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Topper’s Strategy: Priyank Kishore Rank 274 CSE-2018, First Attempt, One of the Highest Scores in General Studies in CSE 2018 (430 Marks), InsightsIAS Student

Topper’s Strategy

Priyank Kishore Rank 274 CSE-2018,

One of the Highest Scores in General Studies in CSE 2018 (430 Marks), InsightsIAS Student


Priyank kishore rank 274 IAS topper

Hello. My name is Priyank Kishore, and I have secured AIR 274 in CSE 2018. This was my first attempt and I owe a huge gratitude to Insights for making this possible. The distinguishing part of my selection is that I have scored one of the lowest marks among all candidates in optional(255), but one of the highest in General Studies(430)

This article will be specially helpful for candidates who are taking their first attempt in the near future. 
I graduated from Ramjas College, DU in 2017, having majored in Accounting and Finance. I then proceeded to take admission in the  Delhi School of Economics for my post graduation in 2017 itself(A semester of which is still left). Therefore, I have 0 effective gap years in my preparation. 
I started off in the year 2016 by reading basic NCERT books like Novels, without any exam orientation. Gradually, I moved on to the Hindu newspaper, and again read it like a layman. I sincerely believe that Newspaper reading is a means and not an end in this exam. This is not to discourage anyone, but one should not spend hours reading the Hindu, given the digital age wherein crisp and authentic notes on the same are available
In the course of the first few months itself, I developed a genuine interest in the subjects that I was reading and started solving daily quizzes at Insights and Unacademy. Alongside, I watched 100s of toppers strategy videos at 2X speed on Youtube. This has enabled me to develop a clear understanding about the nature of the exam, something which helped me in multiple ways later. This is the only bit of preparation that I did in my final year of UG. 
Moving ahead: Into the serious year. 
I have vivid memories of how I started my serious preparation for the exam. Having read various topper’s blogs on Insights  in the previous year, and relying on Insights for daily quizzes, I did not think twice before enrolling for Insights prelims test series. 
After much introspection, and the confidence that came with the reading of NCERTs, I decided to prepare without any form of coaching.
Since I did not have any friends or seniors preparing for the exam, I had no choice but to trust my ‘digital guru’ blindly
I relied solely on Insights test series, and made sure that I give every single test on time and with full preparation. 
Every week I used to strictly stick to Insights test syllabus, which I used to complete till Thursday and then set aside 2 days for revision and note making. 
I used to take the test on Saturday night and analysed it the same night. 
This allowed me a break on Sunday. 
My strategy worked from the first test itself. I mostly scored in the range of 130-145 and this kept me on the positive loop of motivation, something much needed in this arduous journey. 
In addition to the test schedule, I also followed the insights 70 days plan towards the end, which kept my preparation structured. 
END RESULT- 119 in Paper 1 on 3rd June. 
Moving Ahead..Phase 2: Diving into Mains preparation. 
Answer writing:
Even though I used to write answers occasionally on Secure using the Disqus portal, I never followed it diligently. The serious answer writing part for mains began after Prelims. 
I made it a point to answer all 5-6 questions posted on Secure everyday in a time limit of 30 minutes. This drastically improved my speed and I did not face too much difficulty in finishing  the GS papers in Mains. 
Another thing that I diligently pursued was to learn the art of UPSC answer writing from previous years toppers(Sachin Gupta sir, Anudeep Sir, and also Prajit Nair Sir)
In fact, my answer writing style, closely resembles Nair’s Sirs approach. 
I made it a point to write using a combination of paras and points with limited use of diagrams(as I was not good at it). 
I focused more on the quality of content and legible presentation than for going in for fancy artwork.  You can adopt either styles based on your strengths. 
Alongside, this background work I enrolled for  a Mains test series and honestly worked on suggestions given by mentors. 
Content for answers:
A major part of my content was already prepared before prelims due to multiple revisions. I revised the same  notes 2-3 times before mains, like a lot of toppers suggest every year. About 70% of my core Mains preparation was covered by this. 
Value addition in answers:
 I watched previous 6 months of Big picture videos(again at 2X), and took down, points, that made my answers more credible and different. 
Another thing that I did, was to google each and every word of the mains syllabus, and took down definitions and key data points from Websites like World bank, OECD, UN etc. (OECD will provide a much simpler and striking definition of transparency than your average text book)
Besides, I also compiled notes for small topics like Security, land reforms, IPR etc from previous years’s toppers blogs. (Gaurav Agarwal Sir mostly)
I also, made a note of important cases, committees and articles and quoted at relevant places in GS 2 answers. 
I will insert my sample notes for mains post prelims. 
Additionally I quickly skimmed through the recommendations of 2nd ARC , 4th report which I quoted extensively in GS 2 and Gs 4 papers. 
One extra source which not many aspirants have got hold of, is the NITI Aayog 3 year action agenda. I read it cover to cover and made small notes of the recommendations. If read well, this report can be sufficient for covering almost 60% of GS 3 syllabus. (
Lastly, I also chanced upon, a Best  practices compendium published by NITI Aayog, which highlights some of the innovations in governance and service delivery. I summarized each intervention in 3-4 lines and used where ever I found a chance. ( This is a gem. PLEASE USE IT. 
End result- 430 in GS. 
Summing up: The philosophy of UPSC. 
While I do not consider myself any expert at the exam, one thing I have personally felt throughout the preparation is that if  you have worked honestly, you are rewarded. The only policy I followed everyday(barring Sundays) was, that, you have to sleep with satisfaction and wake up with determination
Having been a student of Organisation theory, I sincerely request all aspirants to study productively and efficiently rather than exhaustively. 
When low, use simple techniques like POMODORO(  to keep you going. 
Avoid wasting days at all costs. 
Finally, try and be expressive about your feelings towards the exam. It gives you mental equilibrium and emotional nourishment.  It could be in front of your parents, your flatmates or close friends. In my case, I was extremely lucky to have friends like Kanika and Nitish who were as involved in my journey as I was. 
I sincerely hope that all of use who strive for this exam, make successful exists in the near future. 
My best wishes, 
Until next time, 
Priyank Kishore 🙂