Here’s the story of Dr Divya S Iyer, a doctor turned Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.

She first attempted the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam in 2012, where she secured an All India Rank (AIR) of 139.

Dissatisfied, she attempted the exam again in 2014 and secured an AIR of 48.

However, the syllabus had significantly changed between the two attempts. Thus, began her search for books and resources.

During this time, she also wrote a book titled ‘Pathfinder’, to help other aspirants. This, she says strengthened her preparatory process.

Here are some other tips she recommends to ace the UPSC CSE.


1. Be very clear about what you want to do and work consistently towards achieving that.

2. Every line in the syllabus is important. Pay good attention during the preparatory stage.

3. Speak to people who have cleared the examinations and understand from them what worked and what did not.

4. Instead of focusing on one topic, work on acquiring the full span of knowledge of a subject.

5. Be self-disciplined. Stick to the strategy you have worked out and follow it through in a systematic manner.

6. In the preparatory phase, find like-minded people to study with and make notes.

She adds that due to the nature of the exam, aspirants should accept that energy levels might dip from time to time.

And highlights the support system for aspirants: family support, motivating teachers, yoga and meditation, good food and music and books apart from those prescribed.