Rishav Jha AIR 162 CSE 2015 UPSC Strategy

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Hi Everyone,

My name is Rishav Kumar Jha. I am from Bihar. My father is a professor and my mother is a teacher. I have two siblings and both are working in private sector. I got AIR 162 in Civil Services 2015 and I got IPS, borne on Jharkhand cadre. I did my graduation in Electrical & Electronics engineering from NIT Karnataka, Surathkal in 2014 with 6.7 CGPA (it’s bad, I know). I didn’t sit for on-campus placements because I st was pretty sure about what I wanted to do right from my 1 year in college and also knew I was really bad at engineering and so I didn’t want to make fun of myself by sitting for placements and then get rejected. I had always been in awe of Civil Services, and I always wanted to do something which could change as many lives as possible. Also, my father was always a motivating factor for me and he started pushing me to sit for Civil Services since the time I didn’t even know the full-form of UPSC! So, I started the basic preparation for Civil Services since my third year in college to get a feel of what I was supposed to do to get through the Civil Services Exam. After I passed out of my college in May 2014, I stayed home for 3 months and appeared for Prelims in August. Although I missed the prelims cut-off by a whisker, I consider that attempt as a successful one as I got a glimpse of what was to come ahead and also because the tight deadline pushed me to study like a maniac during those three months and I managed to finish the basics within a short span of time. Then I moved to Delhi and joined a popular coaching centre for my optional subject. I chose to opt for Maithili as my optional subject (why I chose it as an optional and how to choose an optional is a topic I might touch in another article). I didn’t join any coaching for General Studies and I only took test series for Mains answer writing. I would like to point out here (at the cost of diverting from the topic) that the environment in coaching centres has deteriorated drastically and it is highly advisable to stay away from negative people who come to Delhi on 5-year or 7-year plans and end up wasting their youth and their parents’ hard-earned money for nothing, if you choose to stay there. I took prelims in August 2015, Mains in December and interview in March 2016. I got my final results on May 10, 2016 and left the serene environment of the coaching for good. I will start here with my Strategy for Clearing UPSC CSE Prelims. I had scored 148 out of 200 in General Studies and 165 in CSAT in prelims 2015, which was quite a good score and more than what I had expected before taking the papers. How to clear Mains and Interview is a topic for another day.

Before starting, I would like to make one thing very clear here. Clearing UPSC Civil Services

Exam has infinite number of possible ways. Every successful candidate has his/her own

unique path to success in this exam. Let’s compare it with any other exam, say JEE

(because I am familiar with this only being an engineering student). Almost 99% of

students study H.C.Verma for Physics and it is a tried and tested formula for success. But

it’s not the case in Civil Services. There are hundreds of sources, both good and bad. You

have to chart your own plan according to your strengths and weaknesses.

FIRSTLY, I WILL MENTION THE RESOURCES I USED DURING

THE PREPARATION FOR PRELIMS

I will now mention the strategies I used before the Prelims exam.
 Choose whatever suits you best and discard the rest. Since preparing for UPSC Civil Services Exam has inculcated

into me a habit of writing everything in points, I will use the same format here as well.

· My typical day would start around 11 in the morning and go up to 4-5 in the

morning. I have always been a night owl (the rigorous IPS training here in NPA,

Hyderabad has unfortunately ended this habit of mine) as I believe that peaceful

nights are the most productive time of a day. I never studied for more than 12 hours

on any given day and I used to study for around 10 hours on an average. You must

keep in mind that quantity doesn’t matter at all. I would try to sit for an hour and

study with the maximum amount of concentration that I could conjure, and then

take a 15-minute break. I would repeat this cycle many times a day. During evenings,

I would take hour-long breaks, hangout with my extremely limited number of

friends, watch a movie or simply take a nap.

· Obviously, things were not as smooth and there were times when I would face

seemingly insurmountable challenges. The most important challenge was trying and

being consistent. There were times when I would feel that my preparation was not

going as intended and I would spiral down into phases of depression. To overcome

this, I started making plans- long, medium and short term. Long term plan was

solely focused on first clearing Prelims and then Mains and Interviews. Medium term

plans would be for the next two to three months. But the most important for me

were my short-term plans, where I would chalk out in detail what I needed to

achieve in the next 15 days. Obviously, there were days when I would achieve my

target well within deadline and then there were days when I would miss my target

completely. But I would take my successes and failures in my stride and learn

whatever I could from them and try and improve myself. Another challenge I faced

was to overcome my appetite for instant gratifications. For example, there would be

days when I would want to just sleep throughout the day or roam around aimlessly

or watch movies back-to-back. But then I would try to remind myself about my goal

and I would conjure all the mental strength I could and get back to my work as soon

as possible.

