Uttam
121th Rank In Civil Services Examination - 2021


CSC: Heartiest congratulations to you from Civil Services Chronicle for your success. How are you feeling about it?

Uttam: Thank you very much sir. I am quite happy and feeling is beyond description- a combination of excitement, joy, nervousness for upcoming transformation in life.

CSC: What is your inspiration for becoming an IAS officer? Whom do you give credit for your success? What is the role of family and others (teachers, friends) in your preparation and success?

Uttam: My inspireation for opting civil service is social service - lessening sufferings of people, helping them to achieve their dreams. I would give credit of my success to my family (parents, siblings). They supported me throughout this journey. During my preparation, my teachers (special mention here for Sunil Gupta Sir) gave me proper direction and motivated me.

CSC: What strategy one should follow for preparing General Studies - Prelims & Mains? Did you integrate your Prelims and Mains preparation or was it separate?

Uttam: General Studies, being the most important component of both the stages (49% in mains and 100% in prelims), requires special focus. I would say revising, and practicing regulary is the key for both the stages. Regular writing for mains, daily practice of MCQs would be helpful. I prepared for prelims and mains in an integerated manner. Only three months before prelims, I dedicatedly worked for prelims only.

CSC: What was your optional? What was the basis of selecting this optional? What strategy one should follow for preparing?

Uttam: My optional was Public Administration. Basis for selection of this was – my interest for knowing all about administration, short syllabus, and comparative advantage (overlapping with general studies syllabus). Fore preparation, my strategy was joining a good coaching (I joined INSPIRATION IAS ACADEMY), revising coaching notes, daily answer writing and doing test series.

CSC: What was your strategy for preparation and books of Ethics Paper-IV?

Uttam: Ethics Paper-IV is the area where one can score very high with little effort. I did two readings of Lexicon book, practiced a lot of case studies and added a number of examples from Ramayana and Mahabharta.

CSC: Tell us something about preparation of Essay paper.

Uttam: Essay again is an area where little efforts can fetch you good marks. I followed a strategy of writing essay every Sunday on INSIGHTS ON INDIA platform.

CSC: What was your style of writing in the exam? How was it distinct from the general writing style? How did you develop this writing style?

Uttam: My style of writing comprised a good structure (Introduction- Body- Conclusion), filled with data, substantiated with examples and case studies (for instance, if I have to write something about Urban Planning , I used to refer Indus Valley Civilisation). I developed my writing style with practice (I wrote four answers per day since the beginning of my preparation).

CSC: How did you prepare for interview? Which types of questions were asked in interview? Did you answer them all? Was there any specific area they emphasised upon?

Uttam: Interview preparation for me was most scary one (because UPSC CSE Interview was first interview of my life). So, I dig a lot from internet and listened to a number of toppers’ videos. I prepared a list of questions (personal questions, questions from current affairs and optional). I prepared those questions in front of mirror every day, gave 2 mock interviews also.

In my interview, questions were asked about my name (Uttam – How your name motivates you?) my hobbies, questions on optional paper, J&K Issue, Russia – Ukraine war and India's stand, two situation-based questions.

They also asked me 4-5 questions from Chemistry (my academic background).

I answered all of the questions except the name of chief minister of J&K at the time of drafting of Constitution of J&K.

CSE: What is the importance of coaching in the preparation of this exam?

Uttam: For me, I would say, coaching from INSPIRATION IAS ACADEMY has played an important role. Coaching decides a path for you. It draws boundary line, so that student does not drift here and there.

Mentorship of Sunil Gupta Sir (Director of INSPIRATION IAS ACADEMY) has helped me sail through this exam. He has supported and guided me during coaching and even after that for public administration preparation.

CSE: What is the role of Civil Services Chronicle in your success?

Uttam: Civil Services Chronicle has helped me for preparing Ethics (Paper-IV) and following magazines every month for Model MCQs (Prelims) and exclusive topics for mains. Chronicle has helped me for General Studies & Current Affairs.

