Wednesday, 9 December 2015

At the Finishing Line of the Foundation Course (FC) at LBSNAA

Originally Published in

15 weeks of foundation course has entered into its penultimate week and finally I got some time to do something which doesn't carry weightage in the Director's Assessment here @ academy i.e., blogging.. :D

FC is exciting, enthralling, busy busy, hectic n very interesting indeed ! If i have to blog, each day of FC would become 4 5 blog entries..So, let me just briefly Look back at my past 3months here and encapsulate it in this small post. I remember the first day when i first entered into this academy, the Great Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy for Administration, Mussorie. It was a feeling of satisfaction, pride, happiness and above all a sense of Responsibility when i was walking into the gate. Years of Hardwork earned an entry ticket into this prestigious Institute. I was totally blank about what was gonna come in the coming 3months. Now, at almost the "Curtains down" stage of FC, there is sense of satisfaction within me.

FC has been packed with Events. Typical day of an OT(Officer Trainee) starts with PT@6am (Physical Training). :D n then the day keeps on going on n on n on..OT is a sleep-deprived sincere energetic Civil Servant in Probation. Its quite fascinating to see that FC tries its best to bring out the Child with-in you. Blended with Culturals, Athletic Meet, India day, Literary Day, Book Reviews, Trekking almost every weekend, Photography, Learning a new Language(Odia.. ;) ), Great Guest Lectures (Oh wait, not all.. Some are Super for Sleeping, while some get Standing ovations.. :D ), Academy is a Place to be in...With so many things to do, i never even realized that i have been living in one of the famous Hill Stations of the Country.. Its busy busy life...U blink an eye and you will miss some event in the FC...Some might be running around for their play practice sessions for culturals, while others might be sweating it out in the Happy Valley Sports Complex... Some might be studying hard in rooms to top in exams, while others might be pursuing their love interests with Sincerity.. Some might be going out for dinners every night @mall road in adhoc groupings, while some might just be sipping their coffees alone @AN Jha plaza, being lost in the thoughts of their pasts. There are So many worlds in this small world of academy. However, Probably if someone has to choose the Highest points among the plethora of events in FC, there may be two standout events of FC for me. 

First probably is the 10-day Himalayan Trek which takes you into the wilderness of the mighty mountains and make u loose ur breath away. This is point where the officer trainees are Trained to acclimatize with the Harsh Geographical conditions. Waooooaaahh.. I love the Nature n what better than going deeper into the Mighty mountains of the world. In Groups of some 20 odd people, we traversed across these lofty ranges of himalayas on foot n Yes, My camera was at work. Love is in the Silence of the Woods. A day would come when all of us disappear into this nature. The sheer gigantic volume of himalayas show us how small we are in this world, on this earth, in this universe. 

Then came the All exciting Village visit where OTs are sent in groups to village to study the Rural Lifestyles. This is the most touching event of the whole FC for me. It is never an entertaining sight to see the people suffering even for the most basic needs like Food, Clothing n Shelter. The magnitude of expectations among the common people from the Officers in Charge is mammoth. India lives in its villages n the villages are bleeding (atleast the one i visited in UP). This particular part of the Course stirred the conscience of almost every Officer Trainee, reminding him/her of his immense responsibilities ahead once they take charge. I simply felt that God gave us this Unique Chance to impact some1's life through our actions. Its a huge responsibility entrusted on us and its gonna be huge challenge for us.

Leaving aside the events of FC, FC is not FC coz its FC, its FC coz of the people here. I met some of the interesting and exciting people here in this academy. I put it Interesting coz Everyone is Unique in their own way and Exciting coz of the sheer variety of talents people possess here. But this is the place where I met few of the wonderful people who are just Tooooo Good and remain in my heart for a long long time. As the FC is coming closer to an end, its very obvious  that people will be missed, Academy will be missed and whole FC euphoria will be missed, but some of the people here are gonna stay forever etched in my memory. V may not talk 2 everyone, V may not like everyone, V may not love everyone, but finding few true ones overtakes all the sorrows of Our lives n FC is the place where u find the True Ones. :)

