'He barely uses his phone': Dubai student who topped JEE exam shares secret to 100% mark

Saji first took the exam in January and scored 99.99 but, because he was not satisfied, he sat for the test again in April


Nandini Sircar

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Pranavananda Saji with his family — Supplied photo
Pranavananda Saji with his family — Supplied photo

Published: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 6:35 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 10:02 PM

Dubai student Pranavananda Saji was named 'outside India topper' after scoring 100 per cent in India’s Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) — known to be one of the world's toughest exams. He clinched an overall rank of 31.

People who knew Saji said that one of the big factors that enabled him to ace the test was his limited use of mobile phones.

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The 17-year-old believes that "our daily devices" are a major distraction — so much so that he has almost eliminated phone tapping and scrolling from his routine.

“I always kept my phone on silent and called back people during my free time. If there were any important calls, then those would go to my mother's phone," Saji said.

The JEE is a standardised test that allows applicants to get into some of the premier engineering colleges in India.

Saji first took it in January and scored 99.99. Not satisfied, he sat for the test again in April to improve his score.

For candidates who appear in both sessions of the examination, the best NTA score is accounted for.

Explaining why he decided to retake the exam despite a nearly perfect mark, the IHS Oud Mehta student said: “Once you get to a certain level you must try to improve it. One must try to maintain a good balance and remain consistent in all subjects.”

Being calm helps, too

Although Saji is a diligent student who went all out in preparing for the exam, he admitted he got anxious when faced with challenging questions during his initial attempt.

“In my initial two hours, everything went smoothly, but as I progressed to the math section, I panicked a little bit. I encountered some difficult questions, and I began to worry that if I made mistakes, it would affect my performance negatively. Luckily, I managed to regain my composure, had enough time to rectify things, and managed to get good results,” said the Dubai resident.

“However, in the second attempt, I focused on being calm and that helped a lot. I didn’t make any mistakes like the previous attempt,” he added.

Saji is now preparing for the JEE Advanced exam as he hopes to get into a college of his choice.

“I want to study computer science at IIT Bombay,” he said. “The Mains exam qualifies me to get into colleges like NIT Trichy or IIIT Hyderabad, which is my preferred choice in this category. But after the JEE Advanced, if my rank is good, then I’d definitely like to join the IITs.”

The JEE is conducted in two parts: Mains and advanced. This year, more than 1.2 million students appeared for the NTA JEE Mains 2024 exam. Only the top 200,000 rank holders are qualified to appear for JEE Advanced 2024 or IIT JEE, paving their way towards prestigious engineering institutes.

Daily study routine

Although he has been working hard to ace his next exam, Saji said he never compromises on his sleep schedule.

“If I get less than six hours of sleep, then my next day is ruined. So, I avoid pulling all-nighters. I believe in good sleep and then studying for long hours to preserve energy. Time management is critical, and one has to aspire for the best and better results," he said.

He would dedicate a significant portion of his day to studying. “On weekdays, I study for six hours, and on weekends I study for 10-12 hours daily. At the Cochin Centre, I used to attend four classes during the week, and this would go on for three to four hours on average. The teachers there were very supportive and always ready to answer any doubts. Even when I was in self-doubt, they would instil confidence in me and reassure me that I can do well.”

Alka Malik, founder and managing director of Ascentria, said the institute could not be more proud of its student’s achievements.

“He deserves every bit of this success, and we expect a similar result from him in the Advanced exam. Pranavanand has consistently worked hard from Grade 11, followed every instruction given by the teachers, practiced every question in the modules, and cleared his doubts with the teachers whenever he could not solve any problem. This structured approach, discipline, lack of a mobile phone, and attending classes in person, all worked and got him his well-deserved success," she said.


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