Jaipur boy Mridul Agarwal tops IIT JEE Advanced; only one girl in top 100

File photo of students appearing to the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Advanced test, at an examination centre in Hyderabad.   | Photo Credit: G. Ramakrishna

Mridul Agarwal from Jaipur has scored 96.6% to become the common rank list topper in the JEE Advanced examination, which is the entrance test for the Indian Institutes of Technology. Kavya Chopra of Delhi was the only girl in the top 100, scoring 79.4% and achieving the 98th spot on the common rank list.

Almost 30% of the 1.4 lakh candidates who attempted the exam qualified this year. However, only 15% of the 41,862 students who qualified were girls.

Rocky road

This year’s students had a rocky road to the JEE examination, with their education over the last year and a half having been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic which forced school closures, exam delays and even cancellations. However, Mr. Agarwal said the lockdown was “an unexpected blessing” for him, even though it led to schools being closed. “Since there was no need for a commute, there was time saved as I did not have to travel for school or coaching classes as both were online. I actually found there was less pressure, and it gave me time to develop sharper skills,” he said.

‘Positive attitude’

In fact, he says the secret of his academic success is his “positive attitude and approach towards everything, even his own mistakes.” Mr. Agarwal plans to study Computer Science in IIT and then travel abroad for further studies, but his long term ambition is to contribute to building India’s own education sector, so that Indian students don’t have to leave the country.

Ms. Chopra also intends to specialise in Computer Science, preferably at IIT Delhi, and hopes that campus life will resume as quickly as possible in the post-COVID era. From her own observations of her classmates, she offered a perspective on why fewer girls succeed in entering the IITs.

“I have seen this repeatedly in my coaching class, that often when girls make a mistake, they get anxious, associating it with their self-worth. Many of them think, ‘I am a failure, I can’t do anything.’ But most of the boys just think they have made a mistake and look how they can correct it and learn from it,” she said. Although girls do well in the CBSE board exams, she felt that the better quality of questions in the JEE, as well as the focus on science and maths alone amplified the anxiety often experienced by girl students.

Only 19% of female candidates qualified this year, in comparison with 30% of the boys. The IITs offer more than 1,500 supernumerary seats available only for female students in order to encourage more gender diversity in their classrooms. Last year, 6,707 female candidates qualified through JEE Advanced, out of which 3,025 were selected for regular courses. However, only five female candidates got seats through the gender neutral pool of seats, according to IIT Delhi’s report on last year’s exam.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 3:30:47 AM |

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