As the course comes to an end, with all of us going to our Respective academies, FC will remain the first page in our memoirs of life for each one of us. Missing people n moving ahead in life has become a common phenomenon for me now. :D However, to reach somewhere, u will have to leave the present and move into the future. With only few more days left in FC, I am eagerly looking forward to joining an another prestigious institute, IGNFA, Dehradun for my professional course. Forests, Oceans, Deserts, Waterfalls, Mountains... Woaaahhhh.... This is where my heart lies in...Can't wait to see them.... :D :D :D 

Miss U with a smile.... LBSNAA.... :)

Satish G IFS

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Strategy for English paper of IFS (Main) Examination

Unlike the Civil Services Exam, English marks COUNT here. While I started my preparation, in a short period I realized that it takes much less time to push 120 marks in English to 150 compared to scoring those 30 extra marks in hardcore science subjects like Mathematics or Physics. So I decided and put about 10 hours effort on the English paper.

I got a score of 154 (which is on higher side with many getting around 130), but what I want to say here is that I rate myself as not so good to average in English and yet I scored this "very good" marks.

Compared to Civils English paper, Letter writing and Report writing are two new things in the paper and the Grammar questions are also different. So these three need a completely novel approach.

For letter writing the templates in this site are good to memorise and use.

Do remember that the format may be different between UK, USA and Indian styles of Letter writing; So cross check with the format but the content in above site is good to use for majority of Letter writing questions that we get in the exam.

Similarly, search for report writing and there are few key words that you need to remember in report writing and those things should be mentioned along with the narration of the incident. I will give the links for those soon.

The most important part in english paper that brings huge difference in scores is Essay (which amounts to 100 marks). Here you should understand the difference between a General Essay and an Essay for evaluating English. Here in English Essay, the importance is not given to your innovative catchy thoughts, or how balanced you are in your opinions but to the way you use English sentences and how accurately you use various adjectives to describe a situation or opinion.

For this I read words from Norman Lewis

I read all the words at the back of the book and wrote various adjectives that are moderately difficult/frequent in use and that i felt i can use with variety of essays in my mind. The catch here is that these words should not be forcefully inserted in the essay but just use few good words from your decently large list so that they describe the situation more perfectly and accurately.

When I went to write the exam I observed few more things that are very important.

  • The grammar questions are relatively lengthy compared to Civils English Grammar (there were no one word or fill in the blank kind of questions, we had to write lots of sentences). It takes a lot of time but be patient and be accurate as they are essential for good scores.

  • Have ample time for precis and dont attempt it at the end. It needs a lot of analysis to cut short to a third and write in your words; So see to it that you have ample time, with a pleasant frame of mind and no hurry while doing. Ideally it can be done towards the middle of the paper.

  • Compared to Essay in Civils, English paper of IFS will require you to write 400 words extra to adhere to word limit. So even if you finish English paper of Civils in 2hr 30 min you may have tough time finishing IFS English paper in 3 hours. In fact I had to compromise on my Essay and while the given word limit is 800-1000 words I hardly wrote some 600 words. So don't be lazy like you are in Civils and try to be a little fast to finish the paper perfectly.

Finally, Do remember to solve the question papers that came in the preceding five years' IFS examination to get a hang of the paper.

Wishing you the very best

Aditya M, IFS

Post originally published in the blog 'Controversial Thinking' ( on 1st March, 2015

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Geology Strategy

Due to common preliminary of CSE and IFS, lot of people are considering IFS these days (of course it’s a very good choice and a great service). Unlike CSE which is now dependent more on GS, IFS examination depends to a greater measure on optional subjects. 

While choosing on of the optionals as Forestry or Agriculture (both can’t be taken together), Geology is the next most opted optional subject. This is due the fact that large number of candidates have CSE optional background in geography and a few others think its easy; which it certainly is not (one will realize when one starts preparation). 

Still other (like me) have no other option but Geology due to abject unfamiliarity with the remaining subjects in the list. 

So, I am writing my personal experience while preparing Geology for IFS exam. 

I am not an expert in Geology and blindly following the instructions may be disastrous. Having said that, I feel that some of my experiences could be helpful to other aspirants. These would provide an insight on how to start your prepration in Geology .

