In the first interview from the series, Anshuman Dutta speaks to Hitendra Dev Adhikary, the Assam Financial Services topper.
Q. How did you prepare for the precis and drafting paper? What are the various sources you followed for the drafting section?
Ans: Being a working official, I was used to preparing drafts, letters, précis, etc. Therefore, I had to spend little time in this section.
Précis writing is not as tough as we make it out to be. First, we have to go through the passage carefully twice or thrice and highlight the main ideas given. Then, we have to try to reflect on what the author is trying to communicate through the text. It is not just about copying the words the author is using but more about the main idea the author is trying to convey to us. Précis requires you to summarise the main ideas; you have to be careful not to give your personal opinion on the subject. Stick to the main topic and don’t go off topic. Also, as all of us know, it should be about one-third of the main passage and you need to add a suitable heading to it.
Drafting is a framework of what we are about to present. To be more precise, it is a rough idea of a letter or an article. To prepare a draft, “You think of what you want to say and put it on paper in the way you think you want to say it”. Then check the punctuation, grammar and spelling. A draft is a rough copy of the communication which is intended to be issued to convey decision(s) or the views of competent authority. Drafting is the process of preparing this rough copy. A draft should carry the message sought to be conveyed in a language that is clear, concise and incapable of misconstruction.
Q. General English and General Knowledge play a very important role in this examination. How did you cover the various topics and areas in General English and General Knowledge? Please do share the relevant books and sources followed by you.
Ans: For General English, to be frank, I did not devote much time and effort. For General Knowledge, I had a very old habit of reading newspapers daily and cutting and pasting important news in a diary; I managed time to review those diaries, which helped me immensely. Also, I had followed Manorama Yearbook and Assam Yearbook, along with old question papers of AFS and ACS exams.
Q. Financial Rules and Accounts is a major paper for this exam. Is there any guidance you would provide to the aspirants while preparing for this paper?
Ans: For Financial Rules and Accounts, I had mainly followed Essentials of Govt Rules by BK Borkakati, The Assam Financial Rules published by Assam Law House, Treasury Rules and Subsidiary Orders published by Assam Law House, Fundamental Rules & Subsidiary Rules by VK Dewan and Budget Manual published by the Finance (Budget) Department, Assam. I think the book by BK Borkakati covers almost all aspects. For clarity, repeated reading is a must. Whenever I had any confusion, I used to consult senior officials from the AFS cadre for clarity.
Q. What was your strategy while preparing the sections given below?
Ans: l An introduction to government accounts and audit:
I had followed Essentials of Govt Rules by BK Borkakati. This book covers almost all the important aspects of “an introduction to government accounts and audit”.
l Account Code Volume 1 & 2:
I had followed Essentials of Govt Rules by BK Borkakati. This book covers almost all the important aspects of Accounts Code Volume 1 & 2.
l Assam Financial Rules:
Thoroughly followed The Assam Financial Rules published by Assam Law House.
l Assam Treasury Rules and SO:
Followed the book Treasury Rules and Subsidiary Orders published by Assam Law House.
l Fundamental Rules:
Followed the book Fundamental Rules & Subsidiary Rules by VK Dewan published by Orient Publishing Company.
Q. How did you prepare for the interview?
Ans: Prior to the interview, I had gone through some mock interviews on online platforms, especially to study the body language, expressions and confidence level of the candidates.
I relied mainly on newspapers and news portals for current affairs.
I also thoroughly prepared about my background: studied about the history, geography and demographics of my village, district and state; my job profiles, about my present and past jobs, educational profile, etc.
I properly went through all the important rules and acts – given under the syllabus for the written test.
Q. How did you prepare for the examination while being a working professional? Did you follow a fixed time-table?
Ans: Being a working professional actually helped me in this journey, as practical experience in my field helped me understand the government rules properly. Additionally, being an audit personnel, we needed to be conversant with rules and regulations which immensely helped me in my preparation for this exam.
No, I didn’t attend any mock tests.
About 25/30 days prior to the written exam, I had started answer writing practice.
Q. What would be your tips for a new aspirant preparing for the exam?
Ans: Preparation for this examination is vastly different from other competitive exams. All rule books should be read thoroughly and time and again to understand them properly since they are written in a very complex manner. The main objective should be to understand the rules and express their proper meaning in your own language (of course citing the rule number helps in scoring), instead of memorising the language written in the books. For General Studies and General English, preparation is more or less similar to other competitive examinations.
This exam is a little different than other competitive exams – mainly due to the inclusion of the Financial Rules and Accounts paper. Thus, specific preparation is needed for candidates appearing for this exam.