My first reaction
This was my 5th attempt at the Civil Services Examination and in the last 2 attempts, I had missed the final cut off by 8 and 6 marks respectively. So, I felt extremely relieved that I had cleared UPSC examination and there is now no more need to give another attempt. Support of my family members and my own hard work and patience played important role in my success.
|Graduation||IIT Kharagpur||Electrical Engineering||2012||9.4|
|Senior Secondary Education||Delhi Public School, Bhilai||2008||91%|
|Secondary Education||Delhi public School, Bhilai|
|Work Experience||Indian Railways||IRSEE Probationer||since November 2017|
I chose Electrical Engineering as my optional because I had done my graduation in Electrical. Medium for prelims, mains and interview was English.
I did not join any coaching institute for classes. However, I did join them for test series. I think that the role of coaching institutes in the success of any candidate is not more than 20%. Rest 80% is determined by the sincerity and dedication of the student.
A. Study Schedule
7-8 hours daily. I used to take one day off every week to break the monotony of everyday preparation. I think that such breaks are essential to ensure that you can do intensive study for months without feeling burnout.
B. Strong and weak subjects (How did I prepare them?)
As a student of engineering background, I found it slightly difficult to grasp humanities and arts subjects. To begin with, I studied slowly and focused on understanding the concepts rather than memorizing them. Similarly, regular answer writing and essay writing practice gradually increased my confidence. Continuity was the key. I improved my knowledge, understanding and answer writing ability over a period of years. Again, I began slowly paying attention to each aspect of answer writing: introduction, body and conclusion and gradually improved them.
For the essay, an extensive knowledge and understanding of the issue is necessary before you attempt to write one. During practice for Essay paper in Mains examination, I first read thoroughly about the chosen topic and then proceeded to write the essay. Initially, I didn’t pay attention to time. First, the focus was on proper expression and quality. As I gradually became comfortable with essay writing, the time period automatically came down.
I chose “Has small scale farming become nonviable in India” and “Is the concept of new women in India a myth”.
In the first essay, I analysed why farming at small scale has become economically nonviable. After analyzing the underlying causes, I proceeded to mention the government efforts and my own suggestions to improve the situation of small scale farmers.
In the second essay, I began with elaborating the concept of new women and what it actually means. Then I proceeded to analyze the status of women in India, their recent advancements as well as struggles and challenges. Finally I concluded on a balanced note that ” while the new women in India may not have been realized, we are making progress in that direction to ensure its realization in future”.
Mock test series are essential for self assessment. I had joined Vajiram test series in 2016 (not 2017). I think that there is not much of a difference between the test series of well known institutes (Vajiram, Sriram, Vision etc.). Aspirants can write test series as long as they don’t feel confident about their answer writing abilities. Once you have gained the confidence and made improvements in your writing abilities, there is no need to write more mock tests.
I used to read the Indian Express daily and revised the monthly current affairs magazine by Vision IAS.
I personally feel that the best way to prepare for the interviews is to go through the DAF in a detailed manner. I studied the interview transcripts written by previous year candidates and based on that I prepared answers for probable questions. I would recommend to not focus too much on factual data, instead focus more on understanding and analysis. The board tests the personality and understanding of a candidate and not his/her factual knowledge. Try to speak before a mirror to improve your speaking skills.
Remain calm and composed before the board and behave naturally (easier said than done). I had already faced the board two times earlier and I have also been practicing meditation for a few years, so I was able to do that and score well in interview.
The board was extremely cordial through out the interview. However, one has to be very careful while answering the questions asked by the members and not let down your guard because of their cordial behavior. Questions can be tricky and if they are not properly answered, the candidate can be trapped in subsequent counter questions.
a. Member: There is a perception that railways in unable to ensure the safety of its passengers. There have been various accidents in the recent past claiming lives of many people. Do you agree?
The question was meant to provoke but I had to give a balanced answer that the accident record is improving and at the same time accept that railways is culpable for the accidents that have occurred.
b. Member: It is my belief that the state government of CG has not been able to implement its tribal development schemes on the ground according to the plans on paper.
Again, I mentioned some of the successes of the government to show the sincerity of government to develop tribal areas. At the same time I also mentioned the challenges that are present at the ground level. I attributed the gaps to these challenging circumstances.
Advice to fellow students
Be honest in accepting your shortcomings and have faith in your ability to improve and make progress.