Listen into this delightful experience of a down-to-earth boy from a humble background, who walked into UPSC to live his dream. It has all the ingredients that should go into making of a heart-warming and truly inspiring story.
IES Master: It’s a huge success. How was it received in your family? Who was the first person you informed in your family?
Vijaya: I was typing a message to my sister asking her to bring some commodities, which my mother required for Chhath celebration. Suddenly one of my friends, who have also given UPSC interview, called me. He called once, I rejected his call, and then again he called. I thought what is it that he is calling continuously as it was around 8.30 or 8.35 in the evening that time. Then he messaged congratulating me on securing AIR-8. Everyone at my home were trembling with the fear that what would happen if I am not selected as we belong to a lower middle class family. We are not much strong financially so there was a constant fear that if I would fail once more then what would be the condition, and how would I be able to continue my preparation. So to confirm the result, I asked my friend to send me the PDF of the result as I have devoted my two years for this exam. So he messaged me the PDF, and after that I was almost lost. I cannot describe in words how I felt at that moment because when you see your hard efforts, your honest efforts give fruit. That was the best one hour of my life that I have experienced so far.
IES Master: Tell us about your family.
Vijaya: My father is a teacher, he runs a small coaching. My mother is housemaker. I have two sisters. One of my sisters is a teacher in primary school, and other has done her B.Ed. So, we belong to a middle class family, we are not that much financially strong.
IES Master: Tell us about your schooling and something about the city to which you belong.
Vijaya: I come from a small city in UP named Jaunpur, and I have done my schooling from St. Patrick Senior Secondary School up to elementary level. After that I appeared for AIEEE, cleared it, and then I got enrolled in NIT Hamirpur from where I graduated.
IES Master: It must be a huge news in your city. How was the experience?
Vijaya: I was dreaming about all this for the past two years. Most of my friends were employed in private companies and earning, I was feeling alone among them as they were earning, and I was still studying. But I was sure that once I will clear ESE then the impact it will create will always be there. So when the result was announced, I met around thousand people as I belong to a small town, and a person clearing UPSC from that place is a big success and that too in under 10 rank. One cannot even dream of it. I can’t explain that how much praise I received. Even the MLA, MP, and cabinet ministers from my region visited my home to congratulate me. My father was always on his toes as lots of people were coming to our house as if it was some festive occasion. So I think that whatever effort I have put in has been rewarded by God. I would like to say here that never think of this exam as a normal exam. Cracking this exam will make you a super human. So clear this exam, you will yourself see how your life changes.
IES Master: How did you get into NIT Hamirpur?
Vijaya: When I gave AIEEE in my first attempt, I got 25000 rank in AIEEE, and I got NIT Agartala. I was not comfortable with that college. While going through the July-August edition of Pratiyogita Darpan, I read an interview of a senior named Mahendra Kumar, who cleared Civil Services and got AIR-37. In his interview, he said that he has done his B.Tech from NIT Hamirpur, and it is a good institute with lots of scope for engineering students. So, I thought I should pursue my B.Tech from there. NIT Agartala is also one of the elite institutes, but a person’s comfortable zone varies from place to place. He cannot be comfortable at each and every place. So that made me decide for NIT Hamirpur. Some of my friends from NIT Agartala have done exceptionally well. But still I left NIT Agartala, and again appeared in AIEEE, studying on my own, and cleared it with good rank, and I got NIT Hamirpur. After graduating from NIT Hamirpur, I thought that I made a good decision. The teachers taught me very well there, and helped in understanding the basics. It helped me a lot during the preparation phase.
IES Master: Tell us about your journey from NIT Hamirpur to IES Master Delhi.
Vijaya: When I was in second year, I never thought that I would be appearing in Engineering Services Examination as I don’t know much about it. My only thought was Civil Services, but as I entered into third year, one of my seniors cleared ESE with AIR-13. So that sparked sensations in me, along with that my teachers always used to tell us stories about students who have performed well in this all India level exam. So this inculcated a feeling in me that I should also go for this examination. I never appeared for any campus placement exam even though I was among the top-10 in my college. I don’t want to join any private company. I was clear in my decision that I would go for Engineering Services Examination only. After graduating from NIT Hamirpur, I started discussing with my friends about the right place to go to fulfill this dream of mine. They told me about IES Master, and then I came here. Whatever I read here, I can only say that I made a good decision, and it helped me a lot.
IES Master: When did you start preparing for Engineering Services?