CSE: What is your source of preparation? Which books, magazines, news papers and online sources were used by you during your preparation?

Uttam: My preparation was based on standard books for each subject, following magazines like Civil Services Chronicle, Yojana, Kurukshetra, reading The Hindu newspaper and following INSIGHTS IAS for daily answer writing.

CSE: Suggest a book list for Prelims, GS & CSAT and Mains Paper (1 to 4) and Essay.

Uttam:

Booklist for GS (Prelims + Mains)

  • Polity – M. Laxmikant
  • History – Spectrum
  • Economy – Sri Ram Notes
  • Geography – 11th & 12th NCERT
  • Environment – Shanker IAS
  • Disaster Management – Current Affairs
  • Internal Security – Class Notes
  • International Relationships – Current Affairs
  • Ancient & Medieval History – Class Notes
  • Essay – Ultimate Cheatbook for Essay written by IRS Ravi Kapoor
  • Ethics – Lexicon by Chronicle

CSE: Suggest a book list for Optional (Public Administration Paper 1 & 2).

Uttam:

  • Class notes + Handouts given by Sunil Gupta Sir (Inspiration IAS Academy)
  • Prasad and Prasad (for thinkers)
  • R.K. Sapru
  • Mohit Bhattcharya (for selected topics)
  • Aribam books for both - Paper 1 & Paper 2

Pragya
91th Rank In Civil Services Examination - 2021


Pragya Jat, AIR 91, CSE 2021, is an epitome of motivation for many civil service aspirants who dream of becoming an IAS officer despite the hurdles. Presenting to you here is an interview with Mr. Ayush Sinha, founder and director of Forum IAS and Pragya.

Ayush - Pragya, a very warm welcome to you and congratulations for securing Rank 91 in CSE 2021. Can you please introduce yourself?

Pragya - I am Pragya. I am 24 years old. I graduated in B.A. Honors (Economics) from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University in 2018. My family hails from Rajasthan. My father worked for Indian Railways. I currently reside in Gurgaon.

Ayush - Pragya, what motivated you to take the most prestigious exam of the country?

Pragya –My father suggested me to go for Civil Services and gradually, the idea sinked in and I went for it after graduation.

Ayush - How did you come to know about Forum IAS?

Pragya - After graduation in 2018, I came across Anudeep sir’s blogs who secured Rank 1 the same year. He had been a part of Forum’s Test series. It was then I heard about Forum IAS and later, joined for Mains Guidance Program (MGP).

Ayush - What is your take on the choice of Newspaper for the preparation of Civil Services?

Pragya - Keeping a tab on the news on a daily basis has been an eternal struggle for me and reading every piece of micro-news is overwhelming for me. So, for this attempt, I decided to quit reading the newspaper. I will not advocate for this kind of move to my fellow students; everyone should do what works best for them.

Ayush - How did you manage with the Current Affairs given the fact that you quit reading Newspaper?

Pragya - As far as working on the Current Affairs (CA) was concerned, I relied on the yearly compilations for Prelims and joined Forum’s CA classes for the Mains. Also, Dipin sir’s classes were really good and his notes helped me a lot in working on the Current affairs.

Ayush - Though at Forum we suggest giving 4-5 months for prelims especially when you have not been able to clear the same a couple of times, how much time did you devote for the prelims?

Pragya - 2-3 months. I have barely given much thought how much time others devote in the preparation; I simply, went with the flow.

Ayush - What was your strategy for the preparation of Prelims?

Pragya - This was my third attempt at the prelims. I did not adopt any particular strategy for the preparation. I just kept working hard.I kept solving mocks.

Ayush – Most of the students struggle with this question that at what stage the toppers bubble the circle in Prelims. What was your strategy?

Pragya – I used to bubble the circle immediately after reading the question because the probability of making a mistake at the end becomes higher.

