K V Maheswarareddy, Rank 126 (CSE-2018)
Insights Online Prelims + Mains Student
I am K V Maheswara Reddy. I have secured Rank-126 in CSE-2018. I am happy to share my CSE experiences on a platform that gives guidance to hundreds of aspirants. I thank Insights platform for the fantastic guidance they have provided to the aspirants like me.
Everyone has their own strategy for this exam. Whatever I am writing in this article is based on what has worked for me. Please adopt the inputs, if any, based on your strengths and weaknesses. When I started my preparation, I took help from friends, toppers and finalised a strategy that fits me.
Brief background about me:
I completed my B.E. (CSE) from UCE, Osmania University in 2012. Then I did M.Tech from IIT Bombay (CSE) in 2014. After that I worked for 3 years as software developer with couple of firms. I quit the job in Sep, 2017 to completely focus on CSE preparation. I decided to do self study for GS preparation using freely available material on internet. I chose Anthropology optional and took guidance from Dr. Kartic S Godavarthy Sir at BrainTree Institute, Hyderabad.
Before I write about my association with insights and my preparation strategy, let me tell you some mantra that I followed during my preparation
- Minimum material maximum revision
- Keep your references limited and revise the same
- My resources include – previous year question papers, standard textbooks, The Hindu, Insights platform, Mrunal platform, Insights test series
- Using above resources I prepared concise notes on need basis
- I revised above sources at least couple of times before prelims and mains
- Never miss daily newspaper
- I relied on daily newspaper reading than on summaries available in the market
- While reading news paper, always try to link the news with syllabus
- Prepare notes, if needed
- Consistent hard work
- Have a balanced and daily routine to complete the syllabus and revise the same
- Take a break for 10-15 days based on need
- Qualitative preparation than quantitative one
- Never worry about number of Hours being spent on preparation
- Rather focus on conceptual clarity, revision
- Integrated preparation
- Comprehensive preparation of each topic for all three stages of exam
- Integrated preparation of both current affairs and static part
- Think about probable questions while reading any topic
- Stay away from negative things
- Use social media like facebook, whatsapp limitedly
- Avoid unnecessary debates like politics, removal of optional, cutoff marks etc., with friends/fellow aspirants.
- Avoid politely the so called ‘well-wishers’ 🙂
Association with Insights
I came to know about Insights platform through my friend. It turned out that Insights became the main pillar for my GS preparation, both for prelims and mains. I utilised the content on web platform to my maximum benefit. I also enrolled Insights test series for both prelims and mains test series. I haven’t enrolled any other test series in the market. I blindly trusted Insights for GS preparation and that trust has been kept by Insights throughout my preparation.
We need to remember that prelims is a qualifying exam. So I decided not to over emphasise on prelims preparation at the cost of mains preparation. At the same time, I never took prelims lightly. I balanced my preparation for prelims and mains in an integrated manner.
For current affairs
- Read The Hindu and make short notes
- Insights daily current affairs from June 2017
- Solve Insights daily current affairs quizzes from June 2017
- I used to solve the quizzes 2 days later so that it helps me to revise the topics
- Summaries released by Insights before Prelims
- This helped to revise current affairs and to get to know about any event that we might have missed
I did this till mid-May, 2018 without fail. These steps ensured to keep upto date with current affairs and to do elimination based on intelligent and informed guessing.
For static part
- Read basic NCERTs, standard textbooks
- I didn’t make any notes as such. But if there is any additional information that is not available in the standard books, I used to make a note of it
- Solve insights static quizzes
- I also made notes about important data like places, national parks, festivals etc. This helped me in revision before the exam
Previous Year Question papers
- Solve them at least couple of times. I solved them subject wise
- While solving the questions, understand each and every option in detail. For example, if there is question about National parks, I used to read about all the four national parks in details including locating on map etc. If needed I used to make notes. This helps to improve knowledge base, revise the topics. Further it helps to eliminate some options in the final exam.
Prelims Test Series
I had subscribed to Insights prelims test series. Rather than worrying about marks being scored in the test series, I saw it as an opportunity to analyse the mistakes, improve the knowledge base, become better with elimination technique. I did the same in the following manner
- Solve the test as if we are sitting in real exam.
- I always followed the duration.
- Never google the questions while attempting the exam.
- I skip the questions, which I don’t know in the first iteration. I handle these questions in the second iteration. This helped me not to miss easy questions that can be at the end of question paper. Also it saves lot of time.
- All these helps to handle the pressure of difficult question paper especially when there are many unknown questions
- After the test is finished, I used to sit for couple of Hours and analyse my mistakes in detail.
- Further, I used to google each and every option in the questions to gather more information and to improve the knowledge
- Then I referred the solutions provided by Insights. Read the links provided in the question source. Add any new information to notes so that it can be revised easily
- All these steps helped me to improve knowledge, become better in eliminating the options
- Caution: Do not expect that one will get similar questions/marks as that of mocks in the final exam. The goal of mocks is to improve on one’s mistakes and increase the accuracy levels in eliminating the options
All these steps-solving quizzes, tests, previous question papers- helped me to become good at elimination method by informed and intelligent guessing. I feel that rather than having accurate knowledge, elimination method by informed guessing becomes handy in the actual examination.
