CBSE – Been There, Done That

Here’s my long due post on how I CBSE’ed my way through 12th grade. Since I got an aggregate of 94 percentage, I think I’m pretty well qualified to write this blog post. I’ll be taking up each of the subjects I studied and the best books and methods to study those.



CHEMISTRY:

You’ll either really like this subject or you’ll absolutely hate it. Let’s talk about the organic part of chemistry first, and then the inorganic part.

Organic Chemistry: When I first started learning Organic chemistry, I was baffled at the number of sites and blog posts writing about how Organic chemistry is the easiest and how it is the most scoring. For the first month of learning it, I could barely attempt the NCERT questions because it felt impossible to remember all those reaction names and structures and whatnot. Nevertheless, in two months time, it really did end up being easy. Don’t fear Organic, just give it some time, (And, yes, continuous revision of the same chapters multiple times in a week) Here are a few pointers on organic chemistry:

  • For both, entrance exams as well as for the boards, all you need to attempt are the questions at the back of the NCERT chapters. Do those questions again and again till you know each answer.
  • ‘Pradeep’s Chemistry’ books are the only reference books I used other than NCERT. Use this book to really understand the concept behind every question and make Organic a lot more interesting and intuitive.
  • I made notes of the first four chapters Organic Chemistry that cover all the important concepts needed for conversion questions and name reactions. However, I’d suggest you make your own. Here are the notes chapter-wise:
  • 1) Haloalkanes and Haloarenes 
  • 2) Alcohol, Phenols and Ethers
  • 3) Aldehydes, Ketones and Carboxylic Acids
  • 4) Amines
  • Make sure you know all the important mechanisms. (Check them here)
  • SOLVE previous year question papers. I found a lot of questions in chemistry being repeated.

 

Inorganic Chemistry: You’ll have to memorise this one, there are no two ways about it. However, here’s a few things that helped me out.

  • Go through the main chapters (p-block, d- block etc) just once. NCERT isn’t the best book, in my opinion, to use for Inorganic chemistry.
  • I’d highly recommend buying the Pradeep’s Chemistry book to read through their inorganic chapters. Go through the charts and the explanations of Pradeep’s Chemistry book. It really nails the explanation part.
  • Teachers probably won’t tell you this, but every important concept that requires memorising is asked in the NCERT questions at the back of the chapters. Although there are a lot of questions, going through each one of them multiple times until you know every answer is really the only way to do this. (And yes, use Pradeep’s for NCERT question solutions)
  • Again, a lot of board questions are from NCERT questions so keep that in mind while you study them.

 

PHYSICS:

Okay, so here’s the thing. Physics can seem like a nightmare to some, as it did to me. Because no matter what I tried, I just wasn’t scoring good enough in the school exams. But if you write your final board paper VERY clearly, draw all the graphs well and really study every concept down till you have it understood, you’ll get great marks in the final paper. I got a 95/100 even though I’m aware I’d made some mistakes. So here are the pointers I’ve got for you:

  • You really shouldn’t try studying it all from NCERT. I know this is contradictory to what you’ve probably heard everyone says, but NCERT Physics will confuse you to no limits. It does not have proper explanations.
  • For physics, I’d highly recommend you study from (you’ve probably already guessed it!) Pradeep’s – the lifesaver book. Make a list of all the subtopics under the main chapters and read through each of them from Pradeep’s.
  • Solve every question from NCERT as well as the numerical and conceptual questions from Pradeep’s for practice. Don’t stress about not getting all of them right the first few times. But you NEED to know how to solve them eventually.(I never solved any question from the NCERT Physics book.. shh)
  • I had excellent notes on every chapter which included all definitions, derivations and all related graphs. I’d recommend you make them too.
  • As for specific chapters, for the ‘Communications’ chapter at the end, just make sure you complete all Pradeep’s questions and keep in mind that the Value-Based Question is often asked from this chapter.
  • Solve board papers and make sure you time yourself to three hours when you do them.

