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16-year-old earns 3 college degrees and a perfect SAT score

July 17, 2014 12:55 IST

16-year-old earns 3 college degrees and a perfect SAT score

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Ritu Jha

Maadhav Shah, 16, holds three Associates degrees and has earned a perfect SAT score for college admissions. Here's what makes him special.

Maadhav Shah, 16 is a "gifted" student since age five, but his parents believe it is his hard work that led to what he has achieved today -- he holds three Associate degrees and above that has earned full 2400 SAT score for college admissions.

SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a standardised test widely used for college admissions in the United States.

"The family is pretty happy now, but we also know that this was a step towards the many goals that I would like to achieve, and so they continue to encourage me." California-based Shah told Rediff.com.

A student at Granite Bay High School, Sacramento, Shah last month graduated from the American River community (ARC) college in Sacramento, California and earned Associate's in Mathematics, Associate's in Physical Sciences and Associate's in Social Sciences.

He did not believe his eyes when he saw the SAT score so he rechecked it before sharing the information with his mother Daksha, a software engineer.

"She was about to start a conference call so I showed her my SAT score on my laptop and we were both really happy," Shah reveals.

He said the contribution from his parents has been enormous, and it was something he could not express in words.

"The best way I can put it is that they are the reason I started working hard in everything I did. They gave me every opportunity that I could ever want to succeed. Whenever I needed help, they were there," Shah said.

Talking about his preparations Shah said he worked pretty hard for around five weeks before the test.

"I did a variety of practice problems and read books on the different sections in the SAT. I also studied the different vocabulary words that appear on the SAT. In the last week before the test, I studied the hardest, doing everything I had during the weeks before in addition to taking a full practice test each day before the test. I only skipped the day before the test to relax my mind."

His mantra for success when studying for a specific test like this is to 'find your faults'.

"Once you've identified the specific portions of a test you have problems with, and the reasons why you have these problems, it is much easier to study as you know how to improve upon your weaknesses," Shah said.

"I felt that I could best guide myself through the areas that I struggled with the most, and find the best methods to help myself overcome these problems. Before I started taking practice tests, I generally studied an average of two to four hours per day. During the week before, I studied around six hours due to the four hour practice test."

When asked what tips he would like to give to other students he said "to find the middle ground', and make sure you don't throw time away.

This is probably the most overstated advice for kids, but according to him, this is most likely the only time you'll get the opportunity to expand your knowledge to an enormous level, and also the only opportunity to relax and not have the responsibilities of a working adult.

"Study hard, but make sure you enjoy it," said the young achiever who also enjoys playing basketball and watching football, and also plays the tabla, video games, participates in robotics, speech and debate teams.

He also spends time with friends; loves watching movies but mainly action and adventure movies, he specifies.

Answering on how he got into college and went on to complete three associates degrees, he said the degrees weren't his initial goal when he first began to attend the community college.

Initially, he was just trying to continue and finish math beyond what was offered at his school.

But after he finished that, he enrolled again and started taking some general education to broaden the scope of the classes. That's when he says, he realised that he had the chance to get an associate's degree.

"I decided at this point that I could take a lot of general education classes (learning more about education and its multiple facets) while also working hard to accomplish my goal of getting an associate's degree."

"Both the SAT and the associate degrees were hard in a different manner. The associate degrees were more symbolic of a long period of education and the classes I have taken, while the SAT that tested my abilities gained from a long period of education, was harder due to the amount of hard work it required prior to the test. If I had to choose one, I'd have to say the associate's degrees were tougher due to the amount of time it took me throughout all my years at ARC," he added.

Shah's father Kaushal Shah, an electrical engineer, has been involved in the field of robotics and automation for the past 25 years.

He has two children and he says, both are "gifted".

That has doubled their need as parents to bring the right opportunities for their children to keep them motivated and interested in their respective fields of interest.

"This has been possible only because of my wife, Daksha's, contributions and commitments. She has spent most time and efforts in making sure the kids are at the right place for their activities and that has been a good training by example to the children. It has been a complete team effort," said Kaushal Shah.

He said, as parents, they have spent the last 12 years taking kids to range of activities from basketball camps, chess tournaments (both at state and national level), Mathbee (NorthSouth Foundation, math olympiads) and music -- Maadhav Shah is learning to play the tabla.

Outside of school, he is part of the robotics team at their high school besides participating in speeches and debates.

These activities combined with evening college classes at local community college and the summer sessions at University of Nevada, Reno programme --- sponsored by Davidson Institute for Young Scholars, a non-profit that serve gifted young people from five years through 18  -- were realised with the assistance of consultants from Davidson Institute.

They have provided support and guidance as needed and conference called with individuals in academic arena when required, the proud father added.


Image: Maadhav Shah