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CSC: What was your strategy for this success?
Ajay: Planned, systematic & focused hard work coupled with perseverance and determination to give my best formed the core of my strategy.

CSC: Which is the most difficult part of this examination and why? What was your strategy to tackle this difficult part?
Ajay: I think the Mains Examination is the most difficult part in all the three stages of Civil Services Examination. It requires large number of topics to be prepared simultaneously for General Studies and the optional paper. I focused upon getting best of the guidance and proper time management to clear the Mains Exam successfully.

CSC: Did you integrate your Prelims and Mains or was it separate?
Ajay: I prepared for Prelims and Main examinations simultaneously for about 8 to 10 months because it helps in developing better command over the General Studies topics. Only 3 months before Prelims I focussed exclusively on Prelims examination.

CSC: Tell us something about preparation of essay paper.
Ajay: Good command over General Studies and Optional paper make Essay preparation very easy. I wrote few essays on important topics like women empowerment and got them checked.

CSC: What was your optional subject and why did you select that?
Ajay: I wrote Mains examination with History optional because History is the safest optional for Civil Services Examination in the current changing trends. It helps a lot in General Studies, both in Prelims and Main examinations. History subject is highly analytical and very interesting as well because it comprises politico-administrative as well as the socio-economic dimensions. Aspirants with History Optional are getting very good marks now a days. That is why I had selected History as my optional subject.

CSC: How does academic background help in the preparation for Civil Services?
Ajay: Academic background does not play much significant role in Civil Services Examination. Your success largely depends on the optional you choose and guidance you get. I believe that good guidance is the key to crack the IAS examination.

CSC: What is the role of writing practice in getting good marks in Main examination?
Ajay: The writing practice plays a very important role in securing good marks both in the optional paper as well as in the General Studies papers. Every serious aspirant must practice extensively.

CSC: How difficult is to succeed in Civil Services Examination in the very first attempt?
Ajay: I think it is easier to qualify in Ist attempt than in the third or fourth attempts. If you plan the preparation well, work hard and get good guidance, it is easily possible to get a good rank in the first attempt itself.

CSC: What are your suggestions for the beginners? When should the fresher take the exam?
Ajay: The beginners should go through the NCERT books from 6th to 12th Std. Then go for systematic preparation and take the exam after one year of thorough preparation. Develop the habit of reading magazines and newspapers. Be honest in your work and remain committed to your goal. REMEMBER, THERE IS NO SHORT CUT TO SUCCESS.

CSC: What are your suggestions for freshers who want to join coaching institutes for preparation?
Ajay: You have to be very selective in joining a coaching institute. There is no point in sitting in a class of 400-500 students where no personal attention is possible. Join only that Institute which provides quality education.

CSC: Did you join any coaching institute?
Ajay: Now-a-days coaching institutes play an important role in the success of a candidate in Civil Services Examination. The competition is cut throat and you have to compete with the best in the field. For that you need proper guidance and best study material.

CSC: What was your style of writing in the exam? How was it different from the general writing style? How did you develop this writing style?
Ajay: I tried to write in simple & lucid way. There is need to maintain linkages between two paragraphs. Apart from that any answer must have three parts-introduction, main body and conclusion. I practiced previous year papers by allotting time.

CSC: How did you prepare for interview?
Ajay: I had attended number of mock interviews. These mock interview sessions helped in finding out the weak areas. The feedback and constant support of him helped me in overcoming these challenges. I found that the real interview was just a replica of mock sessions I faced as similar questions were asked there as well.

CSC: Was there any specific area they emphasized upon?
Ajay: They basically asked more of opinion based question. They tried to correlate my bio data with current issues for asking questions. The board tried to explore all the dimensions of my personality. At times, the board tried to put me under pressure to see whether I can handle the pressure situation or not.

CSC: Which types of questions were asked in the interview? Did you answer them all?
Ajay: They asked questions based on my bio-data. Current issues like Syrian crisis, Nuclear Energy Policy, Power crisis in India, Agriculture Backwardness, IPL & PIL, Brain drain, Protest in Jaitapur against nuclear power plant, etc. The Board was very cordial. I could not answer few questions that were too factual.

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