An IAS officer of the 2006 batch from the Haryana cadre, A Mona Sreenivas is working as a director with the Election Commission of India for the last few years. In a freewheeling interview, she discusses, among other things, her fond memories of studying at Apeejay School, Faridabad and tips to prepare for the Mains and Prelims stages of the exam.
You bagged the top rank in the 2005 exam. What strategy did you adopt for the Mains and Prelims?
Start reading newspapers and magazines along with your NCERT textbooks and brush up your basic History, Civics and Geography: subjects that are part of the Civil Services Examination. The more focused preparation should begin at least a year before you actually write the exam. Begin with trying to understand the concepts. So it is better to go to Mains first and then go to Prelims and then get back to Mains again.
Your optional subjects were English Literature and Sociology. How important is a choice of subjects and time management to ace the exam?
Time management is important because the material is massive and you can’t spend years and years preparing. Regarding the choice of subjects, strike a balance between what is scoring and what one knows best. For the second subject, pick a subject that you like to read.
What are your memories of studying at Apeejay School, Faridabad?
I have such nice memories of being in class 5 and being the head girl of a school. Then I went to the senior school and studied in the senior school building in Sector 15. So, I have lovely memories of the huge playground and singing the theme song: Soaring High Is My Nature.
What are the challenges and opportunities of being a civil servant?
I think that whatever job profile you have in the Civil Services, it impacts people’s lives in a very good way. In the government sector whatever one does is a big responsibility. Government services give you a lot of scope to innovate and make things better.