The RISE Blog

Stories about education. About students. From Kashmir

Success stories: Faizan Sofi, the boy who topped Jammu and Kashmir State Board examinations

In January 2014 as JKBOSE results were announced we were delighted to hear that one of our students, Faizan Sofi, had secured 1st position in class 12 JKBOSE examinations. Consequently he went on to secure an admission to the prestigious BITS, Pilani. Owing to his performance in JEE Mains he was also able to secure an admission to NIT Srinagar. Faizan, who hails from Handwara in Kupwara, is currently pursuing Computer Science Engineering from BITS Pilani.

Given his incredible feat, we decided to ask him a few questions about his achievements. We also requested him to share his perspective on the current education scenario in Kashmir, especially for high school students. He also has some valuable advice for students preparing for JEE.

Q: What, according to you, is the key to success?
A: Constant perseverance, hardwork and confidence in your abilitites are some of the key features to gaining success. Apart from that, having well defined goals is a must. There may be times when one feels like being on the back foot but your strength of will at that point defines you and helps you come out of it.
Remember: "He who has lost hope has already lost".
Never lose hope!

Q: You were able to secure admission to BITS, Pilani. How did that come about?
A: Everything you do in life, you have to follow a certain method in order to succeed in that. Guiding principles are the same as mentioned in the earlier point. Focus is one important factor. Frankly speaking, I did not expect to secure admission in BITS through the Board Topper channel. You don't dream of becoming the topper and then securing admission. That is too much to plan.

Q: What are your suggestions to your juniors who aspire to secure admissions to IITs, NITs, BITS Pilani and similar institutes?
A: Many students fall prey to the distorted facts regarding the difficuty of the exams needed to get into these institutes. Just don't make a ghost out of it before doing their research. There is nothing extraordinary in securing admission in these institutes or any other premier institute. Get to know the pattern of the different examinations before preparing for the same. Do your basics right and gain proficiency in PCM in your intermediate classes. The point is to love the thing you do. If you love doing analytics, calculations, understanding concepts and then applying them, every exam afterwards adds to your learning process and doesn't pose as a burden.

Q: Students from Kashmir are not able to secure admissions to prestigious institutes of the country, and perform dismally in competitive examinations like JEE Mains or Adv. From a candidates perspective, what do you think are the primary reasons for the same?
A: After spending one and a half year in BITS, I can say we don't lag anywhere in talent. We are at par in that respect. Students outside have not done different things, they have done simple things differently. There is a big loophole in the way we teach our students here in Kashmir. Here we focus too much on theory. We dont teach rigorously how to apply the theory. I am not saying not to focus on theory but application of it makes it clear to the student what is the actuality behind the theory. No student can vouch that he has completely understood the concept unless he/she knows how to apply it. Teaching one without the other goes in vain. Other reasons include consulting wrong books and lack of self study. Many of the students here devote their time entirely to private tutions and school, resulting in minimal time for self study. There is no substitute for self study.

Q: What steps should school authorities take to ensure that students perform well in competitive examinations?
A: School authorities should make the education system concept-centric. This can be realised by enhancing participation of students in National Level Olympiads, exams like NTSE, UCO at an early level so that they can evaluate their potential and improve their conceptual understanding. For 11th,12th class students they can arrange mock tests on entrance-exam level or can further tie up with certain coaching centres to prepare them for competitive exams.

Q: What's your advice to class 11/12 students preparing for JEE?
A: I advise them to utilise their time properly. Ensure enough time is devoted to self study. At the end of the day, what matters is that eventually you are able to crack the examinations, piling up hours in your coaching institute without caring to self-study isnt going to reap any benefits. Enroll in such institutes which see to it that you devote time for self study. Remember your success in JEE is not related to the amount of hours you put in a coaching institute unless you take the pains yourself.
Starting your preparation early for JEE is very important. Don't be muddled in your way. Make sure this is what you want to do in your life. You should be clear-cut in what you want to achieve right after your class 10. "Well begun is half done".

Q: What things should students keep in their mind so as to ensure a good performance in Board Examinations?
A: To excel in board examinations, remember every part of the syllabus is important. One cant risk leaving anything.
Secondly, you should be able to complete each and every paper. Dont leave anything. Your chances to score good increase manifold once you ensure to have completed the paper. Time management is equally necessary. There may be some objective type questions which require only conceptual application. Well those questions ultimately decide where you end up in the merit list. So it is upto you to make your concepts clear. Solving the previous years papers is a good practice.

Q: You joined BITS Pilani. What are your career goals after graduating from BITS Pilani?
A: The opportunities are numerous after graduating from BITS. I would see myself as a professional in some MNC or alternatively, I want to pursue a research career in Computer Science or Mathematics. A final call is yet to be taken.