Falling Down and Rising up – Clearing while working and No Coaching
Dinesh Kumar C
Rank 24, CSE-2016
“You can resist an invading army; you cannot resist an idea whose time has come.”
- Victor Hugo
If there was one thing in life I was certain about, it was that I should fight till the last to make this dream come true. I had a good job paying more than double of what I would get if I cleared civil services. I loved that job as I was designing trucks and buses – something I was passionate about. Life was good, peaceful but still incomplete. That burning desire for Civil Services kept on haunting me. I have fallen quite a number of times in this journey but I ensured that I rose every time UPSC pushed me down! I would like to share with you about what worked for me, how I managed to stay motivated and more than all, how to keep focused towards the goal while working and preparing.
Working and Preparing – Managing Time :
- The first thing that you need to have in your mind is that the current work that you are doing is just temporary. It is part of your journey towards UPSC. You may face flak from your bosses, get poor ratings etc., Do not care about that! Keep chasing your goal.
- As you are working, you need to be very careful about your sources and book list. Have a trusted set of book list which will give you good return on investment. Do not rely on multiple resources, rather focus on limited books and get clear with the concepts.
- Do not let anyone know in the office that you are preparing. You can let your boss know, based on your equation with him/her.
- Have your materials in the soft format as well. Free times in office can be used for covering current affairs, newspapers, solving MCQs and test series, reading from NCERTs and covering Insights Secure Answer writing challenge.
- After you come back from office, the biggest hurdle is to sit down to study. You will be tired and exhausted and you will have no mood to study. However, once you cross this hurdle, a good amount of time (minimum 4 hours) can be spent for studying. You just need something to keep you going and feel motivated. I had the photographs of Vijay Kumar IPS and my dad (he is a police officer too) in my study desk which kept me motivated whenever I felt tired or exhausted. Find your role model and stay motivated accordingly.
- Weekends are your blessings – use them to your fullest.
- I’ll share my schedule for your reference. I used to wake up at 0600 and reach office by 0700. I would cover all newspapers from 0700 to 0800. Work used to go on till 1830 and in between I used to manage time for Insights current affairs, MCQs and prelims test series and secure daily answer writing. After getting back, I used to start studying by 20:00 and used to prepare till 0100 or 0200 next morning. Yes sleep did get affected but I learnt to manage it and compensate on the weekends. You can devise your own schedule accordingly.
- Never get into any comfort zone. Always be focused on the goal of UPSC.
UPSC – Some Myth busters:
- Myth 1 – You need to go to Delhi or some good coaching centre to clear this exam – Not needed. Today almost all materials are available in the internet. Devise a strategy and follow it diligently
- Myth 2 – One has to resign his job and be dedicated wholly towards preparation – If it is financially possible then well and good. Else, I know many aspirants who have managed to clear while working full time. Focus, time, effort and little bit of sacrifice is enough to make it happen.
- Myth 3 – One has to study for 16 hours a day – This myth must be the handiwork of some random uncle who probably would know nothing about Civil Service preparation. Completing the syllabus is what is needed and hours of study do not matter at all.
Insights and me:
I did not attend any coaching while preparing. I attended a test series for optional and some mock interviews. That’s all. For guys like me who were working and did not go to coaching Insights was a very valuable resource.
The articles that they used to post every day for answer writing helped me a lot to shape my mains answers. I used to segregate those articles based on topics such as Health, Education, and Infrastructure etc. Secure compilation provided valuable fodder material for my mains answers. Insights made the job very easy to prepare facts and opinions for mains answers. Even though I need not write the exam again, I am still following the articles posted in the daily answer writing challenge. I would suggest the aspirants to form your own peer group of 4 – 5 and regularly practice answer writing in that platform and keep reviewing the answer.
I used to get low marks in essay. I got only 119 in 2014. In 2015 I got only 93 in essay which pulled down my rank to 525. When I was desperately looking for some strategy, I stumbled upon Chandramohan Garg’s article in insights last year. I followed his strategy and it helped me boost my essay score from 93 last year to 140 this year. Thanks to Insights for hosting that article!
To conclude, I would like to quote this dialogue from Rocky
“You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life, but it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done”
Now if you know what you are worth, go out and get what you are worth, but you gotta be willing to take the hits and not pointing fingers, saying you ain’t where you want to be because of him or her or anybody. Cowards do that, and that ain’t you. You’re better than that”
After a failure in prelims, I missed interview call by 9 marks in 2014 mains. Secured 525th rank in 2015 due to poor essay marks. I kept on correcting my mistakes, picking up myself every time I fell and finally landed up with AIR 24 in CSE 2016.
Keep doing course corrections, relish each and every moment of your UPSC preparation and put your heart and soul into the process, you will surely come out with flying colours. My best wishes to you all!
P.S: My mark sheet is below.
In case you need any assistance, please feel free to contact (cdkwins at gmail dot com). Would be more than glad to help!