(Success Story) Aashima Goyal's Strategy Towards Cracking UPSC (AIR 65)
Aashima Goyal is yet another Engineer turned civil servant as the youth increasingly try and find their calling in the services that allow them to contribute more directly to society. Hailing from a humble middle-class family from Faridabad, Aashima has done her engineering in Biotechnology from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
Craving work that allows her to contribute more directly to society, Aashima has volunteered with many NGOs in her college years. It was during her final year in IIT Delhi, that she witnessed many of her seniors securing top ranks in UPSC Civil Services Exams and got interested in the services.
Finding Her Footing :
During her first attempt at UPSC, Aashima was still working. It was difficult to find time to study during the weekdays and she could barely manage more than four hours each day. On the weekends, she gave it her best. However, she admits that the time restrain and the work pressure got to her and Aashima was unable to crack the preliminary stages in her very first UPSC attempt and missed the mark by a substantial 15 marks.
It was after this setback that she decided to pursue her UPSC preparations full-time with full support from her family. She joined classroom tuition and started her preparation at full throttle. Devoting at least 10 hours a day, Aashima breezed through her second attempt, securing a prestigious all India rank of 65.
Aashima Goyal, AIR 65, UPSC CSE 2019
Aashima’s Strategy :
Aashima says regularity is key. It might happen that one day you may not feel like studying your optional. Instead of wasting the day, shift focus to a General Studies subject instead. Maintaining momentum and not stopping is the only way to keep up a steady pace while preparing for UPSC.
Aashima is also a firm believer in positive feedback. Experiences of smaller successes help people keep working hard towards their ultimate goal. For this, Aashima broke down her long goal of cracking UPSC into smaller, time-bound goals. As she successfully completed each of her short-term goals, Aashima’s confidence soared and she could keep fighting for her ultimate Civil Services aim. Test scores are also an excellent way to boost one’s confidence and Aashima suggests aspirants start taking up mock tests from the very beginning of their preparation.
UPSC Prelims vs Mains :
Aashima, like so many successful Civil Service toppers, does not believe in separate preparations for preliminary and mains exams. UPSC Civil Services examination is a marathon. Both Prelims and Mains are part of the same track. Integrated studying is the only way to achieve success in this examination. After all, the prelims exam is just a qualifier, it is the mains examination that will fetch one their rank. Aashima herself gave her prelims 90 days of preparation time right before the Preliminary Exam date. Even then, she took out 15 days of her schedule to finish off her optional. She believed that she would not be able to secure good ranks without her optional scores being on top and she took the risk, which later paid off.
Smart Studying :
The first thing Aashima did when she started her preparation was to make short notes on each topic in the syllabus. After that, she delved into recommended textbooks and started completing the upsc syllabus at depth. She believes one must be acquainted with each topic mentioned in the syllabus for them to have an upper hand in the examination. Towards that end, Aashima also joined a mains mock test series. She started off with small sectional tests where she would write 10 answers in 90 minutes, get an analysis of her answer writing skills, and then improve herself based on the feedback.
Aashima insists that the 3 months between prelims and mains is not the time to start answer writing. Rather, those 3 months should completely be dedicated to revising. Answer writing should be a year-long exercise. The same goes for the Essay paper. It is a 250 marks paper and should be treated with the same importance as the rest of the GS papers. One should aim to write at least 10 full essays before they sit for their mains paper. Going through previous years essays is also key.
Message to Aspirants :
Do not forget - revision is key. Whether it is General Studies static portion or current affairs, multiple revisions and a whole lot of answer writing is the only way to succeed in UPSC. And have faith in yourself and dream big. Nobody can stop you from reaching your goals but yourself.
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