[Topper’s Interview] Swati Gupta [SDM] – HAS-2017

By | July 19, 2019

Interview by HP General Studies


Candidate Profile:

Name Dr. Swati Gupta
Rank in HAS 04
Roll No 14003084
Age 30 yrs
Marital Status UNMARRIED
Total Attempts in HAS 02
Optional Subject Veterinary Science 
Schooling Medium HINDI, ENGLISH
College Medium ENGLISH
Medium Chosen for Mains Answers ENGLISH
Medium Chosen for Interview ENGLISH
Hometown/City SUNNI, District Shimla
Work Experience if any 04 YEARS as Asst. Commandant in Indo- Tibetan border police force (ITBP).

01 YEARS as a veterinary officer in Govt. of H.P.

Details of other competitive exams, including success and failures ARS
Details of coaching/mock tests/postal material for this exam (if used) NONE
Services preference HAS>DFSC>TEHSILDAR>BDO>ETO


%age in class 10 86%
%age in class 12 82%
Graduation course and %age B.V.Sc & A.H. (80.5%)
Name of college, city and passing out year Dr. G.C. Negi College of Veterinary and Animal Science, Palampur, 2012.
Post Graduation M.V.Sc (86%)
Any other course NA
Hobbies and extra-curricular achievement Writing Poems, Singing


Ques: Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?

Ans: I hail from a middle-class family. My success is dedicated to my maternal family. I had explored many options before this exam and finally, due to personal reasons and self-interests, I started preparing for this exam.

Ques: Typical day in your online life?

Ans: Whatsapp/Telegram: I  use these apps regularly but while I was preparing for this exam I used to visit them barely.

Online Study Websites/Apps: Indian express, Vision IAS, RSTV on YouTube, Unacademy, Study IQ, Karun’s blog, Insights on India (Main source) Pratiyogita Darpan {PD}( Important source), etc.

Ques: What is your style of preparation and notes making?

Ans: I use to read things in a way what questions will be asked out of topic. Try to make crisp notes after one speed read of things in books. For notes making, I made notes of only those topics which I found nowhere in one place.

Prelims (Paper-1):

Topic Booklist/Strategy
Ancient History Lucent GK
Medieval History Lucent GK, Spectrum Yearbook
Modern History Modern Indian history by Spectrum
Art & Culture NCERTs, 11th CLASS, Nitin Singhania notes
Polity (Theory + Current) Laxmikanth + Insights on India synopsis
Economy (Theory + Current) Sri Ram IAS notes and Insights on India 
Science (Theory + Current) Lucents GK, Insights on India and PD
Environment (Theory + Current) Shankar IAS book + vision monthly
Geography of India NCERTs 11, 12 or certificate physical geography by Goh Cheh Leong and Indian geography by Mazid Hussain
Physical Geography NCERTS 11, 12
Geography of World NCERTS 11, 12
Current Affairs Insights on India, PD
Himachal GK Himachal Darpan, Google, Abhimanyu news feed on HP
Himachal Pradesh Current Affairs HP government websites (I use to check them once in a month), Giriraj (Important Highlights and topics)

Prelims (Paper-2):

Topic Booklist/Strategy
Reasoning Tata mc Graw hill CSAT book
English AS above
Maths PYQs
Communication Online sources

Ques: Did you attend any ‘mock tests’?  Do you think they’re necessary for success?

Ans: I didn’t attend because of the time crunch but I think they help. Especially for those who have no idea of attempting exams and acquaintance to people who were successful in their attempts. Last year because of no idea of how to write an exam I had got 19th rank, which I improved this year.

Ques: Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in Prelim 2017:

Attempted questions Correct Official Score
GS 114
Aptitude 75

Mains: Compulsory language Paper:

Compulsory language Paper Your  preparation/Strategy/Booklist 
English Lucent’s English grammar
Hindi Lucent’s Hindi grammar

Ques: Other observations/tips/ comments on the length/difficulty level of compulsory language papers in HAS-2017?

Ans: My motive was to score passing marks in these both papers which I managed somehow. Moreover, I don’t think there was much difference in HAS-2017 and PYQs.  

