Maneesh Gil (RANK-234th)
CSC : What were the basic mantras of your success?
Ans. Hard work, discipline, good guidance and exemplary family support are the pillars of my success.
CSC : What were your strategies for the lengthy syllabus of General Studies for both Prelims and Mains?
Ans. For prelims I went for self preparation as well as a crash course to brush up my knowledge, while for mains, I relied upon making notes, reading newspapers and magazines.
CSC : What should be the basis of selecting optionals?
Ans. Interest in the subject, ability to stick with it and good guidance play key roles in selection of one’s optionals.
CSC : How did you plan your optional strategy?
Ans. It depended on my interests, guidance as well as availability of quality study material.
CSC : Did you follow the myth that only the so called popular optionals should be opted?
Ans. No, I didn’t pay any heed to the myths. I think it is better to opt a subject that one feels interesting rather than something that might be popular but not to your liking.
CSC: What were the sources of information for general reading? How did you come to know that which sources of reading materials are standard?
Ans. The sources included competition magazines like Chronicle, Yojana, Kurukshetra. The material published in these magazines is quite current and topic-oriented. I got to know about these standard books through my teachers and friends.
CSC : Tell us something about preparation of essay paper.
Ans. I did not prepare for essays in isolation. I tried to remain updated with the current happenings and tried to steadily improve upon my knowledge base for use in essays.
CSC : How much time one should devote for PT /Mains etc.
Ans. Ideally one should have around a year’s time for best results. However, if the preparation is quite intense and focused, 6-9 months may also be good enough.
CSC : How did you manage your time in both prelims and mains examinations?
Ans. First I attempted those questions I was more comfortable with, leaving the rest for the later stage. For mains, I attempted 60/30 markers first before moving on to short notes type questions.
CSC : Which is the most difficult part of this exam and why? What was your strategy to tackle this difficult part?
Ans. I found Mains stage to be the most challenging due to the vast syllabus to be covered and the comparatively smaller time gap available between prelims and start of mains exams. I tackled this by relying on my notes and diligent planning.
CSC : Did you integrate your Prelims or Mains preparation or was it separate?
Ans: I went for integrated preparation.
CSC : How helpful are the notes? What is your advice on notes-making?
Ans. Good notes are crucial for fruitful preparation. My advice to the aspirants would be to go for notes writing in their own language after collating data from a few trustworthy sources.
CSC : What are your suggestions for freshers ?
Ans. Remain confident in your abilities and choose your optionals wisely. Be aware of the general issues happening in India and the world.
CSC : What was your style of writing in the exam? How was it distinct from the general writing style? How did you develop this writing style?
Ans. I went for writing the answer in point format for the general studies paper trying to keep the most relevant and important information in the beginning of the answer. I also drew diagrams, flow charts as per the availability of time and nature of the question. I developed this writing style while writing my notes and practicing it in tests.
CSC : Civil Services Exam process is quite strenuous. It requires long hours of constant study. How did you maintain your tempo and what did you do to break the monotony of preparation?
Ans. It is true that the exam process is long and strenuous. As such I made and kept my tempo by studying in short bursts and intervals with rest and leisure sandwiched in between them. Playing games and talking to friends helped me in breaking the monotony.
CSC : The trend suggests that professionals are more successful in this exam. Does this exam prove difficult for Humanities and Social Science background candidates?
Ans. I believe that one can be successful in the exam if one has good grasp and sound understanding of the subjects chosen. Looking at the modifications introduced by UPSC in mains exam, a more level playing ground could appear for candidates from different backgrounds.
CSC : How helpful is one’s background in his/her success?
Ans. It can be helpful in quite a few ways. For some, the background subject may provide a sound optional. For me, my background (engineering/technical) helped me in writing concise and to the point answers.
CSC : What should be the best strategy to tackle negative marking?
Ans. I believe it varies from candidate to candidate. After attempting some sure-shot questions, a person can go for those questions wherein he/she believes that there are high chances (say more than 50%) chances of getting it correct. In other words, it is a matter of taking calculated risk.
CSC : How did you prepare for interview?
Ans. I prepared for interview part by discussing contemporary issues with my friends and family as well as brushing up my optionals. I also took 2-3 mock interviews for its preparation.
CSC : Which type of questions were asked in interview? Did you answer all?
Ans. The questions asked were from various fields, ranging from my bio-data (submitted form), my job experiences, technical background, current issues as well as some opinion- based issues. I couldn’t answer some of the fact based questions.
CSC : Was there any specific area they emphasized upon?
Ans. Yes, there were quite a few opinion based questions on the increasing trend of Titans opting for civil services/administrations rather than going for research work.
CSC : Before getting down to actual preparation, what kind of reading should one do to prepare one’s suitability for this exam? What is the outside reading one should do?
Ans : One should cultivate the habit of reading newspapers on a daily basis and try to form general opinions on the happenings reported therein.
CSC : What is your advice to the candidates who have failed in this exam?
Ans. My advice to aspirants would be to not lose heart and get back to the preparation with renewed vigour. This particular exam is as much a test of endurance as skills and intelligence.
CSC : Had you thought of alternatives apart from the Civil Services ?
Ans: Not really. I was prepared to give one more attempt had I not succeeded this time. Alternatively, I had also appeared in state PCS exams.
CSC : Your word for Chronicle IAS Academy ?
Ans. The academy is doing a commendable job in guiding the aspirants in their path to success. The study material provided is comprehensive and very useful.