Twenty-seven-year-old Tafheem Firdous Shah, an engineering graduate from Karanagar Srinagar qualified the prestigious JKAS 2021 examination after achieving 27th Rank in his second attempt.
A topper in his school and college, it took him five years to finally crack this prestigious exam.
Here in this interview with journalist Mansoor Parray, he shares his hard work and the secret behind cracking the prestigious examination.
BR: What motivated you to join Civil Services?
Tafheem: Actually in my last semester, I felt that working closely with the public and being a part of Policy Making is very critical towards creating a better society. Further, my interests in extra-curricular activities and being at various leadership positions both in school and college level developed my interest towards joining the civil services.
BR: Please tell us about your early schooling and family background.
Tafheem: I did my initial schooling from Tyndale- Biscoe School, Srinagar which played the most pivotal role in shaping my career and personality. After that , I completed my 12th from CBSE Chandigarh in 2013. Then , I did my B tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from IUST, Awantipora in 2017. After that I started preparing for Civil Services. My father is a retired Civil Engineer in PWD, J&K while my mother is a retired Zoology Professor.
BR: How was the feeling after qualifying the exam?
Tafheem: At first, it seemed a dream come true. The satisfaction of finally qualifying the exam and gratifying feeling and happiness on my parent’s faces was a moment ,I would remember and cherish in my entire life.
The biggest learning has been that hard work eventually pays off and this exam process made me realise the significance of having faith throughout the journey is something I believe would help a person all through the life.
BR: How important role does schooling play in this exam?
Tafheem: Personally, I feel school and extra-curricular activities and diverse skill set especially Essay Writing and Personality Test , does help and gives an edge. The role of my Tyndale- Biscoe School and my teachers is something that I feel really helped me all through.
BR: How was your academic performance? Is being a topper prerequisite for cracking JKAS?
Tafheem: Although, I have been a school and college topper since my childhood but I believe it has its own pros and cons. The expectation are always high and handling pressure becomes vital. But then it helped me to stay confident throughout the journey. But from exam point of view, we have seen people from diverse backgrounds qualifying this exam. So, it is not necessary to be topper honestly. an average student can qualify this exam. there are lot of examples infront of us.
BR: How has been your performance in extra-curricular activities?
Tafheem: I participated in a lot of extra-curricular activities and sports events. I played Basketball at state level. Apart from that, I was active in Debating Society, Symposiums and Volunteering work throughout my school and college life which exposed me to a lot of people and shaped my personality.
BR: How long and how many hours did you prepare?
Tafheem: It is more about quality study and efficient time management. Since it is a long process, so maintaining consistency and balance is very crucial.
Five to six hours of consistent self-study would suffice. But personally during the last phase of preparation, I used to stretch it to 10-12 hours which is obvious.
BR: Does coaching help a student to qualify the exam?
Tafheem: I would say right guidance and developing an individual strategy is the foremost ingredient that needs to re-engineered and chalked out while preparing for the exam.
Further, more revisions and limiting to 1-2 resources is sufficient to cover each component holistically. Cross-checking with regular tests and PYQs both for Prelims and Mains helps an individual to address on weak areas and strengthen the stronger ones correspondingly.
BR: Any mantra you would recommend to our readers?
Tafheem: Ideally newspaper reading should be a habit. Newspapers reading and editorials are the first step in the direction.
If a person has this aim to clear the civil service examination, then during graduation one can start with the basics-NCERTs of Polity, Economy, Geography, History. One should not compromise with graduation subjects as having a Plan B is necessary since exam is very unpredictable.
BR: Can you share your interview experience?
Tafheem: It is more of a Personality Test. They check your presence of mind and approach by putting up various case studies. It was a mix of factual and situation-based questions. There is an element of luck also. But overall it is to gauge the temperament and attitude of a candidate. It was a good experience overall.
BR: What about family support?
Tafheem: One has to maintain a healthy social relationship with family and friends during this phase. At times, negativity crepts in but again having a positive approach helps to stay on the right path. Praying, Meditation and going for long walks helped me to self-introspect and be happy during the journey.
The Interviewer can be Contact on 9419503315 (firstname.lastname@example.org)