Interview with Dr A.R. Khan, director, Khan Study Group.
A.R. KHAN of the Khan Study Group (KSG) has been teaching IAS aspirants for the past 20 years. With an enviable success rate, his institute is all geared up to take on the new challenges in the civil services examinations.
What are the reasons for KSG's success in such a short span of time?
KSG, the institution, is new. Team KSG has members whose collective experience is more than that of most of the coaching institutes doing general studies in the country. There are many other reasons. It has its unique methodology of teaching. The institute is extremely focussed on general studies and the CSAT paper, the two compulsory papers. The institute lays stress on not only giving information but also honing the skill of retrieving the acquired information.
General Studies is the USP of the institute. What makes it different from the other institutes that teach the same course?
The G.S. has its own identity. At KSG we do not deal with G.S. as a mere combination of the topic but in a very interrelated manner. This is also demanded by the UPSC now. The KSG stresses the regular distribution of updated material. There is a big team that works for this on a 24x7 basis. Apart from all this, a team of extremely motivated and talented consultants makes G.S. at KSG very special.
Do you think the change in pattern will produce better bureaucrats?
After a detailed consideration, the UPSC has adopted a new methodology for selection. The nation trusts the ability of the best minds at the UPSC to give us better bureaucrats. KSG ensures that every student is reminded of his or her obligation towards the nation. It gets reflected in the candidate's writing, speech and outlook on issues. It is very easy to criticise the things around you. However, the students at KSG are groomed in such a manner that each one of them is willing to give his or her best to the nation. I can say so because I am confident about my students.
How has KSG been doing over the past couple of years?
KSG has had excellent results. However, as part of the respect shown to the hard work of the students, KSG never claims [credit for] their results. We are more than rewarded by their individual acknowledgment to the institute and any mention of our role in their interviews.
What is your suggestion to civil services aspirants who are still thinking where and how to start?
For candidates who are still lurking in the dark, my advice is that it is never too late. Ideally, preparation requires around one year of quality time, 3,000 to 3,500 hours of quality preparation. It is prudent to know in advance what not to study, because general studies is very vague and very little is explicit. What not to study can only be determined if we know what to study. At this stage expert guidance is highly useful.
It is very important in civil services examinations to peak at the right time. If a candidate prepares for a longer duration, monotony may creep in and the student's resolve may fizzle out, whereas if a candidate starts at the right time his momentum will be with him until the end and he will be in a better position to crack the examination.A Special Correspondent