CSC: What were the basic mantras of your success?
Shubhanwita: Hard work, discipline, consistency and smart study.
CSC: When did you start preparation for IAS Examination? When should one ideally begin thinking about preparing for this exam?
Shubhanwita: I started my preparation for the IAS Examination during 3rd year of my graduation. I think one should start preparing for civil services examination during graduation.
CSC: What were your strategies for the IAS Examination?
Shubhanwita: I began with the basic textbooks i.e. NCERTs and Laxmikant, etc.
CSC: What were your strategies for lengthy syllabus of General studies for both Prelims and Mains examinations?
Shubhanwita: I chalked out a strategy and followed timetable religiously. I attempted a lot of tests.
CSC: What was your optional subject? What was the basis of selecting this particular optional subject?
Shubhanwita: I took ‘History’ as my optional subject. It is very easy and static subject. One can link and correlate the events with present times. ‘History’ optional provides background for all the four papers of General Studies and the Essay paper in Mains examination.
CSC: Did you follow the myth that only so called popular optional should be opted?
Shubhanwita: No. I selected optional subject on the basis of its relevance for General Studies papers, static nature of syllabus and recent performance in IAS mains examination.
CSC: How did you come to know that which sources of reading materials are standard? Please give a list of books, magazines and papers?
Shubhanwita: My parents and teachers guided me to the sources of reading materials. Classes and notes of Shri S. Baliyan Sir were the main source. Additional sources were: Upinder Singh–Ancient India, Satish Chandra-Medieval, Bipan Chandra, Grover and Grover-Modern, Norman Lowe – World History.
CSC: Tell us something about preparation of ‘Essay’ paper.
Shubhanwita: I wrote an essay every 10 days.
CSC: How much time did you devote for?
(a) Prelims -1 month exclusively.
(b) Mains – 4 months exclusively.
(c) Interview -1 month exclusively.
CSC: Which is the most difficult part of this examination and why?
Shubhanwita: I think the Main examination is most difficult part of this examination.
CSC: Did you prepare any notes?
Shubhanwita: No. I did not prepare any separate notes.
CSC: Did you attend any coaching institute? How helpful are the coaching institutes? What is overall opinion about the coaching institutes?
Shubhanwita: Yes. I attended ‘INSIGHT IAS ACADEMY’ of S. BALIYAN Sir at Delhi. Coaching institute help us improve our preparation level.
CSC: What are your suggestions for the freshers who want to join coaching institutes for preparation?
Shubhanwita: Select your institute wisely because you need best guidance to crack civil services examination.
CSC: What was your style of writing in Mains exam? How was it distinct from the general writing style?
Shubhanwita: I wrote in points and followed introduction – main body-conclusion format while writing answers.
CSC: The trend suggests that professionals are more successful in this exam. Does this exam prove difficult for humanities and social science background candidates?
Shubhanwita: NO, I am from humanities background and I cleared the exam in first attempt.
CSC: What should be the best strategy to tackle negative marking?
Shubhanwita: Avoid making wild guesses. Follow elimination method to arrive at the correct answer.
CSC: Does this exam provide a level playing field for the rural or economically poor background candidates?
Shubhanwita: Yes. Every aspirant faces the same questions and has same chances of success.
CSC: How did you prepare for interview?
Shubhanwita: I gave a lot of mock interviews.
CSC: Which types of questions were asked in interview? Did you answer them all?
Shubhanwita: Interview board asked questions on my background, optional subject and some varied questions on Current affairs. Yes. I answered all the questions.
CSC: Was there any specific area they emphasized upon?
Shubhanwita: No. There was no such specific area.
CSC: Before getting down to actual preparation, what kind of reading should one do to improve one’s suitability for this exam?
Shubhanwita: One should read non-fiction books and cultivate newspaper reading habit.
CSC: To whom would you give credit for your success?
Shubhanwita: Parents, god, teachers and hard work.
CSC: What is your advice to the freshers who are going to appear in this exam?
Shubhanwita: They should focus on building their foundations by reading basic books like NCERTs.
CSC: What is your advice to the candidates who have failed in this exam?
Shubhanwita: The candidates should not lose hope, be patient and persevere. They should analyze past mistakes and work accordingly to improve.
CSC: Since when have you begun reading Civil Services Chronicle magazine? How far do you find it relevant?
Shubhanwita: I am reading Civil Service Chronicle magazine from the early days of my preparation. It is a very good magazine and covers issues very well.
CSC: Ms.Shubhanwita, thanks a lot for giving your valuable time and sharing your insights on civil services examination.
Shubhanwita: Thank you very much.