Table of Contents
- 1 Vaibhav Rawat IFS Marksheet 2019
- 2 Vaibhav Rawat IFS Marksheet 2019
- 3 UPSC CSE PSIR Optional Preparation Strategy by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 4 Vaibhav Rawat Booklist UPSC CSE
- 5 Essay Preparation Strategy for UPSC CSE by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 6 UPS CSE Mains Preparation Strategy by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 7 UPS CSE Mains Preparation Strategy by Vaibhav Rawat IFS [ Part 2 ]
- 8 Last 30 days Strategy for UPSC CSE Mains by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 9 Vaibhav Rawat IFS Notes
- 10 Facts and Data for UPSC CSE by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 11 Vaibhav Rawat IFS Prelims Booklist
- 12 UPSC CSE Preparation strategy for repeater aspirants
- 13 How to utilize solved PYQs for UPSC CSE by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 14 Wishes to Mains appearing students by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 15 How tto Prepare for Civil services exam Interview by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 16 Role of civil servant by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 17 Forum IAS Current Affairs review by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 18 Secret PSIR Optional Preparation Strategy by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 19 Vaibhav Rawat IFS Timetable
- 20 How to read ShankarIAS (environment) book for UPSC CSE by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 21 Last 7 days strategy for UPSC CSE Mains by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 22 Last minute tips for PSIR optional by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- 23 Diwali wishes to students by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
Vaibhav Rawat IFS Marksheet 2019
Vaibhav Rawat IFS Marksheet 2019
UPSC CSE PSIR Optional Preparation Strategy by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
For PSIR I did the following-
- Shubhra Mam’s notes.
- Politicsforindia.com website. (Updated and well organized notes)
- Tushar Gupta’s notes
- For adding CA in paper1 and paper 2 – ORF, CFR(Council on foreign relations), Indian Express and the Hindu articles.
- Crash course cum test series at SR IAS
- Selective PYQs (especially paper 1)
For beginners I would recommend these books –
- OP Gauba Political theory
- Baylis and Smith – Globalization of world politics (good read but not essential from exam point of view)
- Andrew Heywood – Ideologies (difficult but a delightful read)
2 days before main examination, I prepared these introductions and conclusions to use in IR paper for last minute revision.
- Kautilya Mandal
- Power transition and Polarity of power
- Shyam Saran How India sees the world
- Wrassle organic theory
- Lee kuan Yew on China
- Kaplan on Iran
- Kipling on Afghanistan
- Tharoor on Pakistan
- Sun tzu
- Sociological liberalism
- Morgenthau + Krishna’s choice (The India Way – S. Jaishankar)
- Fast power
- Smart power
- PM’s Sabka Saath…
- Saptanga theory
- Machiavellian Advice – be bold and courageous
Robert Jervis – SD
John herz – SD
This is my take on PSIR optional paper. Basic material is provided by Shubhra Mam class notes. I did not join her classroom course. Instead I ordered her notes from the Flavido website. Second source is politicsforindia.com website. They have rearranged those same notes and perhaps added a little content. These are enough to write good answers. First step is to develop a good understanding of all the topics. By good understanding we mean, to be able to critically analyze what great philosophers or other commentators have said. We should be able to correlate different thinkers who have talked on similar topics. Looking at topper’s answer sheets from the test series could be helpful. Note down how they have interlinked different parts of the notes in their answer. Second step is to learn how to write good answers. Hands down Shubhra Mam is the best teacher in this regard. I joined crash course cum test series at SRIAS after prelim exam. Give tests on time so that your answer sheet gets evaluated on time. Do not worry about tests scores much. Learn from the class discussions. Try to copy the way ma’am thinks and answers, the way she tackles questions in each topic of the syllabus. Ignore what others suggest regarding how to write answers in PSIR. Even their own test evaluators might not reward you. But trust ma’am. Third step is to practice using PYQs. Try answering PYQs within time constraint. We have to answer 250 marks worth in 180 minutes. 7 minutes for 10 marker. 11 for 15. 14 for 20. Approximately. Practice this in your room. You will slowly see increase in your test scores. It will also help you in your main exam score. PYQs are your best friends in this preparation. Know them all. Questions get repeated.
Vaibhav Rawat Booklist UPSC CSE
These notes are meant to display how to make short notes. I have used acronyms and other short forms while making these notes. Hence, you may find it difficult to understand. These notes might not be helpful directly.
