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There Is No Substitute For Hard Work, Says UPSC Rank Holder

UPSC CSE 2023 Result: A total of 1,016 candidates - 664 men and 352 women - cleared the examination and have been recommended for appointment to various services.

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There Is No Substitute For Hard Work, Says UPSC Rank Holder
UPSC rank holder Prerna Singh attended CSE classes at coaching on the Jamia University campus.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) announced the results of the Civil Services Examination (CSE) 2023 on Tuesday, bringing joy to many aspirants and boosting the morale of those preparing for the exam. Inspiring stories of perseverance and patience are emerging from candidates who successfully cleared one of the world's toughest exams.

A total of 1,016 candidates - 664 men and 352 women - cleared the examination and have been recommended for appointment to various services. These success stories not only inspire aspiring candidates but also people from different walks of life to strive for remarkable achievements with dedication and determination.

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Among the qualifiers, Prerna Singh secured the 271st rank. She attended classes for the civil services exam at Jamia Millia Islamia's Residential Coaching Academy, which offers free coaching to aspirants. In her second attempt, Ms Singh cleared the UPSC civil services examination. Hailing from Jharkhand, she is an alumna of Delhi University's Miranda House College.

Ms Singh completed her schooling at Delhi Public School, Ranchi, and graduated in Sociology from Miranda House College. She pursued a post-graduation in Social Work from Jamia Millia Islamia. Following her graduation, she worked as an assistant manager HR at Vedanta, BALCO, for about a year before deciding to quit her job and prepare for civil services.

The UPSC rank holder faced an emotional setback due to her father's untimely death, yet she found invaluable support from her mother to pursue her goal.

NDTV.com reached out to her for insights into her examination preparation and how she managed to crack the exam.

What was your key strategy for preparing for UPSC?

I tried to focus on three things - the syllabus, previous years' questions, and multiple revisions. Apart from this, I focused on solving test series for both prelims and mains.

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To whom do you want to give credit for your success?

I believe whatever I am today, whatever good I will do in the future, it's all because of my mother. After my father's premature demise, my mother's unwavering support helped me fulfil my goals. During this preparation, she not only helped me financially but also emotionally. I truly believe this is her success more than mine. Apart from her, my friend Ayushi has been a constant source of support and motivation for me in this journey.

What's your message for UPSC aspirants?

My message for other aspirants would be that they should have an answer for why they want to take this exam. This would be the source of their constant motivation during this journey. Apart from this, I believe this exam requires a sense of discipline and patience, if you are not clearing it please don't get disheartened. Your success is just delayed and not denied.

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What's your aim after becoming a public servant?

As a public servant, my main aim is to work with people, especially at the grassroots level. I have always been inclined towards the social sector and I believe civil services offer a platform to systematically work in this direction. I want to act as a catalyst for women-led development.

What's the key to success in the UPSC Civil Services Exam?

The key to success I would say is consistency and patience. There is no substitute for hard work. This exam takes time and one should be aware of this before deciding to attempt the exam.

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How do you see Jamia Millia Islamia's Residential Coaching Academy for UPSC aspirants?

To be honest I believe, Jamia's residential coaching is one of the best places to prepare for civil services in this country. The learning environment one gets here, peer-to-peer discussions, basic facilities like hostel, library etc. all provide a very conducive environment for an aspirant.

How were your Prelims, Mains, and Interviews?

This year the prelims paper was slightly tricky. But I had faith in my preparation. I was confident of clearing the 1st stage. This was my 2nd Mains and I worked hard this time to improve my answer writing skills. From solving multiple test series to focusing on better structuring of answers, I tried everything. I was able to attempt all the questions in all the papers. The last stage was an interview round. I prepared my Detailed Application Form (DAF) thoroughly. The interview experience was one of a kind.

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What are the basic elements needed to become a topper?

I don't think toppers do different things, but, definitely, consistency in preparation and discipline are needed for anybody to clear this examination.

How many hours should aspiring students dedicate to study?

I had a timetable where I studied 7-8 hours daily. When the exam dates were approaching, the number of hours would automatically increase.

What was your sociology subject in the exams?

My optional is sociology. Apart from that, the other subjects were common as other aspirants including Indian polity, Economics, History etc.

How do you see students from science and arts backgrounds aiding them in clearing UPSC?

I would say that the UPSC has designed the syllabus in such a manner that both science and art students have certain advantages. For eg- CSAT is considered to give an advantage to science and engineering students while mains paper like essays gives a slight advantage to art students. However, these differences don't matter much. In the end, an aspirant has to align her/his preparation as per the demand of the exam pattern.

When is the right time for a student to start preparing for UPSC?

There is no right time, it varies from student to student. For some, it is just after the 12th while for others is after they have gained some work experience. I would say that the right time is when you have found your answer for "why" civil services.

What kind of books and study materials would you recommend?

The books I referred to are the basics one which everyone has access to. For instance, Lakshmi Kant for Polity, Spectrum For Modern History etc. I would suggest that you keep your sources limited and revise the same source multiple times.

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