Laxman Tiwari : Topper – Civil Services Examination, 2018 (176th Rank)
Laxman Tiwari : Topper – Civil Services Examination, 2018 (176th Rank)
Absolute belief in my dreams and concentrated efforts are the secrets of my success.
“Pratiyogita Darpan” arranged an exclusive interview with Shri Laxman Tiwari who has been selected in Civil Services Examination, 2018, conducted by UPSC. He deserves high admiration and our heartiest congratulations on his glorious success. This important, thought-provoking and highly inspiring interview is being presented here in its original form.
PD—Achieving top slot in the CS Examination is no small feat; accept our heartiest congratulations on your splendid success.
Shri Laxman—Thank you very much.
PD—Were you confident of your success in this examination and how did you react to this news?
Shri Laxman—The nature of exam. is such that no one could be confident of getting success. But I had immense belief in my endeavor. I was expecting something better, but yes, I enjoyed the moment.
PD—What preferences in services have you opted for and any particular reason for that priority?
Shri Laxman—IAS was my 1st preference but I got IPS. IAS and IPS both are very dynamic services which provide a lot of opportunities to make an impact on society.
PD—What was your optional subject?
Shri Laxman—My optional subject was Political Science & International Relations.
PD—In how many attempts have you achieved this success?
Shri Laxman—This was my 1st attempt and I cleared it at the age of 21.
PD—You must have read IAS toppers’ interviews in newspapers/ magazines; what inspired you the most? Any particular success story which influenced your journey to this result?
Shri Laxman—This journey is like a whirlwind where ups and downs keep coming. When you are low, reading toppers’ inspiring stories help a lot. Despite facing numerous failures at this exam., Anudeep Durishetty (Rank 1, CSE 2017) remained consistent throughout his journey and this was a real inspiring story.
PD—What was your approach towards Paper I (General Studies) and Paper-II (Aptitude Test) during Prelims preparation? How long time and how much effort did you divide for each?
Shri Laxman—GS-1 Since merit list is determined on the basis of marks achieved in this paper, it becomes obvious to give more time to this paper. Here one needs conceptual clarity to make through the hurdles of prelims. So I gave around 2 months specifically and 90% of my efforts went to it.
CSAT—It’s a qualifying paper. So I gave 3 hrs. on every Sunday in the last month before exam.
PD—How did you manage to tackle the ‘Negative Marking’ in Prelims?
Shri Laxman—I attempted 98 questions and used The Resolutive-Compositive approach to tackle the negative marking. I used to attempt as many questions as I could because it is natural to get around 16-17 questions wrong. So this approach says that one should attempt at least 90 questions.
PD—The first step is the most difficult; how to prepare? Which optional subjects to pick up? What to read? How much to read? Many such questions come to your mind when you really get serious about Civil Services Examination? From where did you get the right advice?
Shri Laxman—These questions are really a nightmare for a beginner. So one can take the help of teachers, selected candidates, etc. to resolve these concerns. As far as choosing optional is concerned, one should look for interest in the subject, over-lapping with GS, etc. And some serious questions about preparation can be resolved just by using google as there is a galaxy of advices from toppers.
PD—While making final choice for optional subject, what’s important and what’s not?
Shri Laxman—One can look for interest in the subject matter, overlap with GS and availability of material. One must not go by conventional wisdom and do one’s own research and evaluate one’s own interest.
PD—What strategy did you adopt in your Mains (Written)?
Shri Laxman—This is the real exam that determines rank, service and cadre. So I focused mainly on current affairs portion which consists 90% of the question paper and supplemented it with my static knowledge. Questions are very dynamic and one has to write around 4000 words in just 3 hours in a highly pressurized environment. To deal with this, I did incessant writing practice.
PD—Was there any special effort for effective preparation for Essay Paper? Which topic did you pick up and why did you choose this particular topic?
Shri Laxman—I made some notes of quotes and amusing real stories. In section A, I chose the essay on Poverty and prosperity and in section B it was Interlink between Customary morality and modern society.
PD—‘Time Management’ is a key factor while making preparations as well as in writing examination papers, be it Prelims or Main Examination. How did you manage things?
Shri Laxman—Yes absolutely, correct time-management is key to clear any exam. Especially in UPSC, the stakes are very high and there is a lot of study material to sift through. I made a weekly routine with pragmatic goals and tried to stick to it. If one breaks down the syllabus into small parts and then approaches each part, it becomes easier to manage. Hence, making routine is mandatory.
PD—How did you prepare yourself for the Interview ? When and which Board did you face? How did your interview go on, how long time did it last and what were the questions asked during the Interview?
Shri Laxman—I prepared by giving mock interviews. It refines your answers, body language and reduces nervousness. I prepared probable questions from my DAF (Detailed Application Form) and current affairs. I also talked to a number of people who had faced interviews previously and sought their wisdom about the personality test. I followed the KISS formula KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE.
B.S. Bassi Sir was the Chairman of my board that I faced. It lasted around 35 minutes. Most of the questions were from my DAF and International relations. Some questions were very tricky which intended to test the presence of mind. The Board was very keen to know my opinion on issues of national/international importance as I was the youngest candidate to be interviewed by the board this year.
PD—Were you preparing for other career opportunities as well while preparing for your ultimate goal i.e., Career in Civil Services?
Shri Laxman—I gave only one competitive exam i.e., Civil Services Exam.
PD—While the changing economic environment offers immense lucrative career opportunities in various sectors, still what kept you motivated towards Civil Services?
Shri Laxman—It’s not a job, it’s a service to the society and nation as a whole.
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 Laxman—Well, it depends from person to person. It generally takes 2 to 3 years for an average student.
PD—What is the importance of medium of examination for exams like CSE?
Shri Laxman—What matters is the content of your answer, not the medium. One can choose any language of the 8th Schedule and write the exam. Make sure your content is the best. The UPSC is not biased towards any particular language.
PD—Did you keep in mind some time-frame for the examination preparation and number of attempts?
Shri Laxman—Yes, everyone does. I would have exhausted all my attempts until I would have succeeded.
PD—Was CSE your planned decision or your parents’ wish?
Shri Laxman—It was a planned decision of a very long journey.
PD—Does the educational, financial and demographic status of the family of an aspirant have any impact on the preparation?
Shri Laxman—Not as such. I have met candidates who come from a very humble background and still they are the best among the aspirants.
PD—In your opinion what role do the Competition Magazines play when you are preparing for an examination like Civil Services?
Shri Laxman—Those Magazines, which are exam-oriented, help candidates getting an edge over others by having deep insights about the happenings in India and the world. And the PD covers some issues very comprehensively and exhaustively.
PD—How do you find Pratiyogita Darpan? Do you find it close to your expectations?
Shri Laxman—Magazine’s material is relevant for this examination. It offers a condensed view of all important things, especially current affairs.
PD—Did you refer to Pratiyogita Darpan—Year Book?
Shri Laxman—Yes, it’s really good for the examination.
PD—What is the secret of your success?
Shri Laxman—It’s a combination of sacrifice, perseverance, hard work and absolute belief in my dreams.
PD—To whom would you like to give the credit for your success?
Shri Laxman—Parents, Friends and Myself. In that order.
PD—Any suggestion/advice you would like to give to the future aspirants.
Shri Laxman—Believe in yourself. Don’t get bogged down by myth mongers. Have a strong reason as to why you want to join civil services. Be consistent. Don’t be relentless. Your persistent carelessness may lead to consistent failure.
PD—Thank you very much and wishing you all the best for your future endeavors.