TOPPER’S STRATEGY: LAKSHMI N, Rank 45, Highest Marks in Anthropology – 362!, Insights Offline Student
LAKSHMI N, Rank 45 UPSC CSE 2018
Highest Marks in Anthropology – 362!
Insights Offline Student
A Journey is a dream in the making. I have derived my inspiration from success stories of various aspirants who have fought against all odds. The most inspiring and worth mentioning being the story of madam N Ambika ,IPS.
What is common among all of them is their CONFIDENCE, WILL POWER AND PASSION. A civil servant is one who works selflessly for the welfare of others. There is a constant motivation to achieve something better each day and I believe that I have the same.
I knew I was not here just to crack this exam but to also utilise the platform effectively to do good work and serve to the best of my ability. No matter how hard the pathway is I knew I will make it.
My encounter with civil services
It was sometime in 2014 when I was undergoing my under-graduation in Information Science and Engineering from BMSCE that I learnt about this examination process. Sadly in the southern part of the country the craze for writing civil services doesn’t exist much. So post my graduation in 2015 while few of my friends decided to go to Delhi to obtain coaching I decided to stay back and work in order to support my family. It was a huge task for me to convince my parents that I wanted to take up civil services as they worried about the uncertainty in the journey. Also considering the fact that there is no civil servant from my family they were very reluctant. However seeing my confidence and strong conviction they decided to support me. [It did take a long time: p]
Working in Software Sector
I have absolutely no regrets for working in the software sector.
Expedia the company that I worked for provided me sufficient personal time to study (considering it was 10- 5 job with exciting opportunities in software development). I worked for 1 year as Associate Software Development Engineer. In July 2016 I resigned my job with a heavy heart considering the fact that prelims was just one month away. I came back home and studied hard. Did current affairs, solved previous year’s papers and I thought I could do it. However I was all alone, doing it all by myself.
Preliminary Examination was over yet I was not sure if I could make it. When the results were out my number was not in the list and when the marksheet was out I had lost by 2 marks.
Cracking prelims with Sociology optional
Post my debacle I decided to prepare for my optionals, GS and reserve 3 months exclusively for prelims this time. This time I joined test series at Shankar Ias Academy, Bengaluru and Insights Ias. Here I made few good friends who were very competitive and this lifted up my spirits. Every test I was striving hard to hit the first rank. Days passed by and I filled my Application with Sociology as my optional. I was very confident to crack the exam this year. Prelims approached and I gave the exam. However post the exam, as per the answer keys provided by various institutions I was at the border line. I felt as though I was walking on a tight rope constantly being distracted and worrying about what I would do if I lost again by a mark or two. I lost 1 month of my precious time before mains in a state of constant fear. However this time my friend gathered my wits and said “What would you lose if you study for mains? But I can tell you what you would lose if you don’t“.
Acknowledging my foolishness that I was losing out on time. I started preparing for mains in full swing. When prelims results was out —Yes!!!!!!!!!! My number was in the list. I believed that bad days were gone and the best was to come. I gave my best in Sociology. Harlambos, Anthony Giddens, Ritzer, toppers notes and my combined notes was done. I was doing really well in the test series too. It was here that I learnt how to refine my answers. I worked on them constantly. I had also joined the offline test series at Insights IAS and the post test discussions was very helpful.
However there was a misfortune that was to fall upon me.
This time in the Civil Services Mains examination conducted, UPSC had changed the marking scheme. I was tensed at the examination hall as to how I would manage time. This bombshell pulled my confidence a little down in GS1 but it bounced back in other general studies papers. Post mains I thought I would make it, but to my surprise my number was not there in the list. I was shattered. Cried for hours at Indian Institute of Science campus where I checked my results with my friends. I thought I would do Masters in Computer Science and settle down in United States or Australia like anybody else.
I spent days pondering what I should do? Is UPSC my thing? Can I crack this? I told myself this time “I am not going to lose any opportunity that comes my way”. This is what I want this is where I will be.
2018 – My Golden Year
I decided this would be my last attempt, do or die I am going to be there. I decided to start everything afresh, a new optional too: D. (Considering I had given my best with Sociology in my last attempt.)
From January till end of March me and my friend Dr.Rahul were assiduous in completing paper 1 of Anthropology before prelims. He had previously given his mains with medical science as his optional so Anthropology was new to both of us. However we had an intent to utlise time most effectively by banking on our respective strength’s in the subject. We divided portions within paper 1 equally and set a target. We joined test series (one at Delhi and one in Bangalore to get a holistic feedback) to fast track our preparation and to be in the game. I set aside last two months for prelims as I could not afford to take it for granted. This time post prelims even before I checked the answer key from various institutes I knew I was cracking it with a high margin. So from the very next day I started my mains preparation.
I worked very hard this time. Further in order to discipline my study and use time more productively I also joined Insights library at Vijaynagar. I made no friends at my study place. I studied religiously for 9 hours a day without any break in between. Anthropology was completed one month before mains. I now started my General Studies preparation and gave 1 mock test in each of the papers.
I thought I was good to go. As I entered the examination hall I started believing that I was already a civil servant and this was just an exam to check my opinion and flow of thoughts. After every exam, there was something within myself that was telling me you are just an inch away from what I want and I could easily pull it off.
Finally post my Anthropology Paper 2 exam (the last one) I told my friend as I walked out of the exam all “I am getting more than 150 in this paper and I am done“.
I then took a short break and started preparing for INDIAN FOREST SERVICE MAINS. It was all new to me and I had very less time as Civil Service got over on October 7th and I had Forest mains in December 2nd. However I never wanted to lose an opportunity as IFS is a prestigious ALL INDIA SERVICE. So despite being discouraged by many that it was impossible to complete 2 new optionals in a short period of 1.5 months I took up the challenge. I made notes, watched videos, analyzed the question paper pattern and I was good to go. As Bengaluru did not have a center I traveled with my mother to Chennai to give the exam. Post mains I felt I was cracking this too.
In two weeks the results were out and I had my first forest service interview on January 30th. It did go well and by the time I was done with my interview Civil Service results were out and I cleared my mains. On February 6th I had made it to the Indian Forest Service with AIR of 50 and being only on from my state- Karnataka.
I was over the moon as it is an amazing service with exciting opportunities. My civil service’s interview was scheduled on February 15th and results were out on April 5th and YES I CRACKED THE CIVIL SERVICES WITH ALL INDIA RANK OF 45.
The next day was my Father’s Birthday and yes our whole family had a birthday blast. The phones kept ringing, relatives and neighbor’s kept coming. It was indeed a double-dhamaka. My dad said I had given him the best gift ever.
—Stay away from negativity.
—Be very confident, but not over confident. There is a slight difference between the two i.e. saying I will do it is confidence but I can do it even without studying is over confidence.
—Grab every opportunity that comes your way.
—Never lose hope and be patient.
—Get the right company of friends who will take you along with them in this journey.
— Keep yourself busy the whole year.
— Challenge yourself and keep reminding yourself as to why you are here each day.
Lastly this is what that kept me going for the last two years:-
“ ಗೆಲ್ಲುವುದು ತಡವಾದರೂ ಪರವಾಗಿಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ ಗೆದ್ದಾಗ, ಆ ಗೆಲುವು ನಿಮ್ಮ ಜೀವನದ ಅತೀ ದೊಡ್ಡ ಗೆಲುವಾಗಿರಬೇಕು.”
“Doesn’t matter even if your victory is delayed but ensure that the day you encounter your victory it is a milestone in your life”.