IAS Success Stories of winning candidates
Deepak Tayal, IAS Topper 1993 (3rd Rank)
The first and the foremost step to achieve success in the Civil Services Examination is to aim high and have a belief in oneself. Once that is done, one is prepared to give it a go. The first step involves a suitable choice of the Optional subject for the Preliminary Examination and the Mains.
I think that the choice subject be based on interest and comfort level rather than how scoring they are. One should rather than how scoring they are. One should have a natural inclination and aptitude towards these subjects. It always helps if the choice of Optionals for the prelims is one of the subjects chosen for the Mains.
After this, it depends on the Particular individual as to what he feels about the method best suited to him and his instincts. But in general preparation can be broadly classified as long-term or short time depending on the available time for preparation.
For a long term, one should begin with one of the Optional for the Mains and try to finish as much as possible until about 15 days to 2 months depending on the comfort level for the Optional chosen for Prelims and whether one began with the same subject or not. This should be followed by preparation for the prelims. In the prelims, there is no need to give undue emphasis to the General Studies and to waste time in order to attempt to cover everything. A quick study of different areas of the General Studies is enough if one has prepared thoroughly for the Optional in which attempt should be made to score more than 225 marks.
Preparation for Mains should begin soon after the Prelims is over and one should not waste time waiting for the Interview. Here again the major thrust should be on preparing for optional subject more thoroughly and give them more time. The preparation for General Studies can be highly selective and one can easily see that there is a similar pattern in the questions asked in different years. Of course, there is no feels that there is a lot of available time. On the other hand, if one is following short-term preparation either because of lack of time available for studies or because he feels more comfortable with it, there are some suggestions for books from my side, based on what I did. For History & Indian Polity, selected portions of Unique's Guide and for Current Affairs, Economy & Science and Technology, Spectrum's current affairs are good enough to score more than 325 marks if one has the ability to grasp them quickly. It helps if one has read magazines and newspapers regularly but if he is unable to do so, there is no cause for panic and one can do without them.
A major part of the preparation should go towards the Optional. The most important thing to know about the Interview is that it is not a question-answer session and what they are looking out for is different aspects of one's personality. As far as possible, the answer given should reveal a particular aspect of one's personality and attempts should not be made to present a make-up appearance or politically correct answers. There is no harm in taking extreme views if one is able to justify them.
One need not get carried away by the flood of books and coaching institute. If one feels that he is confident enough to take his own, he can do without them. Most of the questions asked in the Interview are opinion-based. For such questions, it always helps if one already such questions. It always helps if one already has some views on the issue and he can present them spontaneously. If it is a relatively new issue, the best approach is to think there and also to be seen thinking. If the candidate seems to be applying his mind in an effort towards reaching the solution, it is the best thing that can happen in an Interview.
For the knowledge-based questions, the presentation of the answer becomes more important. One should not make himself appear as having crammed be presented in a conversational manner. There is no need to panic for the Interview and even I don't know, Sir should be said with confidence and cheerfulness. One is not expected to know everything under the sun. Finally, whatever the stage might be, one has to have faith and confidence in himself. An individual should be the best judge of what he thinks as the best way to prepare. He should not follow the crowd if it doesn't suit his instinct. Once that happens, he is bound to success and excel.