His peers may be dreaming of MBAs and PhDs, but politics is the profession of choice for S. Nivvedan, one of the toppers in the entrance examination to IITs and other institutions.

Ranked 113 in JEE-2010, Nivvedan did his primary schooling in Ulippuram village near Salem, before moving to Salem city and, subsequently, Chennai. “I have always been interested in politics and it is my ambition to become a good politician,” he says.

The student of the FIITJEE Pinnacle two-year programme also likes visiting new places, and says that after enjoying his stay in Chennai for the last two years, he would like to join IIT-Bombay to experience life in the financial capital of the country.

This year, though the all-India topper is from the IIT-Madras zone [from Hyderabad], and with 2,619 students in the merit list of 12,676 candidates, Chennai city has seen a reduction in the number of students in the top ranks.

Ankur Jain, centre director, FIITJEE, Tamil Nadu and Kerala Operations, says though there are no top 100 ranks this year, the students have performed creditably. “A change of 1 mark can mean a difference of 40 ranks or so in the merit list.”

K.K. Anand, founder-director, SMART, says it is essential to start working towards mastering the concepts required for JEE from Class IX itself. “In Class XI and Class XII a proper balance should be maintained between studying for school and preparing for JEE. But, that said, there can be no excuses for candidates preparing for competitive examinations.”

Some students felt Mathematics was “tough” but B. Sai Krishna, ranked 122 in the merit list and a student of SMART, says practice is essential to doing well. “I did my best and expected a good rank. The paper was lengthy and there were new kinds of questions, but overall the paper was okay.” He wishes to study Computer Science or Electrical Engineering at IIT-Madras.

S. Siddharta, ranked 203, who has been a classmate of Nivvedan for seven years in Salem and in FIITJEE, Chennai, wants to study at IIT-Madras as a first step towards doing an MBA.

“I am happy with the result though I felt I could have done better.”

G. Sudha Mani, director and chief operating officer, SmartLearn Telcomp, says a number of students availed themselves of the scholarships offered by her organisation to use e-learning tools including lecture videos prepared by subject experts.

“Interactive, computer-based learning is a useful tool for students preparing for such examinations.”