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Saumya Pandey 4th Rank in her 1st attempt in Civil Service Examination, 2016

“Hard work, complete dedication, clear vision and incomparable guidance are the secrets of my success”

                                                                                                                         -Saumya Pandey

‘Pratiyogita Darpan’ arranged an exclusive interview with Ms. Saumya Pandey who has been selected in Civil Service Examination 2016, conducted by Union Public Service Commission. She deserves our appreciation and heartiest congra-tulations on her splendid 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. Saumya—Thank you so much.

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

Ms. Saumya—This was my first attempt.

PD—What was your optional subject ?

Ms. Saumya—Geography. I took geography because I had a genuine interest in this subject.

PD—For the benefit of future aspirants, give the basis of selecting the optional subject ?

Ms. Saumya—One’s interest, aptitude, relevance of the subject from the point of view of the work one has to do (which in this case is civil service), availability of good quality study material, etc. One should see the syllabus of some subjects, read some basic books/material and then decide.

PD—What preference in services have you opted for ?

Ms. Saumya—IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS

        IAS, because this service provides a huge opportunity to be a part of the solutions to the various problems our society and country are facing. This service has a direct public interface and provides an opportunity to touch the lives of millions of people and this service is very challenging and dynamic.

        I started the preparation for the civil services exam, keeping IAS in mind and thus IAS was my first preference.

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

Ms. Saumya—I was confident of getting a good rank but I did not think about a top rank. I was confident about a good performance I had put in; but, I never bothered myself by thinking of top ranks because that may put one under undue pressure.

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. Saumya—Success stories always inspired me and motivated to think big. IAS Toppers’ experiences show the right direction for preparation and while reading their interviews it looks as if this exam is within our reach and you get so many clues about effective preparation that can help chart your own preparation-strategy.

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

Ms. Saumya—My parents always used to tell us about the good work done by IAS and IPS officers and that made me realize the importance of civil services but the exact moment came when. I was in 12th standard.

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

Ms. Saumya—During the second year of my graduation I made up my mind and I started reading newspapers and magazines thoroughly after that.

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

Ms. Saumya—It was a totally planned decision taken by me. Though parental aspirations played a role in my decision making; but, my parents never tried to influence my career decision, they never forced any of their wishes on me and I am highly thankful to my parents for that.

        This decision was taken by me keeping in mind my inclination to work in civil services and a realistic assessment of my abilities.

Name—Ms. Saumya Pandey

Father’s Name—Shri Ravi Kumar Pandey

Mother’s Name—Mrs. Sadhana Pandey

Date of Birth—January 12, 1994

Educational Qualifications

B. Tech—Moti Lal Nehru Engi-neering College, Allahabad (Gold Medal in Electric Engineering)

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

Ms. Saumya—Though it is very difficult to keep a time-frame for this exam as it is the most difficult and highly competitive exam; still, I had a time-frame in my mind.

        You can ascertain some time frame by doing self-assessment in the beginning with a thorough analysis of your strengths and weaknesses.

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. Saumya—It is the most important thing because the syllabus is so exhaustive and time is limited.

        During preparations I gave adequate time to my weak areas. I used to study for 6-8 hours regularly, used to make daily and weekly plans and always tried to achieve the targets.

        Apart from studies, one should also take adequate sleep and do some physical exercise like jogging or sports etc.

        While writing the exam, I made sure that I give adequate time to each question and I divided the time to be given to each question accordingly.

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

Ms. Saumya—What is important is one’s interest and aptitude for the subject. One should see the syllabus and read some basic books or material of the subject before choosing an optional subject.

        What is not important is how much scores candidates got in a subject in a particular year and total number of selections from a particular subject because that keeps changing every year.

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

Ms. Saumya—This all is to be decided by the candidate itself. One should take advice and guidance, but one should also try to evolve one’s own strategy and schedule because that matters the most.

        I also got the right advice about General Studies preparations and for answer writing from Vinay Singh Sir and Q.H. Khan Sir (Dhyeya IAS).

PD—What was your approach towards Preliminary Examination preparation ?

Ms. Saumya—For GS Paper-I (General Studies). I focused more on Paper-I (General Studies) because the syllabus is too exhaustive. I prepared all constituents with the study-material and focus was to cover as much as I could.

        For GS Paper-II (Aptitude Test), I used to practice more and more questions and worked on my speed and accuracy. In Paper-II, I was more aware on comprehension part. Rest I had concentrated on speed and accuracy.

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

Ms. Saumya—My main focus was on accuracy. In Paper-I, I did not attempt more questions rather focused on questions in which I was 100% confident and questions in which I was able to eliminate 2 options at least.

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

Ms. Saumya—Superficial knowledge of subject will not suffice in Main Examination. Thorough understanding and comprehensive approach are important.

        I used to make notes and regular updated these. This helped a lot while revising.

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

Ms. Saumya—This is the paper on which I relied more than General Studies. I put a serious effort for ‘Essay’. Read a lot from various Books and websites, and made own notes also for Essay Paper.

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

Ms. Saumya—I was confident about success in civil services because I have best mentors in form of Vinay Sir & Khan Sir and I was preparing with good strategy including writing practice and mock interviews. So I was only dedicated for 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. Saumya—The respect and opportunities in diverse field offered by civil services cannot be replaced by any other job and organization, that too in younger age.

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

Ms. Saumya—One should be comfortable in writing (Mains) and in speaking (Interview). No doubt a good study material is available in English in the form of newspapers and websites. So there is a natural advantage. But a Hindi/Regional Medium student can also read in English and write in their respective language.

        There is myth that regional language students did not get marks in mains, UPSC has a fair mechanisms for that too. Many of my friends with Hindi medium are selected with good ranks.

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

Ms. Saumya—Financial situation does affect a bit as coaching institutes are very expensive now. But people from various backgrounds do clear the exams. The main thing is your zeal and availability of right material at the right time.

Personal – Qualities
Favourite Person—A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Your Strong Point—My commit-ment & dedication towards my goals.

Hobbies—Kathak Dance & Play-ing Basketball.

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

Ms. Saumya—These magazines play a vital role as they keep you updated in a concise form.

PD—Did you refer to Pratiyogita Darpan ?

Ms. Saumya—It is an enriching body of knowledge. Its special editions are very useful during preparation.

PD—What is the secret of your success ?

Ms. Saumya—Hard work and complete dedication.

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

Ms. Saumya—My emotional intelligence, my memory. Besides my parents, friends and teachers have also contributed in my success.

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

Ms. Saumya—Dream big and work hard to achieve those dreams. Take up any work/task only if you have genuine interest in that. Be honest to yourself and to your work.

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

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