TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Yash Chaudhary, RANK 258, Third Attempt





Yash Chaudhary, RANK 258, CSE – 2016


Hello friends, my name is Yash Chaudhary and I am 24 years old. I have secured AIR 258 in UPSC Civil Service Exam 2016. I am B.Tech in Computer science. My tryst with UPSC started in year 2012 when I started preparing while 3rd year in engineering.  Gave my first attempt in 2014 but failed to qualify for prelims. In 2015, I was able to clear prelims and mains but failed to secure a rank in final list. However, in 2016 finally things happened and I got my name in the final result. If I would say that journey was easy I will be lying, it was rather daunting both physically and mentally. I prepared for the exam by myself without joining any coaching institute formally but with great help from insights, and Wikipedia. Apart from that, I was in a full time teaching job in an institute while preparation. However, it helped me as I was taking Social studies for class 7th -10th in the institute and prepared students for NTSE exam (A blessing in Disguise I guess!!). At every step I tried to learn from my mistake and my mantra for clearing this exam and in life as well is simple Never make the same mistake twice”.

My prelims marks of 2016:-

yash chaudhary prelims rank 258

Given below is my mains mark sheet for 2016

yash chaudhary rank 258 mains marks

The strategy given below will be divided into three sections as the exam is divided. I didn’t change my strategy drastically from 2015 while appearing in 2016. However, I had some value addition and did correct some basic mistake in 2016. The strategy given below is subject to the candidate’s comfort and may vary with individual preferences. So here it goes:


  1. I finalized the books which I have to read and revised only them not touching any new material except from newspaper (The Hindu + Indian express, a must for UPSC preparations).
  2. Solved minimum 50 full length tests before prelims paper with proper monitoring of the scores and marking problematic areas by making a proper excel sheet of scores and comments from each test.
  3. Followed Insights secure series, Daily quiz and insights revision tests in addition to Insights full length tests.
  4. One thing I did was read and revised a subject per day. It means, say on Monday it was political science day and in that everything related to political science was revised, starting with laxmikant + notes I have made from internet + questions solving of political science. Similarly the week schedule was made by me and strictly followed.
  5. For CSAT, gave 10 full length test and no specific preparations as such. Being from science background no doubt helped but all those who are a bit weak should pay attention towards it.

Following is the booklist:

  1. History: General Studies Manual of TMH (the history part only)
  2. Political Science: M. Laxmikant only + Wikipedia for international summits and reports
  3. Geography: class 7th – 12th NCERT only (No other book, even for mains) + Wikipedia + insights mind maps
  4. Economics: class 9th– 12th NCERT (both micro and macro economics in class 12th) + Economic survey series from (very helpful in other subjects as well)
  5. Environment science: Roman Sir’s series on environment and ecology is sufficient for UPSC + Wikipedia for international conventions, pacts,reports etc.
  6. Art and Culture: From NCERT class 11th Arts book(very helpful even for mains perspective).
  7. Current affairs: Newspaper + Wikipedia + Insights on India mind maps and articles.

Tip* : I kept a blank paper while reading the newspaper or any article and any topic  which I thought was important for prelims/mains/interview  for any subject, just wrote the topic on paper and later on made detailed notes of it and attached to a file which was indexed according to the subject of topic.( this really helped)

Value addition in 2016:

  1. Read Economic survey thoroughly and revised it again and again ( It helped a lot)
  2. Tried to attempt more and more questions and took some calculative risk in attempting the paper. It paid well I guess.

For Mains: There is a need to get in tune with the syllabus for each paper. I wrote the syllabus for each paper separately and searched internet for the topics which are mentioned in the syllabus but not specifically covered in books and integrated it with latest current affairs. Example, the basics of Role of women topic given in GS 1 Syllabus was covered via internet but I linked it with current situation of women in India and status of gender empowerment+ various schemes by government.

General studies 1:

Book list:-

  1. Indian history: TMH manual of history+ 11th NCERT of Fine Arts+ Wikipedia
  2. 2. World history: Class 9th and 10th NCERT + Roman sir’s world history series.
  3. Geography: Class 11th and 12th NCERT + insights mind maps for recent topics (urban flooding etc.) + Mrunal sir’s revision series which came in November 2016.
  4. For Remaining topics searched Internet and newspapers.


General studies paper 2:

  1. Indian constitution: from M. Laxmikant Indian polity +Insights mind maps and articles on bills and acts.
  2. International affairs : from my notes itself which I made from internet
  3. Remaining topics from internet, newspapers.

General studies paper 3:

  1. Economy: Mrunal sir’s economic survey series +economic survey 2016 + Mrunal sir’s revision series.
  2. Environment and ecology: Roman sir’s EnE series.
  3. Internal security: Wikipedia + 2nd ARC report.
  4. Remaining topics from internet, newspapers.

General studies paper 4:

I referred only lexicon book as it is small and lucid with proper coverage of syllabus. However, In case studies I  practiced more and more which  gave me confidence .Tried to get in depth meaning of various concepts and then  interlinked it with current happenings. Referred 2nd ARC’s ethics report, to get some basic understanding of ethics in administration. More writing practice is the key in paper 4 as of now with basic understanding of concepts and one’s individual experience can also help.


