Simranpreet Kaur
Rank 1 (Sports Category) In Punjab Public Service Commission 2021


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

Simranpreet Kaur: Thank you Sir. It's a great feeling as the hard work put in has reaped fruits.

CSC: What is your inspiration behind your success? Whom do you give credit for your success? What is the role of family and others (teacher, friends) in your preparation and success?

Simranpreet Kaur: My inspiration for becoming a PCS officer was my parents who introduced the idea of Civil Services to me. This was further realised when I was awarded for representing India in the World

Cup in Skeet Shooting on the Sports Day of my School and the chief guest was a sports person and a Civil Servant. This really inspired me to take up Civil Services.The role of my family has been a major one given the fact it's the family support which gives emotional strength in this journey and teachers who motivate you and help you become better in the respective subjects.

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

Simranpreet Kaur: The preparation of Civil Services is an integrated one for both Prelims and Mains. Step one is thoroughly understanding the syllabus and analysing the previous years’question papers.

Followed by that one has to decide whether one requires coaching or not and depending upon their strengths and weaknesses formulate a strategy accordingly. Tests are really important for each stage of the examination as it helps one identify the areas which need more attention.Both mains and Prelims are covered together, however a few months before each stage of examination one has to shift the focus of preparation to the exam specific stage.

CSC: How much time did you devote for Prelims, Mains, Interview, and Optional? How did you manage your time in both prelims and mains examinations?

Simranpreet Kaur: It is nearly two years of preparation. I decided to prepare in an integrated way hence initially I prepared for both mains and prelims together. As my prelims was scheduled on 13th February, 2021, I gave three months before the exam completely to it.Followed by that in 1st April, 2021 to 8th April 2021, I had my mains hence a dedicated focus to it.Followed by that on 15th May, was my Interview hence the focus was to more an interview specific preparation.

CSC:Did you prepare notes? How helpful are the notes? What is your advice on notes making?

Simranpreet Kaur: For some subjects I had prepared notes like the mains specific topics and some even for Current Affairs, however they were prioritised on the basis of importance of the issues with regard to the exam.They were really helpful as the revision before the exam became quite easy.I believe, making notes or not is a personal choice, however in my opinion they are important as some days before the exam it becomes extremely difficult to revise from a large number of sources.

CSC: Tell us something about preparation of essay paper.

Simranpreet Kaur: I had practiced certain essays before the Mains exam and got them evaluated by my teachers and incorporated their suggestions in the exam. The knowledge of other four papers can be beautifully utilised in the paper with a touch of literature.

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?

Simranpreet Kaur: My writing style was of - Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. However I used paragraphs, points, diagrams, etc. depending upon the demand of the question.I had developed the writing style by practicing a few questions after every subject was completed, then getting my answers evaluated by the teachers and incorporating their suggestions.

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

Simranpreet Kaur: My interview was mainly focussed on the Detailed Application Form (DAF) and on newspapers, along with some important contemporary issues and State specific information.I had prepared for the same and attended a few mocks and incorporated few suggestions. The questions were mostly State-oriented and factual and very less opinion-based.I was able to answer most of the questions and they asked some village specific questions which I was not able to answer.

CSC: What do you think about importance of coaching in the preparation of this examination?

Simranpreet Kaur: Coaching plays a very important role in giving direction to prepare for this examination and after that it's the self-study which helps one consolidate the learning on subjects. However, again, it’s a personal choice. One has to decide depending upon his/her abilities.

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

Simranpreet Kaur: I referred to Civil Services Chronicle magazine for some topics of current affairs to fill in the gaps.


Deepak Kumar
Rank–10 64th In Bihar Judicial Services Examination-2020
An Exclusive Interview


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

Deepak Kumar: Thanks a lot. It really feels special to get the first choice post. It seems the years of labour paid back. There is a feeling of gratitude to wards all who supported me in this long journey.

C.S.C.: What inspired you for becoming a BPS officer? Whom do you give credit for your success? What is the role of family and others (teacher, friends) in your preparation and success?

Deepak Kumar: The work done by various IPS officers inpublic field and especially in my district has inspired me to come in this field. Recent work of Harprit Kaur madam, the work of Paresh Saxena sir and work of IAS Kundan Kumar sir inspired me a lot. The credit of my success goes to Mami-Papa, my elder brother (Arun Kumar), my respected teachers who have not been merely teachers but the guiding principles (like Sarvesh Sir, Lalit Sir), Shubhash Chandra Bhaiya (IRS), and my close friends. Role of family remained vital in supporting me with all the resources they can. Teachers and friends played very important role in making preparation, selecting right resources and directing my preparation in right direction.

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

Deepak Kumar: Analyze the syllabus, previous years question paper and understand the demand of exam. Map the areas form where questions are being asked again and again, and prepare for that area based on its importance form exam perspective. Aspirants should have a basic and pragmatic calculation of marks they need to score in various papers to get the desirable rank and post. Choose optional wisely.Preparation of prelims and Mains in an integrated way was my strategy.Whatever facts & figures, standard books I studied for prelims, I used those concepts, facts and figures for mains as well. It helped me saving time and fruitful utilization of knowledge I gained through prelims preparation.

C.S.C.:How much time did you devote for Prelims, Mains, Interview, and Optional? How did you manage your time in both Prelims and Mains examinations?

