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Question: What were the basic mantras of your success?

ASHISH GUPTA: The basic mantras of my success are hard work, right attitude towards the preparation and exam, proper guidance due to coaching, reading of the same material repeatedly, good wishes of family and friends and god’s grace.

Question: When did you start preparation for the IAS Examination? When should one ideally begin thinking about preparing for this exam?

ASHISH GUPTA: I started preparation with less than 3 months to go for the Prelims in the first attempt. Ideally, starting preparing from 6 months to a year from Prelims is sufficient.

Question: What were your optionals? What was the basis of selecting these optionals?

ASHISH GUPTA: My optionals were History and Public Administration. The basis for selection was interest in subject, popularity due to scoring ability and availability of coaching and reading material for History optional.

Question: Tell us something about preparation of essay paper.

ASHISH GUPTA: There was no special preparation for essay topics, however I tried to keep the language crisp and to the point.

Question: How did you manage your time in both Prelims and Mains examination?

ASHISH GUPTA: For prelims I did not have a model for time management. In the mains examination I always kept the time as per the marks allotted to the question, for example a 60 marker should take no more than 36 minutes (whether that is split into 3 parts or 5 parts is irrelevant). Due to strict adherence to time limits I easily attempted all 600 marks worth in both optionals.

Question: Which is the most difficult part of this examination and why? What was your strategy to tackle this difficult part?

ASHISH GUPTA: Mains is the most difficult portion in the whole process as it has the maximum weightage in final selection. The strategy is to keep things simple and reading material restricted in breadth. That is where coaching helps a serious candidate, secondly appropriate writing and expression skills are needed to be developed.

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

ASHISH GUPTA: There need not be separate preparation for both the stages, so I integrated them both.

Question: 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?

ASHISH GUPTA: My writing style is very simple, I also underline important sentences. It is distinct from general writing style as it brings out the core idea forcefully and very clearly. Initially I used to write in a complicated manner and did not structure the introduction, core and conclusion effectively. However, due the guidance under coaching I was able to simplify my writing style and make it highly effective.

Question: How did you prepare for interview?

ASHISH GUPTA: I extensively prepared my profile, which was quite diverse. Secondly, I prepared key points on current affairs, especially the ones that have happened in the past few weeks.

Question: Which types of questions were asked in interview? Did you answer all?

ASHISH GUPTA:  The questions were mostly opinion based, but a few of them were also fact based. I was unable to answer all the questions properly, and did not know a few technical questions.

Question: What is your advice to the fresher who are going to appear in this exam?

ASHISH GUPTA: Fresher should aim at cracking the exam in their first attempt itself, they should prepare wholeheartedly with this objective in mind. I would also advise them against gathering too much material, and losing sight of the basics. They should stick to little but quality material, and revise it over and over again.

Question: What is your advice to the candidates who have failed in this exam?

ASHISH GUPTA: I have personally failed twice in this exam. I would advise candidates to make a reassessment of their strategy, and incorporate guidance/coaching if that has not been done previously. I would also suggest that one should learn from past mistakes in either attempting the paper, or in assessment of performance/marks. As the journey is a long one, the final piece of advice is to have a lot of patience, and continue putting in the hard work.

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