“Don’t be disheartened by failures - make them a learning experience”; says Abhishek Surana (AIR 10; CSE 2017)

An IITian, Abhishek Surana from Bhilwara, Rajasthan has secured 10th Rank in Civil Services Examination 2017.

Here he talks about his experiences, preparation strategies and suggests some ways out to handle Civil Services Examination preparation effectively.

Number of Attempts: 4 (Four)

Optional Subject: Physics

Previous Selections: CSE 2016 (AIR 250; Got Indian Police Service)

I.Fo.S 2016 – 2nd Rank


Abhishek Surana

(AIR 10; CSE 2017)


Medium (Language)

Language for Writing Examination: English

Language for Interview: English

Nature of Examination

First of all I think there is a reason why Civil Services Examination is unpredictable. Having appeared for many other competitive exams I believe UPSC CSE is one of the most egalitarian exam in the country where everyone has a equal chance to make it to the list given they have prepared well.

It is due to the number of candidates appearing in the exam that this exam appears to be unpredictable.

Anyways, I am of the opinion that one should have a backup option in career before one take a full time plunge into CSE preparation. Secondly one should be mentally prepared for failure. 

Views about Preliminary Examination

Preliminary Examination is not pure luck. If that was a case many aspirants who are clearing preliminary exam every year wouldn't have been able to do so.

If you prepare methodologically then one can clear prelims with high certainty.

Role of Optional Subject

Selection of optional subject is extremely important. Candidates usually select optional based on what their peer group is taking or what their close ones are advising. Other criteria usually are perception of being an easy subject. However, I feel your interest, aptitude and scoring nature of the subject should decide your selection. 

While making final choice for optional subject, you should care for what's important and what's not?

  • Important factors – Interest, Aptitude, Scoring nature of subject, Overlap with GS
  • Not so important factors – Perception of being easy, Length of Syllabus

Targeting General Studies

I took a very structured approach for General Studies preparation. I made extensive notes for reference and intensive notes for revision. I also made a collection of facts, data points, quotes and anecdotes on each topic of General Studies.

'Time Management'

'Time Management' is a key factor - Indeed it is. You need to chart a time-table for studies and follow it seriously while preparation. Having a short duration plans with proper allocation of time and your aim should be to maintain consistency in your preparation. Also, while writing examination, a proper understanding of time to be allotted for each question and how many question to be completed in each hour will keep pressure off.

Essay Paper

Topic I: Has the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) lost its relevance in a multipolar world.

Topic II: Social media is inherently a selfish medium.

Interview (Personality Test)

I was interviewed on 20th February 2018 in Bhonsle Sir’s Board. I got 173 marks.

Evaluation of my efforts by UPSC

The final score wasn’t up to my expectation. I think I could've scored butter. But all's well that ends well.

An Advice for future aspirants

All I would say is a Tough time don’t last, tough people do. Don’t be disheartened by failures - make them a learning experience.  


Know more about Abhishek Surana“Civil Services Examination is really unpredictable; the best you can do is, give your best” says Abhishek Surana (AIR 10; CSE 2017)



Last Update Sunday 1st July 2018     

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