UPSC Civil Services: Interview with Chanakya IAS Academy Director AK Mishra
UPSC Civil Services Examination is one of the toughest examinations to crack and a candidate requires a few specific traits, right attitude and temperament to get success in this coveted exam, says Chanakya IAS Academy and Art of Success Director AK Mishra.
In this interview with Careers360, the expert says that persistence, smart preparation and willingness to accept failures are keys for entry in the administrative services.
According to him, a systematic and regular 10-hours-a-day study for 10 months is sufficient to crack Prelims and Mains rounds of the examination. He also suggests UPSC Civil Services aspirants that right study material is very important and it can help immensely in achieving success in PSC exams. Careers360 brings here excerpts of this expert interview to help Civil Services candidates in their preparation for the coveted exam.
“Students also tend to get confused by referring to too many books and consulting so many people that only entangle them into another set of complexities. Self-belief is the key to success, so have faith on your abilities and stay focused while preparation.”
Careers360: What is it that drives thousands of students every year to Civil Services exams, especially when the private sector jobs are also well-paid in today’s liberalized economy?
AK Mishra: It’s true that private sectors offer lucrative jobs and promising career but students’ craze to get into administrative services is not wearing off due to multiple reasons. There is no denying the fact that youth is attracted by the power, position, respect and authority that come with the tag of IAS. Government administrative services also provide platform to address the burning issues of the society viz. poverty, corruption, unemployment and gender inequality.
Careers360: How should candidates evaluate their suitability and be mentally prepared for Civil Services? What could be the entry-level challenges and their solutions in the beginning of their preparation journey?
AK Mishra: Civil Services Examination is known as one of the toughest examinations to crack and it calls for specific traits, attitudes and temperament in the aspirant. Persistence, smart work under right guidance and willingness to accept failures are must-have skills for IAS aspirants.The entry-level challenges include the selection of right books, right guidance and proper study material. The candidates may also enroll in a good coaching center. This exam is basically opinion-based format. Therefore, students need to make well-grounded assessment of their skill-sets and figure out ways to utilize their strengths and improve their weaknesses. It is also essential to know the number of years you can invest in the preparation and family and financial support do you have.
Careers360: What is the ideal time-frame to crack this competitive exam? What will you suggest – single strategy for preparation for Prelims and Mains level or different strategies? Why?
AK Mishra: Ideally, time-frame required to crack the examination cannot be defined as it varies from candidate to candidate – a candidate might get through the Prelims examination in 2 months, 6 months or 1 year of preparation. However, 10 hours of systematic study for 10 months is sufficient to get through in Prelims examination. It is good enough also to get hold of Mains syllabus if integrated preparation for Prelims and Mains is done.
Careers360: What parameters should aspirants look into while choosing an optional subject? What are the best options for aspirants who have varied educational background?
AK Mishra: Optional subject selection is indeed tough job and needs a lot of analysis before you take final decision. Candidates primarily focus on their past performance and success-rate in the optional subject. It profoundly depends upon your area of interest and the subjects that interest you. However, the decision is also influenced by the performance of the subjects in the past examinations.
Careers360: How important is the trend analysis of past question papers? How this analysis should reflect in the preparation strategy of aspirants?
AK Mishra: Trend analysis apparently delineates the areas which have started gaining prominence and changing pattern of the examination that help aspirants map out strategy for the examination. Trend analysis helps students tell apart the topics, which have to be given more importance, whereas preparing for the exam – so it basically helps you adopt coherent and organic approach and channelize your efforts.
Careers360: What are your suggestions and advice to aspirants of UPSC Civil Services?
AK Mishra: Access to relevant study material and right guidance is of paramount importance. So it’s advisable to enroll in some good coaching institute and prepare under the guidance of experts. It’s also equally important not to overstress yourself and pursue your hobbies to relax yourself. Students are advised to set about their preparation by studying NCERT books of 10th and 12th standards in order to buttress their basic concepts and knowledge. They also must keep themselves abreast of current affairs and start making notes of every major happening around the world. Students also tend to get confused by referring to too many books and consulting so many people that only entangle them into another set of complexities. Self-belief is the key to success, so have faith on your abilities and stay focused while preparation.
Careers360: Please share your insights on competence level of freshers and those with some years of work experience?
AK Mishra: Candidates with work experience have good grasp on current affairs and are endowed with good communication skills, interpersonal skills, stress bearing capacity, problem solving approach that will definitely help them perform better in the interview. Their approach to preparation is more methodical and they are adept in strategy formulation. On the flip side, they do not remain close to books, so their theoretical knowledge dwindles away with time, whereas freshers keep on updating their knowledge-base. Moreover, success in the examination largely depends on sincere efforts, perseverance and dedication.
Careers360: Your opinion on the current pattern of UPSC Civil Services exams – Prelims and Mains?
AK Mishra: One optional paper instead of two in the Mains is a welcoming decision. One paper is enough to check candidates’ analytical ability and their in-depth knowledge of the subject. So in my opinion, doing away with extra paper seems to be logical decision that will not only substantially bring down students’ pressure but will also allow them to invest more time in other subjects. CSAT paper evaluates candidates for their decision making ability, problem solving skills, interpersonalskills, communication skills and analytical ability. Prior to interview, it helps interviewer to screen and know the candidate better. Approach to evaluating candidates in prelims is organic and systematic as the GS paper will be checked after a candidate qualifies in CSAT. This will cut down the time to declare results and step up overall efficiency manifold times.
Careers360: A controversy that erupted last year over language of questions where many candidates alleged that question papers were biased in favor of English medium students. What is your take on this year’s paper pattern?
AK Mishra: I don’t think language of questions can anyhow limit candidates’ performance in the examination. UPSC examination does not call for exceptional command over English language instead graduate level knowledge of language is all sufficient. Moreover, the pattern of the examination is mapped out to test the in-depth knowledge, analytical skills, decision making, problem solving and alike attributes of the candidates, and does not concentrate on language proficiency. So, I refute the language issue.
Careers360: There have been several cases of corruption in bureaucracy in recent years. Do you see today’s generation making any difference after making a place into the system?
AK Mishra: Undoubtedly, unlike the earlier days, youths are now more sensitive to the burning issues of the society and want to act on them vociferously and it won’t be exaggerating to say that their approach is more aggressive and innovative to take on the challenges of the future. No wonder, their eagerness and ability to make difference in the society is exponentially high.
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