For Abhijeet Sinha, an Electrical Engineer from IIT Kanpur, first attempt in CSE 2016 had not gone well. Still, he wished and hoped to see at least his name in the merit-list. Not to find his name was a heart- wrenching experience, perhaps because it was the 1st major failure of his life.
But, he did not drown himself in the misery; rather, picked up and set to discover the weaknesses and tackle them head on. Equally importantly, he realised that there is no substitute to Hard Work, a factor that was missing in first attempt.
This way his failure became the foundation of success in his second attempt as he secured 19th Rank in Civil Services Examination 2017.
Abhijeet has chosen Economics as his Optional Subject.
Language for Writing Examination: English
Language for Interview: English
Nature of Examination
Even amongst the unpredictability, there is some predictability in this exam, and one needs to focus on them more.
For instance, syllabus remains constant and questions in mains always revolve around it.
Similarly, good writing style helps in General Studies, optional subject as well as Essays and can be prepared.
Likewise for Prelims, acing the art of elimination is permanent regardless of the nature of the questions
Also, one needs to tackle unpredictability with a right attitude, like mental preparedness, patience and confidence.
Lastly, UPSC CSE , at the end of the day, is just an exam ( although a very important one ! ), and given its insane competition, it is also true that failures are very common. Therefore, it is wise to have some backups.
Views about Preliminary Examination
It is indeed a challenge, given the unpredictability of the paper and the insanity of the competition. But, nonetheless, I would hesitate to call it pure luck.
According to me, Prelims is about deducing and eliminating in the right way. This can be and must be used even for questions that one is not completely sure about, using various common sensical approaches.
The strategy helped to score above 150 marks in both my prelims attempts.
Moreover, even if there is an element of luck, it would not be wise to think too much about it. You have to succeed and win irrespective of external situation. Relying on luck alone should not be a choice
Role of Optional Subject
It is pretty important. It is crucial that students pick up an optional after considering numerous factors like Interest, Academic Background, Support available etc before choosing an optional.
Optional can make or break the game, and is probably the single most important paper. Last year ( 1st attempt), the only reason why I could not find my name in the final rank list was an extremely poor performance in Economics. It may have been in part because Economics as a subject was completely new to me. But, it was more so because I had given to the rumours that optional is being removed and did not study hard. This year, Economics became my central focus and it helped me attain a good rank
Targeting General Studies
In general, General Studies is all about 3 factors:
1. Syllabus Orientation - Most questions in GS are asked from syllabus and one needs to prepare on every word of the syllabus
2. Note Making - This needs to be done by integrating the static and the current portions. Ideally there should be one single digital notes with special emphasis on details like examples, data, etc.
3. Answer Writing - Having knowledge is an important thing, but it comes to nothing, if knowledge can't be expressed succinctly for what is asked. This requires some practise in the art of answer writing
My approach towards each paper:
GS 1- Focus on years and keywords in History, names in culture, diagrams in Geography
GS 2- Focus on articles, judgements, committees recommendations and preferably use an academic language
GS 3 - Focus on data in economics, 2nd ARC for disaster management, and concepts for environment and science
GS 4- Focus on examples to explain using simple English. Case studies should be pragmatic and should preferably a step by step approach
My essay preparation solely revolved around practising 5-6 essays. Perhaps this is not the best way to go about, as it can be seen through the low marks in the essay of both the years.
The topics I picked up for Essay are:
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)
My interview was carried by Air Marshal Bhonsle Sir's Board.
The interview lasted for about 25 minutes.
The questions were centered around my DAF and questions on IITs, Kanpur city, football, etc were present. On top of this, I was asked about case studies.
Evaluation of my efforts by UPSC
Essay did not go very well. One, I was not very well prepared, Two, I messed up the Time Management. Unsurprisingly, I got a Below Average Marks in the Essay.
My, interview went pretty well. The nature of the questions was analytical and application oriented.
That truly helped me to be myself. Since, almost all my mock interviews had predicted marks of about 200; it was not really beyond expectations.
But, nonetheless, to actually see a 200 + was a humbling experience, in spite of the prophecies.
General Studies 1
General Studies 2
General Studies 3
Economics + Agriculture
General Studies 4