Ayush – How did your day look like during the preparation of prelims?

Pragya – I studied for almost 8-10 hours daily with intermittent breaks. I used to watch videos right before sleeping just to absorb the content during sleep as well.

Ayush - What was your approach to GS paper 1?

Pragya - I did not give much time to History as I had this subject during 11th and 12th. As we neared the exam, I simply read through the notes of previous years toppers. Also, while solving the tests under MGP, I would note down a topic/question that was unknown to me and later, learned the answers to the same. For Geography, I made diagrammatic notes.

Ayush - What was your approach to GS paper 2?

Pragya - I read Laxmikant and would look at only those topics that I meant to remember. Dipin sir’s classes also covered a lot of topics.

Ayush - What was your approach to GS paper 3?

Pragya – Topics like Disaster Management, Geography, and Environment are a part of Paper 1; so the preparation overlapped for GS paper1 and 3. For Security, I prepared at the time of prelims. For Economy, I just went through the basics as it was my subject during graduation.

Ayush - What was your approach to GS paper 4?

Pragya - In my opinion, paper 4 is a bit tricky as everyone can write the answers, but a good one, only a few can. I worked on writing answers of Ethics and later sought help from answers of other toppers. Also, I worked on quotes and captured a lot of examples to enhance my answers. The Red Book by Forum on Ethics helped in this.

Ayush - How did you tackle Essay writing?

Pragya – As I used to participate in debates when in school, my brain was programmed for breaking the topic in parts that would bring out the best motion and analytics. I wrote total 4 essays at Forum. I also went through essays of toppers. I would write the essay with a timer and prepared a rough draft before attempting an essay. The quotes and examples were an added advantage.

Ayush - Why did you choose Sociology as your Optional subject?

Pragya - I did not do well in Economics in college. So, I decided to go for an altogether different subject. Also, reading about Sociology here and there, developed my interest towards the subject.

Ayush – You were a part of Augmented Test Series (ATS) - Sociology here at Forum. How did you benefit from the same?

Pragya – I wrote 3 tests and later, went through the answers. Any point that was not covered in my notes or sources of study, I would include that. The Value addition Classes at Forum were also an added advantage in enhancing my answers.

Ayush – How much did you score in the Personality test? Who were the board members in your Interview? How was your experience?

Pragya – My score in Personality test was 193. I faced T. C. Anand Sir’s board. It was extremely cordial. I was nervous before the interview but all went well. Though I could not answer all the questions, I went with a simple ‘no’ in all honesty.

Ayush – How many mock Interviews did you take?

Pragya - I gave one online and one in-person mock. That’s it!

Ayush – Did you digitalize the notes or had hard copies for them?

Pragya - I preferred paper notes.

Ayush - Which pen did you use for the exam?

Pragya – Initially, I started with Black ball point pen, but later, switched to Pilot V5 till the end.

Ayush - Why did you opt for Indian Foreign Service instead of Administrative Service?

Pragya - As a child, I was fascinated with the officials of Indian Foreign Service and after clearing the exam, I felt Diplomacy is that one aspect I would be inclined towards.

Ayush - If you were to recommend a course of Forum to fellow aspirants, which one would that be?

Pragya - I would recommend Current Affairs Classes and MGP at Forum.

Ayush - Any suggestions to the readers?

Pragya - Just give your best and do whatever it takes to crack the exam. Have a positive mind-set and keep pushing yourself till the end. This exam not only tests your knowledge, but also your personality.

Readers can find the interview on Youtube at our official website- ForumIAS Official


Mr. YASHU KHURANA
76th Rank In Madhya Pradesh Judicial Services Examination - 2019
An Exclusive Interview


CSC: Achieving top slot in the Judicial Services Examination is no small feat; accept our heartiest congratulations on your splendid success.

Yashu Khurana: Thanks to almighty, my parents, and my coaching institute - Ambition Law Institute.

