APSC ACS – 10th Rank Punam Gogoi Talks with Students



Punam Gogoi

Punam Gogoi
Punam Gogoi

Age (at the time of clearing)


Year of Clearing






Total no of Attempts


Optional for Prelims

Indian History

Optionals for Mains

History and Political Science

Medium of Exam


Other exams success/failure

Attempted UPSC Civil Services Examination

Service Preference APSC

ACS, ALRS, Superintendent of Taxes, APS





  1. Educational Background


    Class 10 %, Year, School


    Class 12%, Year, Institution


    Degree %, Year, College




    Reading, DIY and Sketching Doodles

    Job Experience


  2. Many hearty congratulations on your success. Tell us something about yourself and your family and why did you choose Civil Services as a career?

Ans: Thank you so much. I have done my matriculation from Disneyland High School, Guwahati and then completed my 12th from DPS Digboi and my graduation from North Lakhimpur College taking Mathematics as the major subject. Then I was in JNU for a while pursuing a course in French language. Now coming to my family, my father was also an ACS officer of 1986 batch, my mother is a home-maker and my brother is also into civil services currently serving the state as Inspector of Taxes. My journey towards civil services is an interesting one, because unlike many it was not my childhood dream. It was my brother who convinced me to take this exam. But when I started my journey which started in 2015, it made me very happy. Because the knowledge that I was acquiring made me feel very responsible to become a better version of myself. With time I was convinced why it is so important that girls like us who are in a better position in comparison to many others in the country to take the opportunity to set an example in the society and hold positions of power. And if this journey can inspire just one little girl or a parent of a girl-child, I would consider our efforts (both mine and my family’s) to have borne fruit.

  1. When did you start the preparation for APSC?

Ans: I started my preparation from January 2015.

  1. How much time do you think is required to prepare for this exam?

Ans: With proper strategy I think one year of serious preparation is enough.

  1. How many hours on an average did you devote to studies?

Ans: 12 hours

  1. Do you think coaching is necessary for APSC?

Ans: I don’t think it is necessary, however proper guidance from someone who has been successful in the exam is very helpful and it makes the journey very comfortable.


  1. What was your strategy for prelims?

Ans: My strategy was to do as many MCQs as possible and available in all kinds of sources (books, mock papers, past year papers of APSC, UPSC CSE, CDS, NDA, CAPF, SSC GGL etc and internet). Choosing the right optional is also very crucial because my failure in my first attempt was the wrong choice of optional.

  1. How did you choose your optional for prelims?

Ans: I chose Indian History for a set number of reasons. First being, it is a part of the General Studies paper and we have to study Indian History anyway. Second reason was that there are a lot of MCQs available both online and offline on every topic which made the preparation very interesting and easy. Third reason was that on analyzing the past year papers of APSC, I got a fair idea of what was the demand and that I would be able to do proper justice with it.

  1. Book List for Prelims GS


Ancient India by R.S Sharma, Medieval India by Satish Chandra, Modern India by Spectrum Publication, Lucent GK

Polity Lakshmikanth and some parts from D.D Basu
Geography NCERTs from 6-12
Economy Ramesh Singh and Mrunal Videos
Science NCERTS 6-10
Assam Related Assam Year Book, Old State Board Text Books for Social Science from 8-10.
Maths R.S Agarwal
Reasoning R.S Agarwal
Current Affairs The Hindu, VisionIAS Monthly Magazine
  1. Booklist for Prelims Optional

Ancient India

R.S Sharma, Lucent GK

Medieval India

Satish Chandra, Lucent GK

Modern India

Spectrum Publication by Rajiv Ahir


  1. Is language a barrier in the preparation for APSC? (Since many books/materials are not available in Assamese), and how you prepared the various sections related to the ASSAM and NORTH EAST?

