It was always a majestic dream since childhood. Was not fully aware of the nitty gritty of the exam during my school days, but nevertheless was inexorably drawn towards the charm of bureaucracy.
With age and the increasing availability of internet, I slowly learned the various dimensions of this field and by early 2011(the year i joined college) had firmly made up my mind about taking Civil Services as soon as possible.
Disillusionment with Chemical Engineering in college served as an appetizer for taking this exam right after graduation in 2015; so was preparing since December 2014 (final semester in college).
I never really became an “engineer” in the true sense of the word. But then again, I had chosen Chemical Engineering back in 2011 NOT because of passion, but because of lack of better options. And the entire culture of rote-learning in college did not help retain my confidence in a career in engineering.
By final year, when I HAD to take a call on my career, I decided not to waste time on jobs or degrees which did not really enthuse me. I was more concerned with my own priorities, and Civil Service was high up in that list ever since my school days.
Formal preparation began in December 2014, roughly 8 months prior to Prelims in August 2015. However, studies were hampered quite badly during March-April-May 2015 due to the formalities which had to be completed in the final semester in college.
However, I must state that I had been blogging and doing freelance writing on a professional basis since 2011. My experience in this field gave a massive impetus to my CS aspirations, as it instilled in me the confidence to clear this exam in the very 1st attempt.
To an extent, YES. But NO formal importance is attached to anyone’s educational background at any stage of the exam. However, it is your education that makes you who you are and in that sense it plays a very subtle role in success. Without strong character and mind (both of which are built by education), it is difficult to withstand the rigour of UPSC.
I was a very undisciplined kid in college. Despite my career ambitions w.r.t UPSC, I had lost the ability to work hard with determination following two successive failures in IIT-JEE in 2010 and 2011. So, getting the discipline back into my life was a very important part of the preparation process.
The first 6 months of the prep was done while I was still in college. But since I rarely ever attended college in the final semester (Thank You JU), I had loads of time for the prep.
I did not have any time bound daily routine, since that sort of a thing always hindered by efficiency.
However, I used to make weekly (and at times daily) targets w.r.t. covering certain topics in the syllabus and tried to adhere to those as much as possible. This is very important, as otherwise there is always a chance of getting lost in the gigantic syllabus.
Inspite of focussing on things like “routine” and “number of hours of study” I was more concerned about being disciplined in the long run. If I had planned to read/write something on a particular day, then I would stick to it at all costs.
Perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of preparation for those who are very serious about clearing this exam is answer writing. The saying goes like this – “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle”. Answer writing must be practised with a no-nonsense approach, because it is the ONLY thing that is TOTALLY under our control in this uncertain UPSC journey.
I had taken both GS and Political Science Test Series and took both very seriously in the last two months before Mains.
Practising as many MCQs as possible after covering the syllabus. In UPSC Prelims, hardly 30% of the questions have direct answers. The rest involve calculated guesses. Accuracy MUST be improved while solving such MCQs, and this can only achieved when one has a high degree of familiarity with the format.
The present Mains syllabus and format is quite an improvement from the one UPSC used to have 10 or 20 years back. But I still feel that the optional subjects should be scrapped altogether and some alternative addition be made to an ALL-GS syllabus for the Mains exam. This can make it a level playing field.
I am introvert by nature, and had no issues in preparing for UPSC all by myself. It is difficult to find companions for an exam like this, especially here in Bengal. However, I had invaluable support from my parents and some of my relatives throughout the journey.
The best chance of clearing UPSC for any aspirant is when he is no longer afraid of failure. I had failed so many times in the last 6 years, that I did not fear it anymore. That said, the whole structure of Civil Service examination must appeal to you like nothing else. Only then can you entertain strong chances of getting into the Indian bureaucracy.
Thank you very much Mr Chatterjee for conversing with us. We wish you all the best for your career in civil services
Interview of UPSC Topper in CSE 2014-5: Kantesh Kumar Mishra, AIR 103, Indian Police Service [IPS].
We caught up with Mr Kantesh Kumar Mishra, a couple of days after the Results of the elite Civil Services were declared on 04 July 2015. He was an instant celebrity with an All India Rank of 103 - that too from Kolkata - considered to be a dungeon for preparing towards Civil Services Examination.
He was receiving innumerable phone calls and was hardly able to toy around with his two mobile phones. Finally he had to switch off the phones to talk to us.
