Dipankar Choudhary
Civil Services Examination 2019, IAS Topper, All India Rank–42
I am also very excited for new challenges and opportunities.


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

Dipankar Choudhary : I am very happy. I am also very excited for new challenges and opportunities. Finally all my hard work and patience has paid off and I can take a sigh of relief.

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

Dipankar Choudhary : My father who is a retired civil servant was my primary inspiration. I could see myself working like him. Civil services give you diverse opportunities and the chance to grow to your full potential. That itself was a huge inspiration for me.

I give credit to my parents, my elder sister, my mentor Mr Smar Ranjan he is associate members of indian institute of public administration. He has always stood besides me throughout my preparation. He is truly my mentor in all respect.

my friends and my fiancé (Tanwika) for my success. Family, friends and your mentor are your support systems, your pillars of strength and a source of constant motivation and guidance in this long and arduous preparation. They help in every possible way be it mental support, emotional support, financial support or guidance of any sort.

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

Dipankar Choudhary : Yes, the strategy should be integrated but there are times when you need to prepare separately too. 3 months prior to prelims, you should be more prelims oriented and after prelims you have to be Mains oriented.

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

Dipankar Choudhary : I started preparing in 2016 and in 2018 I was selected with a rank of 166 and was serving as an IPS in Kerala. So almost 2.5 to 3 years of dedicated preparation. Intially, like I said my preparation was integrated. For optional, it took me 5-6 months to finish it once and cover my basics. Thereafter I polished it; added more material, examples, theories; wrote test series and kept discussing with Smar Ranjan Sir.

I used to put in 8-10 hours of dedicated study everyday after I left my job.

C.S.C. : Did you prepare notes? How helpful are the notes? What is your advice on notes-making?

Dipankar Choudhary : Yes, I prepared notes for optional, ethics and modern history. For current affairs and everything else, I relied on the books and magazines but I used to scribble at the margins, cross reference everything and highlight using a marker. They served as my notes and I revised them over and over again for, maybe, I guess 7-8 times. I also prepared diagrams and flowcharts for many topics in my notes.

Notes are very important. They help you to revise speedily. As far as my advice goes, you can and should make notes specially for optional. The notes should be as concise as possible. You should be able to revise the entire paper 1 or paper 2 of your optional with the help of those notes in 2-3 hours.

The same goes for any subject you choose to make notes for. Making notes for current affairs can get very bulky in my opinion, so better rely on magazines and newspapers. But if one feels that some topic for current affairs is difficult to follow and understand then one can make notes for it.

C.S.C. : What was your optional?What was the basis of selecting this optional? What strategy one should follow for optional?

Dipankar Choudhary : My optional was Public Administration. I chose it because I had a very good mentor and the syllabus was simple. Moreover it overlapped with GS Paper 2, Indian economy, social issues and ethics.

For optionals it is very important to make notes and read good books. One shouldn’t completely rely on readymade notes but make it for oneself. Also keep reading Yojana, newspaper, NITI Aayog website etc for case studies, examples etc. Write test series to gauge your level of preparation.

C.S.C. : What was your preparation strategy and books which you referred for Ethics Paper?

Dipankar Choudhary : I relied on class notes of Mr Sanjeev Kumar, my public administration notes wherever they overlapped and examples from various sources like newspapers and Yojana. I also wrote test series for it.

C.S.C. : Tell us something about preparation of Essay paper.

Dipankar Choudhary : For essay I practiced a lot and focused on my flow and lucidity. The essay shouldn’t look abrupt and bumpy. The connection from one paragraph to another should be smooth. You don’t have to prepare extra GS topics for essay. All you should do is practice and focus on your writing skills.

The trick is moderation. Use of examples, stories, anecdotes, facts, case studies, personal life examples, quotations from eminent people, poems or couplets etc, but all in moderation. To develop these practice a lot and get it reviewed from peers and mentors. Read good essays written by toppers.

C.S.C. : 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?

Dipankar Choudhary : I focused a lot on presentation i.e. use of diagrams and flowcharts. I used it in almost 8-9 questions in every paper. Don’t overdo it though. Interlink your content by using cross referencing when revising as I have already mentioned. Focus on an edge of 1-2 marks in each question. Write answers point wise and also number all your points. You can use paragraph for introduction, conclusion and to connect two different parts of the answer but these should be brief, to the point and crisp. Avoid flowery and flamboyant language.

C.S.C. : How did you prepare for interview? Which type of questions were asked in interview? Did you answer all? Was there any specific area they emphasised upon?