Problems :
  • No proper guidance as very few serious aspirants take it  (I found it very difficult to get any info about books and how to prepare).
  • No readymade material  (there is one in delhi market by brilliant).
  • No coaching (as very few write).
  • No test series.

Advantages :
  • Limited syllabus (but lengthy).
  • Lot of repeating questions.

Common Suggestion for Paper-1 and Paper-2

I started my preparation by first writing down all the questions from previous ten years of CSE and IFS examination question papers of all chapters (divided them chapter wise) and kept this as reference throughout my preparations. There may be some questions out of the topics in the syllabus, prepare for these new topics also  as these repeat regularly.

For Paper 1   
                    Sec A  - General geology
                                  Geomorphology and remote sensing
                                  Structural geology
                    Sec B - Paleontology
                                 Hydrogeology and engineering geology

As you maybe aware, the pattern of the question paper is that Three questions from one section and Two from the second has to be answered, with the first and fifth questions being compulsory.

With geography as my background in CSE, I decided to write three questions from section-A as first two chapters are almost covered by geography and structural is a bit easy to study. But one needs to cover the complete syllabus and be ready for every topic from these three chapters.

And with hydrogeology and engineering geology covering the eighth question, you are left with only compulsory question i.e, the fifth, which is covered by all three chapters of section-B

As Paleontology and Stratigraphy are little difficult and too lengthy to cover, I only studied last ten years questions from these chapters.

By this way one can almost cover 80-90% of syllabus and be sure of attending minimum of 180-190 marks.

For Paper 2

                 Sec A  -  Minerology
                 Sec B -   Economic geology
                               Mining geology
                               Geochemistry and environmental geology

Section-A is very vast, difficult and technically deep, it is very difficult and time consuming to study it in it's entirety; therefore I would recommend a selective approach.

Minerology is very important and also covers almost two questions (out of which one being compulsory) it is very important to study it .

Sedimentology is very small and easy out of the three, so do it completely. Study questions from last ten years question papers for petrography (as its too big, difficult and doesn’t recur as much as mineralogy in the exam)

Section-B is simple, limited and scoring. With economic and mining geology being compact and interlinked they are easy to study and will also give good dividends in exam (do study these topics at all costs). 

Economic geology (especially processes) may seem lengthy but these are the ones recur most often in exam.

And  finally, Geochemistry and Environmental geology is a mix of little theoretical Geochemistry and current affairs. One can feel that Geochemistry is little too tedious, but studing it is very helpful in exam. (Consider it as a backup if you don’t know some questions from Economic Geology in exam)

NOTE : Don’t just be prepared for Five questions, because as last year all questions were jumbled and there was no differentiation between Section-A and B.  So prepare for at least six of seven questions and don’t leave any chapter, if due to some reason you feel like skipping a chapter, do ensure that you go through the question papers of the last deacade and study the questions that have came from here .

Wishing Everyone the Very Best

Deepak M, IFS


NOTE: If someone needs to complete the syllabus in a month just read Bangar, Mukherjee and Brilliant material along with previous years questions.

For basic study 

1) General geology & Geomorphology & Remote sensing - Savindra Singh and also some topics can be studied from internet

3) Paleontology  - P K Mukerjee and some topics from internet

5) Hydrogeology

8) Sedimentology
11) Geochemistry and environmental geology – Internet and current affairs (environmental issues).

Monday, 24 August 2015

on Geology Optional

Geology by KM Bangar is a good all-round book on the topic, yet as with works of most Indian authors it does suffer from a shortage of illustrations to put across concepts.

Essentials of Geology by Lutgens and Tarbuck (latest edition) is an excellent supplement to your Geology preparation, as it has great explanations in relatively easy language coupled with vivid illustrations that can cement the basics; be it landforms or different types of minerals among others. It might be a little bit costly to order in print, but you can obtain it through "other means" ;)

- IFS Diaries Blog Team

How to prepare for Forestry and Geology optionals?


I studied Handbook of Forestry by LS Khanna and AN Chaturvedi - Part I and II.

