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Fulfilled Childhood Dream by Acing UPSC CSE 2021, AIR-3 was Icing on the Cake

Gamini Singla’s happiness knew no bounds when she bagged AIR-3 in the recently declared UPSC CSE 2021 results. Becoming an IAS officer had always been a dream and she had prepared for the examination with full zeal and fervor. CSE 2021 was her second attempt, and she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw her name third on the final list!
Indian Masterminds Stories

While some people grow up witnessing the powers and position of civil servants in the country and then make up their minds to enter the same profession, some dream of becoming A-grade officers from their childhood and put everything in their power into accomplishing it.

Similar is the story of Gamini Singla, UPSC CSE Topper with AIR-3, from Punjab, who dreamt of becoming an IAS officer ever since she was a little girl and has finally fulfilled her dream. 

Today, Indian Masterminds will take you through her journey from a little girl from Punjab to AIR-3 in UPSC CSE 2021.

TURNED DOWN JP MORGAN FOR UPSC

A native of Sunam in the Sangrur district of Punjab, her family later shifted to Anandpur Sahib, where Gamini was born and brought up. After completing her early schooling at a school in her district, she went on to do B.Tech in Computer Science from Punjab Engineering College (PEC), Chandigarh.

After completing her graduation, she was selected for a 5-month internship by JP Morgan via campus placement. The internship was part of her college curriculum, and JP Morgan had offered her a job post completion of the internship, but Gamini chose to turn it down to pursue her dream of becoming an IAS officer.

“I felt that satisfaction is very important when choosing a career. I have always felt satisfied when I work among people and do something for them. In civil services, one can work in diverse areas. I felt that it would help me bring out my full potential and always help other people,” she said in an interview.

UPSC PREPARATION

She started preparing for the UPSC CSE in 2019 after completing her B.Tech. For the prelims, there are two portions — static and current affairs. For the static portion, she studied from Indian Polity by M Laxmikant, 10th to 12th NCERT books for geography, classes 6 to 12 NCERT books for ancient and medieval history, and Spectrum for modern history.

“I chose to revise these same books over and over again rather than opting for new resources. Revision is a very important part of the preparations. The questions in the static section are direct and, hence, anyone who studies thoroughly from these books, will get marks easily,” explained Gamini.

She added, “When it comes to current affairs, reading the newspapers daily covers that part of the exam. I also appeared for several mock interviews as it helps me to figure out my weakness and strengths. It is a good strategy for UPSC.” 

Even though she studied very hard for her first attempt, she could not go beyond Prelims. But she did not lose hope and decided to start preparing from scratch, once again.

FAMILY SUPPORT

Gamini started preparing at home from 2020 onwards and relied on self-study. “My family, especially my father, has helped me a lot emotionally and, in my studies, as well,” she said, adding that her father used to read the newspapers to her so that she could save time.

“We used to discuss studies and he knew what was important for me. That has been a great help for me,” she said.

Her father Dr. Alok Singla and mother Dr. Neeraj Singla both are medical officers in the Himachal Pradesh government and her brother is a graduate of IIT Kharagpur.

Between her first and second attempts, she explains that she lacked strategy. Although she was studying hard during her first attempt, it was her proper strategy that helped her in the second one. “I studied the previous year’s questions papers and took more mock tests. In the first attempt, I did not have enough time to take mock exams and could not get through the prelims. I did not do enough answer writing in the first attempt,” Gamini said.

SECOND ATTEMPT

To rectify her biggest mistake during her first attempt – not taking enough mock tests – Gamini decided to take as many as she can, in her second attempt.

One should be thorough with the syllabus of UPSC for both mains and prelims. Gamini claims she used to go to a nearby government school and give her mock tests sometimes without any electricity so that her body gets accustomed to the environment and “I do not feel that it is a new atmosphere I’m entering into,” she said.

For mains too, she took several mock tests. She also adds that self-evaluation of these mock exams is very important as it helps one know their loopholes. “Every weekend, I used to go to the school and take the three-hour mock tests for both mains and prelims.”

In the personality test, it is one’s knowledge that is reflected in the personality which helps one crack the interview round, says Gamini. “Just a few days before the exam, I had gone through my Detailed Application Form (DAF) to be through with what I have written, and for the current affairs, the newspapers were enough,” she said.

VICTORY AT LAST

She gave her second attempt at the UPSC CSE examination in 2021, the results of which were announced this week. She couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw her name third on the list and realized that she has not only cracked UPSC CSE and fulfilled her dream of becoming an IAS officer but had also scored the top rank of 3! Indian Masterminds wishes Gamini the best of luck for her future.


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