When we caught up with Abhilash Kar, who clinched the third rank in KEAM 2017, he was bubbling with positivity and enthusiasm, anxious to start a new journey in the company of budding engineers. And why not? After all he had already scored AIR 110 in JEE Advanved, and now the KEAM result has proved to be the icing on the cake. While speaking about his success, Abhilash stressed that more than hard work, one should strive for smart work, stay calm and composed. His other mantras of success include the three Fs: fearlessness, focus, and fruitfulness. Overcome fear, keep focus, and reap the fruits. Deviating from the trend, he also quipped that one need not rely on coaching to get a good rank in JEE Advanced or for that matter KEAM. Abhilash also surprised us with his explanations on combating stress. His unconvention ways of busting stress include staring at the blue sky with arms outstretched while uttering “everything is going to be fine”, at other times assuring himself with “All is well, all is well”. He coupled these with more conventional methods of busting stress like playing table tennis and reading history. Abhilash is now planning to study Computer Science in IIT Delhi and have our best wishes.
Readers can in the meantime read the lively interview we had with him!
Careers360: Congratulations on your outstanding performance in KEAM 2017. What was reaction on finding out your score?
Abhilask Kar: Actually the website was down and I was unable to check my result. It was a news channel that told me that I have secured the third position in KEAM 2017. But if boards were taken in account, I thought I would have been ranked two. That being said I am not disappointed and am happy with the result.
I was happy, but not surprised as I was expecting it.
Careers360: Tell us something about yourself. Which school have you studied in?
Abhilask Kar: I studied at Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Kottayam, Kerala. It is affiliated to CBSE. My dad is a farmer and my mom is a teacher.
Careers360: What is your score in KEAM 2017? What is your state-wise and category rank?
Abhilask Kar: I have scored 579.6 in the entrance exam.
Careers360: Why do you want to study engineering and when did you decide to study engineering? Which branch would you be interested in?
Abhilask Kar: Studying engineering has been my dream since childhood. As a child I was drawn to its practical aspects, and was fascinated by how it can be used for the welfare of the community. I was in class IX when I decided that it the profession that want to be in.
I am interested in studying in Computer Science, most probably from IIT Delhi.
Careers360: When did you start your preparation for KEAM? Tell us something about your preparation strategy and daily routine.
Abhilask Kar: Honestly, I didn’t spend even a day preparing for KEAM 2017. It was because, JEE Advanced preparation more or less covered the entire syllabus of KEAM. The basic concepts for both the exams were the same. If there was any difference between the two it was in style and approach, which I figured out before attempting the two exams. Also, succeeding in JEE Advanced was my explicit goal, so I didn’t want it to be affected in any way. The strategy worked because I ended up securing AIR 110 in JEE Advanced 2017.
Careers360: Was there are difference in preparation strategy in the last months of KEAM owing to boards exam? How did you manage your preparation for both?
Abhilask Kar: No there was no difference in preparation strategy as I simply concentrated on JEE Advanced. Also, whether it is JEE Advanced or KEAM or board, one basic success mantra is to stay calm and cool during the exam. One needs to follow the syllabus thoroughly and do enough practice. And there is no need not to slog for long hours to crack these exams. Instead, I think it is smart work that counts. For example, I rarely studied for more than four-five hours a day.
One aspect of my preparation was keeping a clear head and staying focussed. Then next was the thee Fs that I call them: fearlessness, focus, fruitfulness. Fruitfulness in this case is the result, which is the final destination.
Careers360: Did you take coaching for KEAM and if yes from where? What are the benefits of coaching?
Abhilask Kar: I didn’t take any separate coaching for KEAM. But yes, I did take coaching for JEE Advanced at TIME. In fact I managed to avail free coaching at the institute as I was sponsored by Dakshana Foundation.
I don’t think coaching plays a big role in the success of a candidate. On a scale of 100, I would say coaching can make a contribution of about 5%. Some few benefits of coaching are that it gives impetus to a student’s preparation and give him exposure.
Careers360: How extensively did you practise mock tests and sample papers? Did you practice previous years question papers?
Abhilask Kar: Yes, I did a lot of sample papers and mock tests. In fact without them it would be impossible to crack these exams. For KEAM I did only a couple of mock tests, but for JEE Advance I took more than 30.
I didn’t have much time to go through previous year’s questions papers of KEAM, but I feel it could help the one get an idea about the type of questions asked and difficulty level.
Careers360: Are there any special books that you feel helped you in your preparation? Are the school text book adequate for preparing for KEAM?
Abhilask Kar: The kind and type of books a candidate needs to follow may vary from student to student. Still I would recommend Physics books by HC Verma.
NCERT books in particular are very good for building basic concepts, especially NCERT Chemistry books and also to some extent Physics books. Once the candidate has learned the basics, he can move on to more advanced books.
Careers360: Did you face any problem during KEAM examination? Which subject was the easiest and which was the toughest? What according to you is the most difficult thing about the exam?
Abhilask Kar: Some issues happened on exam day when the photo on my I-card didn’t match with those with the invigilator and I was not allowed initially. I was finally, though, allowed to take the exam.
Careers360: Which subject was the easiest and which was the toughest in KEAM? What do you think is a tough thing to manage during KEAM exam?
Abhilask Kar: Mathematics was on the tougher side, while Chemistry was the easiest. Staying focus is the key to succeeding in KEAM.
Careers360: What do you think are the key factors behind your success?
Abhilask Kar: I had a natural skill to easily and quickly understand things that were being taught, even difficult concepts, so that helped. Also, I focused on improving efficiency rather than on increasing the reading time.
Careers360: How did you de-stress during your studies? And what are your hobbies?
Abhilask Kar: Stress has a direct correlation to fear; the more you fear about a certain thing, the more stress you would be under. So, I worked on a plan to mitigate fear. I would keep uttering “All is well” now and then to cool myself down, or take a moment and meditate. I even found staring at the big blue sky in all its glory, while uttering to myself “everything is going to be fine, everything is going to be OK”, very relaxing.
I am addicted to newpapers, and spend on average one to two hours daily going over the latest news of the nation and the world. I also like playing table tennis, and reading history.
Careers360: Who is the biggest inspiration in your life?
Abhilask Kar: Apart from my family, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam has been a big inspiration in my life.
Careers360: You are now an inspiration for many young students across the country. What is your message for future KEAM aspirants?
Abhilask Kar: Study with Love! I also wish to share these beautiful lines by Kahlil Gibran:
“Life is indeed darkness save when there is urge, and all urge is blind save when there is knowledge, and all knowledge is vain save when there is work, and all work is empty save when there is love.”
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