Strategy:Yogesh Garg, AIR 84 (IFS 2019)

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My UPSC Journey- from Rejection to Acceptance

Name: Yogesh Garg

Education: B.Tech(ME), YMCAUST, Faridabad

City: Siwani, Haryana

Secured AIR 84 in Indian Forest Examination 2020 (Interview Score-210)

(Email ID:


My UPSC journey started during the final year of my graduation. It was then I had made up my mind that I have to be a civil servant. So, with full enthusiasm and hard work, I started reading all NCERTs book, several magazines, random publishers' books, and the like. All in all, it was a haphazard approach which gave nothing but frustration and disappointment. And in the post facto analysis, I realised I need professional guidance to make the most out of my efforts.

So I joined Vajiram and Ravi coaching Institute after completing my graduation. And this decision did wonders to the course of my preparation. It taught me the essential skill of 'what to study' and most importantly 'what not to'.

Under the guidance of Shabbir sir, Ojha Sir, Ravindran Sir, Manocha sir, I started following my time-table religiously and also maintained a diary to track my progress. I started making a synopsis of each topic taught in class and started to prioritise my work. Due to all this, I was able to clear all preliminary CSE examinations.

My strategy for the preliminary examination is as follow:

  1. Reading, Understanding line by line and Memorizing the standard books only.
    1. Polity: Laxmikant and PK Bakshi (for understanding Article)
    2. Geography: Class 11 and 12 NCERT, GC Leong, Atlas (Oxford Student)
    3. Economics: Sriram class notes and Ramesh Singh (TMH publication)
    4. History:
      1. Ancient AND Medieval : Either Class 11 and 12th old NCERT or Tamil Nadu board. And first        eighty pages of Lucent.
      2. Modern: Spectrum
      3. Culture: Nitin Singhania
    5. S&T: Gradeup concise note for Science and VisionIAS Magazine for technology.
    6. Environment: ShankerIas book (strike down the article that is written twice, mainly in the chaprters of acts, organistion)
    7.       Current Affairs:
      1. Newspaper: Either ‘The HINDU’ or ‘The Indian Express’.
      2. Anyone Monthly current affairs Magazine (VisionIAS, Vajiram, NextIas) or their compilation in the form of PT365.
    8.     Test series: VisionIAS, Vajiram, Insight, IASBaba last 60 days quiz.

2.     After reading the standard books, I started analysing the previous year preliminary questions and answer (Vision IAS previous year paper analysis video on youtube and ALSIAS past years UPSC paper booklet)

3. After this, I jotted down class notes in A4 size sheet and leaving a half-page margin for later addition and development.

4. With the completion of all the above points, I had started giving the test series as per the time table of Vision IAS test series with a modification of date of the test as per my suitability.

5.     Here I revised all coming up syllabus and used to make the synopsis of those syllabus topics from my class notes and standard books. (Here we have to understand that synopsis is different from notes as in the former we only write the keywords which would help us recall the broad picture of any chapter)

6.   Then I set the watch and started giving the test by dividing questions into four categories.

                    i. Category 1- Confident(C) - Question that I am 100% sure- so never let them wrong in      any case.  

                  ii. Category 2 – Doubt (D)- Try to minimise the incorrect and maximise the correct.

               iii. Category 3 – Guess/ Intuition- Don't have any clue, but there is a call from inside. Listen to your voice.

                iv. Category 4 – Unknown (×) - don't have any Idea – Read and make the notes of it.

7.     While checking the test, I left out the explanation of the correct one and highlighted the description of the incorrect one and unknown point in the solution paper itself.

8. For current affairs, I used to make the digital notes from newspaper, magazine, test series.

9. For motivating myself throughout this journey, I used to do Yoga and meditation, watch topper's videos, inspirational movies, Songs, Chanakya Niti, speeches and book summary, etc.

10. Here is the mantra for success: REVISION, REVISION, and REVISION.

           You have to do at least 5-6 times revision of your notes, standard book and test series.

11. Just before one week of D-Day, revise your synopsis and notes. And a day before D-day, try to make yourself cool, calm and happy by watching movies, sleeping, Gossiping, pursuing a hobby, etc.

For me, clearing Mains and Interview was more challenging than the preliminary stage. And the reason for it may be was the series of past failure in Main Exam. However, once I cleared IFoS Main Exam, I outshined others in the interview stage with 210 marks, and finally had my name in the final merit list. (I will share my Strategy for IFoS(Mains) and Interview in my next article).

Now when I look back, this journey of endless failure and learning could not have been possible without the support of my parents. They stood beside me like a North Star, supporting and guiding me when the going got steep. And I firmly believe, had it not been for my father's optimism and trust I could not have been closer to where I'm today. So never give up and lose hope, Always work to achieve your goal with passion, hardwork, dedication.