Dipankar Choudhary : I prepared my DAF in detail and went for some mock interviews. They asked me questions mostly about my engineering background, my home-state and hometown and some situation based questions like-

If you have to make one amendment in the constitution of India, what would it be?

If you were asked to explain Fourier transform to a student of 9th standard, how would you do it?

What should India emphasize on, education budget or defense budget?

No, I didn’t answer a few questions. I simply said that I don’t know and I will look them up for the questions I didn’t know the answers to.

C.S.C. : Importance of coaching in the preparation of exam.

Dipankar Choudhary : Test series and the guidance of a good mentor is vital. You don’t have to join classroom classes necessarily.

C.S.C. : What is the role of Civil Services Chronicle in your success?

I have referred it for current affairs and a few other topics. I read topper’s strategies from it and used it to enrich my preparation.

C.S.C. : What is your source of Preparation? Which Books, Magazines, News Papers and Online Sources were used by you during your preparation?

Dipankar Choudhary :

C.S.C. : Suggested Book list for Optional paper 1 & 2.

Dipankar Choudhary :

Paper 1

  • Nicholas Henry
  • Stephen Robbins for selected topics,
  • BL Fadia,
  • MP Sharma,
  • Prasad and Prasad administrative thinkers,
  • Three books by Mohit Bhattacharya-Restructuring Public Administration, Public Administration: New Issues and Perspectives, Social theory and development administration.
  • The public administration theory primer by H George fredrickson and Kevin smith,
  • The public policy theory primer by Kevin smith and Christopher Larimer
  • Post Modern Public administration by Hugh T. Miller and Charles J. Fox
  • Selected IGNOU material.

Paper 2

  • 2nd ARC report,
  • Punchhi Commision report,
  • Yojana which are relevant.
  • RK Arora,
  • BL Fadia,

Current Affairs,

Updates from NITI Aayog website

  • Books: Ancientand medieval history: IGNOU Material.
  • Modern history: Bipan Chandra andS.Chand publication BL Grover- A new look at modern Indian History.
  • Geography: DR Khullar and Savinder Singh.
  • Economics: NCERT of class 11 and 12; and current affairs of 2.5 years.
  • Social issues: current affairs of 2.5 years and Public administration material.
  • Polity: Covered in Public administration.
  • Ethics: Sanjeev Sir's notes and Lexicon.
  • International relations: current affairs of 2.5 years and online material to look up background.
  • Art and culture: IGNOU and CCRT.
  • Environment: Self made notes, NIOS and current affairs of 2.5 years.
  • Newspaper: Indian express and Mint.
  • Online news portals like: Scroll, HW News English, WIRE, Firstpost, The Print etc.

Pradeep Singh
Civil Services Examination - 2019- IAS Topper, All India Rank–Ist
My inspiration for becoming IAS to is to work for the downtrodden sections mainly farmers and daily wage labourers.


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

Pradeep Singh : Thank you I am feeling very happy and satisfied.

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

Pradeep Singh : My inspiration for becoming IAS to is to work for the downtrodden sections mainly farmers and daily wage labourers. There has been immense support from family friends and teachers during my preparation. I would like to give them all the credit for my success.

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

Pradeep Singh : I think prelims and mains are the two different phases of the single exam and therefore one should prepare for each phase with a different mindset.

However there is some syllabus that is common between prelims and mains and one need to focus on the factual aspects for the prelims and need to focus on building the opinion for mains.

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

Pradeep Singh : I've been giving this exam since 2016 but started preparing seriously for this exam since 2017. I think one need to give focus to the mains and optional upto 6 months before the exam but last 6 months should be totally devoted to the prelims preparation.

C.S.C. : Did you prepare notes? How helpful are the notes? What is your advice on notes-making?

Pradeep Singh : Yes I also prepared the notes. notes are very handy when you have very less time for revision. One should make notes at least for the miscellaneous topics which you will not find normally in the conventional books.

C.S.C. : What was your optional? What was the basis of selecting this optional? What strategy one should follow for optional?

Pradeep Singh : My optional is public administration. I chose this optional because I have done BTech in Computer Science in Engineering which was not an available optional in the UPSC optional list and also I find it interesting and relevant to the service for which you are preparing.

C.S.C. : What was your preparation strategy and books which you referred for Ethics Paper?

Pradeep Singh : I have prepared some handwritten notes for the terms that is being given in the ethics paper 4 syllabus. for case studies I have practiced them enough before going to the exam.

C.S.C. : Tell us something about preparation of Essay paper.

