Sumit Kumar, attained 53rd Rank in his 3rd attempt in Civil Services Examination-2018

“Concentration, deep study and excellent strategy are the secrets of my success.”

-Sumit Kumar

“Pratiyogita Darpan” arranged an exclusive interview with Shri Sumit Kumar who has been selected in Civil Services Examination, 2018, conducted by UPSC. He deserves high admiration and our heartiest congratulations on his outstanding success. 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 Sumit—Thank you.

PD—Medium for writing in the examination.

Shri Sumit—English.

PD—Medium for Personality Test.

Shri Sumit—English

PD—In how many attempts have you achieved this success ?

Shri Sumit—3rd Attempt.

PD—You achieved the desired success in this attempt; how do you visualize your previous attempts ?

Shri Sumit—In every attempt, there was a progress made from previous one.

PD—What was your optional subject ?

Shri Sumit—Anthropology

PD—While making final choice for optional subject, what’s important and what’s not ?

Shri Sumit—Following things are important :

l     Interest in the optional subject which you could read for minimum 2 years (as preparation process takes minimum 2 years of reading barring few exceptions).

l     Good guidance and material available in the market.

l     How small/big is syllabus of the optional subject as revision is the key in this whole preparation process.

l     If optional subject is a scoring one seeing past 2-3 years’ trend.

l     Pattern of the questions asked in the examination (static/dynamic) and your ability to prepare for it.

        Following things are not important  :

l     If your friends are taking a particular optional subject, you should also take it.

PD—What preference in services have you opted for and any particular reason for that priority ?

Shri Sumit—IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS (IT), IAAS, IRS (Customs), IDES.

        Wanted to work for the nation by remaining within the country and hence IFS is 3rd preference.

PD—‘Success is sweet’ were you confident of your success with top ranks and how did you react to this news ?

Shri Sumit—No, I didn’t expect under 100 rank. Generally, nobody does so. You only get to know after you see your name in the pdf file of final results. I called my parents and wept over the phone while informing my rank to them. Those were the tears of happiness.

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 Sumit—Before my success, I felt that the toppers were a guiding light for other aspirants to succeed in this examination as they share their strategy of success with others. I feel the same even now when I am writing my own strategy after success.

        Particular Success Story which influenced me :

        I admired Gaurav Agarwal (Rank 1, CSE 2013) very much as he was a genuine human being and always spoke truth (and not exaggerate) about his preparation process.

PD—Can you recall the exact moment when you realized the importance of Civil Services ?

Shri Sumit—It was in my college days (3rd year i.e., 2012) in IIT Kanpur. The work which civil servants perform (particularly IAS, IPS, IRS officers), throughout their career ignited a spark in me to pursue Civil Services as one of the probable career options.

PD—Finally, at what point of time did you make up your mind to make career in ‘Civil Services’ ?

Shri Sumit—I was placed in PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Private Limited in 2013 after graduating. That job didn’t give me satisfaction to work for private company anymore and I decided to make career in Civil Services.

PD—Was CSE your planned decision or your parents’ wish ?

Shri Sumit—It was a planned decision. However, my father also desired me to become an IAS officer when I cleared IIT JEE after 12th Class in 2009.

PD—Did you keep in mind some time-frame for the examination preparation and number of attempts?

Shri Sumit—Yes. While working in PwC, I saved money for my preparation. At that time, I thought of taking 4 attempts and saved money for those many attempts.

Name—Sumit Kumar

Father’s Name—Shri Sushil Kumar

Mother’s Name—Mrs. Meena Devi

Date of Birth—April 16, 1992

Educational Qualifications

10th—2005-07, CBSE, Guru Govind Singh Public School, Bokaro (92·8%)

12th—2007-09, CBSE, Delhi Public School, Bokaro (91·2%)

B.Tech.—2009-13, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kanpur (9·1/10)


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 Sumit—I managed time through performing the following :

Note Making : I made notes for Mains both for General Studies and Anthropology.

Advantage of Note Making : It helps in quick revision and it reduces your revision time as you do multiple revisions. This way I managed time.

Practice : Be it any stage, Prelims or Mains or Personality Test, practice is the key to clear this exam and manage time.

Group Studies : I found it very useful to manage time as you could discuss about various issues with like-minded sincere aspirants and save a lot of time.

PD—The first step is the most difficult; from where did you get the right advice ?

Shri Sumit—I have been lucky that I had few friends from my college who were preparing for Civil Services Exam right after graduation while I was doing job in a private company. I used to take regular advice from them till I entered preparation process.

PD—What was your approach towards Paper I (General Studies) and Paper II (Aptitude Test) during Preliminary Examination preparation ? How long time and how much effort did you divide for each ?

