The UPSC CSE is known to be one of the most challenging competitive exams in the world. Among the thousands of candidates, only a handful manage to achieve success.
This article is based on the insights drawn from the in-depth interviews conducted by Disha Publication of various UPSC top rankers. It explores the key ingredients that have contributed to the success of UPSC Civil Services2022 Toppers like Garima Lohia (AIR 2), Smriti Mishra (AIR 4), Dr Mayur Hazarika (AIR 5), Waseem Ahmad Bhat (AIR 7), Aniruddh Yadav (AIR 8), Swati Sharma (AIR 15), Sunil Phogat (AIR 77) and others. While their individual journeys may vary, there are certain common strategies that all these toppers adopted to score high in the Prelims and Mains.
Aspiring candidates can draw inspiration from these common success ingredients and tailor their preparation strategies accordingly.
Solve Topic-wise Previous Year Questions (PYQs):
Every topper swears by the importance of PYQs that cannot be stressed enough. For instance, Waseem Ahmad Bhat (AIR 7) recalls that he made it a part of his study routine to finish PYQs immediately after studying each topic. In this regard, Waseem says that Disha’s Topic-wise Previous Years Solved Papers helped him a great deal in understanding the UPSC exam pattern and keeping a track of his progress. Similarly, Garima Lohia (AIR 2) says that she did not skip a single PYQ given in Disha’s IAS Mains Year wise Solved Papers series of 4 books.
In-depth Study and Clearing Concepts:
All toppers reiterate that superficial study materials are no good to crack the UPSC CSE exam. The removal of elimination technique by UPSC and the increase in ‘Unique Option Pattern’ questions in Prelims further prove the significance of in-depth study. Toppers delve deep into each subject, thoroughly understanding the fundamental principles and their practical applications. For instance, Mayur Hazarika (AIR 5) says: “I aimed to develop a holistic understanding of the topics by studying from a comprehensive resource like Disha’s International Relations by Deepanshu Singh. The well-rounded coverage of topics presented in this book enabled me to tackle complex questions while making relevant connections.”
Those who recognize the significance of maps and make it a priority to develop a strong grasp on them definitely score better than others. Garima Lohia explains: “By preparing maps properly, you not only answer the numerous map-based questions with precision, but also easily retain data/ facts and reproduce maps for Mains answer writing. Although exact replication is not necessary in maps, a reasonable level of accuracy is expected. “All toppers understand that maps are not only important in the written papers but also in the interview stage, where questions related to countries and regions are raised often.
While an Atlas can only give you a peripheral knowledge of maps, a unique book like Disha’s 4 colored Master Geography Through Maps with infographics, PYQs, charts and tables can give you a solid exam-oriented training for UPSC.
Learn Data from Authentic Sources:
Toppers make it a point to learn data and statistics from authentic sources only. For example: Disha’s Quarterly Current Affairs is one such resource that extracts data directly from government reports, factsheets, etc. “While slight variations are allowed, the numbers you provide should be close enough to the actual figures. It is important to use reliable data to support your arguments and provide a strong foundation for your answer or essay,” says Mayur Hazarika (AIR 5).
Note-making & Regular Revision
Revision and note-making are indispensable in UPSC preparation. “Make notes with only one thing in mind: you should be able to go over the whole gist of the topic with facts & data when you revise months later,” says Swati Sharma (AIR 15). Waseem Bhat (AIR 7) remarks: “Regular revision helps you consolidate your knowledge while staying updated with latest changes helps you gain an edge in the competition.”
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According to UPSC toppers like Garima Lohia, Mayur Hazarika, Waseem A Bhat, Sunil Phogat and others, essays based on quotes or philosophical themes can be highly scoring if answered with creativity, unique perspectives, and factual knowledge. “You have to focus on connecting these themes with the areas of interest for UPSC, such as governance, law, foreign policy, politics, social equality, and the economy. By blending your understanding of these subjects with factual writing, you can present compelling essays that stand out,” says Garima. Check out Disha’s 51 Philosophical Essays if you want to gain a richer perspective on how to write quote-based essays.
In recent years, a growing number of toppers of various competitive exams have testified that they owe their success to various books published by Disha Publication. Recognizing the impact of Disha books on the success of toppers, Disha Publication has initiated a new campaign called “Toppers Read Disha Books.” The purpose of this campaign is to discover and showcase the stories of more toppers who have studied from Disha books to motivate the current exam aspirants and steer them in the right direction. To know more about this campaign, visit here: toppers-read-disha-books (bestbooks.lpages.co)
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