Dr Apala Mishra, a dental surgeon, joins the rank of a long list of medical professionals who have chosen civil services as their career. Apala has created quite the stir by scoring a whopping 215 out of 300 in the UPSC personality test/interview round, making her the top scorer in this last stage of the examination. 2020 was Apala's first time clearing prelims and she made it to the top of the list by securing an all India rank of 9. This was also her 3rd attempt; however, this is her first serious attempt as well.
Why Civil Services?
Apala decided on pursuing civil services in her final year of graduation. She says she chose this path once she realised the varied scope and wide opportunity that this career allows one to pursue, where they can impact a much larger section of society than they ever could as professionals in their respective field. Apala's choice of service is the Indian Foreign Service, which she chose so that she can represent our country's interests on a global platform.
How Dr Apala Mishra Topped UPSC CSE 2020
Science Students Are Not At A Disadvantage
As a STEM background student, Apala was initially intimidated by the number of humanities subjects she would have to deal with to be successful in this examination. But she soon realised that the strength of humanities subjects such as society, polity, international relations, etc. lies in the fact that they can be easily connected to real-life scenarios. Besides, as adults of a certain age, we can grasp any subject given we put enough time and effort into it.
The next hurdle of course is grasping basic expertise over these subjects. Although guidance is a helpful tool, Apala truly believes that in the end, it is hard work and dedication that pays off. As a result, she is a believer in self-study.
Conquering The Syllabus One Bit At A Time
Apala also realises how massive a goal cracking UPSC CSE is and how looking at the bigger picture in this scenario can be crippling. She recommends breaking UPSC Syllabus down into smaller weekly and monthly targets and celebrating with small breaks and activities one enjoys after achieving each of these goals. This will allow one to keep focussed and motivated, without losing hope.
Under no circumstances should an aspirant look at the three stages of the examination as separate when preparing. All information one needs for mains is relevant in both prelims and interviews. It is only a matter of perspective. Besides, there is not enough time gap between the three stages to allow for separate approaches. Another important part is answer writing – start with it as soon as you finish one section; do not wait till you are one with the whole syllabus.
Message For Aspirants
Apala has a fair warning to all aspirants that this examination takes a toll on everyone's mental health.
So remember to take care and prioritise yourself.
Best of Luck.
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