Dreams of most UPSC Civil Services aspirants are fulfilled when they clear the exams and secure the coveted job, but this was not enough for Pratibha Verma. Already an IRS officer, Verma had got rank 489 in UPSC CSE 2018, however, she re-appeared for the exam in 2019 to emerge as the topper among women and obtain an All India Rank 3.
Her motivation was to become an IAS officer as she believes that IAS officers are changemakers. “They don’t just create policies, but ensure their implementation too. When I was younger, officers used to visit a local school where my mother worked as a teacher. Their review mattered a lot to her and the school’s staff. This would inspire me. Even now, during the COVID crisis, IAS officers have been working at the frontline, providing food to the needy and ensuring smooth functioning across sectors. All this has motivated me further,” she remarked.
Hailing from Uttar Pradesh’s Sultanpur district, Verma has cracked the secret to the civil services exam, which she has now appeared for thrice. “Most of the students prepare differently for prelims, mains and the interview round, but the key to crack the exam is consistency. What we prepare for prelims is also useful for the interview round,” she recommended in an interview with indianexpress.com.
“When I began preparing for civil services, I did not have any idea of how to approach the exam. But my friends, who were preparing for it, guided me. I started by making my basics strong. I followed at least three newspapers regularly for preparation of prelims and ensured going through at least one newspaper a day thoroughly,” she informed.
The knowledge of current affairs helped her during the interview round. She was asked about India’s border clash with China, about international relations of India with its neighbours and other current affairs during the exams, she told indianexpress.com. She was also asked about some concepts related to physics, which was her optional subject.
She referred to NCERT text-books to refresh her concepts for physics, geography, etc. She advises her peers to study NCERT course books of class 10 and 12 and revise all that they have studied to crack the exam. She also recommends reading Lakshmikant for polity, and Spectrum’s modern history.
“Candidates should give mocks and work on the areas they are weak at. During the COVID when our interview exam was postponed, I had also resumed my social media accounts. This is a tough time and it’s hard to maintain concentration, but one has to get away from distractions and focus on mental health. I used to do yoga and meditation for at least 1-1.5 hours daily. Students should also prepare a schedule and stick to it,” she said.
Now, as a soon-to-be-IAS and not IRS officer, Verma said she wants to work on two core areas – education and women empowerment. “Improving the quality of education has been my focus. During college, too, I used to work as an NSS volunteer. Additionally, I will work for women empowerment by providing employment and skilling opportunities, besides health and nutrition,” she said.
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