UPSC Topper Interview: Pavan Kumar Goel, AIR 131 (CSE-2019)

UPSC Civil Services Exam has always been a tough nut to crack. With more than 10 lakhs candidates appearing in the examination every year to compete for the handful of vacancies, the exam has set its benchmark really high. Candidates with utmost dedication and who put forth a great amount of hard work succeed to clear the UPSC IAS exam. Among one such candidate is Pawan Kumar Goel. He was also an online student at NeoStencil. After many years of rigorous efforts, he finally cracked the exam in his third attempt. 

Being from an engineering background, he opted Sociology optional in the UPSC Mains and finally succeeded to get into the final list. Pawan joined the Sociology optional course and test series offered by Praveen Kishore Sir of NICE IAS Academy through NeoStencil which helped him to get in-depth knowledge of the subject and conceptual clarity. 

To understand his success journey, NeoStencil in collaboration with NICE IAS Academy conducted a live webinar where Praveen Kishore Sir, director and faculty of NICE IAS Academy took a one on one interactive session with Pawan Kumar Goel. A few of the questions covered in the webinar are given below:   

Ques: Being a B.Tech graduate, what was the reason for choosing Sociology Optional and appearing in the CSE exam?

Ans: Sir, Till my 10th standard I enjoyed studying Mathematics and Science which became my ultimate reason for pursuing engineering. Talking about the reason to choose Sociology optional, I would like to say, after doing engineering I looked at the sociology optional syllabus and I found it interesting. Coming to the practical aspect of it, if you learn sociology then it will help you in writing Essay paper and GS 1paper as well. 

While choosing the optional, I would like to suggest the aspirants go through the syllabus first and see whether they find it interesting or not. 

Ques: How to balance the job insecurity issue while preparing for UPSC Exam?  

Ans: If someone is doing a job and can devote 3-4 hours daily and 4-5 hours at the weekend then it is enough for UPSC preparation. This way, they can prepare for the exam while being a working professional. 

If someone wants to prepare for the exam while doing a job, they can opt for online studies. There are a lot of online portals like NeoStencil where one can get videos and study material that can help them in UPSC preparation without being physically present in the classroom. 

It is also a great help for the aspirants who cannot go forward to prepare for the exam without doing a job due to financial reasons. This also provides the flexibility of time so that one can access the lectures of the faculty they consider good. 

Ques: Do you see a difference between the private sector job than the government sector for the aspirants who are willing to prepare for the CSE exam along with job?

Ans: That can be the right strategy to prepare for the CSE exam while doing a government job. Because in government jobs, there are more chances to get more time for preparation. As well you have job security so just in case you do not get selected, you have some government job in hand.  

Ques: People say the Sociology optional syllabus is very small and can be covered within 2-3 months. What is your opinion on this claim?

Ans: 2-3 months is very little time to understand the subject, be comfortable with it, and score more than 300 marks. There may be some exceptional cases, but I would not suggest believing in such claims, invest sufficient time to study sociology because optional plays an important role in clearing the Civil Services exam. 

Secondly, the syllabus of Sociology optional is less as compared to other optional subjects but it is not easy to understand if you are not from the same background. So, you have to devote a good amount of time. 

Ques: What is the minimum time frame you think is required to prepare any of the optional subjects in UPSC Mains? 

Ans: While preparing for UPSC Mains, the aspirants will devote time to study the other subjects as well along with preparing for the optional subject. It takes a minimum of 8-9 months to prepare sociology optional or any other optional subject. 

Ques: What books did you refer to for Sociology?

Ans: One should start with NCERTs as this will form the foundation of Sociology and will give a rough estimate of the subject. After that one can go through the standard books like Nitin Sangwan, Haralamos, George Ritzer, etc. 

Initially, I faced problems in Sociology but then I referred to the books and joined coaching at NeoStencil. I also joined a test series which was quite comprehensive. These things helped me in forming the foundation of the subject. 

Ques: How helpful was the discussion and answer writing through the coaching classes at NeoStencil?

Ans: After scoring very less in Sociology optional in my previous attempt, I joined the Sociology optional course and test series offered by Praveen Kishore Sir of NICE IAS Academy. It helped me a lot in clearing the entire syllabus. The positive feedback in the test series also helped me in answer writing. 

Common Questions Asked by UPSC Aspirants

Ques: How much importance do you give to self-study? 

Ans: Self-study is the most important part of UPSC preparation because whatever you study in coachings needs to be processed in mind to develop conceptual clarity. To become comfortable with the subject and understand the coaching material as well you need to do self-study. 

Ques: How to check the source material is good for UPSC preparation? 

Ans: The basic step is to go through the previous year question paper, if you get the answers from the books itself then go for it. 

Ques: I am in the 3rd year of Engineering and preparing for the UPSC exam. How do I start my preparation?

Ans: Third-year is the perfect time to start UPSC preparation. The first thing that you should do is to start reading newspapers and read NCERT books. Till the end of your graduation, you will be comfortable with the syllabus and will be able to give your first attempt. 

Ques: How to be motivated throughout the course of UPSC preparation?  

Ans: I would like to suggest you develop some hobbies. Secondly, you must have some friends preparing for the exam, talk to them. Motivational videos can also help but ultimately you have to help yourself so make it a discipline and follow the time table. 

Ques: What was the strategy you opted before two months of prelims?

Ans: Two months before the UPSC Prelims exam was to revise all the notes that I had made. I solved as many questions as possible. I solved many question papers and analyzed my accuracy rate in solving the correct questions. 

Ques: How important is it to incorporate diagrams in GS paper? 

Ans: Drawing diagrams will help you to fill the space and make you stand out among others. But as it is very common now, it depends on person to person whether they want to do it. I will suggest drawing maps, it will definitely help in fetching marks. 

Hopefully, the session must have helped you to boost your preparation strategy. These were a few questions that were covered in the face to face interaction with Pawan Kumar Goel. Go through the detailed video given below to know more about the success journey of the All India Rank - 131 holder in CSE 2019. 

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