While making notes I only used to note down facts, important keywords that I would like to use in the answer. Avoided writing things that I would not forget. Otherwise the short notes will not remain short. Things that we have already internalized need not be revised again. Things that we can not remember or keywords which are important should be revised in the last moment.
But this does not mean that one should not read the basic notes at all. After prelim exam, I read the basic notes first. I will share them too here soon. Then I made these short notes to
be able to effectively revise everything as quickly as possible.
The bottom line from this is to keep your notes short and simple. Also, make your own short notes.
Essay Preparation Strategy for UPSC CSE by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
For essay, you can do the following.
- Read this document to understand the structure and essence/purpose of essay writing. That is to understand how to write. This is the skeleton. The blueprint of an essay. This is very important to understand. This is my interpretation based on teachings and shared experiences of these 3 – Anudeep Durishetty AIR 1 CSE 2017, Vikas Ranjan sir at Triumph IAS and Siddhart Jain AIR 13 CSE 2015.
- Read the above sent essays. I was able to implement this blueprint only from the 3rd essay test. Nevertheless I have shared the 1st and 2nd essay test copies to share something important with you. Learning is a process. It takes practice. Do not hesitate to write. Start early. Make mistakes. Learn from them.
When you read the above sent essays, try to understand the thought process. Go back and check the document again. Try to see how we structure an essay. This document contains theory. The written essay is the experiment. Try to apply the principles from our theory yourself. If you look closely, you will also find mistakes in my essay. Identify them, learn from them and improve.
Essay writing is like creating a movie. When we watch a movie critically, we can see how and why a director did what. You should look at the above sent copies with that critical eye. Do not run behind content of my essays or anyone else’s. You will be able to write good content if you have an arts/humanities optional. In case you have other technical optional subject, then also, you must first understand the philosophy of writing the essay and then prepare some notes on frequently asked topics.
3. The most important step is to finally practice essays yourself. Get them evaluated from someone experienced.
This is how I did –
1. I used to attempt those topics in the test in which i was not comfortable. The idea was to become comfortable in writing on any topic. Initially I was sure that i can’t write 10 pages on topics like urbanization. But with some practice and effort, I assure all of you, we have enough content to write 10-12 pages on any topic and that too within time (1.5 hrs per essay).
2. Always took the test seriously.
3. After the result of prelims were announced, took the test series and planned all the tests with atleast 10 days gap between 2 tests. So that I can incorporate feedback in the next test.
4. In the final exam I attempted these 2 topics –
1) Mindful manifesto is the catalyst to a tranquil self
2) Technology as the silent factor in IR
I did so because firstly thanks to a 10 day course of Vipassana meditation, I was introduced to the practice of mindfulness. Hence, I tried to explore the topic. Philosophy behind this as well as practical aspects of this. Secondly, intersection of technology and international relations was naturally appealing since I have a technical background, PSIR was my optional and IFS was the preferred choice.
Finally, one must choose topic of their interest in the main exam. Practicing structure was the aim in the test series.
UPS CSE Mains Preparation Strategy by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
This is the method that I followed for main exam.
1. Forget about the prelim exam. No point in thinking about it. Always remember your competition is not with people who are writing mains for the 1st time. Your real competition in getting a good rank is with those who are already in the list this year, or maybe even before. Many of them will be reappearing for rank improvement. There is no time to waste.
Ethics basic block
2. Made short, concise notes out of DK balaji sir’s book for GS4.
Essay basic block
3. Watched Vikas Ranjan sir’s, Anudeep sir’s and Siddharth sir’s method of writing essay. I have shared with all of you what I noted down for myself. If you notice, it is also dated 13th October. 9 days after prelims.
GS-1 basic block
4. Made Rushikesh Reddy sir’s notes my base for society and geography. Also referred to the geography material of Forum IAS CBP. Resource geography content is good here. So, I read these notes. Highlighting important points.
5. I have my own History and A&C notes from the class that I did at Insights IAS and Manifest IAS while I was studying in Bangalore.
Meanwhile the results of the prelim exam came. Now was the time to take on the giant. Answer Writing. So, I enrolled in the following courses –
1} Ethics test series at LukmaanIAS (7 tests – wrote 6)
2} GS test series at VisionIAS (12 tests, 3 each – wrote 9)
3} Essay test series at TriumphIAS (6 tests – wrote 5)
4} PSIR Crash course cum test series at SRIAS (8 tests – wrote 5)
6. Made a timetable based on the schedule of different test series. My aim was to give each test on its scheduled date. However, adjustments had to be made. I could not stick to the schedule for 3 months. But intent should be there. Make changes as and when they are required. You all are well aware. This exam requires discipline, organized behavior as well as ability to govern oneself. You will also appreciate that if one can’t govern oneself, how could they be trusted to govern so many others (okay enough gyaan!)
