Strategy:Om Kant Thakur, AIR 52 (CSE 2019)

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UPSC Preparation Needs hard work, dedication and continuous motivation. Have patience and DO it.

For my Geography optional & GS Notes and Answer Writing Techniques visit my telegram channel - t.me/iasomkant (But before that MUST READ this page completely)

Brief Background about me (It will help you to assess yourself)

I am from small village of Bihar. Schooling upto 10th from Bihar board (Hindi medium). Later on 12th from Bihar board and B.Tech in Computer Science & Engineering from NIT Patna. Worked for nearly 3.5 years in IT sector in Bangalore.

Initially, confused about my medium for UPSC, as Social studies subjects studied in Hindi medium during my school days, but later became comfortable with English due to B.Tech. & Job environment. Finally, decided my medium as English after analyzing UPSC CSE papers of previous years.

Left my job from Samsung R&D Bangalore in Aug’2015. I hadn't much idea about how to proceed; no friends, no seniors, no help at all to help regarding UPSC. Also wanted to repeat my humanities papers in English medium once. Thus, moved towards coaching institutes.

Brief about my UPSC journey
Year (Attempt) Result
2016 (1st) Could not clear prelims (OM = 115.34) (Cut off 116)
2017 (2nd) 396 Rank (Joined ITS - Indian Trade Service)
2018 (3rd) 252 Rank (Eligible to IRS-CE but continued in ITS did not opt for IRS-CE)
2019 (4th) 52 Rank (IAS)

Key to UPSC: Focus on 3 things (Fix Booklist, Schedule & Routine)

1. Fix your booklist -

  • Repeatedly revise the same.
  • Do not venture out in the market.
  • There is a flood of information. (Whatever is your source of current affairs, or any notes). It is not that the mentioned sources are the only thing. Different toppers have different approaches. But, still whatever you choose, pick up the right ones and stick to it.
  • Fix sources such that it should cover your full syllabus.
Integrated Schedule: can be made 10 to 12 months before Prelims

2. Fix your Schedule -

  • Schedule stands for timeline completing your books/materials/sources according to syllabus.
  • Schedule must take care of all your activities including festivals, breaks, holidays, other PCS exams, etc.​
  • Make a separate yet integrated schedule for prelims and mains. (Fox example, till Feb mains part after march focus only on Prelims)
  • It should be based on the sources to be covered (which means the number of chapters or pages to be studied in total and the number of days left for Prelims or Mains).
Schedule Part -1

Finish the following till FEB (of the exam year - can see the image).

● Read newspaper and try answer writing daily based on your routine

● Read NCERTs once from 6th to 12th for beginners.

● Start Optional and finish by Dec

● Finish Ethics

● World history, india since independence, pradhanmantri,samvidhan serial etc.

● Other mains only topics

● Read yojana, etc. as monthly dose and take the gist out of it

Schedule Part -2 (for Prelims)

From March till June (keep 4 months (at least 3 months) for Prelims to be on the safe side, especially for new aspirants or those who fail in prelims again and again)

● Read newspaper for further 2 months; then stop reading or just scan the headlines one or two month before the prelims exam.

● Revise NCERTs, books for prelims as mentioned in the booklist image attached below (GS-Prelims).

● Prepare budget, survey, government schemes, Miscellaneous, etc.

● Start taking tests for prelims.

● Solve nearly 60 tests before prelims.

● Try to Revise everything 4 times or at least 3 times.

Schedule part -3 (for mains after Prelims)

Proper strategy in the mains will fetch the rank.

● Read only 1 Newspaper thoroughly & write 2 to 3 answers per day.

● Finish optional and GS as per test series schedule or own preferences.

3. Fix your Daily Routine -

  • Maintain a routine. It will keep your consistency and seriousness towards achieving the schedule which ultimately helps in getting a rank.
  • Go practical (whatever suits you - if you are day-scholar or nocturnal)
  • Make or Fix your own wake up time, dining time, time for other refreshments, etc. for everyday.
  • Answer writing practice daily - You will grow day by day.

PRELIMS - GS (7 Pillars of prelims)

I followed the same - AS PER THE IMAGES SHOWN

GS Prelims.png
1. History Art and Culture

● Ancient, Medieval - 11th Old NCERTs (Also one must read once or twice new NCERTs of History from 6th to 10th make some notes if you think so in the beginning, if you are fresh aspirant) - Made notes - Yes

● Modern History - 12th Old NCERT, Spectrum (Many aspirants read Bipin Chandra / Plassey to Partition, equally good) Made notes - Yes from Spectrum (because I used to forget), mains answer writing from 12th old ncert from the end of the chapters.

● Art & Culture - 11th New NCERT, Nitin Singhania TMH book (selective as per syllabus). Made notes - Yes

● Some miscellaneous - Lucent GK history part

2. Polity

● New NCERTs from 6 to 12 (after 2 readings, only need to revise 11th & 12th)

● Laxmikanth Polity book (Make schedule such that to revise at least 4 times)

3. Geography

My optional was Geography so a lot of help from that side. In general one can follow these -

● NCERTs - New 6th to 12th

● NCERTs - Old 11th 12th

● G C Leong - certificate book

● Atlas

4. Environment

● Basics - from NCERTs Science unit 4 of Ecology & Environment

● Shankar IAS environment book - yet one can follow any other coaching booklet if topics are covered well.

