10 May 2013

+2 Preparation...

I did my schooling in Kerala. State Board.

When we were studying, there was no concept of Higher Secondary, also known as +2. The student completes class 10 or the Secondary School. The Secondary School exam, also known as SSLC exam (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) is the first Public Exam that the student will face. Once a student complete SSLC, she will go to Pre-degree, also known Higher Secondary or  as +2 in some places.

In Kerala, your School education ends with SSLC and then you move to College / University for Pre-degree. 

You have to spend two years in Pre-degree. We called it Pre-degree first year and Pre-degree second year. We had University exam in both the years. The sum of the marks that you received in both the years will be your Pre-degree marks.

Admission to graduate colleges start after the completion of Pre-degree. In those days, admission to graduate classes were based only on the marks obtained in the Pre-degree exam. There were no entrance exam like these days. So getting a good score in Pre-degree had a kind of 'Lasting Impression' on your life.
So you can imagine how important are marks in Pre-degree were for a Student.

For Pre-degree, I took the Maths-Physics-Chemistry group, also known as Ist Group in our parlance. In the first year, each subject had a maximum of 60 marks. In the second year, each subject had a maximum of 90 Marks. Maximum marks for all the subjects put together in both years was 450.

In the first year, I was one of the worst performers in our college. I got, I think, 37 / 60 in Maths,  about 20 / 60 in both Physics and Chemistry. I did not do well in Languages either. I was the only student to fail in Hindi (our national language!!). I remember our class teacher regretfully telling me, "I expected more from you". 

The Pre-degree first year results are announced sometime in January and it is immediately followed by Pre-degree second year exam in middle of March. So effectively we had about three months between First Year results and Second year exam. 

In Kerala, we had a facility to repeat the first year exam along with the second year exam. If you are not happy with your score in First Year exam, you can repeat the same along with the Second Year exam. The marks of the later exam will be considered for Pre-degree. 

With my first year marks being pathetic as they were, I decided to repeat MPC. I also had to repeat Hindi since I had failed it in the first year. 

So you can see that I had to write 4+5 = 9 (My math is good!!), including 6 subject papers and 3 language papers (Hindi Y1 and Y2 and English Y2). And I had only 3 months to prepare !!!

Still I was not serious. I did not do my studies. 

While I was in the second year, the Pre-degree marks of our senior batch was announced. One student in our college, George Joseph I think was his name, had scored 448 / 450 in the Pre-degree exam and he was the college hero. 

So this is the background to what I am about to tell you. 

I used to go to college and back in our Company bus. On our return, the bus passed in front of a famous Woman's college. In the year, it was 1980, the felicitation ceremony for the Rank Holders of the various exams in the University was held in this Woman's college.

While passing the college everyday, I used to dream that in the current year also, the felicitation was to be held in the same woman's college, and I was on the stage accepting the award for the University Topper. I had scored 450 / 450 in the Pre-degree exam and as I was accepting the award in front of all those wildly cheering girls !!

That was right. I had fared miserably in the first year and here I was dreaming that I became the University topper and I had scored 450 / 450 (100% marks) !!.

That was some day dream.

This happened every day. Every evening I will be sitting in the front seat and watch as the woman's college approached. As it approached, I visualized myself receiving the award for the University Topper from the Vice Chancellor.

I have a knack of day dreaming. And here, I was at my best.

In between I also used to dream my professor telling me, "After George, we never thought that anyone could break that record. And in the very next year, you have done that. After last year's performance, I had almost given up on you. But you proved all of us wrong"

I also visualized the next year students of my college looking at me with admiration. "This is Ram", they say in my dreams, "he scored 450 / 450 in the Pre-degree exam"

I was spending most of my days dreaming !.

And the second year exam was catching up fast. I had not started studying at all.

Then one day, while our bus was right in front of the bus stop and I was in the midst of my dreams, I suddenly woke up, as it were.

There was no way that my dreams will come true, if I did not study.

That thought was very, very powerful. In a moment, I saw my dreams shattering as I realized that I had so much to catch up and that if I didn't do well my career was doomed and that I hadn't started studying at all !!

How was I going to achieve my dreams?

I remember that that evening, as soon as I reached home, I threw my bags on the table, took out my book and started studying.

That is it. At 4.30 PM that day, I started studying.

Once I started, like Forrest Gump, I couldn't stop. I did not go out at all. I studied in the day, I studied in the night, I used to go to sleep at about 1.00 AM, get up at 6.30 and even without brushing my teeth, started studying. I learned pages after pages by heart. One of my heroes was an IIT guy, who, if you tell the page number and paragraph number, would recite the paragraph by heart. I wanted to be like him.

I read my Chemistry book of Y1 and Y2 by heart, I read the physics text book of Y1 and Y2 by heart, I read my Hindi text book by heart, I did all the sums in my Maths text book (Literally, I mean it, there was not a single sum in those text books that I did not do on my own !!) of Y1 and Y2.

I studied like a maniac. I studied almost 18-19 hours a day. I wanted that 450/450. I wanted it so desperately.

After some time, the study itself became the motivation. I forgot that I wanted to be in front of adulatory girls.  I wanted to achieve my potential.

Since I had done all the question papers of the previous 10 years of all subjects, the exam turned out to be cool. I was so damn relaxed that I committed some very silly errors.

I was over-prepared.

I knew I had done well. I knew that I won't get my 450.

When the results came, I got 147/150 in Maths (60/60 in Y1 and 87/90 in Y2), I don't remember my exact marks in Chemistry and Physics (they were somewhere near 140). I got a total of 424/450.

And I topped my college in Hindi !!.

I easily topped the first group. I was second in the college, the topper being a girl who went on to become a doctor.

I went on to join Mechanical Engineering in an Engineering College in Kerala.

In that year, the University conducted the felicitation in a Men's college (That's right, they have them in Kerala even now !!). So I did not miss much, I suppose.

So what are the lessons that one can learn from my story?

1. Having a dream is very important. The more big it is, the better.
2. Power of visualization is very important. I visualized that I had got 450/450, that I was the topper and I was being felicitated in the midst of all the cheering girls. I visualized myself as a University Topper.
3. Hard work, almost monomaniacal and focused hard work is very important. No amount of dream could have got me that result if it were not for extra-ordinary amount of effort that I put in.

So there you have, my recipe for success. Dream, Visualize and Work Hard. And Succeed.

All the best.

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