Hi, I am Preksha Agrawal AIR-30, CSE 2022. I will share my strategy, notes and thoughts on UPSC preparation through this post.
I have given, in all 4 attempts starting from 2019. I qualified prelims in all of these. I qualified mains in 2021 for the first time, was recommended and achieved AIR-303. I was allocated Indian Defence Accounts Services. I again gave 2022 attempt, and achieved AIR-30.
Table of Contents
- 1 Preksha Agrawal UPSC Marksheet (2019)
- 2 Preksha Agrawal UPSC Marksheet (2020)
- 3 Preksha Agrawal UPSC Marksheet (2021)
- 4 Preksha Agrawal UPSC Marksheet (2022)
- 5 Coaching Institute joined by Preksha Agrawal
- 6 UPSC Mains Preparation Strategy by Preksha Agrawal
- 7 Essay Preparation Strategy by Preksha Agrawal
- 8 Notes Making Strategy by Preksha Agrawal
Preksha Agrawal UPSC Marksheet (2019)
Preksha Agrawal UPSC Marksheet (2020)
Preksha Agrawal UPSC Marksheet (2021)
Preksha Agrawal UPSC Marksheet (2022)
Coaching Institute joined by Preksha Agrawal
I am writing down the names of the coaching institutes from which I took help:-
1. Foundation course- Vajiram- and Ravi, ORN (Delhi)
2. Test series-
Vision IAS- 2019- 8 tests
Vision IAS- 2020- 20 tests
Forum IAS- 2021- 20 tests
Forum IAS-2022- 8 tests
For Geography optional
1. Foundation course- Vajiram- and Ravi( Shabbir sir)
2. Enrichment course- 2019-Vajiram and Ravi(Shabbir sir)
2020- Edukemy( Shabbir Sir)
3. Test series
2021- Guidance IAS (120+ course)
2022- Guidance IAS and Edukemy
1. Foundation course- Vajiram- and Ravi( Shabbir sir)
2. Test series-
2019- Vajiram and Ravi
UPSC Mains Preparation Strategy by Preksha Agrawal
General strategy to write mains answers-
- Make notes of the topics given in the official syllabus.
- Memorize those once or twice.
- Begin writing answers with notes in front of you. Your first answer may take 2-3 hours. That’s not a matter of worry.
- Check for value additions which can be added to your answer. It may be some PIB data, diagram, or a graph etc.
- After writing 40-50 answers this way, start putting a timer, say of 60 minutes and start reducing it gradually. Now practice writing the answers within the time limit.
- Your answer quality may be really bad initially. Feel proud that you are atleast making an effort to write answers.
- Everyday, revise that answer’s content, value addition and the answer itself. Have variation in your topics. If you are writing an answer on 1857 revolt today, attempt a question on globalisation the next day.
- This way set 20-30 days for each paper. Keep on iterating this.
- Within 1-2 months, you will find the quality of your answers has improved tremendously.
- Only after this, attempt the test series.
Hope you were able to refresh your mind over the last week. Now, we need to begin our three and a half month journey towards mains. Results, if we go by previous year trends, are expected to be released between 15-20 June. I would request all of you not to waste any time and begin to study.
For these 10-15 days, there are a few dos-
1. Finish your pending monthly CA magazines.
2. Consolidate your notes of static topics like Modern India, Physical geography, art & Culture. This will help you avoid last minute panic before mains when focus shifts to current based topics.
3. Look up quotes, case studies, anecdotes- this will help you in GS4 and essay later.
4. Make notes of editorials on frequently asked questions. For eg. Editorials by Ashok Gulati on agriculture. You may also make notes using resources available on coaching websites. I used the editorial analysis on Drishti IAS website and 7 pm daily editorial on Forum IAS.
And some don’ts–
1.Don’t begin with any heavy subject or topic right now.
2. Don’t study dynamic topics like S&T or IR now. They should be studied later.
3.Don’t write any tests.
