IAS officer Rahul S Sankanur (34), who secured an All India Rank 17 on his fifth attempt in the UPSC CSE 2018 exam, journey has been nothing short of ups and downs.

He did his engineering from R V College in Bengaluru and worked for two years in a private firm after which he decided to attempt the CSE.

The officer, who hails from a village in Karnataka, made it to the final list three times before tasting success. Here he shares his tips and tricks to prepare for the exam.

He quit his job in July 2014 and attempted CSE prelims for the first time. “I did not manage to clear that attempt but it helped me understand what was in store,” says Rahul.

He made a note of all the mistakes he was making and worked on them. “Being cognizant of the mistakes made and taking corrective measures to change them is a great way to move forward,” he adds.

He says that ample preparation is required to crack the exam. Not devoting enough time to writing answers for the mains was also a mistake, he adds.

“I found that reading came naturally to me as compared to attempting test series and answer writing. This was reflected in the answers I wrote because a lot of them were without a proper structure,” he says.

He also worked on improving his handwriting and would spend some time each day working on that skill.

“It is also important for each aspirant to analyse and figure out when to run fast and when to slow down. This is a personal exercise that each aspirant must undertake for themselves to be able to work better,” he says.

Learning to present answers well is of prime importance, he adds. He urges students to find answers written by toppers to gauge different methods of writing.

He adds that one should get into it only if you are passionate about public service. This examination requires immense patience and perseverance, and in the absence of passion, finding success is very difficult.

For aspirants in their third or fourth attempt, identifying mistakes and making changes is important. Find areas that need more practice and work on those alone rather than spending time on topics that you are adept at.

Do not treat all subjects equally. While preparing for current affairs is important, give equal time and importance to the static subjects. Do not allow one to overshadow the other during preparation.

Do not pick up any resource or content material that you cannot revise nearer the exam date. Make notes and be confident in studying only those before the examination.