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How I scored 99 per cent and topped ISC exam

By Gaurav Sood
March 28, 2019 13:07 IST

'There is no magic formula, or, to steal a line from Kung Fu Panda, 'There is no secret ingredient.''
'
The magic lies in you and the effort that you will put in.'
'And while you'll have to work hard, you'll also have to work smart, because often, sad as it may be, working hard simply isn't good enough.'
Former ISC topper Gaurav Sood tells you how he topped the ISC board and made his mark.

Gaurav Sood poses with his book How I Topped the Boards and You Can Too

IMAGE: Gaurav Sood is the author of How I Topped The Boards And You Can Too!  Photograph: Kind courtesy Gaurav Sood

Gaurav Sood graduated from The Doon School as the all-India ISC (Indian School Certificate) board examination topper in 2008.

He secured 99 per cent, the highest marks in India's history at the time.

After completing a bachelor's degree in economics from St Stephen's College, Delhi he secured a job as one of the youngest management consultants at McKinsey & Company.

Gaurav appeared for GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test, taken by MBA aspirants) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exams, scoring a near-perfect 780 and a perfect 120, respectively and is currently on a full scholarship at the University of Oxford. 

The young achiever recently released the book How I Topped The Boards And You Can Too! in which he talks about how he prepared for the examination offering tips, advice and strategies to crack the boards.

We bring you an excerpt from the book on preparation strategies that will help young aspirants make the most of the calendar year and score well in the board examination.


Now that we've come so far, I believe it's important for us to revisit exactly what we've gone through and why each step will help us reach our goal.

What we've tried to do over the last 200 odd pages is ramp up our preparation, so that come the final day, we're as ready as we'll ever be.

Study table

As you might have noticed, nothing in this book will have come as a revelation.

There's nothing written in here that's some incredible life-altering hack.

But the thing is: nothing in life really is. You can't build a great body with a magical protein supplement.

Even those who take performance-enhancing drugs only attain the level that they are at through years of hard work and sweat.

Nobody becomes a famous musician overnight, without years and years of struggling in anonymity. It's true what they say: It takes years to become an 'overnight success'.

Most of the things written in this book aren't anything special or things that will yield magical results, when viewed in isolation.

A lot of them will be fairly obvious and will make you roll your eyes as you read them, thinking, 'I don't need to read this in a book -- I already know this.'

But sometimes, we need the obvious spelt out for us, or it is often easy to miss. And it's invariably only obvious in retrospect.

And while a lot of people will definitely be doing some of the things mentioned in this book, probably in isolation, very few will be able to connect the dots and  do them all together. It's when you manage to add up all these simple, obvious things that you end up with something special. That's what this book will help you accomplish.

To quote my dad, 'Trifles make perfection, son, but perfection is no trifle.'

At the end of the day, there is no magic formula, or, to steal a line from Kung Fu Panda, 'There is no secret ingredient.'

The magic lies in you and the effort that you will put in. And while you'll have to work hard, you'll also have to work smart, because often, sad as it may be, working hard simply isn't good enough.

You'll have to connect the dots, as I managed to do. Hopefully, my experiences will show you that it isn't anything radical or fancy, but just a matter of small steps that'll get you to your goal.

Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Chart: How I topped the board and you can too!

Excerpted from How I Topped The Boards And You Can Too! by Gaurav Sood, with the kind permission of the publishers, Rupa Publications India.

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