UPSC Topper Interview: Sanjita Mohapatra, AIR 10 (CSE-2019)

NeoStencil has been working for the past five years to help UPSC aspirants to achieve their goals. The platform has witnessed tremendous growth in the number of successful candidates. Among them, one such candidate is Sanjita Mohapatra. Sanjita secured AIR-10 in the UPSC CSE -2019. She was also an online student of Topper's IAS which is a partner institute of NeoStencil. She took the test series of Sociology optional from Topper's IAS. 

To understand her success journey in the UPSC IAS exam, Kush Beejal, Founder of NeoStencil conducted an interactive session with Sanjita Mohapatra where she discussed all the ups and downs of her IAS journey. Below given are the important points that have been covered throughout the session which is also helpful for the upcoming UPSC aspirants. 

Ques: What did you do differently to crack the Civil Services Exam? 

Ans: We read the same book but in different ways. The difference that I did was that I focussed on revision and I had exclusive notes of everything. I had a habit of making notes for everything. I even had notes for NCERTs because before IAS prelims I had dedicated one month for revision. So, I can’t go through the whole book. Therefore, I used to go through the notes first. 

I always had the UPSC syllabus by my side which helped me in keeping the track of what I was studying. After preparing the basics, I kept on adding current affairs from time to time which helped me build a base, and during revision, I revised all the things again and again.  

Ques: How to start preparing for basics? When did you start your preparation? 

Ans: I started UPSC preparation during Engineering. I was very naive at that time. I belonged to a place where preparing for UPSC was not hype. I initially started reading newspapers. I will highly suggest making the newspaper your friend. If you make it a habit to read the newspaper, you will definitely be benefitted. Develop a knack to listen to the current affairs. These are the basics that you must do to start preparing for the UPSC exam. 

Ques: Why did you choose Sociology over other optional subjects in UPSC Mains?

Ans: Sociology is something that I wanted to study after 10+2. But due to peer pressure, I had to do engineering. I don't regret the decision because I was very clear in my mind that I have to prepare for the UPSC exam after my graduation. Engineering held me to land in the job at Steel Authority India Limited. I had my best professional career here. 

I had an interest in Sociology. I would suggest the aspirants to spend around 15-20 days in reading the subject and get an understanding of it. When you have an interest in the subject then only you will get a good score. So, choose the optional subject carefully. 

Ques: From the UPSC Mains perspective, how much time one should spend to practice answer writing?

Ans: For practicing answer writing one should first read the topic and then write. This will help in analyzing the mistakes that you make. There is no specific time but you have to do a lot of practice of answer writing because lack of practice will result in loss of marks. I made the same mistake in the 2018 attempt. I wasn’t able to complete the paper due to a lack of practice. A month of complete practice with the help of test series can help you out but you have to do it dedicatedly.

Ques: How was your interview experience?

Ans: Every aspirant has a dream to appear in the UPSC interview. My interview experience was very different due to the pandemic situation. They wanted to know my viewpoint and in-depth understanding of topics. They did not want the facts and figures. It was a very good experience for me. 

Ques: Any suggestions for the upcoming UPSC aspirants?

Ans: One basic thing that I believe is that there is no substitute for hard work. Even my success was also not an overnight journey. It took 10 years of dedicated hard work. So take short steps but do believe in yourself. 

Don’t make excuses that I belong here and I can’t afford to take coachings and all. Take the help of platforms such as NeoStencil which will help you through the course of preparation. And I wish all the best to every UPSC aspirant!

This was a short discussion between the AIR - 10 holder, Sanjida Mohapatra, and Kush Beejal, founder of NeoStencil. To understand more, go through the interactive recorded video given below: 

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