Hello, and welcome to the Forensics Digest Q & A Session. Monthly, we interview students and experts of forensic science on a host of topics ranging from technical aspects to career soft skills.
Today I have with me, Ms. Shweta Umre, who is a student of NICFS, Delhi. Shweta is doing her specialization in Questioned Documents and Forensic Accounting. Apart from being a passionate forensic science student, she loves to participate in debates and is a first prize recipient at National Youth Parliament 2019 organised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
Tell us about your childhood and schooling. Who all are there in the family and what are their professions?
I had a set of different experiences as a child because of separated parents. I was partially raised by my grandparents in the baby years and then all along my mother. I did my primary schooling from St. Aloysius School Yavatmal and my high-school from SVS Nagpur. I owe a lot of my base knowledge to both the schools. My early education years made me realise the importance of having teachers who taught out of the box. I feel every family is complete in its own beautiful way. As far as my family is concerned, I live in Nagpur with my Mom, my younger sibling and my Maternal Grandmother.
My Mom, Dr. Savita Sharma is an Assistant Director for Regional Ayurveda Research Institute CCRAS Nagpur under AYUSH Ministry GOI. Having a parent who is a doctor has always nourished the empathic capabilities in my personality. My Nani is a retired Principal from a Government school in Yavatmal. Her service inspired me to consider teaching as one of my passions. My father works in the Corporate Social Responsibility sector and lives in Mumbai. My brother studies in 7th grade here in my hometown.
You are a ‘serial’ debater and if I am not wrong you won the first prize at National Youth Parliament 2019 organised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports? Tell us about your interest in debating?
Love the way “serial” is mentioned here. Yes I am a very frequently seen public speaker. My interest in Public Speaking started as a classroom activity as a part of formative assessments that took place in 7th-8th grade. Before that, I loved being on stage but didn’t quite realise it was something I was driven by. By 7th grade I started competing in various public speaking competitions. I’d do extempores, debates, elocutions, JAM’s and many more events like that. I learnt from observing my mentor speakers on the stage. I’d learn and incorporate the way they used their body language, the way they dressed, the way their voice moduled, the kind of vocabulary they used and the way they structured their speeches. That was the key.
Every speaker when in practice develops their own unique style by learning and unlearning what makes them feel the most like themselves. I’ve won around 200 Oratory competitions that even include the All India University Nationals but The National Youth Parliament Festival was a breakthrough in my public speaking career. It gave me the biggest platform and the kind of limelight every speaker dreams of. Winning NYPF 2019 was very unexpected to be honest because out of the 8 Lakh+ contestants that took part from all over the country, at nationals, me representing Maharashtra was contesting against 54 absolutely stunning candidates who were the best from their states. It was a great deal to be winning there.
Post that I got many opportunities to collaborate and work with various institutions as a Soft Skills Trainer. The best part came when I was elected by the Youth Ministry to represent India at The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2019 that took place at Brunei Darussalam. Since then I’ve been appointed as the National Youth Delegate of India for Commonwealth. We’ve been working on several social and youth related issues in the Commonwealth countries. All of this made me realize that Public speaking actually puts you in a powerful position to make a change.
Watch Shweta’s winning speech at National Youth Parliament 2019 organized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
What made you think that Forensic Science is the career you want to pursue? Which all other entrance exams did you appear in and which all have you been able to qualify in?
One of my most cherished hobbies has been writing. As a child I was deadly inspired by writers and novels and how they had the power to make someone imagine a whole story. Then in my teens I found an update to my writing hobby as I saw that stories can be converted into moving pictures. I started reading and watching crime fiction and real time crime documentaries and decided I want to work on projects like that. That I want to write and direct crime thrillers. To be good at what I want to do I decided to take up forensic science as my base career because that was the best possible way to be 100% sure of what I’m writing and putting up on the screen. But when you get into a career involving sciences you realise you have to complete it in order to achieve maximum benefit out of it. That’s how I decided to continue my education in Forensic Sciences. I still plan on learning Direction someday.
As far as entrances are concerned, like most of the kids that opt for sciences in 12th, I gave AIPMT. I got admission to dentistry but I didn’t see myself doing good in that career. Hence I opted for a science that helped me build what I was looking forward to do in life. Then after my graduation I gave only the NICFS entrance and thankfully got in. Other than that I’ve recently started appearing for other examinations. Forensic Digest has been my go to place for all the NET preparations going on.