Deepak Kumar: Since I have prepared Civil Services twice and qualified its prelims two times, I just prepared for Bihar special – mostly form Crown Publication books, then current affair from Bihar Samgrah, and science portion form Lucent General Knowledge. All this I covered in 20days. For Mains, apart from standard books for civil services exam, I went through the book by Sarvesh sir for Bihar specific approach. Answer writing in Sarvesh sir Test series for BPSC helped me a lot in Mains and discussion of test was really helpful. For optional, I followed IMS study material both for UPSC and BPSC with some selected books like Malik and Arora, books of Krishna Series. In BPSC, questions are relatively easy and IMS materials are enough for preparation. For interview, I attended Mock Test of Sarvesh sir, in 63rd BPSC I also attended the mock of Patanjali IAS and Dristi IAS.

C.S.C.:What was your optional? What was the basis of selecting this optional?

Deepak Kumar: Math was my optional subject as I enjoy this subject since my school days. It also gave me window to study non-humanity subject. So, a balance between Math and GS helped in continuing my study for long.

C.S.C.:How did you prepare for interview? How should one prepare for the interview?

Deepak Kumar: I prepared for interview on general terms like about myself: educational background, optional, why in public service, hometown/village, about Bihar, and potential and issues state is facing. Current affair is particularly important and questions are asked on the issues trending at the time of interview. One must be ready for logical questions rather than factual questions. One should try to be apolitical and stick to constitutional provisions.

C.S.C.:What is the importance of coaching in the preparation of exam?

Deepak Kumar: I particularly didn’t attend class room program of any coaching institute. But, for test series of good quality like that of Sharthak Samwad for BPSC is very helpful,and test discussion is even more important. Writing GS test series in exam mode helps in developing answer writing approach.

C.S.C.:What is your source of preparation? Which books, magazines, newspapers and online sources were used by you during preparation?

Deepak Kumar: Some you tube channels like Mrunal helped mein developing the basic understanding of history, geography and economics. After that, I read basic books for Civil services like – Lakshmikant for polity, Spectrum for history. For BPSC, special Sarthak Samwad books on Hisotry,Polity and economics are really helpful.

C.S.C.:Suggest book list for preparing Prelims, GS & CSAT and Mains Paper 1 to 4 and Essay.

Deepak Kumar: Book list for Prelims: Lucent (especially for Science), Crown Publication – Introduction of Bihar or Bihar ek Parichay (Imtiyaz Ahmad), Bihar Samagrh for current; For Mains: Selected topicsform Lakshmikant and Spectrum, and Sarthak Samwad. Along with this, newspaper-The Hindu or Indian Express are very important.


Shubham Aggarwal
Civil Services Examination 2019, Rank–25


  • Hello Everyone, I have always read interview of toppers, and here I am, now with an opportunity to write one myself.
  • I am Shubham Aggarwal. I am 22 years old. I am from New Delhi itself. I have done my schooling from St Francis De Sales School in Janakpuri. Then I went on to study at Shri Ram College of Commerce.
  • This was my first attempt at Civil Services Examination. My optional was commerce and accountancy.
  • Becoming an IAS came to mind in the second year of graduation and hence my journey began from there. I gave my first and only attempt right after graduation i.e., without a gap year since I was already 21. Preparation included shifting to campus despite being a Delhiite to ensure complete focus on the exam and managing college studies, classes along with CSE preparation. It all culminated into me giving college final exams in May 2019 and prelims on 2nd June 2019.

Candidate Profile

  • Your Name: Shubham Aggarwal
  • Place of Birth: New Delhi
  • How old are you? : 22 years
  • Schooling done from Name and City and score?: St. Francis De Sales, Janakpuri , New Delhi – 97% in class 12
  • College from which City and Gpa: Shri Ram College of Commerce, New Delhi – GPA – 8.9
  • PG (if Any): None
  • Your attempt at the exam( 1st, 2nd, 3rd) – 1st
  • Did you write any other exam? No
  • Who else is there in your family?: Father, Mother and an Elder Sister
  • Work-experience (if any): None
  • Optional: Commerce and Accountancy

Tell us about your Tryst with UPSC.

  • Becoming an IAS came to mind in the second year of graduation and hence my journey began from there. I gave my first and only attempt right after graduation i.e., without a gap year since I was already 21. Preparation included shifting to campus despite being a Delhiite to ensure complete focus on the exam and managing college studies, classes along with CSE preparation. It all culminated into me giving college final exams in May 2019 and prelims on 2nd June 2019.


Preliminary examination


PLEASE MENTION YOUR STRATEGY AND BOOKS/NOTES DID YOU REFERRED TO FOR GENERAL STUDIES AND CSAT?

  • For CSAT, I just gave 2018 CSE paper as a mock in 2 hours time and was scoring 140+ so I did not prepare for it. If someone faces difficulty in doing the same, then recommended books can be referred to.

GS (STRATEGY AND BOOKS)

BOOKLIST:

Topic
Resource
History Ancient R S Sharma old NCERT
History Medieval Satish Chandra Old NCERT
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Spectrum by Rajiv Ahir
Culture Fine Arts NCERT
Polity (static + current affairs) Laxmikanth
Economy (static + current affairs) none
Science (static + current affairs) Current Magazines
Environment (static + current affairs) Shankar IAS
Geography(Physical +Indian+World) 11th and 12th NCERT + GC Leong

HOW MANY QUESTIONS DID YOU ATTEMPT IN GS? HOW MANY DID YOU GET RIGHT?

