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Success Stories

Issue no 03, 20-26 April 2024

Strategies to Crack the Civil Services Examination:

Insights from a Top Performer Ms. Kritika Mishra


Embarking on the journey to crack the Union Public Civil Service Commission (UPSC) examination is no small feat. With aspiration to serve the nation, countless students across the country strive to conquer this formidable challenge each year. Yet, only a select few manage to navigate the rigorous selection process and emerge victorious. With the forthcoming UPSC Prelims in June 2024, aspirants eagerly seek guidance and strategies to enhance their chances of success.

Among those who have tasted triumph in this prestigious examination is Ms. Kritika Mishra, an IAS officer hailing from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. Clinching the impressive 66th rank in the UPSC Exam 2022, her achievement is further embellished by her distinction as the top performer among UPSC Hindi medium aspirants.

In an interview with Sudit Mishra of Employment News, Kritika shares her journey, shedding light on the challenges she encountered and the strategies she employed to overcome them. With the UPSC 2024 examination beckoning, Kritika offers a glimpse into her comprehensive preparation plan, providing aspirants with a roadmap to navigate the daunting terrain of the UPSC examination with confidence and poise. Here, we present some of the invaluable tips, gleaned from her experience and dedication to excellence.

Q1: Could you briefly share your preparation strategy for the UPSC Civil Services Examination? What challenges did you encounter during preparation, and how did you overcome them?

A: My UPSC preparation started alongside my academic pursuits. Despite reaching the interview stage in 2021, I didn't succeed. Doubts about my preparation and strategy started creeping in. However, with family support and self-belief, I confronted these challenges. It's a phase where fear of failure transforms into a tool for success. I analysed my failures, worked on them, and charted a clearer path to success.

Q2: What areas should candidates focus when preparing for the preliminary examination? Which resources did you use, and how beneficial was the internet?

A: To ace the preliminary exam, analyse past questions and focus on NCERT books for foundational knowledge. News-papers are invaluable for current affairs, and magazines provide comprehensive coverage. Under-standing the nature of questions is crucial, and practicing mock tests is essential. The internet supplements learning by offering insights into current affairs and concepts, enriching preparation.

Q3: What was your optional subject for the main examination, and how did you approach it? Which books did you use, and could you elaborate on your strategy?

A: With a passion for Hindi, I chose Hindi literature as my optional subject. I would suggest aspirants to opt for subjects with ample study material and scoring potential. Study materials like 'Hindi Sahitya Ka Saral Itihas' by Vishwanath Tripathi and NCERT's literature introductions are essential. Under-standing authors and their themes is key. Practice writing essays in a structured format, incorporating relevant quotes for depth.

Q4: The general studies papers in the main examination carry significant weight. How did you structure your answers to these papers?

A: When tackling the main examination, it's vital to address all components of the question by organising a structured response, a strong introduction and conclusion. Conclude with innovative solutions to the problems posed in the question, maintaining a positive outlook. Utilise a point-wise format where applicable and incorporate visual aids like charts, graphs, and maps to enhance clarity.

Q5: What areas did you prioritise when preparing for the general studies papers? Did you seek assistance from coaching institutions? What advice do you have for candidates who cannot afford coaching?

A: The ethics paper revolves around everyday decision-making, making coaching unnecessary and integrity paramount. Study the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) report for valuable insights, noting significant quotes for inclusion in your answers. Familiarise yourself with the principles of various thinkers and apply them judiciously. Practice case studies, infusing your answers with unique and positive suggestions.

Q6: How crucial were mock tests in your preparation, and how did they contribute to your interview readiness?

A: Mock tests in both the preliminary and main exams are invaluable for subject mastery and refining strategy. Aim to complete mock tests within the allotted time, learning from errors to enhance performance. While mock interviews offer practice, remember that they may differ significantly from the actual UPSC interview. Prioritise confidence in your abilities and authentic self-expression during interview preparation, minimising reliance on mock interviews.

Q7: What were your key focuses before facing the interview board, and how did you prepare for it? Please elaborate.

A: Prior to facing the interview board, emphasis should be placed on sincerity, integrity, and authenticity, avoiding artificiality. Interview preparation largely hinges on the Detailed Application Form (DAF) so prepare accordingly and gather pertinent background information. Re-member that hobbies and extracurricular activities reflect your personality, so ensure thorough preparation for answering questions related to your hobbies and extracurricular activities as well.

Q8: Why do you think there's a significant gap in the performance of English and Hindi background students?

A: Indeed, this question is increasingly intricate. The primary reason lies in the scarcity of study materials. The available resources in Hindi often lack the requisite quality to clear a rigorous exam like the UPSC. Additionally, many optional subjects suffer from a dearth of study materials in Hindi. Furthermore, when it comes to current affairs, the gap widens further. In such circumstances, Hindi medium candidates should leverage online translation tools while ensuring content accessibility in English.

Q9: How do you suggest balancing UPSC Civil Services preparation alongside employment to achieve success?

A: In today's landscape, effective time management reigns supreme. Maintaining a positive mindset is crucial during this period, as the greatest battle unfolds within the mind itself. While juggling a job, it's advisable to assess one's available time and utilise it efficiently.

Q10: Many aspirants believe that effective preparation necessitates living away from home, yet you chose to prepare at home. What's your perspective on this?

A: In the digital age, physical relocation for preparation is no longer imperative as study materials are readily accessible online. Moreover, preparing at home alleviates the financial strain on middle-class families. Steering clear of herd mentality, we should instill confidence in ourselves and, when necessary, visit centers like Delhi to acquire new study materials, purchase mock tests, and continue preparation at home.

Q11: How did materials published by Publications Division like Employment News/ Rozgar Samachar, Yojana, Kurukshetra, India Year Book, etc., aid in your preparation?

A: Monthly magazines like Yojana and Kurukshetra are invaluable assets for Hindi medium candidates. Candidates should regard the language utilised in these publications as the benchmark and incorporate similar language and vocabulary in their answers for optimal results. During the main examination, I utilised these magazines to prepare for various topics like agriculture, women empowerment, etc. Engaging with any point related to a subject typically covers most subtopics of the main exam. This strategy saves time and enriches answers. Additionally, Rozgar Samachar served as a steadfast companion throughout the preparation journey, offering insights into vacancies, application procedures, and examination-related policies.

Views expressed are personal.