APSC ACS – 21st Rank Afreen Hussain Talks with Students

Name Afreen Hussain

Afteen Hussain
Afteen Hussain


Age (at the time of clearing) 25
Year of Clearing 2018
Post ACS
Rank 21
Total no of Attempts 2
Optional for Prelims Political science
Optionals for Mains Political science, Education
Medium of Exam English
Other exams success/failure None
Service Preference APSC ACS, ALRS, APS, and so on.


  1. Educational background
Class 10 %, Year, School 75%, 2008, St Mary’s high school
Class 12%, Year, Institution 92%, 2010, Maria’s Public School
Degree %, Year, College 62%, 2013, Miranda House, DU
Post-Graduation 69%, TISS-G
Hobbies Martial arts, reading, creative writing.
Job Experience  None
  1. 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! It does feel good to finally taste the fruit of my efforts. My grandfather and father were in the civil services and both served as a joint inspiration. What attracted me about the service is the institutional backup that will help translate good ideas into reality. I ardently believe that I have fresh notions which can help make the lives of people easier.

  1. When did you start the preparation for APSC?

November 2017.

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

Ans: I think it depends on the individual person.

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

Ans: 3-4 hours initially. And 5- 6 hours later.

  1. Do you think coaching is necessary for APSC?

Ans: Not at all. As long as you knokw how and what to study and how to structure your answers.


  1. What was your strategy for prelims?

Ans: I’m a compulsive reader but I did not prepare specifically for the prelims. I solved MCQ’s a week before the exam.

  1. How did you choose your optional for prelims?

Ans: Political science is a core subject and the obvious choice.

  1. Book List for Prelims GS
History Spectrum, NCERT history texts.
Polity Laxmikant, class notes from college
Geography NCERT 11 and 12th texts
Economy Did not prepare.
Science  Did not prepare.
Assam Related  Class notes from Masters, Assam year book.
Maths  Did not prepare
Reasoning Did not prepare
Current Affairs Read newspapers regularly.
  1. Booklist for Prelims Optional
 Political science Class notes
  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 wasn’t a barrier for me. I relied on basic GK booklets for the factual bit. During Masters, we had to specialise in conflicts in the Northeast. Class notes and materials were sufficient.


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

Ans: I studied a few subjects intensively. Instead of working on my weaknesses like science, I focused on improving my strengths, like polity and history.

  1. Did you make notes or prepare answers?

Ans: I did. Competitive exams demand a certain format of answers and that skill gets better with practice.

  1. Did you practice answer writing?

Ans: Yes.

  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: Solving answers enables one to manage time better. I chose education because it was relevant to GS as well as political science and history.

Since I had less time to prepare, I selected a familiar subject and a relatively easy (but lengthy) subject, ie, education.


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

Ans: I attempted everything except 30 marks for GS due to unavoidable circumstances.


  1. How did you prepare for General English Paper?

Ans: I did not.


  1. Booklist for Mains GS
History Spectrum, India’s struggle for independence, Romila Thapar
Polity Laxmikant, class notes, D.D. Basu.
Geography NCERT 11th and 12th texts
Economy Newspapers. Did not prepare theory.
Science  Did not prepare.
Assam Related Sanjib Baruah, Sanjoy Hazarika
Current Affairs Newspapers



  1. Booklist for Mains Optional 1


Political science Laxmikant
D.D. Basu
The republic by Plato
Teach yourself political thought by C.L. Wayper
From Plato to Marx


  1. Booklist for Mains Optional 2
Education Sunita Agarwala
KKHSOU notes


  1. How did you prepare for the Interview?

Ans:  I didn’t. I just did what I normally do- read newspapers, books, catch up with friends, travel, and had a thoroughly good time.


  1. What did you wear for the interview?

Ans: Mekhela chador


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

Ans: Hazowary board. 40 minutes.


  1. What were the questions asked during your interview?

Ans: Mostly about international conflicts. Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, how I would personally solve India-Pakistan conflict, Boko Haram. They also tried to throw me off- balance by asking me about conflict within the family.


  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: I think it’s very natural to have self- doubt. We all have those moments bit it’s crucial to remain upbeat.

My mantra was to not beat myself over factors I have no control over but focus on managing the factors which were in my control.


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

Ans: I was working on projects but shunned full- time employment.


  1. What was your Career Back up plan?

Ans: None.

  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: I’m generally good at dodging these things.


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

Ans: My family was supportive but I had to be voluntarily asocial a few months before the exam.


  1. Dos and Don’ts for APSC.

Ans: a. Do not be late for the GS exam.


  1. Your observations on APSC exam.

Ans: It’s doable with targeted, intensive studying.


  1. Finally your golden tips for upcoming aspirants.

Ans: Put in effort, study smart, do a SWOT analysis of yourself and do not be negative.