TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Unusual Gyaan on Answer Writing that will work for everyone, ABHISHEK JAIN, RANK 304, CSE 2015, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

  • IASbaba
  • June 5, 2016
  • 22
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About ME:

  • RANK 304
  • Graduation: IIT (BHU), Varanasi (2014)
  • Home Town: Delhi
  • Marksheet: (CSE-2015)
  • Prelims: GS (Paper-I): 115.34
  • Mains

Abhishek 304


General Bol Bachchan 😛 


There is a general jibe in India that “one decides what to do in life after joining the engineering college”. And I take no shy in accepting that I’m no exception to this. I’m not the one who had thought of clearing UPSC since childhood. Like many others, after getting into engineering I enjoyed as much and sooner it was final year that I have to decide of what to do in Life!!

After I returned from Internship from Taiwan, I got an opportunity to interact with a serving IRS officer during my final year who motivated me and ushered my path to take this challenge. The usual chemical engineering job didn’t fascinate me either. So, I decided not to sit in campus placement and instead started with Class 6 NCERT!!! (Career graph is going in reverse :D)


First Phase LEARNING


Initially everything seems to go haphazard, there was too much of everything and need to start from clean slate. I didn’t have habit of completing my newspapers. It took 2 hours to complete “THE” The Hindu. Like many others I picked up an optional which is most popular Public Administration, to which I agree was not well thought off. Just read class notes and standard book (Prasad & Prasad/Rajni Goyal) and thought I am ready to go. Rather than understanding and analyzing, I ran for Covering every bit notes available and mug them up. As & when I came across any topper’s strategy/notes, I rush forward to gather it. I had leap of Xerox notes/ summary of ARC’s/ Gists of Hindu, Yojana etc piled up in my room. (Aap notes ke peeche, notes aap ke peeche: too much fun). Instead of focusing on NCERTs I kept on speeding to Standard books. This strategy cost me a lot.

The most important thing that I learnt & corrected was to restrict to QUALITY not Quantity. Set small targets and move forward in piecemeal approach.

The turn around-3 common problem & how to deal with them


PROCRASTINATION is the biggest enemy one has to face in this preparation that pushes even the brightest and calmest of minds into hells of negativity. Piles of unread The Hindu editorials kept staring at me with innocent look + remaining portion of optional revision pulls me other way round + in between my mind picks up Lakshmikant in-hand for prelim preparation. (There were days when my mother used to mock me that yesterday’s The Hindu was not even opened and seems fresh as new.) Unstable psyche chooses to avoid all this. (Till date ghost of procrastination keeps on haunting my mind palace).




Pick up the subject that you like the most. In my case it was Polity & Modern India (Gandhian Phase). Read from the Basic source (NCERT/Notes). Pick up General Studies Reference Manual (TMH/Pearson etc). It contains 400-500 Qns topic wise segment wise per subject. ATTEMPT. I challenged myself to score 90% in that. After that move to part tests of different institutes & build upon then after to full ones. Can form a group to push oneself or monitor your performance through tests.

FEAR – The yearlong process of preparation is like a sinusoidal wave, with moments of low and high takeover your capabilities. There came instances where I scored so low in my exams and felt so low that I even questioned myself whether I had taken right decision to jump in this Rat Race. (???? ???? ??? ??? ?? ????) Life would have been simpler if I had picked up a job instead. On the top of it the hysteria created in market, relatives & society as you enter in the field raises the negativity. (Walking across that “Bada Bazaar Marg” in Old Rajinder Nagar gives shiver of pessimism and chill ran across the spine).

For that take positive energy. Sources of Positivity – Parents/ Siblings/ Family/ Mentor/ Teacher/ Friends/ Qualified Aspirants/ Yoga & Sports (sweat out negativity)/ Introspection / Almighty (if not atheist). In my case my parents, my elder Brother Aman Bhaiya & twin brother Abhinav and some close friends have played vital role. Talking to them help me feeling rejuvenated especially when exams are approaching and test series give you reality check.

