CSC: When did you start preparation for the IAS Examination? When should one ideally begin thinking about preparing for this exam?
Aman: I started my preparations just after completing graduation in 2013. Ideally, if one has made up his/her mind to join civil services, then he/she should start at the earliest, say during last year of graduation.
CSC: How did you start your preparation for the IAS Examination?
Aman: I started my preparation by reading NCERT books and Newspapers.
CSC: What were your strategies for the lengthy syllabus of General Studies for both Prelims and Main Examinations?
Aman: I focussed on reading and revising again and again. I made short notes for difficult topics so that they could be revised easily.
CSC: What was your optional? What was the basis of selecting this particular optional subject?
Aman: I took ‘HISTORY’ as my optional subject. It has a well-defined static syllabus. ‘HISTORY’ is very interesting subject and it covers a major part of syllabus of compulsory papers of ‘General Studies’. Now a days ‘HISTORY’ optional is the safest and most scoring optional subject.
CSC: How did you come to know that which sources of reading materials are standard? Please give a list of books, magazines and papers.
Aman: I followed the guidance of my teachers and seniors. Newspapers – ‘The Hindu’ and ‘Business Standard’. Books: Indian Polity and Constitution – Laxmikant; Geography – NCERTs, G.C. Leong; Indian Economy – NCERTs, History – Bipan Chandra, NCERTs, Upinder Singh, Satish Chandra and B.L. Grover.
CSC: Tell us something about preparation of ‘Essay’ paper.
Aman: I collected important points and quotes for various topics. After that I prepared theme wise material for issues like education and women issues. I made the mistake of not focusing sufficiently on writing practice.
CSC: Which is the most difficult part of this examination and why? What was your strategy to tackle this difficult part?
Aman: I think Main examination is the most difficult part of civil services examination. Essay Paper and Ethics Paper (GS Paper-IV) have great fluctuation in marks. They can make or mar your rank and selection.
CSC: Did you attend any coaching institute? How helpful are the coaching institutes? What is your overall opinion about the coaching institutes?
Aman: I attended ‘INSIGHT IAS ACADEMY’ of S. BALIYAN Sir at Delhi. The coaching classes helped me a lot.Although there is no rule that one cannot succeed without coaching but correct guidance always reduces the effort. Continuous support, motivation and guidance provided by S. BALIYAN Sir played a crucial role in my success in Civil Services Examination.
CSC: What are your suggestions for freshers who want to join coaching institutes for preparation?
Aman: Coaching institute should be selected carefully. Don’t ever miss the classes and interact with teachers regularly to get maximum possible benefit.
CSC: The trend suggests that professionals are more successful in this exam. Does this exam prove difficult for Humanities and Social Science background candidates?
Aman: Everyone has equal chance of clearing civil services examination, although optional subjects do create disparities in marks sometimes. Subjects like History are fetching more marks now a days.
CSC: What should be the best strategy to tackle negative marking?
Aman: Do not guess in examination if you do not have any idea about the question. Do not have a pre-determined marks target in mind as the cut off marks vary from year to year. Attempt questions on the basis of their merit.
CSC: How did you prepare for interview?
Aman: I prepared my DAF (Detailed Application Form) properly. I attended mocks interview sessions at INSIGHT IAS ACADEMY.
CSC: Which types of questions were asked in the interview? Did you answer them all?
Aman: The questions were mainly based on my hobbies, optional subject, current affairs and economics. No, I did not answer all the questions.
CSC: Was there any specific area they emphasized upon?
Aman: Questions were more on my optional subject.
CSC: Before getting down to actual preparation, what kind of reading should one do to improve one’s suitability for this exam?
Aman: One should read books related to social and economic issues. Aspirants should inculcate habit of reading newspapers and good magazines.
CSC: To whom would you give credit for your success?
Aman: My family for their constant support and my teachers for their invaluable guidance.
CSC: What is your advice to the freshers who are going to appear in this exam?
Aman: They should be clear about goals and work hard with consistency.
CSC: What is your advice to the candidates who have failed in this exam?
Aman: Failure is part and parcel of this exam. Do not lose heart and tempo. Keep working hard and success will come certainly.
CSC: Since when you have begun reading Civil Services Chronicle magazine? What are your suggestions to make it more useful for civil service aspirants?
Aman: Right from the early days of preparation I am reading Civil Services Chronicle, though I could not follow it regularly. The special issues dealing with different subjects were very helpful.
CSC: Mr. Aman, thanks a lot for giving your valuable time and sharing your insight on civil services examination.
Aman: Thank you very much.