In 2018, Akshita Gupta had no plans of becoming a civil servant. But three years later, she became an IAS officer having cleared the UPSC exams on the first attempt with an All India Rank of 69.

It was in the third year of her MBBS at Government Medical College & Hospital, Chandigarh, that she realised her calling was elsewhere.

Taking an unconventional step, she says, “I realised I wanted to look at things from a wider perspective. So, I started preparing for the UPSC CSE examination.”

She adds, “I scored well in my optional because I used to revise daily. Smart revision is the ultimate key,” says the 24-year-old from Panchkula, Haryana, who scored 299 out of 500 in her optional i.e. medical science.

Akshita gives a three-way strategy to memorise a book. “In your first reading, underline the important points. In the second, highlight important facts. In the third, just read the highlighted parts,” she advises.

She further asks aspirants to pen down important facts about every topic in a clean thin register. “This helps to go back to the notes before the exam without having to revisit the whole syllabus.”

“When you start your day, revise what you learnt the previous day. It is not time-consuming and also helps you retain knowledge,” she suggests.

Akshita cleared her exam while juggling between a medical internship and preparation for the exam. “Those two months were very hectic for me. I used to go to the hospital and then study,” she recalls.

Akshita advises aspirants who are preparing while having a full-time job to be thorough with the syllabus first — even if it takes two to three years — before appearing for the exam. “Invest four to five hours a day in preparation,” she says.

She also stresses, “Don’t feel that the syllabus is a burden; be a part of it. UPSC judges your stress management, innovation and decision-making.”