If you don't get the above books in bookstore, then you can study Indian Forestry by Manikandan and Prabhu, which is widely available.


I read Text of Geology by PK Mukherji .This will cover most of the syllabus. You can also read Geology by KM Bangar.

Blogs by my batchmates on this topic:

These 2-3 books are sufficient to clear the exam. It will be good if you solve last 5 years question papers by preparing a short synopsis for both optionals.

Optionals are key to clearing IFS.

All the best.

-Harish Y N IFS

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Walking Test Experience in Delhi Zoo...

Sharing my walking test experience....
Distance: 25kms... Time Limit: 4 hours...  Location : Delhi Zoological Park... Weather : Foggy February Winter... Mood : Upbeat after a Good Interview :D

           This is one test which i was really worried about..more than the interview ! We are supposed to walk 25kms (14km for girls )within 4hrs with all those Animals looking at us weirdly.The date of Walking Test was 2days after interview with Medicals@safdarganj in the middle. So on this chilly foggy Feb morning i reached Delhi zoo after Taxiforsure made sure that i book another cab by cancelling at last minute. We were asked to be there by 6:45 AM. Sun was not yet out, mist was not yet clear, n our cab driver dint know where or what was this Zoo... A passerby translated Zoo as "Chidiyaghar" and then his spark lit... Anywayz we reached there on time and after initial docs stuff, we were ready to walk...get...set... goooo....

Monday, 10 August 2015

Indian Forest Service - Profile and Recruitment Process

(Reproducing an article created for the Employment News by one of the officers of IFS 2015 Batch, published in its "30th May - 05th June 2015" issue)

Introduction to Service
Indian Forest Service (IFS) is one of the three All India Services (AIS), which works for conservation, protection and development of forests and wildlife, along with an aim to enhance livelihood opportunities of forest-dependent communities of rural and tribal areas. Thus, the mandate of IFS is a unique blend of environmental conservation and socio-economic development, which are essential components of the emerging sustainable development paradigm.

IFS offers a prestigious career option, equivalent to the coveted IAS and IPS, for graduates in science or engineering. Similar to IAS and IPS, IFS officers are also allocated state cadres based on their rank and available vacancies. After a Foundation Course in Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie, IFS officers undergo an extensive training programme at Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (IGNFA), Dehradun. Post completion of training, they are posted in their respective cadre, initially as Assistant Conservator of Forests and later as Divisional Forest Officers. An IFS officer is largely independent of the district administration and exercises administrative, judicial and financial powers in their own domain. Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) acts as the cadre controlling authority for IFS officers.

IFS is open to graduates from science, with at least one of the subjects namely, Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science, Botany, Chemistry, Geology, Mathematics, Physics, Statistics and Zoology, or a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture or Forestry or Engineering from a recognized university or equivalent. Forest management is a technical field, where the background of scientific or technological education proves to be helpful.

Examination Format
Civil Services (Prelim) Examination-2015, to be held on 23rd August 2015, would be used to screen candidates for the Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination, to be held from 21st November 2015 onwards.

CSE (Prelim) consists of two objective-type papers – Paper-1 covers General Studies, such as Indian History, Geography, Economy, General Science, etc., while Paper-2 is a test of aptitude towards logical reasoning, data interpretation, comprehension, etc.

The Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination consists of six subjective-type papers – General English (300 marks), General Knowledge (300 marks), 2 papers each for 2 optional subjects (200 marks each). The optional subjects available are science subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Botany, Zoology, Forestry, etc.  and engineering streams such as Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, etc.

Based on the Main examination scores, candidates are shortlisted for the Personality Test (300 marks). The final results for IFS Examination are declared based on the combined scores in Main examination and Personality Test.

Preparation Strategy
One must go through previous years’ question papers to develop some understanding about the topics covered and difficulty level of questions.

Preliminary Examination
The Prelims exam requires dedicated preparation, since a large proportion of candidates are eliminated in this stage itself. Furthermore, the cut-off mark for qualifying for IFS (Main) Examination is typically greater than that for Civil Services (Main) Examination.

