Robin Bansal, 25, was able to make his sarkari naukari (government job) dream come to reality earlier this year when he scored an All India Rank of 135 on his fourth attempt.

He shares a few tips and tricks for other UPSC aspirants preparing for the exam:

1. Detect your mistakes Robin believes that UPSC CSE is one of the hardest exams to crack in the country and that usually, it requires more than one attempt to clear it.  He says, “The good thing about various attempts is that you can always figure out what went wrong in the failed attempt,” he says.

2. Learn from those mistakes Robin says that admitting those mistakes is the first step. He advises that aspirants should work on their past mistakes and try not to commit them again. “I was not good at writing, so I had to practise writing fast and clearly. This was a reason for one of my failed attempts.”

3. Self-study or coaching? While coaching has been helpful to many students, Robin has a countering view. He believes that the packages that coaching centres provide are not good enough.

He believes that it should be a mix of self-study and coaching. He advises a judicious use of the internet, top recommended books, peer groups, and other study materials for preparation.

4. Solve previous years’ papers The key to cracking the exams is by solving the old papers, Robin says. “Many aspirants get so indulged in covering the vast syllabus that they forget about the previous years’ papers,” he shares.

5. Mental health comes first The vast syllabus of UPSC CSE and multiple re-attempts can lead aspirants to feel burnt out and anxious. He recommends staying close to family and friends in such conditions.

“It can be harrowing on your mental health, so it is important to address that. With failure comes a lot of self-doubt. This makes it very important to have a safe and peaceful environment around you,” he recommends.

6. Taking a break is important Robin says that leisure time is also very important. He advises aspirants to take breaks from studying and meet a few friends to relax from time to time.

“Most of us forget that it is very important to give yourself time to breathe and release pressure. I was lucky enough to have good friends who helped me during the process.”