Saturday, 6 October 2018

My Journey to Success - Jharna Patgiri, ACS 2016, RANK - 38


Jharna Patgiri
Rank in Civil Services
Total attempts in CEE (including this one)           
Optional Subjects
History & Education
Service preferences Top – 3 (ACS, APS, ALRS etc.)
ACS, Supdt of Taxes, APS
Service Joined
Schooling Medium 
Assamese Medium
College Medium
Medium chosen for Mains answers
Medium chosen for Interview
Home town/city
Work-experience if any
Lecturer in college, Freelance writer


class 10
MNC Balika Vidyapith
class 12
Cotton College
Name of college, city, passing out year
Hindu College, New Delhi
Delhi University, Gauhati University
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements
Exploring culinary skills, travelling, music, reading etc.


Daily hrs spent on online platforms for predicting cutoff / syllabus change / age-attempt limit change and other “peripheral-discussion“related to civil services.              
No fixed hours. But followed and participated actively in a FB page for APSC Mains preparation.
Daily hrs spent on WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram study groups
No fixed hours.
Daily hrs spent on online for exam prep/mock test
Approximately 2 hours.
Primary Device for online study: desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile  


Did you use highlighters / sketch pens in your answers?
Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in Geography)If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?
Yes. For Education optional paper I, I drew flow chart etc with pen.
Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?
Yes. By ruler I drew.
You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue pen.


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

I belong from a humble teaching back-ground family. Both my parents were teachers and has inspired to serve the society selflessly, which helped me to aspire to be a public servant.

2.In recent times, there is spur in electronic material- blogs, sites, pdfs, RSS-feeds. So, how do you balance this i.e. electronic material vs. paper material (Books, newspapers)

I browsed through electronic materials, but always gave more preference to the paper materials (library books etc). Balancing between both the sources is necessary. Smart access to all the sources is the key to maintain that balance.

3. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper? What is your style of preparation and notes making?

I prepared notes on my self-understanding about the concept of a topic after reading the available materials. I tried to make notes in an answer-writing style in mock examination hall like situation. I used to make flow-charts of the concepts for making the revisions of the topics prompt and frequent.

4. What was your approach in the exam? 

I answered all the questions with quality points within the word limit, because I was well-prepared for the examination. However, in History paper II, I could not attempt one question, because I was not so well prepared. I had enough time to ‘make-up’ an answer for the said question, but I preferred not to attempt to sustain my sincerity. So, from my own experience, I might take a stand that “don’t answer if you are not confident of your knowledge and understanding”.

5. Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs? Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format?

My answers were not in uniform. They were framed as per the question was thrown. I prepared myself to analyse the questions critically and tactfully highlighting my understanding. But in GS paper, I focused on completing the entire question paper by attempting all the questions, because in this paper, competition lies on attempting rather than heavy content. I opted for a smart approach to my GS paper and I was proved right.

6. What’s your optional subject and why did you choose it and not something else? If a new aspirant wants to pick your subject, would you advice for it or against it? 

History and Education. I did M.Ed, so opted Education. I am interested in reading history and knowing the historical facts. I have a keen interest in learning lessons from the historical facts and its significance in present time.

Both the subjects are good to score, however History syllabus for Main examination is little bigger than Education.

Methodology for Education Preparation:

  • First browse the previous year’s question papers.
  • Select the most frequently asked topics. Mark in your syllabus. 
  • Then you start reading the available materials, preferably one good book initially.
  • After that start preparing all the topics of the syllabus. 
  • Write down few answers for practice.
  • Same with other subject preparation. For GS, we will discuss in another session.

Education Books to follow:

  • DN Das, Chaube, Chauhan for Principles of Education
  • Advanced Educational Psychology – S.K. Mangal
  • Advanced Educational Psychology – S S Chauhan
  • Statistics in Education and Psychology - Kaberi Saha
  • History of Indian Education
  • Issues and Problems of Indian Education

History Books to follow:

  • A History of India by Ramila Thapar.
  • Medieval India by Satish Chandra
  • History of Modern India by Bipan Chandra
  • The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Glimpses of World History by Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • A History of Assam by Edward Albert Gait

Download My History Optional Notes: Link to my History Notes 

7. How many months did it take to finish the optional syllabus? 

Three months for each subject.