Ans: Language can never be a barrier. In whichever language we believe we can express better can be chosen. I read the Assam Year Book and State Board Text Books for Social Science from 8th to 10th standard for Assam and Northeast related matters. I would recommend Assam History by S.L Barua and though I got introduced to the book only before my interview I found out that APSC asks a lot of questions from the same in both prelims and mains. It is also a very good read, almost feels like reading a novel.


  1. What was your strategy for mains? And strategy in applying the order of preferences for various posts?

Ans: My strategy for mains was time bound answer writing practice. I had written around 30-35 mock papers before mains, which gave me a taste of the real exam. It was like taking APSC mains several times before I actually sat for the real exam. The benefits of giving mocks is that one gets well acquainted with the time and limit of words. The choice of vocabulary, whether to include maps and flowcharts and the kind of presentation of the answer gave me a lot of confidence.

I followed the traditional order of preferences.

  1. Did you make notes or prepare answers?

Ans: I did both. I made notes and gave multiple mock papers.

  1. Did you practice answer writing?

Ans: Yes. I wrote at least two answers daily ,after prelims was over I tried to give one mock test every week and two months before mains examination I used to take a mock paper every alternate day.

  1. What was your strategy for time management during mains exam? How to wisely choose optional for the mains? How you revised all the three sections (GS, Current Affairs, and Optional)?

Ans: Since I practiced a lot of time bound mock papers time management was not a problem for me. Choosing optional is very crucial and one has to be very strategic in it as optionals carry 800 marks. I chose Political Science and History because both were parts of the General Studies paper and together they comprised around 40% of G.S. I also had very keen interest in Political Theory, Ideologies and Historical events of the country and the world. I made macro notes, micro notes and nano notes of almost all the topics, flow charts, mnemonics, mind-maps and diagrams also helped me in quick revisions.

  1. How many questions/marks did you attempt in GS and Optional?

Ans: I attempted all.

  1. How did you prepare for General English Paper?

Ans: I practiced exercises from Wren and Martin English Grammar book and practiced past years’ APSC papers, past years’ UPSC mains qualifying papers and mock papers.

  1. Booklist for Mains GS


Same As Prelims









Assam Related


Current Affairs


  1. Booklist for Mains Optional 1

Indian History

Ancient India- R.S Sharma, Romila Thapar

Medieval India- Satish Chandra, Irfan Habib

Modern India- Spectrum, Bipan Chandra

World History

L. Mukherjee Books, Internet (Wikipedia, Stanford Encyclopedia) and Notes prepared by my brother Anshuman Gogoi

  1. Booklist for Mains Optional 2

Paper 1

O.P Gauba, Shubhra Ranjan Madam’s notes, K.C Paul Books for Standard 11 and 12th

Paper 2

Lakshmikanth, D.D Basu, K.C Paul’s Books

  1. How did you prepare for the Interview?

Ans: I did an analysis of what could be asked. Read about the history of my native place, revised Assam History, Geography, Polity, brushed up my optionals and prepared answers on questions that could be asked about my Hobby. I also gave around 4 mock interviews which helped me get the nerve of what an actual interview would feel like.

  1. What did you wear for the interview?

Ans: Muga-Eri Handwoven Mekhela Chador with Yellow motifs.

  1. What was the name of the board and what was the duration of the interview?

Ans: My Board was chaired by Mukti Gogoi and two other members were Ajanta Nath and Samsher Singh. The interview was around 10 to 15 mins and the board was very cordial.

  1. What were the questions asked during your interview?


1. You have done well in your matriculation why did perform poorly in Graduation?

2. What was October Revolution?

3. Who wrote Communist Manifesto? Tell us about the prime things mentioned in the book.

4. What were the different stages of Human Evolution?

5. What changes would you like to bring in Education of Assam if you were the Chief Minister. Tell us from your own experience and not from what you have gathered from books or newspapers.

6. Do you read Assamese Literature? Which are your favourite books and authors? Why do you like them? Ajanta Ma’am recommended me to read Mereng by Anuradha Sharma Pujari.

