Introspection after failure, Pinpointing Mistakes and taking Adaptive Approach helped me Succeed; says Sumit Kumar (AIR 53; CSE 2018)

After completing B.Tech (Materials and Metallurgical Engineering) from IIT, Kanpur in 2013, Sumit Kumar joined consultancy firm Price Waterhouse Coopers.

As he had set his target to be in Civil Services, he left job and commenced serious preparation in 2015. Though, he fumbled at first stage Prelims in his first attempt; but, soon he got touch and succeeded in his second attempt with at a lower rank.  Finally, in his third attempt he posted a brilliant success by securing 53rd rank in CSE 2018.

He had chosen Anthropology as optional subject.


Civil Services Examination is not an exam; but, it is a process. It is a test of candidates' endurance, patience, temperament.

People who have strong will and determination surely clear it and one such talented youngster Sumit Kumar has achieved really big in life with splendid success in Civil Services Examination by securing 53rd rank in his third attempt.

Sharing his views about his foray into Civil Services Examination Sumit said, “Have belief in yourself and do the needful, results will follow. It is okay to fail in this process. This process teaches you how to get up after failure, correct your mistakes and then succeed by working on those mistakes.”

His fascination for Civil Services clearly reflects in his views as Sumit said, “In Civil Services, you implement policies on the field as well as frame those policies when you move up in the hierarchy at Secretary Level. This dynamic nature of the civil services will help me to work for the masses on the field as well as when you move in the Secretariat. This would give me ultimate satisfaction by working for public welfare and this is why I was attracted to civil services.Sumit-Kumar-IAS-Topper-53rd-Rank-CSE-2018-Earlier Selected-Anthropology

While studying for Civil Services we read topics like governance, different schemes for the government like MGNREGA, Digital India, Skill India, Make in India. When you become a civil servant (especially IAS, IPS, IRS) you implement many such schemes. So, the nature of work of civil services is directly related to whatever you study. This also prompted me to prepare for Civil Services as I would be practically implementing the things on the ground whatever I studied in theory.

The scope of civil services is to contribute and bring reforms in various sectors like education, health and economic sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, and work for vulnerable sections ultimately contributing to nation building which would give me immense satisfaction.

Elaborating how he got enthused initially and how he chalked out his Preparation-plan Sumit said, “I have been lucky that I had few friends from my college who were preparing for Civil Services Exam right after graduation while I was doing job in a private company, PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd. (one of the Big 4 Consulting Companies). I used to take regular advice from them till I entered preparation process after doing 2 years of job.”

“I have also been fortunate enough to have some good friends Pranav, Vaibhav, Navneet, Hari Om, Ravi Goyal, Mounica, Devanshu, Ali, Mohit and many others during my preparation process with whom I framed the right strategy for each stage be it Prelims, Mains or Personality Test, discussed various issues through group discussions, analyzed why I am doing bad in Answer Writing in initial few tests in Mains Test Series, figured out why I got less marks in 2017 Personality Test which ultimately helped me improved my marks in 2018 Personality Test.”

In every attempt, there was a progress made from previous one. My first attempt was CSE 2016. Though, my preparation for Main Examination was decent; I didn’t practice enough Prelims test papers (merely 5 or 6). As a result, I could not qualify Prelims.

It is hardest thing to pinpoint where and what went wrong in preparation; but, introspection helped me identify my weakness. It was a problem that had easy solution and to overcome this issue I practiced lots of test papers for Prelims (around 35) to check my preparedness and revised the area that required attention.Sumit-Kumar-IAS-Topper-53rd-Rank-CSE-2018-Anthropology-Earlier Selected

I took second attempt CSE 2017 confidently and cracked Prelims and since, Main Examination preparation was good enough; I got Personality Test call. But, I scored less marks in Personality Test i.e., 140 marks which was in bottom 50 out of around 1000 selected candidates. However, this success with Rank 493 gave me Indian Defence Estates Service in which I am currently undergoing training.

CSE 2018 was my 3rd attempt in which I got rank 53. Since, Prelims and Mains papers preparation were already done, I had to improve upon Personality Test (PT) which I did ultimately evident by the jump of 39 marks (from 140 to 179) in this attempt. I improved my Personality Test marks by working upon the demerits of my last year’s Personality Test by analyzing my transcript and giving examples to substantiate my points both personal and of bureaucrats, public servants, civil society which makes the conversation in Personality Test interesting.

