Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Indian Civil Services 2010-11: All India Rank 3rd Dr. Varun Kumar Tips
TIPS for Young Aspirants
1. What was your preparation strategy for the Preliminary?
Set some workable targets and complete it on time. Showing positive results and improvement to oneself on a regular basis is essential to keep up the spirit. Going to the preliminary examinationwith full confidence (even some amount of over confidence) will be beneficial. Preliminary examination can be equated to a puzzle or mind game. Fortune favors the brave.
2. How much time do you think should be devoted by an aspirant to prepare for these exams?
One full year of preparation before the taking the preliminary exam will be ideal in my opinion. On a daily basis it is essential to read at least two national newspapers (3 hours or more in total). Current affairs plays decisive role these days even in optional subjects. On an average, 6-8 hours of 'religious' preparation a day will make anyone a topper.
3. is a very vast section. How did you prepare for it?
I relied on internet, my own current affairs notes and clippings from newspapers and current affairs booklets of Vajiram & Ravi. For the 'conventional' subjects I relied on Tata McGraw Hill GS Manual. Intelligent time management is a very important prerequisite to clear this examination.
4. The new syllabus of preliminary examination has introduced CSAT in place of optional paper. Do you think that it will help in selecting civil servants with right aptitude?
As I told earlier it is not appropriate to question the examinationwhich is framed after several rounds of discussion by a Constitutionally appointed body of learned men. The one who applies for this examination is recruited, selected and recommended by this body. It is inappropriate to think of such things. If the candidates are not having belief in the system it is better to quit the system rather than brooding over the present circumstances.
5. Do you think it will be easier to crack the Prelims by focusing on GS as the weightage for both GS and CSAT is the same?
It would be sensible to prepare equally for both papers. The shortest route between two given points is a straight line. Hence it is better to avoid thinking about short cuts.
6. What is your opinion about self study for prelims?
Since I have taken help from coaching institutes I am not in a position to answer to this question. But I know people who have cleared this exam by self-study. preference matters.
7. What is your advice for candidates who did not do well in prelims?
Be sincere to this system of examination. Preliminary exam is just an exam to 'eliminate' and not to 'select'. If one fails to clear this stage it must be due to inappropriate planning. This exam is a long process and it could be very punishing (loss of age, inability to find a job, peer pressure, societal pressure, your morale also takes a beating) if you do not show good results to yourself. Work with conviction and you will definitely succeed next time. If you feel there is lack of motivation or your heart is somewhere else, I suggest you to quit thisexamination as it demands high level of sincerity and dedication.
1. When did you start preparing for the Mains examination? Was it after the results of Preliminary examination?
I started my Mains exam preparation two days after the preliminary exam. I believed in the adage "Early bird catches the worm". My score in preliminary exam was 'huge' relatively so I was not having even the slightest doubt about writing the mains exam. Candidates should comfortably clear preliminary exam so that they can relieve themselves of any pressure associated with preliminary which is usually expected two months after the prelims.
2. What was the medium of answering the questions? English, Hindi or any other language?
3. What were your optional subjects for the Mains exam?
1st optional – Public Administration. 2nd optional – Sociology.
4. What was the basis for choosing optional subjects for the Mains exam?
Love for the subject. This is the primary criteria for choosing the optional subjects. I had the syllabus in my hand and browsed for the topics mentioned there in the internet and I realized that I had a natural liking for these subjects. After deciding the subjects I looked out for help. I studied PA at Ganesh IAS Academy, Chennai and Sociology at Vajiram & Ravi Institute (Mohapatra Sir).
5. Which books did you refer to for preparing for the Optional Paper-I, II?
I usually don't like to list out the names of the books I read as it will be completely misleading. I bought too many number of books based on an established criteria (please read below); however I never tried to complete any book. I just extracted the good points from particular authors.
Established criteria: I took a of syllabus in a tailor made manner so that there was enough space between each topic. This document is very important as it saves a lot of time for you during revision. The established criteria for buying books is that I will search for a particular topic in 'google books. Some of the pages are available for viewing and I shall buy the book if I like the content, style of writing, font, classification of content. I used to buy them from flipkart or infibeam through "cash on delivery" scheme; whereby I get them at my doorstep without wasting time in searching for the books. Many books which I bought did not exceed Rs.200 each. By doing this there will be variety in the answerswe write. Candidates should also learn to read the books which impress them and reading should be effortless. UPSC has not prescribed any books. So sticking to certain conventions established by coaching institutes is a thoughtless activity.
6. Any tips how to prepare for optional papers and more importantly how to choose them?
I have already answered to this question in questions 4 & 5.
7. What was the Indian Language you chose for the Mains exam?
My mother tongue (Tamil).
8. Even though English and the Indian Language paper are of qualifying nature, they cannot be taken lightly. What is your advice to IAS aspirants? How should one prepare for these papers?
Reading newspapers itself would suffice for both these papers. It is very important to manage time properly in these papers too. Complacency will be punished. It is always better to develop one's personality in an all-round manner. If these two papers were not significant, UPSC would have removed them. One hour per day (in toto) in the last one month of preparation for mains exam is very essential for these papers.
9. The overall score of top scorers in General Studies has been falling down in the past few years. Do you think that there is a need for creative approach while choosing study material, resources, and making strategies for this exam?
The more creative and innovative a candidate is; the better will be the score. But I do not agree with the opinion that overall score of top scorers in GS is falling down. It may be a valid observation but it has least relevance as a candidate of CSE 2010 is competing with another candidate of the same year and not with a top scorer of CSE 2009. There is no need to go into these logics and waste time. Instead it is better to update ourselves as much as possible in current affairs. For the sake of being different and creative candidates should not be reading irrelevant materials and unwanted issues.
10. How did you plan for the General Studies in the mainexamination?
There was no proper plan for GS. That has clearly reflected in my marks. I had scored only 238 and this has obviously pulled down my chance of securing rank 1. My experience should send a strong lesson to all candidates that complacency and laziness will be penalized without any mercy by UPSC. I have learnt my lesson and I shall not be complacent in anything which is part of my work.
11. What was your strategy for the Essay paper?
I attended essay module with Mr. M.R.Abhilash (Vajiram and Ravi). He has done good research into the field of writing essays. His classes helped me a lot. But all of his strategies do not work. Also he teaches it to so many students and if one wants to score impressively he/she should do his/her best to improve upon what Mr.Abhilash teaches in class. Uniqueness will fetch better marks.
12. Any tips that will help IAS aspirants write meaningful essays that fetch maximum marks?
Soon I shall post a video in you tube about the tips involving writing an essay. Candidates can take a look at that video.
13. How important is time management while writing an essay?
Initially, it appears as if we have a lot of time to write one essay. But UPSC has not fixed the time limit without any logic. A lot of planning is required and proper execution in addition to the planning will keep us occupied throughout the exam hours. General Essay was the only paper I completed at the last minute. All the other papers I completed with a comfortable margin of 5 minutes at least. This itself should send across the news that time management is important in all the papers.
14. What is your advice for candidates who did not do well in Main Exam?
Analyze your scores and find out your strong and weak areas. It is easy to point the finger on a coaching institute or UPSC or invigilator or evaluator. But it takes courage and perseverance to point the finger to ourselves. UPSC is a trust worthy body in our governance system. It has a scientific system of evaluation in place. If you had not scored well in a particular area then the mistake should be yours. Kindly examine it and correct it. There is always scope for improvement and I quote my inspiration here. Be child-like as Sachin Tendulkar, always hungry to win and hungry to outperform the others.