TOPPERS’S STRATEGY: Saravanan V, Rank 27 CSE – 2016



Saravanan V,  Rank 27 CSE – 2016

Hello friends,

This is Saravanan. I have secured AIR 27 in CSE 2016. This write up is primarily aimed to share my experiences and to help UPSC  aspirants to learn from my successes and mistakes and chart their own successful journey. Before I delve into my preparation, a brief introduction about myself .

I hail from Dindigul, Tamil Nadu and did my schooling in Salem and completed my engineering degree from College of engineering, Guindy, Anna University, Chennai. It is during college days  that I concretely hit upon the idea of writing civil services exam and has started preparation from my final year .

The central pillar of my preparation strategy lies in regular follow up  of news papers. This news paper reading habit helped very much in providing a analytical framework which helped me a lot in prelims and mains. Nowadays there is a shift from reading newspapers to using monthly current affairs materials. But nevertheless I persisted with the conventional approach. The main problem I faced in this approach is lack of time to prepare notes from newspapers which I feel many of you might have encountered.

To overcome this problem I started taking screenshot of the newspapers and saved them accordingly in folders divided into general studies papers. Surprisingly before mains not more than 500 screen shots are in my folders and the last minute revision immensely helped me. I believe the takeaway message is that it is not entirely advisable to shift from newspaper reading habit to using monthly current affairs method and I think the monthly current affairs reading method can complement the newspaper reading habit but not supplant it. Since the current examination  pattern is giving more emphasis on analytical framework, newspaper reading habit will help in all stages of UPSC examination.

The second issue I stressed is writing practice before mains. In my previous  attempts I  didn’t take any writing practice and mainly concentrated on reading. But in CSE 2016, I started practicing model test papers from various institutes and I feel it has considerably helped in mains. I also followed Insights secure for answer writing. Practice helps in time management , coherent answer writing and much more importantly helps in analysing where we stand in terms of preparation. Lack of writing practice hindered me from translating what I read to  a presentable  format which is crucial from UPSC perspective. I believe my fellow aspirants will take this into their preparation strategy and incorporate writing practice into their schedule.

The third issue I wanted to put across board is holistic preparation for prelims and mains. Many new comers to field stress on the importance of prelims preparation but I feel there is no dichotomy between prelims preparation and mains preparation. Mains syllabus has additional components when compared to prelims syllabus.To put it in simple format we need to additionally focus on world history and society in GS1 , internal security in GS3 and ethics paper along with prelims syllabus. So it makes good sense to thoroughly prepare prelims topics (history, geography, economy, current affairs) from mains answer writing perspective as well so as to effectively use the time between prelims and mains to concentrate on additional topics as well as to have some writing practice.

Ancient and Medieval IndiaAncient and Medieval India by Poonam Dalal Dahiya
Modern indiaIndia’s struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
World historyMastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe
GeographyManocha sir notes, Ncert (11 th and 12 th)
SocietyNCERT (11 th and 12 th)
PolityIndian polity by Laxmikanth and newspaper
Public administrationvisionias notes and newspaper
International affairsShubraranjan ma’am notes and IDSA
EconomyIndian economy by Ramesh Singh , arthapedia and newspaper
Environmentshankar ias academy environment book and newspaper
Internal securitynewspaper and idsa
Ethics ,integrity and aptitudeethics integrity and aptitude by Lexicon, ARC report 4

The fourth issue is the booklist. Many a times I have felt that sticking to one standard book is important rather than frequently shifting books. I am attaching a list of books which I think would be helpful for new comers.

The fifth issue that concerned me was maintaining tempo during preparation days. Speaking from my experience I can definitely say mood swings are very common during preparation days and we shouldn’t feel discouraged by inability to dedicate sufficient amount of time to preparation during days where we don’t feel like reading. It is better to discuss model question papers with a group of fellow aspirants or going out with friends .

The sixth issue is regarding use of online sources for supplementing conventional methods. Nowadays a lot of quality material one can easily access on various online platforms. But I would also like to caution the aspirants to maintain a delicate balance between the two.

I hope this short write-up helps you in this wonderful journey called UPSC preparation and if you have any queries feel free to drop a mail at [email protected] .I would be happy to help in my limited capacity and I take this opportunity to wish you all the very best.