Pradeep Singh : Essay is one paper which gives you the freedom to write freely in the exam. one should feel the freedom to write the essay. for preparing essay one should take cues from the topper’s copies of essay and from videos available on YouTube etc.

C.S.C. : 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?

Pradeep Singh : I did not have a single writing style in the exam . Actually one has to write the answer to the question according to the demand of the question. one needs to do enough answer writing practice to develop a style.

C.S.C. : How did you prepare for interview? Which type of questions were asked in interview? Did you answer all? Was there any specific area they emphasised upon?

Pradeep Singh : I prepared for the interview from various sources like internet newspaper magazine etc. interview mainly emphasized upon the government schemes , farmers problems , india china relations etc. there were some of the question whose Answer I wasn't able to give.

C.S.C. : Importance of coaching in the preparation of exam.

Pradeep Singh : The requirement of coaching depends upon various factors like availability of resources, study material , proper guidance. If it is available by any other means then there is no need of coaching. Otherwise you need someone while you start preparation and teach you if you are a fresh candidate.

C.S.C. : Suggested Book list for Prelims, GS & CSAT and Mains Paper 1 to 4 and Essay.

Booklist for prelims

  • Spectrum for modern history
  • Laxmikant for polity
  • NCERTs for geography,
  • Ramesh Singh or coaching notes for economics
Pradeep Singh : Answer writing practice for mains for CSAT no specific book, just focus on basic reasoning and arithematic skills.

Abhishek Saraf
Civil Services Examination - 2019, IAS Topper, All India Rank - 8
I am naturally inquisitive. I like to learn new things from a wide variety of sources, apply what I learn in daily life. IAS provides the best opportunity for that. This motivated me to join IAS.


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

Abhishek Saraf : Honestly, it is a feeling of relief. The CSE chapter of my life has ended and it ended on a happy note. It also feel humbled and overwhelmed at the same time by the result. I never expected such a high rank. I was expecting a rank around 100.

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

Abhishek Saraf : I am naturally inquisitive. I like to learn new things from a wide variety of sources, apply what I learn in daily life. IAS provides the best opportunity for that. This motivated me to join IAS. The fact that IAS officers along with other civil servants contribute to the largest cross section of society and in the most direct manner inspired me to become an IAS officer.

I am eternally grateful to God Almighty for bestowing this success upon me. I owe an immense debt of gratitude to my mother. I would give the biggest credit to her. But credit also goes to my brother and sister-in-law, my whole maternal family and dear friends (especially Shubhanshu Jain, IPS) without whose support it would not have been possible.

My family supported me financially, logistically as well as emotionally. They gave me full freedom to write as many attempts as I wanted to no matter how much strain it put upon them. They dealt will all the problems that arose themselves without even telling me so that I can study free of any stress.

I would like to thank my friend Shubhanshu Jain, IPS for his critical inputs to my essays without which such result would not have been possible. I got 105 marks in essay paper in CSE 2017 and 79 marks in CSE 2018.. this is 40 marks below average. Hence, improvement in essay paper was critical for my success and I thank Shubhanshu for it. I would also like to thank Anmol Jain (AIR-14 CSE 2019) for his help in interview preparation.

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

Abhishek Saraf : As the name suggests, general studies is about working understanding of things. One has to balance depth with width of knowledge of the subject matter. Other than that, memorize the syllabus because that will help you sort out exam relevant material from whatever you read. It is advisable to read the toppers answer booklets. That will enable one to understand the depth of content that needs to be covered and also tricks topper use to improve presentation. It is advisable to do answer writing practice for at least 8-10 months in the first attempt. Answer writing practice will help only if answers are either reviewed by senior aspirant, selected candidates or self review based on top voted answer if one is using websites. Writing practice can be reduced further as one proceeds to second third attempts.

Special mention can be made of the ethics paper, it is more about application and less about theory. Not more than 20% of the answer should be composed of theory and 80% should discuss real life application of ethical principles. Examples from one’s own life and life of other accomplished people can be used.

