“If you are honest with your preparation and have practiced test papers, you will definitely clear all the stages”; says Ravi Anand (AIR 79; CSE 2017)

Significance of being well prepared comes on fore with the result of Ravi Anand (AIR 79; CSE 2017).

If he scored brilliantly in General Studies to fetch 500+ score that helped him in getting rank among top 100; his performance in Personality Test was not up to the mark and that adversely impacted his chances of getting even better rank.

Here, he shares his experiences and suggests some ways out to perform well.

Optional Subject: Geography

No. of Attempts: Three (3)


Ravi Anand

(AIR 79; CSE 2017)

Medium (Language)

Language for Writing Examination: English

Language for Interview: English

Nature of Examination

The Civil services Exam is indeed unpredictable; but, it is so for all the candidates.

Since there is a level field, what one can do is to give his all-out efforts. Studying with proper focus, reading standard textbooks and not entirely depending on coaching notes, practicing test papers and reading about previous years toppers' strategies are some basic pillars which one should adhere to.

The nature of preparation should be analytical. One should try to questions the events around - What, why and how should be developed.

Every argument should be based on logic and reason. I think this will always help aspirants to clear the exam despite its unpredictable nature.

Views about Preliminary Examination

All the different stages have an element of uncertainty associated with it.

However, I think if you are honest with your preparation and have practiced test papers, you will definitely clear all the stages. The playing field remains the same for all.

Success in this exam can never be attributed to pure luck.

Role of Optional Subject

It is very important to select an optional subject with lot of consideration because it is based on one's choice.

Here, many factors need to be considered like liking or interest in a particular subject, graduation subject, availability of materials (especially for regional languages aspirants), and the recent trends in the nature of questions asked in the mains examination.

An optional of one's interest will give a candidate inherent confidence and motivation.

Selection of an optional merely on the basis of past trends can lead to counterproductive results. Since the process of examination is long and the syllabus is vast, a good Optional will help in keeping the motivation level high, getting good marks, and getting good results.

Targeting General Studies

Personally, I think General Studies has the largest share in deciding ranks in the final list. It has 1000 marks out of 1750 in mains. Also, the syllabus is vast and questions from this section are mostly analytical.

So, a good understanding of the basic concepts and their practical application needs to be emphasized in answering questions.

My approach towards each paper:

Every General Studies paper has its own approach.

While General Studies Paper 1 deals with history, culture, society and geography, the approach should be to have facts and concepts at tips.

For General Studies Paper 2, the areas covered are polity, governance and international relations. So the approach here should be to have a good knowledge of the current happening through newspapers and current affairs magazines.

For General Studies Paper 3, after reading standard textbooks, the economic survey and budget documents of the government must be read. Besides, one should be well aware of the current news and contemporary developments in related fields.

For General Studies Paper 4, it is most important that one should be ethical. When one practices the ethics in practical life, this paper becomes very easy.

The concepts and syllabus can be understood through real life incidents and books of great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda etc.

Suggested Book List

Standard Text-books like NCERTs of Std. XI and XII for all the subjects mentioned in the syllabus. 

History: Spectrum, Bipan Chandra

Geography: GC Leong, Savindra Singh physical geography book, DR Khullar Indian Geography, Mjid Hussain for Human Geography

Polity: Laxmikant, The Hindu

Economy: Sriram IAS printed material, The Hindu

S&T, IR, Society, Internal Security: The Hindu

Ethics: from Internet and websites.

Essay Paper

For Essay preparation, the most important thing is to prepare standard topics like education, democracy, women, economy etc.

The knowledge and content will not be an issue because of your General Studies and Optional subject papers.

While writing the essay, the most important thing is its structure. Once you know how to write an essay in a proper format, you will be able to get good marks.

Incorporation of quotes, data, reports of committees, examples etc. give credibility to your arguments and hence these are emphasized. 

In CSE2017, I had written essay on the following topics:

Section A: Destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms

Section B: We may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws.

Interview (Personality Test)

I was interviewed by Ms. Smita Nagaraj Board on 20th April 2018.

Questions asked were less from DAF and more on facts like Water Policy provisions, ten indicators of ease of doing business etc.

Role of Essay & Interview marks in success

Essay did play a significant role in my selection as I got 148/250 marks in it.

I was hopeful to get a good score in essay.

As far as interview is concerned, though it didn't affect my selection it did impacted my final rank negatively.

Evaluation of my efforts by UPSC

I was awarded a very low score in Interview; but, I think it was more because I didn't have a very good interview.

Last Update Friday 26th October 2018     

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