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TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Kumar Anurag, Rank 48, Optional Subject – Economics, InsightsIAS Student


Kumar Anurag, Rank 48,

Optional Subject – Economics

InsightsIAS Student

Kumar Anurag Rank 48 IAS topperHi Everyone,

This is Kumar Anurag, I have secured AIR 48 in CSE 2018. My optional was Economics.

I belong to Katihar in Bihar. I have done my graduation in Economics from Shri Ram College of Commerce in 2014 and post graduation from Delhi School of Economics in the year 2016. I prepared for the examination after my masters and secured rank 677 in CSE 2017. Meanwhile, I had also appeared for Indian Economic Service Examination 2018 in which I was ranked 7th.

I am currently undergoing training for Indian Economic Service (IES).

However I had always aspired for IAS and the journey eventually ended with AIR 48 in CSE 2018.

Now while this might sound as the story of an achiever, the reality is actually different.

I have always been an ordinary student. I was always amongst the backbenchers in college who photocopied the notes of the toppers. I struggled to pass my courses in college. And yet, I dreamt of becoming an IAS. I knew I had to compete with all my college toppers for this IAS dream as all the toppers would be writing the exam. But none of these deterred me. Life had taught me enough already.

I started my academic journey from a very small school in then rural Katihar in Bihar. During the later phase of my secondary level, I shifted to an all English medium school in Siliguri. It was a difficult transition. Needless to say I failed many times. But there was always a spark in me that I need to improve. I worked upon my English and there I was with a 90%+  score in my class 10.

I tested the storms again when I shifted to Delhi for my class 12th. I found myself lost in the crowds of thousands in the big schools of Delhi. I eventually failed in Maths in my pre board examination. I was also zero prepared for my IIT and other engineering entrances. With only few months to go for the boards, I decided that I will give it all in. 3 months and I had again scored 90%+ in class 12.

By then I already had a faint idea that I will be going for IAS and hence dropped the plan of Kota and engineering. Rather I changed the stream and took up Economics in SRCC. I struggled with Economics through out my college life including masters. I even got couple of “ER” i.e. Essential Reappear popularly called “Back” during college days.

I was a constant backbencher, bunked classes and photocopied notes of my studious friends during college days. Unlike school, I could not improve much in college and ended my college phase with below average scores. But there was nothing surprising in it. I knew exactly why I performed poorly.

I barely studied, made notes or took any interest in the courses. It is very important to know why we fail. I knew very well that I had not worked hard. I knew that I lacked passion, discipline and interest. But  most importantly, I believed in myself. I knew that If I worked hard, I would make it to the IAS. With this background, I started my UPSC journey.

And as they say “Attitude eats ability for the breakfast”. I changed my attitude. I worked hard. I made notes. I wrote tests. I failed. I tried again. I improved daily till it was done. Inch by inch to the finish.


  • Start with static portion. Book sources are easily available and shared by other toppers. Once a certain level is reached, start with mock test papers. I started with InsightsIAS test series and Vision mock tests. Then complement it with Current Affairs material of either Vision or Insights, whichever suits you better.
  • Prelims is like a mobile game. The more you play, the better you get at it. Play by play, you learn the cheats and hacks. Practice as many mocks from as many vivid sources as you can. Not for scores but for your experience and practice. The scores will take care of themselves.
  • The practice tests towards the end by Insights are something not to be missed.
  • I had followed “70-30 strategy”.  Aim is to get at least 70 answers right. Now to get 70 answers right, one needs to maximise the number of questions to be attempted. Now if I attempt all 100, with 70 correct and 30 wrong, my score would be 120. That is what I need.
  • Intelligent guessing article of Insights really helped me. Do go through it.
  • Choose your numbers well. Do not get bogged down by the number that out of 7 lakh applicants only 10,000 will make it through prelims. Do not focus on 10,000 out of 7,00,000. Rather focus on 120/200. All you need is a score of 110- 120 out of 200 (55-60%) to qualify. This figure seems doable in MCQ based test. Right ? Especially for the examination considered the toughest in the country.
  • I will share more detailed strategy and notes for Prelims in a blog that I am working on:



  • Write, write and write. But do not spend time writing blindly. Improve with every test you write by working on the shortcomings. Person who has written only 5 tests but with consistent improvement will do far better than someone who has written 25 tests but without resolving the shortcomings.
  • Prepare crisp notes dedicated to every topic in syllabus. It is a MUST DO.
  • Insights online mocks were of great help for self assessment.
  • Once a basic knowledge level is achieved, start working on the presentation. Write tests and get it reviewed by someone.
  • Content + Dimensions touched + Presentation + Timely completion is the key to answer writing.
  • Once you have developed the knack of answer writing, read as many tests in Questions and Answers format as possible instead of writing down every tests and questions.
  • I had 307 in Economics in CSE 2017 and 314 in CSE 2018. Probably the highest or amongst the highest.
  • For GS and Economics Optional, I will soon be uploading my notes and detailed strategy at and also share it with Insights.

Kumar Anurag Rank 48 IAS topper UPSCThe way to go about the examination is Self Control. Learn to control your mind. Do not get swayed by everything that is happening around you and in your life. Define your priorities well. Trust me, once you are all in, the universe will take care of everything else. We all have studied about “Nishkama Karma”, UPSC is the place where we put this lesson into practice. Give in all you have without worrying about the result. Let there be no repentance at the end of the journey that you could have done a bit more. If it does not happen, it does not happen. There is more to life than just an exam. But as long as you are preparing, there should be full effort. Full effort is full victory.

Once you have done your karma, it is very difficult to predict about your rank and selection. But with genuine effort there will always be a faint voice in your heart saying that you will find your name in the list. It could be anywhere in the list, but it will be there. That is the level of effort and confidence needed.

Always remember, If you are not amongst the top scorers in the college and consider yourself an underdog, It is not because that certain people are more talented and smarter than you. It is simply because you did not study enough. You were never in the competition in the first place.

Things are starkly different when it comes to UPSC.  Aspirants are sacrificing the prime age of their youth for this exam. No body is letting it go that easy. Backbenchers, toppers .. all are equally in.

Keep trying. Keep falling. Keep rising.

I would like to end it with Faiz Ahmad Faiz quote which kept me going and so will it keep you:


“दिल नाउम्मीद तो नहीं, नाकाम ही तो है

लंबी है ग़म की शाम, मगर शाम ही तो है”

May the force be with you.


Kumar Anurag