Lady with 7 months old son, clears UPSC on her first attempt and proves that Civil Service exam is not reserved for single people preparing full time for over a year – people with other responsibilities in life can crack it as well.
- Your Study plan
- CSAT (Paper I) General studies
- CSAT (Paper II) Aptitude
- General Studies paper I
- General Studies paper 2
|Name||GAYATHRI KRISHNAN B|
|Rank (CSE 2011)||433|
|Medium for Mains Exam||English|
|Mains Examination Centre||Thiruvananthapuram|
|Number of Attempts||1|
|Details of Graduation and Post-Grad.||B.Tech in Computer Science, followed by PGDHRM|
hobbies, achievements etc.
|Are you a working professional?||No|
If yes, then did you leave your job
or prepared while on the job?
|Did you take Coaching?||
|Did you buy any postal courses?||No|
|Did you join any Mock test series?||No|
|Did you appear in any other competitive exams?||Yes|
|If yes, provide the details:||Appeared in Kerala State PSC Deputy Collector exam, cleared prelims, awaiting main exam result.|
Q. When and how did the inspiration and idea of joining civil service come in your mind?
|I am residing in Abu Dhabi with my husband and 2-year old son. Civil Services was a childhood dream for me. My husband and I have always thought of going back to India for my son’s schooling. We shared our hopes about that and he encouraged me to try for civil services exam. I started preparation in September 2010.|
Q7. After a person decides to appear in civil service exam, the first big obstacle is “Choice of optional subjects”. What factors did you consider before selecting your optional?
I chose Public Administration as my first optional because I like the subject and it is very relevant to my future career. I chose Malayalam as my second optional because I enjoy the subject very much.
Q. People initially prepare with much enthusiasm but then a boredom phase comes – they don’t even find the motivation to read the daily newspapers, let alone studying the books.
Sometimes they get diverted because of external factors e.g. heavy workload in office, family responsibilities and so on. How did you sustain the study-momentum throughout the journey?
I suffered from the peaks and valleys of enthusiasm throughout my preparation. But during my down-times, I sometimes just shut my books and took breaks for a few days. This helped me to get back with renewed focus and strength. I also resorted to reading my Malayalam literature books during these times. I found reading them to be as pleasurable as pastimes in any case, and so I didn’t really need to put in much effort for those.
On an average, How many hours did you study per day? How many months did it take you to complete the core syllabus of GS and optional subjects?
I started my preparation when my son was 7 months old, and being the primary care taker of my child, I was seriously short of time to begin with. I still managed to work for 7-8 hours on weekends and about 3 hours on other days, on average. I worked longer nearer to the exam. I hadn’t even finalized my second optional till after my prelims exam, (which was a mistake, the importance of which I didn’t realize till after prelims). So I could finish the whole syllabus once only close to the actual main exam.
How did you use computer and internet for your exam-preparation?
I made notes for a lot of GS topics and Pub Ad topics from the internet, via Wikipedia, ministry websites, etc. I also made use of the internet to read The Hindu, as the paper isn’t available here in Abu Dhabi.
How did you prepare yourself for the essay?
I got writing tips from my English Sir at the Kerala State Civil Services Academy.
The study material was the same as my GS and Pub Ad Paper II material.
Which Essay did you write in Mains-2011?
Cinema’s impact on our society.
What were your keypoints in that essay?
I organized the essay into short, medium and long term impacts of cinema on our society.
I provided examples and quotes to back up my arguments.
I gave space for both positive and negative impacts.
How many marks did you get in that essay?
Many aspirants fear the interview, thinking that “my profile is not good because
- I’ve low marks in SSC/HSC/College,
- I don’t have any extra-curricular certificates,
- I don’t have work experience,
- I graduated from some unknown college,
- I’m from non-English medium and so on…”
How important or relevant is the profile of a candidate during interview?
I don’t think that a profile is more important for the interview, than our actual presentation during the day.
