IAS Score: Which is the most difficult part of this exam and why? What was your strategy for tackling this difficult part?
Shashikant Mehta: Uncertain nature of the exam pattern and vast syllabus is the most challenging part. Planned approach and answer writing practice can tackle this.
IAS Score: How did you manage your time for both Prelims and Mains examinations?
Shashikant Mehta: Mains and prelims preparation are not separate and should be done in an integrated manner from the beginning.
IAS Score: What was your strategy for covering the lengthy syllabus of General Studies for both Prelims and Mains?
Shashikant Mehta: Time bound and target based approach towards covering the syllabus and regular writing of tests was my strategy.
IAS Score: Did you integrate your Prelims or Mains preparation or was it separate?
Shashikant Mehta: It was integrated.
IAS Score: What would be the best strategy to tackle negative marking in Prelims?
Shashikant Mehta: Don’t make wild guesses and attempt only those questions where you are sure of the answer. Though intelligent guesses also work sometimes.
IAS Score: GS Mains was altogether new, as current pattern is only two years old. How did you prepare for that?
Shashikant Mehta: Didn’t took much tension about it and focused on regular answer writing of GS as well as optional and essay
IAS Score: Have you completed the GS mains papers?
Shashikant Mehta: Yes, I completed all my papers. Writing answers at GS Score Test Series helped me the most in this part.
IAS Score: Can you share some idea/strategy about attempting GS paper as it is not easy to write answer of all questions in given time-frame?
Shashikant Mehta: It is better to attempt most of the questions in Mains exam. For this test series after prelims can play a big role. During those test series, one must ensure that they try and maximize their attempts.
IAS Score: What was your style of writing in the exam? How was it distinct from the general writing style? How did you develop this writing style?
Shashikant Mehta: I tried to write maximum answers in bullet format. I switched to paragraph where bullet points were not feasible.
IAS Score: How did you prepared for essay paper.
Shashikant Mehta: There was no specific preparation for essay. I just wrote 3-4 essays at GS Score and I must say they helped a lot in my essay. Specially Manoj Sir guidance in essay helped me a lot.
IAS Score: What were the sources of information for general reading? How did you come to know about the standard sources of reading materials?
Shashikant Mehta: The Hindu and Indian Express along with Yojana and some basic books are enough to crack this exam if followed religiously.
IAS Score: What should be the basis of selecting optional?
Shashikant Mehta: Personal interest is the most important part while selecting optional.
IAS Score: Did you follow the myth that only so called popular optional should be opted?
Shashikant Mehta: There is no popular optional in the current pattern.
IAS Score: How did you plan your optional strategy?
Shashikant Mehta: Regular study of basic material and taking tests regularly was my strategy for optional.
IAS Score: How helpful are the notes? What is your advice on notes-making?
Shashikant Mehta: I never maintained notes as I believe in reading from the original text.
IAS Score: Civil Services Exam process is quite strenuous. It requires long hours of constant study. How did you maintain your tempo and what did you do to break the monotony of preparation?
Shashikant Mehta: My hobby is playing basketball which I never left while preparing. It helped me to rejuvenate after tiresome study sessions.
IAS Score: How did you prepare for interview?
Shashikant Mehta: I took some mock interviews and prepared my DAF well.
IAS Score: Which types of questions were asked in the interview?
Shashikant Mehta: Almost all the questions were related to my DAF.
IAS Score: Can you disclose your marks in detail?
Sociology 1- 130
Sociology 2- 108
IAS Score: What is your suggestion/advice for future aspirants?
Shashikant Mehta: Stay determined and focused during the course of preparation and you can clear this exam in your first attempt itself. Base most of your preparation around newspapers and NCERT.
Verifying, please be patient.