Strategy:Dheeraj Kumar Singh, AIR 64 (CSE 2019) Memorable journey of UPSC
I belong to Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. With God’s grace, I have secured AIR 64 CSE 2019 in my very first attempt. It is going to be a long post as it will decipher my UPSC journey in detail. Its not strictly a strategy to crack UPSC.
Brief about me:
My schooling till 12th is from Hindi medium. I have done MBBS (2009-14) and MD Radiology (2015-18) from Banaras Hindu University (BHU).
And journey starts:
I am not someone who had dreamt for being IAS since childhood.It all started from a bad incident during MBBS days, when I had to go to DIG Gorakhpur to seek relief from my father’s transfer to a far district regarding my mother’s ill health.My father is a retired police constable .But DIG talked very rudely and it shaked me from inside.This was the time when I decided to be IAS ,so that any underprivileged never be unheard to higher officials for their problems.Unfortunately,my family was not ready to opt this stream just after MBBS as we belong to lower middle class and wished a secured career in medical field. I cleared my PG entrance and completed coveted MD radiology stream.But ,passion of being IAS had never been killed during these periods, even when I had options for job of 5 lacs per month.
I still remember,I finished my MD on 28 May 2018, and I left for Bangalore to join Insight IAS OGP 2019 on 6th June 2018 ,and this way ,my journey started for quest of IAS.
Shift from coaching classes to self study:
Many of my relatives and friends surprised when I decided to opt for Bangalore instead of Delhi for IAS preparation.It was my own decision to be isolated in soothing moderate climate of Bangalore with minimal interaction to plethoras of coaching institutes and materials. With blessings of God, I had a desciplined study partner - Dr Rajendra Raj (AIR 340, CSE 2019). We both started preparation by taking coaching classes in insight IAS, 3 days a week,but soon realised that it was not helping us as per our needs. As a blessing in disguise , in October 2018, all the original teachers of coaching broke apart to start their own new institute Manifest IAS .It proved to be a game changer for us ,and we shifted completely towards self study from coaching classes since November 2018.(except for few classes of international relations and current affairs from Manifest IAS).
Streamlining and making our own strategies:
4 months From July 2018 to October 2018, we relied according to coaching schedules ,focusing over various resources ranging from ncert to other books as recommended by coaching. But ,we were not getting something concrete by haphazard study of same topic eg- globalisation from NCERT books of various classes. We almost left NCERT ,even discontinued THE HINDU newspaper subscription till our mains completed. We never read any newspaper after October 2018. We left giving prelims test series from November.
Mains preparation from Deepawali 2018 onwards:
We geared for Mains preparation through self notes relying whole heartedly on UPSC mains syllabus.We made 4 note books of GS 1 to 4, 1 for essay, and 2 separate books for Medical science optional. We segregated the whole mains syllabus,analysed deeply and prepared micro topics over every single topic of mains syllabus. We made a detailed self notes over each topic supplemented with current affairs topic.Our source for Notes making was heavily relied over online materials of various coaching institutes/PIB/Govt sites /news paper articles on various issues. In this way,we were able to make mains notes for GS1, 2 and 3 till 15 th january. Our schedule used to be very disciplined ranging from 7/7.30 am in morning to 11 pm in night and probably the consistency to stick with schedule till mains exam was single most important factor to clear this exam.
Gearing for Prelims 2019:
Prelims was the stage for which I was most afraid. As, I had left coaching/ daily news papers/ weekly prelims test series from nevember onwards,it started giving me anxiety of prelims after mid January. Thus ,we withheld our mains GS 4 notes making ,and shifted to prelims preparation. We started with La excellence monthly current affair magazines from June to January ,insight / forum Ias current affair quiz compilations ,vision test series question banks .It all costed our time till feb last. Then again we started GS4 mains notes making for 15 days in March..After that we flipped to prelims preparation completely.Now it was time to prepare static part of prelims first. We started with basic books like spectrum, Laxmikant but again soon realised that these were too bulky to complete.So we left these books ( although we utilised them during mains note making),and started reading DRISTI IAS prelims special modules for each subject. We supplemented it with vision test series and did multiple revisions of all subject.Due to scarcity of time , we didn’t focus much on art and culture/ ancient/ medieval history.
Enrolling for pre mock test series:
We had decided to take few mock tests for pre before actual pre. So , we enrolled in la excellence pre mocks from May and gave 4 tests for GS and CSAT in UPSC simulated environment.In 1 st two mocks ,I secured 110-115 marks in GS, but failed in CSAT papers,giving a major set back. But I motivated myself again,and did basic CSAT questions of various varieties from last 20 yr s question bank in last month.
Actual prelims was fearsome for me..I attempted 88 questions but was not confident much..also in CSAT paper,in which I could attempt only 45 questions. On the way ,returning from exam centre to room, I was so much frightened that couldn’t speak single word to my surgeon girlfriend Dr.Tanya who was with me at that time. She held my hands and told you are going to top this exam , Prelims will not be hurdle. I checked with multiple coaching answers, was relieved knowing that I was getting in between 105 to 114 marks. I took break of one week, went home and relaxed.