CSC: Can you recall the exact moment when you realized the importance of joining Judicial Services?

Yashu Khurana: During my Law Clerkship with HMJ Sanjeev Narula, I realised the role and importance of Judiciary.

CSC: Finally, at what point of time did you make up your mind to make a career in ‘Judicial Services’?

Yashu Khurana: After comparing my experience of working with Mr. Sanjeev Bajaj, as a trial court advocate and my experience of working as a Law Researcher, I decided that Judicial Services would be the right career option for me.

CSC: You must have read various toppers’ interviews in newspapers/magazines; what inspired you the most? Any particular success story which influenced your journey to this result?

Yashu Khurana: After watching several interviews on YouTube of selected candidates, I realised that the common ingredient in each story was a consistent and hardworking approach to achieve your goal.

CSC: Was JSE a planned decision or your parent’s wish? Did you keep in mind some time frame for the examination preparation and number of attempts?

Yashu Khurana: The idea was introduced by my parents, but I took a reasoned and informed decision after comparing experience of working with people on both sides of the bench.

CSC: About Interview Boards, many candidates have set different impressions. Do you consider such thoughts help or hinder one’s performance in the Interview?

Yashu Khurana: One can always filter useful information from impression/experience of other people.

CSC: What was your first step after choosing Judicial Services as a career option?

Yashu Khurana: Organising your schedule and finalising your resource material were the first steps.

CSC: Were you confident of your success in this examination and how did you react to this news of your success?

Yashu Khurana: If one gives an honest attempt, then despite the uncertainty of what the result may be one can be satisfied by their effort, irrespective of the result.

CSC: In how many attempts have you achieved this success? How do you visualize your preparation/previous attempts?

Yashu Khurana: This was my first attempt. Preparation is entirely based on maintaining a mental balance because it is a long journey before you get success.

CSC: Were you preparing for other career opportunities as well while preparing for your ultimate goal i.e. Career in Judicial Services?

Yashu Khurana: I have been working simultaneously to augment my knowledge and stay connected with the practical world.

CSC: While the changing economic environment offers immense lucrative career opportunities in various sectors, still what kept you motivated towards Judicial Services?

Yashu Khurana: This service is attractive because of the honour, respect, and stability attached with it.

CSC:What's important and what's not? Share your thoughts and opinions.

Yashu Khurana: What's important is that your fundamentals of legal subjects are clear, you have a strong desire and focus to achieve your dream and you are constantly working to achieve it.

CSC:'Time Management' - is a key factor while doing the preparation as well as in writing in the examination. Did you come across such a problem during this period? If yes, then how did you manage things?

Yashu Khurana: Indeed, time management is a crucial factor in having a systematic approach towards your goal. Preparing a daily schedule helped me in timely preparation of my notes.

CSC:List some of the Magazines, Newspapers, Books, etc. which you read for 'General Studies’ preparation.

Yashu Khurana: Magazines - Civil Services Chronicle and Newspaper - Indian Express.

CSC: How did you prepare yourself for the Interview? When and which Board did you face? How did your interview go on, how much time it lasted and what were the questions asked during the Interview?

Yashu Khurana: Mock Interviews helped a lot, there was a single board.

CSC:Does the educational, financial and demographic status of the family of an aspirant have any impact on the preparation?

Yashu Khurana: Yes, having a sound background obviously changes a lot of things, but in this case it's also difficult to stay focused when you've abundance of resources.

CSC:According to a recent report published by reputed survey agency, Civil Services Chronicle is the largest read Career & Competition magazine. What is your opinion?

Yashu Khurana: Yes, it is a very useful magazine. It is one of the most concise and relevant resource for major current events and general knowledge.

CSC: To whom would you like to give the credit for your success?

Yashu Khurana: I would like to give credit to my family members, my previous boss and my mentor Alok Kumar Ranjan and Team Ambition.

CSC: Thank you very much and wishing you all the best for your future endeavors.


