Kartikeya Jaiswal AIR 35 UPSC Topper Notes, Strategy, Marksheet

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Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021)
Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021)

Kartikeya Jaiswal AIR 35, CSE’21 Score

UPSC Topper Score – Kartikeya Jaiswal
Written Total825
Personality Test Total182
Final Total 1007
All India Rank 35
Kartikeya Jaiswal AIR 35, CSE’21

Kartikeya Jaiswal UPSC Booklist

A brief history of modern India (Spectrum)Get Book
Indian Art and Culture by Nitin SinghaniaGet Book
Certificate Physical & Human Geography by GC LeongGet Book
AtlasGet Book
Indian Polity by LaxmikanthGet Book
Indian EconomyGet Book
Shankar IAS EnvironmentGet Book
Internal Security and Disaster Management by AshokGet Book
Kartikeya Jaiswal UPSC CSE BOOKLIST

Kartikeya Jaiswal AIR 35, CSE’21 UPSC Topper Info

UPSC Topper 2021 Background
NameKartikeya Jaiswal
Civil Service Exam 2021
All India Rank 35
Number of Attempt1
Age 23
Optional Subject Mathematics
Native Bhullar Muktsar, Punjab
EducationGraduation is Mathematics Honors
Kartikeya Jaiswal AIR 35, CSE’21 UPSC Topper Info

Hello Everyone,
I am Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021). This will be my official channel for sharing my strategy, notes and other CSE-related stuff. My strategy may not be the best one or the most suitable for you. So, as the description says, Critically Analyse before Consumption. Hope to help some of you. Thanks.

Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021) Marksheet
Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021) Marksheet
Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021) CS Prelims (2021) Marksheet
Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021) CS Prelims (2021) Marksheet

About Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021)

I graduated from St. Stephen’s College (University of Delhi) in 2020, with B. Sc. (H) in Mathematics. My Optional was also Mathematics. This was my first attempt. I have created this channel to be a one-stop solution for the queries people had regarding my strategy. Adopt what suits you, if at all, discard the rest.

Coaching Institutes Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021) was associated with:

1. Took VisionIAS GS test series for Mains (in Feb., 2021)
2. Took IMS Maths test series for my Optional, i.e. Maths (in Feb., 2021 and Oct., 2021)
3. Took Mock Interviews at Byju’s, Chahal Academy-cum-Dikshant, KSG, Vajirao and Reddy, Unacademy, Vision, Rau’s and Samkalp

Notes referred by Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021)

1. I read VisionIAS monthly magazines (free pdf is uploaded on its website)
2. I read VisionIAS and Insights daily current affairs (freely available online)
3. I accessed IMS notes (for Maths) from the Google Drive link on their Telegram channel and got the pdfs of the notes printed. These notes were my source material for self-study of Maths. Only for Physics-related portions, I used Krishna Series books. No other books for any other Maths topic. Solved previous years’ IMS tests for practice
4. I only solved Prelims tests through pdfs which are freely available online and solved various quizzes and open tests by different institutes
5. Used mains tests pdfs, which I could find freely available online, for practice
6. For essays, no test series. Only got some of them evaluated by my friends and seniors (a bunch of aspirants and non-aspirants). More on this in the Essay related post (Coming Soon…).

Please Note:

I’ll try my best to cover all dimensions of my strategy in a single post for a particular topic. Even then, if something gets left, I’ll be sure to add it later and inform you all. Thanks.

Current Affairs Sources (Prelims and Mains): by Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021)

Newspaper (The Hindu) – When I started preparing, I took 1.5 hrs to read. In a few months, the time reduced to 45-50 mins. I felt 45 mins. to be the optimal duration. Try speed reading the articles in general and read only the keywords carefully. Always bear the Syllabus and PYQs in mind.

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Daily CA material tailor-made for CSE –
1) VisionIAS Daily CA – Covers news comprehensively. Gives some background information also. E.g.- An article on a newly launched scheme in renewable energy sector, would also cover past schemes of that sector and some stats. Overall, quite useful.
2) Insights Daily CA – Often a direct copy-paste of newspaper articles, or its own website’s past articles. But helpful, coz by repetition, it facilitates revision. More revision, better absorption.

