MOTIVATION: Bandana Pokhriyal, Rank – 83, Cleared UPSC Civil Services Without Quitting Job While Working as Excise Inspector for Past 4.5 Years
Bandana Pokhriyal, Rank – 83
CSE – 2015
So .. Here I go. .. this is my story..
I am working as a Central Excise Inspector for the past four and a half years. And the past two and a half years have been a juggle between work and study. In the beginning, things seemed too difficult. I vividly remember breaking down many times. But once I could figure out a plan and a time table on a daily basis, the tempo soon developed. I starting preparing a day by day time table and ensured that I acted in accordance with it. As my office timings almost consumed 8 hours of the day I tried to set practical targets as setting impossible target leads to nothing but frustration in case you are not able to finish it off.
For office goers like me, my advice is make small cards, chits and keep a lot of study material on your phone and in between work whenever you get even 15 minutes off, make the most of it. Also, revise and cover your unfinished goals of the week on your weekend breaks. Saturdays and Sundays should be utilized to the fullest. Avoid taking unnecessary leaves. I remember going to Delhi to see my family hardly 4 times in the last 2 years.
Also, don’t let a lot of people from your workplace know you’re preparing as most have the tendency to ask every month “ Arey, Kya hua , result aa gaya “ … this my friends starts to get on your nerves..
So, here are my two mark sheets ..
The first thing that might have caught your attention is the change in my optional subject. I understand it shows the state of confusion I was in during the last mains. This is a blunder which every aspirant should avoid. Choose an optional that makes you feel involved, that you can connect to and that you won’t change (most important)… J. Clarity of mind is the key to this exam and life of course.
I started my preparation for the optional (Anthropology) during April last year. April and May were utilized for the basic reading and going through the syllabus once. Alongside, I started preparing my notes for every topic by going through the content of books and internet.
I tried to incorporate a lot of diagrams, flow charts , tables in my notes(a few I prepared on my own) . For paper-II , I looked up case studies and examples relating to the customs and rituals of various tribes in India and around the world too. This probably enhanced the quality of answers. By August end, I was able to finish off the notes on most of the topics. So starting from September, my only focus was reading again and again what I had written and writing answers to previous years questions on a daily basis. Starting with 2-3 answers in September, I progressed to 5-6 answers by October every day.
Now, a score of 250 might look decent but since I switched my optional , I had to give a lot of time to it which led to the neglect of general studies papers especially paper-4. In addition to this, going to work kept me occupied for a significant portion of the day. Therefore, again SWITCHING the OPTIONAL IS A BAD STRATERGY. My GS Paper and Essay paper scores could have been a lot better provided I had chosen my optional rationally.
Now coming to the General studies paper. I was preparing from a small town Vapi in Gujarat. Insights on India was all I had. So first of all, a big thank you to Insights. I followed this website regularly. All the answer writing practice that I did was from here. In fact I had kept a notebook for all the four papers were I made notes of the monthly answer compilation of all the good answers apart from the regular answer writing. I would say that it was all thanks to it that I could develop the skills to attempt every paper fully and was left with 4-5 minutes to make diagrams and underline too.
If you have to write reasonably good answers in GS, read the question properly. This is first and foremost requirement. Then structure your answer well- introduction, content (usually comprising the pros and cons) and finally the inference. Your answer can be supplemented with how you can inter-relate your current affairs knowledge with these questions.
One thing I would like to mention here is that I read no book for GS-4 (Ethics), all I did was answer writing practice and I paid the price for this approach too. Therefore, make sure that you read well all the topics of the GS-4 from a standard book first and then write. This will give a lot of substance to your answers. The same goes for all the GS papers. Also, every topic should be given attention. When you pay respect to the content of your answer, you’ll surely get all the respect back in the form of good marks that will sail you through.
Also make your answers worthy of marks by making a lot of diagrams, charts. I improvised diagrams even in GS paper -2. Also, try to make reference of the current news relating to the questions even from the static portions of the syllabus. For eg. In case of questions on food processing, mention the innovation of the National Agriculture Market.
There’s this one beautiful line (by the Great Rabindranath Tagore) I came through in a book. “ You should stay a swan even in the murkiest waters. The purity and clarity of the heart and mind should be able to win every war ”.
Today when I look back I can say that this success is worth the trouble, pain and sacrifices. This exam needs you to surrender yourself to it wholeheartedly. Books will surely become a part of your routine once you start enjoying the process. Also, a lot of factors need to click together for things to go right. So, take care of yourself, stay healthy, keep happy and keep going..
My best wishes to one and all ..