- Educational Background
- Extra C
- Study Momentum
- Strategy: CSAT (Aptitude)
- Strategy: General studies
- Mains 2013
- Public Administration and Sociology
- Optional Subject in Mains 2013?
- Compulsory papers
- Insecurity about “Profile”
- Career backup
- Family and Friends
- Bogus marketing propaganda
|Rank (CSE 2012)||165|
|Number of Attempts||1|
|Medium for Mains Exam||English|
|Centre for Prelim exam||New Delhi|
|Centre for Mains exam||New Delhi|
|Name of home town/city||Almora (Uttarakhand)|
|% in class 10||94|
|% in class 12||90|
|Graduation course and %||B.Tech (Mech. Engg.) 78.7%|
|Name of college and year of passing out||G.B.Pant University of Agriculture and Technology Pantnagar, Graduated in May 2010|
// extracts from my DAF//
- Particulars of prize, medal, scholarships etc.
- National level merit certificate in hindi from CBSE board
- First prize in debating at state level
- University merit scholarship holder
- various accolades in conferences, symposia etc.
- Kho-kho team captain at school level.
- Position of distinction/leadership held in school/college
- Member of school Editorial board
- Co-chairperson SPIC-MACAY Pantnagar
- Coordinator of College Alumni Cell
- General Secretary of Hostel
- Composing poems, photography, singing, swimming
|Did you join any Coaching?||Yes|
|Did you join any postal courses?||No|
|Did you join any Mock test series?||Yes|
|Did you appear in any other competitive exams?||Yes|
It was somewhere in my head since school days since there is a sense of awe associated with services specially in north india and if you are reasonably ok in studies everyone expects you to clear it. I had a vague appreciation and inclination but it was only during graduation final year that I finally decided to go for it due to multiplicity of reasons. Desire to do something worthwhile and big, sense of responsibility towards society ( I know it sounds cliched but it was so), happiness it would bring to my family and wellwishers to quote few.
Q. Outside Delhi, it’s hard to dig how to prepare for civil service. So How did you gather the necessary information / strategy / booklist?
Before Noida, I was at Rihand during the initial phase of my prep and believe me its one of THE remotest in India. You need to travel 220km to watch a movie :P it used to be an open air jail of the royalities. But digging info is no big deal in internet era. And most importantly, one should be in touch with serious aspirants and share/discuss strategies,booklist etc. as much as possible. Travel to coaching hubs of Delhi once in a while if you feel too lagged behind. Even the chaiwala and paanwala will be able to give you strategies out there ;)
I am a highly erratic person when it comes to momentum. I dont even have the habit of reading newspaper daily…i would read 12-14 of them on alternate weekends. (caution: dont try this at home :P) boredom is ought to creep in during prep.. talk to friends, go out and have a walk, watch a good movie, listen to good music, send sms while having tea/coffee,have an awesome meal,write a poem or story, paint something, go shopping, clean your studytable/room, simply doze off over books… I mean thousands of things. Just close the books and give yourself a break. Just ensure that the break is not too long. Read some motivational books, paste motivational quotes in and around your room..create an exam aura..it helps :)
Q. On an average, How many hours did you study per day?
Ans. Varied from 2 to 8 hours. 8 hours is the max I could achieve. Overall avg would be 4 hours.
Q. How many months did it take you to complete the core syllabus of GS and optional subjects?
Ans. Technically speaking it took me about 1.5years i.e. after I entered my job in 2010 to my prelims in may 2012. But quality of prep in pubad and socio was abysmally low. I had just completed syllabus superficially and selectively. I focussed on completing it in depth and totality after prelims were over.
- Last year I solved few sample papers from arihant publication book and used to do some questions online to come in flow but paper was way too easy than what I had prepared. I could manage a score of 160. I think the challenge is to manage time rather than difficulty level. A fair degree of practice would produce same result for non science students.
- Now please share the tips regarding aptitude preparation, especially the comprehension and decision making portion.
- As I told my preparation was almost zero for apti paper but in the process of preparation one has to read so much that reading speed and comprehension develops gradually even if one lacks it in the first place. Just come in flow before exam so that you work smartly and know the manageable and unmanageable areas at a glance.
- For decision making, thumb rule is to think like an officer. Honest upright decisive officer. You will get the option right from a gut feeling :)
|Culture||Nothing but ppl refer spectrum|
|Polity||Basics||Laxmikant, bare acts|
|Economy||Basics||Sri ram material, mrunal’s articles|
|Geography||Physical||GCL, NCERT, book fr prelims geog by wizard publication|
|mains||Same excluding wizard(in retrospect I felt I devoted too much time and energy for geography while upsc didnt ask much from it.
