Abhishek Jain Topper – Civil Services Examination 2018 (111th Rank)
Firm will – power, intelligent time – management and concentrated deep study are the secrets of my success.
“Pratiyogita Darpan” arranged an exclusive interview with Shri Abhishek Jain who has been selected in Civil Services Examination 2018, conducted by UPSC. He deserves high admiration and our heartiest congratulations on his glorious achievement. This important, thought-provoking and highly inspiring interview is being presented here in its original form.
PD—Achieving top slot in the coveted Civil Services Examination is no small feat; accept our heartiest congratulations on your splendid success.
Shri Abhishek—Thanks a lot for the warm wishes
PD—In how many attempts have you achieved this success ?
Shri Abhishek—This was my 1st attempt.
PD—What was your optional subject ?
Shri Abhishek—Optional Subject : Commerce & Accountancy
PD—While making final choice for optional subject, what’s important and what’s not ?
Shri Abhishek—I believe that your interest in the subject is of paramount importance as you have to spend a considerable time with it.
PD—Give the basis of selecting the optional subject ?
Shri Abhishek—I have done B.Com. (hons.) from Delhi University. Thus commerce optional was a natural choice for me since I had covered a significant part of the syllabus in my graduation itself.
PD— ‘Success is sweet’ were you confident of your success with top ranks and how did you react to this news ?
Shri Abhishek—UPSC is rightly called—“Unpredictable service com-mission”. Thus one can never be fully sure of getting a good rank. I was prepared for the result to go either way. But yes, seeing my name in the holy pdf was the happiest moment in my life. I ran downstairs to tell the good news to my mother. Phone calls and messages started flooding my phone. In the end all the hardwork had been worth it…
PD—Today, IAS Toppers are icons and lots of media coverage makes them popular. Before your success, what was your opinion about these toppers ?
Shri Abhishek—During my college days I spent a considerable amount of time watching toppers’ videos and reading their blogs. Let me tell you honestly, it did help me a lot in deciding my strategy. I particularly followed Gaurav Aggarwal Sir’s (AIR 1 CSE 2013). For answer writing, I went through the answer sheets shared by Anudeep Durishetty sir (AIR 1 CSE 2017).
PD—Can you recall the exact moment when you realized the importance of Civil Services ?
Shri Abhishek—My grandfather is a retired government officer. He has worked with several civil servants during his career and used to tell me how they took several important decisions concerning the welfare of the people. These stories made me realise the importance of civil services.
PD—Finally, at what point of time did you make up your mind to make career in ‘Civil Services’ ?
Shri Abhishek—During the 1st year of my college, I had made up my mind to pursue civil services as a career.
PD—Was CSE your planned decision or your parents’ wish ?
Shri Abhishek—My parents have always been supportive of my decisions and they never tried to impose their ‘wishes’ on me particularly in the choice of career. This was my own decision and my family gave me full support.
PD—Did you keep in mind some time-frame for the examination preparation and number of attempts ?
Shri Abhishek—I never gave a thought to the number of attempts available etc. For me, I had to give my best in my 1st attempt itself. This kept me motivated and is one of the reasons for my success.
PD—‘Time Management’ is a key factor. How did you manage things ?
Shri Abhishek—Someone has rightly said—“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst”. The importance of time management cannot be stressed enough. Thus I made a time-table and followed it rigorously. Apart from it, I had listed out date wise targets for myself which I tried to complete at any cost.
PD—The first step is the most difficult; from where did you get the right advice ?
Shri Abhishek—As I said earlier, during my college days, I had read lots and lots of toppers’ articles and watched their videos on youtube. That helped me to formulate my strategy. But one should not follow all the toppers’ advices blindly. Everyone is unique and therefore they are bound to be at least some differences in each one’s strategy. Thus select the advice which suits your own study style, develop a strategy and follow it religiously.
PD—What was your approach towards Paper-I (General Studies) and Paper-II (Aptitude Test) during Preliminary Examination preparation ?