 

MATHEMATICS:

I wouldn’t say Maths was my absolute favourite subject but I still enjoyed most of the chapters. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be fine with the subject. With talks going on about the toughness of the Maths Paper and a change in the pattern of the paper from 2017 ( the year I was to write the paper), I was left with barely any sample papers to gauge the difficulty of the new paper. Nevertheless, here are my pointers for Mathematics.

  • You’ll end up with a lot of textbooks for Maths. And quite honestly, there are plenty of good ones out there – I used the NCERT book, the RD Sharma books and also RS Agrawal. 
  • I made notes on every type of problem possible from each chapter and this organisation of thoughts really helped me throughout the year. (Check my notes out here)
  • Let’s get straight to specific chapters here. The first few chapters i.e Sets, Matrices and Determinants are very easy. All the problems are of specific types and knowing how to do each type is the key. Although I did face some difficulty in solving ‘Evaluation of determinants’ using properties, practising examples from RD Sharma and the NCERT should help you.
  • In calculus, I can’t stress enough on the fact that you NEED to make notes that classify problems into types. Your notes should contain the types and the methods to solve those types. Flip through the RD Sharma book to get all the types and methods to solve them and then make your own concise notes.
  • Three-dimensional Geometry (vectors, Straight Lines and Planes) are the easiest, most scoring chapters you’ll come across. Click here for a list of all the important formulae you’ll need.
  • Solve Solve Solve. It’s the only thing I can recommend for Maths.
  • Lastly, time yourself when solving papers.

 

ENGLISH:

You are probably not even reading what’s under the English header because a lot of people discount English as a scoring subject. That’s entirely true. It IS a scoring subject. But there are tricks that you must know to make English your best subject.

  • Short stories are interesting. Read through them and write down answers to all the questions at the back.
  • The MOST helpful book I found was the ‘Arihant: All in one Resource book’. You don’t need any other book if you’ve got this for English.
  • Use multiple resources on the internet and from Arihant and make sure you pick up a  “good vocabulary” for summaries, characterizations and questions and answers.
  • As for the writing part, again, Arihant is your bible. Check out all the examples. Practise some on your own and memorise every format there is.
  • I know it’s tempting but please don’t read a summary of all the chapters in the novel. For later revisions, once you have read the entire novel, chapters summaries should suffice.
  • Go through all the previous year questions.

 

My fifth subject was computer science. Tell me in the comments below if you think you need notes on the subject.

Cheers!

 

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Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

“There was something magical about an island—the mere word suggested fantasy. You lost touch with the world—an island was a world of its own. A world, perhaps, from which you might never return.” 

 First off, I’m a huge huge Christie head and have been reading a lot of her books lately. It’s safe to say that ‘And Then There Were None’ is easily my favourite as yet. The story begins with a creepy epigraph: the Ten Little Soldier Boys poem. Really sets the mood, doesn’t it?

Let’s get to the plot (NO spoilers for you guys); ten individuals who have committed crimes at some point in their lives have been invited to a mysterious ‘Soldier Island’ on a supposed holiday by an anonymous host who is nowhere to be found. They find themselves trapped on the island with nowhere to escape. One by one, the group is murdered, the island is searched, and the dwindling group realizes that there is a murderer in their midst. It is up to the remaining people to identify the murder and only the dead are above suspicion.

Christie really nailed this plot and the kept up the suspense till the very last page. Even someone as myself who reads a fair number of mysteries was left guessing as to  ‘whodunit’ until the very last page. And well… I didn’t see that ending coming. Surprised me yet again didn’t you Dame Christie? The characters are a mix of all walks of life and you’ll love some and absolutely hate some.

Unlike Christie’s usual mysteries, ‘And Then There Were None’ didn’t feature the famous detective Hercule Poirot solving the case as the readers are taken through the clues and other suspicious occurrences one by one. Instead, we read each character’s point of view, how they feel and who they cast their suspicion on. Although I missed Poirot’s humour, reading the trapped inmate’s perspectives really hit home and gave the story very intense and dark vibes which kept my pulse pounding.

If you haven’t read an Agatha Christie book, this needs to be your first. I highly recommend this book and give it straight 5 out of 5 stars.

–Ravija Maheshwari.

 

 

Paris – The Its and bits they don’t tell you.