Basically focused on writing more and more essays and tried to get it evaluated. In the introduction part tried to give some anecdote or quote (if I remembered) and tried to be as eclectic as possible with optimistic attitude in the conclusion. Basically try to be as broader as possible. Since, I do not have very good marks in Essay so can’t tell what works for the candidate exactly but writing practice is must and daily improvement can take you a long way.

Apart from this:-

  1. Solved Insights Mains test series and followed the schedule. Also, did some vision’s mains tests series. Basically a lot of answer writing practice.
  2. Followed the same prelims weekly schedule that is one subject per day. For example GS 1 was on Monday so on so forth.
  3. Sunday was fixed for Essay writing which was already going on during prelims preparation as well.
  4. Drew diagrams and maps ( free hand by pen) in several questions even in GS 4 I made flow charts etc. to have better presentation of answer
  5. Followed a structure of answer writing, that is, starting first by definition followed by the exact answer which the question demanded and giving 1-2 line conclusion in the end. Stuck to the point not filling the space unnecessary.
  6. Answers were in bullets with underlining especially the data and important facts quoted in answer.
  7. For qualifying paper of Hindi and English, solved previous year question papers.

Optional strategy:

My optional was Public Administration which currently is known to ruin the life of civil service aspirant and has lost its glory. The reason to take this optional was the interest I had in organizational studies right from my college and I had a belief that if I work hard enough and write good answers, I will be awarded decent marks. In 2015 I could only manage around 200 marks in both the papers which was way below average and probably the reason behind my name not on the list. However , this didn’t discouraged me towards public administration rather some changes in my strategy paved the way for better marks as you saw above in marks sheet.

Book list for Paper 1:

  1. Prasad and Prasad, Administrative thinkers
  2. Mohit Bhattacharya, new horizon of public administration ( A must read for all pub ad people)
  3. Laxmikant , public administration(only some topics)
  4. Notes from internet.

Book list for Paper 2:

  1. Laxmikant, Public administration
  2. Laxmikant, Political science for topics on Indian constitution
  3. Internet notes on various topics of syllabus such as reports etc.

Value addition in 2016:

  1. Read 2nd ARC thoroughly which I didn’t in 2015.
  2. Tried to link Paper 1 with Indian example and in paper 2 gave name of theories and thinkers from paper 1 syllabus.
  3. Drew diagrams and flow charts in every question.
  4. Gave lot of data and CASE STUDIES In paper 2 which I didn’t in 2015. In paper 1 as well gave data and examples from Indian perspective.
  5. Tried to be specific and not beat around the bush in the answers
  6. Lots and lots of answer writing practice.

Tip*:- Kindly have lots of data while writing the answer and also have example of surveys and case studies which can be quoted as and when you feel like. Economic survey and India Year book are great source for both data and surveys which can be jotted on a separate sheet and learnt so that it can be used in the answers.

Didn’t Changed my mains strategy in 2016 by much since optional marks were very low which required more hard work. Essay marks were also low so wrote more essays and got it checked from and worked on the feedback.

PS: – I didn’t left any question in mains examination since I had practiced according to time limit while giving in mock test series at home and finished all the questions in the exam due to it. This is must since the competition is stiff so can’t leave anything. I have seen students leaving 50 marks questions in mains paper and that could prove fatal for your dreams of cracking UPSC.

Interview Strategy:-

Well in the 2015 I didn’t attend any mock test what so ever relied mostly on Newspaper and revised my DAF thoroughly but ended up with meager 150 marks (Arvind Saxena sir Board).

In 2016 however, I went for three mock tests, relied on newspapers (At least 3 Newspaper) and prepared my DAF thoroughly with some value addition.

Value additions:

  1. Well, preparation of interview starts from Filling up of DAF itself. DAF is most important part of interview so one needs to carefully fill it. One need to fill all the true details of on self but be innovative in filling it, which I did in 2016, try to include those details which may attract the attention of board but need to be truthful. If you don’t have anything then be honest about it.
  2. Going for mock is individual choice but I think, giving 2-3 mocks is sufficient. Don’t go for too many mocks as it can confuse you at times because the panels can give some contradictory reviews about you.
  3. Reading 3-4 news paper daily with focus on having detailed knowledge about recent ongoings in India and World.
  4. Have sound knowledge of your graduation subject (I got Chattar singh sir board in 2016 where they relied on more questions from my graduation side so it was a pain).
  5. Getting in tune with the latest economic survey and having some data about recent happenings.
  6. Regarding the dress, neatness is all that is required and can wear suit according to the weather.

Tip*:- Please do not take the review of mocks very seriously, believe me the background f candidate be it Hindi medium or any other language medium, belonging to a not so big college (my case as I am from PTU) or anything else does not matter. The only thing which matters is you and your personality only.

A parting thought:-

To all those preparing for the first till the last attempts people, UPSC is a life altering exam in which success is achieved by very few so don’t be disheartened as this is not the gospel exam that will define your capability and intelligence. So don’t be limited to it. If you can then find a job and be busy in earning where even if you are unable to clear the exam, there will be more things for you in your life.

UPSC is not a start nor an end it’s a journey, even if you don’t qualify it at least enjoy it” 

Note*: Kindly ignore if any errors crept in typing and I apologize if by mistake I forgot to mention anything or for any sort of discrepancy may have occurred from my side.