INDISCIPLINE -TO be frank, I’m not the one who can study 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week straight. Though my planning has always been over 14 hours daily, but my hit ratio has never been 100%, it hovered around 60-70%. The plan that I made was always so good on paper, that could have even brought Planning Commission to shame. (Good that Hon’ble PM shut it off. :D:D). But these plans never saw the light of the sun in reality, in totality.



To set things straight, Discipline does not mean rise up 5 AM in morning and study straight till midnight on that study table having food there itself, taking newspaper on the way to class/or to the loo to capitalize those 5-10 minutes, or listening to AIR Spotlight while having dinner or listening to Mrunal lectures while going for a walk in Park. I did all this & realized it is only fooling my cognitive brain by my weak mind. This fooling has huge burden of ‘regret of failure’ as reward.

Later I realized that preparing for UPSC doesn’t mean you have to be robot/mechanical. I realized that UPSC is not Assembly line production of Wild Donkeys, running coaching door to door, instead it is race of Smart Ass). If I don’t feel like studying, I took the day off. Do what cheers one. (I like watching TBBT). BUT Discipline means sticking to basics and revising them again. Don’t rush here and there for Xerox notes/Gists/Shortcut materials. There is no dearth of information in this era of IT EXPLOSION. Shed away information overload. Focus on QUALITY.  Revisiting one’s Notes + NCERTs 3 times is more important than rushing for 3 new sources for same topic from the market.

(I still find new things in NCERT Bipan Chandra after 3-4 times than that bulky blue cover book. e.g. in my 3rd reading I found that Mazhar-ul-Haq who accompanied Gandhiji in Champaran Satyagrha alonwith Acharyaji/Dr. Prasad/Mahadev Desai was same person who also resigned from Central Legislative Council membership alongwith Pt.MMM/Jinnah against Rowlatt Act). That’s why there’s ONLY one set of book to read cover to cover i.e. NCERT. Studying them religiously-repeatedly-rightly with clarity of Syllabus is for me, Discipline.



MAINS: Prep Strategy – “3P” ModelPerseverance/Practice/Positive Mindset [?????? / ??????? / ?????????]


Secret of scoring marks in MAINS lies in “ART OF DECODING THE QUESTION” (something I coined & learnt in my preparation phase in 2015 which is imperative for success in PubAd and gaining importance in GS as well).

Role of Practice: form a group of 2-3(maximum) and write answers. Writing TLP Not only helps in covering current affairs but also helps in gaining momentum of WRITING.


Practice: Be it prelims or mains, solving multiple MCQs and answer writing is a MUST. As Former President of India Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam said “Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident. Climbing to the top demand strength, whether it is to the top of Mount Everest or the top of your career”.


Learn and engrave syllabus in your memory. This will help in interlinking concepts. Reading 20 concepts and interlinking with other aspects to give output to 60 more odd areas is more important than reading 50 concepts without internalizing. Here IASBABA, came to rescue. It helped in gaining momentum and?? learnt the concept of interlinking and answering through?? MINDMAPS? ?(which was very helpful in handling Questions like on Satyam Scandal by interlinking concepts of governance, transparency and accountability from GS-2 + Companies Act (2013) from GS-3 ?+ Corporate governance from GS-4)?


I want to pay my sincere obligation to IASBaba Team as a secret admirer. Their answer writing strategy in ESSAY and ETHICS is impeccable as it helped me a lot esp in case study understanding.? I want to thank for their selfless effort in ??TLP initiative. It took 7 days of continuous posting my answers on the website to get my first answer evaluated by B?abaji, in which I was awarded 5/10, that worked as self-reality check?.

It is because of this platform that I gained momentum and learnt the concept of interlinking and answering through MINDMAPS (which was very helpful in handling Question on  Satyam Scandal by interlinking concepts of governance, transparency and accountability from GS-2 + Companies Act (2013) from GS-3?+Corporate governance from GS-4.?)?




Though I was not regular in posting my answers as I was ?attending test series for GS & Optional? in person but I ?make sure to write answers on questions given on IASBABA platform at my level? diligently??.? It gave me clearer picture of understanding and sticking to the core of the question.??


