Dr Tanu Jain, an Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Services (AFHQCS) officer, cleared the UPSC CSE exams in her third attempt.

She shares a few things that worked for her while preparing for the exam.

Prelims is a screening test: Dr Tanu says that aspirants must not restrict themselves to one or two sources for general knowledge, and ensure that they have a good well-rounded understanding of the subject.

“Concentrate on increasing your depth and breadth of knowledge on any given subject. That will hold you in good stead during the examination,” she says.

Don’t bank on just one source: Resort to ‘smart studying’, advises Dr Tanu. “Keep one book or your notes as your base and thereafter look for other books and notes for further information that is missing from your base,” she says.

Tweak your circle: “Choose the friends you wish to hang out with. I would consciously discuss current affairs and topics of interest with family and friends,” she says, adding that she did not cut off her family or other friends, but chose to spend more time with those who were aspirants themselves.

Make a schedule you can stick to: “Drawing up a schedule is easy, sticking to it is what often causes problems,” says Dr Tanu.

Show utmost honesty towards preparation: The hard work an aspirant puts in for the preparation should not be for someone else.

“Having seen aspirants do this to impress others or because they have been asked to is of no use… Do it, only for yourself. Doing it for someone else might not motivate you the same way,” she says.

Be smart with time and resource management: “There are ample resources in the market to choose from. Be smart in picking what works for you the best,” says Dr Tanu.

She adds that aspirants must remember what matters is their performance in the examination and not the resources they used.