Background: An engineer who graduated from Mangalayatan University, Agam Jain managed 133rd rank in UPSC-2015. He lived in a village near Aligarh and that’s where it all started. In his first year of college, he used to go 4 km every day to teach poor children in another village and lived in adverse of the conditions.
There was lack of electricity, water, cooler and other basic amenities. Even the main road was nearly 2 km away from his room. With that he experienced something which most youth in present day doesn’t face. He saw people living together without formalities, festivals (though with many superstitions) celebrated in enjoyment, beauty of flora and fauna at their best, changing seasons to evening walks on the trails near agriculture fields.
He even saw some fights and deaths, ‘dangals’ as the best form of sports, people indulging in illegal activities and gender inequality.
By the third year, he found that his study tactics and his desire to work for nation could only be met with entering the civil services. After that he used to go to the library to understand an article of Hindu – in complete one hour!
Played volleyball a lot, analysed things more vividly and studied anything which came in his way. An average student, with a strong will power, he managed to climb the ladder of success, with perseverance.
His journey: After graduation, he went to Delhi, made the timetable for complete one and half year and prepared exactly according to that.
Short term strategy: One should make online as well as written notes. When you like any answer/topic from just copy (but selectively) them into your account under particular heading. These notes come handy everywhere like while travelling, sitting with some boring relatives etc.
Newspaper cuttings: When you read newspaper/yojana/kurukshetra, cut the selective portion and put in file. Write when you listen to particular topic from air news, RSTV programs, read any book etc.
Schedule: Make a schedule for 6 days a week. Reserve 7th day for revision of the on/offline notes. Don’t just revise them but minimise them, say from 2 pages to one and then to half by the time exams come.
Prelims Strategy: Don’t leave anything undone when it comes to prelims.
Besides preparing basics from the textbooks, one day he made a list of such vague things like name of national parks, rivers, GI tags, republic day tableau, international conventions and reports, recent Padma winners, UNESCO sites, programs under ministries etc.
However, he suggests not to make the list in a day, for it will be hectic and can’t be remembered. Rather, one should have an eye on newspaper when something comes related to it.
Polity gives edge in prelims, so one should not lose any mark in that portion. Read Laxmikanth as many times. Geography can be done easily too. One can check science monitor program of RSTV for current scientific developments.
Mains Strategy: Writing practice is must. It gives an extra margin of few seconds per question which is very important.
Tips regarding writing: Write answer in morning and evaluate yourself in evening. Don’t evaluate immediately. In evening, check the answer with the mind-set of teacher and do strict marking. This way, you will realise what teacher wants.
Make list of some international conventions/charters etc., they help in beautifying the answer. Example, if one student writes, ‘India is trying best to stop child trafficking’, and another writes according to so and so convention, India is signatory to stop child trafficking on global level, it will make a significant remark on the examiner.
Follow balanced approach.
Tips to aspirants: Always keep a small paper with you. At times, while reading, we don’t know something and we think that we will search it later. But later, we used to forget that. That small paper could be used to note all those doubts which are to be resolved later.
Don’t fool yourself. At times, we watch documentaries or other war related movies and tell ourselves that we are doing something related to studies. They might be related but vaguely and consuming precious time.
Choose your material carefully and stick to that. If it is Laxmikanth, then don’t give damn to D D Basu. If it is Guha, then don’t care of Bipin Chandra and so on.
If time permits, read some non-fictions (not directly related to upsc) in leisure time. He read Pax Indica by Shashi Tharoor; Makers of modern India by Guha; Brief History of time by Hawking etc. These will give you an extra edge somewhere unknowingly.
Don’t spread the word of your preparation a lot. It might bring extra pressure on you.