AIR 139 to 48: IAS Officer Divya Iyer Shares Golden Tips to Crack UPSC

AIR 139 to 48: IAS Officer Divya Iyer Shares Golden Tips to Crack UPSC

“Given the rigor and detailing that was needed to write the book—through the process the concepts I wrote about kept getting stronger,” she adds.

This is Dr Divya S Iyer’s bio on Twitter: Mother/IAS Officer/Doctor/Writer/Singer/Actor.

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Packs quite a punch, doesn’t it?

We think so too, and in this article, the doctor-turned-IAS officer shares some valuable tips that led her to acquire the coveted post of an IAS officer.

Dr Iyer has appeared for the Civil Service Examination twice—in 2012 and 2014.

The first time, she got through the Indian Revenue Service with an AIR 139. Not content with the result, she attempted the exam again in 2014 and secured an All India Rank of 48. She is currently posted in Kerala as the Mission Director of the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA.

So, what did she do differently the second time around?

The book authored by Dr Iyer

“Between my first attempt in 2012 and the second in 2014, the syllabus had changed, in both the preliminary and the main examination. Because of this, no one really knew how to tackle them, so in the process of searching for books and resources; I ended up writing a book for aspirants titled ‘Pathfinder.’ The rigorous and detailed process of writing the book greatly strengthened my preparatory process,” she adds.

Nonetheless, she does mentions that writing a book cannot be the answer for every aspirant. So, here are some practical tips that can be followed.

1) Be very clear of what you want to do and work consistently towards achieving that.

“You must remember that every line in the syllabus is important, so pay good attention to during the preparatory stage.”

2) Speak to people who have cleared the examinations and understand from them what worked and what did not. While all the tips they provide may or may not help, it is certainly reassuring to know that the tough exam can be cracked.

3) While preparing for the CSE, there will be a sea of information in front of you. Remember to cover the syllabus in greater breadth than depth. This means that instead of focusing on one topic and exploring it fully, work on acquiring the full span of knowledge of a subject.

4) The importance of self-discipline cannot be emphasised enough. The greatest struggle is always within ourselves, and if you are serious about cracking the exam, you have to stick to the strategy you have worked out and follow it through in a systematic manner.

5) In the preparatory phase, find like-minded people to study with and make notes. Covering the vast syllabus with all the prescribed texts is quite challenging, so getting all the help possible, is a good idea.

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“This was especially helpful for me. There were four of us, all doctors, who wanted to crack the CSE. We sat together with the syllabus and divided the task on hand such that each of us made notes on a particular topic/subject,” mentions Dr Iyer.

The notes that were made were not just in points but comprehensive, she says.

What’s interesting is that all four aspirants who studied together managed to crack the examinations and are placed at various services across the country.

How does one come back on track after faltering?

Dr Divya S Iyer

“It’s a long drawn process and not like other major examinations that conclude in a day,” begins Dr Iyer.

“The CSE is a three-step process and spans over six months, while the entire preparation itself takes up almost one year. Aspirants can’t continue the momentum with the same kind of energy levels or even spirit, so it is essential to accept the fact that energy levels might dip from time to time,” she adds.

Was there anything that helped her through her difficult phases?

“Absolutely, and here they are,” she says before sharing her list.

  • Familial support
  • Good teachers who kept encouraging and motivating
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Good food and music
  • Books other than the prescribed list, from time to time.

Also Read: UPSC Must-Read: IAS Officers Share How To Tackle ‘Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity’


(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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