Essay preparation- Two years of subpar performance (105 marks in CSE 2017 and 79 marks in CSE 2018) made me realise that essay paper is not about volume of content and the depth of knowledge. It is about diversity and broadness of perspective. The closest analogy I can give to make my point is that of a balanced diet. A balanced diet is supposed to contain all the major and micro-nutrients needed for human survival. Just like that in an essay there has to be a balance between a various perspectives of the topic. UPSC expects candidates to be knowledgeable thinking and analytical persons. Knowledge gets tested in GS papers and thinking and analytical capacity gets tested in essay paper. Lastly, you have to write only 2400 words at the maximum in 3 hours. GS papers make you write 4000 words. Less written words means UPSC has given time to think. So if you have brainstormed on a topic for 20 or so minutes, then UPSC has the right to expect some sort of learning or a logical way ahead that can help make improvement to the state of affairs. That is what the essay should be about- a discussion on the state of affairs from positive and negative perspectives, an analysis of the cause and a solution for a better future. Dear candidates, kindly do not just spill the existing knowledge in the paper. It will not yield you marks. Give your new perspective and an insight.

I oriented my preparation and answer writing strategy as per the above approach. And hopefully it yielded benefits. For Prelims- Yearlong preparation with self-notes. Revision in last one month with test series. Overall target was to finish 4000-5000 question including quizzes and full length mock tests for Paper 1 of prelims. Quizzes had to be solved all year long and notes have to be made.

Preparation for prelims and mains has to go all year round but separately. Even in the 1-2 months same books have to be read for prelims as well as mains but focus has to be on facts for prelims and analytical part for mains.

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

Prelims

Prelims preparation has to go all year round. Candidates can devote last 1-2 months for interview preparation as per one’s own convenience. Along with yearlong preparation as mentioned above, I used to devote 1 full month for prelims preparation.

Mains

My optional was civil engineering. Being a civil engineer by qualification as well as having cleared Engineering Services Exam (formerly called Indian Engineering Service) in 2013 provided me a lot of comfort. So I studied optional only between prelims and mains. When I had full day to study, I divided my day into 3 parts. 3-4 hours for newspaper. 4 hours for one GS topic and another 4 hours for another GS topic. When did not, I prioritized the newspaper and did that diligently. Whatever, time I had left over was used for GS preparation.

Interview

Generally it is said that you need 1 month to prepare for interview. But I tend to prepare a little bit more intensively than an average candidate. So it took me around 3 months to prepare for interview.

During Examination- Prelims

Solve the paper 1 in 3 iterations. Fill the bubbles only to those questions which you are 100% sure of in the first iteration. Also sort out and strike off the questions that you are absolutely unaware. Do not look at them again. Also mark the questions that you are partially sure of (for such questions write the options that you think are the possible answers in the question paper itself). In the second iteration, fill in the bubbles to those questions that you can answer with 70% or 60% certainty. In the third iteration go for questions that you have only 50% certainty. (70%, 60% certainty might sound vague but with enough test papers you develop a knack). Make sure you attempt 85-90 questions. Guess work in second third iterations should include at least 30 questions to ensure guess work lead to a net positive score. Learn the art of elimination to maximize attempt and accuracy.

Mains

7 minutes each for 10 markers. 11 minuets each for 15 markers. No prioritisation of questions was done. Attempted Q1 to Q20 in order. In ethics paper, 90 minutes for each part. 7 minutes for each of the 13 markers. 15 minutes for each case study.

C.S.C. : Did you prepare notes? How helpful are the notes? What is your advice on notes-making?

Abhishek Saraf : Yes I did make notes. But only for current affairs. I made my own notes for current affairs for mains as well as prelims separately. I did not rely on any coaching notes. Notes help one to internalise the content faster.. and what you internalise is what you really produce in the mains and interview.

I was particularly unskilled at making notes. So I made notes when I am reading the newspaper and trimmed them down iteratively during revisions. In the third iteration I reached the final crisp concise version that could be used for final revision.

C.S.C. : What was your optional? What was the basis of selecting this optional? What strategy one should follow for preparing .

Civil engineering.

There are various parameters to consider. Some people go by the previous years’ high scores. Empirical evidence suggests some options have consistently yielded higher scores. Sometimes people tend to go by ease of covering syllabus and availability of material in market. Some others tend to go by their interest in the subject matter. I think a combination of these factors with the best way to go by. However, the most important parameter is one’s interest in the subject matter. After all people do get selected from various optionals. If you are really interested in the subject you can work hard enough to become the subject topper in the exam. Otherwise, even in a so-called scoring optional you can end up with mediocre marks.

Civil engineering – College class notes or Distance Learning Programme Material of IES Master, PYQ books of ESE and CSE of Made Easy and Next IAS.

Optional papers can be very scoring and hence one needs to devote sufficient amount of time. Syllabus of optionals is limited while the same cannot be said about GS, which makes the cost benefit analysis very much favourable for devoting time on optionals.

