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Yateesh Agrawal, who clinched the AIR 12 in the recently declared JEE Advanced 2017 results, is continuing a family tradition of topping JEE Advanced. For, his elder sister Yashti Agrawal is an IIT topper herself, having achieved AIR 1475 in 2015. The son of a business man and a homemaker, Yateesh though has raised the bar of success a few notches higher, something the family won’t be complaining much about! The toast of the nation and an inspiration for many, the Surat boy first started dreaming big when he was first introduced to coding at high school and he fell for it. That love of coding has stayed with him and become stronger with time, as he expressed his desire to pursue Computer Science in IIT Bombay. But interestingly, he wants to study in IIT Bombay not just because it is close to his home or that it is the top ranked IIT in the country, but there is another sweet reason: the weather of Bombay is pleasant! This shows that there is a nature lover inside this young achiever who also likes to indulge in the small pleasures of life. And his philosophy for success in JEE Advanced: don’t get distracted by what others are doing, instead focus on your strengths.
Careers360: Congratulations on your outstanding performance in JEE Advanced 2017. What was reaction on finding out your score?
Yateesh Agrawal: Thank you. I was very happy, but more than me, it was my parents who were ecstatic that my hard work had paid off. I touched their feet and then my teachers for blessings.
Careers360: Tell us something about yourself. Which school have you studied in?
Yateesh Agrawal: My dad is a businessman, who owns a rice mill in Surat, while my mom is a home maker. My sister is also an IITian, who is currently studying Engineering Physics at IIT Delhi. She has been a strong guiding force in my life and played a key role in my success. I studied at Shree Swaminarayan Academy in Surat till Class X. After that I moved to Kota and completed my higher secondary at Aklank Public School, which is afficiated to CBSE New Delhi.
Careers360: What is your score in JEE Advanced 2017? What is all your all India rank and category rank?
Yateesh Agrawal: I have scored 325 in JEE Advanced 2017 and am ranked 38 (AIR). In Physics I scored 104, 102 in Chemistry, and 119 in Mathematics.
Careers360: Why do you want to study engineering and when did you decide to study engineering? Which branch would you be interested in?
Yateesh Agrawal: I want to study computer science. When I was at school, I got attracted to coding (C, C++), and want to study in one of the top five IITs, preferably IIT Bombay.
Careers360: When did you start your JEE Advanced preparation? Tell us something about your preparation strategy and daily routine.
Yateesh Agrawal: I started my preparation in earnest when I was in class XI. I moved from Surat to Kota and took coaching at Allen. To be frank, I didn’t give too much thought to strategy. What I did was, listen carefully to what my teacher was teaching and carefully noting down the important points. At the end of class, we were given a homework diary that we had to complete at home. Once I reached home, I religiously completed the task given in the diary and discussed any doubts that I had the next day with the teacher. Also, before sleeping, I made it a point to go through all the important points that I came across in the day.
Initially, I tried to try the study material of other coaching institutes as well, but it didn’t work out well. I soon realized that it is best to stick to one set of study material, and in my case it was the one given by my coaching institute. Study material from different sources can be distracting.
Careers360: How was the preparation for JEE Advanced 2017 different from JEE Main?
Yateesh Agrawal: I had my eyes on JEE Advanced from the start and simply wanted to clear JEE Main, which I did. I scored 316 in JEE Main 2017 and was ranked 115.
In JEE Advanced we get around three minutes to answer a question, but only around two minutes per question in JEE Main. Since I was preparing for JEE Advanced, we were taught to devote around 1 and a half minute to a question and then move on, whether we could solve it or not. We used to circle unanswered questions so that we can come back and try it later if time permits. This strategy is to ensure that we don’t get stuck with a problem and end up spending valuable time. Time management, for this reason, was an issue for me during JEE Main.
Careers360: Since there was a month after JEE Main, what was your preparation strategy?
Yateesh Agrawal: During this time also the teachers at the coaching guided me. They gave us a time table and important topics for us to follow: like we have to study a particular physical chemistry topic between X to Y hours, and a topic from inorganic between Y to Z hours.
