Power cuts and mosquito bites did not keep R Aravinda Kumar and V Vimal, two students from the Kodambakkam Chennai Higher Secondary School, from scoring marks high enough to qualify for a seat in central technical institutions like the National Institutes of Technology. The students said that clocking 12 hours of study was their key to cracking the All India Engineering Entrance Examination.
Regional head of coaching institute FIITJEE Ankur Kumar Jain vouched for the grit of the two students. "We were forced to teach the students using emergency lamps because there was no power backup in their school. Their enthusiasm made us invite them to our headquarters in Nungambakkam to study," Ankur Jain said.
"As the syllabus was different for the board exam, IIT-JEE and AIEEE, we had a conflict whether to study for the boards or the entrance tests," said Aravinda, who secured a cutoff of 67, much is more than the required 48.
G Gyaneshwaran, their physics teacher at FIITJEE, said this was probably the reason they did not score well in the board exams. While Arvind secured 841 of 1,200, Vimal, who secured an AIEEE cutoff of 53, scored 931 out of 1200.
The corporation had tied up with FIITJEE to conduct free coaching classes for 40 of the best minds from 10 city corporation schools. As many as 36 students dropped out by the end of the first year, and of the four that stuck, two made the cut. "I could see a change in the way they think and reason. They were able to grasp concepts quicker, and if they have qualified for a BE/BTech seat after balancing the board and entrance test preparation, it is a tribute to their intelligence," Gyaneshwaran said.
While Aravinda is likely to take part in the counselling process, Vimal wants to pursue research like his idol Einstein. Vimal has secured a BSc Physics seat in RKM Vivekananda College in Mylapore.
Overall the performance of city students in the last few of years has been seeing an uptrend, with more students cracking the AIEEE. This year at least seven of the top 10 ranks in the state were from the city. Bharath Sivaram of DAV Boys School in Gopalapuram, who secured the highest score in the state and an all India rank of 43, made it to the rank list of IITs and will be heading there, said a spokesperson from his coaching institute FIITJEE.