Paper-1 requires complete coverage of the given syllabus from standard books, along with awareness of current issues of importance. The paper is a test of both knowledge and understanding of issues across a broad range of topics. NCERT textbooks of relevant subjects and standards are an appropriate starting point. Moreover, regular reading of one national daily is essential to develop the required general awareness.

Paper-2 focuses on testing one’s aptitude of mental ability, data interpretation, reasoning and comprehension. The foundation for this test rests upon basic numeracy, geometry and logic. Reading a newspaper helps in improving both reading speed and comprehension. However, proficiency in these skills can be developed only through regular practice of questions of similar pattern.

Main Examination
The Main examination is of subjective-type, and thus requires a different preparation strategy. Regular practice of writing answers is needed, with focus on speed of writing as well as quality of answers.

The ‘General English’ paper is of special importance as its score is included in the final marks, unlike the Civil Services (Main) Examination, in which English paper is only of qualifying nature. The various components in the ‘General English’ paper are essay, letter, report, précis, comprehension, vocabulary and grammatical problems. A good essay should provide a powerful context and analyze all aspects of the given topic, while offering both short-term and long-term perspective. Writing letters and reports requires awareness of the rules of structure and format. Précis-writing is an art of brief and comprehensive expression, and can be mastered only through regular practice. One can build strong comprehension skills and a rich vocabulary through extensive reading coupled with curiosity of learning new words. Last but not the least, knowledge of basic grammar rules would be useful in not only tackling grammatical problems but also improve overall correctness of expression.

The ‘General Knowledge’ paper seeks to test the general awareness and understanding of issues of current importance. The recent trend shows a shift towards shorter questions, but a greater number of them covering a broad range of topics. Besides the standard topics such as Indian history (ancient to modern), geography, economy, polity, etc., one must be aware of the various aspects of recent issues in India such as Government policies, programmes and laws, Supreme Court judgments. Familiarity with recent international events and their implications is also essential. There is a special focus on environmental issues – both domestic and international, and application of science and technology in everyday life.

The choice of optional subjects is crucial, and the candidate must opt for a subject based on one’s interest and aptitude. The format of papers is similar to Civil Services Examination with a mix of compulsory and optional questions. The syllabus of each optional subject can be completed within 3-4 months of dedicated study, and this should be followed with regular revision. Emphasis must also lie on ability to write brief and comprehensive answers as the space available is now limited after introduction of Question-cum-Answer booklets.

Personality Test
The Personality Test is the final stage of IFS Examination and is held at UPSC, New Delhi. Select candidates are invited for interviews based on their performance in the written examination. The interview board consists of one of the UPSC members as chairman and 3-4 other members. The average duration of an interview is about 25 minutes. Board is very cordial and seeks to establish a conversation with the candidate on topics of general interest and from one’s background. Interest in environmental and forests issues is an added benefit.
Personality Test is followed by a medical checkup and a walking test of 25 km for male candidates and 14 km for female candidates, to be completed in less than 4 hours.

Personal Experience
I am a Computer Science & Engineering graduate from IIT Delhi. I began the preparation for General Studies / General Knowledge by reading relevant NCERT books. For instance, Geography textbooks for Class XI and XII are a comprehensive resource. Free availability of NCERT books on NCERT’s website has solved the issue of their availability and accessibility to aspirants. For deeper study, I studied ‘India’s Struggle for Independence’ by Bipan Chandra, ‘Indian Polity’ by Lakshmikanth, ‘Indian Economy’ by Ramesh Singh, etc.

My optional subjects for IFS Examination were Chemistry and Forestry. My preparation for Chemistry was based on books such as Atkins’ Physical Chemistry, Morrison & Boyd’s Organic Chemistry, Huheey’s Inorganic Chemistry, etc. For the Forestry optional, I relied on ‘Indian Forestry’ by K. Manikandan & S. Prabhu. Besides the books, Internet proved to be a helpful resource for recent developments and miscellaneous information.

Indian Forest Service promises to offer a fulfilling public service career, with the added satisfaction of working in close association with Mother Nature. Eligible candidates should give this career option a serious consideration and begin dedicated preparation for the recruitment examination at the earliest.

About the Author,
Vikas Prajapati, IFS