Shri Abhishek—For GS Paper I (General Studies) : I read the previous years’ question papers to apprise myself of the way UPSC asks the questions. Apart from it, I read newspapers daily which came in really handy during the exam. GS 1 is increasingly becoming unpredictable and difficult. Thus, one needs sufficient knowledge of both static and current affairs to face well in the exam. I also joined a test series and worked on my mistakes continuously.
For GS Paper-II (Aptitude Test) : It is only qualifying in nature. So I solved some previous years’ papers just to get a general idea.
PD—How did you manage to tackle the ‘Negative Marking’ in Prelims?
Shri Abhishek—Everyone has a different approach regarding this. Since the negative marking is only one third, I preferred to attempt atleast 85-90 questions which peaked my score. This actually comes with practicing mock test papers. For some students, scores usually peak at 70-80 questions because their accuracy level is very high. But for me, it was the other way round.
PD—What shift did you adopt in your strategy for Main Examination (Written) ?
Shri Abhishek—For mains I dedicated my efforts tremendously towards answer writing and my optional. I believe that these 2 are the keys to score high in mains.
PD—Was there any special effort for effective preparation for Essay Paper ?
Shri Abhishek—Essay paper is of 250 marks ! So no one should take it lightly. I made a list of 25 important topics and collected data, quotes and points regarding them. Besides I practiced writing one essay every week.
Topic I. Alternate technologies for a climate resilient India.
Topic II. Customary morality cannot be a guide to modern life.
PD—How did you prepare yourself for Interview (Personality Test) ? When and which Board did you face ?
Shri Abhishek—UPSC interview is quite different from the traditional interviews in the corporates. Here the panel won’t test your knowledge. They are looking for certain qualities that make you fit to be a civil servant. Hence, I prepared my DAF very well and formed opinions on important issues in such a way that they reflected my value system. Just be confident and give your answers with utmost integrity & honesty. You will rock the day !
PD—Were you preparing for other career opportunities as well while preparing for your ultimate goal i.e., Career in Civil Services ?
Shri Abhishek—No. I believe civil services exam demands complete focus and dedication on one’s part. Thus I focused on CSE only.
PD—While the changing economic environment offers immense lucrative career opportunities in various sectors, still what kept you motivated towards Civil Services ?
Shri Abhishek—You see, the diverse scope and the huge scale at which a civil servant works is unparalleled. The satisfaction that I would get by contributing towards India’s growth story kept me motivated throughout my journey.
PD—In your opinion at which Educational Level should one start preparing for Civil Services and what should be the minimum period of time required to prepare for Civil Services Examinations ?
Shri Abhishek—I am just a graduate. And the criterion for giving UPSC exam is just that…
PD—What is the importance of medium of examination for exams like CSE ?
Shri Abhishek—I believe that more than the medium of communication, what matters more is the way you communicate your point to the examiner. As regards the medium, I don’t think that it is much of a problem for a dedicated candidate.
PD—Does the educational, financial and demographic status of the family of an aspirant have any impact on the preparation ?
Shri Abhishek—It might have. But in today’s times there has been a complete democratization of content as it is freely available online. One can find any study material on the internet. Thus the impact of the above mentioned factors, in my humble opinion, is indeed declining.
PD—To whom would you like to give the credit for your success ?
Shri Abhishek—I believe that my family deserves the most credit for my success. They have always stood by me during my ups and downs and have kept me motivated.
PD—Any suggestion/advice you would like to give to the future aspirants.
Shri Abhishek—“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome”. UPSC is a long and arduous exam. There are bound to be good and bad phases during this process. But the need is to enjoy this journey and learn from your mistakes at each step. Hard work and dedication have no substitutes. But by complementing them with a smart strategy which is aligned with demands of the exam is the best way forward.
In the end, UPSC is another exam after all. It is not the end of the world. Thus it should be treated that way so as to avoid undue stress which negatively affects your performance.
PD—Thank you very much and wishing you all the best for your future endeavours.