Keeping in mind unpredictable nature of this examination don’t keep all your eggs in one basket; says Karthik Kotturu (AIR 529; CSE 2017)

Karthik Kotturu (AIR 529; CSE 2017) shares his strategy for Civil Services Examination preparation and suggests some ways out to handle it effectively.

Optional Subject: Electrical Engineering

No. of Attempts: 2nd attempt


Karthik Kotturu

(AIR 529; CSE 2017) 


Medium (Language)

Language for Writing Examination: English

Language for Interview: English

Nature of Examination

Keeping in mind unpredictable nature of this examination don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. One must not see the exam as the end or the only way of having a successful life and career.

Even in the preparation for this exam always devote balanced efforts to all the papers. Over reliance on optional subject or General Studies, both can be slightly risky especially with the dynamic marking process.

Views about Preliminary Examination

Preliminary Examination is not pure luck, but unless one is really extraordinary, most aspirants clear with margin of 2-3 questions. Hence, here the role of luck comes into play.

But one must prepare well in order to stay away from the cut-off margin.

Role of Optional Subject

Selection of optional is of primary importance because it becomes very difficult later to change it in case one has made a wrong decision.

It can play a decisive role with scores touching 375/500 (Anubhav Singh AIR 8 score with Mathematics) this year.

Targeting General Studies

Good preparation for Prelims is 30-40% of your total Mains preparation.

My approach towards each paper

General Studies Paper-1 is mainly knowledge oriented and static, so if prepared and memorized well it can fetch good marks even with limited answer writing practice. General Studies Paper-2 and General Studies Paper-3 are dynamic, so the role of current affairs is huge.

Also answer writing and preparation of each topic mentioned in syllabus is important. General Studies Paper-4 needs very little time for preparation. Again major time must be devoted towards answer writing.

Essay Paper

I practiced around 8-10 essays before Mains. I tried to pick topics which were not vague and hence which I felt were less risky. Focus on proper structure and neatness is essential. Cuttings are penalized heavily.

I wrote Essay on following topics:

  1. ‘Farming has lost the ability to be a source of subsistence for majority of farmers in India’ and
  2. ‘Social media is inherently a selfish medium’.

Interview (Personality Test)

Board: Shri Bhim Sain Bassi

Date: 15 March 2018

(Interview Transcript)

Role of Essay & Interview marks in success

I had average scores in both Essay (137) and interview (163).

Evaluation of my efforts by UPSC

I had expected marks on similar lines. One must aim for 150+ in essay and 180+ in interview.

Last Update Sunday 5th August 2018     

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