It was relatively easier for me since my optional was my graduation subject and I had also cleared Engineering Services Exam (formerly called IES) of UPSC in 2013. So I could do well even by studying optional only between prelims and mains. I did not require any coaching for the subject either. However, other candidates can strategize as per the need of the subject and their comfort with the subject matter.

C.S.C. : Books and Strategy Prepration of Ethics Paper-IV

Abhishek Saraf : Read Lexicon cover to cover to develop familiarity with basic topics and used G Subba Rao’s book for reference. Ethics paper, it is more about application and less about theory. Not more than 20% of the answer should be composed of theory and 80% should discuss real life application of ethical principles. Examples from one’s own life and life other accomplished people can be used. Answers have to be diversified by invoking various topics and keywords mentioned in the syllabus in each answer. For eg. aptitude, attitude, emotional intelligence, personal ethics, public ethics etc.

C.S.C. : 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?

Abhishek Saraf : I wrote all answers in points.

I used data liberally. I tended to write 14-15 points in 10 mark questions and 20-22 points in 15 mark questions.

I could develop this style by making my own notes. It helped me internalise the data and other content better. This helped me reproduce the content better in the exam. I did intense writing practice in my CSE 2017 attempt. Based on a strong foundation, I could progressively make do with less and lesser answer writing practice in the next attempt.

C.S.C. : How did you prepare for interview? Which type of questions were asked in interview? Did you answer all? Was there any specific area they emphasised upon?

Abhishek Saraf : My approach for interview preparation is reading extensively about the topics in my DAF. My mantra is during the interview as far as the question on DAF are concerned you should be able to present something new that the board members might not be aware of. That will instantly move the level of conversation to another orbit and make the board feel positively about you. Preparation should be such that there is a consistency between how you represent yourself on paper (DAF) and how to come across helps in interview. UPSC is looking for an honest, rational and humble person. These traits have to be implicitly presented in your answers. Inconsistency in the answers in the interview shows dishonesty. Mugged up answers shows lack of rationality and are best avoided. Genuineness and humility in accepting shortcomings honestly will help you a lot.

Questions were on my patent application, research in India and abroad, IT sector and competition therein, tourism, Kashmiri Pandit issue, and world history. I could not answer some factual questions on world history. Most of the focus of the interview was on DAF.

C.S.C. : Importance of coaching in the preparation of exam.

Abhishek Saraf : Coachings are not at all necessary for GS. At best coachings can cover the static background in GS subjects. They can help streamline the preparation and provide a good foundation. But these things can very well be done using online sources. Candidates can streamline their preparation by reviewing the answer copies of previous years toppers and getting guidance from peers. I would advise candidates to liberally use online sources as well as recommended material from various coaching classes rather than the classes themselves. I follow insightsonindia, civilsdaily and IASbaba sincerely.

Even in test series, candidates can use coaching’s question papers and get them reviewed by peers and selected candidates. I would recommend against getting copies checked in coaching classes as the quality of feedback is unreliable at best and destructive and misleading at worst.Candidates may go for coaching for optional subjects.

C.S.C. : What is your source of Preparation. Which books, magazines, News papers and online Sources were used by you during your preparation !

Booklist mentioned below

Newspapers

  • The Hindu and Indian Express for prelims and mains
  • The Hindu, Indian Express and Times of India for Interview.

Websites

  • Civilsdaily- daily current affairs, editorial summaries, pib notes and daily quiz
  • InsightsonIndia- daily current affairs, answer writing practice, daily quiz, insights into editorial, RSTV summaries
  • IASbaba- daily current affairs, editorial summaries, quizes, TLP for answer writing, 60 day plan for prelims, RSTV summaries, AIR summaries.
  • Downtoearth- for starting 2 years of my preparation
  • IDSA- for starting 2 years of my preparation

C.S.C. : Suggested Book list for Prelims, GS & CSAT and Mains Paper 1 to 4 and Essay

Preliminary Examination Paper I (General Studies) and Paper II (Aptitude Test): No preparation done

History & Indian Culture

Modern History

A Brief History of Modern India by Rajiv Ahir

Ancient History

‘Ancient India’ by RS Sharma (Old NCERT)

Medieval History

History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra (Old NCERT)

Indian Culture

Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania (Hand written notes)

Geography

Physical

Geography

Certificate Physical and Human Geography

Maps Oxford School Atlas

Indian Geography India:

Physical Environment (NCERT)

World Geography

Fundamentals of Human Geography (NCERT)

