Suruchi Chaudhary, Rank 152, CSE 2016
I scored Rank 152 in UPSC 2016 and “insightsonindia” has played an indispensable role in this. I feel very fortunate to have had access to the commendable guidance and study materials provided by them. I have immensely benefitted from daily current affairs, daily answer writing and most importantly from the Prelims Test Series. Thanks very much for helping me make the transition from reading about the successful candidates articles to writing about one!!
A brief background of mine:
I am a proud mother of two young boys aged 4 and 2 years and I quit my corporate job of 7 years with Edelweiss Group to write civil services exam. I am a graduate from Shri Ram College of Commerce, post which I did my MBA in Finance and have also cleared my Chartered Financial Analyst exams.
For Civil services I started with two attempts in hand (due to age limit) and barely any idea of what is needed for cracking this exam (Trust me when I say barely any idea). To add to that the CSAT change in 2015 saw me not clearing my Prelims in my first attempt and I was left with one last attempt. The ride was very rocky, but I enjoyed every bit of it.
I want to share a glimpse of what I have learnt over the last two years spent in the preparation. I will feel extremely fortunate if even a bit of it can help anyone.
The text below is organised in two parts, first portion deals with the exam specific skills that I feel worked for me. Second part has my take on the mindset which can make the journey easier.
Exam specific skills: My entire preparation has been through self study wherein I have used a lot of online resources.
- Limited resources: Draw boundaries on the number of newspapers you are reading, books you are referring to or test series that you may be writing. I am based out of Mumbai and maybe the limited access to new study materials coming to the market helped.
- Revision, revision and revision: Clearly the most important aspect. Possible only when the resources have been carefully chosen and are limited.
- Mock tests practice: This is indispensable. I gave myself a lot of practice tests for prelims. Later for mains also my focus was on writing more than reading more.
For the specifics I feel there are many worthy people out there to guide you better than me through the study materials, answer writing approach amongst others.
Mindset and approach:
- Self confidence holds the key: When I quit my job to pursue civil services, there were a lot of non-believers including myself at times. But for this exam, being your biggest supporter helps a lot. It will somewhere help you in making the correct guesses if any, during the prelims, better quality answers in the mains and needless to say, a big boon for the personality test. This is what helped me most when I left the safety of my job to come to the unpredictable corridors of civil services examination.
- Time management: I feel this is one domain that I have mastered thanks to my two kids and managing a nuclear family without parents support as back up. Kid’s parent teacher meetings, play dates, doctor visits (always at the wrong times), family engagements to mock tests, notes making, answer writing practice, learning and mugging. All activities could be managed only with a well thought out plan with adequate scope of flexibility for unforeseen distractions.
- A little crazy passion: The journey is long and in my opinion it can be sustained only with a deep rooted desire to excel. I studied even on the day my younger one was born, inside my hospital room!! This is how badly I wanted this to happen.
- Distance yourself from negativity: Negativity is something that will come in abundance and at times we create it for ourselves as well. I too have doubted my ability to return to studying after a gap of 7 years, to read my optional subject after nearly a decade, to write with paper and pen after 10 years of just laptops. Most scary was the constant fear of facing the last attempt which had the first Main and the first Interview.
- Heady doses of motivation: Topper articles and motivational articles put up by InsightsonIndia was immensely used. Apart from that my constant go to was “Mary Kom”. If she could return to boxing and make it big after two kids, there was no reason that my kids could be a hindrance. I had a poster of the movie “Mary Kom” stuck on my study table for the times I felt low and this picture definitely pulled me out of the lows, every single time.
A plethora of thoughts still jostle my mind as I write this piece. But I will stop here and will be available on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have given IRS (IT) as my first preference and am hopeful of getting it. Once again I am deeply indebted to “insightsonindia” for all their help. It always felt that someone is working much harder than me for my success.