(Getting Started) Mahak Swami's Self Study Strategy AIR-393
Mahak Swami, currently undergoing training as a Haryana Civil Service officer, has secured an all-India rank of 393 in UPSC Civil Services 2019. Hailing from Kurukshetra, both her parents are school teachers by profession. She is an Electronics and Communication Engineer from the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra, the batch of 2013. This was her 4th attempt. Her seniors in Haryana services have praised her hard work in these tough times of COVID.
Why Civil Services?
Mahak, like many others, after a few years in the private sector started thinking of what she wanted to do hereon. She decided the Software industry, although challenging, was not her cup of tea. Instead, with her aptitude towards social sciences and interest in contributing more directly to social causes, she zeroed in on Civil Services as her goal.
Why Choose Self-Study?
Mahak spoke to a few of her acquaintances who were preparing for the services. She realised that with the recent changes in the pattern in UPSC as well as the easily available online courses and study material, self-study was the most comfortable way for her to reach her goal. She happily quips that she never even felt the need to go to coaching and self-studying proved fruitful enough for her journey.
How To Approach Self-Study?
Mahak relied heavily on the internet for her preparation. She started by reading toppers' strategies. When she started her preparation, and she relied heavily on them. She does regret not having a mentor figure as she made mistakes in choosing sources as well initially without someone to guide her. But thankfully, it all worked out for the better.
Problems Faced During Preparation
One of the main problems Mahak faced was choosing the right sources. Her sources were very scattered which she believes hindered her preparation. Funnily enough, Mahak did not ever read newspapers. She always studied summaries. But in the beginning, she struggled with finding the right current affairs material.
Tips From Mahak's Experience
- Notes making – Mahak is a big believer in notemaking. She never followed a single source for anything. As a result, her notes were always her primary source of study. She even made notes from the answers she wrote for her mains mocks. She did the same for her prelims mocks.
- Ethics – Mahak followed sample notes by Shreyas Mag, one of the previous year's toppers. She started writing small and crisp definition. She started using examples from the Indian context such as History, Mythology, Current Affairs, etc. She highly recommends using such localised examples over western and bookish examples.
- Essay – As long as you have prepared well for your General Studies papers, you will always have content. The trick to the essay paper is structuring the content you have and not letting the flow of writing dissolve. Also, do not waste time. You get one and a half hours for each essay and you must stick to this time. This is why Mahak highly recommends practicing writing essays frequently during your preparation.
- Test Series – Mahak believes time management is the main skill you learn in mocks and writing 20 broad answers in 3 hours is not a joke. Always note the feedback and try to use them in improving your future answers.
Mahak's Optional Strategy
Mahak started her journey with Laxmikanth. It was interesting to her which is why she chose this topic. She learned Shubhra Ranjan's notes by heart and added current affairs tidbits to them. Rajya Sabha TV and India's World were two programs where eminent diplomats and scholars would come for discussions and Mahak used those discussions as fodder for her preparation. Again, the topper's strategies are very important according to her.
Message To Aspirants
Mahak advises all aspirants to minimize distractions and maximize effort in their preparation. Make a routine, make goals, and stick to them. As long as your heart is in it, you will most definitely succeed.
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