  • I attempted 83 questions in my final exam – I believe I got 62 right


WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE OPTIMAL NUMBER OF QUESTIONS TO ATTEMPT IN PRELIMS? DO YOU ADVISE ACCURACY OR MAXIMUM ATTEMPTS?

  • It really depends what the candidate is more comfortable with. More often than not it is number of attempts due to low accuracy of the multiple correct options type questions.


IF YOU HAD TO PREPARE AGAIN WOULD YOU CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY IN ANY WAY?

  • Focus more on art and culture


Mains Examination


HOW DID YOU PREPARE GS/GK?

  • Picking up the generic books which every toppers reads from and complimenting them with certain dedicated websites for topics which are not covered in such books. Having a 6 monthly, monthly, weekly and daily time table helped to keep my preparation on track and me being aware of the portions left to cover. It gives a sense of control over the prep and is hence, highly recommended to all candidates.


WHAT’S YOUR OPTIONAL SUBJECTS AND WHY?

  • Commerce and Accountancy because of my Commerce and Economics background in graduation


PLEASE SHARE YOUR STRATEGY AND BOOKLIST FOR EACH OF THE OPTIONAL?

  • Booklist for both the papers of Commerce and Accountancy were limited to the coaching material provided by Rankers Coaching Classes.

Optional 1

  • STRATEGY: Practicing practical questions in a timely fashion and making notes of the theory aspect. Taking a lot of tests along with the coaching classes is a key to get accustomed to finish the paper in the prescribed time.
  • BOOKLIST: Coaching Material of Rankers Classes

Optional 2

  • STRATEGY: Made comprehensive notes out of the coaching material so as to have my own concise material to revise from. Took as many tests as possible to write quality answers within the given time limit.
  • BOOKLIST: Coaching Material of Rankers Classes


HOW IMPORTANT IS ANSWER WRITING? WHAT WAS YOUR STYLE OF ANSWER WRITING?

  • Good answer writing is one of the key requirements for scoring high marks in Mains exam. Utilising the space to one’s advantage and writing crisp answers is key.
  • My strategy included using diagrams and schematics to write points. Every page had at least one flow chart/diagram/infographic


HOW MANY QUESTIONS DID YOU ATTEMPT? WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU FOLLOW FOR MAINS EXAMINATION IN THE EXAMINATION HALL?

  • All questions. I did not skip a single question in any of the 9 mains papers. Writing briskly while thinking continuously is important. Keeping an eye on the clock helps to allot equal time to each answer.


IF YOU HAD TO PREPARE AGAIN WOULD YOU CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY IN ANY WAY?

  • Probably do more answer writing practice


ROLE OF FORUMIAS ACADEMY

  • Here, I would like to bring to note the role of forumias academy in my preparation. I had joined ForumIAS MGP with a test series of 11 tests – 8 for GS and 3 for Essay.
  • Their answer checking is genuine and gives one detailed analysis which helped me a lot in altering my writing style for the better. Keep doing the great work team!
  • Whatever GS Mains Answer Writing Practice I had was with ForumIAS only.


Interview


HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW? DID YOU ATTEND ANY MOCKS?

  • I did not give any mock interviews. I prepared for possible questions from my DAF and also my Optional Subject. Since I graduated last year i.e., 2019, I prepared for subjects studied in college too. Having knowledge of recent happenings is important. Overall, keeping a balanced view point but having a strong opinion on things is what is required. Indecisiveness is not a trait of an aspiring bureaucrat.


WHICH INTERVIEW BOARD DID YOU FACE?

  • Ms. Smita Nagaraj


PLEASE SHARE YOUR ENTIRE INTERVIEW LIKE WHAT WAS ASKED AND WHAT WAS YOUR REPLY? WERE YOU ABLE TO ANSWER ALL THE QUESTIONS?

  • My interview started with mocking me being 22 years old and in what rush was I in becoming a civil servant. The rest of the questions were from the sectors of micro-finance, rural banking, informal moneylending, farmer credit issues, NBFCs, demonetisation, etc. There were some questions on foreign policy. The interview ended with a personalised discussion on Dowry.


WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU THINK ARE BEING TESTED IN THE INTERVIEW? SOME STRICT DO’S AND DON’TS FOR THE INTERVIEW FOR ASPIRANTS AND INTERVIEW CANDIDATES?

  • In my opinion, qualities tested are commitment to rule of law, dedication towards the upliftment of the underprivileged sections of the society, ability to take bold decisions, stick to one’s own opinion and not being succumbed under pressure. Having belief in what one says is crucial.
  • Be yourself. Do not try to be someone you are not. Don’t for a second appear disinterested in the chairperson or the panellists. Stay attentive. Be upright about things you do not know. One bluff and game over.


DO YOU THING MARKS IN SCHOOL OR COLLEGE AND THE JOB EXPERIENCE CAN IMPACT ONE’S SCORE IN THE INTERVIEW?

