We congragulate Pavan on being IAS in forst attempt and the privilege of getting home – Karnataka cadre.
My way of Cracking UPSC Examination in the 1st attempt
From-Haveri, Karnataka. (Many of my friends from other states and even Karnataka have asked where exactly this place is. I’m literally tired of explaining it as “It is a town 80km to south of Hubballi and 80km to the north of Davangere. It is an exciting place with a great history and geography, please do Google it if you wish to know more about it. At least from now, I expect I don’t need to face this question again!! ).
Educational Background-Graduation in Electronics and Communication Engineering (2014) from PES University, Bengaluru.
Prelims– 231.1 (106.66+124.44)
Mains – Total 728. (Essay-128, GS1-98, GS2-81, GS3-112, GS4-78, Socio 1- 107, Socio 2-124)
Total- 888 (728+160)
My Motivation to pursue a career in UPSC
I come from Haveri, a district place in North Karnataka and socio-economic development in this part of Karnataka is quite dismal and this is where IAS/IPS officers play a great role in changing things around. Having joined Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in my 6th standard, I came to know that the school functions under Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and DC (District Commissioner) of the particular district is the head of managing committee of it.
I was in my 8th standard and the 10th and 12th board exam results of my school were the highest in Hyderabad region of Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti(NVS). When I asked my teachers about such an extraordinary performance of my school, they mentioned that DC (District Commissioner) has taken special interest and ensured that the entire infrastructure, electronic and technological support like Computers, projectors, internet connectivity are provided and maintained regularly.
I was surprised and inspired that how a DC can have impact on such large number of students and change their lives. This sparked a flame in me that I too must become a civil servant and serve with similar passion. So I planned accordingly and decided to prepare for this exam for 1 year after my graduation.
The Key to Success on First Attempt
I have always believed in achieving things at the first instance. Everything can’t go our way on the very first try but if one aims, plans and executes his plans perfectly; surely things will fall in place. I didn’t have the luxury of time and financial support to clear this exam in the 2nd, 3rd or the nth attempt. At a time when you come from rural background and that your parents can support you financially at the maximum for one year, the intensity and the motivation of preparation flares up. I too had moments in preparation where I felt embarrassed to ask money from parents at a time I should start earning. I didn’t take these situations as a burden but as an inspiration to achieve something life satisfying and memorable for the life. I drew inspiration from the hardships my parents faced in coming up in life. The imagination of happiness on their faces, my village and town celebrating when I become an IAS officer had kept me at a high level of dedication and commitment in preparation.
First attempt in UPSC preparation is always special and will remain in our mind and heart for lifetime. New place, new friends, teachers, approach, situations and the list goes on. One needs to enjoy the preparation and must never feel burdened (Well, It is tough but not impossible!!). The energy, interest and liveliness will be at the peak of our levels and one must channel them at the right direction.
Whatever we read, write and hear will be new and interesting. Everything seems attractive and attainable. These are the true strengths a fresher will have over the veterans. One should consider it as playing a final in Cricket World cup but it is also a debut match. The pressure, intensity and the stakes are high and one can’t afford for a slip up. Either you end up as a winner or you wait for another final to relish the moments. The onus is you and it is your chance to claim the glory.
One thing is for sure, what one reads and understands in the very first attempt will lay strong foundation for the future. So, it is imperative that one gets his basics right by repeated reading, taking tests on every topic and crosschecking with teachers and friends. One has ‘Fail early to succeed early’. I still remember that in one of my first tests in prelims test series, I scored -4.5 marks and was the last ranker in the list. I was shattered and felt that I am on a wrong train. I did a grave mistake by attempting all the 100 questions even though I knew perfect answers for less than 40 of them. This low point in my preparation was quite important as I came out strong and rectified my mistake and started to perform better in the later tests.
Approach to Prelims
Prelims is all about decision making and precision. Its success depends on practice and rectification of one’s mistakes. I wrote more than 30 mock tests before going for the prelims. This approach ensured that I cover the syllabus of prelims and also check where I am missing my basics. The strong areas like Geography, Polity, Economics, Environment and Modern India need high emphasis. I wrote 4-5 mock tests on them as they comprise the bulk of preliminary questions every year.
I was a regular follower of insightsonindia.com Daily quiz on current events. I strongly suggest this quiz for all aspirants. The quiz shaped my preparation on current affairs as questions were highly of UPSC standards.
IASbaba.com initiative of 60 Day plan prelims with 10 questions daily on various topics was a new experience. The initiative and summary notes helped me in dealing tough areas like Art and Culture, India Year book and Economic Survey.