How do you rate your own profile?
I would give it 5 on 10.
How much portion of your interview centered on your profile?
All of it.
Did they ask any uncomfortable questions from your profile?
I was unable to answer some questions based on my MBA background. There was some attempts by a member to provoke me based on this.
If yes, how did you reply to those questions?
I said I didn’t know the answer where applicable, and maintained my calm.
Q. In case you had not cleared the UPSC exam, what was your career/future backup plan?
Since CSE-2011 was my first attempt, I would definitely have tried again if I had failed this time. If I failed again, I would have gone back to my roots of being a Software Engineer.
Q. Behind one topper are many people who stood by him/her during those uncertain times when he/she was merely an ‘aspirant’. Would you like to tell the world, who were those people in your case?
I think I am forever indebted to my whole family for their unending support and patience. I am particularly thankful to my husband and mother for helping me take care of my young son. I am also thankful to the rest of the family for always believing in me and financing my education and fuelling my enthusiasm.
|Topic||Source of your preparation||remark, if any|
|Current Affairs||Internet, civil services chronicle magazine, The Hindu|
|Physical Geography||TMH Manual|
|Geography of India||TMH Manual|
|Geography of World||TMH Manual|
|Polity and Governance||Lakshmikanth|
|Public Policy||ARC, Pub Ad books|
|Rights issue||Pub Ad books|
|Environment and Biodiversity||Internet|
|Economic and social Development||Internet, Pub Ad books|
|Economy||Internet, TMH Manual|
Confidence IAS material
|Source of your preparation|
|English||No particular preparation|
|Indian language paper||No particular preparation|
|Syllabus Topic||Source of your preparation|
|Geography of India||TMH Manual|
|Issues of social relevance||Internet|
|Indian economy and planning||Internet|
|Law and order||Internet|
|Syllabus Topic||Source of your preparation|
|India and the World*||Internet|
|India’s Economic interaction with world||Internet|
|International affairs and institutions||Internet|
|Science & Tech.||Internet|
How did you prepare for the interview?
I obtained guidance and mock interviews from Kerala State Civil Service academy.
Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Did they ask you any unexpected questions?
There were a lot of questions from my MBA background, which surprised me a little. Other questions based on current affairs and Public Administration, and my background were predictable.
What was the toughest question you faced during the interview and how did you answer it?
I felt like I was in trouble when I was asked questions from trade union laws which I couldn’t recollect. The board member seemed a bit displeased with my inability to recall what was obviously an easy question in his opinion. It made me feel tensed, but I tried to remain pleasant and polite. I was saved by the next member’s questions on current affairs and public administration, which I could answer satisfactorily (in my opinion).
|GENRAL STUDIES (PAPER-IV)||090|
|GENRAL STUDIES (PAPER-V)||072|
|OPTIONAL-I(PUBLIC ADMIN.) (PAPER-VI)||147|
|OPTIONAL-I(PUBLIC ADMIN.) (PAPER-VII)||146|
|OPTIONAL-II(LIT.OF MALAYALAM LANG) (PAPER-VIII)||174|
|OPTIONAL-II(LIT.OF MALAYALAM LANG) (PAPER-IX)||196|
Q. What is your message to the aspirants?
This exam is not reserved for single people preparing full time for over a year – people with other responsibilities in life too can crack it with the right attitude, guidance, hard work, support and above all, God’s grace.
In the era of blatant marketing propaganda, I’ve to ask two questions given below. But even if your answer is “No” I’ll publish your answer as it is (unlike some competitive exam magazines, which distort the interviews afterwards.)
- Did you use indianofficer.com for your preparation? If yes, How did it help you?
It helped me keep the momentum going, and provided me with guidance and motivation.
- Did you use mrunal.org for your preparation? If yes, how did it help you?
No, I didn’t know of the website till after my exam. I did use it for this year’s preliminary exam preparation, though.