● A lot of current affairs topics which can be covered while preparing current.

5. Economy

● Basics - New NCERTs 9 to 12th (Except microeconomics)

● Further - Mrunal economy or any such lecture

● Sriram’s economy booklet - one can follow any coaching or book - Made notes yes

● Additionally link with Union Budget, Economic Survey and cover well for prelims and mains with taking notes out of it.

6. Science & Technology

● Basics - New NCERTs 6 to 10th

● Lucent Science part for Biology, miscellaneous, etc.

7. Current Affairs
  • TH​ - The Hindu
  • One dedicated notebook for government schemes, reports, rankings, commissions committees report, national and international institutions.
  • Self notes in economy - made from NCERTs, Sriram’s economy, Mrunal Lectures. Plus Budget and Survey.
  • For Current - Vision IAS monthly & daily newspaper (One can read either The Hindu or The Indian express, any one of these)

MAIN: GS paper - I

GS paper 1.png
  • History - Revise prelims notes, books.
  • World History - A compilation available from any coaching. Old NCERT - 12th
  • India Since Independence - watch Pradhanmantri Serial (watch it now even before you start preparation or making schedule, best to start your preparation) and polity ncert new class 12th
  • V-365 ​stands for vision mains 365 for 1 year comprehensive coverage of current affairs.
  • SM ​- stands for Secure Mains daily answer writing.
  • NOTE​ : Geography was my optional so topics covered from my notes.

MAIN: GS paper - II

GS Paper 2.png
  • Vision 365 for mains for polity
  • Self notes of polity made from Laxmikanth according to mains point of view.
  • International Relations completed by current affairs. (from mains Vision 365)

MAIN: GS paper - III

GS paper 3.png
  • “Self notes” in Economy is prepared during prelims from NCERTs, Mrunal and Sriram’s economy notes.
  • Along with NCERTs (11th 12th). Budget, survey, IYB, yojana, Agri part of syllabus can be covered from kurukshetra as well or Sriram’s economy notes are also good. Apart from this, some help I got from Agriculture geography as part of Geography optional.
  • Vision 365 for mains covering this paper
  • “Self notes” in S&T is prepared from a Vajiram science booklet available in the market. “Self notes” in Environment from Shankar IAS environment book.


MAIN: GS paper - IV

GS paper 4.png
  • “Self notes” prepared from Lexicon book & 2nd ARC report.
  • Value addition by other mentioned sources in 2nd and 3rd mains. But in 2017 mains only Lexicon and ARC and got 396. I think this is sufficient and understand the approach to case studies.
  • For each topic - definition & 2 or 3 examples.
  • Further to improve - videos on as mentioned above.

MAIN: Essay paper

  • Prepared one dedicated thin notebook for essay. Good quotes, intro, facts, lines, etc. mentioned for essay topic wise.
  • Also writing 1 essay per week till Feb. Then again start after prelims till main exam.

MAIN: Geography optional

Geography optional strategy is well elaborated on the link given below. After going through that link. One can also visit my telegram channel to access GS and Geography optional notes and Answer writing techniques mentioned there on telegram.

My Geography optional strategy: click here

How to draw maps quickly in Exam

To watch Click here for India map

To watch Click here for world map

One should also enjoy the process and do the following as well -

○ Daily Dose​ -

  • Read Newspaper, (​Or, - at least watch Videos on newspaper analysis for those who have time constraints like working professionals, etc.)
  • All India Radio news (9 PM everyday - Download from APP or soundcloud or in Opera Mini browser and listen in leisure time like eating, walking, traveling, exercising, etc.)
  • RSTV Big picture debate (Same watch over lunch or dinner)

○ Monthly Dose -

  • Any monthly current affairs whatever suits you. (For me Vision IAS).
  • Yojana magazine (Indispensable source) Kurukshetra only selected months if topic is good and part of the syllabus; Make notes of Yojana / Kurukshetra crisp notes containing a few good lines, quotes, intro - conclusions, diagrams, examples, live case studies, etc. It helps in answer & essay writing skill development as well.

Personality Test

  • Made 1 DAF notebook - divided into 2 halves -
  • One for personal details i.e. Full DAF coverage; prepare question tree from your DAF
  • Another half for Current affairs
  • One can join 2-3 days of interview guidance program (or, personality development class) if having low confidence)
  • Then, practice couple of mocks. Improve upon that
  • Also do mirror practice (speak in front of mirror) at home, to break the hesitation.

For my transcripts of all the three personality tests click here

LAST but NOT THE LEAST

One must assess himself/herself. PLEASE DO NOT follow any topper blindly as you do not know their background, how their mind works and other related stuffs. Do look for various toppers and strategies, then see what suits you. Devote 1 week or 2 for these; Once you fix your book list and strategy regarding the schedule. Then just execute it.


Hope for the Best,

Forget the rest,

All The very Best

Actual Sources Studied (as shown in IMAGES for each paper)

You can see the actual sources followed by me (handwritten) as per images on the right side. These are the sources fixed by me as per the syllabus and pasted on my wall in front of my study table (in my room).

For this same template to print and put your own sources and more stuff. You can visit my drive link.

The same link also has my notes, geography optional strategy, answer writing strategy and much more. I am going to put it on csewiki.org later on as per the requirement.

Notes are available on my telegram link t.me/iasomkant as well for your easy access in your smart phone.