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Satish Reddy Rank 97 CSE – 2014: My Journey Towards Success Part – I

In this article (Part-1), Satish has described his journey towards success during  the second attempt in civil services exam. He has secured All India Rank 97 in 2014 Civil Services Exam. He too faced personal hardships like Aparna and finally emerged successful. In the next article he will write about what mistakes he made and how he rectified them. 

My Journey Towards Success Part – I

Satish Reddy Rank 97, CSE-2014

July 4th 2015 1 PM:

After 36 hours of sleepless day and night, just half an hour before 1 PM on this fateful day, I slipped into deep sleep. Suddenly my phone started ringing. Well, some kind of relief I thought (Some would call only if I had got a Rank). I picked up the phone – I was told I had got Rank 97! Soon celebrations started.

Now flashback.

July 3th 2015:

UPSC gave a notice on its website that it would release results next day evening. It had never done like this before. Tension mounted. I was in Bangalore at friend’s house. That evening we went for gym. Then took a walk. Next morning went for swimming, cycling and played some games. No matter what I did, tension and stress kept on mounting. (Someone told me that preparing for UPSC exam was like running on hot coal, but waiting for results was like sitting in a blast furnace – you can’t run, you just have wait and wait)

May 19th 2015 to June 30th 2015:

This was the time between my interview date and final date of UPSC interview schedule. All this time I kept reading others’ interviews and compared their performance with mine. I always felt I had done very well in interview and also everyone who read my interview transcript kept saying I would get above 190 (But Alka Sirohi ma’am! god knows what makes her happy – she gave 179)

This is a phase where you have no idea what to do if the results are negative. This is also the phase where you always keep dreaming what you would do if you get a rank.

I did something that I would suggest you to do also. During this time, I taught one aspirant all important prelims topics and for another couple of aspirants I taught my optional sociology. This makes you keep in touch with the subject; you can stop thinking about results and at the same time you can earn some money to run your expenses if you teach at some institutions.

At the same time you can also read some very good books to understand ground realities of administration and polity. You can choose books from any field media, rural society, entrepreneurship, management politics, urban society, tribals, child or women issues etc.

April 2nd week to May 18th 2015:

This was the phase between the days the Mains results was announced and my interview date. Just a month ago my father fell very ill. There was a medical complication in his brain. This has been a major blow for me since last year. Treatment was going on all these months – all I could do was pray God and continue my preparation without affecting my flow. It’s very hard to study when your parents are suffering. I kept going somehow.

My interview preparation was mainly doing PhD on my DAF (Detailed Application Form). I studied in detail each and every aspect of DAF. I attended as many mocks as possible. Going through current affairs issues which were mainly in news in recent days was a continuous process. Factual knowledge of these issues is not important for interview. All you need is a balanced opinion on them and evidences to substantiate these opinions. Such unbiased personal opinions are given due credit by the UPSC interview board.

January 2-15 to 2nd Week of April 2015 :

This was the time between my Mains exams and announcement of it results. It was a perfect time to look back and introspect.

See if you committed any mistakes in your performance in Mains – accept and correct them. It is also the time where you have to make your back-up plans!

My backup plan was teaching. I started teaching at a coaching institute in Hyderabad. I could make little money to run my expenses. At the same time I started revising all topics one after another so that I would be in touch with all subjects.

During this time many aspirants check their mains question papers, think what they had answered and self – evaluate their papers mentally and check how much marks they might get. Trust me UPSC will act exactly opposite. So better don’t do anything like this. May be you can check questions, analyse what you wrote and correct your mistakes.

September 1st to December 20th 2014:

This is the most important phase of every aspirant’s journey. One single wrong step – it’s over.

I shifted to Bangalore before Prelims – 2014. I joined offline test series conducted by InsightsOnIndia team. I got very good roommates there which was very important during my preparation. (So choose your roomies carefully. They can save or screw your life).