- Indian Polity by Laxmikanth
- Environment-Shankar IAS material
- Economy-mrunal.org and Economy by Shankar Ganesh
- Modern India- NCERT Book and Spectrum publication
- Art and Culture – CCRT website, Old NCERT books, mrunal.org
- Geography- NCERT Class X, XI books, Physical Geography by G C Leong
- Current Affairs, India Year Book – Insightsonindia.com, iasbaba.com.
Journey through Mains
This stage of UPSC examination is the real game changer in one’s rank. A good performance here will get you unbelievable rank as I have experienced personally and heard from many of my friends. It carries a huge weightage as far as total marks are considered. The success here is decided by 3 things, Sustenance of our quality of answers for 250 marks, diversity in answering and the ability to present one’s thoughts and stands in 3 hours/ 7-8minutes.
I didn’t have any experience in this format as it was my first try. The start was rusty. I was taking 15 minutes initially to answer a question. This left me questioning my ability to not only securing a rank but clearing this 2nd stage. I was preparing alone in Chennai as most of my friends didn’t clear prelims and it was really a tough period to prepare as I missed peer review and motivation for another 3 months. This is where Insights secure initiative helped me a lot. The 30 mock tests seemed heavy to cope up with, but I was sure that only persistence, practice and hard work can ensure me a rank. I wrote answers for all these tests in my room considering them as the real Mains examination.
TLP initiative from IASbaba.com was fresh and thrilling. The diversity of questions, peer answers were a new experience and to some extent it solved my loneliness during this preparation period. Loneliness was tough and frustrating. You come all the way from a town 1000kms away to realize your dream but seam stranded on an island all alone and not sure of reaching the shore. I prepared all alone for months without knowing whether I was on right track or not. But I had self belief that I am leaving no stone unturned to sail through this stage.
However times and nature had other ideas. It was December month and Chennai had worst rainfall in 100 years. No electricity, mobile communication, transportation and what not. Life seemed to have come to standstill for a while. I was left with no communication to my home for 4-5 days and my family felt that I was in some real trouble for the first time in life. Thanks to Chennai Police and their rescue work ensured that I communicated to my family at the earliest.
All these happened just when 15days were left for Mains examination. I didn’t go back to my hometown but stayed back in Chennai. I consider this as my best decision of my life so far. Had I come back to my hometown then, I am not sure whether I would be writing this article. I persisted, thrived under these tough situations to make sure that I don’t miss aim and achieve it at the first shot. These conditions made me ever more determined to chase my dream.
Personality Test (PT)
Before attending UPSC interview on April 28,2016, I just attende a couple of interviews during campus placements, IBPS and RBI Grade-B. Though all these interviews gave me a positive result, I didn’t have any serious idea of UPSC interview. It also heard that ‘Everything under the Sun’ can be asked in it. Many things flow around you when one last huge leap will make you cross the bridge and a fall here will take you back to ground zero.
I have enjoyed preparation during this stage of the examination. You get to introspect yourself, communicate thoughts, ideas and perspectives with others. Things start to feel more closer and I ‘m sure when you are ready for the D-Day, you are completely a transformed person.
I approached PT with the core idea that I will be honest in my answers and give no space for fakeness. I focused on my DAF and framed questions on every single detail of it. Group mocks are highly needed as they put us into different situations which are experienced in PT. I attended 5 mock interviews before giving my PT on April 28, 2016. I stayed with my family couple of weeks before PT so that I get the emotional and mental support to clear this stage.
I believe that during these days, one must stay with the people who believe in you. It is all about playing with your strengths and make sure that you don’t commit any unpardonable mistake in front of the panel. If you are genuine and good at communicating your thoughts, this stage is a cake walk. I thank my seniors Dr.Vinod IAS, Mr.Atul Kulkarni IPS and Mr.D.K.Balaji IAS for their valuable guidance in this period.
Last Few Words
“I start early, and I stay late, day after day, year after year. It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success” – Lionel Messi.
I was motivated by this quote time and again whenever I felt low during the last One and half year. This journey tests one’s patience, stability, persistence, honesty and what not. My sincere
Thanks my parents, brother Kiran, friends Abhilash, Shravan, Pruthvi, Gautam, Sociology Teacher Rajitha madam for their support and guidance.
The joy, spirit, inspiration and agony in the 1st attempt will be an everlasting memory for lifetime. But this memory can turn into an achievement to be written in Golden letters if one turns into a warrior giving his 100% irrespective of the outcome but with a positive intent.
Enter Civil service preparation with a true motive, burning passion and an open mind. Success is never guaranteed here. But one thing is for sure when you finish your journey after completing all these stages you will be a better, informed and confident person. When you succeed here, you will inspire hundreds to achieve the same feet. All the best.