One should consider these factors before writing a test – a) Incorporate feedback of the previous test of that subject b) Add more content if needed to your basic block and then revise everything c) Be mentally ready to write for 3 hours and give your best performance. Don’t write for the sake of it. Imagine as if you are driving at 150 kmph. Similar kind of focus is expected and should be practiced.
Now the learning arc begins.
- I struggled in GS4 last year. So, I started with that. (As you can see, I had taken a specialized test series for that. Decide based on your own strengths and weaknesses.) Revised everything, wrote the 1st test at Lukmaan IAS.
- Then I wrote my 1st essay test. Without making any fodder material. Disclaimer – I planned for creating fodder material much later in the process. Reason – once done with entire GS and PSIR notes, it would be easier to create that. However, I ended up only noting some quotes to use. Pieces of wisdom. Point is – don’t worry about content now. Practice structure with whatever best content you can.
- Then after 2-3 days, the 1st GS1 test. Revised the basic block. Did not make templates for now. Objective – writing relevant answers with good structure. Use your accumulated knowledge and basic notes for understanding the question. Use subject keywords. But think and answer the question. (ANSWER and NOT NOTES). Let me explain this through an example. Assume the question is “why?” and we have made notes of “how?”. We tend to write down our notes instead of answering the question, hence missing the relevance.
Moved on to GS2. 3-4 days for prep and then test. (Although this is understood but still mentioning this for clarity- Number of days should depend upon one’s own comfort level in that paper)
- I used Rushikesh Reddy sir’s notes in selective topics. Like RPA and some governance topics. For polity and IR topics, notes and knowledge of PSIR helped. I did CA classes at ForumIAS by Dipin sir last year. That content was also very helpful. I made some notes myself on topics like SHG, MFIs, etc.
Basically – basic blocks (static notes) got finalized in this cycle.
You may make RR sir’s notes as your basic block for GS2 if you like.
So, revised the basic block.
Did not worry about creating templates or short notes for now. Wrote the test with the same objective of writing 20 relevant answers with whatever best content I could. Tried to use subject keywords, display understanding.
- Repeat for GS3. RR sir’s notes and Forum CA classes (2019) as basic blocks.
- Revised GS4 notes. Practiced ethics theory questions through a workbook (contains questions from previous year TEST SERIES. Not UPSC PYQ) provided by LukmaanIAS. Then I took the GS4 test at vision and lukmaan both.
End of cycle1.
UPS CSE Mains Preparation Strategy by Vaibhav Rawat IFS [ Part 2 ]
Second Iteration/cycle –
The purpose of cycle2 was to rectify the errors made in cycle1. This is how I tried to do so.
- Sometime during cycle1, the checked answer sheet of GS1 was returned to me. Until now, I did not open it. Now, the first task was to diligently take the feedback.
Largely 3 things –
1) Their answer writing suggestions/comments on either structure or presentation
2) Solution/model answer – just read and include any worthy content to your basic notes. For me, mostly it was 1-2 lines or examples in 3-4 questions. On rare occasions, I added a completely new topic to my notes.
3) Don’t get affected by the marks that they give. One should check for themselves. One should try to be as objective, impartial, honest and transparent as possible with oneself during self evaluation. Both cases happened to me. I knew I wrote a bad answer – missed relevance but still got 50% marks and vice versa.
When we attempt the test, we are driving at 150kmph. There is no time to see anything but the road.
But when we evaluate, we should drive at 30 kmph. Meaning – mind is calmer and can think about a question in different ways. I tried to find better ways of articulating my thoughts. For each answer.
- Feedback done, go back to the basic block/notes for GS1. Revise again in a limited time.
In case, I missed out on a portion of the notes during previous cycle, I used to prioritize that first in the next cycle. This way, I tried to stick to the schedule. Not to delay the test because I could not prepare. Worst thing that could happen was that I’d score less in the question(s) of that portion.
This was a punishment to my lazy self, for not complying with the plan.
A small piece of gyaan here (might help someone). I read this in class 11th and somehow remember this even now. Borrowed from Rajasthan Patrika’s daily wisdom section – “For living a good life, one must be as soft as possible with others and as harsh as possible with self”
- Wrote the 2nd test of GS1. Submitted and moved on to GS2 without mulling over how it went.
Repeated this cycle again for GS 2 and 3.
