Soon after he cracked the UPSC exam in 2021, Iqbal Rasool Dar of north Kashmir’s Jagarpora Kupwara brought more laurels to the frontier district while qualifying for another prestigious exam with a 69th rank. He shared his journey with Rising Kashmir’s Aatif Qayoom. Here is what he says.
Tell us about your journey?
This was not so easy. Out of 6 to 8 lakh aspirants, only 1500 qualified. In the mains, the number drops again, with only 260 students qualifying for interviews. I qualified for the UPSC exam last year, which helped me a lot and set me in the right direction. I just prepared myself for 20 to 25 days before the exam, which was not enough, but still, I found myself on the list.
Tell us about your study schedule?
On routine days, I studied for 6–8 hours, and when exams were very close, I studied for 8–9 hours. It is better to have a strategy for how to work for the exam. The best strategy is to check last year's papers and analyze them. Aspirants must repeat the previous year's papers. Collect the relevant books, which are easily available on the market. It is a preliminary strategy to read last year's papers again. Make relevant short notes from books so that they can be revived. Aspirants keep conducting self-tests to know their weak points.
What is the best time to prepare for competitive exams?
The best time to begin is after graduation. Aspirants should begin their studies in their final year because it is now impossible to pass any competitive exam in a single year. It also took me four years to qualify for this prestigious exam. When the aspirant steps out of college, they will get enough time to study, which will help them crack this exam.
Who inspired you to appear in this prestigious exam?
For the Indian Forest Service (IFS), my inspiration is Dr. Bilal Mohi-ud-din, who is also Deputy Commissioner of Kulgam. During mains, prelims, and interview times, he guided and helped me a lot.
During these times, how did you find family support?
You can’t step up a single step in your career without parental support. Without them, nothing is possible. This journey is always stressful and that engages an aspirant mentally enough. However, this can ease up if there is parental support at your back. And I am lucky to have such great parental and family support during these times. When you repeat activities for the whole day, it puts a lot of stress on your mind. And this time, the family’s back is a must and indispensable.
Will you go for IFS as you have already cleared UPSC?
I am in civil accounting services through UPSC. This is more or less a secretarial job. We have to manage the expenditure of the Central government. I have a certain liking for field jobs, especially concerning the environment. I can still contribute to the environment, but I am not sure whether I will go for the IFS service or not. Later, I will consult with seniors and my family before taking a final call.
Those who couldn’t crack competitive exams in one go, what do you want to convey to them?
This is a very difficult exam, and luck and destiny must be in the aspirant's favor. Just studying is not enough. I have seen many in my surroundings who are more genius than me. But luck didn’t favour them. That doesn’t mean they won’t go anywhere. They can qualify for other services. Furthermore, if a person fails to qualify for this exam on multiple occasions. He or she should skip it and go for the second option. If you are already in service and wish to appear in competitive exams, you should keep on with your studies during service instead of resigning. This is why your fate in competitive exams is unpredictable.