The All India Rank (AIR) 1 holder in the petroleum engineering (PE) category of the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) 2019, Vikas Raj, wants to de-glorify the examination system and asks aspirants of the competitive exams to pause and think — “If the grind is really worth it?”.
An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Dhanbad, Raj has secured 961 scores out of 1000 in his second attempt at the GATE exam. “In my first attempt last year, I practised multiple online test series and constantly emerged among the top rank holders. This made me confident that I can answer any question. On the exam day, I spent two hours answering a hand full of tricky questions and missed out on the easy ones and hence could not get the desired score,” said Raj.
Being a top rank student most of his life, having tasted a downfall had made Raj realise the other side of the story. “Though I am thankful that this happened and I ended as a topper of a national level competitive exam. But hundreds of aspirants appear for several such entrance tests each year, few of them clear it and even fewer manage to earn the job they want to work at,” he told the indianexpress.com.
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Raj added, “We need to stop glorifying the exam system and need to take the pressure out of it. Many candidates appear for these exams only under pressure. A student should be free enough to realise what is best for them and work towards it.”
The 23-year-old aims to work at the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). To score well, he re-appeared for the exam this year and emerged as a topper in his subject. “I practised during the last two months. In the meanwhile, I had completed my BTech-MTech dual degree and had started assisting an author on his book as well,” he said adding, “This year, I was determined not to waste my time at all. I started working on questions, one at a time and kept leaving the tricky ones for later review.”
At ONGC, said Raj, I want to develop techniques which can help accumulate more oil from rocks. “From the raw source of rocks only one per cent of oil is accumulated and out of that oil, further 30-40 per cent is recovered and made fit to use. Clearly, there is a lot of scope for development in the area. I wish to devise a technology which can narrow the gap.”
He is a son of a businessman hailing from Madhubani, Bihar. Raj’s mother is a housewife and his elder sister is studying medicine. Raj said that he is the only one in his family to have topped a national-level competitive exam.