“Some days you think you’ll get Rank 1, other days you think it was a bad decision” – IAS Rank 25, Shubham Aggarwal

Shubham Aggarwal

Hello Everyone, I have always read interview of toppers, and here I am, now with an opportunity to write one myself.

I am Shubham Aggarwal. I am 22 years old. I am from New Delhi itself. I have done my schooling from St Francis De Sales School in Janakpuri. Then I went on to study at Shri Ram College of Commerce.

This was my first attempt at Civil Services Examination. My optional was commerce and accountancy.

Becoming an IAS came to mind in the second year of graduation and hence my journey began from there. I gave my first and only attempt right after graduation i.e., without a gap year since I was already 21. Preparation included shifting to campus despite being a Delhiite to ensure complete focus on the exam and managing college studies, classes along with CSE preparation. It all culminated into me giving college final exams in May 2019 and prelims on 2nd June 2019.

Candidate Profile

  • Your Name:  Shubham Aggarwal  
  • Place of Birth:  New Delhi 
  • How old are you? : 22 years
  • Schooling done from Name and City and score?: St. Francis De Sales, Janakpuri , New Delhi – 97% in class 12
  • College from which City and Gpa: Shri Ram College of Commerce, New Delhi – GPA – 8.9
  • PG (if Any): None 
  • Your attempt at the exam( 1st, 2nd, 3rd) – 1st
  • Did you write any other exam? No
  • Who else is there in your family?: Father, Mother and an Elder Sister
  • Work-experience (if any): None
  • Optional: Commerce and Accountancy

Tell us about your Tryst with UPSC.

Becoming an IAS came to mind in the second year of graduation and hence my journey began from there. I gave my first and only attempt right after graduation i.e., without a gap year since I was already 21. Preparation included shifting to campus despite being a Delhiite to ensure complete focus on the exam and managing college studies, classes along with CSE preparation. It all culminated into me giving college final exams in May 2019 and prelims on 2nd June 2019.

Preliminary examination

Please mention your strategy and books/notes did you referred to for General Studies and CSAT?

For CSAT, I just gave 2018 CSE paper as a mock in 2 hours time and was scoring 140+ so I did not prepare for it. If someone faces difficulty in doing the same, then recommended books can be referred to.

GS (strategy and books)

BOOKLIST:

 

Topic Resource
History Ancient R S Sharma old NCERT
History Medieval Satish Chandra Old NCERT
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Spectrum by Rajiv Ahir
Culture Fine Arts NCERT
Polity (static + current affairs) Laxmikanth
Economy (static + current affairs) none
Science (static + current affairs) Current Magazines
Environment (static + current affairs) Shankar IAS
Geography(Physical +Indian+World) 11th and 12th NCERT + GC Leong

 

How Many questions did you attempt in GS? How many did you get right?

I attempted 83 questions in my final exam – I believe I got 62 right

What do you think is the optimal number of questions to attempt in prelims? Do you advise accuracy or maximum attempts?

It really depends what the candidate is more comfortable with. More often than not it is number of attempts due to low accuracy of the multiple correct options type questions.

If you had to prepare again would you change your strategy in any way?

Focus more on art and culture

Mains Examination

How did you prepare GS/GK?

Picking up the generic books which every toppers reads from and complimenting them with certain dedicated websites for topics which are not covered in such books. Having a 6 monthly, monthly, weekly and daily time table helped to keep my preparation on track and me being aware of the portions left to cover. It gives a sense of control over the prep and is hence, highly recommended to all candidates.

What’s your optional subjects and why?

Commerce and Accountancy because of my Commerce and Economics background in graduation

Please share your strategy and booklist for each of the optional?

Booklist for both the papers of Commerce and Accountancy were limited to the coaching material provided by Rankers Coaching Classes.

Optional 1

STRATEGY: Practicing practical questions in a timely fashion and making notes of the theory aspect. Taking a lot of tests along with the coaching classes is a key to get accustomed to finish the paper in the prescribed time.

BOOKLIST: Coaching Material of Rankers Classes

Optional 2

STRATEGY: Made comprehensive notes out of the coaching material so as to have my own concise material to revise from. Took as many tests as possible to write quality answers within the given time limit.

BOOKLIST: Coaching Material of Rankers Classes

How important is answer writing? What was your style of answer writing?

