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Ms. Misha Singh, attained 64th Rank in 3rd attempt Civil Services Examination, 2015

“A combination of positive thinking, self discipline and hard work is the secret of my success.”

                                                                                                             – Ms. Misha Singh

‘Pratiyogita Darpan’ arranged an exclusive interview with Miss Misha Singh who has been selected in Civil Services Examination 2015. She deserves all appreciation and our heartiest congratula-tions on her 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.

Ms. Misha—Thank you.

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

Ms. Misha—I opted for IAS as 1st preference, primarily due to the opportunity of getting to work in different fields associated with Administration.

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

Ms. Misha—I received the news through my friends that I had cleared and went numb. It took me some time to realize what had just happened. Though there were moments of self-doubt, yet it all turned well in the end.

PD—Today, IAS Toppers are icons and lots of media coverage make them popular. What was your opinion about these toppers ?

Ms. Misha—I did not go through a lot of toppers’ stories, because I believe everyone leads his own journey, though two people whom I looked up during my preparation were Munish Sharma (AIR-2, 2013) and Himanshu Khurana (AIR-42, 2014). Knowing them personally, I was always inspired to work equally hard.

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

Ms. Misha—In the last academic year of my college, I got into the habit of reading newspaper daily and developed an awareness of socio-economic and political developments and also the problems plaguing the country. The importance of civil services became very clear and I decided to become part of the solution and offer my bit.

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

Ms. Misha—During the last semester, I consciously gave up on placements that were underway and prepared myself mentally to appear for the exam.

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

Ms. Misha—Mix of both. My father always wanted that I give it a try, but I never really was fond of it. Then gradually I learned more about it and decided to appear.

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

Ms. Misha—Keeping a set time frame for exam preparation or number of attempts would have added to pressure. If you are dedicated to the job in hand these things should not really matter.

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 ?

Ms. Misha—Time Management is everything especially for the Mains. Practice and Regular Test comes to a great help.

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

Ms. Misha—Optional Subject can make or break your chances of clearing the examination. Many students do not do the adequate research about the subjects before opting them that ultimately lands them in soup. Syllabus, its length and one’s comfort level with the subject is necessary. Also, previous years’ question papers should be perused too.

PD—What was your optional subject ?

Ms. Misha—Law.

PD—Give the basis of selecting the optional subject ?

Ms. Misha—Same as above plus it was my graduation subject as well.

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

Ms. Misha—3.


Name—Misha Singh

Father’s Name—Shri Anand Kumar Singh

Mother’s Name—Mrs. Vinod Kanwar

Date of Birth—August 3, 1988.

Educational Qualifications : 

10th—2005, U.P. Board, Mount Carmel High School, Lucknow (72·83%)

12th—2007, CISCE, Seth M.R. Jaipuria, Lucknow (90%)

B.A. LL.B2012, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University,

Lucknow  CPI (8·83/10).

PG Diploma in ADR—2015-16 Indian Law Institute, New Delhi.

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

 Ms. Misha—I lacked preparation and time management in my first attempt. In second attempt, though I had a decent score in Mains, I scored poorly in my personality test. Looking back, there was clearly a scope for improvement that I kept in mind for third attempt.

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

Ms. Misha—Before beginning with the preparation I did some research about the exam and its pattern, the books to be read and other things to expect? However, the main help came from my mentor Mr. K.S. Gill of Nirvana IAS Academy as he constantly guided me throughout the examination.

PD—What was your approach towards Paper I (General Studies) during Preliminary Examination preparation?

Ms. Misha—UPSC expects conceptual clarity more than fact based knowledge that has to be kept in mind all along the Preliminary Examination. Also, one should try to avoid the lure of reading from multiple books. Further, regular test of the knowledge is non-negotiable.

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

Ms. Misha—Slightly, I reduced the practice time for GS II and gave more attention to Paper I.

PD—How did you manage to tackle the ‘Negative Marking’ in Prelims ?

Ms. Misha—If one prepares well, there easily are 60-70 odd questions that can be handled with ease. There would always be some questions that might freak you out. Try not to panic and work on the probabilities among the options given. Apart from that there are few questions that I was completely clueless and did not attempt.

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

Ms. Misha—The basic preparation that is attention to concept did not change. Reading became more meticulous and sources widened. Though, descriptive papers are easier for me to handle, yet one thing that was sine qua non was revision.

PD—Was there any special effort for effective preparation for ESSAY Paper? Which topics did you pick up this time and why did you choose these particular topics ?

Ms. Misha—Honestly, I did not do any special preparation for essay. I have always been comfortable with essay writing and scored well in my previous attempts too. I chose “Quick and Steady Wins the Race” and “Dreams which should not let India sleep”. While the former was much easier to handle, in the second essay I had sufficient material, gained during the preparations for mains, to write about India and its problems.

PD—How did you prepare yourself for Interview (Personality Test)? When and which Board did you face? How did your interview go on, how much time did it last and what were the questions asked during the Interview ?

Ms. Misha—Firstly, do not write something which is not true in your DAF, it will land you in much difficulty. So in a sense your first step for Personality Test begins with careful filling of your DAF. Second, be thorough with DAF especially hobbies. This time I faced the Board of Vice Admiral (Retd.) D.K. Dewan. The Personality Test lasted for 25 minutes approx. The questions were largely a mix of recent developments and current affairs, few questions on geography, organizations and some questions pertaining to issues facing India esp. education. The interview was cordial and I scored decently.

Personal Qualities

Favourite Person—Raghuram Rajan.

Strong Point—Sharp Memory.

Weak Point—Procrastination.

Hobbies—Reading, Watching Movies and Cooking.

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

Ms. Misha—Not actively, as I always had an option of returning back to the field of legal practice.

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

Ms. Misha—The kind of opportunity and exposure one gets in Civil Services is unmatched. You become part of the solution and development right till the grassroots level. This level of job satisfaction 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. Misha—It depends on what stage one realizes to appear in this exam. Though, I personally believe, that preparing from beginning of first year of college or so makes one miss out on other equally important aspects of college life, yet again it’s my belief. Again there is no minimum or maximum time limit for preparation, but a minimum of 1 year is a safe option.

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

Ms. Misha—Performance in subject depends largely on level of preparation.

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

Ms. Misha—A candidate should try to choose a medium in which he can express and write well. This is going to be a more decisive factor than the medium itself.

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

Ms. Misha—It can to a limited extent, given the availability of resources, but it is never going to be a substitute for hard work that needs to be dedicated. The success stories of many who have cleared the exam fighting all odds is clearly an example of it.

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

Ms. Misha—Competitive Magazines save a lot of time and effort that goes into researching about a topic. They provide concise information and keep you updated even in case you miss out on news or other developments.

PD—How do you find Pratiyogita Darpan ? Do you find it close to your expectations ?

Ms. Misha—Pratiyogita Darpan does a good job in terms of coverage and information content. One can surely add it to their preparation repertoire.

PD—What is the secret of your success ?

Ms. Misha—Patience.

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

Ms. Misha—My mentor K. S. Gill, my parents and sister for keeping their faith that I can clear the exam and my close friends who cheered me up in time of self-doubts.

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

Ms. Misha—Believe in yourself and have patience.

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


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