‘Failure Teaches A Person More Than Success Ever Could’ - Eastern Mirror
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‘Failure teaches a person more than success ever could’

By Moakala T Aier Updated: Jul 10, 2024 10:05 am
L Toino Sumi

Dimapur, July 9 (EMN): The allure of donning the uniform, a spirit for adventure, and an insatiable curiosity to explore new paths in life collectively inspired L Toino Sumi to pursue a career in the armed forces.

After graduating from St. Edmund’s College, Shillong, and completing his post-graduation at North-Eastern Hill University, Toino began preparing for civil service exams. He appeared for various state and central level exams during the preparation. In 2019, in his third attempt he successfully cleared the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) – Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) exam, securing a position as an Assistant Commandant in the Border Security Force (BSF).

In an interview with Eastern Mirror, the assistant commandant provides a comprehensive overview of the UPSC CAPF (ACs) exam, drawing on his own preparation journey to inspire other candidates.

The exact timeline can vary depending on individual circumstances, such as educational background, familiarity with the subject and the amount of time one can dedicate to preparation.

Some general guidelines for when to start preparing for CAPF UPSC exam

a) Early preparation (2-3 years before the exam): If you are still in college or have just graduated, you can start familiarising yourself with the syllabus and exam pattern. This early start can help you build a strong foundation in the subject and give you a head start in your preparation.

b) One year before the exam: This is the ideal time to start serious preparation for the exam. One can begin by understanding the exam pattern, syllabus and going through previous years’ question papers. Creating a study schedule, gathering study materials, and start covering the topics systematically.

c) Six months before the exam: If one has a good grasp of the subjects and has been consistently preparing, the last six months can be dedicated to revision, practicing mock tests, focusing on areas where one needs improvement in order to better improve one’s speed and accuracy in solving the questions in the exam.


CAPF UPSC exam comprise of three phases:

  1. Written examination

Paper 1 (MCQ) – General mental ability, general science, Indian polity, economy, Indian history, Indian and world geography, current events of national and international importance (250 marks).

Paper 2: Essays, comprehension, précis, grammar (200 marks).

2. Physical efficiency and medical tests

    Test Male Female
100 metres   16 seconds 18 seconds
800 metres 3 mins 45 secs   4 mins 45 secs
Long jump 3.5 metres (3 chances)  3.0 metres (3 chances)
Shot put (7.26 kgs)4.5 metresNIL

For medical fitness, weight, blood pressure, colour blindness, etc. is checked.

3. Interview/personality test (150 marks).

WhatsApp Image 2024 07 08 at 5.41.51 PM

First and foremost is clarity, one has to be clear about one’s career path, be very clear of what you would want in life and the rest will follow. Being consistent, decisiveness, discipline, having will power, patience and acceptance are the key to success.

    For General Mental Ability:

  • Practice solving puzzles, logical reasoning, and analytical questions regularly.
  • Develop a systematic approach to solving problems, especially those related to numerical ability and data interpretation.

General Science:

  • Focus on basic concepts in physics, chemistry, and biology.
  • Regularly revise formulas and scientific principles.
  • Stay updated with recent scientific developments.

Indian Polity: 

  • Understand the structure of the Indian political system, including the roles and functions of various institutions.
  • Memorise key articles of the constitution and amendments.

History and Geography:

  • Divide history into ancient, medieval and modern periods for effective studying
  • Pay special attention to Indian and world geography, emphasising physical geography, climate and regional geography.

Current Events:

  • Stay informed about national and international current affairs
  • Connect current events to historical and geographical contexts for holistic understanding.

Some of the books I referred to were M Laxmikanth for Indian Polity, Ancient India by R S Sharma and Medieval India by Satish Chandra, Modern India – Spectrum Publication for History, for General Science and Geography – NCERT 11th and 12th, Lucent  GK, Indian Economy by Wizard Publication.

One strategy that helped me retain information better was group discussion/study sessions with  friends or other aspirants, engaging actively with study material by asking questions, making connections to real life examples, and teaching material to others and revising topics. All these worked effectively to retain information for a longer period of time.

The best way to save time is to attempt the questions you know the answer to. That way you will be done with the easy part and can spend more time focusing on questions that are tricky and taxing. If one is running out of time in the paper, ensure to keep the answer short and simple but to the point, one can use mind maps and diagrams or flow charts. Such techniques can help you save time and are visually more appealing.

Practice is a crucial step for writing a good essay. Take notes on key concepts and ideas to ensure that one has a strong grasp of the material, planning and outlining/brainstorming before writing an essay can help one organise one’s thoughts and develop clear and focused arguments. Identifying the main points that one wants to address in the essay coupled with supporting details and evidences to back up the answer, it could be quotes, statistics, etc. besides provide oneself with an essay topics on a regular basis and practice, this will help one get a feel for the time constraints and develop strategies for managing time effectively.


It is always recommended to set a goal for physical activity as it will provide you with a way to measure how well you are doing over a period of time. Start slowly and build up gradually, one can begin with cardio exercises such as running or cycling, strengthening exercises such as weightlifting or body weight exercises. It is also very important to maintain a healthy diet and get enough rest to perform at your best.

For the interview I kept myself updated with the current affairs pertaining to state, national as well international affairs. I had a good circle of friends who really helped me out with mock interviews, group discussion on burning issues, internal security-related topics, situation-based questions and many more; basically one has to study everything under the sun. My piece of advice to other aspirants while facing an interview is to always be genuine, honest, humble and confident while giving answers to the interviewers.

Some of the important lessons that I learned during my preparation journey was patience, perseverance and passion. It also made me more humble through my failures. I believe failure will teach a person more than what success can teach. At the end of the day, failure is simply an opportunity to begin again more intelligently and I would encourage other aspirants to embrace it and learn from it.

I enjoy playing volleyball as it is a great way to stay physically active and have fun, as well as it acts as a stress buster. The game requires teamwork, communication, and strategy, making it exciting to play

Being retired with a huge amount of money so I can travel around the world.

Backpack, water bottle, Swiss knife, flashlight, personal medical kit and snacks, map, power bank, rain coat, etc.

By Moakala T Aier Updated: Jul 10, 2024 10:05:00 am
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