[MOTIVATION] Aparna Gupta – Rank 108: Overcoming Huge Personal Loss to Achieve Success

UPSC Civil Services Exam Strategy

Aparna Gupta, Rank – 108, CSE-2015

If you search ‘Aparna’ in the search box above, you will find hundreds of answers and comments in her name. Aparna has been one of Insights’ active participants in answer writing challenges for the past one year. Getting Rank – 108 is not an easy task considering various hardships she went through during her UPSC civil services exam preparation phase. But she has prevailed: with flying colours. She has written a motivating article for the benefit of all civil services aspirants. We thank her and wish her good luck on behalf of all aspirants.


Dear friends,

With your support and best wishes I have finally become successful in Civil Services Examination this year (Rank 108). I have jotted down few points below which have helped me in clearing this exam. I hope they will help you too in your exam preparation.

Make your own strategy:

Only your own strategy is the one that will finally work for you.

Try to answer all questions:

Even a 1 mark difference matters a lot here. Don’t leave questions just because you don’t know them.

Maintain good speed from the very start:

I was known for my speed in school days, even then I was practically out of breath by the end of every paper in UPSC exam that too when I didn’t give more than 8 minutes to any question. So it’s very important to maintain speed from the very start.

Revise and revise:

Most important is to revise what you have read otherwise all your effort will go waste. Read less but quality material and revise a lot.

Practice answer writing:

We are blessed to have forum like Insights 🙂  for Answer Writing Practice!

Choose an optional that is close to your heart:

Very-very important. There will be times when you feel this year my optional was given a rough deal. And then one is lost in the vicious circle of choosing “the right” optional. The only thing keeping you loyal to your subject then will be your liking for the subject. I chose History which fared very bad in 2012 and 2013. But I stayed loyal because I love the subject and finally it has loved me back and here I am 🙂

Take enough rest:

Again, it is very important to take proper sleep and rest. In 2013 I lost tremendously in Essay, reason : I had not slept properly the previous night. I wrote on GDP and GDH topic. Later on I realized I did not read the topic properly. I thought the topic says “GDH and not GDP” when it was “GDH and GDP”. So I kept on writing about GDH, completely ignoring GDP. Alas! I missed mains by 3 marks!

Stay humble:

Yes, we know a lot more than a common citizen. But never let that make you arrogant. The more humble you are, the more your awareness will increase and your personality will improve. Interact with all and try to take maximum from the wisdom of elders and friends. I dedicate my success to my mother. Though a housewife, she was a treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom and I am sure her teachings have played a big role in my success. She is not with me anymore, but her blessings are always with me. It is our parents, our teachers, our siblings, our friends, who were with us always. Never forget that.

Stay positive:

Most important and the key to this exam is a positive attitude. NEVER SAY NO. Hang on till there is even a slight ray of hope. And believe me, the darkest hour is indeed the one before dawn. I have practically experienced it. When you feel you can’t take it anymore, that is precisely the time you are at the threshold of success.

I lost my mother just 5 days before my 2012 preliminary exam. I cleared the exam though I was weeping all through it and the invigilators were all baffled! 2014 prelims I gave while suffering from jaundice. Doctors were hell bent on hospitalisation but I couldn’t get admitted then, I had my exam. Not bragging about myself, just giving few experiences from my own life to show the importance of positive attitude and will power in this exam. It was only my positive attitude and will power that helped me sail through all this.

Read positive stories about people’s struggles. In my darkest hours I used to go back to a poem from my school days by Rashtra Kavi Ramdhari Singh Dinkar. Quoting it below:

“Wo pradeep jo deekh raha hai jhilmil door nahin hai,

Thak kar baith gaye kya bhai! manzil door nahin hai.

Apni haddi ki mashal se hriday cheerte tam ka, sari raat chale tum dukh jhelte kulish nirmam ka;

Ek khep hai shesh kisi vidh paar use kar jao, wo dekho us paar chamakta hai mandir priyatam ka.

