(Success Story) Cracking UPSC After Marriage – Story of AIR 508 Suman Nala
Suman Nala is an inspiration for millions of Indian women out there, struggling to balance their family responsibilities along with their dreams. A Computer Science Engineer from BITS Pilani, Suman graduated in 2012 and worked in Oracle, a dream job for many. Having worked for about three and a half years, Suman finally quit to pursue her IAS dream. Civil Services Examination 2019 was her 4th attempt.
Suman says her hurdles were not very different from the rest of the aspirants. The vast syllabus of UPSC CSE was daunting. Being from an engineering background, she was not comfortable with the subjects which are required to pass this exam. Computer Science is nowhere in the list of optionals UPSC allows. And Suman frankly admits that even if it were, like many other Science subjects that UPSC does allow, like other aspirants, she would have chosen an optional closely related to the General Studies preparation, rather than study a vastly different curriculum.
Her Journey :
Suman cleared her upsc prelims in her first attempt in 2016, but she could not go through the mains exam. However, this gave her confidence that she would crack it in her next attempt. But as luck would have it, despite being invited to appear for interviews in her 2nd attempt in 2017, she did not make it to the final list. The aftershock of this failure carried forward to her 3rd attempt in 2018 and Suman found herself once again unable to clear the mains exam. But with the support of her parents and in-laws, especially her husband, who himself had cleared the examination while they were preparing for UPSC together, Suman worked even harder and sailed through her 4th attempt in 2019.
UPSC Prelims Strategy :
Suman had a clear-cut strategy for her preliminary examination preparation – solving as many mock question papers as she can. She also preferred reading the monthly current affairs compilation for her current affairs revision. Suman insists that due to the detailed nature of the UPSC syllabus, taking tests is the only way to understand which information you should memorize, and which you can leave aside. Taking mock tests allows you to not only judge your potential but more importantly, they ensure your preparation is well structured and well balanced.
UPSC CSE 2019 Successful Candidates
UPSC Optional Strategy :
Suman decided to study the NCERT books for the few subjects she had zeroed in on as final candidates for her optional. The ones she found most interesting were the History books. Which is why Suman chose History as her optional subject. She insists you should like the subject you choose as your optional. Very few clear UPSC at their very first attempt. In Suman’s case, it took her 4 years. Had she not liked History, she would not have been able to continue with it or score good marks with it in the end.
Prelims Cum Mains Preparation :
Suman, like so many other successful aspirants before her, insists on a combined preparation for both prelims and mains. Three to four months before the preliminary examination, one can switch to focussing completely on preliminary mock tests and prelim specific studies. Since the time span between the preliminary and mains examination is so little, the mains syllabus should be completed and if possible revised at least once before the preliminary examination. Between preliminary and mains exams, one can concentrate on further revision and practicing test papers. And always make your own notes, else you will never be able to complete revisions.
UPSC Interview :
Interviews are a test of your personality. Taking a few mock interviews is a good idea to polish the way you present your thoughts during the interview. It is a good idea to know your state, your district, any prior career you have had, as well as some knowledge of your educational background. Interviews might ask questions that are factual like prelims or analytical like mains. What is important is to be humble and maintain your presence of mind.
Message for IAS Aspirants :
Suman believes that if one is motivated and hardworking, family support is bound to come. UPSC sees aspirants of all age groups. There are people from different backgrounds, whether Engineers, Researchers, Professors, or Medical Doctors. Often they decide on UPSC after working in a completely different sector for at least a few years. Thus, many times, the issues of getting married and settling down does become a part of the journey. Thus, marriage should not be treated as the end of your career plan. Instead, just treat it as a part of the journey and keep fighting for your IAS dream.
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