So I’ve decided to write a travel blog.

Nope. Not what you’re thinking.

This is not a post about the grandness of the Eiffel or how beautiful the banks of the Seine are. Why? Cause that is mainstream and uninteresting. With its shady corners, buskers and magicians, pickpockets and crazy underground metro stations, Paris holds so much than just the monuments.

Here are some things I’ve learned while in France.

Seven years of learning French in school seemed futile when in France. 

Like when I realised that “Rue Du Renne” (The Renne Street) is pronounced as “vuodoovenairrr” or when the ticket lady at the metro had to tell us the name of our final stop thrice (the third time being extremely slowly), and yet at the end I had to say thanks even though I still had no idea what she’d actually said.

The Eiffel’s shady side.

A blog about France and how can I not mention the Eiffel! Yes, it’s grand. And it’s this grandness that attracts tens of thousands of people to it every day. And it is these people who attract tens of thousand of pickpockets every day. I saw a man performing a small street show in ‘Champ De Mars.’ A very kind local lady warned me not to get too close cause turns out, it was not just the performer, but his entire gang was nearby. They would wait till you are engrossed in the show and jump at any opportunity to rob you of your money.

The Not So Namma Metro.

Imagine you are stuck in a giant labyrinth maze. Now, add in a few thousand extremely busy looking people rushing in and out of every possible direction. For added effects, plop in two or three buskers singing in shady corners and voila! You’ve got A Parisian Metro Station.

It took me quite some time and two or three wrong trips in the metro to figure the system out.

The People

If you’ve ever heard that the French are rude, then you’ve probably heard right. Of the four cities I’ve been to in Europe, the French seemed the most unwelcoming. Like for instance, the lady on the third floor of our apartment who seemed to get annoyed at me for eating bananas on the ground floor. Or the many locals who appeared to give me the cold shoulder when asked for help. Although there were obvious instances of rudeness, some people treated me better than I imagined. There was a lady who helped me decipher the French on a ticketing machine in the metro and even volunteered to lead me all the way to the correct station.

 

Adorable miniature sized tiny small dogs everywhere 

Paris is filled with them! Dogs in purses, dogs in jackets, dogs crossing roads, dogs in restaurants, dogs everywhere. And just for clarity, I’ve drawn a very accurate representation of how small the dogs are.

 

Croissants and Pain Au Chocolat is the most delicious thing you can eat in Paris

It’s all in the title. Just felt it was important that I mention this here.

Immigrants from India sell water bottles near the Eiffel

Talked to this man a bit and realized they find this much more profitable than working in India. On asking him more questions, he said that it’s easy to get a Schengen Visa for Portugal. Once they get that, they come to Paris and also apply for a permanent visa to sell water bottles!

Why I walked barefoot in the Louvre and about the Monalisa

Okay, let’s get to the point. The Monalisa is overrated. Before I talk about that, I feel the need to emphasize of how big of a museum the Louvre really is. If you stopped at every piece on display for just 30 seconds, it would take you 80 days straight to see all of them. We are talking 1920 hours! The Louvre involved more walking than I’d done in a week. So much that my feet hurt and I eventually had to carry my shoes in hand.

After a few hours of gazing in awe at the paintings in the Louvre, I decided to head towards the Monalisa. I was told that the Monalisa is at the end of the Leonardo Da Vinci corridor. On reaching the end, I entered into an immensely crowded hall; I saw no Monalisa. Decided to ask one of the guides and he pointed at a painting right in front of where I was. Looked something like this.

There it was. The Monalisa. Walked out of that hall feeling pretty accomplished with the photo I’d managed to capture of the painting. It was one that had a partial Monalisa face in the side frame, a quarter of the frame was covered by my own finger, and the remaining of it dominated by other people’s heads.

Overall, my experience of Paris was much better than I’d imagined. It truly is a beautiful city. So if you’ve made it till here, leave in comments and tell me what you think!

 

 

 

My Ultimate Bucket List

This post will be dedicated to the goals that I want to accomplish or the things I want to try out in the short term and long term scheme of things. I’ll continuously update it and tick off the things I’ve completed. Hope it inspires you to create your own list! Comment down below to let me know what your goals are!