Aakar itna paas phire wo saccha shoor nahin hai;

Thak kar baith gaye kya bahi! manzil door nahin hai.”

Lastly, quoting Mr. Obama 🙂


  • VK

    Aparna! Congrats! I did wonder if you had made it and I am so glad that you did. Wishing you the very best for the future.

  • Sneha Chatterjee

    Congrats and nice lines….
    All the best for your future endeavour
    Seriously perseverance has its reward ?

  • Abhi Ram

    Congratulations Madam…..Really inspiring……sailed through against odds…achieved victory…….hats off again,,,,,,your words are oxygen for me…..

  • Manasa Kulkarni

    Congrats mam….. wish u all d best 🙂

  • Paul

    Hats off!!! Heartiest congratulations ! 🙂 🙂

  • IWRA

    World is full of beautiful people.You are one of them.Your courage is infectious.You will surely be victorious wherever you go.Thanks for sharing this article.

  • naren

    congrats .aparna tum ab king ho

  • Tanu Singhal

    May God bless people and great motivators like you.
    Heartiest congratulations!!
    U deserved it.u earned it. !

  • Albus BhojRaj

    Wowww, well Done Aparna, and many many Congratulations 🙂
    Wishing you a wonderful Bright Future 🙂

  • Answer

    First of all heartiest congratulations Aparna Ma’am. The aura of positive energy that you have is inspirational.
    Thank you for writing such encouraging words. They surely motivate us to not give up and keep giving our best despite the odds.

  • Mayuresh Pawar

    Wow….truly Inspiring…sorry to hear about your Mom…may her soul rest in peace.
    Reading your article shows how strong you are…hats off Mam…
    Congrats and all the Best for the future

    The below lines are truly awesome…thanks for it…
    Most important and the key to this exam is a positive attitude. NEVER SAY NO. Hang on till there is even a slight ray of hope. And believe me, the darkest hour is indeed the one before dawn. I have practically experienced it. When you feel you can’t take it anymore, that is precisely the time you are at the threshold of success.

  • Animesh BM Tripathi

    Congr8s Aparna….Indeed an inspiring story…….wish you all the very best….and to quote Rashtra Kavi Dinkar’s (my personal favourite peom)…
    “Do mein se kya chahiye tumhe, Kalam ya ki Talwar,
    manmein Uche Bhav ki tan mein shakti ajay aapar…
    Andh Kaksha mein baith rachoge uche mithe Gaan,
    ya talwar pakad jeetoge bahar ka Maidan…
    Kalam desh ki badi shakti hai bhav jagane wali hai,
    dil hi nahi dimaag mein bi aaj lagane wali hai…”

  • Navya

    Congrats and All the best for your future 🙂
    I have read many of your answers in INSIGHTS. Truely amazing!

    Dear INSIGHTS,
    Thank You for sharing the success stories of the toppers. It will certainly boost our confidence and keep our morale high. 🙂

  • Prabhash Bahadur

    Aparna the Rockstar… Rose from the ashes ! I know … Keep it up !

  • ashwin kumar p

    This is one of the most inspirational article abt how one can crack civils with positive attitude and determination. I wept after reading this coz losing ones mom is most depressing moment.neverthless i salute u brave lady n best of luck.

  • Satya Madhu Varshini

    You are great…A person like you will instill confidence in any kind of person no matter wat.Hats off!!And all the best for your new Journey ?

  • Kapil

    All the best ma’am

  • ramesh

    congratulations mam for your success , really inspired by your attitude, preservance at tough times,
    all the best mam

  • Aparna

    Thank you so much dear friends. My success would have been impossible without your support. And again, THANKS A TONNE INSIGHTS!

    • YK

      Congratulations Aparna Mam. Your journey is truly inspiring. Hats off!!! Truly motivated me and other readers too!!!

    • preeti

      Congrats mam….u truely deserves this…loads of gud wishes and tonnes of respect….for your courageous and positive attitude…

    • Dm

      Congo… Thank you for ur courageous guidance……

    • Harsh


    • Vibhu

      Congratulations Aparna Ma’am. I also have my optional as History. If you could pls provide your email id, i will drop you a mail, need to check few things . Many Thanks.

