Guwahati: Aranyak Saikia, the Assam youth who brought laurels to the state by cracking the premier UPSC exam 2019, has said that there is no "secret mantra" to clear the examination. Instead, the focus should be on gaining in-depth knowledge of the syllabus and eliminating one's weaknesses. Aranyak Saikia revealed it all in an interview with The Sentinel Digital. Read excerpts below:
Did you take any coaching to prepare for the UPSC Civils? There is a prevailing belief system that says that coaching is a must to clear the UPSC Civils. To what extent is it correct?
No, I did not take any coaching. Instead, I opted for test papers and information available online to broaden my understanding. There are several quality websites out there which are a treasure trove of information. These websites, such as Insights on India and Demystify CSE, make invaluable information available at the tip of one's fingertips. UPSC aspirants would be well advised to go through this material.
As far as coaching is concerned, it is important if you want to get the hang of the exam. It gives an idea as to how to go about preparing for the exam and it better acquaints you with the expansive syllabus. Coaching also gives an environment for one to prepare for exams as he/she is bound to bump into other aspirants to discuss preparation strategies.. However, nowadays, things are available at the tips of your fingertips.
Did you have any special strategy to crack these exams? Any secret that enabled you to crack the highly competitive exam?
If there had been any secret, everyone would have cleared the exams after following secret mantras. No, there is no such thing. Practicing, writing answers, giving mock tests is the key to get a feel of the Civils. Mock tests are important as the more you learn about your mistakes, the more you can fine-tune yourself. There will be lots of mistakes that you will keep on making.
How many hours did you have to devote to preparing for the exams this year? Is there a minimum amount of hours that you have to devote towards studies if you wish to crack the UPSC Civils?
There is nothing like that. It is very individual specific. It depends on the person how he or she wishes to prepare and what his or her strategy is. Initially, I spent 3-4 hours daily on studies. However, when the examination started approaching, I had to devote 7-8 hours for my studies. Yet, there is no hard or fast rule that you have to study this many hours or that. This was my 3rd attempt, I already had a base to build on. I already had materials and a base to build on from my previous years of preparation.
What was your mains subject? Does each subject require a different strategy?
Economics was my subject for the mains examination. The key is, you have to be thorough with your subject. It does not matter which subject it is; you simply have to have in-depth knowledge of the same.
Does the family's support play a key role in the UPSC Civil examination?
Yes, it can play an important role. My family was supportive of my decision to prepare for the UPSC Civil exams. However, their support was more of an emotional support.
Now that you have cleared the tough UPSC Civil Service examination, what goals do you have?
After joining the service, my goal would naturally be to serve the people and improve the administration in the area wherever I am sent. The people in the area must get access to the administration's benefits. They must have access to the schemes.
Do you have any hobbies? How do you like to unwind when you are not studying or working?
I am a sports aficionado and playing football and badminton are some of the things I like to do to unwind. At the same time, I also enjoy writing. I enjoy writing short stories for journals and newspapers.