  • A good score can positively impact the boards opinion about you but a low score will definitely not lower their opinion of you. I’m not sure if it translates into the actual score achieved.


HOW WAS THE INTERVIEW EXPERIENCE? WAS IT PREDICTABLE? HOW MUCH DID YOUR PREPARATION HELP?

  • It was more of a conversation with a lot of back and forth in the discussion. It wasn’t entirely predictable given very limited (almost none) questions were asked related to the DAF. Anyway, Preparation always helps as it puts you in the right frame of mind before the big day.


Miscellaneous Questions


HOW MUCH INTERNET DID YOU USE FOR YOUR PREPARATION? HOW MUCH VALUE DID IT ADD

  • Preparation in this day and age without internet is simply not doable nor it is recommended. Using and limiting oneself to the right sources is key. Otherwise, one can be lost in the ocean of information that is available out there.


HOW DID YOU BALANCE SO MUCH RESOURCES AND DATA? WHAT SMART TECHNIQUES DID YOU USE TO MANAGE YOUR PREPARATION IN A BETTER MANNER?

  • Making time-tables for different time durations, keeping a track of everything I was doing and everything that was left to be done. Limiting the resources and having trust on your own decision to chose the books you did is important. Having very few (0/1) co-aspirants helps to defend yourself from over-load of information.


WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST ESSENTIAL QUALITY/QUALITIES NEEDED TO CLEAR THIS EXAM?

  • Perseverance, inner motivation to serve the society, smart work


WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO THE YOUNG ASPIRANTS WHO LOOK UP TO YOU?

  • Hang in there. It is a roller coaster ride with a lot of mood swings. There will be days when you will think you will achieve rank 1 and days when you will question whether this profession is for you. Rudyard Kipling’s lines sum this up
  • If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
  • If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
  • If you can meet with Triumphs and Disasters
  • and treat those two imposters just the same;

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE THAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED?

  • Be truthful to yourself


WHAT DID ALL HURDLES YOU FACE WHILE PREPARING FOR IT? AND HOW DID YOU TACKLE THEM

  • I lost my aunt on the day of the first mains exam (essay) and the news came in while we were on our way to the centre. I told my mother that she was in my heart but not in my brain. I would not let if affect my exams.
  • I was tested positive with Covid-19 a mere 20 days before my Interview. Having read about how to respond to it, I self-isolated myself and recovered in the 15 day time period.

Divya Shakti
Civil Services Examination 2019, Rank–79


  • Hello everyone, I am Divya Shakti. I have secured Rank 79 in the Civil Services Examination 2019. I am from Muzaffarpur, Bihar. I have done my schooling from DAV Muzaffarpur till 10th and 12th from DPS Bokaro. I have done my engineering from BITS Pilani. I am B.E. in Computer Science.
  • My father is a doctor by profession, my mother is aa home maker and I have an elder brother and sister.
  • I am An engineer who loves travelling and long distance running. I was attracted to civil services because of the job profile and its ability to impact the lives of general public.
  • I was working before I left my job, and decided to prepare full time. I came to know about ForumIAS through one of my friends, who was appearing for the exam from sometime. At that time, I was in a dilemma wheather to join Forum or any other institute for my Mains Preparation. I am glad I chose ForumIAS for Mains & Interview Preparation.

Personality/Profile:

  • Your Name: Divya Shakti
  • Place of Birth: Muzaffarpur
  • How old are you? : 27 years
  • Schooling done from Name and City and score?: Till 10th from DAV Muzaffarpur, +2 from DPS Bokaro
  • College from which City and Gpa: BITS Pilani, Pilani, Rajasthan, 7.3
  • PG (if Any): I had a dual degree with Msc. in Economics align with B.E. in Computer Science
  • Did you write any other exam? I qualified Forest Pre and Mains to reach up to the interview level.
  • Who else is there in your family?: My father who is a doctor by profession, my mother a homemaker and elder brother and sister.
  • Work-experience (if any): Two years from 2016-2018 in an investment bank
  • Optional: Geography


Preliminary examination


PLEASE MENTION YOUR STRATEGY AND BOOKS/NOTES DID YOU REFERRED TO FOR GENERAL STUDIES AND CSAT?

STRATEGY:

  • I did entire GS preparation on my own through self study without any coaching. However wrote mains test at ForumIAS itself. Before starting one’s preparation for GS, one must by heart the syllabus. Then try reading each and every topic from the syllabus, follow and consolidate current affairs related to it and prepare short notes for mains.

BOOKLIST:

Topic Resource
History Ancient Old ncert
History Medieval TN board
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Spectrum
Culture . NCERT , Nitin Singhania book selected chapters on Buddhism and Jainism, intangible heritage and paintings
Polity (static + current affairs) Laxmikant and The Hindu, Googled important topics and read them to understand the background.
Economy (static + current affairs) Static: Mrunal and Curent affairs from The Hindu. Googled important topics and read them to understand the background.
Science (static + current affairs) The Hindu, pib, year review of Ministry of Science and Technology
Environment (static + current affairs) Read Shankar IAS once for static portion. Current affairs from The Hindu, pib, year review of Ministry of Environment. Also referred to the websites of major Conventions.
Geography(Physical +Indian+World) I had geography optional so didn’t study specifically for GS
Current affairs The Hindu was my main and most important source Up to prelims. Post prelims I followed The Indian Express. I prepared pre and mains related handwritten notes for current affarirs. Followed it up by daily current affairs of one coaching site. Didn’t refer to any monthly compilation or PT 365s.

