Interview: Shweta Sharma Rank 1 HCS (J) and Rank 9 PCS (J)

By | April 16, 2020
Shweta Sharma Interview 1

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The effortless commitment and determination towards achieving one’s goal can be learned from Shweta Sharma, who was not only able to clear all the three stages of the Judicial service examination but was also able to clear UGC-NET examination in a single attempt.

Her in-depth knowledge of legal subjects and commendable debating skills has helped her to prepare better for the Judicial examination. Her optimism and willingness to confront challenges is a great inspiration for those who are planning to undertake this examination.

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.“

– Vince Lombardi

Here’s an excerpt of the interview conducted by Team Legal Bites with Shweta Sharma

Legal Bites: Did you make up your mind to attempt exams for the judiciary while you were doing your bachelor? If yes, in which year did you start preparing for the exam?

Shweta Sharma: Yes, I did make up my mind while I was doing my Bachelors’s, however, I did not start my preparation until after I was done with my Bachelors’s as well as Masters.

Legal Bites: There are times in college when one finds oneself engrossed in purely college work and the life associated with it. In this, how did you keep yourself focused and make time for the preparation?

Shweta Sharma: Yes, college years provide a student with many options to participate in various activities. However, I believe that each activity offers something new to learn. I myself participated in various moot court competitions, helped in organizing various college events as well as wrote many research papers; each activity helped me in one way or another.

While writing research papers helped me gain in-depth knowledge of a particular legal topic, participating in moot court competitions made me understand the application of law better.  In the long run, these experiences help a student build his/her overall personality and also prove useful in various stages of the Judicial Services Examination.

So, while in college, judicial aspirants can pick out those activities which they feel can help them in strengthening their base for Judicial Services preparation.

Legal Bites: What according to you, set your preparation aside from the rest of the aspirants? What were your strengths as a judicial aspirant and what were your weaknesses?

Shweta Sharma: As far as my preparation was concerned, I always focused more on the conceptual clarity of a topic. The three stages of Judicial Services Examination demand in-depth conceptual knowledge of the law, especially the mains examination which tests one’s knowledge and application of law and only those students who have in-depth knowledge can present the answer in a wholesome manner.

In most of the state’s mains examinations, bare acts are provided, so a student while answering all the points asked in the question must not copy the bare act language but write in his/her own words. The question must be read clearly before answering.

As far as my weaknesses are concerned, I realized that sometimes I was hasty in reading the questions and answering them, be it during the preliminary or mains examination, which cost me some marks. In the examination hall, one might succumb to pressure as one has to answer a lot of questions in limited time.

So I would suggest that all the aspirants be calm and patient while attempting the papers and read each and every question very carefully before answering.

As far as my strengths were concerned, I believe because of my conceptual clarity, I was able to write to the point answers.

Legal Bites: Was there anything that you feel you should have done differently?

Shweta Sharma: No, I don’t believe I should have done anything differently. A key point is that sincerity and consistency while preparing for any competitive examination is paramount; I was aware of that and I urge everyone reading this to also be.

Legal Bites: Did you think of any back-up plans, god forbid had you not cleared the exams?

Shweta Sharma: Ever since I joined law school, becoming a judicial officer had always been my dream. However, I also wanted to pursue Master’s in law. After I was done with my Bachelor’s in 2017, I immediately enrolled myself in a one-year master’s course specializing in criminal law.

During my masters, I was fortunate enough to clear UGC-NET. In a way, this became my backup. Having said that, I would like to emphasize that this one-year course proved to be one of the most enriching experiences and helped me hone my answer writing skills.

However, I would like to point out that joining masters or not is a personal decision which every aspirant must take depending on his or her interests and choices. I did it to strengthen my base for Judicial Services preparation. It was only after I was done with it that I actively started preparing for Judiciary.

Legal Bites: Please tell us what kept you going for the period you were dedicated to the preparation. What kept you motivated and focused? What did you do to not succumb to your mental pressure and doubts?

Shweta Sharma: The preparation period can be stressful at times as one has to deal with a lot of uncertainty and doubt. In these times my family and friends were the ones who kept me going. They constantly motivated me and displayed their faith in me which always kept me positive.

