Anisha Motwani, 16, could not believe her eyes when she checked her Secondary School Certificate (SSC) results online on June 17. "It took a while to realise that I had actually scored a 100%," said the student of English medium Saraswati Education Society's High School, Thane.
Anisha, who has always been at the top of her class, achieved the perfect score after she was awarded 25 extra marks for playing table tennis at the state level. She began table tennis coaching when she was seven years old and the sports marks gave her the edge over other students. Her older sister, Jigna Motwani, 18, is a national-level table tennis champion.
"I remember that in our time nobody got these kind of marks, and it was not even required," laughs her father Mukesh Motwani, 42.
The secret to her success was the stress-free atmosphere that her parents provided in the months leading up to the exam. Her parents also assured her that they would be proud of her regardless of how much she scored. Anisha studied for a few hours a day through the year, but put in up to six hours a day towards the end of her study leave. "I would make a loose time-table for the day. I love math, so I would practise solving sums to unwind between taxing subjects like geography that require memorising," she said.
Soon after her results, the Motwanis took a short trip to Dubai following which she joined coaching classes for physics, chemistry and mathematics. The aspiring engineer asserted that it was important for her to get back to her books quickly to maintain her impressive academic record. Reflecting on how preparing for the Maharashtra common entrance test was a tough ask, she noted that starting early would give her an edge.
Her father beamed, "She will be felicitated by various organisations over the next few weeks. I am extremely proud of her."