Essay is the easiest yet most tricky thing in Main Examination; says Veer Pratap Singh (AIR 92; CSE 2018)

Veer Pratap Singh shares his preparation strategy and showcases a glimpse of his journey to the dream career.

It has been honest effort in all the attempts and his family helped him stay on track and finally, he crack Civil Services Examination in his third attempt.

He has chosen Philosophy as optional subject.


Veer Pratap Singh

(AIR 92; CSE 2018)


Medium (Language)

Language for Writing Examination: English

Language for Interview: English

Nature of Examination

Though UPSC is unpredictable, but there is a silver lining that is it does not ask irrelevant and non-sense questions. So, keeping it in mind one should focus on what matters in everyday life of individual, society and country.

One should cover whole syllabus holistically and should stick to limited resources/books.

I prepared for CSE in an integrated manner. I covered entire syllabus first; then only just before Prelims, I segregated syllabus for Prelims and Mains. In 3 months preceding Prelims I studied from Prelims point of view.

Views about Preliminary Examination

Though in last few years nature of Preliminary Examination has been very unpredictable; but, it can’t be said to be based on pure luck. When we prepare holistically and cover entire syllabus then we feel confident and it helps in clearing Prelims.

It is true that luck plays some role; but, it is only 10% rest 90% is your hard work and knowledge base.Veer-Pratap-singh-ias-topper-upsc-CSE-2018-92nd-rank

Targeting General Studies

Though UPSC has given syllabus for each of General Studies papers, but, many parts of the syllabus of different papers are overlapping or have influence over each-other.

So, interdisciplinary approach is the key to have a good command over General Studies papers. Apart from static portions of Paper 1 like History, Art and Culture, some questions in Paper 2 from Polity; all other questions are designed in the context of present situations/circumstances.

So, reading newspapers daily along with a monthly magazine will do wonders in General Studies Main papers.

I solely relied on books, magazines and my coaching notes. I rarely watched any online video etc. I read NCERT books (9th to 12th Old ones) and complemented them with one basic book for each subject like for Polity Laxmikant, Economy Ramesh Singh etc.

I read Vision’s magazine and Yojna every month. I also read Competition magazines to augment my current affairs knowledge.

I read Indian Express newspaper daily.

I had Philosophy optional so, I found General Studies Paper IV (Ethics) very easy. I read Lexicon for this paper apart from coaching notes.

Role of Optional Subject

Now a days optional subject is very crucial as there can be a large range in which optional are giving marks. So, one should choose optional which has relevance in General Studies papers and which can be covered in short-span, say in and around four months and which is giving high marks.

I chose Philosophy as it covered all these aspects that matters. As such, I have natural penchant towards Philosophical thoughts. Apart from this short syllabus, logical and reasoning based subject and good scoring in Philosophy made it my choice.

Essay Paper

According to me, Essay is the easiest yet most tricky thing in Main Examination.

In Essay, I struggled a lot in previous attempts; but, for this attempt I practiced so much so that I mastered it by the day of Essay paper in UPSC. One should focus on introduction, body and conclusion separately. I struggled in writing introduction of Essay, so I practiced it a lot.

I prepared Essay well. I wrote many quotations from various websites, books etc. in my Essay notebook and then memorized them all.

I also focused on writing Essay in separate parts like introduction, body and conclusion. As I struggled in introduction; so I wrote many introductions of different essays and by the date of Essay paper, I mastered the art of introduction writing.

Other two parts viz. body and conclusion of Essay followed the introduction part.

I wrote on Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere and A society that values its privileges over its principles, loses both.

Interview (Personality Test)

For interview I revised my Mains notes. I read two newspapers viz, The Hindu and Indian Express. I made a list of current burning topics and prepared them well. And most importantly I focused most on my DAF

My interview board was that of Manoj Soni Sir on 11th March 2019.

I was asked very general questions related to current happenings. Mostly questions were from my DAF and current affairs. I answered most of them but, could not answer some factual questions.

They emphasized on my rural background and agriculture.Veer-Pratap-singh-ias-topper-upsc-CSE-2018-92nd-rank

Evaluation of my efforts by UPSC

Essay marks (147) helped me get 92nd rank while Interview marks (157) were much below of what I expected.

My final score is 1022 out of 2025 while I expected it to be around 1050.

Last Update Monday 13th May 2019     

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