      • ASTRO BOY

        whats up man !!!!!!!!! how s ur prepn going? whats about our long time participant shanky ?

        • Vibhu

          Preparation is just progressing at the pace of tortoise with lot of hiccups. what about urs?

          • ASTRO BOY

            me good, going ,man!!!!!! bu the way this year im retret to appear due to personal setbacks…hope to give ,my best next time… but i ll plan to come back to participate after so long time soon!!!!!!!

            • Vibhu

              Just come back stronger. Thats it.

      • Prabhjot Dhillon

        hi..Vibhu..mine optional is also history..i wud like to discuss few things with u..thanks

      • सचिन कदम

        hey vibhu me 2 having history as optional i would appreciate any help regarding booklist and strategy as am just starting my prepartion

        • Vibhu

          Check insights site…there is a strategy for history subject and check Mrunal as well….there also some toppers have given their strategy.
          But remember in the end…you should have your own strategy.

    • velma

      Congrats mam !! U have lifted my spirits ..

    • DEVI

      Hearty Congratulations Aparna..:)..That was very inspiring!!…All the very best for your future endeavours!!

    • Vinuthna Vinu

      Congos Aparna …. All the best … ?

    • Amrita Singh

      Respect … Congratulations. … and thank you so much for boosting my spitit

    • Rajesh

      Congratulations Aparna and Respect for your never to die attitude.

    • vinay kumar

      congratulation ma’am . Really instpiring maam

    • Aman Kumar Choudhary

      its good to know @Aparna mam that you are selected for ias ,congratulations,help us and show us path


      Mam, first of all….a big salute…..u are role model for many,u boosted my confidence and yes i can say that will crack the CSE…..

      thanx a ton…..

    • Ajay Rathod

      Remakable journey Aparna !!! keep it up.

    • सचिन कदम

      Mam first of all heartly congratulations for such gr8 success and most important the way u achieved it its really motivating.I am preparing for this exam with history as optional mam i will be grateful to you if ur able to provide me a booklist/notes list for history optional u referred Thanks a lot and looking forward to hear ur name again in newspapres for being a honest and great administer in future

    • Sheldon Cooper

      Just one word for you “Respect” 🙂

    • heartist congratulation Aparna,you couregius,confident and strong girl..
      thank you so mutch for motivating me ,it’s still countinew…

    • amit kumar yadav

      Heartly congratulation Mam.
      I also hv history optional.If you could pls provide ur optional questions practiced answer’s photo,pdf or links(if done at insights). It would be great help for me, plz mam. many thanks!

    • sumit

      very inspiring aparna…may god bless u with all the happiness….very sure abt your commitments….best of luck for the challenging life ahead…let your motivation keep the chain of motivation burning in all those who chooses this path of challenges…

    • Ashutosh Pandey

      hello, i too have history as optional , can you please share some tips for it………..?????

    • iswar1990

      really inspiring mam….especially the poem of RASHTRAKAVI, you rejuvenated me again…:-) thankuu..

  • Rushikesh

    Congratulations madam ! 🙂

  • Dheeraj

    Congratulations, you are an inspiration. 🙂

  • Subhash Tadala

    Rather than congratulate you mam, I have to respect your commitment and attitude before. Thanks for your words Madam. They truly motivate us.

  • Urvashi

    Salute your undying spirit! A very well deserved feat indeed. All the very best for your future in the services! 🙂

  • Krishna Koushik

    “YES, WE CAN”

  • Krishna Koushik

    I too will write an article definitely one day after getting selected for IAS like dese toppers… “YES, I CAN” ?

  • bala

    good article.. whenever i felt bad that can i do clear this exam?, this kind of stories will encourage me.. personally this is very touch. i love my amma more as much as possible. congratulation and all success will come to you:)

  • skb

    An example of great spirit and enthusiasm…Really you are great Ma’am…You deserve it…..Congrats for this…..

