Whoa, well my earlier post on the Junior Science Talent Search scheme has become a major draw to my site, with so many students writing in that they referred to it, and more doubts. The second round (interview round) starts two weeks later, so with loads of emails coming in I decided to put up something more too. Ah, and far as the National Talent Search Exam (NTSE) is concerned – that’s the elder brother of the JSTS – I dunno what I did in that. I thought I hadn’t qualified, but then someone was saying I might have. Anyway, that was last year when I was changing schools and there was a whole lotta confusion in the air that I really wasn’t able to check up with my old school, and I don’t think I was eligible to participate on changing schools anyway.
- Try to con your school into handing you over the letter which the education department sends about the qualifying candidates. I got it from my school, and it lists your rank; that’ll help you to know where you stand.
- The education department office, where the interviews are generally conducted, is a pretty out-of-the-way place. Leave early because you’ll have to navigate through loads of winding streets to find your way in. I was late on my interview day and they’d ended up calling the school, and then the school panicked and called me – well it’s just a lot of needless tension that can be avoided.
- Might as well take some comics / novel / music player along, because you’ll have to kill a lot of time. And food too! They handle many candidates per day, and in case you fall in the last among your batch, you’ll be there for a long time. On second thoughts, try to get one of those USB powered caps or something, because those rusty British era fans don’t work (unless they’ve replaced them by now).
- I’d say you don’t take a textbook or something like that for ‘last minute revisions’. There were students at my time too who were doing that, and frankly, I don’t think it helps at all.
Coming to the interview itself. The main thing is, no matter what your rank in the written test is, this is the one that counts. I was placed pretty much at the bottom of the list on the basis of the written test, and yet after the interviews my rank jumped to among the top. That wasn’t only for me, but for some other bright kids who were there on the same day as me too. So take my advice, do try to make a nice impression on the interviewers. Do NOT act arrogant – that’s a problem many people face (indeed, me too, sometimes). That’ll ensure you end up last. Be polite to them, general stuff. You’ll have multiple interviewers, generally, one of them will be a biology guy, and the other two will be physics / chemistry. As for the things they ask, it can vary widely. A friend of mine – who ended among the top ones – she was only asked physics related questions. Another friend of mine was asked to review movies he’d watched recently! So it’s pretty vague, as far as any preparation is concerned – you simply CAN’T prepare for it. I’ll tell you about my interview. They asked me whether I’d seen some weird movie called Ankur (I think they told me it’s something by Shabana Azmi, but I don’t remember clearly). I hadn’t, and then they asked me my career interests. When I said aerospace engineering / nuclear physics, they jumped on it and threw a barrage of questions on black holes, Chandrashekhar Limit, works of Abdus Salam, quarks (and what ‘flavors’ they come in), string theory etc etc. I was a bit taken aback, but I kept my cool and recounted the stuff I knew about these things from Stephen Hawking’s books. The major thing to keep in mind here is to stay within your limits and not make something up. These were high level topics, and I knew if I fibbed they’ll immediately trip me at that point. I kept my answers straight-forward and jargon free, and it is something I’d highly advice others to do because it’s easy to get carried away. Then the biology woman asked me some stuff on osmosis, which I totally screwed up by talking about reverse osmosis rather than osmosis. She went on to ask more about food transport in plants and something on blood too, which I totally, utterly screwed up. “Not much of a bio guy, eh?” was what the two physics / chem guys said – even they were clueless about the answer I guess but they could judge from their colleagues and my expression that I’d messed it up. I seriously didn’t expect anything great after my interview, but surprise surprise, I end up among the top.
So best of luck to all those who’re going to appear for the interviews, and the main thing is to keep your cool at the interview. And for those who didn’t qualify, remember, that it isn’t the End of the Road or anything like that.