Why Previous Years’ Question Papers Are Bible for Aspirants, Know From Mehak Jain, AIR 17 in UPSC CSE-2021
- Ayodhya Prasad Singh
- Published on 6 Jun 2022, 9:12 am IST
- 5 minutes read
- Mehak Jain, who bagged AIR 17, had felt hopeless at one point of time during her preparation.
- She felt that when she could not qualify even prelims in her dirst two attempts, how would she clear all three stages of the exam.
- However, better guidance prevailed and she immersed herself once again in preparation with full steam and aced the exam.
If you are an UPSC CSE aspirant, dreaming of cracking one of the toughest and prestigious exams of India, the success story of Mehak Jain is for you. Hailing from Haryana, she cracked CSE in her third attempt with top AIR-17 in 2021. 24-year-old Mehak says that one should set a goal to be successful in life and then prepare the way to achieve that goal with hard work and dedication.
In an exclusive interview to Indian Masterminds, she said, “In my first two attempts, I could not even qualify prelims. The journey was quite challenging, because sometimes I felt hopeless that when I could not even qualify pre, how can I pass the three stages of UPSC? But then, better guidance suggested that if I put my honest efforts with hard work and dedication,good results will definitely come.”
Mehak is from Faridabad, Haryana. Her mother is homemaker. Her father works in private sector. She has an elder sister who is preparing for Chartered Accountancy and employed in a job at the same time.
“My schooling was done in Faridabad itself. Then, I did my graduation (B.Com. Honours) from Hansraj College, University of Delhi. After that, I did my master’s in Public Administration from Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi,” she told Indian Masterminds.
She started her preparation in her graduation final year. Her first attempt was right after graduation in 2019.
“I was not able to clear even my pre in initial two attempts, so I changed my strategy a little. For initial attempts, I prepared pre and mains separately. But later, my preparation was in better direction.I tried to give same time to my GS and optional paper. I believed more in my hand-written notes. That’s the reason I got very good marks in GS. And that is why I got such good rank.”
She opted for Public Administration as optional subject as she had studied it for her master’s.
“I would say that previous paper analysis is compulsory, do it with dedication and better understanding. Make your detailed notes. I made two sets of notes. First, I made them for pre, then, I made final draft of notes for better revisions. I did my preparation in a way that even before pre, I was ready for mains.”
ERRORS IN INITIAL ATTEMPTS
About mistakes in the initial two attempts, she said that in her earlier attempts for pre, she totally relied on her own knowledge. But after giving the exam, she realised that the syllabus was much vast than she thought and however much she tries to cover the entire syllabus, there will still be questions entirely different and out of the syllabus.
“You can’t solve those questions relying solely on your knowledge base. You have to logically derive the answers with elimination and sometimes with guess work. Answer is in front of you, but you need to choose with sharp acumen and also with data figure. For this, you have to analyse past years’ question papers. I did it from 1990 to last year, subject wise.”
Of the interview stage, she said that she I got almost 15 days for exclusive Interview preparation after main examination result. She took a break after mains.
“I started preparing DAF (Detailed Application Form)as my main exam went well. I was already expecting the call for interview. I made online notes,went for mocks, one-on-one interviews.For interview, I studied online a lot.”
However, she points out that in the Interview, all questions were not DAF related. “I was asked more situational questions than technical or DAF related ones. Like, what reforms would you suggest for National Police Commission Reform?”
She says the Covid periods actually helped her by saving traveling time for classes. “My MA classes and UPSC coaching classes were shifted online due to restrictions. So, I was involved in a better way in my preparation in those days.Almost three hours spent in commuting to college and another two to the coaching centre were saved.But apart from me, all persons in my family got Covid. So, it was mentally, difficult to cope. But it was a learning lesson for future, of how to handle such a situation.”
ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Mehak was not much active on social media. “I have accounts, but as soon as I got involved in preparations, I left all that.”
SUGGESTIONS FOR ASPIRANTS
She offers a few suggestions to UPSC aspirants on how to study for the exam. “Previous years’ question papers are bible for you. The more you analyse those, the more you will be nearer to your goal. No book or person can give you better understanding of UPSC than UPSC gives itself. So,for both pre and main, analyse the previous papers. Also, concise hand-written notes, based on your understanding, would help you.”
She said that she usually made a schedule on topics that she had to cover and followed it. On an average,she studied almost 9 to 10 hours daily.
AIM IN SERVICE
Her immediate priority would be to work for women empowerment. “I would love to work on women entrepreneurship. I believe that financial independence for women is crucial for country’s growth.”
END OF THE ARTICLE
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