(Success Story) Cracking UPSC Without Coaching – UPSC Topper Shishir Gupta's Strategy (AIR 50)

(Success Story) Cracking UPSC Without Coaching – UPSC Topper Shishir Gupta's Strategy (AIR 50)

Shishir Gupta’s story shows you how never giving up on your goals is the key to finally achieving them. Hailing from the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur, Rajasthan, Shishir is from a humble background. His father is a principal at Govt Senior Section School in Bassi, and his mother a homemaker. Shishir himself is a pass out from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in Chemical Engineering. He has worked in the UAE in corporate for 2 years after his graduation. Once he was sure about having secured his family financially to some extent, Shishir returned to pursue his IAS dream and first appeared in UPSC CSE in 2015.

UPSC 2019 All India Rank 50 Shishir Gupta sharing his thoughts

Never Giving Up:

Shishir appeared for UPSC Civil Services Examination for the first time in 2016, having returned from the UAE to India. He joined Polity classes with Delhi but couldn’t continue as his health suffered. It took almost a year for him to recover. Despite the setback, Shishir cleared the preliminary examination and wrote his mains. He attributes this success to his grasp of current affairs and the fact that the 2016 UPSC preliminary paper was very heavy in current affairs. However, he could not clear his mains exam as his preparation was not at par with what UPSC requires. He had not completed the upsc syllabus for his optional either.

In his second attempt, in 2017, Shishir cleared both his preliminary and mains examination. When it came to the upsc interview, he was subjected to a stress test and it did not go well. However, Shishir primarily blames his Ethics paper for failing him as he missed the cut off to reach the merit list by a mere 6 marks. In response to this, he did a short 5-days ethics enrichment class with Anubhav Sir to better understand how to correct his flaws. However, unfortunately, recovering from the heartbreak of losing out on his chance despite having reached the final stages, Shishir was unable to clear his 2018 Civil Service Preliminary Examination.

Shishir’s Strategy :

29-year-old engineer from Jaipur clears exam in 4th try | Jaipur News -  Times of India

Shishir With His Family on Result Day

Self Study is Key :

Heartbroken at the turn of events, Shishir started thinking if not taking coachings is what was pulling him down. As such, he moved to Delhi and joined full-time classes. But soon enough, he realized it wasn’t the right fit for him and self-study was the only way he was going to ace this exam. As a first step, he started studying upsc topper’s answers which are freely available online, to understand where he was lagging. Soon enough, he realized the importance of using micro diagrams, maps, and flowcharts in his answers and making them more engrossing for the examiner to read.

Meticulous Preparation :

Shishir is a believer in studying whatever little he chooses to meticulously. For example, the syllabus for Mathematics optional is huge. He decided that he will not spend too much time on 20% of the syllabus that is exceptionally hard. Instead, he prepared the rest 80% so thoroughly that he did not miss a single question from the portion. He was confident of 450 out of the 500 marks in his optional papers. He applied the same logic to prepare his General Studies papers. He ensured that the static material preparation was so solid, that whether it was prelims or mains, he will have at least 50% of the paper covered. And for an examination like UPSC, that is almost the battle won.

Enriching His Knowledge Bank :

To ensure he gave UPSC CSE 2019 his best performance yet, Shishir made a few adjustments to his preparation. He had already covered his static syllabus multiple times over the years, along with a steady habit of updating his current affairs knowledge. With his natural talent for numerics, his optional, which incidentally was the far less common subject Mathematics, was also well prepared. But he was still coming up short. So, this year, he made a few adjustments.

He started with improving his answer writing style using topper’s model answers as guidelines. He spent 10 to 15 minutes every day in front of a map, noting places and features in his mind. He also picked up more obscure topics asked every year in different UPSC exams such as CSE, NDA, CAPF-AC, etc. and made data tables. He made note of all international organizations India is a part of and her role in each of them. Thus, there was little to the scope of Shishir not being able to tackle every softball UPSC was set to throw at him in 2019, and clearly, he played a winning game.

Message to Aspirants :


Shishir’s success story is an inspiration for every aspirant to not give up. However, there is another message he would like to pass on. You will meet people in the path to your dreams who drag you down, apply undue social pressure over you. Have faith in yourself and avoid these people like a plague, and you will most definitely crack your IAS goal.


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