IAS Topper's Strategy - Arpit Sagar (AIR 378)

Arpit Sagar, an engineer from NIT Allahabad and MBA from IIM Calcutta. Arpit Sagar is currently in the service of IAS and the cadre allotted to her is Gujarat.

In an interview with NeoStencil she shared about her strategy, answer writing style and interview experiences for the benefit of the aspirants.

Arpit Sagar (AIR 378) - IAS Preparation Strategy

1. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?

Talking about my family first, my father is a businessman, mother is a homemaker. We are 5 sisters and 1 brother. I did engineering from NIT Allahabad and MBA from IIM Calcutta. Soon after passing out from IIM, I decided to prepare for UPSC.

2. What inspired you to prepare for IAS examination?

My father always had a great inclination towards Civil Services so he always wanted us to write the exam. Since my elder sister, brother in law and my uncle are also into the services so I always wanted to give it a try.

3. What is a typical day in your study life? What is your style of preparation (e.g. I continue making notes no matter what I m reading, I just read multiple times but don t maintain notes, I make mind maps on computer or xyz style)

I use to read a lot, specifically newspaper. I use to read and make notes for everything I read, specially

for optional subject. However it became difficult at times to prepare notes for GS but somehow I managed. I think the style of preparation depends from person to person, I could retain things better if I write the same in my own handwriting.

Also Read: Aprit Sagar - Public Administration Preparation Strategy here

4. How many days before the exam, you started answer writing practice?

I joined test series from the beginning of my preparation. For GS only the test series was sufficient but for optional, apart from writing the tests and getting it corrected at the institute I also use to write the the answers of the previous year question papers at home and get it corrected by the teachers at institute.

I wrote my answers in a mixed format i.e. both paragraph form and point format. It should be decided as per the demand of the question.

Answers should be to the point i.e. as per the requirement of the question, do not answer more than what the question is asking.

I can t stress enough it is very important to understand the question. So, one should spend enough time in reading and understanding the question properly during the examination.

Another mistake that I have made in my previous attempts was the use of many Pub Ad related jargons in my answers. In fact, a very simple language should be used to explain the concept which I strictly followed in all my answers this time.

Also, the kinds of questions being asked these days are very general in nature and cover a wide arena. The best way to handle these questions is with utmost clarity. One should also acquire the ability to express himself/herself in a logical manner.

Facts, name of thinkers, Articles from the Constitution etc can be used to substantiate your answer provided it is really fitting-in.

You should take a fair stand on issues explaining it with appropriate arguments.

Last but not the least; you should complete your question paper within the stipulated time.

5. How was your experience with the fixed space answer sheet?

Fixed space answer sheet is sufficient and is better to write the answers. I use to first attempt the answers which I knew and then take up questions in the last which I don't know.

6. How did you balance your preparation with Job or other exams, if any?

At the time of my preparation I left my job and concentrated completely on my studies.

7. What magazines /newspapers/standard books did you refer to for preparing Current Affairs?

The basic books/notes that I referred during my preparation:

  • Mohit Bhattacharya
  • Prasad and Prasad for Administrative thought
  • Fadia and Fadia (only for some of the topics)
  • Pawan sir s notes
  • Vajiram notes
  • Synopsis of ARC report, Puncchi commission report
  • The Hindu
Public Administration Online course by S. Ansari (Lukmaan IAS) - Top Teacher  for Pub Ad. Optional - Explore Now!

8. How did you prepare your Optional subject?

My Optional Subject was Public Administration.

Now let us talk about the people who are at the starting phase of their preparation and are still confused whether to take Public Administration or not, considering the kind of score obtained in Pub Ad these days. You should decide in accordance with the below mentioned steps:

You should first go through the syllabus of Public Administration and try to read some topics from the basic books. Only if you find it interesting, you should go for it. According to me, no subject is easy or difficult. You have to put-in the same amount of effort in all the optional. The optional that you find interesting keeps you motivated during the preparation.

I was initially inclined towards Public Administration as my sister cleared the exam with Pub Ad as the optional but that is not the right way of choosing your optional. Later on, I found it relatable which made me choose it.

There is nothing to be scared of this optional as it is similar to all the arts based subjects.

Regarding the kind of checking in Pub Ad. It has really fluctuated in the last few years. I have suffered too in my previous attempts because of the marking pattern. Just take the example of the kind of marks I scored in my previous attempts:
2010 350/600 (171+179)

2011 270/600 (Don t exactly remember the distribution but definitely scored very less in Paper I)

2012 136/600 (55+81)

2013 181/500 (78+120)

2014 278/500 (163+115)

But the same thing happened in other subjects like Psychology (which was my second optional during the previous format), Geography and Philosophy etc. Therefore, I didn t see any point in changing my optional as it would have required a lot for preparation again from the beginning.

9. Can you please share with us your UPSC interview experience (Interview board and Questions faced and how did you answer)?

My interview board was of Alka Serohi. She is well known for asking technical questions.

Interview completely depends on the interview board as well as on the candidate like how they present themselves. You shouldn't be scared, even if you don't know the answer you should confidently say that you don't know.

The initial five minutes of the interview decides how much marks will be given to you. More than knowledge, it is the confidence that matters.

I didn't score much in the interview because I didn't smile much. So my suggestion would be for all of you to be confident and smile throughout your interview.

10. Which coaching institutes you attended?

I took coaching from Pavan Sir (Pavan Kumar IAS) and Vajiram & Ravi.

I did my coaching first, and later on supplemented it with the above mentioned books. For some of the chapters like financial administration and Management, Pavan Sir s notes (Pavan Kumar IAS) were good in bringing about clarity in those topics. I had previously taken coaching from Vajiram & Ravi for earlier attempts. In this attempt, I read Pavan Sir s notes in particular and revised them. Considering the type of questions being asked in the last few years, it has become essential to understand the questions properly and write the answers in a very simple language.

11. Please share your mark sheet/marks.


11 23356 ARPIT SAGAR 1 0 768 146 914

scored 163 Marks in Public Administration Paper 1.

12. NeoStencil's live online platform aims to solve a big problem of students who are working and who can t afford to come to Delhi or other metros for civil services coaching from top teachers. Do you think that we have created value by connecting top teachers with students?

NeoStencil is definitely solving a big problem. There are aspirants who often ask me to how to prepare if we can't travel to Delhi for our preparations. I think you should market more about NeoStencil as it will help a lot of aspirants who could not travel to Delhi. Attending the offline classes or online it is the same and does not make any difference. It becomes easier for students to prepare.

13. If a platform like NeoStencil was there during the times when you prepared for UPSC. Have you preferred this platform for your preparation? If, yes then Why?

Yes definitely I would have preferred such a platform because I and also my younger sister who will be appearing for interview this year, we prefer spending more time at home and studying rather than going to coachings. That ways you can sit at your home, make your notes, take a break in between the studies( Which I always like to) and watch the videos at your own sweet time.

14. Once again congratulation for making it. Is there any message you would like to give to IAS Aspirants who look up to you.

Always be as calm and composed as possible while writing your examination.

Do not try to guess questions that can be expected in the exam. It only leads to tension and anxiety.
Believe in yourself and especially your preparation. You only need to write good answers and rest will be taken care of.
You should simply try to write your exam with a clear mindset, coherence and comprehensively.

All the best!!!

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