IAS 1st ranker 2010, S Divyadharshini in an interview to Gulshan Sharma discusses the strategy for Mains (Written) of the prestigious civil services exam
Q. When did you start preparing for the Mains examination? Was it after the results of Preliminary examination?
A. One week after the preliminary exam, I started researching the material required for both my optional subjects and had made it ready before the results of the prelims. Once results were declared I started studying intensively for the mains.
Q. What was the medium of answering the questions? English, Hindi or any other language?
A. I took the exam entirely in English.
Q. What were your optional subjects for the Mains exam? What was the basis for choosing them? Which books did you refer to?
A. Public administration and Law were my two optional subjects. I chose public administration as my first option. Since the subject was new to me, I had to develop a basic understanding of it. The right guidance and material required for the subject were easily available making it an interesting subject.
Further, Law was a natural choice as I had done my graduation in Law and found the syllabus feasible enough to be covered within the available time.
Q. Any tips how to prepare for optional papers and more importantly how to choose them?
A. Choosing the subject is more important. Having interest in the subject will come a long way in the preparation. Covering the syllabus in entirety is essential.
Q. What was the Indian Language you chose for the Mains exam?
A. The Indian language paper that I chose for the exam was my mother tongue Tamil.
Q. Even though English and the Indian Language paper are of qualifying nature, they cannot be taken lightly. What is your advice to IAS aspirants? How should one prepare for these papers?
A. Yes, these papers are of basic standard and anyone with a fluency or minimum knowledge in the language can clear it.
Q. How did you plan for the General Studies in the main examination?
A. My prelims GS preparation helped in my mains also. Further a different approach, an analytical one was needed for the exam. Subject knowledge is required to answer questions, so my preparation was intensive too.
Q. What was your strategy for the Essay paper?
A. I did not make any specific preparation for the essay paper. Personally, my mains optional, I thought would help me in the essay. And also your GS preparation will come in handy will scripting your essay.
Q. How important is time management while writing an essay?
A. We would have ample time to answer the essay and proper strategy in making a coherent essay will give positive outcome.
Q. Do you think that good understanding of current affairs can play a significant role even in optional papers?
A. Yes applying the knowledge of current affairs to the questions of optional paper means that one has really understood the issue. In this way you can express your views and write impressive answers.
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Internet helped me crack IAS exam 2010, says topper S Divyadharshini