Deepak Kumar, AIR 415, 2012
CSC : What were the basic mantras of your success?
Deepak: Consistent hard work in the right direction and self-belief.
CSC : What were your strategies for the lengthy syllabus of General Studies for both Prelims and Mains?
Deepak: General studies need more time than optionals and also it should be the starting point of one’s preparation. I relied on NCERT books, Hindu (newspaper) and internet (websites of Ministries, Wikipedia, etc) to cover the GS.
CSC : What should be the basis of selecting optionals?
Deepak: Your comfort with the subject that you will be able to complete it, certain degree of interest, availability of good study material or teachers. It also helps if you have a background in the subject. Aptitude for the subject is a must.
CSC : How did you plan your optional strategy?
Deepak: I had Public Administration and Pali as my optionals. For Pub Ad I relied on the guidance provided by Mishra Sir (Chronicle) in terms of approach and study material. I gave several mock tests to improve answer writing part of it. For Pali, it was Prasad Sir’s guidance that helped me.
CSC: Did you follow the myth that only so called popular optionals should be opted?
Deepak: Popular optionals help you in one way that you easily get good study material for it. Since one of my subjects is Pub Ad so you can say that to a certain extent I did go for popular optional. I think choosing optionals is the single most important thing that decides your selection. So, one should give ample thought and time while choosing optional. If you prepare well all the optionals are equally good.
CSC : What were the sources of information for general reading? How did you come to know that which sources of reading materials are standard?
Deepak: For general reading I followed The Hindu, Yojana and internet. I came to know about all these through my teachers and friends.
CSC : Tell us something about preparation of essay paper.
Deepak: No specific preparation for essay. It is part of your overall preparation. One should write a few essays at home before writing it in exam.
CSC : How much time one should devote for PT /Mains etc.
Deepak: I think preparation should start one year prior to the prelims.
CSC : How did you manage your time in both prelims and mains examinations?
Deepak: Appearing for mock tests is one good way of learning how to manage the time during the exam. I joined Chronicle’s test series both for prelims and mains.
CSC : Which is the most difficult part of this exam and why? What was your strategy to tackle this difficult part?
Deepak: Mains is certainly the most difficult part of this exam. The 9 papers that too of diversified nature test you very thoroughly. One must have a proper understanding of all the concepts and issues to perform well here. Superficial knowledge or any kind of shortcuts do not work at this stage.
My strategy was to prepare well, have my own thoughts and opinion with respect to a matter, take mock tests for practice and answer to the point.
CSC : Did you integrate your Prelims or Mains preparation or was it separate?
Deepak: It was always integrated. I have the same study material that I go through before all the phases of the exam.
CSC : How helpful are the notes? What is your advice on notes-making?
Deepak: Notes are actually very helpful. I regularly make notes from newspaper and magazines. In Pub Ad also I made notes for case studies and examples that I could use in my answers.
CSC : What are your suggestions for freshers ?
Deepak: Appear in the exam to succeed and be satisfied with nothing less. With right preparation, hard work, intelligence and confidence you can do it.
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?
Deepak: I tried to be very objective in my answer writing, means answer exactly what is being asked in the question. I wrote my answers in paragraphs or in point format according to the question.
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?
Deepak: Since I was in job so monotony or taking a break was not a problem. In fact the problem that I faced was how to give more and more time to the preparation along with the job.
CSC : The trend suggests that professionals are more successful in this exam. Does this exam prove difficult for Humanities and Social Science background candidates?
Deepak: I am not very sure on this but may be professionals know better how to manage their time and what exactly to study. But I do not think it is more difficult for students from humanities background. Most of the professionals and science students appear in the exam with humanities optionals.
CSC : How helpful is one’s background in his/her success?
Deepak: I think background helps you in developing confidence and personality which is very essential in this exam.
CSC : What should be the best strategy to tackle negative marking?
Deepak: In the first attempt, fill answers for those questions where you are almost sure. In the second attempt, you can take some risk in 50-50 type of cases. Do not go for the third attempt while answering.
CSC : How did you prepare for interview?
Deepak: I prepared thoroughly about my bio-data such as native place, education, job, etc. I appeared for some mock interviews which helped me a lot.
CSC : Which type of questions were asked the in interview? Did you answer all?
Deepak: Questions were from variety of areas such as demography and demographic dividend, economic strengths of India, development and India, AFSPA, health problems in India, from computer science, etc. About half of the questions were opinion based and rest half objective. I was able to answer about 70-75% of the total questions.
CSC : Was there any specific area they emphasized upon?
Deepak: Not actually, my interview lasted only 20 min and it went very fast. Neither they nor I was stuck at any question. Either I answered the question or said that I am not aware of it. But you can say development in India was the theme of my interview.
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?
Deepak: I think NCERT books, as many as possible and regular reading of one newspaper.
CSC : What is your advice to the candidates who have failed in this exam?
Deepak: Take some time to find out your mistakes and then work really hard so that you do not make them again. Giving tests before all the three phases of the exam is a must.
CSC : Had you thought of any alternative apart from the Civil Services ?
Deepak: I am working as a Computer Scientist at Adobe systems Noida. So I would have continued with that.
CSC : Can you give your marks details of the final attempt?
Deepak: Marks are yet to come. As soon as they are declared I will share with you.
CSC : Your word for Chronicle IAS Academy?
Deepak: I was associated with Chronicle throughout my preparation. Guidance of Mishra Sir was very helpful. The mock tests for prelims and mains and also the mock interviews were strictly according to the requirement of UPSC. Thank you very much..