The whole idea is not to force yourself at this point to study for 13-14 hours and at the same time, also not remaining idle till the results. This time is meant to sharpen your tools. Study with a relaxed mind and gradually transition into a disciplined regime.
Essay Preparation Strategy by Preksha Agrawal
Points to be noted in essays-
- Make essays as multi-dimensional as possible
- Always stick to the main theme. Play with the words but come back to the topic.
- Have some extra readings for essays- develop a knack to learn some famous anecdotes, quotes and use them. They are not mandatory but they do increase your marks.
- Trust the wisdom of the examiner.
- Do not attempt topics just because they are tough.
- Treat essays as an area where you can present yourself as a worthy future civil servant. Don’t be afraid of them.
- Practice writing an essay every 7-10 days.
- As for other papers, set up a timer after few days of practice.
- Time spent in thinking should be 20-25 minutes per essay. The more you think before the actual essay begins, the faster you will be able to write it down.
- Language should be among less important things. Accord higher significance to organization, flow and ideas in your essay.
Notes Making Strategy by Preksha Agrawal
A discussion on note making-
Note-making is a process which not all of us have been familiar with. It appears to be enigmatic or understood only by a selected few. Today, I will try to help you out in a small way. A large part of my technique is what I learnt from Shabbir sir and I am hugely grateful to him.
Purpose of note-making
To be able to write whatever you have studied in the exam. I used to make notes write from 2018 but made a mistake of forgetting the purpose. So, by 2021 I had huge piles of notes which haven’t been used at all. Then I decided to actually apply them in an answer. I have elaborated this in points 7,8. Check it out and see if it makes sense to you.
I would like to repeat at the outset that I have been selected in 4th attempt so people may find my way of working too hard or too lengthy to be finished within few months. All people have different strategies and you are free to adopt whichever you feel is appropriate for you.
- Notes should be a concise way of writing the matter. Ideally, font size should be small and information should be densely packed.
- Précis writing, also asked in English language paper, is the original matter compressed in 1/3 words. You should also aim for same.
- While making the notes, make use of abbreviations and symbols which should remain consistent throughout to avoid confusion. Initially, you may need to make an index to remember the symbols. Eg. I used CVD for civil disobedience movement.
- Divide the page in 2-3 columns vertically and then pack your matter in that. (Please scroll to find my world history notes written in this way) https://t.me/scaling_upsc/20
- Make use of small diagrams, graphs, numbers to use less words.
- Note-making is NOT a one-time process. You will need to refine them repeatedly and also make them more crisp.
- Coming to the purpose of notes, to be able to use the notes, you need to go through them, learn them and rewrite them in as few words as possible. Only then you can use them
- I am sharing few hand-written editorials on biodiversity. For editorials, I made sure to write the date and newspaper and convert it into Q and A form. Then, I have shared a crisper version of all the above notes on a single page.
- Then, you should learn the précis by heart and try to use them in answers. Now, I can use these notes on answers related to environment, which is the umbrella topic for biodiversity.
- Use A4 size sheets and not a notebook. This is to add content easily. When you find some current issue related to static notes, simply add one more sheet. For eg. You have notes on tribal revolts during colonial times. Now comes the event of 150th birth anniversary of Alluri Sitaram Raju. Add this to the static notes.
Some common mistakes-
- We tend to assume that there is no need to write everything down as we will remember it all. (Only good for the fantasy world)
- Not writing the sources of your notes. (You may need to revisit the original text)
- We keep on collecting material, making notes and piles. (why to make notes, when you aren’t using them?)
- Not ensuring that notes are organized- paper wise or topic wise.( You may end up with scores of hand written papers lying haphazard in a mess)
Remember your notes are a way to make you remember loads of stuff and use them in your exams. These will be helpful both in prelims and mains. Some changes may be needed which you will learn as the process continues. For eg. In prelims you may need notes on new species discovered in Western Ghats while in mains your notes will be on a broad topic of loss of biodiversity. This you will manage once you get into the process.
For now, begin learning and practising. Nothing can be achieved by staying idle and imagining things. You have to do it by yourself.