He believes that to crack the highly competitive Indian Institute of Technology-Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE), one does not need to burn the midnight oil. From the classrooms of St Gabriel's High School in Warrangal, a district in Andhra Pradesh that boasts ancient temples and stone-carved monuments, to the corridors of the illustrious Indian Institute of Technology, the journey has been one of belief, hard work and lots of fun.
In an exclusive interview, the 2010 IIT-JEE topper, Anumula Jithendar Reddy tells Shwetal Rai what it takes to be an IIT topper.
How does it feel?
I am so happy. I have worked hard for the last two years. It feels very nice to see the result. I have to thank my parents and my institution, Narayana Junior College. I was very nervous before the exam. Before going into the exam hall, I took 10 minutes off and thought of all the good times I've had and relaxed. After that I wrote the exam and it has worked so well. I was thrilled to see the result.
From when did you nurture the IIT dream?
My father A Ramachander Reddy is an NIT professor and my mother, T Shobha, is a teacher in a government school. So, education runs in my family. From my childhood, I was focused and interested in competitive exams. So writing the JEE was almost an obvious choice.
How did you prepare?
A lot of students from my college have got admission to the IITs. I was also studying for it, but did not take it very seriously in my +1. Then, I saw one of my seniors, Gopi Sivakanth. He secured an All India Rank of 3 last year in the JEE. So, he was like an inspiration for me. I studied seriously in my +2 year.
I stay at the hostel, so I never really studied for 10 hours or 12 hours. My hostel mates and I would spend a lot of time chitchatting but when we studied, we were very dedicated and serious about it. That really worked. I have always been interested in physics, so that wasn't very difficult. But I was weak in chemistry so I focused on learning that subject very well. I would clear doubts I had from my professors. I think, in the JEE, I did my chemistry well and that gave me an edge.
My parents have also been very supportive. They gave me my space and did not interfere in my studies. They got me the books that I needed and took good care of my health.
It was only in the month of February this year that I decided that I wanted a single digit rank. I was confident of ranking in the top 100, but once I set the goal for a single digit rank, I worked quite hard.
Any tips for students aspiring to take the JEE?
1. JEE isn't so hard. Many feel that it is a difficult exam and give up because they feel they won't get through. They should just go with an open mind and attempt the exam.
2. Be relaxed and write the exam.
3. Chemistry plays a dominant role. Make sure you study that subject well. If you finish the chemistry section in half an hour, you can give extra time to other subjects while writing the exam.
Your career plans?
I am interested in physics. I am looking at joining IIT-Mumbai and majoring in ECE while physics will be the minor subject. The reason I am looking at IIT-Mumbai is because some of my friends and I decided to go there and I am in touch with some professors there. Also, there are a few of my seniors there as well.
How do you spend your free time?
I love movies -- absolutely any type of movie. I watch movies for time pass so any movie is okay. Another thing I really like is gaming on my laptop, mostly cricket and football. I enjoy playing FIFA. When I am not studying or gaming, I love to hang out with my friends. My favourite hangout in Hyderabad is American Bakers and Cafe Coffee Day.
How do you plan to celebrate?
My family came to meet me. They are now going back to perform a pooja and other rituals to thank God that I have succeeded so well. I will party with friends here.