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
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:
- Regular revision of concepts and notes.
- Keeping oneself upgraded about legal updates and recent developments.
- 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.
C.S.C.: Achieving top slot in the Judicial Services Examination is no small feet; accept our heartiest congratulations on your splendid success.
Preeti: Thanks a lot.
C.S.C.:Can you recall the exact moment when you realized the importance of Judicial Services?
Preeti: I always had interest in Judicial Services. However, when I started practising in Chhattisgarh High Court, I realized the prestige and responsibilities of Judges.
C.S.C.:Finally, at what point of time did you make up your mind to make career in ‘Judicial Services’?
Preeti: After completing my graduation in Law, I started preparing for Judicial Services.
C.S.C.: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?
Preeti: I used to read Toppers’ interviews and it always inspired and motivated me.
C.S.C.: 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?
Preeti: It was both a planned decision as well as my parent's wish. My mindset towards JSE was that until I achieve success I would continue my preparation.
C.S.C.:About Interview Boards, many candidates have set impressions. Do you consider such thoughts help or hinder one’s performance in Interview?
Preeti: Yes, up to some extent it mentally prepares us for the interview.
C.S.C.:What was your first step when you were really serious about making a career in Judicial Services?
Preeti: I went through the syllabus and divided my time for all subjects which I had to read together.
C.S.C.: Were you confident of your success in this examination and how did you react to this news of your success?
Preeti: Yes, upto certain extent I was confident of my success. However, getting 1st rank was beyond my imagination. It was a mix of joy and surprise.
C.S.C.:In how many attempts have you achieved this success? How do you visualize your preparation/previous attempts?
Preeti: In 2nd attempt I achieved this success. My previous attempt made me aware of my weak points so, it was a great help.
C.S.C.:Were you preparing for other career opportunities as well while preparing for your ultimate goal i.e. career in Judicial Services?
Preeti: No, I was fully focused towards Judicial Services Examination.
C.S.C.:While the changing economic environment offers immense lucrative career opportunities in various sectors, still what kept you motivated towards Judicial Services?
Preeti: The immense respect and prestige of judiciary.
C.S.C.:'Time Management' - is a key factor while making preparations 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?
Preeti: Yes, during preparation for mains, I faced this problem. To overcome with it, I used to put alarms for specific intervals every day and tried to complete practice papers of Ambition Law Institute in that time frame only.
C.S.C.: List some of the Magazines, Newspapers, Books, etc. which you read for 'General Studies’ preparation.
Preeti: One Hindi and English newspaper every day, along with monthly magazine of Civil Services Chronicle.
C.S.C.: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?
Preeti: For interview, I made panel at home which consisted of my parents and brother. I faced the Board of Hon'ble J. M.M. Shrivastava Sir. My interview went quite smoothly and it lasted for about 15-20 minutes. Maximum questions were from law and few from current affairs.
C.S.C.:What is the importance of medium of examination for exams like JSE?
Preeti: In my opinion, candidate's medium does not affect his or her preparation in JSE.
C.S.C.:Does the educational, financial and demographic status of the family of an aspirant have any impact on the preparation?
Preeti: Yes, upto some extent it impacts on JSE preparation. However, it is not hindrance in getting selected for aspirants.
C.S.C.:According to a recent report published by reputed survey agency, Civil Services Chronicle is the largest read Career & Competition magazine. What is your opinion?
Preeti: In my opinion, Civil Services Chronicle is one of the most useful competition magazines. It gives us all important details in a single book.
C.S.C.: To whom would you like to give the credit for your success?
Preeti: Credit goes to my Papa, Ma, my Brother, my Teachers, entire Team of Ambition Law Institute, my seniors and God for success.
C.S.C.:Any suggestion/advice you would like to give to the future aspirants.
Preeti: I would like to give them my best wishes and advise them for continuous motivation till success.
C.S.C.:Thank you very much and wishing you all the best for your future endeavors.