  • adityaka

    truly inspirational…………. congratulations and all the best for your future endeavors.

  • chandolu manikanta

    Great inspiration. Hats off for you

  • santhosh

    Congrats Aparna.Truly Inspiring .

  • Tushar

    Ma’am it takes lots of effort to continue things with an unflinching desire which at time become hazy .Indeed it has been your mother’s blessings which kept you moving forward. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    Thank you insights for helping the students day in- dayout.

  • PranavSontakke

    Congratulations Mam.Had read it somewhre “ONE WHO GAINS STRENGTH BY OVERCOMING TRAGEDIES
    POSSESSES THE ONLY STRENGTH WHICH CAN OVERCOME ADVERSITY”..Thank you for writing such a motivational article on INSIGHTS. We wish you all d best for ur upcoming journey

  • Harish Naik

    firstly congratulations … what a inspirational article .. you are really a rolemodel . challenged lot more difficult and reached the place where you deserved to be . Lastly your mom is proud mom .


    Congratulations:) Truly deserved , which attempt was this? And does it matter if i didnt clear prelims in first attempt?



      stay positive . never underestimate ur potential !!!!!!!!!! hope u can excel ur own minds of thoughts at all scenario!!!!!!!! if u did, this questions never arise it , sis!!!!!!

      • ANSHIKA

        Hmm , yes not underestimating , but little confused , wanna study real hard and try now dont wanna let attempt go wast as in test series to i manage scoring only around 50’s to 60’s
        Thanks for motivation:)

  • Lee min

    Congrats jii… U inspired all of ua here… good luck 🙂

  • Lee min

    Congrats jii… U inspired all of us here.. good luck 🙂

  • bk goldy

    you have a very pure heart my friend ! things told are from your heart. congrats !

  • ruth kipgen

    Heartiest congratulations Aparna. Thank you so much for inspiring us. Wish you a beautiful and fulfilling life ahead.

  • mns

    You made ur own way mam…truly inspiring..hats off to the determination!!!


      @dear mns,

      whattss up man? ur result?

  • Nikhil

    You derseve this mam. I wish you a happy & healthy life ahead. Best of luck.

  • Pradeep kumar

    Respect your struggle Maa’m. Understood the real meaning of hardwork & positive attitude. You are a true source of inspiration maa’m,Thank you so much.

  • Buddha


    Nigaho mein manzil thi,
    gire aur gir kar sambhalte rahe,
    hawao ne bahut koshish ki,
    magar chirag aandhiyo mein bhi jalte rahe.

  • Bhawana Behl

    Congratulations to you for it was your immense hardwork which paid off…plus you had the will to succeed which is the ultimate thing one ought to have!!….kudos!!

  • vaishnavi vijaya kumar

    This is actually the real inspiration.. salute your determination and never die attitude. all the very best for your bright future. congratulations .

  • Any

    Hats off !!!
    U damn deserve it .
    Congratulations lady 🙂

  • Prabhjot Dhillon

    Many congrats Ma’am..you are an inspiration. Wiah you loads of good luck.

  • Rohit

    Congratulations Aparna!! All the best for you future. Its very motivating. It makes our problems and excuses seem trivial. And thanks Insights for the great work!!

  • aspirant :-)

    MANY MANY CONGRATULATIONS TO APARNA WHO IS NOW ON THE WAY TO TOP BUREAUCRACY. You are no less than a best inspiration for all not only for UPSC but for all areas of life in general too. Salute to your will and courage.

  • prerna

    Hats off to you mam 🙂

  • Manish Agrawal

    Thanks alot aparna mam for quoting this beautiful motivation

  • 10th Jinping

    Respect _/_ Respect
    I could not qualify CSE mains 2014, possibly because of wrong selection of optional. This year I have selected History. Request you to please provide strategy for History optional.

  • Puja

    Congratulations Mam. Thanks for inspiring us. Ur words are so motivating specially “when you feel that you can’t take it anymore, that is practically the time you are at the threshold of success”. Lots of respect for You.