Monthly Magazine – VisionIAS. Got its pdf printed on my own, every month. Read only these for repeated CA revisions. Had Maths optional, so no time to make Yojana for the ultimate Kurukshetra

Union Budget and Economic Survey – Read their Analysis (not just Summary) by VisionIAS

Note –

1) Personality Test (Interview) preparation requires a different strategy to cover CA thoroughly, which I’ll be sharing in due course.
2) Note making strategy for CA will be shared shortly.

Booklist of Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021)

Booklist for Static parts of the Syllabus – Both Prelims and Mains (primarily GS 1, 2 and 3)

Ancient and Medieval (A&M) History – Tamil Nadu board 11th Std History book, supplemented by NIOS textbook for A&M history. These were my Core Materials. Read 12th NCERTs for A&M history only after finishing the Core texts, for covering anything that may have been left out.

Art and Culture – 11th Std Fine Arts NCERT. Read through VisionIAS material on A&C a couple of times, was quite good.

Modern History – Spectrum (by Rajiv Ahir)

Post Independence History – 12th NCERT for Political Science and Spectrum’s last few chapters.

World History – Old NCERTs of 9th and 10th Std. for World History, by Arjun Dev

Geography – 11th and 12th NCERT, G. C. Leong and Maps (bought an Oxford Atlas, but only used it for the full size Maps attached at the end and for map drawing practice)

Polity – Laxmikant and Bare Acts of the Constitution (These days they ask Direct questions from the Constitution). Read 11th NCERT for basic knowledge of political science (I am from Science background)

Economy – Sriram IAS book on Indian Economy (quite good) and 11th and 12th NCERT (Except 12th std. Microeconomics)

Environment – Shankar IAS book (cursory reading). Focused on a topic specifically only if asked in a PYQ or repeated often in Prelims mocks. Went through the last 4 chapters of 12th Std. Bio NCERT

Science and Technology, IR, Internal Security etc. – Newspaper; Daily news material on VisionIAS and Insights website and VisionIAS monthly magazines.

Extra tips by Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021) –

1) Made short notes on Landmark Judgements by SC in the past (gathered material from the internet) – Name of the case, year and key observations in the verdict

2) Made notes on important provisions of Bills passed/being discussed by the Parliament and of “policies” brought out by the government (“Policies” and “Schemes” are different)

3) Made a list of important committees and commissions, particularly for important sectors, e.g. Agriculture, Electoral Reforms, Centre-State relations, Poverty etc.

4) Noted down only the Recommendations of 2nd ARC (in detail, for Ethics Report and just the gist for the rest)

5) Made a list of all the SDGs, for ready recall during Mains answer writing. Writing a few schemes and stats related to each SDG may be doubly helpful.

6) With only a few months left for Mains, made a list of key stats, in sectors like Education, Healthcare, Environment, Agriculture etc. for quickly quoting in Mains answers.

7) Took notes of key observations by SC in contemporary cases (2020 and 2021)

8) Made a list of India’s rankings in key global indices and noted down the indices brought out by NITI Aayog, RBI etc.

Some more tips by Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021) :

Since my Mains answer writing speed was slow and I almost always left 1 or 2 answers while writing Mains tests for GS (1, 2 and 3), I adopted the following Sequential Order in answering the questions in Mains tests. This strategy helped me finish all my answers in all the papers of final exam:

1) First, wrote Q9 and Q10 (10 markers were allotted 7.5 min. each). So, these 15 min. built the rhythm of answer writing and warmed up my brain and fingers for answer writing.

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2) Then, wrote Q11 to Q20. After having built the rhythm, all these 15 markers were at the Core of my 3 hr. journey (about 10 mins. were allotted to each 15 marker). Now that my brain has been activated and my fingers warmed up, the best content comes out for the part which has the lion’s share of marks. One can’t afford to rush through the 15 markers at the end, because this way, the marks lost would be many more.

