TOPPER’S STRATEGY- YASHPRATAP SHRIMAL Rank 192, UPSC CSE 2019 Cracks UPSC Exam in LAST ATTEMPT– After scoring 60 Marks in his 1st Attempt in Prelims, he has consistently scored well 125+ in Prelims, 425+ in GS (MAINS)!! – IASbaba’s TLP Student! -> CLICK HERE
Hello Everyone! I am Yashpratap Shrimal AIR 192 in CSE 2019. After years of slogging, I have made it to the hallowed final list in my last attempt. This journey has been with its fair share of ups and downs. I got my 1st interview call only in my penultimate attempt with partial success. I was allocated Indian Corporate Law Service through the reserve list in CSE 2018.
Across the attempts, a common thread in my mark sheet was a poor performance in Sociology. The mark progression has not what I hoped it to be. 179 in 2015;220 in 2016;249 in 2017 and 270 in 2018.Fingers crossed for this year’s scores.
But the growth in these marks are an outcome of countless strategies, study approaches and test series. There is possibly no test series for sociology that I haven’t joined in these 6 attempts.
In the following article, I hope that fellow aspirants can learn from the mistakes that I made and reduce the time I took to achieve success. Like every newbie aspirant with excess expert advice, I had fallen prey to various myths thus prolonging my efforts and time.
First of all, my sources for reference for Sociology Optional:
- Essential sociology-Nitin Sangwan (Followed it religiously)-great book to understand and cover syllabus
- Self-made notes through – Vajiram class notes; Ritzer (Thinker part); Harlambos (Small one); IGNOU BA selected reading only. Answer writing through solving previous year question papers since 2013.
- Current Affairs for sociology through Mains 365 social issues and other reading
- Your article library website for random search on sociology.
Aspirants can also refer to some sleepy classes videos (free on YouTube) or cec edusat for topics that are difficult to understand.
- Reading multiple sources increases marks.
- Just have to be analytical for better answers.
- Not quoting thinkers also gives good marks.
- Not intermixing Paper 1 and Paper 2.
- Just reading sociology suffices and no notes required as such.
- Previous year questions are not important.
- Rather than making notes at the first go it’s better to have a cursory reading of the subject ones and then make notes keeping in mind the previous year questions and the syllabus.
- Make/Have a single source of study for majority of topics-helps during the 100 days of MAINS!
- Make a very crisp data sheet of thinkers and facts -Revise it multiple times-Increases marks and value in answers
- Freely use paper 1 and 2 examples in each other as a supplement
- Solving previous year question papers is a must. Helps in last-minute revisions
- Writing practice is essential to improve marks.-Addresses the structural part of the answers
My tryst with sociology began with upsc preparation in 2013 October when I joined V & R Mahapatra Sir for optional. But I was lost between understanding sociology and making running notes of the topics in the class. And the biggest mistake I did was not revising what was taught in the class. The result was I made sociology my Achilles heel in UPSC. During my 1st mains I just randomly read sociology without any focus on answer writing or making notes thus leading to a very bad score where I left questions of around 100 marks. In 2016 I did finish the paper but without answer writing practice they lacked structure and presentation I stopped just 11 marks short of interview call. In 2017 I wrote answers made notes but during the mains I panicked thinking I had ruined p1 which had an adverse impact on p2. That year ironically I got 151 in p1 and just 98 in p2. In 2018 I would say I underperformed but still got 270 and stopped 1 mark short of final list. It was my consistently good GS and Essay scores that have always saved me. So, I hope everyone can reflect on the mistakes I did and avoid them altogether.
- Love thy optional-The primary mistake I made is always being reluctant to read sociology because at first I found it to be unappealing, thus leading to halfhearted efforts and low scores. Fellow Aspirants please try to devote a certain amount of time daily to optional subject as it can always make or break your chances. A strong command over optional is an asset that always pays dividends.
- Never shy away from writing answers it holds true for every paper in mains. It’s better to write rubbish answers during practice than during mains!!!
- Always maintain a crisp set of notes to revise at short notices-It took me 3 attempts just to realize this. Unfortunately, we need to mug up facts and thinkers because that’s what others are doing and scoring good. So just focus on the end goal of making it to final list and maintain a topic wise list of prominent thinkers!
- Previous year questions become a good reference point during study eg: After going through previous papers I realized that in paper topic 6 -10 are getting more and more important and they also figure in qn 1 and 5 of compulsory questions I realized in paper 2 always try to attempt from part A because it’s the safest bet and part b contains outrageous questions these days last 3 years particularly. So, it’s better to be safe than innovative To value add to answers while reading any topic – Static or Current affairs try to analyze it from multiple theoretical strands.eg if we analyze namami gange through a critical/Marxist/functionalist/feminist/Weberian/post-modernist etc perspective It will automatically lend depth to the answers
- Try to use some GS facts like use of mains 365 social issues in answers.
- Group discussion helps only if you have a serious group of like-minded friends. It pushes you to study and write answers.
- Refer best answer copies or topper answer copies freely available on internet-Helps in improving structure and value addition to answers.
- Do join a test series it helps maintaining discipline. Across these 6 attempts I have joined every possible sociology test series known to mankind!!!
But I have found the following Sociology Test Series to be useful:
Vision IAS Test Series- the question were good, checking was good and prompt and discussions were very good
Forum IAS- the questions were good, checking was good and prompt did not listen to discussions
Vajiram & Ravi -Try to get the question paper of the test series don’t join. Highly unprofessional in adhering to timelines. But question quality is the next level.
And the rest is just for the namesake doesn’t help much. So please avoid!!!
The last piece of advice – Never lose confidence in your abilities. I started preparing after graduating in 2013.I have had more than enough share of ups and downs. But, my self-belief carried me through along with the blessings the wishes of my close ones! I have been a very average student throughout my academics. Just remember this If a guy like me with just 68% in engineering can clear this exam, every single one of you can do it! All you need to do is just work hard and believe in yourself!
Finally, I would like to thank my friends – Nikhil Rakhecha, Nikhil Jain, Kamalkishor, Abhsihek, Prakhar for elevating my understanding of sociology through countless answer writing and discussion sessions. I could not have done it without you guys!!!
Thank you all And I hope it helps everyone out there in avoiding the mistakes that I did. I hope that everyone gets what they seek.
PS: I will be sharing my test copies for reference
YASHPRATAP SHRIMAL Rank 192, UPSC CSE 2019