Mr. KASHISH MATTA
27th Rank In Madhya Pradesh Judicial Services Examination - 2019
An Exclusive Interview


CSC: Achieving top slot in the Judicial Services Examination is no small feat; accept our heartiest congratulations on your splendid success.

Kashish:Thanks to almighty, my parents and my mentor Alok Kumar Ranjan Sir.

CSC: Can you recall the exact moment when you realised the importance of Judicial Services?

Kashish: The dream to join judicial service was always there in the back of my mind from the initial phase of law school. However, it took concrete form from fourth year of law school.

CSC: Finally, at what point of time did you make up your mind to make a career in Judicial Services?

Kashish: I took starting steps in the direction of Judicial Services Examination during the final year of my law school.

CSC: Was Judicial Service a planned decision or your parent’s wish? Did you keep in mind some time frame for the examination preparation and number of attempts?

Kashish: It was my own self-made decision to pursue law and prepare for Judicial Services Examination. However, my family always supported and encouraged me to follow my passion.

CSC: About Interview Boards, many candidates have set impressions. Do you consider such thoughts help or hinder one’s performance in the Interview?

Kashish: The Interview Board consists of Hon'ble High Court Judges and experienced legal luminaries. The purpose is to evaluate and test the personality of the candidates, to test their legal acumen and also to check the calmness of a candidate. I was confident about interview process.

CSC: What was your first step when you were really serious about making a career in Judicial Services?

Kashish: The first step was to get right guidance and a solid road-map to reach my desired destination, i.e., to clear Judicial Services Examination.

CSC: In how many attempts have you achieved this success? How do you visualise your preparation/previous attempts?

Kashish: It was my 3rd attempt.

CSC: Were you preparing for other career opportunities as well while preparing for your ultimate goal, i.e., Career in Judicial Services?

Kashish: No, I prepared only for Judicial Services.

CSC: While the changing economic environment offers immense lucrative career opportunities in various sectors, still what kept you motivated towards Judicial Services?

Kashish: The faith of public in the Institution of Judiciary and the pious function of justice dispensation continued to inspire me at every stage of this preparation.

CSC: What's important and what's not? Share your thoughts and opinions.

Kashish: The following are important:

  1. Regular revision of concepts and notes.
  2. Keeping oneself upgraded about legal updates and recent developments.
  3. Keeping oneself motivated and enthusiastic throughout the journey.

CSC: ‘Time Management’ is a key factor while preparing as well as in writing examination papers. Did you come across such a problem during this period? If yes, then how did you manage things?

Kashish: Time management is a key-factor in clearing any examination. Completing the whole question-paper within limited time-frame and with qualitative answers is required to clear the examination.

CSC: List some of the magazines, newspapers, and books which you read for General Studies’ preparation?

Kashish: (1) News Paper - Indian Express

(2) Website - Live Law

CSC: How did you prepare yourself for Interview?

Kashish: I appeared in few Mock Interviews before the actual interview. It helped me in finding out short-comings and improving the same.

CSC: What is the importance of medium of examination for exams like Judicial Services Examination?

Kashish: One must opt for that medium in which one is comfortable to express and communicate.

CSC: Does the educational, financial and demographic status of the family of an aspirant have any impact on the preparation?

Kashish: The family support is instrumental in achieving the desired goal. A person from humble back-ground also has equal chances to succeed in the competitive examinations.

CSC: According to a recent report published by reputed survey agency, Civil Services Chronicle is the largest read Career & Competition magazine. What is your opinion?

Kashish: Yes, it is a resourceful magazine; a good consolidation of relevant knowledge and current-events.

CSC: To whom would you like to give the credit for your success?

Kashish: To my parents, my family (especially my nephew, master Divyam), my friends and my mentor - Shri Alok Kumar Ranjan Sir along with entire Team of Ambition Law Institute, Delhi.