3) Then came to Q1 to Q8. These 10 markers are going to be direct questions. Plus one has built quite a momentum by now, to quickly recall points for answers. You’d be surprised to know that you’ll start finishing these questions in even 5-6 mins., instead of the 7.5 mins. allotted. Even if one has little time left at the end and the only option left is to rush through Q7 and Q8, guess what, the examiner won’t ever know that you faced a time crunch. This is because the last questions have been so carefully sandwiched amid the well-written ones, that they leave little trace of their existence (Ah! now don’t call me Sherlock 😂). The “usual suspects” as last answers are Q10 and Q20, but both of them are already well-written, so Hakuna Matata 😉

Ethics (GS 4) –

Always started with the Case Studies, to have a fresh mind for solving them. But ever bear in mind that they must only occupy half the time, at max (not more than 1.5 hrs.). The theory part carries almost equal marks and may prove quite lengthy, if not given adequate time.

Essay Strategy by Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021) ( Essay Marks 135):

Please NOTE:
It is extremely extremely important to read what UPSC has said in the notification regarding the demands of Essay paper. Ever bear that in mind.

Genearal Essay Strategy:

  1. Looked at toppers’ videos who had scored well in the Essay paper
  2. Looked at Anudeep Durishetty Sir’s blog and essay notes, to see how the content of essays can be diversified. Learnt how starting on an engaging note and ending on a positive, solution-oriented note, are pre-requisites of a good essay.
  3. Read Vikram Grewal Sir’s essay blog and essay answer sheets to know how to make essays interesting.
  4. Did not join any Essay test series. Got my essays evaluated from College seniors and friends (a mixed group of people, which included CSE aspirants and non-aspirants)
  5. Almost always started my essays with an anecdote and never with a quote (quotes are short and may not suffice to carry the narrative forward). Often I used 2 different anecdotes, with a seemingly different background, but a common underlying theme (NCERTs also often use this method for intros). But remember to end the essays, preferably, with a reference to the anecdote characters, if any. It looks more holistic (I always forgot this, even in my final essay)
  6. Had a repository of witty quotes by persons, such as Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Benjamin Franklin, R.W. Emerson (essentially people I personally admired) and the conventional biggies- Gandhi, Lincoln, Luther King Jr. etc. for sprinkling in the middle of essays, to substantiate my point with crisp articulation. (Will share the pdf soon)
  7. Simple, lucid expression always helps. Flowery vocab not required, but an occasional display of strong vocab exhibits good diction. Using words that crisply express the crux of entire sentences, reflects a command over the language. Look how newspapers talk. Try to learn new words from them.
  8. Always end with a positive way forward, but be practical in solutions
  9. One can also make rough templates of intro and conclusion to common essay topics, as Anudeep Sir did.

Essay Practice:

Essay Writing in Exam tips by Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021)

When I started my preparation (Sept., 2020), I wrote an essay per week (on Sundays). Continued this for a couple of months, but as the burden of Maths and GS preparation increased, I left Essay practice. Again during May-July, 2021 (when prelims got postponed), wrote an essay daily and boosted my practice. Between prelims and mains, wrote an essay every 2-3 days. When I wrote GS tests between prelims and mains, I scheduled them as they were going to be in the Final Exam (2 papers each, on 2 consecutive days). And to make things more realistic, I always put a 3 hour essay test (2 essays) immediately before the GS test days. Basically practising in a way that increases the number of essays I wrote and their resemblance to Final Exam schedule, as the mains neared.

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Gave first 15 mins. to jot down 20 points in rough (in both essays), which’ll form the themes of my 20 odd paragraphs (remember to have coherence and a sense of fluidity in these themes of paragraphs). Rest 1 hr. and 15 mins. for writing down the essay. Strategy borrowed from Vikram Grewal Sir.

Do not make paragraphs long-ish. Keep sentences crisp too. Underline important words. Use indentation to show clear break in paragraphs. Ever be tethered to the topic, but analyse it comprehensively.