Mains: Essay Paper:

Ques: How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Ans: GS syllabus covers essay paper so there is no need of special preparation for an essay but one should have a look at PYQs and try to write an essay on topics keeping in mind the time frame. Try to do story writing and putting in good quotes in essay.essay should be either in the time frame or topic wise. try to highlight government schemes and give good future suggestions. You can also add couplet to end your essay.

Ques: Which essays did you write and what key points did you include in it?

Ans: I wrote an essay based on technology i.e. internet use and abuse. and essay based on agricultural distress in farmers.

Mains: General Studies (Paper-1):

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
History perspective of Indian Culture heritage Nitin Singhania notes
World History Vajiram and Ravi yellow booklet (100 pages with good content), for details, read world history by Norman Lowe
History of Himachal  Jokta Academy book, Jagmohan Balokhara, Helios 180
Disaster Management Arihant’s GS manual
Indian Geography Mazid Hussain
Geography of Himachal Pradesh Helios 360 and Wonderland HP
Indian Society  NCERTS 11, 12
Ethics/Gandhian Thoughts Nidhi Soni’s Book
Society and Culture of HP Wonderland HP

Mains: General Studies (Paper-2):

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
Constitution of India Laxmikanth
Polity of Himachal Pradesh Hp govt online portals, Helios 180 and Nidhi Soni
Governance in India Vision IAS monthly
Governance in HP HP Govt online portals
Social Issues hp.gov.in
International Relations Unacademy and insights on India
International Institutions Unacademy
Cyber crime/Drug menace/Socio-Economic development of HP HP govt online portals but nothing much was available, Helios 180

Mains: General Studies (Paper-3):

Topic/Unit How did you prepare/Booklist
Indian Economy Sriram IAS Economy book
Schemes and Important Institutions of the World Sriram IAS Economy book
Economy of HP Economic survey
Science and Technology Vision IAS monthly, Vajiram and Ravi notes and Arihant’s GS manual, Insights on India
Energy Sector of India Arihants GS manual
Science and Technology/IT/Biodiversity in HP Govt Portals, Nidhi Soni book
Environment Science Shankar IAS
Agriculture and Horticulture Internet, Nidhi Soni
Tourism Sector in HP Survey and budget

Ques: How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?

Ans: It was difficult but for a good answer writing better practice is to write pointwise.

Ques: Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs? 

Ans: I wrote entire paper either in points or para depending upon marks allotted to question but in long questions, I tried to attempt paper with flow diagrams, pictorial presentations, etc. examiner shall always get a fair idea of what we want to express, so write neatly and in bullets. 

Ques: Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format? 

Ans: Yes sometimes but only when question demands so. 

I don’t like asking following rudimentary questions, but these are the most frequently asked questions by new aspirants.

  1. Did you use highlighter/sketch-pen in your answers? – Yes
  2. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? – Yes
  3. If yes, did you draw a diagram with pen/pencil? – Pen
  4. Did you use a ruler? – Yes
  5. Did you write with Blue or a Black pen? – Blue and black both

Mains: Optional Subject

Ques: What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?

Ans: Optional: Veterinary science. I am a graduate of vet science and moreover a gold medalist of the university. I had full belief that I will score good marks in this optional as this core subject is my strength.

Ques: If a new player wants to pick your subject, would you advise for it or against it?

Ans: I would advise against it. Because it’s a lengthy subject and a veterinary graduate has more chances with it than other graduates.

Ques: Essential book/resource list for the optional you have read:

Ans: College notes and internet.

Ques: How much of internet-research / current affairs is necessary for this optional? OR can one simply rely on the books and be done with this subject?

Ans: Internet is a very important source for this exam and simply relying on books will be a blunder.

Ques: How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?

Ans: To be honest, I don’t remember but I carried it alongside GS preparation. I never devoted extra time to it.

Ques: How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started to answer writing practice?

Ans: No writing practice was done by me.

Ques: Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?

Ans: As I already mentioned that I was a working professional so note-making was a time taking a task for me but I used to highlight the pdfs which later on save the time. Also, I made notes of only those topics which I could not grasp easily.

