DTU Times interviewed Arun Sehrawat, AIR 320, UPSC Civil Services Examination, 2016 and an alumnus of DTU.
DT: How was your journey after you graduated from college in 2014? What made you appear for civil services examination?
AS: The challenges, the opportunities and the work diversity that a civil servant gets to experience was enough to make me want to clear the Civil Services exam. College taught me many lessons about life, and I started my preparation as soon as I finished my graduation in Electrical Engineering. Two attempts, and great post-college learning experiences later, here I am, at the peak of my journey.
DT: Ideally, how much time is required for preparation for the Civil Services Examination? What role does coaching play in preparation ?
AS: Quantitatively speaking, one year is the average amount of time most students require to meet the requirements. Qualitatively, one should always factor in things like a person’s background, their academics, their interests, their options, their current employment status, and most importantly, the intensity of their study sessions.
Finally irrespective of time, aspirants should work with sincerity, have faith in themselves and believe that all their hard work will be worthwhile in the end.
When it comes to coaching, it acted only as a facilitator for my preparation. Much of my time was devoted to self study. So it’s important to understand that one can’t depend solely on coaching. For beginners who don’t have background and those who figure out that they have to prepare for civil services after college (like me), they can take some coaching classes or guidance from seniors for basic understanding and clarity on a range of issues.
UPSC exam consists of three rounds. What is the difference in preparation styles for each of these rounds?
AS: It is my personal opinion that one should always start the preparation by first giving adequate time to start for UPSC CSE analysis by going through the syllabus and previous year questions.
Prelims, being objective in nature, tests more of our conceptual knowledge including lot of facts. It requires information on traditional subjects and current affairs and rigorous practice of questions.
Mains, being subjective, is of analytical nature and revolves around current issues. Answer writing practice is a key enabler for fetching good marks. I wrote a lot of papers from different test series. Though pre and mains are separate papers but still there is considerable overlap between the two. So it’s better we adopt a pre cum mains integrated approach from the beginning. More time may be devoted for prelim-specific studies 1-2 months prior to the prelims.
The interview is an overall assessment of personality of a candidate and is a deciding factor in determining the final outcome – whether your name will be in the list or not. The knowledge you have gained so far is only a means of testing your personality. Mock interviews and Peer Discussions helped me groom myself for the interview.
DT: We have to choose a particular subject for the mains examination. Which subjects do you think should Engineers opt for in order to obtain appreciable scores in the mains examination?
AS: Since one has to go into the depth of the subject chosen, the choice should always be made based on one’s strength. Carefully analyse your strengths and weakness and accordingly put your mind into the optional subject. I chose my optional as Geography as there was a good overlap with the GS subjects. Being scientific in nature, Geography was also comparatively easier to understand.
I did not opt for Electrical Engineering, as the subject is incredibly vast and required much more effort to handle. Ultimately, people qualify from all the given optionals, hence it should be your decision at the end of the day.
DT: Which service are you opting for ?
AS: My first preference is IAS, followed by IPS, and then lastly, IRS.