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How to Prepare for ISI and CMI Entrance ~ Gautham Viswanathan

Learn from the Achiever - Gautham Viswanathan (ISI B.Math & CMI, 2021)
Gautham Viswanathan

Gautham Viswanathan - ISI & CMI Entrance Success Story

Gautham Viswanathan has cracked the ISI & CMI Entrance 2021 Examination. 

He shared with us how he prepared for the ISI & CMI Entrance in an interview with Cheenta. This interview will take you through the preparation journey of Gautham for ISI & CMI Entrance 2021 and can help you with some insights that you can utilize for your CMI preparation.
Here are some of the questions, that he answered in the interview. You may find more insights in the video provided below.

Tell us about yourself.

I am Gautham Viswanathan, Class 12th Passout. I recently got selected in the Chennai Mathematical Institute, CMI. I really like math as it has a unique blend of logic, creativity, and art that most other disciplines don't have, and which strongly appeals to me.

Other than math, I am also interested in music, and I have been learning the mridangam for almost eleven years now. I also enjoy cubing, and reading books (especially from the fantasy genre).

When did you start your preparation for the ISI & CMI Entrance?
I started preparing for the CMI entrance in April of 2020, after my class 12 boards finished. As I did not clear the exam last year, I decided to take a gap year to prepare more and attempt the exam again this year.
How did you prepare for the ISI & CMI and what improvements you made this time?
My main focus was on improving my problem-solving over these one and a half years. I mainly worked on olympiad problems of appropriate difficulties from various regions, and some problems from the Stanford Math Tournament for practice with integer answer questions. I also picked up relevant bits of theory along the way, such as when an unfamiliar technique or lemma was used to solve a problem. I did devote some chunks of time to shoring up topics in which I was weak, but I primarily spent my time trying problems and trying to improve my problem-solving.

Can you suggest some books that had helped you in your preparation?

I personally found the book 'Principles and Techniques in Combinatorics' by Chen Chuan-Chong and Koh Khee-Meng to be immensely helpful for combinatorics.

For number theory, I primarily used David Burton's 'Elementary Number Theory'.

For the basic real analysis knowledge that is helpful in the ISI and CMI exams, I liked the first few chapters of Stephen Abbott's 'Understanding Analysis' and 'Introduction to Real Analysis' by Robert Bartle and Donald Sherbert.

For Euclidean geometry, I found the first three chapters of Evan Chen's 'Euclidean Geometry in Mathematical Olympiads' to be helpful for me.

And, I really enjoyed 'Solving Mathematical Problems - A Personal Perspective' by Terence Tao.

I also wrote mock tests conducted by the CMI Tomato website, which were very helpful for practicing writing exams under time pressure and building exam writing and time management skills.
What are you planning next?
I plan to join CMI for my undergraduate degrees, though I have not decided between computer science and physics yet for my second degree. I am looking forward to learning lots of math over the next three years and beyond!

How Cheenta helped you in your ISI - CMI preparation?
Cheenta's ISI-CMI problem-solving classes held every weekday were very helpful for me, as in them we discussed many beautiful and tough problems, their solutions, and the motivations behind the solutions. Since they were held every weekday for an hour each day, we had a lot of time to discuss many problems, and it was nice to have a problem-solving class on a daily basis.

All of my other classes were very helpful as well, and I enjoyed them a lot. In discussions in class, we would discuss concepts and problems, and the teachers would also make sure to provide the motivation and intuition behind the concepts and problem solutions, from which I learned a lot.
I would like to thank everyone at Cheenta for all of their help and time.

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