Saksham Goel UPSC Marksheet, Optional Subject, Official Blog

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Saksham Goel UPSC Topper Biography

Hello everyone
I am Saksham Goel (Rank 27, CSE 2021)
Many people have asked me to share my notes, etc. As it would be difficult to individually share that, I have created this channel. I have joined telegram just 2 months ago, so I will have to understand how it works, but will share all my notes, etc., here itself.
Hope it helps some aspirants!

Saksham Goel UPSC Marksheet

About me:
I graduated from St. Stephen’s College (University of Delhi) in 2020 in B.A. Programme (Economics and Political Science).
This was my first attempt.

Saksham Goel 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

Prelims Preparation Strategy by Saksham Goel UPSC Topper

Now that prelims is round the corner, some last minute tips for those who will appear on the 5th:

  1. It is normal to feel that you might forget everything on the day of the test (you won’t forget anything)
  2. Don’t forget:
    a. Mandatory: admit card, BLACK pen (unless instructions have changed, it is supposed to be black)
    b. Optional- water bottle, writing board ( if the centre allows, as the Govt school benches can be broken), pencil, eraser, and scale
  3. Send someone, if possible, to see the route to your centre a day or two before the actual test (try not to rely only on google maps)
  4. Eat non-junk light food from 2 days before the test. (Just to be very cautious that your stomach is alright)
  5. Eat light but do eat something between GS paper and CSAT.
  6. Beware of questions that say “which of the following statements are NOT correct”.
    The “not” is very important
  7. Make sure to fill the bubble of the right question—- I marked the answer of Q65 (in CSAT) in the bubble of Q66 and continued with it for 5-6 questions. Must have lost >10 marks there. But thankfully still scored >120 in CSAT. Don’t make that mistake
  8. A day before the test, be calm and composed. Do study though, as it is a good escape from procrastination. Complete your studies maximum by 9PM-9:30PM. Talk to your family— non-UPSC stuff to cool yourself. Sleep early and sleep a full 8 hours.

It is a highly unpredictable exam in many ways—- but one thing is certain, people who do not lose hope, work till the last day and answer questions decisively by taking intelligent risks in guessing using the available info and smelling hints in the question itself (e.g. “none”, “all”, “never”, etc.) are more likely to succeed.

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Give it your all and enjoy the process. Keep your mood up for the next few days. Don’t discuss new topics with people. Jo kar liya hai, wahi kaafi hai.

Don’t look at the interviews of this year’s toppers. Focus on your test abhi. You can see all those videos after 5th.

5th and only 5th is the D-Day. Give it your all and you can achieve what you have worked so hard for and you are absolutely worth it.

Now, this is enough gyaan. Resume your preparation.
All the best!

Current Affairs Preparation Strategy by Saksham Goel UPSC Topper

For current affairs, I had multiple sources. One of them was Vision monthly magazine. I made notes of magazines from June 2020- March 2021 (after which I was too tired to make them) But you guys, if you want to make such notes, should do it from June to May (at least).

The approach was—> one page one topic

These are prototypes that you guys can use to make your own notes

Prelims 2022 Questions analysis by Saksham Goel UPSC Topper

Had a cursory look at the preliminary test

  1. Was a tough paper
  2. If you scored even in early 80s (even 78-79) you have a great chance. Remember, 78 according to answer key can be 82-85 according to UPSC answer key!
  3. Don’t go by the answer keys that are coming so quickly. They will only give you a hint if the range of the marks that you’ll get. Wait a couple of days and assess your marks from just 2 credible answer keys to understand which range you are in.

But now, chill guys!
You’ve worked really hard. It is normal to not be able to get back to studies for a few days. It took me 19 days (till my prelims result came) to restart prep. So, take 4-7 days of break. Don’t start checking every answer key. Relax. Party. Forget about the test.

Important Post and Author in Newspaper for UPSC Civil Services Exam by Saksham Goel UPSC Topper

Authors that I think are worth following/ reading when they write in Indian Express/ The Hindu (there are others also, but these are regular contributors).

1. Economy
        i. Ashok Gulati
        ii. Bibek Debroy
        iii. Jahangir Aziz
        iv. M. Govinda Rao
        v. Madhura Swaminathan
        vi. Manish Sabharwal
        vii. Vikram Mehta
        viii. Arvind Subramanian

2. Education:
     i. Krishna Kumar
     ii. Amitabh Kant

3. Health: Many including Amitabh Kant, Holzer, etc.

4. Politics
    a) Law and Judiciary:
i. Justice NV Ramana (CJI)
       ii. Pratiksha Baxi
       iii. Justice RC Lahoti
       iv. Justice Madan Lokur
        v. Justice AP Shah
        vi. PDT Achary

     b) Theory (not necessary but fun):
       i. Christophe Jaffrelot
       ii. Suhas Palshikar
       iii. Rajeev Bhargava

     c) Security, Law and Order:
         i. Amitabh Matoo
         ii. Prakash Singh
         iii. RK Vij
         iv. Manmohan Bahadur
         v. Arun Prakash

     d) Global Politics:
         i. Ananth Krishnan
         ii. Arun Prakash
         iii. C RAJA MOHAN
         iv. C Uday Bhaskar
         vi. Hamid Ansari
         vii. Happymon Jacob
         viii. HARSH V. PANT
         ix. KABIR TANEJA
         x. MK Narayanan
         xi. Nirupama Rao
         xii. RAKESH SOOD
        xiii. PS Raghavan
        xiv. SAMIR SARAN
         xv. SHYAM SARAN
         xvi. Syed Akbaruddin
         xvii. Vivek Katju
         xviii. Vijay Gokhale

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It must be noted that these are regular contributors. There may be some of their articles that may not be as relevant. Political/ partisan positions of the authors must also be kept in mind. Have a misc folder for each category if some important article comes up by someone other than these people.

