(Success Story) UPSC 2020 TOPPER, AIR-14 Karishma Nair’s Strategy To Cracking UPSC Exams

(Success Story) UPSC 2020 TOPPER, AIR-14 Karishma Nair’s Strategy To Cracking UPSC Exams

Karishma Nair is a native of Kerala who secured an all-India rank of 14 in the UPSC Civil Services Examination 2020. This was her second attempt. Previously she had reached the interview rounds in 2019, however, failed to reach the final merit list. Karishma holds a bachelor’s degree in forensic science. Her optional subject for both her attempts was Public Administration.

Learning From Failure

The first step to getting over failure is acceptance. When Karishma failed to reach her goal despite reaching the final stage, like many other aspirants, her first reaction was to blame the process. However, she soon realised that blaming the examination for her own failure will not help her improve and succeed. She immediately began taking note of her weaknesses and working on them.

The results came out very late for 2019 and Karishma decided to concentrate on UPSC Prelims completely. With support from her family, she started making notes from scratch as she decided the previous year’s papers notes were not adequate and also partly responsible for her poor performance. Karishma believes the fact that she did not have the time to grieve her failure, but instead had to dive directly into preparation again, contributed greatly to her success this time around.

Utilizing Test Series

For prelims, like all toppers over the years, Karishma also advises on the importance of TEST SERIES. However, she has a particular take on it which worked greatly in her favour. For starters, Karishma did not start taking full tests before the last 2 months leading up to the preliminary exam. She also did not indulge in every subject-wise test. With the help of her mentors, she had identified areas of strength, which she did not need subject wise tests for. However, for subjects she was weak in, she took multiple sectional tests. She was scoring between 90 and 95 initially, but she soon realised she needed to attempt more questions, which subsequently helped her increase her scores. This improvement also helped her stay motivated.

Answer Writing To Win

Karishma like many of her counterparts, started her UPSC journey believing her answers were near perfect and she did not need to worry about the answer writing part for UPSC MAINS. However, she soon realised that was not the case. She realised through attempting mains mocks that she was finding it increasingly difficult to complete papers. Diagrams were another section where she was wasting a lot of time during attempting papers.

So in her second attempt, she decided to forgo the idea of thinking up diagrams on spot. She also made peace with not being able to attempt every question. Instead, she concentrated on attempting one more question in each paper than the last attempt. She also shifted from a paragraph-based approach to a subheading and point-based approach. In the end, it is the small things like these that helped Karishma clinch victory. 

If she can do it, she encourages you to be confident that you can do it too!

Best of Luck.



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