Career/ Professional goals:

  • Successfully complete Indian Standard 10

–Completed with great marks in 2015. (96 percent overall read more!)

  • Successfully complete Indian Standard 12

–Yet another round of good marks. (May 29, 2017. 94 percent overall!)

  • Get a bachelor’s degree
  • Write 50 programs on HackerRank (..in progress)
  • Participate in a coding competition
  • Successfully complete a computer science internship
  • Make my own app and make it available on the app store
  • Complete an online course with distinction

–(Online Course certificate on HTML and CSS.)

–(Online Course certificate on Java Programming)

Fitness  goals:

  • Run a 5k marathon and eventually a 10k marathon
  • Do a morning workout 30 days in a row
  • Complete one week of a full-body workout (Done. After multiple failed attempts, I finally did it.)

Fun goals:

  • Scuba Dive
  • Go on a mountain hike
  • Sky-dive

Travel Goals:

Places to visit :

  •  Las Vegas
  • Paris 
  • Rome
  • Malta
  • Bora Bora
  • Venice
  • Japan
  • Visit a place and stay there for at least a month and get a small job during the stay.

Social goals:

  • Teach at an underprivileged school
  • Visit an animal care and help out
  • Sponsor a child’s education

Life Goals:

  • Buy a house for parents
  • Be self – sufficient
  • Read 1000 books (I’ve made a separate page for the reviews of each book I read)
  • Maintain atleast three strong friendships for life
  • Go to a live taping of The Ellen Show

50 New Year Resolutions!

A very very Happy New Year’s to you !

Here’s 50 new year resolutions from all of my friends and family. I’ve wanted to do this sort of a post from a very long time, and so here it is finally! (Extremely sorry if I’ve missed someone’s resolution out)

123So what’s your resolution?

The Truth About Coaching Institutes

So you’ve finished your grade ten. The results are out and you’ve passed with flying colours! And you, much like your peers are exited about starting off with your preparation for various competitive entrance exams.

“Which coaching institute are you joining?“;  a sentence heard much too often the minute your board exam results are out. And why not?  Isn’t attending a coaching institute the only way to clear competitive examinations? I would like to share my experience with you about the two coaching institutes that I’ve had awful experiences with over the years.

Starting off with BYJU. I joined BYJU coaching before starting off with grade ten .(currently I am in grade 12)  The commute time took around one hour for a one way trip. Nevertheless, my parents and I worked out a plan for the travel. The teachers at BYJU were almost always late to the class. By the end of one week, only one physics and one math class was taken while the rest of the classes were filled with chemistry lessons as the other teachers were unavailable at the time. At times, when no teachers were available we were shown videos of topics on Youtube. The coaching centre location was changed almost every third class. The fee amount was un-proportionate to the facilities provided.  All these incidents and lack of teaching skills and wastage of time led me to drop BYJU in a month. Overall, it was not a good experience. I did quite well in my tenth grade scoring 96% without BYJU or any other tuition.

After the completion of tenth grade, my parents and I decided to join FIITJEE Integrated Curriculum as we felt that it is a norm nowadays; and to get a good college it is necessary to join a reputed institute.

At FITTJEE we were divided into three batches based on a admission test (FTRE) score. In a span of two months, the chemistry teacher left and the new chemistry was not good at explaining concepts at all. In general, I must say that the teachers are knowledgeable. They know everything except how to slow down or to maintain interest of the pupil in the subject. The HOD teachers are only provided to the best batch of 20 students while minimal attention is given to all the other 150 students studying. The FIITJEE notes are a compilation of objective type questions with minimalistic explanation of concepts. They are filled with errors or incorrect questions and answers which lowers the confidence level of the student. They claim to shuffle classes after every term in order to optimise learning process but all this does is create stress instead of a healthy learning environment.All of their posters show a few successful candidates. The thousands who didn’t get a good enough rank are always hidden in background.These issues led me to drop FIITJEE coaching in the middle of grade level and join a different school with CBSE curriculum.

