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TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Abhishek Gupta, Rank – 202, UPSC Civil Services Exam – 2015

Abhishek Gupta

Rank 202, CSE-15

Interview transcript on blogging


My journey into the Civil Services Examination –

After my 1st year at IIT Kanpur, I had decided that I wanted to get into the civil services. I made some efforts in college too, to study, say Laxmikant, etc. But this was not targeted and remained largely futile. However, it helped me build my orientation toward this service and made me known to my friends as a serious aspirant.

Not having registered for my campus placements, I came straight to Delhi to appear in the 2014 exam. But having spoken to a few Mains qualified seniors, seeing the large number of bookshops and aspirants, I fell prey to the fear psychosis and did not fill the form for 2014. This was a mistake I regret. I specifically pointed this out here in an attempt to exhort many others to go ahead, have more faith and make an attempt. I might have failed, but not having attempted, I cannot know now!

I then joined Vajiram coaching institute and attended their classes regularly. But I am afraid I would not recommend that to others because I found it would be better to prepare by the self-study mode. If one relies on coaching alone, it hardly pays. One can only take the regularity and discipline from them rather than actual preparation strategy. Some of their teachers are actually misleading, to be very honest. Some notes indispensable too.

I took up anthropology as my optional. Why anthropology is a story for another time!

I attempted as many question papers for Prelims as I could – Last 5-6 years QP, Insights QPs and those of few others coaching institutes in Delhi. All these were done in the simulated environment at home. Assessment of all questions was another key in helping me score 127/200 in GS-I. Detailed booklist later.

From May 2015, I had started writing few answers on Insights Mains SECURE. That was my introduction to answer-writing for Mains. Naturally, I was not very confident then but kept writing sporadically till mid-July.

I joined a coaching institute for Mains Test series – Synergy. I gave their tests regularly. At the same time, InsightsonIndia shared their schedule for offline tests. This was a big help as along with a friend, I wrote all their 32 tests for GS too, discussed them with a friend with different viewpoints and developed our writing skills and speed. The main mantra for Mains was ‘get average in all papers, to get an above average score overall’. It worked moderately though.

For interview, the article on insights was probably the most comprehensive one I encountered. My interview transcript is available at I took mock interviews at quite a few places hoping to extract a lot of opinions from all segments. Here I learnt an important lesson to appear for mock at few select and seasoned places only rather than anywhere.

How Insights helped?

Right from following Daily events and solving the daily questions to understanding which articles in the newspapers were important, Insights played a key role in my preparation. The Mains SECURE is a unique formula that is designed beautifully for the aspirants to provide something that is missing in almost all other coaching centres – the preparation for Mains right from day one.

Insights teaches you a discipline and sincerity much needed by any aspirant for any exam actually. Every morning when you see a post ready for you – Questions for dd/mm/yy – there is a sense of commitment to go for it. There were days when I used to compete with the morning posts – if I was able to start my preparation before the first morning post.

The most important contribution of Insights was it makes an aspirant feels good and valued. The critically timed motivational articles and toppers’ stories were always relatable. Insights has started a very respectable interface between aspirants and those providing guidance. After, this is one such credible site which can always be relied upon.

Mistakes committed and rectified

There might have been many. It mostly pertains to booklist selection – not reading the right thing at the right time. For this, following the syllabus is most important. I would recommend keep ticking the parts and sub-parts of the syllabus once you finish them.

Often I felt weak and helpless. I felt I would not be able to clear the exam. And I believe that is characteristic of every serious realistic aspirant. But that needs to be done away with SELF-BELIEF. Now that I have given the exam, I feel it is pretty easy to get through if you have a dedicated approach toward the exam.

I am at times quite lethargic and procrastinate things. That needs to be avoided at all cost. Despite that, what got me through was another offsetting factor – I always figured myself fulfilling my duties as an IAS officer (not yet accomplished though!).

Sometimes I made my routines too compact and hinging on the unrealistic, resulting in not being able to complete my targets. But that could work both ways – it could dishearten you or it could motivate you even more. It is important how one sees it that will determine the ultimate result eventually.

FRIENDS. It is very important to be with the right set of people throughout preparation. Fortunately, I can claim to be on the right side of this for the critical part of this tedious journey. Positivity, motivation, right discussions, earnest opinions, genuine criticisms, confidence boosters – all this is part of the real friend of the aspirant. So look out for these in true friends and also inculcate these capabilities within you for your friend.

Finally, I would like to say I feel honoured to share my journey at this prestigious site. It is a real pleasure to have received this request from Vinay Sir. Good luck to all the future aspirants. Thank you!

My Marks

abhishek gupta IPS marks