Certificate Physical And Human Geography

Economy

Economy

India People and Economy (NCERT)

Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh

Recent Economic Survey

Polity

Polity

Indian Polity by Laxmikanth

NCERT books for Indian Polity

Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs

The Hindu, Daily current affairs notes and quizes from

Science & Tech

Science & Tech

Daily Newspapers

Environment & Ecology

Environment & Ecology

Newspapers, Shankar IAS, NIOS Study Materials

Practice questions

Test papers and quizzes

Vision IAS test series of 35 tests

Daily quizzes all year long- from InsightsonIndia, Civilsdaily,

IAS baba

Main Examination

General Studies: IAS Mains Paper 1

  • Ancient History by R.S Sharma (Old NCERT)
  • Medieval History by Satish Chandra (Old NCERT)- relevant chapters only
  • Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania Hand written notes
  • The spectrum of modern India by Rajiv Ahir
  • Politics in India since Independence (NCERT)
  • India since Independence by Bipin Chandra (Old NCERT)
  • World History NCERT by Arjun Dev (Old NCERT)
  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography (NCERT)
  • Fundamentals of Human Geography (NCERT)
  • India: Physical Environment (NCERT)
  • India People and Economy (NCERT)
  • GC Leong
  • NCERT on Society
  • Newspaper for Environment, Disaster, Impact of globalisation, role of women + google searches


General Studies: IAS Mains Paper 2

  • Indian Constitution at Work (NCERT)
  • Indian Polity by Laxmikanth
  • Contemporary World Politics (NCERT)
  • Current affairs notes made by self all year round from Newspaper + InsightsonIndia, IASbaba, Civildaily
  • Internet searches for international bodies and other topics
  • ARC report + Punchhi Commission reports


General Studies: IAS Mains Paper 3

  • Indian Economy NCERTs of class 11th and 12th
  • Indian Economy for Civil Services Exam by Ramesh Singh
  • Economic Survey and Budget
  • India People and Economy (NCERT)
  • ARC Report on Disaster Management
  • Science and Technology- news and Vision IAS notes
  • Challenges to Internal security of India by Mr. Ashok Kumar
  • Current affairs notes made by self all year round from Newspaper + InsightsonIndia, IASbaba, Civildaily


General Studies: IAS Mains Paper 4

  • Justice Harvard - By Michael Sandel
  • Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Examination by G. Subba Rao (just for selective reference)
  • Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for IAS General Studies (main text)
  • Administrative Reforms Commission Report on Ethics

C.S.C. : Suggested Book list for Optionals paper 1 & 2.

Abhishek Saraf : Distance Learning Programme material of IES Master and PYQ Solution books for ESE and CSE by Made Easy and Next IAS.

Srushti Jayant Deshmukh
Rank-5, CSE-2018


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

Ans:Thank you so much. I am feeling happy for securing a good rank. I am also relieved that my efforts have paid off and now I am looking forward to an exciting and an impactful career ahead.

CSC: What was your inspiration for becoming an IAS officer?

Ans:I always thought of what I could become, using my capacity to study and learn so as to reach out to the society and do something for the poor, marginalized etc. I got my answer, when I came across the UPSC CSE exam which could enable me to become an IAS officer.

CSC: Whom would you give credit to for your success?

Ans: I would like to thank my parents, my brother and my grandmother with whom I lived and who supported me in my preparation. I would also give credit to my closest friends, teachers and mentors who helped me throughout.

CSC: What was the role of your family and others (teachers, friends) in your preparation and success?

Ans:Family keeps you motivated through your ups and downs during the preparation. Your friends help you douse your stress and worries.

CSC: What were your sources for preparation? Which books, magazines, newspapers and online sources were used by you during the preparation?

Ans:I referred to NCERT - 6-12th Social Sciences as basic books along with standard books on each subject. I also used to read Yojana, Kurukshetra magazine, the Hindu as well as Indian Express. The online sources that I used to refer to were PIB and Rajya Sabha TV.

CSC: How much time did you devote for this exam?

(a)Prelims (b)Mains

(c)Interview(d)Optional

Ans:I integrated my preparation along with college. I prepared my optional subject a year earlier before, giving it 4-5 months. I focused separately on Prelims from February 2018 and prepared for Mains before itself. For interview, I started preparing after the Mains exam.

CSC: How did you manage your time in both Prelims and Mains examinations?

Ans:While attempting Prelims, I used to fill the OMR sheet for questions I was sure about at first, and used to leave the rest for revisiting. For Mains, I took 7-9 minutes to answer each question and did not leave any question unattempted.