I highly recommend you to read this well written post Visit To FITTJEE And Review to gain a true insight on the FITJEE institute.

Overall I feel like coaching institutes such as these have made education a true ‘business’. According to statistics, 53 percent of all IIT entrants in the past year had self studied.

At the end of the day, it is not the coaching classes which will get you a good university. It is You that will get you a good university.

 

 

Yea, it’s been long since I’ve put up a post. And I have an exam tomorrow.. Nevertheless, here I am blogging. But this post was meant to happen weeks ago!


When we are kids, a friend is easy to come by. A friend is someone who wears the same sneakers as you and shares their sandwich with you in lunch breaks. Someone who you know you’ll see everyday in classrooms and someone who is a constant in your life. We find people that are really just like us, and who stay with us.

But as we get older, and as school turns into classes scattered across a huge campus, friends become harder to come by. Without the constant socialisation and the ample free time we once had, a friend is something you have a hard time carving out of your busy schedule. The ones you had slowly drift apart.

As time passes, we realise that friendship is not really about the quantity but the quality. It’s not just about who you know but how well you know who! During these times we have the “real friends“. The ones who are there when you need them the most because they genuinely care about you and the ones who you can have conversations with a deeper level because you trust them. Your friendship — your love — is communicated in unspoken inside jokes, in hugs, and in tear-inducing laughter!

Sometimes we don’t thank these friends enough — for being there, for loving us, for being able to exist in the sidelines because of our busy schedules but who come back into our lives when the opportunity arrives. We owe them so much, and they are such a huge part of who we are.

So, go ahead,look through your contacts list and find your top 5 treasured people an tell them why you love the them! Do it now! Seize the day!

Friends are like stars, they come and go. But the ones that stay are the ones that glow! – Roxy Quiksilver

Results Day!

All right people, so I’ve got the marks. (The ICSE 10th board marks of course!)

I had tried to, like the hundreds of other kids to punch in the required details and demand my results four days before the actual date the results were to come out, but realised soon enough that nothing was going to make the CISCE council spew our marks before the given date and time printed on their website.

Eight minutes to 11:30 on the 18th of May, I was going nuts. I decided to watch some videos to pass time but clearly that didn’t help because every 30 seconds, I was back on the site typing in my details with no luck whatsoever.

The slowest five minutes ever finally passed.

I made my way into the living room and re-visited the site and refreshed it. But every time I refreshed and re-opened it, the server crashed. Expected. 100000 Indians, all heading to the same place on the internet all at once. That’s when my cousin who’s over for the holidays got exasperated at my inability to open a simple site and he tried the same on his phone. AND IT WORKED. I dictated to him the details as he punched them in and waited some more.

Eleven thirty seven.

I breath in and focus on the screen. 95,95,83,94,99 and an A.(not in the same order though)

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 11.49.37 pm
The Marks.

I think I did okay. My mom was beyond happy! My dad’s call came in around the same time and he was ecstatic with the marks! The calculators came out and the averages were being calculated and re-calculated.

I got a 95.6 percentage as a best of five marks, since that’s how the board calculates it.

And then the phones started ringing. Friends calling in to congratulate and compare marks.I called up my teachers to tell them my marks. All in all, it was a good day. One that was spent talking about percentages and marks and surprisingly passed so very fast!

A Mother’s Sacrifice.

Allright! So here’s another one of those original writings. Although for this one, I’ve taken a few hints from some other topics, but the sum total of it resulted in this yet another short story. Unlike the other story, this one is very ‘Indian’ in nature .Read on and tell if me what you thought about it down below in the comments!

Here goes..

A MOTHER’S SACRIFICE:

As Shilpa stared out the window of the speeding train into the inky blackness outside; with her four year old daughter, Ria sleeping beside her, Her mind flashed back in time- The excitement she had felt on her wedding day, her husband’s dreams of making a huge success in the sugarcane fields, the beautiful green meadows and tilling the sugarcane fields until evening. The first three years of her life had been wonderful. Five years later Ria was born and the Shilpa’s happiness knew no bounds!