I also googled any topic in news from PIB. This helped me get relevant news from government’s authentic sources.

HOW MANY QUESTIONS DID YOU ATTEMPT IN GS? HOW MANY DID YOU GET RIGHT?

  • In mains I attempted all questions in GS, in pre my attempts were somewhere around 78-80. However I scored 116 and managed to get through IFoS cutoff as well.


WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE OPTIMAL NUMBER OF QUESTIONS TO ATTEMPT IN PRELIMS? DO YOU ADVISE ACCURACY OR MAXIMUM ATTEMPTS?

  • I believe the optimal number of attempts should be around 80. But this is not a hard and fast rule. One must analyse her accuracy through mocks to reach upon individual optimal number of attempts.


IF YOU HAD TO PREPARE AGAIN WOULD YOU CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY IN ANY WAY?

  • For prelims, no. For mains GS, no. But I would improve my optional. I couldn’t give much time to optional between pre and mains and I think it would have definitely impacted my score.


Mains Examination


HOW DID YOU PREPARE GS/GK?

  • By heart the syllabus.
  • Prepare static portion from basic books.
  • Prepare one A4 sheet note on related current affairs, mostly in answer format I.e. relevant stats, committees, articles, reports and also positives and negatives along with a way forward. I revised these sheets multiple times to by heart it before mains exam.


HOW DID YOU PREPARE ENGLISH?

  • No dedicated preparation.


HOW DID YOU COVER CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR MAINS?

  • Followed the Indian express to identify syllabus related current affairs. Watched Rajya Sabha tv’s The Big Picture regularly. It is really helpful as it gives both sides of a story along with a way forward.


WHAT’S YOUR OPTIONAL SUBJECTS AND WHY?

  • Geography because I had an interest in the subject also because of its overlap with the GS papers.


PLEASE SHARE YOUR STRATEGY AND BOOKLIST FOR EACH OF THE OPTIONAL?

Optional Paper 1:

STRATEGY:

  • I referred to my coaching notes to prepare basic foundation for both paper 1 and paper 2.
  • Then I picked up syllabus and took up each topic one by one.
  • Used internet extensively to prepare A4 sheet for each topic.
  • I made sure I knew theories, geographers’ names and diagrams related to each topic.
  • Also focussed on contemporary examples for each topic. For example let’s say, urban conurbation, I gathered examples related to India, world, recent conventions etc and used them appropriately in paper 1 and 2.
  • Also made sure each page had both maps and diagrams while writing answers. I could not give tests for my optional but tried practising previous year question papers from each unit.

BOOKLIST:

  • Basic material:
  • Shabbir sir notes

NCERT

  • Reference material:
  • Rupa Physical Geography
  • Rupa Economic and Social Geography
  • Geomorphology by Savindra Singh
  • R D Dixit

Optional 2

  • Basic material, Shabbir sir notes
  • DR Khullar, For paper 2, I used a lot of current affairs from GS paper 3. And completed topics like Culture etc from current affairs plus extensive use of internet and prepared one-pagers for even those fringe topics.


HOW IMPORTANT IS ANSWER WRITING? WHAT WAS YOUR STYLE OF ANSWER WRITING?

  • Answer writing is of course critical for mains as no matter how much you know you must be able to present relevant content in your answer in limited time.
  • My answer had introduction, body, conclusion format. I mostly wrote in pointwise format and used maps(since I had geography optional, I used them extensively in IR, geography etc related answers).


HOW MANY QUESTIONS DID YOU ATTEMPT? WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU FOLLOW FOR MAINS EXAMINATION IN THE EXAMINATION HALL?

  • I attempted all questions. I attempted the 15 markers first in around 1hr 45 mins to come back to 10 markers.
  • I didn’t use blog and community as such but I DID regularly read Neyawn’s article. They are really motivating as they present a bigger picture of life beyond UPSC and are beautifully written. You can get strategy in many places, you can get technical stuff at other places, but the right mindset that is needed for the exam, I think the articles very well do that.


Interview


HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW? DID YOU ATTEND ANY MOCKS?

  • I focused on building my understanding and opinion on ongoing issues. The next focus was on expressing my views in an organized and precise manner. I was a part of the online Group Mocks at Forum, and I remember online sessions taken by Forum very well. This was critical given that after lockdown mock sessions were not easily available.
  • In the group sessions that we had, we were asked for forming groups among ourselves, and I religiously followed that.
  • I formed a group with two other people. We used to discuss daily and held mock interviews on every alternate day. This really helped me a lot. I think candidates must develop the quality of forbearance before their personality tests.


WHICH INTERVIEW BOARD DID YOU FACE?

  • Smita Nagaraj Mam
  • I will share the detailed transcript on my website. But almost all the questions were on expected lines that is based on my DAF. There were questions from my state, my name,my hobbies and geography, which was my optional.


WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU THINK ARE BEING TESTED IN THE INTERVIEW? SOME STRICT DO’S AND DON’TS FOR THE INTERVIEW FOR ASPIRANTS AND INTERVIEW CANDIDATES?