Last 45-60 days before prelims
Insights came up with revision plan. I rigorously followed the time table. Instead of following the sources given by Insights, I followed the sources which I have been doing since beginning. I revised my notes, Insights mocks, quizzes, current affairs, standard books. After daily revision, I also solved the revision questions uploaded on Insights platform. All these helped to improve my accuracy levels in attempting the questions.
Remember that despite all the preparation one do, it is quite natural to feel anxious on D-Day. I stopped all the reading 2 days before D-Day and spent time with family, friends. On actual day, I said to myself that I have done all the hard work that I can do in the limited time and there is no need to think about the difficulty level of the paper. Apart from all these, I also feel that there has to be certain luck factor in the actual exam. I believe that luck favours hard workers….
The basic mantra in my mains preparation include
- Keep limited sources
- Balanced focus on all subjects rather than just focussing on few subjects
- Equal focus on answer presentation, time management along with content improvement
- Revision, revision, revision ….
For current affairs (Mains)
- The basic preparation is same as prelims
- Read The Hindu and make short notes
- Insights daily current affairs from June 2017
- Follow Insights Secure module
- I never did answer practicing with Secure module
- But I used to read the questions asked in Secure and frame the answers in the mind
- Also I read synopsis provided and add the same to my notes, if needed
- Based on above sources, make concise notes in point format
- Later I read only my notes as part of revision
I did the above steps along with prelims preparation. This helped me to do integrated preparation for both prelims and mains. Further by the end of prelims examination, I had good content in precise point format. All these eased my mains revision after prelims examination.
For static part
- Same as prelims
- For mains specific topics, I referred standard textbooks and revised the same
Both in static and current affairs part, I collected basic data, committee reports, case studies etc. I summarised them and used to revise before the exam.
Previous Year Question Papers
I referred previous year questions to get an understanding on how the questions are being asked in different areas. Further I used to frame answers in the mind rather than doing actual answer writing. I did it due to lack of time. If I am not comfortable with any question, I used to google the question to get synopsis for the same. This helped me to think in the same way while reading the topics. Whenever I read topic, I used to think about probable ways of asking questions and answering them.
After completion of prelims, I subscribed to Insights test series for both Essay and GS. I practised mocks as if I was doing actual examination. I utilised the test series in the following way
- To improve my answer presentation
- I always followed Intro-Body-Conclusion for ALL questions in GS
- Body is always answered in point format
- Answer all the parts of the question in the same order as being asked in the question
- Keep headings using the words asked in the question
- Underline important data, points
- Always take pro-logical conclusion
- Time management
- Whether I am taking too much time for any question? If yes, cutting down the content and moving on to the next question
- Skipping the uncomfortable questions in the first iteration. If time permits attempting them at the end.
- Whether I am able to recall the content or not? If not able to recall, I used to revise my notes
- Used to read synopsis and improve my notes, answer presentation etc.
- Using the feedback by Insights to improve mistakes, if any
Along with the test series, I used to revise standard books, my notes and synopsis given by Insights. The mantra I followed for mains is revise, revise, revise……and focus on answer presentation. I would like stress on the point to keep your resources limited and revise them multiple times.
Despite all these efforts, I never completed any GS mock test fully. In fact in the actual examination, I left around 60 marks empty spaced. As my writing speed is not good, I concentrated more on the quality of my answers rather than attempting all the questions in the actual exam. But looking back, I feel that one should put efforts to complete entire paper rather than leaving anything empty. This has to be done without compromising on quality of the answers. All this is possible only with daily answer practising rather than just relying on test series.
Despite all these efforts, aspirants should keep in mind that this exam is unpredictable. Aspirants need to tune the mindset to deal with this unpredictability. This can be done by consistent hard work, qualitative preparation and disassociating oneself from negative things like worrying about result etc. Don’t think too much about the events which are not under your control. On D-Day, it is all about one’s confidence and a bit of luck.
Here I would be sharing the basic books, websites which I found extremely useful during preparation
- Prelims + Mains
- Basic NCERTS (11th + 12th) for all subjects
- Tamil Nadu history book (11th + 12th) esp for S Indian kingdoms
- Spectrum’s Modern India by Rajiv Ahir
- Art and culture – Nitin Singhania
- Geography – Leong, Ms.Rajtanil Solanki videos on Mrunal platform
- Polity – Laxmikanth
- International Relations – Hindu, current affairs
- Economy – Indian economy by Ramesh singh + Google + Current affairs modules
- Environment – Shankar IAS book
- SnT – Hindu + Google
- Insights platform – current affairs, daily/revision quizzes, yearly summaries, revision timetable, secure module
- Insights prelims test series
- PIB website
- GKToday platform for certain concepts and current affairs
- Mains specific
- Vision revision modules
- World History – videos on Mrunal platform
- Internal Security by Ashok Kumar
- SnT – Hindu + Google
- Ethics – Subbarao + Google
- Insights mains test series
- Rajya sabha TV debates esp Big picture, security scan, India’s world
- My own notes based on above sources
I would be writing separate article on my optional preparation and Personality Test Preparation. Till then goodbye. I wish all the best to all the aspirants. I sincerely hope, next year some of you will be writing your own experiences on this platform to help other aspirants.