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After acing NTSE, this Leo Messi fan’s new goal is becoming a lawyer

Apeejay School, Mahavir Marg student Shobhna Aggarwal has made her alma mater proud by qualifying for the National Talent Search Examination



She says the formulae of Maths and Science don’t intimidate her, unlike many other students her age. Far from it, Apeejay School, Mahavir Marg student Shobhna Aggarwal says she enjoys the nuances of the subjects and that’s why she opted for the Sciences stream after securing 93.2 per cent in her class 10. Now, the class 11 student has made her parents and school proud by qualifying for the National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) at stage 2, which is the national level. In an interview, she discusses, among other things, how she didn’t require any additional coaching to prepare for NTSE, why she wants to become a lawyer when she grows up and how she was disappointed with football superstar Lionel Messi’s shift from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain. Edited excerpts:   

Congratulations on being selected for the National Talent Search Examination 2021. Which subjects were you tested in?

In the NTSE stage two exam, which is held for the national level, we are asked to attempt questions on Science, Maths, Mental Ability and Social Studies.

How did you develop an interest in pursuing Sciences as a stream?

Actually, I found Science to be easier than my peers from the very beginning. Also, since class 3 my mother Mukta Aggarwal has been teaching me mathematics and this helped me develop a deep interest in the subject. Since then, I have been fascinated with the subject. I may have chosen the non-medical stream this year, but I am not going to pursue Sciences as a career. I am more interested in another field altogether that is law. To pursue law as a profession and become a lawyer, you need not choose any particular stream after class 10.

When did you begin preparing for the NTSE exam?

I was able to deal with my school assignments without putting in too much effort. So, I can say that I did not prepare especially for any exam such as the NTSE.  The exam is conducted in two stages. In stage one I was in 10th grade. Most of my preparation was on the basis of what I was studying in school. My teachers supported me by taking extra classes. That was really helpful. And then stage 2 was conducted when I was in class 11 since it had to be postponed owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the second year too, most of my preparation was based on my school syllabi, because I chose the Sciences stream. It wasn’t that difficult because I was studying the same subjects in school, except for Social Studies. I have been appearing for Olympiads even before this for many years. Those were also competitive examinations based on the same subjects. So, I didn’t enroll in any special classes or coaching to prepare for NTSE.

Any interesting anecdotes that you remember from the time you appeared for the exam?

Yes, this happened during the second stage. It is a four-hour exam and after two hours you get a small break. The first two-hour exam was for Mental Ability and it was quite difficult. The level of questions was really tough for everybody including my friends and me. While speaking to one of my friends during the break, she jokingly mentioned that she had skipped 40-50 questions in the Mental Ability exam. When I heard that, I was surprised as well as relieved because compared to that, my examination had gone off really well. This knowledge boosted my confidence for the second two-hour test that went off really well.

How did your family react when they heard you had qualified for NTSE at the national level?

They were really excited. My parents have always wanted me to clear this examination since it is very prestigious. When I told them that I had been selected, they were over the moon. My father Sanjeev Aggarwal is a professor of Physics who runs his own coaching centre called Turning Point. Before me, my elder sister had also cleared NTSE when she was my age and she is now pursuing medicine.

How did the teachers at Apeejay School, Mahavir Marg help in your preparation?

During stage one, in class 10, all the subject teachers helped me enormously. For NTSE our in-charge at Apeejay, Mahavir Marg, is our Maths teacher Meenu Dhingra Ma’am. She coordinated everything for the exams. My teachers at Apeejay School, Mahavir Marg used to boost my confidence. Whenever a student is appreciated for what they’ve done, they become more confident of pursuing similar endeavours in the future. In this case, the school and especially my principal, Mr Girish Kumar, boosted my morale to take it many notches higher.

What hobbies do you pursue outside the world of academics?

When I am not studying, I like to sing. I have practiced classical music at a music academy for many years before I reached my senior classes. And in sports, I like to play football. My favourite footballer is Lionel Messi (in the picture, right) and my favourite club is Barcelona. I was really disappointed when Messi moved from Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain F.C.

Aasheesh Sharma is a seasoned journalist with an experience of more than 25 years spread over newspapers, news agencies, magazines and television. He has worked in leadership positions in media groups such as Hindustan Times, India Today, Times of India, NDTV, UNI and IANS. He is a published author and his essay on the longest train journey in India was included in an anthology of writings on the railways, brought out by Rupa Publications. As the Editor of Apeejay Newsroom, he is responsible for coverage of the latest news and developments in the Apeejay institutions. He can be reached at [email protected]. He tweets @Aasheesh74