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Mohd Sana Akhtar: The Aligarian who cracked UPSC in first attempt while doing his job


Mohd. Sana Akhtar has set a new example for those Muslim youths who aspire for Civil Services.  Akhtar is one of the 40 Muslim candidates who cracked this year UPSC examination in his first attempt. Akhtar owes his success to his parents as well as Aligarh Muslim University from where he did B. Tech in computer engineering.  His message to new aspirants ‘ work hard with determination as it is a key to success’ .

Before cracking the civil services, Akhtar was doing his stint with European IT giant ST Electronic. It is notable to mention here that he did not take any break from the job for preparing civil services. Talking to Muslim Mirror, he told that the working environment in his company helped him a lot. “The work culture there in the company was really good, and which made it easier for him to prepare for the exam without leaving job”.

He especially mentions that the work culture in his company was of great help as he was able to focus on his studies without any hassles. He says for preparing one needs to study well. Number of revisions do not matter what matter is how well you have grasped the things.

He did his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from AMU in the year 2010. Just after completing his graduation he got placed in TCS one of the most prestigious IT company. After three months he switched over to European IT Company ST Electronic since then he continued to work with the same company. ST Electronics is basically a semiconductor company. Earlier he used to write the chips for various software and the division under which he was working was multimedia, but now he has moved to the set top division with the same company.

When asked whom he gives credit to his success in civil services? He says,” parent”. I have inherited good qualities and traits of my parents that played an important role in success, he says adding that “his father always has a positive attitude; he views things positively and has always been hopeful towards things while my mother was a very keen observer.

Akhtar’s father is employed with Indian Telecom industry (ITI) and has been posted in Mankapur U.P. he did his schooling from one of the reputed Convent School and also secured first position in intermediate. He says that writing skill he developed due to encouragement and guidance of his school teacher who gave a lot of emphasis on English writing while he was in school.

He also partly owes his success to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), from where he did his Bachelors in Technology in Computer Sciences.  Akhtar says the culture in AMU has motivated him to try at competitive examinations like UPSC.  He mentions “that every year hundreds of students from AMU prepare for civil services exams and make attempt to crack it.

On his preparation, he said he used to read newspapers on daily basis that helped him preparing for general studies and current affairs. He says reading habit is a culture in AMU.

It is interesting to mention here that Akhtar did not opt his engineering subjects but geography as an optional subject in the civil services examination. He says that in order to qualify an exam one doesn’t need to study for hours but one should be focused when preparing for it.

When asked about his strategy for the preparation for civil services? He says that he used to read newspapers every morning while on way to his office. As it used to take almost one hour to reach the office, so he could easily get enough time to abreast himself with current affairs and happenings through newspapers , while on way back to  home from office, he used to take a nap for almost one  hour again and by the time he reached his place he’s already refreshed and could easily study for 2-2.5 hours further, which he thinks is good enough if at all is the in depth study. He used to make up his mind that he would finish of one subject every month. He took just 3-4 weeks of leaves before appearing for the exam for revision purpose. According to him, the reasoning part wasn’t that tough but for comprehension writing “Fluency in Ideas” is a must.

Akhtar said that geography was the easiest part of his preparation whereas; general studies was a bit tough. He says, that “one should be very much expressive while writing, and should be able to put down his thoughts very quickly. “Time Management” is what he thinks plays a major role, if a person has chosen to go for the civil services exam.

He described the “interview panel” as cordial and very much co-operative. He didn’t find any biased question asked to him.  Scoring good marks in the interview is all about how well you present yourself, clarity of questions asked is a must. He says if you understand what has been asked, you would surely be able to answer it easily. There are two types of interviews conducted by the UPSC panel, one is the factual and the other one is opinion-based. Opinion based is ,much easier to crack and scoring as one can put forward their own opinion whereas in the factual one needs to talk about the facts which is tougher as compared to the opinion based interview.

The interview panel asked him a host of question about his family background, his education, his hobbies, etc. he believes that, off course good guidance is a must but it’s not the only thing that could surely make someone successful in UPSC exam, but apart from this one needs to be hard working enough, should be patient, and how determined is the person is what actually helps get success.

One more interesting aspect of success is that he never took any particular coaching for it rather he gives all his credit to one of his friends “Syed Kashif Ahmed” through whose notes he has been able to prepare. He says that Kashif has played an eminent role behind his success in civil services examination. He gave him his notes and also gave him the morale support which is indeed necessary. Syed also prepared and attempted the exam but, unfortunately couldn’t get through it.

Apart from academics, Akhtar loves to play football and also has a very keen interest in writing as well. He believes that entering the bureaucracy would definitely help him in impacting the lives of the common people, which he always dreamt of .

 ‘Be patient, hard working, devoted, determined and keep faith in Allah and success would never leave you. It is always your hard work and determination that counts and there is no religious bias” is his suggestion to all Muslim aspirants for civil services.



–Courtesy “Muslim Mirror”

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