Shri Sumit—GS Paper I was the main focus area while I solved only previous years’ test papers for CSAT as I was good in aptitude belonging to engineering background.

PD—Was there any change in plan for General Studies Paper II (Aptitude Test) being qualifying in Preliminary Examination ?

Shri Sumit—I got decent marks in GS Paper II as my aptitude is good enough being from engineering back-ground.

PD—What shift did you adopt in your strategy for Main Examination (Written) ?

Shri Sumit—Syllabus of both preliminary and main examination is almost same. The difference lies in pattern of questions being asked in Preliminary and Mains exam.

        No matter what you study, how much you study, the reward of that study will be achieved only if you write good answers. Good answers come after you assimilate the information well. This comes through following things :

(a)   Note Making

(b)   Test Papers (Practice Papers) and its analysis to find your mistakes

(c)    Group Discussions

PD—Was there any special effort for effective preparation for ESSAY Paper ?

Shri Sumit—In CSE Mains 2017, I had practiced around 7-8 tests for essay papers (i.e., total of 14 essays). In year 2018, I hardly practiced anything for essay.

PD—How did you prepare yourself for Interview (Personality Test) ? 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 Sumit—Interview Board: Smt. M. Sathiyavathy Ma’am Board; Date: 26th March, 2019; Duration: 30 minutes. It was a cordial interview with smiling faces of the interview panelists and questions asked were mainly related to my DAF.

PD—Were you preparing for other career opportunities as well while preparing for your ultimate goal i.e., Career in Civil Services ?

Shri Sumit—Yes. In 1st attempt itself (2016), I applied for CAPF exam conducted by UPSC for post of Assistant Commandant who is of DGP rank. I qualified and secured Rank 50. After that, I only prepared for Civil Services Exam.

Personal Qualities
Favourite Person— My family (parents and younger brother).

Strong Point—Hardwork, con-sistency, always have Higher Aspira-tions, Truth, Receptive to Feedback.

Hobbies— Watching TED Talks; Playing Cricket, Badminton.

PD—While the changing economic environment offers immense lucrative career opportunities in various sectors, still what kept you motivated towards Civil Services ?

Shri Sumit—I worked in a private firm, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) Pvt. Ltd., for 2 years. I was working for some shareholders whom I even don’t know. The work should give me satisfaction by making impact on somebody’s lives. This I found in Civil Services career and then I decided to pursue this career.

        Higher salaries in private companies are lucrative but they remain so for short period only.

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 Sumit—It depends on person to person and his/her conditions, be it financial, job security, family conditions etc.

        Generally, it takes around 2 years to prepare for Civil Service Examinations for all 3 stages.

PD—What is your opinion regarding the general view that Science subjects have better chance to score than Humanities ?

Shri Sumit—Science optional has a better chance to score because its nature of question paper pattern is more objective compared to Humanities.

        Disadvantage with Science subject compared to Humanities optional is that its syllabus is quite huge and hence it becomes difficult to revise the whole subject at last moment.

PD—What is the importance of medium of examination for exams like CSE ?

Shri Sumit—It is important to choose Mains Exam and Personality Test (PT) Mediums appropriately. Generally, it is said that there is lack of availability of good materials, newspapers for GS Mains in Hindi medium. These factors play an important role in getting good marks in Mains.

PD—Does the educational, financial and demographic status of the family of an aspirant have any impact on the preparation ?

Shri Sumit—These things do not have any impact on the final selection as CSE process is very fair and unbiased.

PD—In your opinion what role do the Competition Magazines play when you are preparing for an examination like Civil Services ?

Shri Sumit—Competition Magazines provide toppers’ strategies at disposal which would benefit aspirants. These strategies come directly from horse’s mouth and are genuine. They also provide knowledge of monthwise Current Affairs.

PD—What is the secret of your success ?

Shri Sumit—Following things are the secret of my success :

        Note Making Practice, Group Studies, Tact of Writing Good Answers, Answer according to demands of questions by reading them properly.

PD—To whom would you like to give the credit for your success ?

Shri Sumit—I am grateful to God for my success. I am also thankful to my parents, friends who helped me in this preparation process. I would like to thank Salimuddin Ansari Sir for Ethics Case Study course and L. Balasubramaniam Sir for guiding me in Answer Writing of Anthropology Mains Questions.

PD—Any suggestion/advice you would like to give to the future aspirants.

Shri Sumit—Everybody comes to prepare for Civil Services with a reason. Remember this is not an exam but it is a process. It is a test of your endurance, patience, temperament. People who have will and determination will surely clear it. Have belief in yourself and do the needful, results will follow.

PD—Thank you very much and wishing you all the best for your future endeavours.

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