Good answer writing is one of the key requirements for scoring high marks in Mains exam. Utilising the space to one’s advantage and writing crisp answers is key.

My strategy included using diagrams and schematics to write points. Every page had at least one flow chart/diagram/infographic

How many questions did you attempt? What strategy did you follow for mains examination in the examination hall?

All questions. I did not skip a single question in any of the 9 mains papers. Writing briskly while thinking continuously is important. Keeping an eye on the clock helps to allot equal time to each answer.

If you had to prepare again would you change your strategy in any way?

Probably do more answer writing practice

Role of Forumias academy

Here, I would like to bring to note the role of forumias academy in my preparation. I had joined ForumIAS MGP with a test series of 11 tests – 8 for GS and 3 for Essay.

Their answer checking is genuine and gives one detailed analysis which helped me a lot in altering my writing style for the better. Keep doing the great work team!

Whatever GS Mains Answer Writing Practice I had was with ForumIAS only.

Interview

How did you prepare for the interview? Did you attend any mocks?

I did not give any mock interviews. I prepared for possible questions from my DAF and also my Optional Subject. Since I graduated last year i.e., 2019, I prepared for subjects studied in college too. Having knowledge of recent happenings is important. Overall, keeping a balanced view point but having a strong opinion on things is what is required. Indecisiveness is not a trait of an aspiring bureaucrat.

Which Interview Board did you face?

Ms. Smita Nagaraj

Please share your entire interview like what was asked and what was your reply? Were you able to answer all the questions?

My interview started with mocking me being 22 years old and in what rush was I in becoming a civil servant. The rest of the questions were from the sectors of micro-finance, rural banking, informal moneylending, farmer credit issues, NBFCs, demonetisation, etc. There were some questions on foreign policy. The interview ended with a personalised discussion on Dowry.

What qualities do you think are being tested in the Interview? Some strict Do’s and Don’ts for the Interview for aspirants and Interview candidates?

In my opinion, qualities tested are commitment to rule of law, dedication towards the upliftment of the underprivileged sections of the society, ability to take bold decisions, stick to one’s own opinion and not being succumbed under pressure. Having belief in what one says is crucial.

Be yourself. Do not try to be someone you are not. Don’t for a second appear disinterested in the chairperson or the panellists. Stay attentive. Be upright about things you do not know. One bluff and game over.

Do you thing marks in school or college and the job experience can impact one’s score in the Interview?

A good score can positively impact the boards opinion about you but a low score will definitely not lower their opinion of you. I’m not sure if it translates into the actual score achieved.

How was the interview experience? Was it predictable? How much did your preparation help?

It was more of a conversation with a lot of back and forth in the discussion. It wasn’t entirely predictable given very limited (almost none) questions were asked related to the DAF. Anyway, Preparation always helps as it puts you in the right frame of mind before the big day.

Miscellaneous Questions

How much internet did you use for your preparation? How much value did it add

Preparation in this day and age without internet is simply not doable nor it is recommended. Using and limiting oneself to the right sources is key. Otherwise, one can be lost in the ocean of information that is available out there.

How did you balance so much resources and data? What Smart techniques did you use to manage your preparation in a better manner?

Making time-tables for different time durations, keeping a track of everything I was doing and everything that was left to be done. Limiting the resources and having trust on your own decision to chose the books you did is important. Having very few (0/1) co-aspirants helps to defend yourself from over-load of information.

What do you think is the most essential quality/qualities needed to clear this exam?

Perseverance, inner motivation to serve the society, smart work

What is your advice to the young aspirants who look up to you?

Hang in there. It is a roller coaster ride with a lot of mood swings. There will be days when you will think you will achieve rank 1 and days when you will question whether this profession is for you. Rudyard Kipling’s lines sum this up

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumphs and Disasters

and treat those two imposters just the same;

What is the best advice that you have received?

Be truthful to yourself

What did all hurdles you face while preparing for it? And how did you tackle them

I lost my aunt on the day of the first mains exam (essay) and the news came in while we were on our way to the centre. I told my mother that she was in my heart but not in my brain. I would not let if affect my exams.

I was tested positive with Covid-19 a mere 20 days before my Interview. Having read about how to respond to it, I self-isolated myself and recovered in the 15 day time period.

Click here to download the MGP copies of Shubham Aggarwal 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Free IAS Preparation by Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to the blog followed by several Rankholders and ensure success in IAS.