“Give your best; so that even if you fall, you fall with glory”, says Pratham Kaushik (AIR 5; CSE 2017)

From failing in Preliminary Examination in his first attempt (CSE 2016) to securing Rank 5 in Civil Services Examination 2017 shows Pratham Kaushik’s power to make a strong come back.

After all, he is a Roger Federer admirer and he really worked hard to realize his dreams.

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Medium (Language)

Language for Writing Examination: English

Language for Interview: English

Nature of Examination

Unpredictability of the exam can be minimised by keeping all the bases covered, such as a strong command on your optional subject, good writing skills, developing an inquisitive mind and being optimistic in your approach.

Covering basic books and NCERTs is essential to the preparation.

Absolute reliance on coaching should be avoided.

Also, being mentally prepared for the unpredictable nature also helps improve your relative performance.

Views about Preliminary Examination

Preliminary Examination tests candidates on very few questions out of such a vast syllabus.

Therefore an element of luck is there; but, to say it is pure luck is exaggeration.

It requires you to clear the cut-off, that is, a threshold score will get you through.

It is challenging as it is the beginning of the exam process and your momentum may be impacted because of poor performance in the Preliminary Examination.

Covering your basic concepts very well and practicing for the type of questions asked can make you confident to perform to your potential in the prelims.

Role of Optional Subject

Optional subject is crucial as it gives you scope to increase your marks in proportion to the hard work you put in.

It should be selected on the basis on one's interest and availability of study material.

Optional Subject is to be studied in depth for a long period of time, thus some interest should definitely be there.

For me, Geography being a subject of my interest became my choice for Optional Subject.

Though, the general perception right now is against Geography; still for me it was my conviction in the subject that really paid off.

Targeting General Studies

General studies, as the name suggests, require a level of knowledge that is expected of an aware individual. Thus you should be able to have insights on topics of general interest.

I focused on content building for the topics in which I was not strong.

For other topics, I tried to enrich my answers by practice. I tried to frame answers for previous year questions.

After 3 months of preparation after Prelims, I focused only on revision and revised the syllabus multiple times.

My approach towards each paper:

Specific preparation is required for certain static topics for General Studies 1 and General Studies 4 papers.

For General Studies 2 and General Studies 3 a thorough reading of topics currently in news with some factual knowledge is necessary.

Essay Paper

Essay and Interview are tests of personality and are generally high scoring. Their score can impact rank, and thus the service allocation.

I framed the essays from previous year question papers, and tried brainstorming relevant points for many topics which were in news.

Topic I - Destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms.

Topic II - Fulfilment of New Woman in India is a myth.

Interview (Personality Test)

My interview was on the first day of interviews (19 February, 2018) and the board was chaired by Sujata Mehta Ma’am.

It went fairly well and lasted for half an hour.

I was asked questions on my optional subject geography and its linkages with culture, industrial scenario in India, agricultural income and Minimum Support Price for farmers, Nanotechnology and how can we make India a developed country.

Words of advice to future aspirants

Do not give up on your dreams.

If you have chosen this path, brace for all the challenges that come and give it your best.

Invest your best efforts in this journey as it has the potential to give you immense opportunities in your life to work to your satisfaction.

Give your best, so that even if you fall, you fall with glory.

Evaluation of my efforts by UPSC

My score in the essay paper is relatively good but my interview score is less.

Although it did not impact me much as I got the highest score in mains exam, but generally it is said that mains score gives you an entry into the list and interview score gives you your preferred service. 

On Monday 31st December 2018     

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