(Success Story) Smart Work to Clear UPSC – Ashish Kumar's Strategy (AIR-53)
Ashish Kumar secured an all India rank of 53 on his second attempt in the UPSC Civil Services Examination 2019. His father is a manager in a tea garden in Darjeeling, West Bengal, whereas his mother is a housewife. He did his schooling in the picturesque town of Kurseong itself. For his graduation in Economics, he chose Shahid Bhagat Singh college under Delhi University. Ever since graduating in May 2016, he has been working towards his goal of getting into the prestigious Civil Services. He took his first attempt at UPSC Civil Services Examination in 2018.
Ashish Kumar, AIR-53, UPSC CSE 2019
During his first attempt, he prepared from Delhi. However, in his second attempt, he came back home for the last 8-9 months of his preparation. In his first attempt, he could not clear his prelims. He blames it on his strategy of trying to cover as many sources as he could find. He also had not analysed the upsc previous year's question papers. He did not find time to revise properly either.
In his second attempt, he refined his strategy. He chose a single book for each subject. Looking through previous years' question papers, he realised UPSC asks questions based on basic concepts. The key is understanding the concept and applying them. He cleared his prelims with a 115-116 score, leaps and bounds more than the cut-off for 2019, which was a mere 98.
Ashish followed the integrated preparation strategy for both prelims and mains. Despite being from an Economics background, his optional for upsc mains was History. This allowed him to cover a large portion of General Studies Paper-I during his optional preparation itself. He recommends Spectrum as a source for History, along with NCERT Books. Similarly, for Geography he referred to the class 11 and 12 NCERT books. For Art and Culture, he referred to Nitin Singhania’s Book and revised it multiple times. Society is the last section in GS-I and Ashish followed the Society NCERT books, and acquired some information from the internet to complete his notes.
For Polity in GS-II, he referred to what is known as the bible of UPSC Polity, Laxmikanth. Like all other successful aspirants, he made crisp notes and kept revising them. Another aspect of GS-II is Governance, and he picked up notes on it from the market. For International Relations, he looked at all major countries with relations to India and made his study notes. Any pending topic he made his notes again. He relied completely on the internet for this section of the GS-II paper.
For GS-III, the first topic in Economics. Since Ashish’s graduation was in Economics, he already had notes and background knowledge. For the Agriculture portion, he made notes from the internet and kept examples for each.
For internal security and disaster management, he picked up popular notes from the market and added on to it from the internet to prepare his notes
.For GS-IV Ethics, Ashish wrote notes on each topic, by looking up definitions on the internet. He also noted examples from his own life. He concentrated on finding ways in which the values can be integrated into administration and used these ways in his Case Studies to enrich his answers.
For his optional, Ashish took IGNOU notes, along with the standard books. He made his notes for everything and insists that those notes helped him revise multiple times, and helped his high scores.
Ashish says he had a very standard set of interview questions. Given his background in Economics, most questions asked to him were from that background. He had mentioned Football as a hobby in his DAF and had to tackle quite a few questions related to it, like why is the game more popular in Eastern India, and as an administrator, how would he want to promote the game. These were questions he had already given a few thoughts before his interview.
Ashish advises aspirants to prepare for personality-based questions as well. He was asked to share a few of the values he has inculcated into his daily lives, and then in details about how and when he picked them up, and how they’ll help him as an administrator. He was also asked about tea production given his father manages a tea garden. He was also asked a few stress questions, and he calmly tackled them. For the whole 40 minutes, he remained calm and tried to showcase his analytical skills.
Ashish hopes to work in the field of education and improve primary education. He is hoping to get posted to his home state, but even if he isn’t, he will find the best way to help those in his district one way or another.
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