August 8th, 2020       IAS Interview

Hello,
I am Ankit Shankar Mishra  and have secured AIR 294 in the civil services examination 2019. This is my fourth attempt and in the earlier attempt I had given the interview but missed the final list by a whisker.I am a Graduate of Mining engineering from NIT Raipur. I have worked in Heidelberg cement India limited for almost a year in 2014-15. I was also selected for Editor post in Arihant publications. I have also been working as a freelancer in a coaching institute for content writing.

Inspiration

I derived inspiration from my father who once appeared for the civil services and kept telling me how challenging it was and how did he manage to  clear prelims but got stuck in mains. It was fascinating to hear his stories so i decided to try it once.Besides  the platform that civil services provides, the power and respect for the difficult works done by bureaucrats had also inspired me.

Book list

The list was followed by me and it can vary accordingly with comfort levels of different candidates.

Static

1) Polity- Lakshmikant ( Gold standard)
2)History ancient- NCERT 11th, Tamil Nadu history book; Modern- NCERT and Spectrum; Culture – Nitin Singhania Specific chapters and NCERT
3) Geography- NCERT 6-12th , GC leong, I had my optional as geography.
3) Environment – 12th NCERT Biology last chapters, some from Shankar IAS
4) Economy- 12th NCERT Macro Economy; Sriram IAS economy
5) Science and Tech- NCERT 9th and 10th.

Current Affairs

One can follow any monthly current affairs magazine and relate with the static part. One can follow any magazine diligently and revise it again and again. The material provided by this institute can be referred.
The book list is not exhaustive and one can modify it as one prepares and understands more.

How important was newspaper reading?
Newspaper is one of the most important part of preparation. It helps you directly and indirectly. You can chose between The Hindu and Indian Express. You can also, if you are interested, go through Asian Age.

Internet vs Hard copy materials

Content is found anywhere whether it is hard copy or internet. Based on the demand levels of a concept or an idea depend on both the hard copy and internet. What I use to do was when studying for current affairs, I used to search for associated content in the material that may not be given. In this way you can make current affairs preparation more holistic.

Strategy for Prelims

General studies-

  • There is no fixed strategy for prelims. But i used to believe exclusively on a utilitarian matrix meaning, I didn’t study medieval India since i believed questions were not asked. But in 2018 and 2019 there were questions so I had to go through medieval India.
  • Practice test papers of whichever institute you may feel like. Practice and revise at least 35-40 papers and gauge your accuracy levels. Don’t get bogged down just because you are scoring low marks in the tests. This would naturally increase once you practice and revise more. One more thing is try to limit your errors in your static portion in prelims.
  • Regarding number of questions, I would do around 80 and score a comfortable position. Here you try to reduce errors and make mistakes not more than 20. The simple mantra would be 3 R ( read, revise, repeat)
    CSAT- i didn’t have to face problem in this as i had a relative confidence in my maths. But to score above the passing marks, practice some papers of csat by any institute. For those who find difficulty in maths try attempting english questions more as compared to maths.

Mains strategy

This is one of the most important part of the exam. One has to score well to get into the list.
GS1- For history and geography what you had done for prelims would suffice, you can read post independence india of some material provided by any institute or your notes. See for any current affairs issues related to this subjects. In 2018 melting of glaciers was in the news, they asked about Cryosphere and impacts on it.

GS2- Keeping aside your static part, go for current affairs topics and issues in the news. Maintain short notes of this and then revise it. Specifically go through syllabus. Maintain notes of every keywords. For International relations read the current affairs materials.

GS3 – one of the most challenging and dynamic part of the syllabus. Economy and agriculture- current affairs of any institute; Disaster management- prepare your own notes by studing from 2nd ARC, current affairs, NDMA guidelines, Sendai Framework. Environment- current affairs; security- prepare notes by reading each topic separately or depend on material provided to you by the institute.

GS4 – read the syllabus and prepare definitions, notes of each word that is given. You should also collect examples of each value to cite in the answers.This justifies your answers more. Try to give contemporary examples. Case studies- there are various ways to write, practice in the test series that you may have been writing or if not write it on your own and practice.
Optionals- The choice of the subjects is very personal and depends on the interest of the candidate on a particular discipline. Choose only those where you are comfortable enough to sudy for more than 3 hours continuously without being tired. It carries a whole of 500 marks and is an important part of mains. One has to score well to get in the list.

Essay

  • There are standard formats to write an essay. Intro- body- conclusion
    Within this you have to capture and write various dimension like social political legal environmental international etc.
  • Besides this what is more important is that you maintain a flow between paragraphs. Practice some essays and get it checked by your peers or teachers. I had my essays checked by my sister( she is an English major)
  • I remember in 2017 essay I din’t have many dimensions but then i maintained a good flow between the paragraphs. I scored 148 which was a good score at that time.
    ( Maintaining a flow means there shouldn’t be jumps between paragraphs, you have to link the last line of the earlier paragraph with the new paragraph)
  • Prepare some quotes and include them in your essay. Don’t rely extensively on quotes. Maintain important quotes in digital form and try to remember it.
  • Like in this year’s essay on Artificial intelligence i had used the quote of Victor Hugo- “No force can stop an idea whose time has come”. I had practiced this in most of my technological essays.
  • Also conclusion should be forward looking and visionary.

Compulsory papers

It is very subjective based on the level of confidence on ones language. What i did was to spend at least an hour after my mains preparation every day. I remember i used to study everyday from 11 pm to 12 midnight.

Answer writing

Believe me this is one of the sacred mantras of success.
Try writing as many as you can. Either join any good test series or write one answer daily.

Time management

  • One of the most difficult aspect in the mains examination. You have to write 20 questions and still maintain quality. It will come through writing practice. Practice as much as you can.
  • Hard work and smart work- to be put simply i still cant differentiate between the two or what are the parameters for this. One thing to note is study should be qualitative instead of quantitative meaning how much hours you are putting into must be of highest quality without disturbance.

Questions asked in the Interview

  1. Budget 2020
  2. Terrorist organisation
  3. Health governance
  4. Tourist spots in my district(Kalahandi)
  5. National waterways
  6. Insurance sector in India
  7. Insurance density and penetration
  8. Insurance regulator
  9. Odisha disaster preparedness
  10. Odisha success in disaster preparedness
  11. Kalahandi
  12. Naxalism
  13. Swabhiman anchal
  14. Kalahandi why so poor

Challenges faced

There would be days of low, frustration and disappointments. Everyone would be facing this. So what is important is how do you manage. Managing these bad days would help you in building your character and test your patience levels.

Factor of motivation

  • My parents who had struggled equally with me
  • My sister who motivated me during my entire journey.she prepared my essay as she was a English major.
  • I had my friends who had either appeared for mains, interviews or were in the list. The urge to get into list with them kept me going.

Feeling after landing in dream job

Relaxed and happy. All the efforts and haed work put into the years paid off.

Credits

  • My Family especially my sister and my grandmother.
  • Friend who supported me in my years of disappointments.
  • IAS GYAN materials and questionnaire
  • Since interview preparation is one of the most coolest phase of UPSC, it may turn out to be directionless. APTI PLUS questionnaire helped in this phase. The current affairs and the questions prepared by the APTI PLUS team were very specific and elaborate. They covered most of the questions from my DAF. I had to maintain a separate notebook for their answers and then prepare them.
  • Also i discussed some of my doubts with founder sir.

Mock interviews
I had given mock interviews with APTI PLUS twice in two years. The board members were very experienced and asked questions from diverse areas and that helped me remove my fear and hesitation.

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