Rank-65, CSE -2016
It always seems impossible until it is done –Nelson Mandela
Educational Qualification : B Sc. Physics(H) and M Sc. Physics from St. Stephens College , Delhi University.
Hometown : Jammu
My journey for Civil Services started 3 years ago in 2014 after I finished my post graduation. In fact, all throughout my college days , I had not given any serious thought about Civil Services. I was more bent towards either research or MBA. I was extremely confused, very under confident and somewhat reluctant to even start the preparation for the Civil Services Exam. But nevertheless, the keeda of Civil Services had gotten into my brain and once I made the decision, I didn’t look back. And I am glad I didn’t . The whole preparation for this exam is truly enriching. An aspirant is exposed to so many frontiers that he might not have experienced before. In my opinion, It is extremely difficult to get bored while preparing for this exam. There are endless topics, multiple subjects, huge amount of material available (both online and offline) and of course the dynamic Current Affairs. All in all, if one is willing, one can truly enjoy the preparation.
Also, I think that the preparation for prelims and mains must go simultaneously, since the aspirant will be pressed for time for their mains preparation after the prelims.
Revision , that too multiple times is the key for prelims. I had revised at least 6-7 times before my prelims and was thus able to qualify prelims in both my attempts with a considerable margin. I got 137 this time. I had also maintained a separate notebook where I had written a few facts that i revised a day before the prelims exam. Apart from reading newspapers and following current affairs through Vision Monthly Current Affairs magazines and insightsonindia, read the standard books that everyone reads for prelims. The list :
History : NCERTs (11th ,12th ,6th ), Spectrum , Bipin Chandra(only read twice, no notes)
Art and Culture : Nitin Singhania, Vajiram notes
Science and Technology : NCERTs(6th to 10th ), Vajiram notes, Vision CA material
Geography : NCERTs(11th , 12th), GC Leong, Atlas(orient) , Vajiram notes,
Environment : Shankar , Vajiram notes, Vision CA material
Polity : Laxshminath , Vajiram notes
Economics : Vajiram notes, Sriram economics book, Vajiram economics books, vision CA material
Another thing that we can do is practice solving mock tests from various coaching institutes like Insights, visionias etc.
This preparation is the most exhaustive among the three 3 stages. It is here where Insightsonindia helped me a lot. I was a follower of the Secure Initiative , Weekly Essay Challenge as well as the online mains test series. I followed the secure questions almost everyday. I would write 2-3 answers everyday , especially the ethics question(which I never missed) . I made my notes on evernote and the important ones in a separate notebook . ( but I must concede that I didn’t post my answers every day as I was mostly unsure of the quality of my answers and therefore hesitant. But if i had to take the exam again this time, I would have definitely posted more answers as many times the feedback one receives is very useful.)
The most impressive thing about following this initiative is that you come across different approaches and perspectives to the same question. Moreover, It helps one to get over the fear of writing. Online test series was also helpful as it helped me create a whole question bank .
Since my marks in optional are not that great, I shall only focus on General studies.
For the current affairs , I followed two newspapers – Hindu and Indian Express , Vision Ias current affairs, Insights compilations, Mrunal, Forumias, Google ,etc. I maintained some short notes for different subjects on evernote . Further, for short topics like Security, Disaster management ,etc , I noted down a few keywords that I revised before the exam.
Revision is the key here as well , so one must maintain their notes in a format where one can revise in the week before the exam. So, making the synopsis of what you find important may help a great deal. I wasn’t much diligent in doing so and therefore did face some difficulty in the revision.
Another thing that I will add is that the number of hours you study in a day doesn’t matter as much as the concentration span. So, I did take a lot of breaks, did some yoga,etc. Maintaining your mental and physical health must remain one of your top priorities.
Apart from that, Patience and perseverance is crucial to success in this exam . One is likely to feel low and dejected at times. I did too , but I was lucky enough to have a strong support system in my parents. At our low points, we should always try to remember the real reason we all want to be in civil services. I think that will motivate us to strive further and further.
My interview was on 23rd March(interviews began on 20th march) , so I didn’t have much time to prepare for the interview. In the 3 odd weeks of my preparation, I attended a few mocks at Samkalp and Vajiram. This was helpful as it helped me get rid of the fear of facing a board of extremely well read panellists. Also, They gave me useful feedback like that of maintaining eye contact, etc. In fact, one of the questions asked in a Samkalp Mock was asked in my actual interview as well.
The most important part of your interview preparation should be your DAF, your home state , your district , your graduation subject , your hobbies, your work experience, etc. Prepare these well and infact make a few model answers for some most probable questions that could be asked in the interview. Apart from that, I brushed up on my current affairs (read 3 newspapers, vision ias current affairs material , google). Couple of pointers:
- Know special significance( if any) of the day your interview is held.
- During the interview, be as honest as possible. Don’t try to conceal much because you know that these panellists are very experienced and will most probably dig up the truth anyways.
- Keep calm before and during the interview.( I guess , i don’t need to tell that, but this is crucial.)Do read the day’s newspaper. You may interact with the fellow aspirants to soothe your nerves.
4. Smile big!!!
This exam , no doubt requires a lot of hard work from your end, but luck too plays a role. So, don’t get disheartened after a failed attempt . Try again and Try harder. A lot of successful candidates recommend smart work. I honestly don’t know what that is. I ,in fact, tried a lot of things and stuck on to the things that worked. It took time , but I believe it was worth it. All the best to you guys for this exam and every exam/test that you may face in life.