  • Koushik

    Congratulations Aparna.very motivating article.thank you.

  • VIKAS Gahlot

    I salute your spirit Aparna..!
    You are a gem..the admistration requires people like U..
    Stay Blessed..

  • Vasanth prabhu


  • Optimist Indian

    Hearty Congrats mam….. hats of to you…

  • Abhishekasymptote

    hats off to u ….congo

  • Swapnil S Karanjkar

    Thank you very much madam. It was indeed very inspiring.

  • NITIN 1

    thankyou mam, inspiring.

  • chandan

    Congratz …your struggle is really motivating and makes me believe that preservance is the key to success…mental toughness is required for winning emotional ,physical and personal hurdles in life

  • Your Struggles all through the journey gives me tremendous boost for my preparation.. Its very much inspiring. 🙂

  • rohit r

    a big salute to your mother. congrats mam. all the best for your future.

  • Paulus

    thank you … really inspiring..best of luck for your future endeavours..

  • Shan

    Very few toppers are as motivating as u.
    I wud give my third mains dis year.
    U have lifted my spirits.

  • Indian

    Congratulations Aparna… Truly motivating.

  • COOL FIGHT 2015

    Hats off to you mam.
    you deserved it a lot.

  • navanath mane

    really very much inspiring story

  • Venkatesh Jinukala

    thank you so much for your strategy and motivation. congratulations for your success

  • aparna

    heartful congratulations aparna

  • Anwar

    Thanks alot Aparnaji and insights for sharing such an inspiring story…..

  • Aparna

    Friends, I don’t know yet how was my performance in history. Moreover, the way the paper of history has evolved, I am myself always in the experimental stage with this subject. But as far as maps go, my strategy was to remember the sites taking the outline of India as reference. I used to remember maps wherever I found them. And then whenever I used to get referenceof a
    particular site later on, I tried to recollect its position on map. So it was on continuous basis that I did the map preparation. Also, try to find a site on the net if there is any confusion about its location. Ancient and medieval sites are more important for maps especially capitals, famous trade centres and art centres. Also, map preparation takes time so pay attention to it from the start. I hope this helps.

  • vinay kumar Gupta

    very inspiring,ur dedication and hardwork is really what it takes to clear this exam..best of luck for future..:)

  • S.

    amazing, first time i am inspired by a true success story !!! have seen many fakes but this one is really true…..Thanks mam

  • Gaurav Sharma

    Thank you ma’am

  • Naina target 2016

    aparna ma’am these lines suited you

    “lehro se dar kar nauka paar nahi hoti
    koshish karne walo ki haar nahi hoti .”

    losing dear one especially mother hurts a lot,it can’t expressed in words.hats off you and you are so brave and loyal to everything….you are real yodha who doesn’t leave in the mid of battlefield but have the power to win in the battle..i am highly inspired by you..

  • The Quantum Rider

    Quite inspirational text written from the heart, a rare kind, which is of short in supply these days. Thanks for that. And Congrats on your success 🙂

  • Jyo

    Congratulations Aparna..!!☺I use to read ur answers..u r inspiration for u☺


    All the best madam.

  • durgesh patel

    congratulations, this country needs brave daughters like you, god bless you.

  • Ashish Kumar Sharma

    aparna ma’am i m new for ias preparation but dis is my goal since my childhood………i m in b.tech 3rd year…..how shud i start from nw to compet in 2017

  • Ajit

    Truly a motivating , mind blowing , Concised and Real motivation. Thanks for writing and sharing your views . I think it really inspire as a aspirant.

  • Dhirendra Kr Dubey

    I salute u…great..

  • Mangesh Shinde

    hats off !
    truly inspiring journey…you are a role model for us to overcome the biggest loss (death of close one’s) while preparing for CSE…

  • Thejaswini Rao

    Hats Off for your braveness and courage:)

  • ParthaPratim Das

    Very inspiring.. U r a true legend..