I also had social media to keep me entertained whenever I didn’t feel like studying. Apart from that, going on long walks helped a lot to ease the mental pressure. More importantly, I can tell from my personal experience that during this period, having patience and belief in oneself can go a long way.

Legal Bites: What is the difference in strategy while preparing for Prelims, Mains, and the interview?

Shweta Sharma: At the stage of preliminary examination, one must focus on reading the Bare Acts multiple times and solving previous year question papers. It is important to solve as many objective questions as one can, for practice makes one perfect. Since many questions in prelims are direct, students must also focus on memorizing the important provisions, especially those which have been repeatedly asked in previous year papers.

At the stage of Mains, there is no substitute for conceptual clarity, a student must understand the topic in detail to answer it well. At this stage also, one must analyze the previous year’s papers of the state for which they are appearing. It helps the student determine the kind of pattern a particular state follows in asking questions.

For example, in Delhi Judicial Services most of the questions are application-based, so students must focus on reading more and more judgements apart from gaining conceptual clarity.

At the stage of Interview, confidence is the key. It is a personality-based test. A student must answer each question with confidence and must not panic if he/she does not know the answer to a question. It is very important that one remains honest in front of the Board.

A student must focus on current legal topics and judgements and should also prepare some personal questions on family background, hobbies etc.

I was asked variety of questions ranging from my hobbies to foreign judgements, burden of proof, Section 53 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, factors to determine quantum of compensation under Motor Vehicles Act, Article 370 of the Constitution etc.

Legal Bites: How did you shortlist the states for which you would attempt the exam?

Shweta Sharma: Delhi, Haryana and Punjab were my preferred states when it came to Judicial Services. However, I never shied away from appearing for the exams of other nearby states, as every state had a different pattern and helped me learn something new. Apart from these three states, I also appeared in the preliminary examinations of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand and was fortunate enough to clear all three. However, due to some reasons, I could not sit for the mains of Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. I appeared for Rajasthan mains and was able to clear it.

Therefore, my advice for the aspirants would be to appear in as many states examinations as they can because that would help them learn new legal subjects and keep them occupied until the state, they are aiming for releases its Notification for the exam.

Legal Bites: What was the most daunting part of this journey and how did you overcome it?

Shweta Sharma: The most daunting part of my journey was waiting for the results as it was filled with uncertainty and doubt. I overcame it with the support of my friends and family, watching movies and reading novels. I would like to advise students that the post-examination period is that time when you have done your part and given your best and whatever be the result of that endeavour, be assured that, it would help you grow and learn for the times to come.

Legal Bites: Did you join any coaching institute? Would you recommend aspirants to take formal coaching for preparing for this exam?

Shweta Sharma: Yes, I did join a coaching institute after I completed my Masters in 2018.  Joining a coaching institute is a very subjective decision. If one has developed a strong base for law while in college there is no need to join, otherwise coaching institutes can prove really useful as they can help one prepare in a structured way.

At the same time, I would like to emphasize that there is no substitute for self-study, even if a student has taken coaching, only self-study can help him/her in clearing the exam.

Legal Bites: What would you suggest students in law school do, in order to make the best of their college days?

Shweta Sharma: It goes without saying that the college years are the best years of one’s life and one must participate in as many activities as possible along with the college’s academic routine, as these days will never come back. The memories one makes in college are always remembered fondly.

One should focus on striking a balance between both academics and extra curriculars and choose his or field of interest accordingly.

Legal Bites: What is your advice to our readers?

Shweta Sharma: The most important thing to remember is that there is no “right” method of preparing. Everyone has a different strategy. One must focus on identifying his or her weaknesses and work on overcoming them. In other words, figure out your own strategy. No one knows you better than yourself!!!

In addition to that, I would advise the readers to be consistent and take care of their health. I wish everyone reading this the very best of luck!


Author: Mayank Shekhar

Mayank is a student at Faculty of Law, Delhi University. Under his leadership, Legal Bites has been researching and developing resources through blogging, educational resources, competitions, and seminars.