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Alankrita Pandey

Rank 85, UPSC Civil Services Exam – 2015

Hello Insights,

Thank you for providing me this opportunity of sharing my experience of preparation. I have myself learnt a lot, have been inspired from previous year articles of toppers. If my forthcoming article is able to inspire and project even one mind towards the goal, I would assume that my efforts have fructified.  

Writing this article is not an easy task because I virtually have to revisit those tough days and struggles once again.

In January 2014, I decided to start the preparation. But in mid 2014, I had to go through a personal crisis. It brought me to the level of using anti-depressants, anger management sessions and counseling by friends and family.

I had planned to write prelims in January 2014 and started reading some basic books but due to the aggravated situation, I could not even write the exam. These circumstances went on till October and finally I had it under control. By this time, I had decided to focus only on my career and plans for the next year and make my dream come true. This crisis gave me a clear sense of purpose.

The life changing moment was not 10th May 2016 for me, when the results came out, but it was the day when I had stuck a paper on a wall in my room saying- “I want a 2-digit AIR in CSE-2015.”

It has been said that – all things in this universe are created twice, once in your mind and then in the physical world. The first time was that day. Then began the hard work of day in-day out studies. I planned my preparation first at macro level and then at micro level eg completing full mains syllabus by May 15, then reducing it to topic wise scheduling and then hour wise everyday.

There used to be moments of doubt, depression and stress quite often for me. To tackle it, I used to run in the mornings, meditate and exercise. Sometimes, I would lose patience to go on. Then, I used to write on a paper as to why I started all this and this would provide me the motivation to move forward with more enthusiasm. Whenever I used to feel lethargic, I would see the newspaper and problems faced by various sections of society and think as to how could I help.

This always used to give me a sense of urgency to get into that position. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my parents, family, teachers(Prof BRA Rao and institute) and my friends (Lokesh, Deepankar, Odyssey, my college gang and seniors) for supporting me throughout. Talking to my father always used to be such an encouraging experience. He used to make me believe that it is going to happen for sure, the belief and faith that he showed always kept me positive. Rao sir too had believed in me right from the first day and never refused any kind of help despite his old age and other difficulties. It was not a coaching institute for me but an extended family. I would not have been able to achieve this without the support of these people.

With these experiences, I kept going and cleared this examination in my first attempt.

Strategy:

Newspaper played the most important role in my preparation. One must not ignore it at any cost. Apart from this, 50-60% of my preparation was from internet and Insights was definitely one of the most important source.

I followed secure mains initiative, answer writing based on current events, peer evaluation process, mind maps during revision, strategy articles of toppers the most. These initiatives are immensely relevant and helpful in current pattern of examination.

One more thing that I think I did differently was studying very selectively but making it strong. I read a single book 4-5 times rather than reading 4-5 books for one subject. As we know, the process of this examination itself is a year long. One must study something keeping it in mind that it might be asked a year later in their interview. One should be able to retain the points in long term memory and that can only be done once you have understood and analyzed the issues properly.

I would try to share my detailed strategy for different papers later.

Lastly, I just want to end with one line that has been my motto in last few years- ‘Your thoughts become things. Make them good.’ The power of positive thinking cannot be emphasized enough. I think it was my most important asset throughout the preparation. I always saw a silver lining in every challenging situation from the unfavorable start to my preparation or managing financial difficulties.

And always remember, attitude is more important than aptitude.  All the best to future aspirants. Give it your best shot and fight it all to be where you want to be. 

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