Eg – YOU MUST NOT blabber out everything you know about about Article 44 just only ‘Uniform Civil Code’ word is mentioned in question. If I would have attempted same question in 2014 than I would not have thought about what the demand of question is/ how many parts are there in question/ Have I substantiated my stand with suitable examples/ Can one think of factors beyond Politics to social, economic, Governance & administration feasibility angle/ Are there any Historical learnings (hint-Hindu Code Bill which was studied in Paper 1 Post independence India).


Write the answers/ solve previous year question, even if you are 100% sure that you have not covered 100% of your syllabus. Earlier I always postponed the idea of writing till I “FINISH” my syllabus. That Situation never arrived, and will never arrive. ‘Leaving no stone unturned’ might land one on the same side of the fence as by the time (s)he engage in un-turning every stone, other colleagues (vanars) would have formed (Ram-) setu with the limited stones available at their disposal. In my opinion Hanuman Strategy of taking a giant leap might work for some extra-ordinary minds, but for a common mind setting the things in motion and moving forward requires gradual piecemeal approach.


For eg- “The ancient civilization in Indian sub-continent differed from those of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece in that its culture and traditions have been preserved without a breakdown to the present day. Comment.” (UPSC GS-1 2015 Ques 1)


This statement is verbatim picked up from AL BASHAM “The Wonder that was India” (Chapter 1 Page 4). A Maximizing mind would now read 700 page book to satisfy the quench neglecting core books and without analyzing cost:benefit ratio, but a satisficing mind will try to link the existing base of knowledge gathered from NCERT/Notes to form an acceptable 200 words answer by collating aspects of deep unchanging social aspects in India (like Varna System), ancient civilizations importance in today’s religious understanding (like Vedic Hymns), India taking more pride in its ancestoral roots (like Freedom fighters referring back to rich history), contribution of Historical studies/inscriptions, European excavations etc.

I didn’t go for reading books like Governance in GS2/Ramesh Singh in GS3/Subba Rao or Ramesh Arora in GS4 cover to cover. I guess I developed laziness on that part to pick fresh books. This limitation of limited reading forced me to think and interconnect dots from available minimum knowledge in me. The capacity to assemble and interlink aspects is imperative in Essay and Ethics as one don’t expect bookish/factual/Ritualistic answer in these areas. Capacity to innovate and collate multiple-dimensions of a single problem with examples proves handy in Essay & Ethics.

Leave the question blank if you don’t know anything about it instead of filling the pages. THIS IS NOT UNIVERSITY EXAM. You are not expected to be PhD in each topic and will not be awarded if you paint the sheet blue. I left one question in each GS-1/2/3 paper.

PubAd – I attempted religiously Test series in Lukmaan and followed up on feedback of Ansari Sir. Important to address all parts of question and understand core demand of the question. For e.g. –Do you agree with the view that the charismatic approach of the mid-1970s is a “new version” of the Classical Trait Theory of Leadership? Give reasons.

In 2014 I would have just put in words all I know about Classical Trait theory & charismatic theory. I would have put lots of technical jargons/thinkers name.

But instead now I realized, that it is important not only to compare and analyse their similarities but also explain “newness” by describing differences taking into account the ecology of the era in which the theories were developed with suitable examples. Take clear stand with due substance in the end weighing both sides of the coin.

I’ve deliberately tried to avoid going in internal dynamics of which chapter of which book to study for which part of mains, for that matter I believe there are enough IAS gurus and Matas in the market. One can follow either and stick to it. My target is to give you an insight on how to reap from existing sources by interlinking and bringing together, through Practice (3P Model). I am available at abhishekjjain2@gmail.com


Guys, we would like to bring to your notice a very important point. Abhishek is one such candidate who has scored amazingly well learning from his mistakes and it is evident from 2014 (575 Marks) to 2015 (759 Marks). Can you see the great leap? 

And see his humbleness 🙂 

Abhishek 304

@Abhishek- It is done for the larger good. Now that you are one such person to whom people will look forward, we felt to highlight your great ethical and moral standard and specially the real concern for the aspirants. This is missing now a days. It should be a learning for everyone reading your article.  Forgive us 🙂

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