CSC: Did you integrate your Prelims and Mains preparation or was it separate?

Ans:I prepared for Prelims and Mains in an integrated manner since most of the subjects overlap. Only when a specific phase of exam came near, I prepared separately on how to approach the questions.

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

Ans:Yes. Making notes using pen and paper was the most helpful for me. Note making helps you to comprehend and understand topics well. The better your notes are, the better is your answer writing skill. Divide your notes category wise and keep condensing them for revision.

CSC: What was your strategy for preparing for Ethics paper and which books did you refer to?

Ans:I referred to Lexicon for basic terms and R. Rajagopalan for case studies. Proper analysis of a situation can be done by keeping in mind multi-dimensional impact for case studies. For rest of the questions, one can start with the definitions followed by examples.

CSC: Tell us something about your approach for Essay paper.

Ans:For Essay paper, one must broaden their reading base from newspapers to general magazines. One can divide their essay on different topics and dimensions. Practicing one essay on each Sunday and getting it evaluated helped me a lot.

CSC: What was your style of writing in the examination and how did you develop this writing style?

Ans:I focused on two aspects of an answer:

  1. Structure of the answer, depending on demand of the question
  2. Using facts, reports, data to enrich answer
  3. Focus on neat presentation, use of diagrams, maps, flowcharts.

I developed this style by practice and by looking at toppers’ copies.

CSC: What was your optional? What was the basis of selecting the optional?

Ans: My optional was Sociology. I found the subject very interesting and felt that I could spend time studying it in detail. This was the only basis. Besides, many topics were of help in General Studies as well.

CSC: How did you prepare for interview? Which types of questions were asked in the interview? Did you answer all the questions?

Ans: For the interview, I studied my detailed application form thoroughly first. Then I took mock interviews at various places like Vajirao & Reddy Institute that helped me to fine tune my mistakes and perform better.

I was asked question from diverse areas:

  • My major project
  • Range of temples in MP
  • Bhopal gas tragedy
  • How can Sociology help in administration?
  • Big data
  • Judiciary reforms
  • Education system in India
  • Laws related to pollution

I couldn't answer 1-2 questions, but politely accepted it and moved on.

CSC: Was there any specific area they emphasized upon?

Ans: No, the discussions touched upon various topics and areas and they did not emphasize on any specific area.

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

Ans: CSC can help aspirants to gain quality content for CSE preparation. Toppers’ strategy and practice questions are specifically helpful.

SUGGESTED BOOK LIST

Prelims:

General Studies:

  • NCERT- 6-12th Social Studies,
  • History- Rajiv Ahir Spectrum
  • Geography- GC Leong
  • CSAT: Previous year’s papers of CSAT

Mains:

GS 1 Same as Prelims

GS 2 Polity. M Lakshmikanth, DD Basu

GS 3 Economy: Ramesh Singh, Niti Aayog Action Agenda

GS 4 Lexicon for key terms, R. Rajagopalan book for case studies

Optional Paper-1 Sociology: Harlambos and Heald and Oxford dictionary

Optional Paper-2 B.K. Nagla and e-PG Pathshala online material

Magazines/Newspapers:

  • Yojana – Kurukshetra magazine
  • The Hindu, Indian Express, Livemint etc.

Vaishali Singh
Rank-8, CSE-2018


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?

Vaishali Singh:Thank you. It is a feeling of both relief and excitement. I feel relieved that I am out of this process and excited as I have achieved what I wanted to achieve.I will be able to move forward in life now. My inspiration came from my experiences during my law course at National Law University, Delhi. I was a part of a number of field research projects where I worked at the grassroots level which I found missing in my corporate law firm. Therefore, I got attracted towards Civil Services. I think there are a number of people who have been a part of my journey. Personally, my parents and my brother have been with me through all the ups and downs. Apart from that, I would like to give credit to my mentor, Mr. R.K. Gupta Sir who has been a very important part of this process. He guided me throughout the last one year of preparation.

CSC: What strategy should one 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?

Vaishali: I believe that for both Prelims and Mains, the content is same. So, my strategy was to study in an integrated manner for both Prelims and Mains and apply that knowledge differently for Prelims and Mains. It is my suggestion that one must prepare for both Prelims and Mains together, so that one can cover the entire syllabus holistically. Until February end, I studied for both Prelims and Mains together. Towards the end, during March to May, I focused solely on Prelims. I did one mock test every day. This is how I divided my time between Mains and Prelims.