My typical daily schedule during this Test Series was like this:

  • I woke up at 6 am. Studied for 1 to 1 and half hours Paper 1 static syllabus and simultaneously made consolidated notes.
  • Then played some games or went for jogging for around 40 minutes followed by 20 minutes of meditation. This was very very important. This kept me fit and very confident all through the day. (It was a major change in my 2nd attempt preparation style )
  • Then fresh up. Used to have breakfast and next 2-3 hours study the optional. I never neglected my optional. One can get very high or very low marks in optional – it can spoil your chance of getting rank if neglected. ( I got 291 in Sociology)
  • After lunch either took some rest or started studying topics related to Paper 2 and Paper 3. Along with that I read newspaper also. I used to complete newspaper within 1 hour. All I needed was to make short notes of important articles and kept them revising
  • Every alternate day we used to write Insights tests. So evening time we went to write tests. When there was no test, we used to go for a long walk.
  • Night after coming back to room either revised the test or did something like practicing writing fast, improving handwriting , practicing hobbies , watching videos related to civil service syllabus and creating good opinion on important issues.
  • Weekly 1 day was completely dedicated to ethics and essay (we wrote lot of essays at Insights classes)

Three Main Pillars of My Preparation :

  • Consolidated short notes of all topics including essay and ethics
  • Revising them very frequently.
  • Answer writing – Insights was helpful in this aspect (this was missing in my first attempt)

Allocation of Time : This is taken from last year ranker

  • 40% to study new things and newspaper
  • 30% for revision of already studied topics
  • 30% for writing answers, preparing notes and correcting your mistakes

Allocation of times to different papers

Usually 75% of your time is allotted for preparing Paper 2 and Paper 3 in GS. If you see marking pattern, both these papers combined people get around 150-160. If you see rankers marks, in single essay paper they get 150 which no one spends more than 5% of time. So time allocation should be made accordingly. Then you can score good marks in all papers.

  • 40% of time is needed for Paper 2 and Paper 3
  • 20 % of time for Paper 1 GS
  • 10 % of time for ethics and essay
  • 30% time for optional

(You can modify as per your weaknesses and strengths)

Synchronize all above 3 allocations and prepare a plan. Prepare a realistic plan such that deviation won’t be more than 10%.

  • During Insights Offline Class, we wrote around 40 tests – including all 7 papers between Prelims and Mains

June 25th, 2014 to last week of August 2014:

This was the time when I came to Bangalore and started studying for Prelims.

Prelims is always very confusing to study as there is no short cuts or strategies for this. All I did was to study study study and memorize. In short, what I did was:

  • Revised all basic NCERTS and standard books at least 3-4 times
  • Studied Economic survey and budget document
  • Regular with newspapers and went through all ministries websites for updates on schemes etc
  • Ecology – I read so much but all was unorganized ( I did very badly in this part )
  • Wrote CSAT tests every alternate days (wrote around 15 tests. This year no need to worry as it is made only qualifying)
  • I solved all Insights prelims test series question papers. It covered all NCERTS and standard of questions was very good and sometimes standard was little more than what UPSC demanded!

This is Part – 1 of My UPSC Preparation Journey. In the NEXT Article, I will pen down my journey from being a fresh engineering graduate to giving my first attempt. All the mistakes and how I rectified them will be highlighted.

Finally, I will end with one example what should be our attitude towards this exam.

Most were scared how to write 2 exams a day in Mains. We also used to have same fear. Then one fine day I decided to write 3 full length tests in a day. I did this for 2 days.

First day I answered question papers from Paper 1 and Paper 2 of General Studies, and Paper 1 of Optional subject.

Second day, I wrote answers for Paper 3 and Paper 4 of GS, and Paper 2 of Sociology. This instilled confidence in me. I was not scared to write two exams in a day anymore. This attitude helped me immensely.

Note: We will notify admission details for Mains Offline Batch soon after Prelims – 2015. Now, admissions are closed. Please mail us only after the notification. Thank you for your support.