Hailing from the Jamui region of Bihar, Praveen Kumar is one of the toppers of the Union Public Service Commission's Civil Services Examination for the year 2020. A graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K); Praveen has previously cracked the GATE examination with an all India rank of 5 and Engineering Services Examination with an all India rank of 3 in 2018. He even chose Civil Engineering as his optional for CSE, such is his expertise over his core field. This was his 2nd attempt. In 2019 he had qualified prelims but failed to qualify mains.
UPSC Study Sources
Praveen followed the usual sources such as Laxmikanth for Polity and Spectrum for History. He followed the PMF IAS's Geography book and believes it to be an excellent source. He also followed Shankar IAS for Environment and believes similar books by PMF IAS are equally good sources. Praveen believes popular books suggested by toppers are all good sources. It matters how well you study them by following the UPSC syllabus and previous year's questions, and revising them multiple times, instead of moving from one source to another. For current affairs, Praveen followed The Hindu Daily Current Affairs and supplemented it by following the PT365 by any leading coaching. Keeping your sources limited and revising multiple times is key.
Praveen's prelims strategy pivoted around its 3 components – static, current, and test series. Praveen focussed on revising his static portion 5 to 6 times and his current affairs compilations 2 to 3 times at least before prelims. Solving the previous year's papers starting from 2011 is important. He took 2 to 3 full tests from different coachings to get a broader idea.
The most important step is making notes for each topic mentioned in the syllabus separately using both static and current materials. Revising these notes multiple times ensured Praveen could recall information at the drop of the hat during the examination. Concentrate on creating notes for the static part first and then add the current affairs sequentially to them. He had revised these notes 5 to 6 times before the exam.
Answer writing is the next step. Unlike most toppers. Praveen did not practice any daily answer writing series. Instead, once he had completed a subject, he started solving 2 or 3 questions asked in upsc mains previous year's papers on the subject by UPSC each day. Taking a test series and ensuring you complete each test of 20 questions within the allotted time is also one of the keys to being able to complete your mains paper during the actual exam.
Praveen believes if you take the time to understand a topic completely while reading it, you need not face any difficulty recalling it and writing answers related to it when the time comes. However, if you try to simply learn information without actually analysing it, chances are, your answers will never be up to the UPSC standard. So study well, concentrate on developing a deeper understanding, revise and practice to the best of your ability, and you too can crack this exam.
Best of Luck.
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