Wizard may be skipped if you so wish, it takes lot of time but has a lot of gud info too. Discretionary)
|Environment, Biodiversity||Basics||NCERT, book: Environment studies (oxford publication)|
|Current||Hindu, mags spcl issues|
|Current||Hindu, science reprter, coaching (pirated) material available in market, random surfing and digging wikipedia|
|Yearbook / Govt. schemes etc.||Self made notes, vishal’s summary, pib, sarkari ads in newspapers|
|IR/diplomacy||Self made notes from miscellanous sources, World focus magazine annual issue, coaching material photstats from market|
I didnt have separate strategy for prelims and mains.. focussed more on factual parts for prelims and analytical parts for mains. But one mistake I would like to share, I devoted tooooo much time towards covering current affairs, the materials flooding in market during April-may, many other so called ïsme se pakka aayega”stuff before pre :P was disappointed to find not a SINGLE question from my high priority areas. It made me wiser for mains perhaps :) I relied only on my own reading of newspaper for current affairs, didnt even refer magazines, banked on standard books and self made notes and It seems to have worked. (got 268 in GS mains)
UPSC has changed the GS syllabus for Mains 2013. So if you were to prepare for it, what’d be your approach/strategy/booklist?
- Approach would be to keep it simple. The kind of paper they are setting in GS, it isnt about sophistications or exploring treasure troves of some mystical knowledge.
- It’s more about the length and breadth of your general reading, sense of observation, presentation skill and ability to think comprehensively even under pressure.
- Specially the 25markers are way too open ended and familiar. The broader you read, the better marks you fetch.
- Hindu is THE bible for mains ( I know many people criticise its leftist orientation but it works)
- I spent lot of energy in the process of exploring the refined booklist or getting hold of a few of them but suffered from information overload due to diverse opinions.
- To add to miseries most of these exotic names are out of stock at flipkart and unavailable in rajinder nagar market (the hub of aspirants material) Was suggested by someone to calm down and wait for the right books to surface in the market on their own. Now I am doing that :)
- In the meantime going through Global Politics by Andrew Heywood. It would definitely help I am sure.
- Another book is India After Gandhi by Ram Chandra Guha widely recommended by everyone. I read it a year ago so will revise later.
- The shift in questions paper is very visible, lesser degree of predicability, no 60markers, need to write more to get same marks (also elaborated by mrunal somewhere), analytical questions, higher relevance to contemporary socio-political scenario and so on.
- Just pick up last year papers and see the trend before 2008 and in last two-three years.
- There is no dearth of booklist/ study material on both of these optionals and I actually have nothing to add to what has already been repeated in this blog and elsewhere multiple times.
- Morever, my actual list might appear farcical since I referred VERY few books :) And perhaps this is the only get away I have for the readers.
- Its possible to fetch 147 in pub ad paper two by JUST reading rajni goyal,laxmikant and newspaper (that too my alternate weekend style ;) ) what is more important than reading multiple books is to read from limited sources and get it cemented in your brain,think, analyse, put things in perspective and write well.
- Any set of basic books that covers your syllabus is wonderful.
Q. Instead of two, now UPSC will have only one optional subject. So if you were to give Mains 2013, which optional would you keep and why?
Ans. I would keep socio. My pub ad ppr 1 marks were 77. I heard of scores like 25, 37, 45,52,61,93 in ppr 1 secured by ppl in my extended circle. Highest I heard so far is 108. I think it explains my choice ;)
Q. Your booklist/strategy for compulsory Regional language paper.
Subscribed a hindi newspaper ten days before exams. Got sick with trivial/crime news,that too in pressure of mains. Didnt read it ever. You can try this strategy at your own risk :)
Q. Your booklist/strategy for compulsory English language paper.
Q. How did you prepare yourself for the essay?
Wrote two essays as practice and got them evaulated by a sir…got 118/125 marks and was happy with my writing skills till I saw my mains marksheet :)
Q. Which Essay did you write in Mains-2012?
I wrote the one on PPP but got a pathetically low score of 50marks !!!
Q.Provide some keypoints/highlights of your Essay.