  • Read through the syllabus of personality test thoroughly, it mentions all the qualities that the board intends to test. I think forbearance is an important quality too. Be respectful, even if you disagree, disagree respectfully. Don’t bluff. Don’t hesitate to say I don’t know. And most importantly listen before speaking.


DO YOU THING MARKS IN SCHOOL OR COLLEGE AND THE JOB EXPERIENCE CAN IMPACT ONE’S SCORE IN THE INTERVIEW?

  • Ummm .. I really don’t think so.


HOW WAS THE INTERVIEW EXPERIENCE? WAS IT PREDICTABLE? HOW MUCH DID YOUR PREPARATION HELP?

  • The board was extremely cordial. Almost all the questions were on expected lines. My preparation definitely helped a lot.


Miscellaneous


HOW MUCH INTERNET DID YOU USE FOR YOUR PREPARATION? HOW MUCH VALUE DID IT ADD?

  • Since I didn’t take any coaching for my GS, I relied heavily on internet for my preparation. It was my main source for GS prep apart from the basic books.


HOW DID YOU BALANCE SO MUCH RESOURCES AND DATA? WHAT SMART TECHNIQUES DID YOU USE TO MANAGE YOUR PREPARATION IN A BETTER MANNER?

  • As far as my possible I tried to keep my resources limited. I referred only to basic books. Even while referring to the internet for any topic, I used to consolidate all the material gathered on a single A4 sheet and revise that sheet only.


WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST ESSENTIAL QUALITY/QUALITIES NEEDED TO CLEAR THIS EXAM?

  1. Clarity of purpose. I think this is the most important thing. It should not be due to peer or parental pressure. If one is not clear with purpose , she might give up at the very first hint of difficulty in the preparation journey.
  2. Do not carry any baggage from past. Make a routine, try you 100% to adhere to it, but in case you can’t, don’t fret over it for too long. This is the most common tendency among aspirants. Improvise, pivot and restart.


WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO THE YOUNG ASPIRANTS WHO LOOK UP TO YOU?

  • Please refer to the qualities I mentioned above. Apart from them staying focussed and NOT participating in random chai stall type gossip. Keep your circle limited and if possible, stay away from social media.


WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE THAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED?

  • You cannot ensure that you will get through the exam but you can ensure that you put your 200% in it. Just do that.


WHAT DID ALL HURDLES YOU FACE WHILE PREPARING FOR IT? AND HOW DID YOU TACKLE THEM?

  • I underwent many emotional ups and downs , like other participants. But my mother stood beside me as my most important pillar of support. My two friends Naincy and Nikky were extremely supportive and ALWAYS available to listen to me and boost me up.


WHAT ROLE DID FORUMIAS PLAY IN YOUR PREPARATION? DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR US?

  • It played a very important role in mains preparation as I wrote all my mains tests here. For interview prep, I found a group of two other people through a forum IAS group discussion only.

Ayushi Jain
Civil Services Examination 2019, Rank–41


My name is Ayushi Jain. I am from a very small town named Sironj in Vidisha dist of MP.I have done my schooling from Nirmala Convent Higher Secondary School Sironj.

  • I have a nuclear family consisting of my mother, father, younger brother, and a younger sister. My father is a Kirana shopkeeper and my mother a homemaker.
  • I had scored 91.2 % marks in 10th std and 90.4 % marks in 12th std. I have done engineering in Computer Science from Lakshmi Narain College of Technology Bhopal, with 8.68 CGPA.
  • I have work-ex of around 2 years as a Data Centre administrator in Trident Ltd. I had my 1st attempt in 2017 and this was my 3rd attempt. In the 1st attempt, I couldn’t clear prelims, in the 2nd attempt, I couldn’t clear mains.
  • In the 3rd attempt I had changed my optional from Mathematics to Anthropology, which I had prepared in 2 months period (Jan, Feb 2020) after the results of mains came out.
  • I didn’t write any other exam apart from UPSC. But was thinking to write state PSC exam as a backup option after this attempt.
  • To become a civil servant was not my childhood dream. I realized this during my job period while participating in various CSR activities. Then I left my job in 2016 and started dedicated preparation of the exam since then.

Preliminary examination

PLEASE MENTION YOUR STRATEGY AND BOOKS/NOTES DID YOU REFERRED TO FOR GENERAL STUDIES AND CSAT?

  • STRATEGY: Limited sources + note-making + practice mock tests. Newspaper reading was very important for me, I read Indian express and a friend of mine read The Hindu and we used to share notes through a Google doc file.


BOOKLIST:

Topic Resource
History Ancient Class notes + Tamil Nadu NCERT
History Medieval Class notes + Lucent
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Class notes + Spectrum
Culture Class notes + Nitin Singhania
Polity (static + current affairs) LakshmiKant + Current affairs magazine
Economy (static + current affairs) Class notes + current affairs magazine + budget + Eco Survey
Science (static + current affairs) Class notes + Current affairs magazine
Environment (static + current affairs) Shankar + Current affairs magazine
Geography(Physical +Indian+World) Class notes + NCERT + Mapping
Current affairs Newspaper (very religiously) + Current affairs magazine

WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY FOR PRELIMS EXAMINATION?

