is the key to success and long hours of study are fruitless if one is distracted and can’t focus on the task at hand. I decided to try and give my 100% whenever I sat down to study, and found that my efficiency increased manifold and I had enough time for other activities as well. Being focused also improved my retention and enhanced creativity. Therefore, I would suggest that students should try out techniques to improve concentration. Personally, I achieved this by drastically cutting down time spent on social media and television, practicing meditation and engaging in regular sports activities.
What are your plans for the future?
Ever since I was a little child, I’ve always been fascinated and intrigued by the cosmos and all its mysteries. I would like to pursue astrophysics as it excites me and offers insight into how the universe works. The subject is dynamic, with a long history of change and development and it isn’t dictated by easily observable laws. Astrophysics also tries to find answers to questions like how life began and the future of our planet and the universe, and this philosophical aspect greatly interests and captivates me.