Civil Services Chronicle: Heartiest congratulations to you from Civil Services Chronicle on your success. How are you feeling post this achievement? What was your inspiration for becoming an IAS officer? Whom would you give credit to for your success? What was the role of family and others (teachers, friends) in your preparation and success?
Ans:Thank you so much. I am feeling really elated and thankful to all those people who helped me reach where I am today. I would say my father being in the services is my biggest inspiration so far as the professional aspect of it goes because I have seen from close quarters as to what a civil servant can actually do and what difference he/she can bring in one's life. I would give credit to my parents because they have been really supportive. Generally, differently abled children don’t get a positive and conducive environment at home which cripples the kid mentally as well as emotionally. In that aspect, I have been very fortunate to have a supportive environment. Due to my father's job with Ministry of Railways, I did my schooling from various places which gave me exposure and helped me to sensitize with my surroundings. My mother could have gone for a corporate job as she is highly qualified, but she chose to stay back home and tutor me. So, she is my personal qualified tutor I would say.
CSC: What strategy one should follow for preparing for Civil Services Examination especially in General Studies Prelims as well as Mains papers. Please explain this with your subject-wise preparation strategy. How did you manage your time in both Prelims and Mains examination? Did you integrate your Prelims and Mains preparation or was it separate?
Ans:I would start off with saying that it is not rocket science and each one of us can do it by applying right methodology. My strategy for Prelims, Mains and Interview is CLEAR, that is,
- Clarity of purpose: We need to know what this examination is all about. That is the first step. It's important to understand the purpose and intent of the examination.
- Limited resources: We should not delve into multiple resources. For all the three stages, maximum one or two resources should be followed.
- Efficient time management
- Adequate practice: For both Prelims and Mains, a lot of practice with test series is required in order to gauge as to where we are in the relative scheme of competition.
- Rigorous revision: With limited resources, we should have a good command over the syllabus. We should have self-discipline and consistency as it is a long duration examination.
My preparation was an integrated one from the beginning because it is important to qualify in all stages of the examination.
CSC: Did you prepare any notes? How helpful are notes in this examination? What is your advice for making notes?
Ans:My way of making notes is little different as I am visually impaired. I usually made soft copy notes using tools such as Evernote or Microsoft Word. I did not make extensive notes. My memory helped me a lot. But I used to prepare class notes which helped me revise quickly.
CSC: What was your strategy for preparing for Ethics paper and which books did you refer to?
Ans:One of the most prominent sources is the Ethics module provided by Civil Services Chronicle. Apart from that, I took up the syllabus and broke down the syllabus in to different words and phrases and googled each one of them to understand the context and the intent of the examination in order to write relevant answers. A focused preparation should be done, especially for Ethics on the basis of deconstruction of the syllabus and understanding the key terms in it.
CSC: Tell us something about your preparation approach for essay paper.
Ans:Fortunately, my writing skills are at par because of the practice of writing during my academics. I just had to fine-tune my writing as per the requirements of UPSC. For that, I took a number of tests.
CSC: What was your style of writing in the examination and how did you develop this writing style?
Ans:Generally, in academics, we are expected to go deep into the topic and deal with each aspect vividly. UPSC requires an overall perspective, a sociological aspect and sensitivity towards the society from the aspirants. Moreover, we should write to the point answers. We should provide anecdotal evidences, especially in Essay and Ethics papers, to enrich our answers.
CSC: What was your optional? What was the basis of selecting the optional?
Ans:My optional was Commerce and Accountancy. I was familiar with the subject as I am a commerce graduate and I am pursuing master’s degree in related subject. As far as my strategy goes, my graduation study materials and notes helped me a lot to improve the foundation. Apart from that, I also took coaching from Ranker’s Classes in Karol Bagh for Commerce and Accountancy.
CSC: How did you prepare for interview? Which types of questions were asked in the interview? Did you answer all the questions? Was there any specific area they emphasised upon?
Ans:At the outset, I would like to emphasise that preparing for interview is difficult in limited span of time between Mains examination result and interview. Therefore, we should prepare for the interview from the beginning itself as part of an integrated approach of preparation. We should ask ourselves as to what is the logic behind whatever is happening around us. We can get more than 70% prepared for the Interview by catering to the ‘why’ aspect of it. Without being afraid of anything, we just need to be ourselves in the interview.During my interview, I answered almost all the questions. The interview lasted for about 25-30 minutes. There were some tricky questions in which careful treading was required. The health and education aspects and some questions related to economics like stock markets were especially emphasized upon in the Interview.
CSC: What is your opinion on importance of coaching institutes for the preparation of this examination?
Ans:I think each one of us has personal strategy for preparation. There is no fixed rule regarding taking up coaching or going for self-study completely. It all depends on one's mindset and one’s requirement of hand-held assistance. I had the requirement of assistance, so I went for coaching. However, I think coaching is definitely helpful because one gets everything in a packaged format in coaching institute, which makes the preparation easier and systematic.
CSC: Being differently-abled, what challenges did you face while preparing for the examination?
Ans:I personally feel that cribbing about challenges is not a positive attitude. However, my journey was definitely not a smooth sail as I did face problems. The fundamental problem was the availability of get study material. As I am visually impaired, my learning is fundamentally extempore in nature. Finally, I received immense help and support from institutes like Chronicle IAS Academy. I used various screen reader software packages. I used to listen to the soft copies and memorise them. The other major challenge was I needed someone's help to solve the test papers. My mother helped me by reading out the questions to me, which I then solved. Later, she would also read out the answer key. Therefore, the entire process takes a little longer compared to regular students. Inspite of challenges, I got immense support from home as well as from outside due to which I could succeed in this examination.
CSC: What is the role of Civil Services Chronicle in your success?Ans:Civil Services Chronicle has played a vital role in my preparation. I would say that the content of the magazine is qualitative. It is highly recommended for preparation, and especially for current affairs revision.