An exceptionally hard working and down-to-earth individual, yet sharp and knowledgeable. Below is an excerpt of his rendezvous with us.
A career as Civil servant brings immense social clout along with authority to bring about social change. Salary after 6th pay is quite attractive and job security is also there. Personally I feel it is the “Real Service “
I opted for History as my optional as it has relevance to the General studies paper especially GS1. History is also very interesting as it motivates when we learn about various Historical Personalities; their rise and fall. Most importantly guidance was readily available for the subject.
Not Quite. There are people from IITs and IIMs and other top universities competing with graduates from lesser known universities. The level of exam is such that anyone could compete. However, the ability to interact and extroversion which is nurtured in elite institutions sometimes help in Personality Test.
Studying consistently for 4 hours daily is important. Working professionals should try to complete their work in time and stop gossiping at workplace. They should minimize socialising and strictly maintain time table.
Answer writing comes through lot of practice. Simple and crisp language can fetch marks. Aspirants can develop their own style. Answer must be written within the given word limit. It is always better to complete the paper. Quality and quantity should be balanced while strictly adhering to time management.
Yes, of course. Answer writing is must for qualifying mains with high score. I joined the test series in Trademark IAS which helped me in improving my writing style. The feedback after test helped in course correction.
With the new change major focus should be on core subjects like history, ecology, polity, geography and economy. Candidates should practice a number of Mcqs and improve their strike rate. Wild guesses should be avoided.
The new syllabus of mains since 2013 has fundamentally changed the approach towards CSE preparation. Preparation time has been shortened. This new shift is in tandem with changing realities within which modern administrative machinery works. A lot of emphasis is being laid on current affairs which require through reading of newspapers and journals.
I have got support of many friends. Shekhar Bhaiya has been a constant source of motivation. Kaishav Trehan helped me in revising many topics. Indira ma’am too acted as mentor. So, all these people made my journey look simpler.
Preparing for CSE is a life time experience. It changes the attitude towards life . I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to live the journey of preparation for what my friend call’ Mother of All Exams’.
Thank You Mr. Kantesh Mishra for sparing some precious moments from your busy schedule - We again congratulate you & wish you get your desired service and cadre.
Interview with UPSC Qualifier - Subham Sundar Ghosh, UPSC 2013-14, Pondicherry Police Service [PPS]
In his trademark style of speaking in a succinct manner and writing in a crispy mode, yet remaining incisive and fundamental,
Mr Ghosh unveils it all, in this exclusive with TrademarkIAS.
Though I think with the introduction of CSAT, students from science background get an upper-hand in prelims, students from humanities get some advantage in mains (especially in essay & Ethics paper).
To sum it up, I think the exam in its entirety evens out.
As I was working in 2nd shift (2-11 PM), I had to study late at night. Though people have gone on to become IPS while working in IT sector, I feel working in public sector offers you a better prospect for this exam.
In my opinion, civil service is the only examination apart from MBA exams which brings candidates from different streams together on a single plane. A civil services aspirant, in the process of his/her preparation comes across a number of subjects - some of which might be completely unknown at the beginning.
This challenge of doing justice to the vast expanse of the syllabus, the amount of determination, patience and focus involved in the preparation process as well as the immense amount of honour/prestige associated with the Civil Services made me choose it as a career option.
I had first decided upon History as it is a must for General Studies and it would have given me an edge in Essay. I always loved History as a subject in my school days.
I squabbled a lot with the 2nd optional – Sociology, Mathematics and Public Administration.
Finally, I zeroed upon Political Science. Reasons were twin fold – the International relations section and Constitution/Polity in Political Science would have helped me in General Studies - as the syllabi are almost same.
And more importantly, I found an inextricable link between History and Political science.
There was no turning back thereafter – I loved both the subjects.
From July-2009, when I became serious about the exam, I followed a strict routine. I woke up at 4:30 AM every day and studied from 5 to 7:30 AM - thereafter left for office.
Apart from my assigned work, I used to read voraciously over the net whenever I found short breaks at office – made e-notes. I usually never reached home before 10/10:30 PM. So just slept after I came back home from office.
Apart from this, to get rid of the fear of exams and get back into the writing habit [which I lost after college], I sat for numerous exams ranging from WBCS, TISS, MAT, JNU, IGNOU etc.
So, I always relied upon the simple style of a small introduction [containing the essence of the answer], the main body in point format with small explanations [and maps if applicable], followed by an un-biased conclusion.