“Excellent strategy, staying focused, dedication and hard work are the secrets of my success.”
“Pratiyogita Darpan” arranged an exclusive interview with Ms. Gunjan Dwivedi who has been selected in Civil Services Examination, 2018, conducted by UPSC. She deserves high appreciation and our heartiest congratulations on her marvellous 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.
Ms. Gunjan—Thank you so much.
PD—Medium for writing in the examination.
PD—Medium for Personality Test.
PD—In how many attempts have you achieved this success?
PD—You achieved the desired success in this attempt; how do you visualize your previous attempts ?
Ms. Gunjan—In my previous attempts, I could not clear the preliminary exam. What I lacked was a coherent strategy and detailed plan of action.
PD—What was your optional subject ?
Ms. Gunjan—Optional Subject : Political Science and International Relations.
PD—While making final choice for optional subject, what’s important and what’s not ?
Ms. Gunjan—The foremost thing is to have a liking for the subject. This is because optional is like a graduation in itself.
PD—Give the basis of selecting the optional subject ?
Ms. Gunjan—The basis is having genuine interest in the subject. This would naturally induce a desire for indepth analysis which is exactly what is needed to score good marks.
PD—What preference in services have you opted for and any particular reason for that priority ?
Ms. Gunjan—IAS is my first choice. It has a very wide scale and scope of impact on the lives of people.
PD—‘Success is sweet’ were you confident of your success with top ranks and how did you react to this news ?
Ms. Gunjan—Till the day of the declaration of the result, I was studying for UPSC CSE 2019 preliminary exam to be held on 2nd June. Knowing the uncertainty of the exam I was in no way confident of my success. I could not believe my ears when my friend broke the news that I had secured 9th rank.
PD—Today, IAS Toppers are icons and lots of media coverage makes them popular. Before your success, what was your opinion about these toppers ?
Ms. Gunjan—The advice and success story of toppers provided me a sense of guidance and motivation while on the monotonous and difficult phase of preparation.
The success story of 2017 CSE topper Megha Arora, rank 108 inspired me a lot.
PD—Can you recall the exact moment when you realized the importance of Civil Services ?
Ms. Gunjan—It was never any specific moment but a gradual understanding over time.
PD—Finally, at what point of time did you make up your mind to make career in ‘‘Civil Services’ ?
Ms. Gunjan—After class 12th.
PD—Was CSE your planned decision or your parents’ wish ?
Ms. Gunjan—It was both.
PD—Did you keep in mind some time-frame for the examination preparation and number of attempts?
Ms. Gunjan—No, I was all in no matter how much time it took. However this does not mean that one adopts a lackadaisical approach.
PD—’Time-Management’ is a key factor. How did you manage things ?
Ms. Gunjan—I made a detailed plan which included monthly, weekly and daily targets. I ensured that the targets were realistic and achievable.
PD—The first step is the most difficult; from where did you get the right advice ?
Ms. Gunjan—Preparing for this exam is an arduous task. The right guidance and understanding of the exam is extremely important.
I took the advice of my father- AKD Dwivedi, Sister-Umang Dwivedi and mentor-Saumitra Singh. Alongwith this I read a lot of toppers’ strategies and watched their videos. This helped me to frame my own strategy. However the foremost and most important step is going through the syllabus and previous years’ papers on a regular basis.
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 ?
Ms. Gunjan—For GS Paper I (General Studies) A lot of revisions and practice through mock tests. I holistically studied both static and current affairs portions of the syllabus. 99% of my time was devoted to paper 1.
GS Paper II (Aptitude Test)—I practiced few previous years’ papers.
PD—How did you manage to tackle the ‘Negative Marking’ in Prelims?
Ms. Gunjan—It was only through taking a lot of mock tests (around 35-40) that I developed the skill of solving MCQs with negative marking.
Father’s Name—Shri Ashok Kumar dar Dwivedi
Mother’s Name—Mrs. Suman Dwivedi
Date of Birth—16 October, 1994
B.A. Honours in Political Science from Daulat Ram College, Delhi University.
PD—What shift did you adopt in your strategy for Main Examination (Written) ?
Ms. Gunjan—The most important shift is developing an analytical insight. This requires answering questions like “What, When, How, Why etc.”. Further adopting a multi-dimensional approach i.e., political, social, economic, environmental, cultural etc. really assists in answer writing.
PD—Was there any special effort for effective preparation for Essay Paper ? Which topic did you pick up this time and why did you choose this particular topic ?
Ms. Gunjan—I made a list of quotes and anecdotes.
I chose the following two topics because of the diverse and in-depth knowledge and understanding I had on these.
(1) Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere.
(2) A people that values its privileges above its principles loses both.
PD—How did you prepare yourself for Interview (Personality Test) ?
Ms. Gunjan—The foremost thing is to be calm and composed even during the preparation at this stage. It is not a test of knowledge but your personality and ability to be a civil servant.
Date of interview- 19-02-2019
Duration- 35 minutes
Although I was a little nervous in the beginning, my interview went good. Questions were asked on DAF, International Relations, problems of Indian economy, ponzi scheme, women empowerment, essence of Gita, patriarchy etc.
PD—Were you preparing for other career opportunities as well while preparing for your ultimate goal i.e., Career in Civil Services ?
PD—While the changing economic environment offers immense lucrative career opportunities in various sectors, still what kept you motivated towards Civil Services ?
Ms. Gunjan—It was my childhood dream. This kept me motivated.
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 ?
Ms. Gunjan—The exam ideally requires a year of dedicated preparation. One can assist this by reading newspapers and NCERT books from college.
PD—What is your opinion regarding the general view that Science subjects have better chance to score than Humanities ?
Ms. Gunjan—Every year there are toppers from both the fields.
PD—What is the importance of medium of examination for exams like CSE ?
Ms. Gunjan—Medium of exam helps in clear expression of thoughts and knowledge. One must choose that medium in which she/he is most comfortable.
PD—Does the educational, financial and demographic status of the family of an aspirant have any impact on the preparation ?
Ms. Gunjan—Succeeding in this exam requires only will, hard work and patience.
PD—In your opinion what role do the Competition Magazines play when you are preparing for an examination like Civil Services ?
Ms. Gunjan—They added to my preparation by providing ready reference data for general studies.
|Strong Point— Patience
Weak Point—Difficulty in learn-ing facts and data.
Hobbies—Drawing mandalas and journaling (Bullet Journal Method).
PD—What is the secret of your success ?
Ms. Gunjan—Patience, dedication and hard work.
PD—To whom would you like to give the credit for your success ?
Ms. Gunjan—My Parents-AKD Dwivedi, Suman Dwivedi, sister- Umang Dwivedi and mentor-Saumitra Singh.
PD—Any suggestion/advice you would like to give to the future aspirants.
Ms. Gunjan—Do not lose hope. Be honest with yourself in this phase of preparation. Read, revise and practice.
PD—Thank you very much and wishing you all the best for your future endeavours.
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