No doubt, there are a lucky few who get things right in first attempt and succeed. However, for majority of candidates failing at some stage doesn’t mean end of opportunities; rather it gives chance to get over problem faced in earlier attempt and fixing the mistakes should be their first action towards unstoppable success.

Putting things in perspective about unpredictable nature of the exam Sumit said, “while I was preparing for first attempt (2016), I applied for CAPF exam conducted by UPSC only for post of Assistant Commandant who is of DSP rank. I qualified it when results came in February 2017. I secured Rank 50. After that, I focused my attention towards Civil Services Examination preparation only.

These alternate career options provide backup and hence mental stability for CSE preparation process. However, it also creates a dilemma in your mind when joining letter of your backup job comes because initially you only wanted to prepare for CSE and not settle for any job lower than that. However, this dilemma didn’t occur for me as I got joining letter of CAPF (ACs) Exam, 2016 in April 2018 and I was supposed to join in May 2018. The results of CSE, 2017 came on 27th April 2018 and I secured Rank 493. After I cleared this exam in 2017, I felt mental peace and then I started preparation for CSE 2018 exam more comfortably.

Trust me; it is immense satisfaction which you get after conquering your failures and experiencing the taste of success after it. It is because you have experienced both sides of the coin, both failure and success, and these both experiences help you a lot in the future too. You build up good qualities within yourself like resilience, good temperament, patience, perseverance, strong will power, never say die attitude. You start understanding your strengths and weaknesses.

It’s time to recognize the role of family

My father is a businessman, and mother is homemaker. My younger brother (only 1 sibling) is pursuing MBBS from University College of Medical Sciences, University of Delhi.

I am graceful to God that I have got parents who constantly blessed me and my brother and inculcated habits that help us achieve anything in life.  Sumit-Kumar-IAS-Topper-53rd-Rank-CSE-2018-Anthropology-Earlier Selected

My mother (M.A. in Psychology) couldn’t pursue her career of becoming a doctor due to patriarchal mindset of her family. She wanted her children not to suffer the same fate. She did whatever was possible from her side to make us study and become responsible citizens of the country. She used to wake me up at 5 o’ clock in the morning and used to teach me in lantern lights and hot summers when my native town used to get hardly 1 hour of electricity. She did similar things with my younger brother.

Just as my mother invested her time in grooming me for education inside home, it was my father who burnt midnight oil outside home. My native place didn’t have English medium school after Class 5; he searched for all good boarding schools and took me everywhere to make me appear for entrance examinations in good boarding schools in states of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal so that I am provided with good foundation of primary, secondary and higher secondary education.

I was sent to boarding school at age of 8 years and that would have been very hard for them to send me away at such an early age; but, they had long vision to make me educated and excel in my life. My father used to not buy good clothes for him to save money for my books and my expensive education in the boarding school. They have always been supportive to me be it financially, mentally providing me extreme love, care and affection and for that particular reason I am here where I stand today.

Each day if I could work with renewed enthusiasm, it is due to my parents and I feel immense satisfaction that I had achieved what my father dreamt long back when I was in Class 12 (almost 10 years back in 2009) i.e., to become an IAS officer. I am also very happy to share that my younger brother also contributed a part in my success. Whatever problems in my family came during my preparation period for Civil Services, he was the one who covered up on my behalf. Thanks to him for providing me mental peace during preparation.

Credit for success

I am graceful to God for my success. I am also thankful to my parents, friends who have helped me in this preparation process and allowed me mental peace during preparation. I also would like to thank Salimuddin Ansari Sir for Ethics Case Study course and L . Balasubramaniam Sir of L2A for guiding me in Answer Writing of Anthropology Mains Questions

A piece of advice to motivate future aspirants

“Everybody comes to prepare for civil services with a reason. Whenever you feel low or lose hope, remember that reason of yours. If that reason is good enough, you will overcome all negativity and come back with strong force to clear this exam.

It is important that you strategize according to your strengths and weakness. Strengths need to be sharpened like a blade and weaknesses need to be purged off.

Remember, “Toppers don’t do different things, they do things differently”.

Always be receptive to feedback and accept your mistakes. Feedback provides you avenues to correct your mistakes.

At last, I would bring in the central theme of Bhagavad Gita which is Nishakama Karma which means that Karm karte raho, fal ki chinta mat karo. Safalta apne aap tumhare paas chal kar aayegi.

“कर्म करते रहो, फल की चिन्ता मत करो.

सफलता अपने आप तुम्हारे पास चल कर आयेगी.”

Last Update Tuesday 23rd July 2019     

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