In 2018, Vishal Sah secured an AIR 63 in the UPSC Civil Service Examination.

This was a step up from the 1048 rank he had secured in the CSE the previous year.

He shares the strategies that helped him achieve this feat.

Sociology being his option paper and also one where he secured the highest marks (329), Vishal says he brought in a variety of perspectives in his answers.

“One should use their knowledge of the subject and apply it effectively to write a unique answer,” is what he suggests for this paper.

He also suggests that while picking an optional paper, do not choose a topic based on your interest.

Instead, go through the syllabus and understand whether or not you feel strongly about choosing it.

Make a time-table/schedule to understand exactly how much time you have on hand before making up your mind about the optional paper choice.

He suggests picking a subject wherein you can collate and put together enough material.

While making notes, Vishal says, “Remember to be concise, and jot down all relevant information.”

“Your notes should be like a ready reckoner when you go through them later. Use words and phrases that you will be able to recollect easily,” he says.

The trick to writing good answers, he says, is answering every part of the question.

“Ensure that you make your answers easy to read for the examiner. Take some time to put down sub-headings and break them up into paragraphs.”

Vishal adds, “I would advise aspirants not to spend the entire year making notes from a newspaper. It can be done during the three months before the mains to increase efficiency,” he says.