“Once I cleared the UPSC, I wanted to try one more, and with each exam, I kept saying that to myself, ultimately ending up writing so many of them.”
Akhand Swaroop Pandit was a below-average student until the day he started clearing all the government examinations he attempted. His story is one of inspiration and the power of determination. In this article, he explains to us how he went from a ‘failure’ to a success.
Having completed his primary education in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, Swaroop went on to do Engineering from the Government Engineering College. He describes himself as an average student who did not have any inclination or desire to study. “I was not the person who was into studies at all,” he says.
While he was a sports enthusiast and wanted to make a mark in professional bodybuilding during his college, a deeply personal incident changed things for him.
“It was a phone call saying my father had met with an accident,” he says.
After the accident, Swaroop felt the need to study and make something of his life. He adds, “It was important that I studied well to improve my condition. I started studying, and the first government examination I sincerely prepared for was the UPSC.”
Swaroop adds that he also stopped taking money for his expenses from his family. He shares, “I started teaching to meet my expenses. Whenever I had to learn a particular topic, I started teaching others who were studying the same topic. Not only did this help me make some money, but I also understood the topic better.”
Clearing the UPSC examination and being inducted into the Indian Engineering Service (IES) was just the beginning for him, as he went on to pass several others, which included:
- Graduate Aptitude Test Engineering (GATE) AIR 6
- National Eligibility Test (NET) AIR 3
- Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission (MPPSC) State Rank 4
- Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (HPPSC) State Rank 3
- Uttar Pradesh Housing & Development Board (UPHDB) State Rank 1
- Staff Selection Commission (SSC) State Rank 1
- Mumbai Metro State Rank 1
How did he manage all this? He answers, “Once an aspirant has prepared, attempted, and cleared the UPSC, all other examinations are easier. So I could easily ace all the other examinations as well.”
Secrets of cracking the UPSC
Swaroop says that one of the key ways to crack the exam is by meticulous planning. He explains, “I would plan every week with great detail. Given that the syllabus is vast, unless you put down exactly what you are going to do, it can get tedious and overwhelming.”
Swaroop goes on to say that he would put in 6-7 hours of study time each day and complete whatever was part of the plan within that time.
2. Adequate breaks
While Swaroop put in up to seven hours of study a day, he says that it was never for a continuous period. “The maximum time I would study at a stretch would be for two hours, after which, I always took a break. I would study in slots, and my time table for the day was easy to complete as well.”
He would also wake up early, and see that by afternoon, his schedule for the day was complete. The remaining time could then be utilised to revise and make notes.
3. Analyse exam pattern
Swaroop points to one common mistake that aspirants make while preparing for the UPSC, which is not to analyse the previous year question papers.
“I analysed the syllabus and previous year question papers at great length. If I were studying history, for example, once I completed a portion of it, I would go through the questions then and there to see how much I could recollect.”
While analysing the exam pattern, aspirants must look at the level of the questions being asked, the topics which are being emphasised, and the recurrence of certain questions and topics. “It is important to study smartly as that is what will help the most,” says Swaroop.
4. Find a reason
For Swaroop, the desire to make something of his life was the driving force. Likewise, each candidate must find the reason that fires their resolve.
“You have to find a reason to clear the exams–it can be anything from the craze of power to making money to the position. This is true not just of the UPSC but for anything you set out to achieve,” he says.
Swaroop adds that while many aspirants have back-up plans, sometimes the security of having something else to fall back on stops them from putting their best foot forward. “Give it your 100 per cent without thinking of any of fall back options,” he says.
5. Good time utilisation
Instead of spending one month on one topic, Swaroop divided the topics and subjects such that he focused on each for a few hours every day. “I would study three topics in one day and devote up to two hours for each topic. This helped me during my study time and also later when I was revising everything,” he says.
Why so many exams? He laughs, “Once I cleared the UPSC, I wanted to try one more, and with each exam, I kept saying that to myself, ultimately ending up writing so many of them.”
The confidence that it gave Swaroop was also one of the key motivations to keep going.
Today, having cleared so many different exams, Swaroop runs a coaching institute, Catalyst. He is also a motivational speaker. Speaking about why he founded the institute, he says, “While I was preparing for these exams, I felt that things could have been easier for me and I would have been able to do even better had I found the right guidance. With that in mind, I started my institute to train other aspirants and provide them with a platform.”
Swaroop’s story is truly inspirational, and we hope that you find your motivation while preparing and appearing for these competitive examinations.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)