Careers360: Did you take coaching for JEE and if yes from where? What are the benefits of coaching?
Yateesh Agrawal: Yes, I took coaching for JEE. I enrolled at Allen when I was in Class XI. Till Class X I didn’t have much knowledge about JEE Advanced and how to go about my preparation. So, in my case it helped me immensely in my preparation. Also, I think at that time JEE Advanced paper used to be very difficult, unlike this year when it was quite easy. So may be to attempt today’s question paper you can do without coaching. Especially, this year’s JEE Advanced paper was very easy.
In my case leaving my hometown and going to some other place for coaching helped me improve my focus.
Careers360: How extensively did you practise mock tests and sample papers?
Yateesh Agrawal: In our coaching institute we used to have JEE Advanced paper after every two weeks. Attempting sample and previous year’s papers helped a lot. For instance, when I solved a previous year’s question paper I found that nearly 80% of the questions were easy. Only around some 10% were difficult. So, if one successfully attempts the easy questions, and 6% medim and 1% difficult questions, the candidate has a good chance of getting a good rank. My teachers were confident that if I attempted the entire paper with a cool head, I would be ranked inside the top 50.
Careers360: Are there any special books that you feel helped you in your preparation?
Yateesh Agrawal: I mainly followed the books prescribed by my mentors at my coaching institute and the study material provided by them. I didn’t have the time to follow books by other authors and institutes; also I felt reading different materials can create confusion.
Careers360: Did you face any problem during JEE Advanced examination? Which subject was the easiest and which was the toughest? What according to you is the most difficult thing about the exam?
Yateesh Agrawal: One problem I faced during JEE Advanced was I didn’t wear a watch and had no idea how much time was left. During JEE Main, a wall clock was hanged in front of the exam hall so students could check the time. It was not the case during the JEE Advanced, as there was no clock. It helped that I had appeared in many mock exams at Allen, and I kind of had a mental clock going inside my head. I would take a minute or so to attempt a problem, and then quickly move to the next. So, time management didn’t become an issue for me.
Mathematics was the easiest, but Physics and Chemistry were also relatively easy.
According to me, the most difficult aspect of preparing for JEE Advanced is to maintain the same tempo and intensity for close to two years. Some students manage to manage to do it for a time, but then miss the track. It also happened to me for a brief spell, but I managed to pick myself up.
Careers360: Did you find any difference in JEE Advanced Paper I and Paper II?
Yateesh Agrawal: Paper I was easier compared to Paper II.
Careers360: The answer keys revealed bonus marks for 5 questions. Did you answer those questions? What was your reaction while answering them and after the bonus marks were announced?
Yateesh Agrawal: I am disappointed because I didn’t benefit at all from the bonus marks, despite attempting all the five questions. Without the bonus marks, I think I would be ranked inside the top 10.
Even when attempting some of these questions, I had a feeling that something was amiss. But there is no way to know for sure, so you have to attempt all the questions. Also, I was following the formula of spending one and a half to maximum two minutes, so that way I didn’t too much time engaging with them.
Careers360: What do you think are the key factors behind your success?
Yateesh Agrawal: My teachers and my sister deserve credit for my success.
Careers360: How did you de-stress during your studies? And what are your hobbies?
Yateesh Agrawal: I played table tennis with my friends every alternate day to lay off steam. And if I was feeling low, I used to listen songs -I like Hollywood songs!
Careers360: Who is the biggest inspiration in your life?
Yateesh Agrawal: I have never thought about that, but if I have to choose a person then I would say my dad is my biggest inspiration.
Careers360: You are now an inspiration for many young students across the country. What is your message for future JEE Advanced aspirants?
Yateesh Agrawal: When you are doing something, say solving a problem, be focused and don’t get distracted. Your friend may be solving 10 problems, but you only one. If you focus on him, you will get nervous and lose focus. The best thing to do is put all your energy to tackle what you have in hand, with determination and unwavering focus.
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