Born and brought up in the national capital, Pratishtha Mamgain’s roots are in Uttarakhand.
A graduate of St Stephen’s College, Delhi, Pratishtha started preparing for the exam in 2016—the same year she passed out of college. A year later, she appeared for the Civil Service Examination for the first time and secured an All India Rank of 50.
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Pratishtha is currently undergoing her district training at Vishakhapatnam and is posted as an Assistant Collector (training).
In this conversation, she discusses her preparation tactics and gives some helpful tips for UPSC aspirants.
“I primarily referred to The Hindu and the Indian Express. Up until the prelims I used [The] Hindu as my main source of information and gave a cursory glance to IE, but after the prelims, I switched it up. IE became my main source of information, while I continued reading the editorial in The Hindu,” she begins.
Why asked about the switch, she explains that she was deeply impressed with IE’s weekly explainers, which offered her great insight on varied topics.
So how much time should one dedicate to reading the newspaper?
Speaking from her own experience, Pratishtha says, “I would read the editorial every day, and apart from that, go through the explainers very thoroughly. I would also spend some time making notes for issues that were very new to me, and I felt that there was a need to get into deeper. I would dedicate a couple of hours each morning only to read the newspaper.”
Besides these two newspapers, Pratishtha also referred to the monthly magazine Yojana, published by the government of India and the Vision IAS booklets.
How does one decide what newspapers and magazines to read?
“During my college years, I spent a lot of time reading topper interviews and watching videos in which the toppers would share their strategy and tips. I saw that a majority of them had read these newspapers and referred to these magazines. I also made a consolidated list of books that were commonly used and referred to them while studying.”
How should one divide their time studying?
Pratishtha mentions that the first thing she did after waking up, was to read the information that needed to be memorised – “For example—details, like names, places, dates and facts.”
She would then move on to reading the newspaper and spend two odd hours doing that.
At around 10:30 am, she says that she would go on to studying either for the optional paper or general studies. At night before going to bed she would go through the Vision IAS booklet, she says.
When asked if she resorted to making notes while studying, Pratishtha says, “I would make notes only for topics that had content in several different places or something that needed to be memorised.”
“Mostly, I just stuck to studying books in totality and would revise it all countless number of times.”
Like many others, Pratishtha too struggled with retaining information, initially. “I would forget things easily, but soon realised that this was something that could be overcome only with several revisions. I would set a target for myself in terms of how many times I needed to revise a particular topic or book and not stop until I achieved that.”
In conclusion, she says that aspirants must remember to follow these pointers a week or so before the examination:
- Sleep well and stay calm. Given the level of stress, one goes through; it is essential to give your mind the rest that it needs.
- Stick to what you have already covered. Do not attempt to absorb any new content or learn new topics a week before the examination. It is advisable to stick to what you have already covered and spend the time you have just revising it thoroughly.
- Spend time going through mock tests and also analyse the mistakes that you commit in these. That will help you while you attempt the examination.
- Find the pattern you follow—are you risk-averse or one who likes to take risks? Remember, both are not good; you need to find a middle path.
With these pointers, we wish you all the best for the examination!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)