  • I had solved around 50 test papers in both my attempts in which I cleared prelims. Solving test papers helps in understanding the elimination strategy for options, and finding out which strategy works for us on the basis of our accuracy.

HOW MANY QUESTIONS DID YOU ATTEMPT IN GS? HOW MANY DID YOU GET RIGHT?

  • In this attempt, I attempted 93
  • On the basis of different answer keys, I was getting around 110-112 marks.


WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE OPTIMAL NUMBER OF QUESTIONS TO ATTEMPT IN PRELIMS? DO YOU ADVISE ACCURACY OR MAXIMUM ATTEMPTS?

  • There are 2 strategies for prelims – attempt around 70 questions, which one is very sure to be correct. And second is to attempt more than 90 questions when the accuracy is not that good. I fell in the later category, thus in both my last 2 attempts, I attempted more than 90 questions.


IF YOU HAD TO PREPARE AGAIN WOULD YOU CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY IN ANY WAY?

  • I wouldn’t change my strategy in any way. I will just read a few books more and check new editions of some books to find out if there is anything extra.


IF THIS WASN’T YOUR FIRST ATTEMPT WHAT MISTAKES YOU THINK YOU MADE IN THE PREVIOUS ATTEMPT IN PRELIMS?

  • 1st attempt – I read contents from so many sources, couldn’t revise properly before the exam. I also solved less number of test papers therefore couldn’t develop a strategy for prelims.
  • 2nd and 3rd attempt – I limited my sources, focused more upon revision, solved more number of test papers. Therefore, could qualify prelims in these 2 attempts.


Mains


HOW DID YOU PREPARE GS/GK?

  • I covered every term in the syllabus through static sources and tried to connect them to current affairs topics through newspapers and magazines.
  • Newspaper reading – one of the foundational pillars of my UPSC Through newspaper reading I collected examples, case studies, imp data etc
  • Going through answer copies of toppers available on internet .
  • Practicing mains answer writing through full length tests in proper exam type environment. I had joined Forum MGP 2018 and
  • Notes making is very important – helps in quick recall of points as it gets saved in our pictographic


HOW DID YOU COVER CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR MAINS?

  • Through 2 sources – 1st is Newspaper which was one of the foundational pillars of my UPSC preparation and 2nd is current affairs magazine.


WHAT’S YOUR OPTIONAL SUBJECTS AND WHY?

  • My optional is Anthropology. I changed my optional from Mathematics to Anthropology in my 3rd attempt.
  • I chose it because it was one of the few optionals which I could do on my own in the 2 months time period after the results of mains of my 2nd attempt came out.
  • This subject has a good blend of both science and humanities.


PLEAS SHARE YOUR STRATEGY AND BOOKLIST FOR EACH OF THE OPTIONAL?

  • I had just 2 month period to prepare for a new optional after the results of the mains (2nd attempt) came out on 20th Dec 2018 .
  • I had to decide a new optional, I tried reading basic class notes of 3 optionals in the 10 days after the results. I decided to take Anthropology as my optional.
  • I am very much thankful to Anudeep Durishetty sir for his blog on “How to Ace Anthropology Optional”. I followed each and every word in the blog while preparing for my optional.


Optional 1

STRATEGY:

  • Note making for every
  • Updating current affairs from newspapers and current affairs
  • Daily answer writing practice for optional after
  • Tried to incorporate diagrams, examples, case studies etc wherever

BOOKLIST: Anudeep Durushetty sir book list + Examples from newspaper

Optional 2

STRATEGY:

  • Read XAXA report and made notes .
  • Watched Mai Bhi Bharat Documentaries (in my free time) and collected case studies.
  • Note making for every
  • Updating current affairs from newspapers and current affairs
  • Daily answer writing practice for optional after
  • Tried to incorporate diagrams, examples, case studies etc wherever

BOOKLIST: Anudeep Durushetty sir book list + XAXA + Mai bhi bharat case studies + examples from Newspapers.


DID YOU JOIN ANY CLASSES FOR YOUR MAINS PREPARATION .IF YES THEN HOW USEFUL DID YOU FIND THEM?

  • No, I didn’t join any classes for mains preparation. I joined test-series for the same.


HOW IMPORTANT IS ANSWER WRITING? WHAT WAS YOUR STYLE OF ANSWER WRITING?

  • Answer writing practice is very important because attaining knowledge is different while reproducing it on paper is different .
  • Answer writing is an art which consists of some basic rules which can be brought into practice only through regular answer writing.
  • I didn’t practice answer writing daily but used to writing at least 1 full-length test every 3-4 days.


HOW MANY QUESTIONS DID YOU ATTEMPT? WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU FOLLOW FOR MAINS EXAMINATION IN THE EXAMINATION HALL?

  • I attempted all the questions in all the papers of mains examination. I did 15 marker questions first and then the 10 marker questions.
  • I turned my watch 5 mins ahead, it had a psychological impact on me that I could complete my papers 1 min before time, which was not the case otherwise.


IF YOU HAD TO PREPARE AGAIN WOULD YOU CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY IN ANY WAY?

  • Revise my optional better as in this attempt I had a paucity of time to do that.


IF THIS WASN’T YOUR FIRST ATTEMPT WHAT MISTAKES YOU THINK YOU MADE IN THE PREVIOUS ATTEMPT IN MAINS?