If you want it for how NOT to write an essay I would be happy to give it :P but I dont remember the exact framewrk and content. I wrote a looooong one. I can tell you the good points and bad points as I have analysed so far:
- could manage a good handwriting even when I filled some 23-25 pages
- Made relevant diagrams
- Good vocab, coherence and presentation
- Covered topic very broadly and with variety of angles.
- In attempt to be broad in view, didnt focus exclusively on PPP but on other keywords equally (I dont know if its a drawback though :( )
- Probably social aspects of PPP didnt please the examiner. They had some eccentricity in views inspired from neoliberal analysis of indian society I read long back.
- Covered topic, perhaps, VERY broadly.
Lesson: Play safe. Write a down to earth basic essay. An attempt to fetch better marks writing a flamboyant essay or presenting an out of the crowd view may backfire.
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…” What’s your take on that?
Ans. Candidate has to appear better than a sheet of paper and not vice versa. A moderate profile with moderate performance would fetch better marks than too heavy a profile with a disappointing performance. Good profile is of course an advantage but only to the extent you prove yourself to be upto it.
How much portion of your interview centered on your profile?
It had a fair share of my profile,esp hobbies, job, home state etc.
Did they ask any uncomfortable question from your profile during the interview?
Q. How did you prepare for the interview?
I gave mock interviews at Sankalp and Vajiram. Other than that I worked on my DAF and collected relevant info about my homestate, hobbies, extra curricular activities, job etc. to the extent I possibly could.
Q. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Q. How long was the interview?
Q. Provide the list of questions asked (and if possible answers also)
Transcript provided on this link: https://files.secureserver.net/0s3wg05Y5pn8FA
Q. Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or Did they ask you totally unexpected questions? If yes, how did you handle it?
One can never prepare for the exact questions they ask..its a matter of their whims and the words you utter. You can only get prepared to ensure that you gain some confidence, are able to defend DAF, do not appear dumb at something you are supposed to know and polish yourself up on your body language or tone of speaking.
pub ad: 77+147
Q. Through this journey, what have you learned about life and competition? What is your message to future aspirants?
Preparation for services is an enriching phase of life that shall quickly pass whether or not you get through. The real vast vistas of great works to be done lie beyond this phase, again, whether or not you get through. In your deep internal true realisations, you must be very humble and know that it’s just an exam and not a benchmark of your coming success or fulfilment. But your actions and attitude towards cracking it must be aggressive and adamant, with a fighter attitude, winner attitude. I had a poster of Bolt in my room where he hushed at the audience while comfortably leaping much ahead of his competitors at the Olympics. Below it I wrote in huge letters: “shut up! I did it” This is not arrogance, but a befitting reply he gave to people who doubted his performance and questioned his success. I loved it. A cursory glance at it would fuel me with passion after a tiring day at office. However, be careful not to swap the above feelings :) Be calm in thoughts and uncompromising in actions, not vice versa.
I was already working so didnt have insecurities on that front but down the line I would have gone for higher studies and shifted to academics/research if could not clear civil services.
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? Any specific motivational/inspiration incidence that you would like to share with the readers?
My family and friends have always put great trust in me and supported me throughout this journey. There was a time when I altogether abandoned the idea of preparation in the initial stage itself, as I felt I would not be able to cope with the working of the system when I get in, there are other better ways to do what one wants to do in life and other fundu ideas like that… not related to cracking the exam but towards a sense of satisfaction I thought it lacked. It was almost a fullstop to this journey when a very respected teacher of mine brought me back to track with renewed vigour and zeal and a deep sense of faith in my capabilities. Looking back I realise my positive mental state and calmness had a lot to do with my success, and it could never have been possible without the genuine trust and care bestowed on me. I was reminded that brickwalls are there for a reason, they let you know how badly you want something. They are there to stop the other people, not to stop you :) ( courtesy randy pausch, the last lecture. You can watch it on youtube, worth it indeed.. )
You are well aware of the unwritten golden rule of conducting toppers’ interview. Final question has to be about bogus marketing propaganda. So,
Q1. Were you a subscriber/ regular reader of Mrunal.org. If yes, then Since when? You can even say “no”, I’ll publish it without editing, unlike certain magazines hahaha.
Yes, I am a regular reader since 2010. I have seen this blog grow slowly…and now it has become so comprehensive and admired for its high quality , thanks to consistent efforts of Mrunal.
Q2. How did Mrunal.org help you in your preparation?
All the articles, especially economy, are full of knowledge yet so simplified. It helps one to be updated and focus on areas which otherwise may have been left/ignored. Some strategy type articles also act as eye opener and help you to refocus on studies.