What was your All India Rank, score/marks in the NICFS entrance exam? Which year did you qualify in NICFS?
My All India Rank in NICFS entrance exam was 19. I qualified the NICFS entrance in the year 2019.
How much time did you prepare for the exam?
Being very honest I don’t feel like NICFS entrance is something you can study for in a couple of months. That exam analyses your learnings right from your base education. So if one has strong basics from 10th, 11th and 12th standard, they’re half way done. I had a teaching experience of 2 years back then in the field of Physics and Chemistry. I taught to kids who were in 10th-12th grades at various institutions. Teaching them kept my basics polished which in return helped me clear the entrance.
Tell us the challenges/difficulties you had to face during your preparation and in life during that period?
The biggest challenge according to me that every forensic science student faces in the lack of proper guidance. Thankfully I received great guidance at every stage of my preparation. Will take a moment here to thank Forensic Digest for being a guiding entity to kids at all stages of learning forensic science.
In life I was dealing with an uncertain health and had to go through college politics because of my attendance issues that arose due to the number of oratory competitions I went to. I think that was my only challenge. I was locked into a system I wasn’t able to break through. But with the help of some understanding faculties I could tell people that hobbies and education can go hand in hand.
How should one prepare for the NICFS entrance exam and What should be the preparation strategy for self study?
NICFS entrance is again I’d say an examination that tests your knowledge application skills. Before mugging up the forensic part, one should start by revising utmost basics from the 10th, 11th and 12th standard NCERT textbooks. Also it is very important to know what questions to “leave” during the examination. The exam tests your timing hence wasting time on questions you’re not sure of will only do harm. This is also helpful because this prevents negative marking. Don’t fluke tick the questions. Attempt ONLY if you’re more than 80% sure about the answer. Keep circling the OMR sheet along with attempting the questions because doing that in the end increases chances of error due to panic. All of these are very small things mostly apart from the preparation but these are standing factors that actually segregate selections on the day of entrance.
Other than the basics, one should learn the application based concepts from all the tree branches of forensic as well as basic sciences. Solving question sets available for exams like NEET/JEE will help too.
Can you suggest some good books with Author names which you referred to during your preparation?
I did most of my preparation from the book Forensic science and investigation by BS Nabar and Forensic Science in Criminal Investigation & Trials by BR Sharma. Although I found BS Nabar to be more eloquent and easy to understand. For basic sciences I used various books from various authors. ErrorLess for Physics, OP Tondon for chemistry, S Chand for biology. For language and logical reasoning I solved question sets available online and learnt a few solving tricks from youtube.
Any online test series you suggest?
Without a doubt I’d suggest solving question sets provided by Forensic Digest. I’ve observed them to be highly curated and specific in approach which will certainly help a lot. Other than that for logical reasoning ability and quantitative analysis I’d suggest test series from BYJU’s.
Tell us the complete selection procedure for NICFS. Mention stages of exams, interview, document verification etc.
The selection process at NICFS can get a little lengthy at times because of coordination between the institute and the University. The journey starts at the entrance which is the sole qualifying factor. As soon as the results and cut off are declared, a list of candidates who appeared is displayed on the website along with their All India Rankings. The GGSIP University then puts up admission notifications.
If your rank makes you eligible, you will be notified via the same website. Once your name is in the list, a call for document verification is made. One needs to have all the documents available with them with correct information. Even the slightest of name error can result in disqualification of the candidature. There is no interview as such but once you get in the institute your skills and knowledge is tested every single day and it can be really challenging. NICFS is being amalgamated into National Forensic Science University so this procedure would soon be updated.
What are your future plans? What do you plan to do after NICFS?
After I post graduate from NICFS, I plan to pursue PhD in my field of specialization which is Questioned Documents and Forensic Accounting. Once that is done I’d like to work in the research stream while alongside learning screenwriting and direction and hence starting my career as a crime fiction author.
Forensics Digest is very proud to have Shweta as our student. May there be success at every turn of life and all your dreams come true! Here’s wishing you good luck for a bright future.