Hello dear aspirants. My name is Khushboo Oberoi and I am from New Delhi. I hold a Bachelors of Science degree in Home Science from Lady Irwin college, Delhi University.
I secured AIR 139 in UPSC CSE 2022, and this was my second attempt. In my first attempt, I wasn’t able to clear prelims, so this was my first mains and interview.
I was once, where you are right now. So I hope that my strategy is helpful for you in some way.
During college, I started reading NCERT books and newspapers, so that as soon as my college ended, I was able to directly move to the UPSC reference books.
Strategy for Prelims
The cutoff for GS paper this year was 88.22, and I got 107 marks. Similarly, I got 103 marks in CSAT paper. My strategy was as follows:
- Sources: I followed coaching magazines (like Vision PT365) along with my own self notes that I made after thorough reading of the newspaper. I followed Indian Express, with maximum importance given to their ‘explained’ page.
- I had a benchmark in my mind regarding how many questions I have to attempt for sure, i.e. 85 / more. This number was arrived at after giving many mock tests and having a fair idea about how efficient and accurate I am.
- While solving and analyzing test series, I was more cautious about what not to read. For example, I ignored extremely factual details in Art and Culture if the topic was not in current affairs and also was not important from syllabus point-of-view.
- During the final days, I made very short notes of topics that I was easily forgetting. The notes consisted of no more than 5 pages, so that I could easily revise them even on the exam day.
- During the paper, I used to follow the 3-round strategy. During the first round, I took the least amount of time and completed the questions that I was sure about or able to do via elimination. In the second round, I took more time to eliminate and reach an answer. And finally, in the third round, I ensured that my benchmark of 85+ questions was being met by doing smart guess work.
- For CSAT: 2 months before prelims, I started revising basic CSAT notes and formulae, and solving questions, 2 days a week. The only source I followed was previous year question papers.
- The most important part of the strategy is believing that you can do it. I missed the prelims cutoff by just 3 marks in my first attempt, simply because I got so nervous. In my second attempt, I went in with utmost confidence in my mind.
If you have read previous two posts of CSE-22 Toppers, you would know that I am analyzing toppers’ marksheets. Vide analysis of 169 such marksheets it is observed that average score in GS-4 Paper this year is 111.8. Khushboo has scored way more than the average and here is her strategy for Ethics.
khusboo Oberoi UPSC CSE Booklist
Strategy for Ethics
I scored 128 marks in the Ethics paper.
- I always started with case studies and then went to the theory part of the paper, because case studies have much higher weightage.
- No matter how less one writes, it is utmost important to attempt each and every question. This is especially possible in Ethics, because one can even write generic answers if needed.
- I always started my answers with quotes related to the topic. I had collected many quotes on topics like corruption, empathy, compassion, integrity, etc. Eg) Gandhian philosophy says that “means should be as pious as the end”.
- Similarly, I also tried to conclude my answers by relating some quotes/ philosophies to the topic. For example, one can use “Seven Sins according to Gandhiji” in various answers. Like, Commerce without Morality can be used in corporate governance answers.
- In case study, introduction of answers can be done by making a small summary of the question, or writing the ethical dilemma(s) being presented in the question.
- Try to possibly mention an example with each and every statement being written. Even everyday examples can be used. Eg) Yudhishtir in Mahabharat was known for integrity and honesty.
For the Mark sheets in my possession belonging to Public Administration, the average score is 272.
Strategy for Public Administration Optional
My score: I got 135 marks (paper 1 ) and 159 marks (paper 2) = total 294 marks
I chose Public Administration because:
- I found Polity to be an interesting subject.
- Overlap between Pub Ad and GS2 (especially Pub Ad’s paper 2)
- The subject is also practically relevant for someone planning to join administration in the future.
Sources for studying:
1) Followed online coaching in TrustIAS institute – notes
3) Paper 2 majorly has overlap with Polity of GS – hence refereed to my polity notes
4) Topper copies freely available on internet to get an idea on how to answer questions
5) Previous Year Question papers – questions might get repeated / similar questions might be asked.
1) word by word topic coverage of optional syllabus
2) Linking paper 1 and 2 is extremely important. Every answer should have at least 1 reference from the other paper. Eg) Linking political culture with Riggs prismatic society; Indicative planning linked with McGregor’s Theory Y.
3) Mix of paragraphs and pointers should be used. Introduction and conclusion in paragraphs. Body to have mostly paragraphs, and sometimes points to write any examples.
4) Make short notes of keywords for each thinker in paper 1, and use diligently.
5) 2nd ARC to be read, and multiple revisions needed (especially for paper 2 )
6) Use of diagrams, graphs, etc. Eg) use graphs for showing the evolution of Comparative Public Administration.
Hope this was helpful.
Best wishes to all.