  • My optional which I had changed in this attempt.
  • I added more value to my answers through case studies, examples, diagrams, maps, data etc.


WERE YOU PART OF FORUMIAS CGP / PTS / MGP / IGP / CURRENT AFFAIRS? HOW DID THEY HELP YOU IN YOUR PREPARATION? HOW WAS IT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PROGRAMS?

  • I joined MGP 2018 and MGP 2019 for mains test series and IGP 2019 for interview preparation. At a time during the lockdown, not many options were available, I was lucky to get ForumIAS support for online mocks.
  • MGP had helped me in practicing answer writing in proper exam type environment. Copy checking was on time, grievance readdress was seamless.
  • IGP helped me in forming crisp and effective answers.
  • I had also taken up ForumIAS Anthropology ATS ( Augmented Test Series ) for Mains 2019


Interview


HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW? DID YOU ATTEND ANY MOCKS?

  • I am from a very small town and my schooling was such that I was very hesitant in delivering my answers well. I looked very under-confident. So, for me working on the presentation part was as important as the knowledge gathering and DAF preparation. To address this situation, I did daily mock interview sessions with different groups of people, it also gave me diverse view-points.
  • I prepared my DAF thoroughly. As my interview was after the lockdown so a detailed study of current affairs related to corona pandemic had to be done, I also tried to connect it with things in my DAF.
  • I saw a lot many toppers’ mock interviews.


WHICH INTERVIEW BOARD DID YOU FACE?

  • Bharat Bhushan Vyas


PLEASE SHARE YOUR ENTIRE INTERVIEW LIKE WHAT WAS ASKED AND WHAT WAS YOUR REPLY? WERE YOU ABLE TO ANSWER ALL THE QUESTIONS?

I couldn’t answer 2 questions – those were very objective questions. I simply replied them like “I am unable to recall/ I am not aware but I’ll read about it”.

My interview transcript

M1:

  • Why Anthro after engg
  • Did u enjoy reading anthro
  • Which is ur fav part in anthro (I said Tribal anthro)
  • Why do u like tribal anthro (I mentioned Gadiya lohar tribe in my area)
  • More questions on gadiya lohar
  • Issues with nomadic tribes
  • How will make provision for education of nomadic tribes
  • Questions on Budapest Convention. Why did India not join it?
  • Any positive learning from covid

M2:

  • What is Anti ragging committee
  • How it came into being (Raghavan committee more questions on that)
  • Do you know about place named Patalkot (Bharia tribe – more questions on that)

M3 :

  • How do u see the recent Indo-China conflict – is it just the border tension
  • Covid and these tensions
  • Implications of Brexit for India ? What are the opportunities for us ?

M4:

  • About the company that I worked in
  • As a Data Centre administrator what should be ur response to any mistake committed by ur subordinate?

M5 :

  • What documentaries did u see last?
  • Is there any uncontacted tribe in India? (I said Sentinalese)
  • Any documentary on Sentinelese tribe?
  • What is reflective diary writing (my hobby)


WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU THINK ARE BEING TESTED IN THE INTERVIEW?

  • Honesty, Integrity, and objectiveness.


DO YOU THINK MARKS IN SCHOOL OR COLLEGE AND THE JOB EXPERIENCE CAN IMPACT ONE’S SCORE IN THE INTERVIEW?

  • UPSC gives a level playing field for all aspirants irrespective of the background they have.
  • The better the academics record and other positive things in the DAF about a candidate the higher are the expectations of the panel. If one is able to meet those expectations get good marks I think.


HOW WAS THE INTERVIEW EXPERIENCE? WAS IT PREDICTABLE? HOW MUCH DID YOUR PREPARATION HELP?

  • It was very nice, the board was very cordial.
  • Much of my interview was related to my optional, hobbies, work experience, IR and current affairs, so I had some knowledge of the things asked.
  • While some questions came as a surprise for me so my daily mock practice helped in that.


IF THIS WASN’T YOUR FIRST ATTEMPT WHAT MISTAKES YOU THINK YOU MADE IN THE PREVIOUS INTERVIEWS?

  • It was my first interview.


Miscellaneous


HOW MUCH INTERNET DID YOU USE FOR YOUR PREPARATION? HOW MUCH VALUE DID IT ADD?

  • Very less. Preparation was very old school.


HOW DID YOU BALANCE SO MUCH RESOURCES AND DATA? WHAT SMART TECHNIQUES DID YOU USE TO MANAGE YOUR PREPARATION IN A BETTER MANNER?

  • I limited my preparation to a few sources and tried to revise them well.
  • If I follow multiple sources then I made notes combining the required data. It made easy to revise just before the exam.
  • I did goal wise studies, a bigger goal may be of a month, I divided it into many smaller goals. It helped me in better utilization of my time.


DID YOU MAKE NOTES? WHY YES OR NO? DID YOU FIND THEM ANY USEFUL?

  • I believe note-making was one of the foundational pillars of my entire preparation. I made notes for prelims, mains as well as interview.
  • For prelims, all my notes were offline except my newspaper notes which I was a google doc file which I shared with one of my friends who used to read The Hindu while I read Indian Express.
  • For mains – offline notes
  • For interview – Online notes on OneNote.

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