Rishab CA has secured Rank 23 in UPSC CSE 2018. He achieved this feat in his third attempt and his optional subject was geography. In this blog, he talks about his experiences and what made him quit his job & start preparing for civil service exam. He also breaks some myths about UPSC CSE Exam preparation.
If you are a UPSC aspirant, then this blog will have a lot to help you with!
Tell us something about yourself and what motivated you to opt for civil services as a career?
I have done my graduation in Engineering in 2014 and after that, I started working in Infosys. During college, I was part of a club which did a lot of community development projects like career guidance program for government school students. So, from that, I developed an idea and interest in public services and this was a strong motivation point for me that I could take it as a career.
Is it necessary to leave your job to prepare for UPSC CSE?
There are people who prepare for UPSC along with their job. The availability of online resources and classes makes things a little easy for the person preparing for the exam along with his job. In my case, I felt that I could not do justice to both my job and as well as to preparation. So, I resigned from my job in Infosys in 2015 and then started preparing for civil services from August 2015
What are the tips for a person who wants to prepare for UPSC CSE while being in the job?
I would say that people who want to prepare for UPSC CSE being in the job then they have to divide a lot of time. They have to devout at least 4 hours for their study and Weekends or holidays should be completely devoted to their UPSC preparation. They have to manage their time with respect to their family, preparation and as well as to their work. So, this requires a lot of hard work and dedication
Many believe that UPSC CSE is a tough exam. What do you think about this?
I never felt that the exam is tough. Actually, the most difficult part is to have perseverance & consistency required for this exam. The subjects you study for this examination for example history has already been studied during your school and we are reading it once more for this examination. We are just applying this theoretical knowledge in the practical space.
Despite seeing two successive failures, what kept you going?
What kept me going in my attempts was I knew I could do it. I was very optimistic. I knew this exam was doable as every year hundreds of aspirant clear this exam so why not me. I always thought that I’m the right person for this examination & I could do it. In my 1st & 2nd attempts, I did certain mistakes and made sure that I do not repeat these mistakes in my third attempt. I ensure that I strategize my study plan which can help me clear the exam.
What is that one change you made in your preparation that helped you to succeed in your 3rd attempt?
What most aspirants do as a mistake is that they focus exclusively on prelims and they take the subjects related to general studies or optional only after the preliminary examination. What I found is that the 4 months of time is not enough to cover the syllabus of general studies and optional subject. So that was something I changed. I synergised my preparation so that I prepare for both Prelims and Mains simultaneous. In my third attempt, I did a lot of practice and also attempted 30-40 mock tests for the mains exam. Also one should try to complete the optional syllabus before prelims exam
What difficulties did you face during your preparation for UPSC? How did you overcome those hurdles?
One difficulty was to ensure that I follow the study plan for preliminary and mains exam. As I told you that for my 1st attempt, I started my preparation from August 2015 and I was totally focused on the preliminary exam and I had only 3.5 Months for the mains exam which was very less. In my 2nd attempt, I covered the optional syllabus before the prelims exam. Another difficulty was finding the right guidance and mentor. Because I felt that a right a mentor can guide us through the right path. So, I met a few top rankers who guided me on how to write good answers and how to present ourselves in the interview.
It is generally believed that if you are preparing for UPSC CSE then you have to devout 14-16 hours a day. What is your take on this?
According to me 14 to 16 hours of study is a big myth. I don’t think that one is able to study for these many hours otherwise it will take a huge toll on the body. And I believe that studying for 8 to 9 hours consistently is enough for clearing the UPSC CSE Exam. One should stick to the study plan. Sleep Well. Eat Well.
With unlimited resources available, it is easy to get lost in the sheer quantity of study material. So, according to you what are key points one should keep in mind to not pile up the resources?
I will advise that instead of having 10 books for one subject one should have to study one book for a subject ten times. The list of standard books are available on the internet and they are also prescribed by the toppers. Just stick to those standard books and don’t go out of that.
How should one prepare for current affairs?
With respect to current affairs, one has to follow a newspaper consistently. During my preparation, I followed the ‘The Hindu’ Newspaper on a daily basis consistently. I used to follow PIB and magazines like ‘Down to Earth’, Kurukshetra, and Yojana regularly. I limited my current affairs preparation to these resources only.
How should one decide their optional subject for UPSC CSE?
According to me if you want to choose an optional subject you should love that subject. Because you have to spend a lot of time on that optional subject. If you don’t love your subject it becomes difficult to clear the UPSC CSE Exam. You have to see if the study material is available easily in the market. One should also go through the previous year question papers and syllabus. See whether the optional subjects helps you in general studies or not but this should not be the sole criteria for choosing an optional subject.
How do you feel after clearing this examination?
It feels good and happy to clear this examination. It has been a long term dream for me right from my college. This time it was special as I the cleared UPSC CSE exam in my third attempt and also my parents and friends are really happy with my success