TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Rohit Kumar, Rank 469 UPSC CSE 2018 –a Regular Follower of IASbaba’s initiatives (IASbaba’s TLP Student)!
“Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard”.
This is very true in case of UPSC preparation. Irrespective of our background, we need to word hard to achieve the feat in this examination. We may be competing with the guy who is a working professional or IITian or IIM pass out. We should keep this in mind, this examination is a good level setter so we get a fair chance of selection irrespective of level of competition, if we are honest to ourselves.
Coming from humble background and very little exposure to English as a medium of writing and speaking it was a mammoth task before me to even thinking about cracking this examination. This is because of popular perception about the examination that it needs very good English. But, these difficulties were the part of preparation and with the kind support of family, friends and platforms like IASBABA, it became a reality for me.
I am Rohit Kumar and secured 469th rank in CSE 2018. I am from a small town in Hamirpur District of Uttar Pradesh. I did my primary and secondary education from the government school in my village. Then, due to unavailability of higher secondary schools in neighbourhood, I shifted to Kanpur. I completed by secondary education from M. D. B. Inter College Umri Kanpur (Nagar). After completing this, I sat for JEE examination but couldn’t clear with a wide margin. Then I joined coaching in Kanpur itself and cleared it. I got IIT Delhi as my first preference. I also did job as software developer in Vmock Inc in Gurugram for 3 months so as to get exposure of private sector and have financial ease. I started preparing for UPSC since September 2016. I joined coaching (Vajiram for GS and DIAS for Chemistry) because till last year of my graduation, I didn’t even know the basics of UPSC like who elect President ? Or What is capitalism? You are amazed, right ? But what can you expect from a person coming from a rural background and have never read anything other than what is written in syllabus. Preparing for just 8 months or so, I had written prelims in 2017 with very much lack of confidence and result was expected. I couldn’t clear prelims by 2 marks.
Mistakes in my First Attempt and Learnings:
There was the only one mistake that I sat for examination. One is not expected to clear prelims with just 8 months of preparation and specially the person like me who doesn’t know A B C D of UPSC. I feel, one should sit the examination only when he is confident enough otherwise why to waste attempt. Anyway, one can clear prelims with bit of a luck, but Mains will be a big hurdle for him since it require good understanding of concepts. Apart for this, I did not attempt good number of questions in that attempt and did only one test series.
My learning is that we should do two test series of any institutes for prelims and keep revising the questions which we are not able to do. We should be well versed with the NCERTs (specially modern history, Ancient History, Geography). For Current Affairs, I followed Vision monthly CA. I kept my sources limited but revised them for good number of times. In last month, I followed IASBABA 60 days plan so that important topics are not left. Apart from doing hard work, we should also keep ourselves energetic by participating in any one sports, talking to loved one. This is necessary in prelims because we have to keep so many things in mind and it is possible only when we are stress free. Further, try to attempt as many questions as you can. This strategy worked for me, I attempted 92 questions this year. And during examination, keeping believing in yourself, take deep breath, these things really work !!
My GS strategy: Before starting for mains, please have a look on the syllabus. This will guide your preparation and help in writing questions according to need.
For mains, two things are needed, first is to complete the paper in time and second is to write quality answers. While former can be managed via test series, later can be managed by writing in peer review platform. IASBABA helped me in writing quality answers by providing review of answers and motivating me for best answer ‘Award’ (For beginners, If you will write best answer, your answers will be highlighted and will be given place in compilations).
- Paper1: mostly covered by NCERTs. For history (modern, ancient, world), social issues, geography NCERTs are enough. But this basics should be supplemented by the current event. (For example: if you read migration topic from NCERT then should cover issues of migration from CA such as Gujrat violence, fake news etc.) Try to give as many examples as you can.
- Paper2: Polity (LaxmiKant is just enough), IR (mostly CA) and Governance (I read ARC reports, NITI Aayog three Year plan and CA)
- Paper3: Economy (my coaching notes + CA + budget), Environment (Shankar book + CA)
- Paper4: Lexicon book (revised for 5-6 times, made short notes), IASBABA TLP compilation for last one year (I gained lot of confidence of writing answer of ethics and got examples for several issues)
I would recommend to do preparation in integration rather than separately studying for prelims for 3 months before prelims and then starting for mains. This is because of the nature of exam these days, we find many questions in prelims which can be solved only when we have deeper knowledge of syllabus of mains. Other than this, making short notes of each material that you read is very much needed. This saves time for us and help in recalling all the important points during revision.
For a beginner, it is necessary to go through all the basic NCERTs so that we can get the feel of syllabus and key terms which play vital role in writing mains answers. My strategy was to divide equal time among all GS (2 Hrs each) and Optional (4 Hrs) + 4 Hrs (For answer writing and newspaper). This was the broader time division and it fluctuated specially one month before mains. I kept Sunday easy for me with target of writing two essays, just to regain energy for next whole week.
My Optional strategy:
My optional is Chemistry. I chose this because had interest in this subject since my JEE preparation. While choosing optional, apart from performance of optional (give this less preference), interest is very much required. It is because, you have to read it for 2-3 years regularly and this is not possible without interest. For optional, I did coaching from DIAS chemistry in Delhi. Apart from coaching, Basic NCERTs and required books I read. If anyone interested in detailed strategy for chemistry, mail me at below address.
Role of IASBABA:
During this attempt, this platform helped in Prelims and Mains preparation. For prelims, I followed 60 days plan of IASBABA and made short notes out of it. For Mains, it helped me a lot. I liked the TLP platform (Mains Answer Writing Platform) very much, here one can write 5 questions daily and these answers will be reviewed by peers and BABA itself. I feel it is like fun to write in this platform because of several other aspirant like us. They keep me motivated not only by reviewing but also by guiding me at every steps. For ethics, TLP platform is unique because it helped me to get several examples for particular question by viewing others’ answers. And everyone know ethics paper is all about examples. Here, I would like to thank mona sharma (@disqus_5OJJlWz6nx), @disqus_ISHAQ_ALI @ZyotiSingh
My suggestions and few tips before prelims:
Don’t forget your true friends, family and loved ones even during preparation because they give positive energy to us. Further, keep limit to your sources and keep revising them. Make small targets and complete them, this will not let stress win over you. In prelims, most of the aspirants are able to solve 50 questions, but key lies to solve other 20 or 30 questions. Here comes the role of educated guesses that we make. It is the need of examination I feel, it is very difficult to get cutoff marks without this. For educated guess, apart from knowledge, confidence and alertness is the key. So, night before prelims sleep well, take some energy drink with you during examination and finally don’t fear too much. If prelims is tough, then it is tough to all and if easy then easy for all, so be balanced.