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

I commenced mock test for myself at home in an exam-like environment.

9. If you are made the UPSC/APSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?

The necessary reforms might be as follows:

1. Preliminary Exam:
Reasoning based questions. Specific numbers of questions from each of the five core subjects. Specific number of Assam related questions for each of the core subjects.

2. Main exam:
i) Ethics paper along with case study to be introduced.
ii) General English paper to be replaced with Language paper.


1. How did you prepare for the interview? 

I tried to gather thorough knowledge over my native place, my educational background, my optional subjects etc. I prepared myself to answer the probable questions relating to my hobby, my professional career etc..

2. Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? How were they similar / different than official interview? 

I did not attend any mock interview. I was just counselled by my sister who is an Assistant Professor at Tezpur Central University before the interview.

3. Where did you stay for the interview and what books / material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?

No books, no revision.

4. Who was the chairman of your interview board? How long was the interview? Why do you want to join civil service? Why don’t you continue in your graduation field? Social service can be done from private sector too. 

Interview Chairman : Brigadier Ranjit Borthakur. 
Interview Time : Approximately 30 minutes.

My interview patterns was opinion based questioning on various socio-educational issues, instead of interrogative questions.

If I were asked the above said questions on my aspiration to be a civil service officer, my replies might be as follows:
  1. To meet up my aspirations to be a public servant.
  2. I got very less exposure. I was a lecturer in a college, but it was not satisfying my aspirations of service in a different way, which I could attain through civil service.
  3. True. Not only with a motto of social service, in fact with a motto of continuous dedicated service to the people, I opted. And I was involved in ‘happy to do’ small charity works, like, used to visit AWCs and make them smile with small self-made Tiffin, gifts like colour pencil box etc. I taught in a Trust School in a village of my home district and donated my remuneration to provide free geometry boxes to the students of high school.

5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you on the day of your interview.

I wore a dark green khadi silk saree with mild make-up, walking on a pair of comfortable hills.

6. Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or did they ask you totally unexpected questions?  

  • Unexpected questions for discussion. 
  • It was not at all a stressed interview; rather I was enjoying the conversation.
  • No uncomfortable question, no stress. It was an intellectual and friendly interview.

The Miscellaneous Ones

1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan? 

I was shortlisted for a Subject-teacher job and would have joined after I crossed 38 years age.

2. Many candidates prepare sincerely but constantly live under fear about ‘profile insecurity’. Did you suffer from such insecurities? What is your message to these candidates?

No insecurities. I am confident of myself even if I fail and remain optimist that for something else I am in this world. The main motto is to serve and earn livelihood for oneself.

3. Share some tips on how to manage studies with job.

Preparing for civil service is nothing but will power and win over. So, success depends on zeal to achieve.

4. People, 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?

Self-motivation is the key to success. Optimism to achieve goal is the motivational force. I practiced Pranayama to avoid distraction.

5. Through this struggle and success, what have your learned? What is the wisdom of life and competition? What is your message to the new aspirants? 

  • I learned to be calm and steady in any challenging situation. Have learned to digest people’s tantrums. 
  • To be in a peaceful mind, one must learn how to compete with oneself, rather than in a race to chase others.
  • Faith and dedication pave the road to success.
  • Hard work results in more hard work. Success is not only to get a job. Success is also the learning how to live if not succeeded in achieving a particular job.

6. Behind every topper 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? 

My sister was the motivating factor to achieve success in APSC examination. My parents too encouraged and supported me thoroughly which kept me going. Not only during my preparation, in fact after joining this challenging service, they have shown their unexpected understanding and support to do my every duty beautifully.

APSC Resources by Jharna Patgiri:

  1. APSC Preparation by Jharna Patgiri
  2. APSC Personal Interview - Preparation Methodology by Jharna Patgiri, ACS
  3. Jharna Patgiri's Free APSC "Education Optional" Guidance WhatApp Group

Thank You Jharna Patgiri for taking the effort to fill this questionnaire. Your effort will go a long way to guide someone in their preparations and fulfil their long cherished dream of becoming a civil servant.


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