Alankrita Pandey: Once caught in depression cleared UPSC in her first attempt with Rank 85



Background: In January 2014, Alankrita decided to start preparing for UPSC exam. However, in mid-2014, she had to go through a personal crisis. This brought her to the level of using anti-depressants, anger management sessions and counseling by friends and family.

She planned to write prelims in January 2014 and started reading some basic books but due to her aggravated situation, could not even write the exam. These circumstances went on till October and finally it controlled. By this time, she had decided to focus only on her career. The crisis gave her a clear sense of purpose.

The life changing moment was not when the results came out, but the day when she stuck a paper on a wall in her room saying- “I want a 2-digit AIR in CSE-2015.”

Her journey: She then began the hard work of day in-day out studies. She planned her preparation first at macro level and then at micro level. Example, she planned completing full mains syllabus by May 15, then reducing it to topic wise scheduling and then hour wise every day.

Her motivation: There used to be moments of doubt, depression and stress quite often. To tackle it, she used to run in the mornings, meditate and exercise. Sometimes when she would lose patience to go on, she wrote on a paper as to why she started all this and this would provide her the motivation to move forward with more enthusiasm. Whenever she felt lethargic, she would see the newspaper and problems faced by various sections of society and think as to how she could be of some help. This gave her a sense of urgency to get into that position.

Strategy for preparation: Newspaper played the most important role in her preparation. One must not ignore it at any cost. Apart from this, 50-60% of her preparation was from internet. One more thing that she thinks helped her was studying very selectively but studying strong. She would read a single book 4-5 times rather than reading 4-5 books for one subject. Since the process of this examination itself is year-long, one must study something keeping it in mind that it might be asked a year later in their interview. One should be able to retain the points in long term memory and that can only be done once you have understood and analyzed the issues properly.

Mains strategy: Answer writing based on current events, peer evaluation process, mind maps during revision, strategy articles of toppers were initiatives that were immensely relevant and helpful.

Her motto: ‘Your thoughts become things. Make them good.’ The power of positive thinking cannot be emphasized enough. She believes it to be her most important asset throughout the preparation. She always saw a silver lining in every challenging situation, right from the unfavorable start to her preparation or managing financial difficulties.

Message to aspirants: Attitude is more important than aptitude.

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