Civil Services Exam can be made less unpredictable with preparation in right direction and applying that knowledge smartly; says Ankit Jain (AIR 222; CSE 2017)

Civil Services Examination preparation requires an organized study-plan and holistic approach. Ankit Jain list out his priorities and shares his understanding of each stage of this examination.

The most significant part of his experience is about Optional Subject where he talks about optional subject selection as he continued to show faith in Public Administration that has not been performing so well in recent times.

Educational Qualification: B.Tech from IET, Lucknow (UPTU)

Number of Attempts: Third attempt

Optional Subject: Public Administration


Ankit Jain (AIR 222; CSE 2017)


Medium (Language)

Language for Writing Examination: English

Language for Interview: Hindi

Nature of Examination

The nature of exam is unpredictable; however, it can be made less unpredictable with preparation in right direction and applying that knowledge smartly in examination hall. 

The biggest problem in preparation, in my opinion, is lack of clarity about what to study and what not. “What not to study” is equally important as there are number of books, magazines, coaching classes and other study material both online and offline.

That creates confusion in the mind of the student. It is very important to identify areas which need to be given more focus and time. For example, Polity, modern India, Geography, Economy and Current Affairs need to be given more focus.

While, subjects like ancient India, Science and Tech etc. can be covered with important topics only without going into much depth.

Also, stick to few sources/books and revise them multiple times (at least 3)

Views about Preliminary Examination

Preliminary Examination is not purely luck. Yes, luck is one of the factors as you have to choose one out of four options.

Sometimes you can choose the right one even without knowing the question and sometimes otherwise.

However, there are students who consistently score quite high in Prelims defying the luck factor.

So definitely, with right strategy this luck factor can be reduced in Prelims, or I would say it can be turned in to “good luck”.

If you prepare with right strategy and you learn the art of elimination of wrong options, you can mark the correct answer of the questions you don’t even know.

So it’s not the luck but the intelligent guesses.

I personally observed, the more you study and practice mock tests and previous year questions; your tendency of making intelligent guesses increases significantly.

Role of Optional Subject

Optional Subject can be a Game Changer. In optional subjects score varies from as low as 130-150 to high scores like 300-325 or so. This huge difference can change the final result altogether. 

Following things should be taken care of while selection of optional:

  1. Interest in the subject. When you you’re your optional subject, you will love studying it and writing more number of tests.
  2. How much will it benefit in GS
  3. How lengthy it is in terms of syllabus.

**If you find any optional subject really interesting then point #2 and #3 are secondary.

What’s not important: How any subject is performing in a particular year as every year it keeps on changing. You cannot be sure which optional will be performing good or bad in following years.

Targeting General Studies and my approach towards each paper

General studies are mainly focused towards Current Affairs off late, especially GS-2 and GS-3. So, one should be well prepared with current issues including both the analytical parts as well as facts and figures.

GS-1 can be prepared along with Prelims itself. History and Geography for Mains require no separate study from that in Prelims.

Only Social Issues part and World History in GS-1 needs to be covered in Mains that is not there much in Prelims.

For GS-4 any one Ethics book is sufficient for this paper. I followed Lexicon for Ethics. ARC Report “Ethics in Governance” is helpful in giving broader perspective. And most important thing in ethics paper is writing practice and time management in 3 hours of examination.

Last but not the least, Answer writing practice is of utmost important in all GS papers. The more you revise and write, the easier it would be in the examination hall.

Essay Paper and Interview (Personality Test)

Essay and Interview both play a major role as 50-70 score difference can be made in these two individually. Essay marks generally vary from 100 to 160 and Interview from 120-205. This is huge margin and can change the result completely.

Unfortunately, I scored quite low in both of them; 110 in essay and 151 in interview. It was only because of quite high score in Optional (309) and good score in GS (463) that I could still manage 222 rank.

Evaluation of my efforts by UPSC

My score in essay and interview are quite opposite to what I had expected. I was expecting very good score in essay and above average in interview. Still pondering upon what went wrong.

Know more about Ankit Jain: With a seamless plan, right guidance and inner motivation, I achieved my Ultimate Goal; says Ankit Jain (AIR 222; CSE 2017)

Last Update Sunday 17th June 2018     

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