Vijaya: After graduating from NIT Hamirpur in 2016, I was determined that I will clear this exam no matter how much hard work it will take. But I was not familiar with the approach, the syllabus, and how should I attempt the exam. So, I came here at IES Master, and got myself enrolled in the evening batch of Genius Batch. On my first day, I was very eager to know who would be the teacher who will be teaching us all the subjects of Civil Engineering. Then Kanchan Sir came in the class, and gave us a broad outline about ESE because we were a part of the changed UPSC syllabus for ESE. This change in exam syllabus make the ESE more mysterious for us. The way Kanchan Sir gave the outline, I realized that he is an experienced teacher, and whatever he speaks is 100% correct. So I decided from that day that whatever he is teaching, the concepts should not be missed, notes should be made properly with good handwriting. I used to sit in the front row in the class, and each and every point whatever Kanchan Sir used to say, and then I revised those points. So the way Kanchan Sir taught me was excellent as it reduced my burden. Although I was studying regularly, but when you give your efforts in a channelized way it yields results, and the same was my case.
The strategy with which I studied was that I followed only notes, and revised all the concepts that were taught by Kanchan Sir. Also, I solved questions from a variety of sources like previous years question papers, test series, and other booklets that were provided to me at IES Master. So, in this way the approach I had developed was quite helpful for me to tackle this exam.
IES Master: How effective was IES Master material?
Vijaya: IES Master material is an excellent source, not only for Engineering Services but also for Civil Services. I bet on this that if a person genuinely revise, and be honest to himself then there is no need to ponder here and there. So take this material, it is surely going to help you not only in ESE, but also in Civil Services.
IES Master: ESE is quite an intensive exam. How did you manage to complete the entire syllabus before the real exam?
Vijaya: This is a basic problem which number of students faced, including me. So one should not see Engineering Services as a whole as they will get frustrated on seeing 28 or 30 subjects including GS. So if one sees the entire syllabus at one go, an element of frustration inculcates in us. Therefore, one should go with the class. If a particular subject is taught in the class go with it only. So this way your burden reduces, and you gain some confidence. So this was the strategy that I followed. At the end of the day when the course is completed, IES Master provides test series also. So when you enroll yourself at IES Master for Test Series then it along with your notes will help you in completing your syllabus on time, and revising whatever you have studied. But the main thing is that it requires a lot of hard work. If you can do it then you will surely achieve success in this exam.
IES Master: Take us through Mains Paper-I.
Vijaya: Last year I scored poorly in Mains Paper-I due to which I was out of the interview round. So this time my main strategy was that as Paper-I is the main thing due to which students are unable to clear this exam. In Paper-I, the marking which is followed by UPSC is on the basis of your answer. If you get the correct answer, you will be given marks, but who knows that a slight mistake may cost you marks. So what I followed was that I used to practice a lot. I remember that I solved Paper-I 16 to 18 times from the book of IES Master. When I used to sleep, I was aware of which question was number 1, and question number 15, or 27. So that is how I practiced. Apart from this, I did not miss even a single test series conducted by IES Master whether it was for Prelims or Mains. So you have to practice, practice a lot. Set yourself a target, and make sure that the target is achieved. Then only you would be able to cope up with Paper-I, and score 200+ marks, and no one can stop you from your final selection.
IES Master: What about Paper-II?
Vijaya: Paper-II is basically theoretical part with a ratio of 40:60 for theory and numerical, and the subjects involved are Soil Mechanics, Fluid Mechanics, etc which carry a huge weightage. At IES Master, the subjects like this which carry huge weightage are taught quite well, and the notes of these subjects I used to make very properly. These helped me to clear my concepts. Theory part, I was not much bothered about as most of the theory questions were covered during my classes only. So don’t bother about theory part, try to be conscious about the subjects that carry huge weightage like Environmental, Soil, and Fluid. If these three subjects you have practiced enormously, and studied the notes that have been taught in the class then you’ll face no problem in Paper-II.
IES Master: Walk us through your interview experience. How was it at UPSC?
Vijaya: In interview, what I feel is that whatever you have gained in the previous two rounds, it is going to reflect in the interview round. In my case, I did not perform well in the Mains round so I was not able to perform well in the interview round also. Interview is all about the confidence that you gain in the previous two rounds. Normally this is the case with all candidates. Very few people are there who score exceptionally well in interview inspite of scoring low in the previous two stages. What I feel is that interview is the reflection of your confidence, clarity about concepts that you have gained in previous two stages. Basically it is your personality test. Try to be humble, honest, be polite, give respect to the interview panel members, and if you have revised the basic things, you will never face problem in interview, and you will get genuine marks i.e. 120 out of 200 marks, which is a good score.
IES Master: What would be your message to students from NIT Hamirpur?
Vijaya: I would like to suggest my juniors that in this competitive exam, you will be competing with students from all over India, and the competition level rises when people from IITs, NITs, and a number of good colleges are inclining towards this exam. So inculcate a habit of hard work, be honest towards yourself as you will be carrying the prestige and reputation of your college, your family, and your institute on your shoulders. So when you achieve success in such an exam, the whole environment around you becomes cheerful. So keep on doing whatever I have done, and I wish that next year also some of my junior from my college clears this exam by scoring ranking under AIR 10. So that my college gets a unique identity that this is the college that produces toppers in the exams like UPSC.