ARUNJYOTI DAS: Optionals Geography & Sociology
- Name: ARUNJYOTI DAS
- Year of Qualifying APSC CCE: 2018
- Rank 52
- Service Allotted: ASSAM LAND AND REVENUE SERVICE
I did my engineering from NIT Jaipur. I have worked in Accenture and subsequently in APDCL. My father retired from service in 2009 and my mother is still in service. A career in civil service, among other things, makes one a stakeholder in the growth story of the state. This is something which motivated me to go for a career in civil service.Description
In my opinion the following things needs to be kept in mind vis a vis style of preparation and note making.
- While choosing an optional the track record of the optional to fetch high marks should be a criteria for selection.
- For optionals first go through the syllabi.
- Next check the question papers (available outside the APSC building) (at least 5-6 years) to ascertain the difficulty level and depth of the questions asked.
- After this you can proceed with note making in loose A4 sheets. Loose sheets give you the liberty to make notes randomly from any topic in the syllabus and then at the end arrange them sequentially.
- Note making is basically an exercise of reading, understanding and finally making a gist of the topic so that different questions relating to that topic can be effectively handled in the exam set-up.
|Topic||strategy/ booklist/ comment|
|History Modern (Freedom Struggle)||NCERT|
|Culture and society||NCERT|
|Polity (theory + current)||Laxmikant|
|Economy (theory + current)||NCERT Class XI|
|Science (theory + current)||Didn’t refer|
|Environment (theory + current)||Shankar|
|geography physical||NCERT XI|
|geography India||NCERT XI|
|geography world||NCERT XI|
|other national/international current affairs||Current affairs compilations|
|Schemes, Policy||Current affairs compilations|
|Assam History||Assam Year Book|
|Assam Culture, Literature||Assam Year Book|
|Assam Geography||Taher and Ahmed|
|Assam Economy||Studied only the Assam budget|
|Assam Current Affairs||Newspapers (Name)|
|Topic||strategy / booklist|
|Topic 1 Physical Geography||NCERT, follow previous question papers|
|Topic 2 Human Geography||NCERT, follow previous question papers|
|Topic 3 Thought, Models and Theories||Majid Hussain, follow previous question papers|
|Topic 4: Assam and NE Geography||Taher and Ahmed|
|Topic 5: World Regional Geography portion||ICSE school geography books|
If one has the time one should go for mock tests as it gives the much needed practice which is crucial to finish the paper in the stipulated time.
I didn’t prepare for the English paper. But I would suggest that the candidates must check the past year papers to know about the demands of the paper. Make sure you don’t miss out on the grammar part which is very scoring. Those who are weak in English should regularly read a reputed English newspaper (like Assam Tribune, The Hindu etc.). Maintain a diary to write unfamiliar English words. This way, over a period of time one would be able to master English and write brief and precise answers.
For General Studies (Mains) paper I took recourse to a fire fighting approach (not recommended) as I didn’t have much time. My strategy was to prepare an exhaustive list of potential topics ( by looking at past papers and important current issues) and write some points for the same. For GS, in my humble opinion if there is time the ideal way is to finish the basic NCERT books and simultaneously do the current affairs. However, if there is paucity of time topic wise preparation, as mentioned above can be adopted. However, this should be the last resort. One more thing I would like to add here is that if you are pressed for time, the two (2) optional subjects (amounting to 800 marks) should always get first precedence over General Studies. I say this because optional syllabus is relatively defined and predictable, and questions get repeated. On the other hand GS syllabus is very generic and there is no end to the syllabus. So your optional preparation should not suffer due to your over enthusiasm for GS. Given the high competition a bit of pragmatism is necessary to sail you through.
Q.8 What was your approach in the exam (I wrote all, I only focused on the questions where I could answer perfectly, I just not to high quality points to reach the word limit etc .) Some experts claim you should attempt all- even if it involves “making up” an answer with filler lines, some claim attempt only those questions you know perfectly. Where do you stand on this? [Based on your experience and of your seniors/buddies] Attempt each and every question, whether you know it or not.
Try to attempt all questions while adhering to time management. Every mark counts considering the highly competitive nature of this examination.
It depended on the nature of the question and my command over the subject matter of the question. But I used both.
The “introduction-body-conclusion” format is the ideal scenario to which a candidate should adhere to. However in the exam hall, considering the constraints of time a candidate may be compelled to deviate from this norm at times.
|Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?||No|
|Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)||Yes wherever possible.|
|If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?||Pencil.|
|Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?||By hand (Because you would waste precious time using a ruler)|
I selected Geography and Sociology, as their subject matter caught my interest. Besides they can be finished in relatively lesser time than a science or an engineering optional.
Two most important criteria (in my opinion) to choose a optional would be the track record (whether the subject is scoring) and a bit of interest for the subject. But choosing a scoring optional is of paramount importance.
I think for GS the Rajya Sabha TV debates are very good for writing GS answers. Such debates enable the candidate to look at a topic from multiple dimensions thereby producing a well rounded answer.
I used loose sheets (A4 sheets) arranged as per the syllabus and kept in plastic folders (paper wise). This exercise comes in handy for last minute revisions.
For Sociology, I mostly followed a YouTube channel called Sleepy Classes
For interviews prepare your bio data very diligently. Anything under the sun can come. To cite any example they can start off by asking the meaning of your name. Don’t bluff if you don’t know the answer and say sorry. If you know even part of the answer take the panel’s permission before attempting. Try to maintain a calm and composed demeanour throughout the interview. When you enter the room sit in the designated chair only when asked to sit. At times the panel would try to prick the activist in you (e.g the citizenship bill). Don’t fall prey to such temptations. Always try to give balanced opinions. Even if you know a question very well don’t get excited. As I said maintain you composure while answering such questions as well and I am sure you would do well. I would urge you to see Drishti IAS mock interviews on YouTube. It will indeed be an enlightening experience.
The following questions were asked.
- They asked me why my locality is called Sarumotoria.
- The date on which National Youth day is celebrated.
- About Swami Vivekananda’s speech in the Chicago World Congress of Religions.
- About e-Governance. Whether e-Governance projects have been met their stated objectives.
- Whether simultaneous conduct of Assembly and Lok Sabha elections is a good idea. They explicitly asked me regarding my opinion vis -a- vis this issue without mincing my words. I spoke in favour of the issue.
- Since I had geography as an optional, Chairman Sir, asked me to explain the Plate Tectonics and El Nino.
- They asked me about the composition of Rajya Sabha.
- They asked me the rationale behind choosing civil service as a career after having worked almost 7 years in APDCL.
- They tested my knowledge about Barak Valley.
- In the final analysis the panel was very cordial. There were more factual questions than opinion based questions. However this depends on the board.
|Sociology - Paper 1||99|
|Sociology- Paper 2-||102|
|Geography -Paper 1||93|
|Geography – Paper 2||125|
2nd attempt. I had scored low in optionals earlier. I tried to plug some loopholes this time in sociology.
My parents and my wife have stood by me during the preparation phase. I am grateful to them for the sacrifices they have made for me
This exam is all about perseverance and patience. I would urge candidates to not worry much about the result and instead focus more on the goal oriented action required to achieve that result. If you succeed hats off to you. But should you fail you should have the humility to accept that the others were better. There is simply no point cribbing about the fairness of the examination system. This will only drain you off your precious youthful energy.