IAS Success Stories of winning candidates Dr. Garima Mittal

Interviewer: What were the basic mantras of your success?

Garima Mittal: Faith in myself despite the odds, Focussed hardwork, Strategising and Time management played very vital role.

Interviewer: When should one ideally begin thinking about preparing for this exam?

Garima Mittal: I believe, one should start preparing atleast a year before the first stage of exam, if the optional are different from one's background, else focused study of six months should be fine.

Interviewer: What were your strategies for the lengthy syllabus of General Studies for both Prelims and Mains?

Garima Mittal: For Mains, I tried to have clarity of concepts, interlinking of topics and analysis of current events. This gave me base to write variety of questions. Inclusion of multiple view points including my own helped me enrich the answers.

Interviewer: What were your optionals? What were the basis of selecting these optionals?

Garima Mittal: SOCIOLOGY and PSYCHOLOGY. Coming from medical background, I didn't had academic knowledge about society and its problems. So, I was curious and interested to know about society in general, where Sociology could help me in. Sociology further helps in Essay Paper, GS and Interview. So effort in one subject can be used very efficiently to score marks in others. Psychology is closer to Psychiatry in my background and also interests me.

Interviewer: Tell us something about preparation of essay paper

Garima Mittal: Since marks difference of 30 − 40 marks in essay paper can be decisive in ones receiving an Interview call. Thus, in my Essay writing practice I tried including current events, linkages and analysis from my optional papers and lots of self opinions and innovative solutions to problems demanded by topic.

Interviewer: How did you manage your time in both Prelims and Mains examinations?

Garima Mittal: The exam pattern for next year may replace Prelims for Aptitude Test. Hence, I will elaborate my Mains strategy. My strategy was to give 20 − 25 minutes for 30 marks question, 10 − 12 minutes for 15 marks question and finishing all 2 markers in maximum of 30 minutes. This left me with around ten minutes in end to fill index and check out if any question is missed. For optionals around 30 − 35 minutes for the long answers.

Interviewer: Did you attend any coaching institutes? Were they helpful?

Garima Mittal: I joined Vajiram and Ravi for pre-mains-interview and for Sociology and Psychology, Synchronus IAS-Test series for General Studies, Ramaswamy for Essay classes and Sankalp for Interview only. They were useful in developing basic concepts, understanding the demand of the exam and also in knowing where usually candidates make mistakes, thus in turn helping us not to make those mistakes.

Interviewer: Which is the most difficult part of this exam and why? What was your strategy to tackle this difficult part?

Garima Mittal: I personally believe, the toughest part is to maintain same enthusiasm despite failure in previous attempts. One has to accept the reality as it is and work for future. This is possible through support and guidance of parents, teachers and friends who help in rebuilding faith in ourselves.

Interviewer: Did you integrate your Prelims or Mains preparation or was it separate?

Garima Mittal: After reading any newspaper article or book, I used to pick facts for Prelims, analysis and different point of views for GS Mains, social relevance of topic for Sociology Optional and exploration of self views for Essay. Thus a thorough first reading analysis though consumes time initially, but helps in long run.

Interviewer: 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?

Garima Mittal: I tried to write simple English in short, logically connected sentences. Incorporation of relevant current topics analysis, data to strengthen the arguments, giving multiple point of views and balancing them helped in making my answers different. Diagrams also formed vital part of my answers, specially in both optional.

Interviewer: How did you prepare for interview?

Garima Mittal: I worked on my bio-data in detail, kept track of all the current national and international events. I tried forming concise, logical and self orientated answers for expected questions. Giving mock interviews also helped in getting constructive feedback from them.

Interviewer: Was there any specific area they emphasized upon?

Garima Mittal: I felt that my shift of professions from medical side to administration was highly emphasized in the Board's queries. Gender related questions and my extra curricular activities also dominated my interview.

Interviewer: What is your advice to the candidates?

Garima Mittal: This exam demands lots of hardwork and dedication. With proper strategy, time and anxiety management, the effort we put into this can give us better output. Wherever there is doubt, it is useful to consult standard books or teachers, then believing the hearsay.

Courtesy: Civil Services Chronicle