Interview of Sakshi Pradyuman AIR 1 in ISC

Sakshi Pradyumn, a brilliant student of City Montessori School, Kanpur Road Campus secured AIR 1 in ISC (Class XII) board examinations. He became the All India Topper by securing 99.5% marks with a perfect score of 100 in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science and 99 in Hindi and 98 in English. This is not the first time that this boy has clinched the first position. In Class XI, he brought glory to his institution by securing the first rank in Indian Intelligence Test which was organized as a joint venture of Jagran Prakashan Limited and Knowledge Partner Sigrid.

His achievements are many and varied. He is a proud recipient of the prestigious NTSE, KVPY and UPSTSE scholarships. During his school days, he participated in various debates, dramas, quiz contests and spelling bee competitions at school and city levels. Apart from academics, he likes to indulge in tennis, chess and music. His participation as a state team player in tennis and chess gave him a great opportunity to manage his stress and compete at national level events. He was awarded ‘Student of the Year 2016, Lucknow City’ by Global SOTY Foundation, India in 2016. And as a mark of recognition of his various talents, he also received ‘All Rounder of the Year 2016-17’ at City Montessori School, Kanpur Road Branch, Lucknow in 2017.

What’s heartening to learn about this young Champion is that he is very much inclined to serve the needy. His social service endeavours and multifaceted skills earned him “Gold Standard of the International Award for Young People (IAYP)” in 2018 by The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award foundation.

Just recently on 17th July 2018, this meritorious student got another wonderful news. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi had not only tweeted an image of Sakshi’s letter to him but also thanked Sakshi for it. In the letter, Sakshi had thanked the Prime Minister for his book ‘Exam Warriors’, which he said had helped him achieve such a great feat in the ISC board examinations. Apart from the PM, Sakshi also expresses his gratitude to his school teachers and his parents who always guided and supported him. And true to his potential, this young achiever’s interest lies in technology and he aspires to be an engineer. In this interview with Priya Sarin, Sakshi would like to share some words of wisdom to guide you all on your path to success.

How did you overcome exam related stress and anxiety? What were your stress busters?
I believe exams are a test of your skill not you. So, I always take the examinations as a measure of what I know and enjoy the process of learning. Still, a bit of anxiety is inevitable. One should definitely have some hobbies and pursue them in the leisure time. I personally engrossed myself in tennis, chess and music to keep me going and refresh my mind to infuse creativity.

School and parents play a pivotal role in an achiever’s success. How did your teachers and parents help you achieve this great feat?
None of the achievements are possible without guidance and supervision apart from your hard work. My teachers taught me the nitty-gritties on which I should focus upon and parents guided me in forming my timetables and managing my schedule for giving ample time to various activities I pursue.

Achievers tend to lead an organised life. How do you deal with clutter and organise your stuff?
A student evidently has enormous course to cover in every subject, and things tend to get chaotic. I have also been in tight corners but the remedy lies in the fact that to organise your things unclutter your mind. Make a timetable, try to keep relevant books on your table and flourish!

Can you share any tips on improving the quality of studying rather than simply maximizing the quantity of studying?
Thinking rationally while understanding the concepts will make the topic permanent. Go through a topic in an efficient manner such that you retain it. That might be done by highlighting keywords or making short notes. Do cover the full course and leave nothing to chance unless specified by your teachers. Always follow your teacher’s advice: how to answer a problem, steps that must be included, etc.

Studies have shown that having the right confidence helps boost academic performance. We know the benefits of having confidence, and the harms of both overconfidence and under-confidence. How do ensure that you have optimum confidence, especially during exam season?
Confidence is the internal feeling which fruits only when you know that you have given your hundred percent. It might seem a bit cliché, but it is the truth that only when your efforts achieve satisfaction can you perform without hesitation. Read the text thoroughly, keep a light atmosphere and iterate your belief in your perseverance.

Many students have trouble sleeping properly or experience change in their eating habits during the exam days. Any suggestions for them?
Ample amount of sleep is necessary not only during the exams, but also throughout life. Clock that sleeping time after which you feel fresh and not drowsy. Start to follow this pattern two weeks before your Board examinations. Check the timings of the exams and prepare a schedule according to it. In this way, you can even add a nap should you require it.

Peer pressure can be both positive and negative. Achievers like you have a positive impact on others. But then being a native of digital world, can you tell us how do you ensure that you remain uninfluenced by negative peer pressure?
I believe one should never feel burdened by the peer pressure. It is our mentality to do what our friend does. I suggest you to take up the positive aspects in your friend and try to inculcate in yourself. Aversion from ‘negative’ and unhealthy media is always good. Leave the fungus of incoherence and rather interact with people and witness some engaging media. Avoid company of those who blabber more and do less. And never compete to outdo the other; compete to outdo your former self.

Achievers tend to complete difficult but important tasks first rather than delaying them. This helps them devote adequate time and attention to their important tasks. Can you tell me some of your preferred prioritisation techniques that help you make the most of your time?
Everyone is unique and has different plans to go about the problems. I prefer to take on the tough and easy tasks simultaneously. In this way, I do not drain out my energy on few challenging assignments. I am thus able to devote time for the relatively easier ones. Spending too much time on the hard enterprises will leave you devoid of enthusiasm to pursue the simple ones, which could have been more scoring.

For students of this digital age, focusing and working on one thing has become the biggest obstacle. But your results show you definitely know how to concentrate while studying, what are the main things students can do to concentrate better?
I am not a bookworm and always keep myself active in other activities. These activities include not only spending time on social media but also in conversing with people, playing in the field and spending time with my relatives and pets. These are important as they infuse creativity and rejuvenate me to concentrate on my studies. One should have some passions to enjoy and boom! You are beaming with new filled vigour.

Recent research suggests success is partly driven by life skills. Self-motivation and self-control seem to be a better predictor of success than IQ in school and beyond. Do you agree? Why?
Life skills are the necessities in today’s world, and it is not something one is not aware of. How one carries oneself, the attitude with which one perceives the successes and failures actually define one’s personality. Your score in your exams does not necessarily mean complete success because success is a fruit possible only with determination, motivation and commitment towards your work.

We know that we need to eat right, exercise regularly and get adequate sleep to stay healthy. But now, numerous scientific studies have confirmed that happiness is an integral part of well-being. What are the things that make you happy? Any tips for your juniors?
Happiness is a salient emotion which signifies our well-being and mental stability. Happiness has different definitions but the most apt one might be to feel contented. It is achievable by following your passions, instilling joviality in life, and ennobling our minds. To make myself happy, I would see some infotainment serials, indulge in my hobbies, communicate mutually and overcome anxiety. Recipe of happiness? Do what is right and believe in what you do.

Revision is important to ensure that you are able to retain and recall your lessons. How do you a ensure quick and effective brush up before exams?
Highlighting the text, making some notes and keyword-cards are some of the methods which ensure efficient revision. But it is necessary to go through the text and not just guides for subjects. Revision by practising previous years’ question papers is a good way to reinforce the concepts and solve some examples simultaneously. Constant efforts with a smile on your face will enliven your journey to success.