· Now when I look back to those days, I feel I didn’t do anything special that others

didn’t do. I didn’t read anything that others didn’t. Rather I tried to be consistent

throughout my preparation phase and never lost sight of my target. I guess I

executed my plans quite well through my short and medium terms goals. The result

was that a day before my paper, I was quite sure I would do well and then, on the

day of the paper, I surpassed my own expectations.

Tips for Future Aspirants
Although I had quite a brief stint with the so-called UPSC days, I learnt a lot during that

phase and I would like to give some tips to the future aspirants based on those learning:

· You have to always remember that Civil Service is all about being “Jack of all trades,

master of one” (one refers to your optional subject here). You have to always keep a

balance between the depth and the range. For example, when you prepare for the

current affairs part and you find a piece of news about PSLV launch of ISRO, try and

make a short 10-point notes about the PSLV and ISRO so that any probable question

with 4 options can be easily handled.

· Another point is regarding what to keep in mind and what not to. Don’t go after

facts, barring the crucial ones, e.g. number of successful PSLV launches till date.

Focus mainly on concepts and get a fair idea about the historical background of any

piece of news. If the newspaper or any other source doesn’t provide you with

adequate information, go to Google immediately and clarify your concepts.

· Always maintain notes. Human mind is extremely volatile and if you just go on

reading, you won’t even remember 5% by the time you take your paper. I would

make detailed notes of current affairs, both online (in word files) and o

ine (in

notebooks) depending on the source. If I would read something online, I would just

copy and paste it in a word file after necessary deletions and additions. Make current

affairs notes month-wise so that revisions can be chronologically correct which will

help you in getting a holistic and clear concept.

· Don’t make notes out of books like Laxmikanth which need to be read cover-to-cover

as it is a huge wastage of time and energy. Compile notes out of weight-losing

sources like newspapers, because if you don’t, you will end with around 350

newspapers before the exam and trust me, you won’t like the sight of it.

· Always maintain notes. Human mind is extremely volatile and if you just go on

reading, you won’t even remember 5% by the time you take your paper. I would

make detailed notes of current affairs, both online (in word files) and o

ine (in

notebooks) depending on the source. If I would read something online, I would just

copy and paste it in a word file after necessary deletions and additions. Make current

affairs notes month-wise so that revisions can be chronologically correct which will

help you in getting a holistic and clear concept.

· Don’t make notes out of books like Laxmikanth which need to be read cover-to-cover

as it is a huge wastage of time and energy. Compile notes out of weight-losing

sources like newspapers, because if you don’t, you will end with around 350

newspapers before the exam and trust me, you won’t like the sight of it.
Plan, plan and plan. If 15 minutes of your day is not going into planning, you are not

planning enough. Plan for the next 15 days, for the next three months and for the

doomsday. Then execute your plans as honestly as you can. If you have to defer your

plans for 2-3 consecutive times, know that you are out of the race and you need to

pack your bags and leave. To get a feel of how tough the competition is, go to any

tea-stall in Mukherjee Nagar or Rajinder Nagar during evenings and look at all the

dreamy eyes. More people prepare for Civil Services each year than the combined

population of Kiribati and Maldives.

· While taking the exam, if you are completely unsure about all the four options, leave

the question. But if you can confidently eliminate even one or two options, take the

attempt because the probability of getting positive marks from all such questions

combined is quite high. Don’t be overtly safe or foolhardy. Given the last few years’

cut-off, it would be prudent to attempt 85-95 questions in General Studies.

So this is all I had to say guys. I will repeat again that this is what I followed and this is

what I think suited me best. There may be things you don’t agree with- feel free to discard

them. Chart your own path to success. Keep reminding yourself why you have left a

luxurious job or career and are slogging it out day in and day out. Be motivated. Study

hard. Have faith in yourself and the almighty. See you in the services-ciao!

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Source: xaam.in

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