Starting Mains marathon:
From 10th june, me and Rajendra again started for Mains preparation.We have already done half of task by preparing mains notes for all before prelims.It gave much confidence to battle the stress of mains. We started with optionals/ essay/ ethics to be ahead in the race.But it was not easy task as we used to thought.We have not done mains writing practise properly before mains.So ,we chose to write insight offline test series religiously. We followed mains test series schedule for our preparation,relied mainly on our own notes,which used to be supplemented by new topics as per new current issues. Essay and optional part were somewhat my strength, but in GS , I struggled till last test for completing all 20 questions in time.I used to have shortage of time for approx 2 questions in each GS paper.It made me very much under confident for this year success.In early September , I had a viral fever,which costed me for a week long sluggish preparation.But ,I didnt lose hope completely and kept preparing till last time.
I already made up my mind that I will give my best in this mains,as this attempt was my first and last.I called Tanya to come Bangalore to be with me during whole mains time. She came which gave a moral boost up to my confidence. Mains started with essay paper.I wrote both essay in quite satisfying way,which boosted up my confidence for next papers.But ,next challenge for me was to complete all 20 questions.I don’t know, was it adrenaline rush or very positive mindset or God blessings that I completed all papers within time attempting each questions in proper intro body and conclusion format with sufficient maps,boxes and flowcharts.To each paper,I used to take as best challenge,I gave my 100% ,as per my ability.I remember,5 days gap for optionals, I utilised it very religiously. In my MBBS days I used to give exams without sleeping. Due to vastness of medical science optional,I was not able to revise all the topics ,I took risk to give optionals without sleeping. I hardly slept for 2-3 hr during optionals and tried to revise maximum topics.Even, at exam centre on the day of language papers, before and in between two papers I revised my optionals. Point is that ,I had an strong internal motivation not to do slightest mistake during whole exam period. Optionals went well as per my expectations.
I went Tirupati with some friends just after mains and thereafter we left Bangalore for always.I joined private medical college as senior resident for some earning as my wallet had been emptied during Bangalore days. Result came on 14 jan 2019 mid night ,me and Rajendra both were selected for personality test.I just called Rajendra to come Delhi to start interview preparation.We reached there on 19 jan.Hoping that interview will start from last feb or early March, I was somewhat relaxed.But ,on 22 nd jan when I was partying with my MBBS friends in Delhi, UPSC put out interview schedule ,I started checking my roll no..and I was totally bashed by seeing my interview date on very second day on 18th feb.I had less than 30 days for interview preparation. Rajendra was scheduled on 28th feb. We decided to do self study ,we again bought a notebook for interview,and made opinion based notes for all important issues in various headings. We again started giving 14-15 hrs per day for interview and completed the major issues within 20 days.We revised 3-4 times to our notes.Meanwhile ,I gave 3 mock interviews at DRISTI,KSG and SAMKALP. In all interviews,one complain was common that I don’t smile during interview process.But ,finally I decided to focus on content and quality of answers as I had no time for other improvements.
The D day :
I entered UPSC Bhawan last and was informed there ,that I was first Candidate in my afternoon group to face interview (Ms Sujata Mehta board).Again I cheered myself up not to worry and to give final best shot.I entered the interview room,board was much cordial and asked many opinion based applied questions.Luckily,It also went up as per my expectations,not much grilling or counter questions were asked.I was much satisfied with my interview session.
Returning to my original form: as a radiologist
I returned finally to my hometown Gorakhpur and joined as consultant radiologist in a hospital at high salary package.In this way ,I took my original form as a doctor.Till now ,I am giving service by diagnosing many diseases through X-ray / ultrasound/ CT / MRI.
As COVID and EWS case had delayed the final results,many times I used to calculate my probable final marks. Inside heart ,there was combination of both confidence and fear because of unpredictability of UPSC. But again,when result came on 4th august ,I called Tanya to see my result.Heart was beating very fast and I was praying to almighty to award my whole efforts. She called and revealed that I had secured 64 AIR.I was speechless,numb with teary eyes.I told to papa and mummy about rank.Mummy started crying that her life has been successful as an illiterate mother has now an IAS son.I can’t tell that how many time I checked result to re affirm my name in holy PDF.
Time of celebrations:
Everyone started calling to Papa for congratulations. No one had my new number, so I had few calls to attend.Result came on 11 am. But ,at that day my patients were waiting for appointment.I called to hospital ,took some time and went at 1 pm to attend patients.From that result day to today 31st august,I m in both celebration and working mode.I used to go hospital from 11 am to 6 pm daily and attend well wishers before and after hospital.
The only purpose of such long post was to motivate and to provide real picture of throughout journey to be an IAS officer. Nothing is impossible, it just takes your sheer hard work ,consistency and good friends to keep you motivated. In my case it was Dr Rajendra because of whom I had been hard core consistent in preparation and Dr.Tanya who did surgery of all my stress by holding my hands throughout this whole UPSC journey. Good luck to all future civil servants. Will come up with detailed strategy and notes in near future.