CSC: Did you prepare any notes? How helpful are notes in this examination? What is your advice for making notes?

Vaishali: I did not make any notes for core subjects because I prefer to study from the book itself. However, I did make notes for current affairs and certain other topics. I would say that making notes is extremely crucial for current affairs so that you don’t get lost in the plethora of materials that are available for current affairs. Therefore, making notes is important.

CSC: What was your strategy for preparing for Ethics paper and which books did you refer to?

Vaishali: Ethics (Paper-IV), in my opinion, is one of the most important papers because of the wide range of variations in marks associated with it. So, we must focus on Ethics. After Prelims, I joined a test series for Ethics. When I attempted the tests, I realised the demands of the Ethics paper and then I studied accordingly. I studied from multiple sources and made my own notes. Some of the sources were the Lexicon, model answers of certain papers, few examples from newspapers and sometimes online sources.

CSC: Tell us something about your approach for Essay paper.

Vaishali: Essay is one paper where I focused the most because after Prelims, I had less time left for my General Studies preparation and my optional was lengthy and I could not complete it earlier. So, I decided to focus a lot on Essay as it offers a lot of difference in marks. I first read the past year’s toppers’ copies to see what the constituents of a good essay are. Once I understood that we need a good introduction, body and conclusion, I started collecting material for certain important topics that I thought could be asked in the Essay paper. For examples, trade war and globalisation, gender equality and liberty, inequality and poverty, etc. Once I had identified the topics, I started collecting information, quotations, and examples and joined a test series to attempt more essays and I improved during the process.

CSC: What was your style of writing in the examination and how did you develop this writing style?

Vaishali: I come from a legal background. So, I had to write a lot. I made sure that I found certain words and sentences which could sum up a large paragraph. We all have different writing styles and we should not change it too much, otherwise we cease to be our natural selves. My natural writing style is mostly in the form of bullets which has developed since my school days. Other than that, I used to write certain paragraphs and essays on some important topics. I also wrote on some field research projects during my Law course. These improved my critical analysis and the ability to understand a given topic. That is how I built up my answer writing skills.

CSC: What was your optional? What was the basis of selecting the optional?

Vaishali: As I am a lawyer, I opted for Law optional as a natural choice. I was comfortable in the subject, having studied it for five years. Even though Law is not considered a high scoring subject, but still I opted for it because I was in a better position to understand and answer any off-guard question in the paper. I devoted about 4-5 months for optional. It is my suggestion that one must try to complete the optional before Prelims so that one does not have to worry about it after Prelims.

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 that they emphasised upon?

Vaishali: My Interview preparation was based on a lot of mock interviews as mock practices are very important for all three stages of the examination. First, I prepared my DAF in great detail. Second, I focused on my graduation subject which was Law. Third, I focused on current affairs. This was my order of priority for Interview preparation. Thereafter, I went for mock interviews, learnt a lot from my mistakes and eventually I did well in my interview. 80-85% of questions in my interview pertained to Law, out of which, 90% questions were from Criminal Law. There were one or two questions which I could not answer. I smiled and honestly told the interview panel that I was unaware of the same.

CSC: What is your opinion on importance of coaching institutes for the preparation of this examination?

Vaishali: I believe that this examination is as much about knowledge as it is about strategy. Along with strategy, we need guidance which can come from multiple sources like online sources, coaching institutes, etc. So, if one feels that one does not have sufficient guidance around; one can go for coaching institutes. But if you have sufficient guidance from people around you and you think that the online sources would suffice, then it is not necessary to go for any specific coaching.

CSC: What are your suggestions for the freshers opting for Civil Services Examination and for those who have failed in their previous attempts?

Vaishali: We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. While we keep focusing on our strengths, we fail to improve upon our weaknesses. There are certain areas that one would find difficult to tackle. One should go for those areas first. One must identify where one is going wrong, so that the same mistakes are not repeated in different stages. I did that and it helped me immensely.

CSC: Which books, magazines, newspapers and online sources did you use during your preparation?

Vaishali: I followed the basic books that every topper used to talk about. I limited my sources. For all the core subjects, I followed NCERTs, Laxmikant, Spectrum, etc. For current affairs, I focused on a number of sources. I used to read two newspapers everyday, namely The Hindu and Livemint. From Livemint, I used to read only the last four pages. I used to refer to certain magazines and online sources for some good content on current affairs topics.

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

Vaishali: Civil Services Chronicle is one magazine that I used for my current affairs preparation. Here, you find a lot of good content on current affairs. This was one of my sources for current affairs preparation.


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