Ques: Your observation about the difficulty level of 2017 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions/rectifications are necessary for the future strategy for given optional subject?

Ans: It was a tough paper with a lot of practical aspects. so my suggestion is to read both static and current scientific advances in veterinary science.

Before the Interview:

Ques: How did you prepare for the interview for college grad, hobbies, place of origin, and current affairs at the national and international level?

Ans: I watched a lot of mock interviews on youtube. Secondly, I closely followed national and international developments in a duration of 6 months prior to the interview. 

Ques: Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? How were they similar/different than official interview? Do you believe it is necessary to attend such mock interviews?

Ans: No, I didn’t.

Ques: Describe the formal-dress worn by you in the interview. 

Ans: Saree                                                                              

During the interview:

Ques: Who was the chairman of your interview board?

Ans: Maj Gen DVS Rana

Ques: How long was the interview? 

Ans: 30 minutes

Ques: Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview.

Ans:  Interview board was calm and my interview was fine.

Ques: Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or did they ask you totally unexpected questions? Was it a stress interview, did they ask any uncomfortable questions? If yes, how did you handle it?

Ans: Yes it was on expected lines. If you don’t know anything to be straight and don’t try to bluff them. just say I am yet to know about it. 

Your mark sheet:

Subject Marks Secured 
Prelims (Paper-1) 114
Prelims (Paper-2) 75
Mains Subjects:
English 59
Hindi 51
Essay 71
General Studies -1 96
General Studies -2 81
General Studies -3 110
Optional (P-1) 83
Optional (P-2) 72
Written Total 513
Interview 80
Final Score 593

Career Backup Plan:

Ques: If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?

Ans: I was already in service. also, I had decided to go abroad to pursue a Ph.D., if this attempt would not have been successful.

Ques: When were you going to “execute” that backup plan? (E.g. after __ number of failed attempts/ after I cross __ age/ after dad retires/ after girlfriend/boyfriend dumps me etc.)

Ans: NA

The struggle of a Senior Player/Junior Player: 

Ques: How did you survive through this mental prison of HAS and what’re your words of wisdom to other senior players/Junior Players? If any specific inspirational incident(s), please share.

Ans: I would say believe in yourself and tell yourself that you just need one seat.

Ques: What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt? 

Ans: I was not having any idea of answer writing. In this attempt, I made the strategy of writing good answers.

The Struggle of a Working Professional:

Ques: If you’re a working professional, share some tips on how to manage studies with a job?

Ans: I think the exam is all about consistency, so try to maintain that in spite of all the odds. Try to maximize your productivity in morning hours. Utilize your Sundays and holidays well. There are no holidays for you, keep that in mind. Don’t bring office work at home. Take care of your body. That’s all.

Grand Wisdom:

Ques: People know what books and syllabus points are to be prepared. But most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?

Ans: Mood swings and distractions is a matter of 5 to 10 minutes. If you overcome them within this much time then you will sail smoothly otherwise same old story. In such situations, I used to listen to a song or two or talk to my friends, family, etc. The point is to keep the mental burden and frustration at bay.

Ques: Through this struggle and success, what have you learned? What is the wisdom of life and competition? What is your message to the new aspirants/veteran aspirants?

Ans: I’m still learning the subtleties of life, please spare me from this question.

Credits: Family/Friends:

Ques: Behind every qualified candidate there are many people who stood by during those uncertain times when he/she was merely an ‘aspirant’. Would you like to tell the world, who were those people in your case? Any specific incidence that you would like to share with the readers?

Ans: List of credits is quite long. My parents, brothers, sisters, Nani, other family members, friends from college, friends from the workplace, most importantly my immediate colleagues at the workplace who stood like a rock with me throughout my preparation. My friends especially Dr. Avaninder, Raman and my brother Ankur were my core strengths. Last but not least the almighty god who gave me a clean shot at this exhausting exam.

HP General Studies remarks:

Thank-you Ms. Swati Gupta for giving us your precious time. Hopefully, this interview will help thousands of aspirants who have been preparing for HAS exam. 

We wish you a great future ahead.

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