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Jalandhar boy wins national science fellowship; shares how he beats exam fear

Meet Afraaz Singh Siddhu from Apeejay School Mahavir Marg, who recently cleared the Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana scholarship exam for Pure Sciences

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“I have had a natural inclination towards science, particularly Biology since my earlier classes,” says Afraaz Singh Siddhu, a student of Apeejay School Mahavir Marg, who recently cleared the Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY) exam. Initiated and funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, KVPY is a national programme of fellowship in basic sciences conducted by the Indian Institute of Science.

Afraaz, who recently appeared for his class 12 CBSE term II exam, however, does not aspire for a career in Pure Sciences. He is aggressively preparing for the NEET-UG 2022 (National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test-undergraduate) and hopes to pursue medicine. “I am yet to decide which field of medicine I want to pursue—may be surgery,” Afraaz says.

“I appeared for the KVPY exam just out of interest, for additional practice, and more importantly to earn the title of a KVPY fellow,” he adds when asked about the reason behind taking the scholarship exam. The ad for KVPY appears on all national dailies in the first week of July and that is how Afraaz came across the opportunity last year. He cleared the exam in May this year. “KVPY is attempted by most medical and non-medical aspirants nowadays for admission into pure science courses because it is an honour to be called a KVPY fellow. I do not want to join pure sciences so no scholarship for me!”

Amid his NEET preparations, Afraaz did not have to take out time to study for KVPY separately. He says the syllabus for both exams is quite similar. “I mainly focused on solving question papers from the previous years as part of my preparation.”

The young talent from Jalandhar has now devoted all his energy to take NEET mock tests. “Prior to this, I was solving MCQs based on Physics, Chemistry and Biology. I study Chemistry and Physics in coaching institutes while my father, who is a psychiatrist, helps me with Biology.”

Preparing for competitive exams typically involves months of toil, often at the cost of giving up on other interests and hobbies. Afraaz’s journey has been no different. “The schedule is so tight that I cannot really do anything besides studying. However, I do not study continuously and make sure to take short breaks in between. The journey has been stressful, no doubt, but I have managed to enjoy it. There is nothing more satisfying than to see your hard work pay off.”

The Apeejay student’s parents have played a great role in keeping him motivated without thrusting too many expectations upon him. “They just boost my confidence and ask me to keep practising.”

Has Afraaz overcome exam fear? Not quite. However, he knows he has “to keep going”. Sharing his mantra of staying motivated, he remarks, “We should not study continuously for hours. We should definitely take small breaks in between sessions to destress. Avoid feeling tense and demotivated about not being able to answer that one question that is difficult to solve. Instead, focus on the ones you are sure about and give your best shot.”

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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