7. Tell us something about your experiences in life. Are you happy with your life?

  1. How confident were you of your success or were you nervous or de-motivated/doubtful at times? How did you keep yourself motivated during the preparation process? (Your stress management techniques)

Ans: Though I was pretty sure that my papers went good and that I should get a place in the list, yet there were times when I felt nervous. During those times I used to talk to my brothers or my best friends in the journey Swaraj Bharat Lagachu (16th Rank), Johar Jyoti Pegu (24th Rank), Kaustuv Roy (45th Rank) ,Puja Punam Gogoi (57th Rank), Queen Gogoi (63rd Rank) , we would recall how we wrote our answers in the main examination and would reassure each other. The most funny yet the most memorable act was that of my elder brother who undersigned on a piece of paper that I would be there on the list amongst the top 20. Being surrounded by an intricate system of positivity my stress was managed quite well, in fact it never lingered long.

  1. Were you engaged in any other activity (job, studies) or giving full time to preparation?

Ans: I was managing our 24*7 Library (Competition Care) along with full time preparation.

  1. What was your Career Back up plan?

Ans: Entrepreneurship

  1. There are a lot of pressures/obligations/obstacles in an individual’s life which tend to affect their preparation. Did pressures like ‘completing Post Graduation’, ‘getting a job first then prepare’, ‘hectic job’, ‘getting married’ or any other come in your way?

Ans: Before my Dad passed away in October 23rd 2015, he told me one thing very firmly that in this family no one would ever ask you to get married, so be fearless to accomplish yourself. He wanted me to be an independent woman both financially and practically in life. My brother took the reins of the family and he almost single handedly managed to become a fatherly figure. He made sure that nothing hampers my studies. He asked me to think about nothing else but give my full concentration on my preparation. He became my friend, philosopher, guide and mentored me throughout. He always made sure that I was on the right track. My mom cooked healthy meals for me and did not let me do any kind of household chore which could take away my time from my studies. I am also blessed with a very loving fiancé who is again a civil servant of Assam Government who took the pain to churn out mcqs for prelims, evaluate my mains mock papers and also took my interview mocks along with my brother. So in this I was very blessed.

30. What was the role of your family, friends, and spouse etc behind your success?

Ans: I have already mentioned that I have a very loving and a supportive family. And I would like to mention that I was also one of the luckiest and most privileged candidate to have a 24*7 library with WiFi and AC at my residential campus itself where all mocks tests for prelims, mains and interview were conducted. I could therefore study devoting 100% focused attention for more than 10 hours daily and was always motivated to do better. My brother, who was my mentor had immense confidence in me. My family knew about my learning skills and my passion for writing citing which both my parents and my brother asked me to take the exam. They had more confidence in me than I had on myself. Despite doing very poorly in my graduation they kept full faith in me that I will do exceptionally well in the civil services examinations. My brother and my mother never had the slightest doubt about my results, which at times took me by surprise. My fiancé is again a very loving, supportive and a positive individual, he did not let any negativity creep into our relationship which made the journey very smooth.

  1. Dos and Don’ts for APSC.

Ans: Dos:

1. Keep your passion alive which will motivate you innately.

2. Study smarter not harder, which means you need not only read and revise but also write a lot because this examination is all about writing. And your marks in mains examination will determine where you will find your position.

  1. Your observations on APSC exam.

Ans: APSC has been practicing transparency in the recent exams which has inspired a lot many brilliant minds of the state to take this exam who earlier opted for other career plans. Therefore I see a lot of positive rays which will bring in a lot of positive changes in the state.

  1. Finally your golden tips for upcoming aspirants.

Ans: Find an inner motivation to clear this examination. The process is long and sometimes tests your patience but have faith in the system and you will definitely come out with flying colors. Don’t let anyone feed negativity, stay away from all such sources. Through this exam you will learn a lot about yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, your capabilities, wisely work on them, because this exam is all about making wise decisions. Your daily decisions will be integrated to bring you the desired results. I therefore would like to end with a quote: It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.