Poonam Dalal Dahiya – From Primary School Teacher to ACP to Ranking 308 in UPSC Civil Services Exam

Success is a journey of patience and perseverance say, elders. Mrs. Poonam Dalal is a rare example of women who took the path of climbing the ‘stairs’ to reach the peak instead of choosing ‘escalator’ or ‘elevator’ to reach the destination. We often find achievers who take up prestigious examinations like Indian Civil Services like a meditation for years together and come up with flying colors. Many of them will quit their jobs and prepare to reach their goals of Indian Police Service (IPS) or Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or Indian Foreign Service (IFS). But Poonam is altogether a different nut, who took up a role of a teacher in primary school, started preparing for Bank Probationary Officer (PO) and SSC exams as stepping stone. Then she conquered these exams meticulously and changed her career the to banking sector, Income Tax department and also as Deputy Superintendent of Police then gained confidence to crack UPSC exams and succeeded twice to get offer as Indian railways officer but rejected them and finally cracked UPSC with All India Rank of 308 in the year 2015. Unlike many go-getters who are groomed by their childhood to accomplish their career goals, Poonam didn’t have any career guidance and started dreaming of cracking competitive exams only at the age of 28, but with utmost perseverance, she succeeded in it.

Personal life

Though Poonam Dalal is native of Chiara Village, in Jhajjar District of Haryana state. she was born and brought up in Delhi. Presently she is married to Mr.Asim Dahiya od Delhi, who works as Custom Excise Officer and the couple has a son.

PC: hindustantimes.com

Multifaceted Career

As mentioned in the prelude, Mrs. Poonam started her career with a low profile job as a primary teacher in a Delhi govt school. The most astonishing fact is that she pursued graduation while teaching at school through distance mode from Delhi University. On successful completion of graduation, she took up different exams like Bank Probationary Officer (PO) Exams and SSC Graduate Level Exams. She even succeeded in cracking SBI PO, SBI Associates PO, Union Bank of India PO, SSC Graduate Level examinations of the year 2005. Amongst all, she chose to become PO at SBI. In her biography she regrets about the fact that she had no guiding force then to guide her for taking up UPSC exams or else she would have done that in 2005 itself instead of waiting until the year 2009 through 2015.

She couldn’t settle with PO role at SBI, the inner voice to dream big was always triggering her to take up Civil Services Exams. After serving in SBI for few years, she cleared all India level in SSC Graduate level Examination 2006 to become Income Tax Officer. This boosted her confidence to take up UPSC examinations. But she could take up her first UPSC exams in 2009 and the age limit factor to take up UPSC exams was always in the back of her mind. In her first attempt, she got an offer for Indian Railways.

She rejected that offer and appeared for 2010 examinations, and again she got a better offer but again in Railways. By that time she had cleared Haryana State Police service Examination and got an offer as Deputy Superintendent of Police and she accepted the challenge to become a police officer.

Her immense urge to crack prestigious Civil Services exam had not dried up even in police attire. She took up UPSC exams in the year 2011 but failed. By then her inner drive was also drying up as she had reached the upper limit of age to take up CS exams.

PC: clearias.com

Turning Point Favoured her Perseverance      

As the saying goes ‘Luck favors the brave,’ Due to agitation by many UPSC aspirants the age bar was relaxed and all 2011 candidates were given an opportunity by Govt. to take up Exams in the year 2015. But during the preliminary examinations, Poonam was nine months pregnant, and she cleared the prelims with a total score of 275 marks. Also, during her Main Exams she had to look after her 3-month-old baby and came up with flying colors securing 897 marks and 308th All India Rank.

Poonam’s Preparation Methods & Aids

Due to the unavoidable circumstance Poonam was in, she got not more than 2 to 3 months for prelims and hardly one month of preparation for mains, as she had an infant to look after. But she opines making notes by referring to online materials of sp. Mrunal youtube lectures on Geography and Economics. Self-study as, Clarins, Iasbaba, InsightsonIndia Secure Initiative on Current Events, etc. helped her adequately. Also, she has admitted that relying on standard books on polity like M.Laxmikanth, Rajiv Ahir Spectrum for modern history, Shankar’s Environment Notes, Culture of Nitin Singhania n, of course, the tried and tested old NCERT Books came to her aid.

PC: clearias.com

Word of Advice for UPSC Aspirants

According to Poonam Having confidence in oneself is a most important aspect to cracking UPSC exams. For cracking the Mains, she provides three-point strategy: 1) having a holistic view of the entire examination process. 2) Consistent Efforts from the candidates and 3) face exams without stress

Overall Kalam Fan Club is delighted to bring this feature to such a person who is truly a self-made person.




  1. ashwini bendre June 26, 2017
  2. shahida June 26, 2017
  3. Mangala chandran.cha November 20, 2017

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