What were the basic mantras of your success?
Hard work, passions, and to love what I studied and never let the target deviate from my sight.
When did you start preparation for the IAS Examination? When should one ideally begin thinking about preparing for this exam?
According to me the ideal time for starting the preparation should be June-July i.e. one year in advance of the Preliminary exam.
How did you start preparation for the IAS Examination?
Initially, I gave my full effort in understanding each and every topic of the syllabus, after which I started incorporating the contemporary information and paid special attention towards recent changes that are taking place in the present time.
What were your optionals?
I opted for a safe subject like Geography. I had a science background and that was the basis of choosing a semi-scientific subject like Geography. My second option was Hindi Literature.
Which is the most difficult part of this exam and why? What was your strategy to tackle this difficult part?
The most difficult part of the preparation for this exam is time management. Balance between the preparation of two opitionals and General Studies should also be maintained. Even the preparation of essay is also very important and helps in getting good rank.
How did you manage your time in both prelims and mains examination?
I firstly studied all the minute details of Mains syllabus and based on those information I switched over to preliminary examination. I followed this strategy for both, General Studies and Geography Optional.
For mains I was always focused on organised presentation of the analysis.
Did you integrate your Prelims or Mains preparation or was it separate?
Information and analytical power that I grasped for mains preparation helped me a lot in my Prelims preparation. Therefore, both the preparation has to be integrated, it cannot be separated. Of course objective practice of Prelims preparation must be taken care above all.
What should be the best strategy to tackle negative marking?
The student must have an objective understanding of the topic which they study so that however close a choice, they must not be confused. It they are not confident they should not base their answer on guess-work. This is the best way of avoiding negative marking.
Did you prepare notes? How helpful are the notes? What is your advice on notes-makers?
Yes I did prepare my own notes. I have a habit of preparing notes and then study. My notes were never static. I always got hold of new information and added them to my notes. These notes always improve the analytical power and bring conceptual clarity. Therefore, I would advise the aspirants to make notes based on good quality information they can lay their hands on.
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?
Ans. Whatever I studied for mains optional I always tried to present the same in a very organised manner. I had developed a way of good presentation by making notes always and improving them from time to time. I attempted those questions first whose answer I knew well.
Tell us something about preparation of essay paper.
The objective understanding of the topics of essay, its organised presentation has been my strategy for essay preparation.
How did you prepare for interview?
My Interview preparation was not based on any special strategy. Evaluation of all the factual analysis of Government Policies is one of the most important parts of Interview preparation. Therefore, I carefully revised them.
Which types of questions were asked in interview? Did you answer all?
My Interview was very easy and simple. The attitude of the board was very friendly and co-operative. They asked questions on my earlier services – 'India Trade Services' and International Relations. To be precise they asked question on 'Foreign Trade Policy', Indo-Iran Pipeline, Present Position of Afghanistan, Steps taken by India in Africa were the important questions. I was able to answer all of them.
Civil Services Exam process is quite strenuous. It requires long hours of constant study. How did you maintain your tempo and what did you do to break the monotony of preparation?
It is true that civil services Exam is a very strenuous exam and it takes long hours of constant study. But I was very patient during the whole tenure of my preparation. I tried to take keen interest in whatever I studied. I had a single target oriented study – to become an IAS and I never lost my goal even during the time of hardship. I always maintained the objectivity and never shirked off from hard work. As the preparation itself provides variety of topics I never allowed myself to get bored.
Before getting down to actual preparation, what kind of reading should one do to prepare one's suitability for this exam? What is the outside reading one should do?
The answer to this question is that aspirants must start from studying basic books of 10th level, develop a habit of reading National Newspaper and magazines with good articles. They must also improve their observation and analytical power of whatever information they come across. This will form their foundation and only then they may start their preparation of General Studies and both optionals.
What is your advice to the freshers who are going to appear for this exam?
My advice for freshers are as follows:
1. This exam has to be prepared over a long period of time. Therefore, patience is most important.
2. The syllabus is very vast and the aspirants have to see lots of ups and downs during the course of their preparation. Therefore, they must develop the tendency to stick to hard work, what may come.
3. They must have an objective view about everything.