Haryana-based Anu Kumari made headlines after she topped the Union Public Service Commission 2017 exams with Rank 2, without any special coaching. And ever since the results came out, the mother of a 4-year-old has been bombarded with calls and requests by many civil service aspirants congratulating her and even requesting her to share her experience, notes and tips.
In a truly heartwarming move, the topper has gone the extra mile to help UPSC aspirants and launched her blog.
From sharing her notes and preparation methods to suggesting reference websites and textbooks, along with additional tips for the mains and he personal interviews, she is constantly updating the blog with a gold mine of crucial information for aspirants.
The Better India got in touch with Anu Kumari to congratulate her and commend her selfless efforts.
“I wanted to help many of these students aspiring to serve in the civil services. But due to various kinds of financial or location constraints, they often don’t have access to study material or coaching classes. While most students don’t have the financial backing to afford these, other suffer due to lack of proper guidance,” says Anu.
Preparation for civil services is anything but easy, she observes.
“Several questions cloud your mind–How do I prepare notes? What standard books should I refer to? Do I study from every other book out of the endless list prescribed for UPSC? How do I prepare in such a short duration? And many more. I faced these struggles myself since I prepared on my own, located in a village, at my aunt’s home,” says Anu.
And on one such day clouded with doubt, Anu watched the interview of UPSC topper, Arpita Shukla, who ranked 4 in 2015. A doctor by profession, she cracked her exams through self-study. And that 15-minute interview helped Anu a great deal. It gave her the confidence that cracking UPSC through self-preparation was possible.
“It made me want to share her experiences with many underprivileged students. Especially at a time when coaching institutes use the name of toppers, even if the aspirant may have only taken mock tests there. I don’t want people to be misled. Because most aspirants will go to those coaching centres, on the pretext that it increases their chances because the previous years’ topper was trained at it.”
Even in her blog, Anu mentions that the only help she took from coaching institutes was to appear for the mock test, the rest of the preparation was her own.
She notes, “And while I am trying to reach out to students with the methods that worked best for me, I think each one of them has the prerogative to either adopt it or work their ways around it.”
She shared the link to her blog in a Facebook post.
Before bidding adieu, she has an important list of dos and don’ts that aspirants can use:
– Keep your sources limited. Whether it is online websites or textbooks, don’t use too many sources. Sometimes using too many sources leads to self-destruction and improper utilisation of time. So keep this advice in mind.
– Multiple revisions is the key to learning and retaining important material. None of us have the superpower of remembering things after reading it only once. Remember you have to learn these books, so keep revising.
– Read the questions carefully. Many times students misread questions, and that can be a potential threat to your UPSC dream. For example, if the question says to pick the options from below which are NOT correct. Circle the word ‘Not’ so you don’t forget that you have to select the incorrect options and not the correct ones.
– Consistency is key. Don’t study one day for 15 hours, and the following day, only for one hour. Maintain consistency in your study hours.
– Be very optimistic and positive. When you enter the hall, believe that you deserve to be there and that you are meant for this. Have complete faith in yourself.
– Ignore nihilists and naysayers. There will always be those who will try to pull you down. Don’t pay heed to their words.
Sharing her own experience she says, “As a student who was preparing by herself, I had a few doubts, one month before the mains which weren’t getting resolved. At this time, someone offered to take me to her coaching institute professor to clarify my queries. He was the head of a reputed coaching institute, I asked him my doubts, but he countered it with a question that I couldn’t recall the answer to. He then told me, ‘You haven’t reached a level where you can question me. These days, parents think that their child is a champion who can crack the civils without coaching. We aren’t mad to have given so many attempts and then started coaching institutes to help students prepare.’ I was deeply humiliated but asked him how I could solve my doubts. He rebuked me saying that I should have taken coaching. I lost all confidence, went home and cried my heart out. But the next day, I decided to revise and prepare harder than before. My family helped me put the incident on the backburner and strive to improve my preparation.”
– Practising answer-writing is a must, Don’t ignore it. There is always a debate between quantity and quality. I would advise going for quantity with a good reason. Finishing your entire paper should be your first mantra. If while doing it, a little quality gets compromised, let it be. It is better to complete the entire paper than attempt only 13 questions while focusing on quality.
Last, but not the least, at the interview stage, she says, “Be positive and have a balanced approach while stating your views on a topic. Don’t be extremely critical. Don’t brag or try to be something you are not. There are extremely experienced and learned people on the panel and the minute you stray from who you are, they will know.
“If you don’t know something, it is okay to honestly accept it and say ‘Sorry, I don’t know that.’ And if you do know the answer, it is just as easy to explain it politely. That should be your attitude,” she signs off.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)