Review: The Topper Prepares — Soum Paul

Soum mentioned about his book a few months back when I met him the second time in office. I never mustered up the courage to ask him anything about it. As I saw this book, I tried to pre-order and Flipkart hadn’t “released” the book even as Amazon kept selling off copies of the book. So after purchasing it off Amazon, I started reading it.

I would divide my review of the book in 3 sections -

Storyline

The book begins in an autobiographical setting where Soum describes his younger days and fascination for science culminating at IIT (which is just the starting point of a bigger journey). He also mentions the books he read which I distinctly remember, coming across during the time I prepared for JEE too.

This shifts towards interviews with the big guns in IIT JEE (JEE advanced) coaching in India — Super 30, Bansal classes, Sri Narayana Chaitanya Institute, Ramaiah and many others. It also has interviews with past toppers and their personal stories, challenges and conquests towards better education.

The quest concludes with a series of techniques for equipping oneself better while training for IIT JEE.

Writing Style

One of the first things that captivated me about this book was the writing. It is written in Plain English (don’t be puzzled — check this Wiki page). Simply put — every time you have read “lucid explanation” written on the back of a textbook and never understood why it was still confusing, read this to see the difference.

The part story narrative intertwined with examples, interviews and anecdotes is a delightful and gripping read. It didn’t take me long to immerse myself reading this. It is also quite possible that I liked it more because I had my own experiences preparing and writing “the big one”.

Essence

This book is a very good mix to understand interest, get inspired and also learn techniques. The study techniques themselves are not very elaborate which is understandable because the key seems to be to address a nation of budding enthusiasts on areas to focus on. As a youngster I remember attending multiple career counselling sessions where past toppers came and spoke at length about their experiences. Collating these and putting them in the form a book seems to be a great way to organize these ideas.

All said, this book has specifics about JEE preparation and I feel any student from any educational background can extrapolate pieces out of this book and apply it to his own competitive exam preparation.

In summary — I would certainly encourage all students to read this book as a source of knowledge and motivation. For IIT aspirants, I would like to re-iterate what Pramod Maheshwari says — “Not all IIT’ians are successful and not all successful ones are IIT’ians.”

Good Luck!