But all of this changed a year later when tragedy struck and Shilpa’s husband fell sick and passed away leaving her with a young baby and fields to manage on her own. For the next two years, Shilpa struggled to make things work but her stars seemed to be against her. The rains failed and the sugarcane yield was poor. She shuddered remembering going to the moneylender to beg for money and the debt she knew she had to repay later. With a sigh, Shilpa brought herself back to the present. She was determined that she wouldn’t give up and that nothing could stop her from giving Ria the best of the world.

She was on her way to Mumbai -the city of dreams! Her cousin brother, Amir had had told her how she could easily make a living there. He had promised to let her stay with his family and help her get a job. So, plucking up the courage, Shilpa put together her few belongings and decided to go to Mumbai.

The next day, the train came to a screeching halt in at the VT station in Mumbai. Shilpa was startled out of her dreams when she looked out of the window! Never had she seen so many people all at once! Shilpa and Ria hesitatingly stepped out onto the platform wondering how they would find Amir in this sea of people. After a few minutes of searching, they managed to spot him. He was amused to see their astonished faces as they looked outside at the fancy cars and the tall glass buildings around.

“Come on! You’ll get used to this this soon! Let’s go home and get you settled.” , he said.

‘Home’ a little run-down house in a crowed suburb in Mumbai. A string for drying clothes separated the tiny kitchen area with the living area where Amir’s family sat or slept on mats layed on the cement floor. Shilpa and Ria made themselves comfortable in a corner of the room, trying not to get in the way of her cousin’s family. And so began their life in the city!

Amir got Shilpa a job at a construction site where she worked the whole day carrying cement and stones. She would get extremely tired by the end of the day but she was happy that by the end of the month she would have saved up some money to pay back her debts. She really looked forward to Sundays when Ria and her would go exploring in the city. Every evening, she made time to teach Ria the alphabet and how to count. She told herself that she would do whatever it takes to see that Ria was well educated. Next year, she had planned to enroll Ria in a small municipal school.

The days passed by and soon summer crept in. Shilpa worked hard under the scorching sun. At times, she almost fainted under the load of the stones. She knew this was partly because of not eating her breakfast which she had been giving to RIa as she wanted to make sure Ria would grow up to be strong and healthy. Just a day before, the supervisor had yelled at her for resting a while. Nevertheless, things were starting to settle down and Shilpa was happy that life was finally peaceful again.

And then disaster struck! One Sunday, as Shilpa and Ria were strolling down the road, Ria’s eyes fell upon a beautiful doll and she shrieked with delight and said, “Look mummy! That’s such a beautiful doll! Can I please have it?” She looked at it so lovingly, that Shilpa saw a lady’s purse sticking out of her purse and on an impulse she grabbed it and tried to run. Before she knew it, she was surrounded by people who caught her, beat her up and dragged her to the nearest police station. She tried to apologise to the lady, explaining to her that she had never done such a thing before and to give her a chance for the sake of her daughter who was sobbing loudly in the corner. But her apology fell on deaf ears and the lady said that she was an irresponsible mother to teach her daughter how to steal and that she would make sure that she went to jail for it.

And so, Shilpa was sent to jail for six months and Ria was sent to a foster home. Amir refused to see her, no wanting to get into trouble with the police.As Shilpa tossed and turned relentlessly in her narrow bed, her mind flashed back to her village and she realised that life was much peaceful over there. Everyone knew each-other. She had been a fool not to realise this sooner. And with these thoughts passing through her mind, she spent six months in jail.

Soon she was released. She earned a little money by weaving some baskets. She had decided that before picking Ria up, she would buy her the doll with whatever money had. With the doll wrapped up in colourful paper, she went to find her daughter. At the foster home, they told her that a young couple had come to take Ria and wanted to adopt her, if possible.

Shilpa was shocked! She found the address and at once rushed there, determined to take Ria away. She stood on the roadside outside the tall building where her daughter now lived. She stopped and asked herself what she really had to offer her child- a lifetime of love, but nothing secure like this family. With a heavy heart she decide that if she wanted a wonderful dream for her daughter she had to give her up.

She turned back and with tears in her eyes, she took a bus to VT station.” A single ticket to the village please”, she told the man at the ticket counter.

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