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ICSE and ISC national toppers from Bengal pride in balancing academics with their passions

Manya Gupta of The Heritage School, Kolkata; Subham Kumar Agarwal of St Joseph School, Siliguri; and Sambit Mukhopadyay of St Xavier's School, Burdwan share their success stories

Jaismita Alexander | Published 15.05.23, 08:16 PM

An amateur guitarist and a chess enthusiast; an avid debater and an Agatha Christie fan and an athlete and MUNner — the ICSE and ISC toppers from Bengal are not only academic achievers but experts in balancing studies and their own varied interests.

My Kolkata spoke to three toppers from Bengal to know about the path to success and the journey ahead.


Sambit Mukhopadhyay, ICSE topper, St Xavier’s School, Burdwan

Sambit Mukhopadhyay topped ICSE with 99.8% and became the only student from Bengal to rank first in the Class X board exams.

The Burdwan boy still finds it unbelievable. “With reporters and well-wishers thronging my home, it’s like a celebration. My parents are the happiest but it still feels so unreal. Even my friends are treating me like a celebrity.”

The topper wants to become a software engineer and has set his priorities right. “I had taken tuition for all subjects besides paying attention in school. I spent seven to eight hours daily studying and increased that to about 11 to 12 hours before the exams. I made it a point not to get distracted. I always got my concepts cleared and solved all test papers before the exams,” said Sambit, who aims to pursue software engineering at IIT Kharagpur. He has already started preparing for JEE Mains. In his free time, the topper plays his guitar, practises drawing and plays chess.

Sambit Mukhopadhyay with his parents

Sambit Mukhopadhyay with his parents

Sambit’s father is a scientist with the West Bengal Chemical Industries Limited and his mother is a school teacher. According to him, apart from his teachers, he also received immense support from his parents.

A well-mannered child in school, Sambit is well-loved in school.“Sambit always had a respectful attitude towards teacher, and fellow students. He had time for everything. Apart from studying, he was good at anchoring, inter-house debating. Even though he knew a lot of things and yet he was always eager to learn from his teachers. His questions were reflective and genuine,” said principal Fr. Dr Maria Joseph Savariappan SJ,

Manya Gupta, ISC topper, The Heritage School

Manya Gupta was certain of faring well in iSC but had not expected to be among the national toppers. “I definitely wanted to do well and expected to top my school but ranking first on an all-India basis was never on the cards. I still can’t believe this has happened,” said Manya, who scored 99.75% in Class XII.

The Heritage School student has always been studious with a keen interest in human psychology. Manya opted for the science stream in Class XI with an aim to study psychology and become a psychologist. “I love to study about human nature and want to help people in need of support. I have already received an acceptance letter from the UK's University of Bath, where I will be pursuing a degree in Psychology. However, nothing has been finalised yet,” said Manya, who prepared for her Boards all through the year and focused more on her studies in the last few weeks ahead of the exam.

Manya Gupta aspires to become a psychologist

Manya Gupta aspires to become a psychologist

Manya credits her mother and teachers for her success and says that it would not have been possible without them. “My mother started crying when she learnt about my success and the national-level achievement. Mom’s contribution has been immense both as a mother and a teacher. I would also like to thank my school teachers and the Ziel Classes, the coaching centre I had enrolled in,” she said.

The Heritage School student was always an enthusiastic participant in various school events. "I love taking part in debates and I love reading. My go-to genre is fiction and my favourite author is Agatha Christie. I also write poetry and wish to publish some of my works someday. However, I haven’t posted anything on social media,” she said.

Subham Kumar Agarwal, ISC topper, St Joseph’s School, Siliguri

Subham Kumar Agarwal had never dreamt of giving interviews to the media. The Siliguri boy from St Joseph School has been living a dream since he emerged as one of the first rankers in ISC in the country with a percentage of 99.75.

Subham, who took Humanities in Classes XI and XII says that he started preparation for the exams only before the pre-Boards. “I was busy preparing for my CLAT and was also participating in various extracurricular activities in school before that. However, a month before my pre-Boards, I realised it was time I focused on my studies and started preparing,” said Subham.

The Siliguri boy from St Joseph School

The Siliguri boy from St Joseph School

The law enthusiast has already cracked CLAT and has been admitted to the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) in Bidhannagar. “I have always had an interest in studying law and want to become an advocate. I have been participating in the Model United Nations (MUN) which further gave me the scope to explore world policies.”

Subham has also started reading the newspaper at least for an hour every day.

An athlete, Subham managed to balance extra-curricular activities with academics. “I like to play cricket but I have an interest in all kinds of sports. I participated in every sporting event in school but always balanced my interests with academics. Extra-curricular activities are also important for developing life skills while academics will build one’s career. So, both have to be balanced carefully.”

Last updated on 15.05.23, 08:16 PM

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