Excessive content, timely breaks to limited resources, IPS Aditya shares the preparation strategy that helped him crack the UPSC.
IPS Aditya has appeared for 30 competitive examinations like the state administrative services, All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE), Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), and banking exams in five years. Of these, he only cleared the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services Examination (CSE), that too, in his fourth attempt!
Despite a series of failures, he did not give up, for he knew that perseverance and hard work would pay off one day.
With an all-India rank of 630, Aditya cleared the UPSC in 2018 (Punjab cadre) and is currently posted as Assistant Superintendent of Police in the Sangrur district.
Aditya completed his schooling from his native town Ajeetpura, in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district, and completed his BA in History, Political Science, and Geography.
Like his father, Aditya too always wanted to pursue civil services. “I grew up listening to how civil servants were the first in line to lend a helping hand to common people. They have the power to use their position and solve basic civic problems. This ignited my curiosity as a child and I was leaned towards it after my graduation.”
Because the UPSC criteria allowed candidates to appear for the exams once a year, Aditya made back-up plans to study and apply to other competitive examinations. This not only helped him focus on his studies but also increased his overall knowledge and experience of writing exams.
But, how did Aditya remain hopeful with so many failures?
“I was discouraged on multiple occasions and thought of quitting. But I chose to stay away from unnecessary societal pressure and negativity. After every exam, I would motivate myself to perform better in the next one. I decided to do my job because I had faith that apna time aayega,” Aditya tells The Better India.
Since his parents were teachers, education was always a priority. This also kept his momentum during the dreary times. “Having a strong support system is very important, and my parents have been very supportive.”
Giving an insight into Aditya’s phenomenal efforts and never-give-up attitude, his senior, IRS Avadh Kishor tells TBI, “We were a group of aspirants that came from Hindi-medium backgrounds that made the process more difficult. We would often discuss our failed interview rounds. We would be discouraged by the fact that our first language (Hindi) acted as a barrier. But Aditya would never lose hope. I have seen him work extremely hard on improving his performance in the personality test. Today, when we look back we realise that it was our preparation methods that helped us crack UPSC eventually.” Avadh is presently posted as Assistant Commissioner, Income Tax Department in Raipur.
Overconfidence to Excess Content: Dos & Don’ts
Aditya did not clear the preliminary examination in the first attempt, so he studied harder and managed to reach the interview round in his second attempt. However, he did not clear the personality test (PT). Here’s where he fell prey to overconfidence.
“When I reached the PT, I thought I could easily clear the Prelims and Mains. All I had to do was work on my interview skills. I got a reality check, and failed the Mains in the third attempt,” he shares.
His biggest learning was not to take anything for granted. He changed his preparation strategy, and worked on mastering every aspect, right from time management to general knowledge.
One of the easiest and most successful formulae is to practice writing answers. This not only improves writing speed but also helps in structuring answers. “If you write every day, you will get a grip on consistency. Dedicate some time to writing essays. Make this a part of your daily routine.”
While you’re at it, formulate small goals that you can conquer daily. “Studying up to seven hours is sufficient if you have a proper schedule.”
Aditya also suggests taking frequent breaks. He took short breaks every hour to stay fresh and focused throughout the day.
He also strictly avoided referring to multiple sources like websites, coaching centres and books. “Instead of going through everything, limit your studies. Read one book fifty times, rather than 50 books once. This way, you can increase your revision rounds. Always keep a pen and paper with you, so that you can make as many notes as possible,” he adds.
Aditya shares some quick tips that will come in handy for those appearing for the UPSC exams.
- For Prelims, make sure you have practised enough.
- For Mains, time management and excellent command on your optional subject are key.
- As for the PT, remember the judges will test your personality more than your knowledge. So, do not forget to do a detailed preparation of your background.
Preparing and appearing for so many examinations with no guarantee of a job is no mean feat, especially when your peers progress in their journeys. Keeping calm and having faith at all times is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea.
But civil service officers like Aditya continue to defy the norms and go on to prove that failures are, indeed, the stepping stones to success.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)