By keeping notes according to authors, you can quote them/ refer to them in answers.

Books you should read beyond UPSC Civil Services Exam

Books I read beyond UPSC played a major part in my answers. During my prep, there were books I ordered which I could not read because of paucity if time. Was going through them and found this gem.
This is a recently released book by Parameswaran Iyer (kind of an autobiography). I haven’t read it yet but a cursory look tells me it is good.

He has had a great career in IAS, then went to World Bank and then came back to spearhead the Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan. Additionally, given that he has become the new CEO, NITI Aayog, his book and anecdotes would be quite quotable.

For people who are preparing for the next year or so, do give it a try. It is around 200 pages. Read 10 pages a day and you’ll be done in 20 days without any significant time invested

Mains Preparation Strategy by Saksham Goel UPSC Topper

For people who are giving their mains exam this year:

  1. Given that it has now been a month since the results were declared, it is high time- do start taking mock tests, if you haven’t already started. Answer writing style and speed are the two key components, because everyone has the almost same knowledge base
  2. Recognise you style of writing- is it flow charts or pointers or what. In the real exam, we all end up using all formats in different questions and different papers. But when answering tough questions, one must be aware of the format that is most comfortable.
  3. Start making a small “mains kunji”. It should have a few usable data points, flow charts, diagrams, list of committees, quotes, etc. It should be organic. Whenever you come across a good usable data point, or make a good flow chart in your mock test, etc.- copy that in your mains kunji
  4. While giving mocks, don’t take every advice that you get from the evaluator. Only take it if your are comfortable with it.
  5. Do make sure to complete the optional. Many people swim astray in the vast GS, only to forget about the optional. Almost all toppers would agree that GS paper marks are not necessarily correlated with knowledge or effort; and the range of marks is narrow. You must also focus on optional as well.

Remember, content-wise, you are good enough. You’ve already cleared the most unpredictable stage in the exam.
All you need to do now is use the knowledge you already have (plus a bit extra) in a different format, complete all answers and have confidence within yourself that you are good enough- and you will make through.

Essay Preparation Strategy by Saksham Goel UPSC Topper

Kindly note- my essay practice was limited to first couple months of preparation, and that too not very serious. I learnt a lot during my preparation which would also have probably reflected (on the factual part). But my style of writing the essay remained the same.

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Books you should read beyond UPSC Civil Services Exam

Another one of the “Beyond UPSC” books.
Have just started with this book by Sanjaya Baru explaining the Indian economic development in a really lucid fashion for general audience in just about 150 pages.
For those having time, do give this book a try. You could quote it and it would be a fresh one as this books was recently released

Mains IImportant topics for UPSC CSE exam by Saksham Goel UPSC Topper

Dear Mains Appearing candidates

A list of probable questions sent to me by Rahul Senger Sir

CSE Mains 2022

(A) Art and Culture

  1. Pillars and  its use as per historical references (because of Sarnath pillar controversy)
  2. Bhakti Movement’s Features and impact ( Ramanuja )
  3. Bhakti vs Sufi Comparison
  4. Paintings and religion linking
  5. Modern School of Architecture’ Features ( Old Parliament building in Neo Roman style )
  6. Sanskrit literature and various source of information
  7. Temple Architecture ( Ram Temple  — Nagar style Architecture )
  8. Indus Valley Town Planning

(B) Modern History

  1. Tribal Revolt / Agrarian Movement ..Features and impact ( Various personalities in news , also for our new President)
  2. Non Cooperation movement impact (100 years )
  3. Personalities like
    a. SC Bose
    b. Aurbindo Ghosh
    c. Raja Ram Mohan Roy
  4. Socio-religious movement … Fracture and impact
  5. Royal Indian Navy
  6. Indian Independence Act 1947

(C) Post Independence India

  1. Challenges and learning after independence and it’s current correlations ( 75 years of independence )
  2. Analysis of Shimla agreement 1972 ( 50 years in July )
  3. 1991 reforms— both historical and economical perspective (30+ years )
  4. Panchayati Raj … Polity related question can be there ( almost 30 years )

Best Wishes
Rahul Sengar

To all giving mains this year,
I’ll keep it short

Believe in what you’ve done which has brought you this far
Enjoy the fruits of the hard work you’ve put in, through these exams

Have simple but sufficient food.
Have a good sleep cycle.

Lastly, an important advice: JUST BE YOU AND WRITE THE PAPER!


One very important piece of info I wish someone gave me after GS4 paper:

It is okay if you cannot study for the first 1-1.5 days. It is only natural. Your body is really tired. Relax for a day and resume studying with full gusto.

Also, DO NOT ever look at the question papers again (I looked at those papers only after the results came out and I had to give those topper talks)

All the very best for the next round of mains!!!

Books you should read beyond UPSC Civil Services Exam by Saksham Goel UPSC Topper

Another “Beyond UPSC” book

This one is by two giants:

  1. NK Singh, as most of you know, is a former IAS officer with a stellar career and chaired the finance commission
  2. PK Mishra, is the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister with Cabinet Minister rank. He is a 1972 batch IAS (50 years in service).

Their experience is immense and this book is its manifestation.
Definitely a must read.

This post is a result of a question recently posted to me. I say that reading books should be inspiration enough. But sometimes you need an imagery for tackling the moments of transient distractions.

Everyone has one. Some have LBSNAA. Some have their parent’s face of happiness. I did not have one. Perhaps I am just that way.

But I can say with confidence that I got that moment, that imagery, that moment of inspiration on 5th September when I took the oath of office, hand on our constitution. I literally felt goosebumps as I took that oath.

Am posting this in case this imagery helps some of you guys, even if it may seem trivial to some.