CSC: Any suggestion/advice you would like to give to the future aspirants?

Kashish: I strongly suggest every aspirant to have an immense faith in his or her capability and pursue their dreams with full vigour and to never come under pressure and do not give up.

CSC: Thank you very much and wishing you all the best for your future endeavours.


Ishank
15th Rank In Uttarakhand Judicial Services Examination - 2020
An Exclusive Interview with


CSC: Achieving top slot in the Judicial Services Examination is no small feat; accept our heartiest congratulations on your splendid success.

Ishank: Thanks a lot.

CSC: Can you recall the exact moment when you realized the importance of Judicial Services?

Ishank: Since childhood I was inspired from my father as he was also posted as Civil Judge (JD) at U.P.

CSC: You must have read Toppers’ interviews in newspapers/magazines; what inspired you the most? Any particular success story which influenced your journey to this result?

Ishank: I was inspired from one of the aspirant of Judicial Examination and my colleague from Ambition Law Institute. Alok Sir always encouraged me a lot to achieve what I always aspired.

CSC: Was JSE a planned decision or your parent’s wish? Did you keep in mind some time frame for the examination preparation and number of attempts?

Ishank: Both. No, as such there was no time frame, rather I enjoyed the time while I was preparing for Judiciary.

CSC: About Interview Boards, many candidates have set impressions. How do you see such thoughts – whether they help or hinder one’s performance in Interview?

Ishank: These are unnecessary; be honest with your interviewers.

CSC: What was your first step when you were really serious about making a career in Judicial Services?

Ishank: In 2016, I appeared for my first Examination for U.P. Judiciary and when my Preliminary Examination got cleared, I became more serious about Mains Examination and further process.

CSC: Were you confident of your success in this examination and how did you react to this news of your success?

Ishank: I was confident because I have guidance from my father and also from Alok Sir (Director of Ambition Law Institute), so I followed their pattern and lead on.

CSC: In how many attempts have you achieved this success? How do you visualise your preparation/previous attempts?

Ishank: In Uttarakhand Judicial Services Examination, this was my 2nd attempt.

CSC: Were you preparing for other career opportunities as well while preparing for your ultimate goal i.e., career in Judicial Services?

Ishank: No, I only set my goal for Judiciary.

CSC: While the changing economic environment offers immense lucrative career opportunities in various sectors, still what kept you motivated towards Judicial Services?

Ishank: As I mentioned earlier, only thing that motivated me to go for Judiciary is my parents’ wishes and my respect for the work of Judiciary.

CSC: 'Time Management' is a key factor while preparing as well as in writing the examination. Did you come across such a problem during this period? If yes, then how did you manage things?

Ishank: I had set my time limit to complete every question within 2 to 3 minutes.

CSC: List some of the Magazines, Newspapers, Books, etc. which you read for 'General Studies’ preparation.

Ishank: Civil Services Chronicle (English) and The Hindu Newspaper.

CSC: How did you prepare yourself for Interview? When and which Board did you face? How did your interview go on, how much time it lasted and what were the questions asked during the Interview?

Ishank: Preparation for Preliminary Examination will help you till last stage so be in continuance of your Prelims preparation. My Interview lasted for 15-17 minutes.

CSC: What is the importance of medium of examination for exams like JSE?

Ishank: It doesn't matter what medium you choose.

CSC: Does the educational, financial and demographic status of the family of an aspirant have any impact on the preparation?

Ishank: Yes, it matters a lot.

CSC: To whom would you like to give the credit for your success?

Ishank: At first to almighty God, then my parents and then Ambition Law Institute and Alok Sir.

CSC: What are your Hobbies?

Ishank: Sports, collection of recent case laws and reading law digests like SCC weekly.

CSC: Any suggestion/advice you would like to give to the future aspirants.

Ishank: Read Bare Acts properly and solve as many questions as you can.

CSC: Thank you very much and wishing you all the best for your future endeavours.


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