Choosing an essay:

Choose an essay for which you have maximum examples, data, facts and anecdotes. Basically adequate content. Do not be carried away by popular choices. Be doubly sure that you properly understand every term of the topic.

Philosophical Essays strategy by Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021)

  1. The real problem for me in such essays was to gather material that could fill those 10+ pages. I realised, the key was to substantiate the point of the essay with diverse examples in such topics.
  2. Since SPECLIH (Social-Political-Economic-Cultural-Legal-International-Historical and Environmental, Technological etc etc) are the dimensions we usually cover in GS based Essays and are quite mundane, my focus was to bring examples from unconventional, but interesting sectors. This included MELA (Music-Entertainment, i.e. Cinema etc.-Literature-Art), Religion and Mythology, Social media etc.
  3. A Youtube channel named “The School of Life” introduced me to the ideas and philosophies of great thinkers, artists and writers of the past, which helped me illustrate my points efficiently.
  4. I also had some evergreen poems like “The Psalm of Life”, “Invictus”, “If” etc (again, my personal favs) ready in my head to be quoted, if needed. I also read through the themes of some of the all time best books, like “1984”, “The God of Small Things”, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” etc to be cited as examples. Quotes by well known personalities were anyway handy. All this reflects that the candidate is well-read.

GS topics based Essays: Strategy by Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021)

  1. Usually SPECLIH framework is followed, but other ways such as Temporal approach, Problem-Solution approach, Individual-Society-National-Global approach etc, as suggested by Anudeep Sir in his notes, can be tried and perfected.
  2. Sprinkle facts, figures, Constitutional articles, laws, SC judgements, committee/international reports in the essay for authenticity of arguments.
  3. If the topic of the essay highlights a problem, always use at least 35%-40% of the essay to give out solutions to the problem
  4. A couple of pop culture references in these essays wouldn’t hurt.

1) Links to Anudeep Sir’s Blog and Essay Notes:


2) Link to Vikram Sir’s Blog (His essay answer sheets are available on VisionIAS portal):


Tips regarding best pen for. UPSC by Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021)

I used Unomax Geltron pen (Gel pen) for Mains. I personally felt that handwriting in gel pens looks good. Plus, after practising too much with pens having a thumb grip (which is actually for better grip while writing and is present in most pens), I developed writing cramps. To lessen the pain, numbness and to prevent the issue further, I wanted a pen without a thumb grip. Geltron came to the rescue. My younger sister accidentally helped me in this. (Thank you 🙂

PS – To tackle writing cramps, I practised some exercises too.

Tips for geography map section by Kartikeya Jaiswal (AIR 35, UPSC CSE 2021)

Map making for Mains answers (Geography questions in GS 1)-

  1. Maps are usually expected to be made within a box, with proper labelling and on the top right part in the answer space. Add proper legend, if needed.
  2. Maps shouldn’t be too small to be indecipherable or too large to be a disproportionate encroachment on answer space.
  3. It is advisable to be able to draw a decent looking India’s map for quick execution in Mains (quite important). Drawing important parts of World Map, e.g. Indo Pacific region, may suffice. You’ll never have the time or the space to draw the entire world map.
  4. How I learnt making the right sized India maps – Had an Oxford Atlas. In it, small sized maps of India are made, showing extent of empires, mineral distribution etc. Used to keep an A4 sheet below that page of the Atlas and redrew the outlines of the maps on the Atlas itself, again and again. This gave me an idea about India’s map boundaries and left an impression of the outline on the A4 sheet below. Then again drew the boundaries on the faint impression received on the A4 sheet. This gave me a 2nd practice and taught me how to draw a map on a blank sheet. Slowly one learns to draw India’s map without any impression on the paper and in a decent shape. The same method can be used for World Map.
  5. Practice holds the key to good map making (actually everything). Give 5-10 mins. to this map making exercise and you’ll be a pro at it by the time you write Mains.