Hello everyone! My name is Rochika Garg. I’m from Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh. I went to school at St. Mary’s religious school and then went to NIT BHOPAL to get my BTECH in electrical engineering.
Rochika Garg UPSC Journey
During my third year of college, when I was teaching in a slum, I thought about getting ready for UPSC. They were a big reason why I wanted to join the public service and do something good for my country.
On May 20, 2019, I started my preparation by signing up for a foundation course at Vajiram and Ravi in Delhi. I stuck to a strict plan of 5 hours of coaching (2.5 GS + 2.5 OPTIONAL) and 5–6 hours of self-study for the whole year. I finished the subjects from the basic books and took notes from the coaches. I was ready for prelims because I had done all the work, but then COVID lockdown happened. The test was late, but I tried to use the extra time to finish the mains part and take notes on ethics and other topics.
My three-year journey ended when I got home to Ujjain after 10 months of foundation training. During COVID, which was a time of worry, helplessness, and sadness, I had to carefully balance my family time with my schoolwork because I had to do both. To stay on track, I tried to do yoga every day, talk to a friend for half an hour every day to re-energize, and help others by listening to them, all while meeting my daily study goals. I even tried to make a plan to study with a few of my friends to keep myself going. Don’t forget that sharing is caring.
For my first prelims, I tried to learn as much as I could about everything, from current events to basic facts. But I failed the prelims because I got scared during the last 30 minutes of the test. This cost me a lot, as I missed the pre that year by 0.66 marks. So my first big lesson was that it’s more important to do your best in those two hours than to work hard for a year. No one can take your paper away from you during those two hours, so stay cool and use your common sense.
On my second try, I changed two important things. I paid more attention to the part about static and made connections between current and static as I studied. Second, I tried the paper with confidence, trusting my feelings and using my common sense. So I got past both the forest cutoff and the civil services cutoff. But I couldn’t pass mains on my second try. The main reason was my elective, which was maths. I didn’t do as well as I could have because the material was so big and I didn’t study physics before the test, which was a bad idea. Second, I got a 392 on my GS, which was about normal. So I had to do better on all of my tests, but mostly in maths. It was hard to decide to try a third time, since I had already spent 3 years studying, but nothing was ready.
So I told myself that my third try would be the same as my last. I focused more on toppers’ copies for value addition in ethics and essays, and I worked to get better at maths by taking more tests, finishing the course, and getting value addition from Kanishk Kataria sir’s notes. I told myself over and over, “Those who sweat more when they train will bleed less in battle.” And because of this, I studied more, took more tests, and did two sims (4 GS, 2 optional, and an essay) before the mains. This helped me improve my mains score by about 80 points. The last step came next. I think the interview is the easiest stage, but it is still very important. This year, getting 193 points changed everything for me because it helped me get into my second-choice IRS (IT). My peers helped me prepare for interviews by having daily discussions, mock interviews, and one-on-one meetings with me. This gave me more confidence and helped me answer new questions. Preparing for an interview is fun and requires you to think about yourself and have faith in yourself.
Aspirants should first believe in themselves, surround themselves with good people from both the UPSC and outside of it, and be honest about their goals and efforts. And remember ‘jo mehnat ka sath nhi chhodhte kismat unka sath kabhi nhi chhodhti’
Also, when you lose, only you lose, but when you win, everyone around you wins with you. So work hard until you turn that loss into a win for everyone.
Booklist and Sources for Prelims
1.POLITICS – a. Laxmikanth b. NCERT class 11th – Indian constitution at work c. Atish mathur sir channel for pyq analysis
d. Abhey kumar sir – 500 question bank
e. Vajiram’s notes from class
2.1 Ancient –
a.NCERT – RS SHARMA
b. Notes from classes at VAJIRAM
c. TAMIL NADU BOARD – NCERT Class 11
2.2 Modern: A. History of Modern India, by Bipin Chandra. B. Spectrum, which I didn’t read from start to finish. Instead, I read the appendices, summaries, and a few parts that Bipin Chandra didn’t cover well enough.
2.3 Mediaeval history has a very low return on what you put into it.
So, I only used: a. Tamil Nadu board NCERT class 11 b. Class notes at vajiram
3. Art and culture: Ncert class 11 b. class notes – Rohan sir pdf on paintings and building styles was very helpful.
c. Made maps to help me remember the different dances, art, and traditional games of India.
4. Geography: a. All NCERTs from 9th to 12th grade. This is the best and only way to learn about geography.
b. Class notes from manocha sir. c. Used Amit Sengupta and Ratanjil Mam’s YouTube feeds to help me understand some ideas by giving me a better picture of them.
5. Environment: This should be read after geography, so you can understand it better.
a. The last four parts of biology class 12 from NCERT are a good place to start learning about ecosystems, food chains, climate change, mineral cycles, etc.
b. Vaishali mam freebies at vajiram
c. Shankar: I only read parts of it that had not been read about before, like pollution, different acts, ecology, etc.
d. G.C. Leong: I didn’t have to read this book for geo, but I did for the parts on biomes from an environmental point of view.
e. Current events are very important here; the only one I used to study before my prelims was PT 365, which was about the environment.Made maps of national parks, ramsar sites, a list of species with their IUCN rating, and a list of ramsar sites.
The Indian forest service agent Praveen Kaswan sir’s Twitter account was helpful for this MOEFCC website.
6. Science and technology: a. Class notes at Vajiram—it was a good starting point.
b. For current events, Sunya IAS and Vision are both good.
c. YouTube is a good place to learn about new technologies and ideas, such as block chain, NFT, etc.
7. Economy: a. Class notes at Vajiram: Vibhas sir, Shyam sir, Jayant sir, and Kapuriya sir were all stars of economy. They got me interested in economics and helped me learn a lot about it.
b. ECO 550 by Vivek Singh sir: I used to watch his channel for news about the business.
c. Vibhas sir talks about the budget and the eco survey. I took notes, which helped me in the mains and interview steps as well.
The last two times I took the test, I also read the original eco survey paper. It mostly helps with mains.
d. Both Class 11 and Class 12 NCERT
Aside from all of this, it is very important to analyse and solve PYQs on all issues. I used MRUNAL SIR’s book to solve the 25 years pyq. You can look at my Telegram channel for my paper-by-paper book list, study plan, and copies of my answers.