IAS Gyan



23rd December, 2021 Interview


Profile of the candidate


I am Vasu Jain and have secured AIR 67 in the civil services examination 2020. This is my third attempt and I have been preparing since 2017.  In the first attempt i did not clear prelims. In the second attempt I had given the interview but missed the final list. Currently, selected as Asst Commandant at CRPF. GNLU Law Graduate. Teaching at institutes for the last 2 years. I have mentored students for CLAT - both as a faculty at a coaching institute in Delhi and separately. Got good results. Some of them made to NLU and some to other elite colleges.

Inspiration: How did the journey start?

I derived inspiration from my mother who appeared for the civil services but could not make it. She used to tell me stories regarding civil services. It was fascinating to hear her stories so I decided to try it once. Besides I had the opportunity to meet number of civil servants in my college (exposure) and see the impact they had at the ground level.

Book list for the preparation

The list can vary accordingly with comfort levels of different candidates.

  • NCERTs are a must
  • Then refer to the standard books. Few have been mentioned.
  • Polity- Lakshmikant
  • History ancient and medieval- NCERT, Tamil Nadu history book; Modern- NCERT and Spectrum; Culture - Nitin singhania and NCERT
  • Geography- NCERT, GC leong,
  • Environment - NCERT, Shankar IAS Book
  • Economy- NCERT, any standard book
  • Science and Tech- NCERT.
  • Current Affairs- newspaper reading is a must . One can also follow any monthly current affairs magazine and revise it again and again.

How important was newspaper reading?

Newspaper is one of the most important part of preparation. It helps you in multiple ways. Start your daily routine with newspapers.

Internet sources vs hard copy materials

For static portion I referred standard books/ NCERTs in hard copy format. For dynamic/ current affairs portion I referred to internet (daily current affairs of IAS GYAN etc). I used to make online notes as well.

Strategy for Prelims

First of all focus on NCERTs and recommended standard text books. This should be coupled with current affairs preparation. Focus should be on following subjects:

  • History
  • Geography
  • Polity
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Current affairs

I religiously followed a two-fold strategy: adequate daily revision and giving more and more mock tests. I gave around 40 mocks. One week before the exam I stopped giving mocks and attempted PYQs from earlier UPSC exams to understand how UPSC sets the paper/ to get orientation and then internalise the key learnings. I used to study, on an average, 9-10 hours a day.

It is very important to use logic for attempting the questions. You might not have the knowledge for a particular question but with the help of logic you might be able to attempt that question.

Tips for preparation

  1. Before preparation: Aspirant should have ample clarity on why they want to be a civil servant?
  2. From initiation of preparation to prelims: books/resources should be bare minimum.
  3. From prelims to mains: focus on answer writing is a must. I attempted two questions daily since September 2017.
  4. Interview: it requires different strategy as compared to prelims/ mains. Mains has focus on theoretical aspects. Interview is more about practical aspects, your own opinion and presentation matters. You need to reflect confidence, originality and indulge in an exciting and engaging conversation without going to the extremes.
  5. Daily: two-fold strategy: adequate daily revision and giving more and more mock tests.
  6. Essay: read toppers essay and then attempt writing an essay every 7-14 days.

Mains answer writing strategy

This is one of the sacred mantras of success. Try writing as many as you can. Write two answers daily.

Time management

It will come through writing practice. Practice as much as you can.

Hard work vs smart work

Focus should be on quality instead of quantity meaning how much hours you are putting into must be of highest quality without disturbance.

Challenges faced during the preparation process

The major challenge was uncertainty surrounding the exam all the time. UPSC CSE is highly unpredictable. Whether I would clear the exam or not kept lingering in my mind all the time. I come from a senior law college. My peers were getting lakhs per month in package. So this was an added pressure. There would be days of low, frustration and disappointments. Everyone would be facing this. What is important is how do you manage.

It's a long journey. What kept you motivated?

I tackled the challenges by learning through the mistakes I committed. One should understand that once you have decided to prepare for CSE competition should not be a fear. But your own preparation is. Further, motivation came from my parents who had struggled equally with me. I also sought motivation from my inner self (inner purpose of getting into the services).

Credits (family, friends)

  • My Family especially my parents who supported me in my low phases.
  • Friends who supported me in times of disappointment.

How did the IAS Gyan materials & DAF Questionnaire helped you?

APTI PLUS questionnaire helped in this phase. The current affairs and the questions prepared by the APTI PLUS team were very specific and elaborate. They covered most of the questions from my DAF. I had to maintain a separate notebook for their answers and then prepare them.

Interview experience with APTI PLUS Academy

I had given mock interviews with APTI PLUS twice. The board members were very experienced and asked questions from diverse areas and that helped me remove my fear and hesitation.