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CSC: What were the basic mantras of your success?
Nitish: Patience, consistency, hard work and belief in my abilities were my mantras of success. I think an honest attempt is what is required.

CSC: When did you start preparation for the IAS Examination? When should one ideally begin thinking about preparing for this exam?
Nitish: I started my preparation after completing my B.TECH. Ideal time for starting preparation should be during graduation.

CSC: What was your optional? What was the basis of selecting this particular optional subject?
Nitish: I took  HISTORY  as my optional subject. It is a very interesting subject as it covers social, political, economic as well as cultural dimensions. The relevance of  History  subject for General Studies and Essay also persuaded me to take it as my optional subject.

CSC: Tell us something about preparation of  Essay  paper.
Nitish: One should be very particular about essay preparation. GS Paper-IV helped me a lot, I had read few thinkers in detail and tried to relate it to the topic. Besides this, my optional and newspapers brought about coherence in the thought process. And lastly writing few essays before exam is very crucial so that the accumulated knowledge can be put to use. Practice is necessary to boost confidence and to bring out best.

CSC: How did you manage your time in both Prelims and Mains examinations?
Nitish: I prepared for Mains and Prelims simultaneously. I don t believe in segregating the preparation. However, I would suggest to dedicate atleast 2 months for Prelims before the exam.

CSC: Which is the most difficult part of this examination and why? What was your strategy to tackle this difficult part?
Nitish: Mains examination is the most difficult part as one has to race against the time and has to manage both GS and OPTIONAL. I practiced a lot, wrote a lot of answers in both parts and in order to ensure that none of the aspects are neglected. I planned my studies on the basis of my test series schedule. I usually divided the week in 4:3, 4 days for GS and 3 days for optional.

CSC: Did you prepare notes? How helpful are the notes? What is your advice on notes-making?
Nitish: YES, for all the topics I prepared my own handwritten notes. Notes are very helpful as they facilitate multiple revisions and just having a glance at it before examination provides a psychological edge.

CSC: How helpful are the coaching institutes? What is your overall opinion about the coaching institutes?
Nitish: Coaching classes are pretty helpful if regular interaction with teachers takes place. Coaching institutes do play a very constructive role at different times but it can only supplement an individual efforts. Without individual s own effort coaching is of no use.

CSC: What was your style of writing in Mains examination? How was it distinct from the general writing style? How did you develop this writing style?
Nitish: My strategy was simple. I followed the introduction– main body-conclusion format. I tried to incorporate both bullets and paragraph format in my answers depending upon the demand as taught during coaching classes. I emphasized more upon the theoretical aspects while answering the questions. Writing style came with a lot of practice, reading and getting it reviewed by my teachers.

CSC: How helpful is one s academic background in his/her success in civil services examination?
Nitish: I think motivation, right guidance and perseverance play important role in one s success. However, a sound academic background does help in better understanding, critical analysis of the subject and certainly saves some time.

CSC: Does this exam provide a level playing field for the rural or economically poor background candidates?
Nitish: I think there is still a gap. Examination process does try to ensure a level playing field but paucity of resources like absence of internet, poor schooling, lack of guidance and awareness about civil services are the major hurdles.

How did you prepare for interview?
Nitish: I practiced a lot that had helped me in improving my communication skills, in better handling of emotions at awkward moments and accepting the fact that one is not bound to know each and every thing. This helped me a lot during my interviews as I did not panic.

CSC: Which types of questions were asked in interview? Did you answer all?
Nitish: Most of the questions were based on my hobbies, social issues and optional subject. No, I could not answer them all.

CSC: Before getting down to actual preparation, what kind of reading should one do to improve one s suitability for this exam? What is the outside reading one should do?
Nitish: An individual must be aware of the role, responsibilities, qualities and challenges of a civil servant and hence reading about popular civil servants, listening to them and knowing how they tackled difficult situations does help.

CSC: To whom would you give credit of your success?
Nitish: My parents and my sisters, my friends and my teachers.

CSC: What is your advice to the freshers who are going to appear in this exam?
Nitish: Make your own plans, set your own agenda and work honestly to execute it. One should be calm and composed, should not be in a hurry. Take your own time as cognitive skills do vary and have faith in yourself. Don t take advice from multiple sources, identify and pick a mentor and walk the journey with him. UPSC is a simple examination, don t complicate it. Just stick to the basics.

CSC: What is your advice to the candidates who have failed in this exam?
Nitish: UPSC is not just a test of one s knowledge; it s a test of one s character, so don t give up. Give your 100% once and you will definitely succeed.

CSC: Since when you began reading  Civil Services Chronicle  magazine? What are your suggestions to make it more useful for Civil Services aspirants?
Nitish: This magazine is very helpful. It provides crux of all current developments. It has very good quality material. It also helps aspirants in keeping the motivation level high by publishing interviews of selected candidates.

CSC: Mr. Nitish, thanks a lot for giving your valuable time and sharing your insight on civil services examination.
Nitish: Thank you.

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