This is how I managed ethics and essay-
- Ethics –
I had taken two test series for ethics. In all I had 10 tests available for GS4. So, I used to attempt an ethics test as and when I received answer sheets from either vision or lukmaan in between.
Courtesy of the basic block notes prepared in the 1st week of prep, I was able to revise it within a few hours. So, attempting another ethics test meant taking only one day off from the cycle.
Take the feedback, revise in the day and write another test in the night.
The cycle resumed one day later.
- Essay –
I had 6 tests available for the essay. 3 for each GS 1, 2 and 3. So, the idea was to write 2 essays per cycle. But it could not be done because the evaluation took longer. But whenever I received feedback from the previous test, I used to take another day off from the cycle to write the next essay test.
Usually, essays did not require one entire day to be allocated. So, I used to take the feedback, write an essay test and also revise the next target (GS or optional) on the day.
End of cycle 2.
2 cycles were over. More than 50% time had passed. I realized I need more practice. Also, I was yet to read current affairs.
Meanwhile, I received an offer from the CivilsDaily team for a free mains test series because I had given a mock interview at their institute last year.
I took it. Wrote one test of GS1. Sajal sir promptly checked it and gave very critical feedback. It was overwhelming at that point of time. Since, I had already developed my style of writing and practiced it across many tests for the last 1.5 months. Nevertheless, I tried to incorporate whatever I could from that feedback. But I could do it only partially even in the Main exam.
For current affairs –
I read Rau’s Mains compass. Found it easy to read. They explain a news item with it’s background story. But it is a little lengthy. So, I used different colored highlighters to note important points in the 1st reading. Subsequent readings took less time.
Mains365 is filled with information, which I have always found difficult to digest.
Mains compass saved a lot of time and hassle. Worked well for me.
Thus, now I had all the weapons available in my arsenal.
Revision (static+current) ✔
The time had come to practice the art of writing answers. Singular objective for next 10 days or so was to write answers.
I had purchased the Drishti IAS PYQ solved booklet even before the 2020 prelim exam for this purpose. The sole objective of attempting CSE in 2020 was to settle scores psychologically with the 2019 Main exam. However, as usual, the mind was playing its tricks –
1) It’s not needed to write all PYQs.
2) Should I not write more tests? (CD Smash program added to the problem of plenty)
3) I need to revise more. I am unable to remember xyz.
4) Let’s skim through the questions quickly. This is a smarter way of doing things.
5) I have already done enough. I am scoring good in the tests. Now I only need to revise.
And many more imaginative illusive thoughts kept on popping inside. So, I took a break. For a day. Played my favorite strategy video game. Point was to do something that I enjoy. Let my mind play all its tricks. Let the turbulence pass.
Also, as I give punishment to myself, I also like to reward myself. A reward also acts as a push to work harder in the next cycle.
A word of caution – Please don’t blindly follow this advice. Indulgence in something else could be too distracting. Only if you can control it then do it.
Switched my phone off during this phase. Singular focus. From 2013 to 2019. From GS1 to GS3. Took many days.
Not all answers I wrote completely. Not all answers I wrote were within time or word limit. But atleast practiced the blueprint of my answers. Then tallied it with the given answer. Again, not all solved answers met my expectations. But, even with so many limitations, this was perhaps the most beneficial exercise.
Wrote an answer. Checked the model answer. Introspected on why I wrote what I wrote. Analyzed why they(Drishti booklet) have written what they have. How to deliver gained knowledge better in this question. Slowly, implementation of the answer writing strategy of SSS improved (Subject, Stakeholders and Syllabus).
Improved in terms of FRAPC^3 (explained in the video. Check pinned message)
Last 30 days Strategy for UPSC CSE Mains by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
I will update more later on how to effectively utilize PYQs.
Once this was over, less than 30 days were left.
Cycle 3 begins –
Essay – time to create fodder material had come. Having written 8 essays (4tests*2), I felt I could manage without creating notes on paper. In my mind, I had some ideas internalized. I just noted some impactful quotes to use.
Practiced once more. 5th test.
Although, confession here – I do not remembering use them in the main exam. My experience suggests me that we can only write what we have internalized while preparing. Mugged up dry stuff is difficult to reproduce inside that pressure cooker of an exam hall. Atleast this was the case with me.
Ethics – Made some templates to answer case studies. Prepared introductions and conclusions. Major difficulty was in completing the paper. The reason was that I used to take more time while answering case studies.
So, I finalized this approach –
1st hour – theory questions. Ideal case – complete 10 questions. Reality – could only do 7 in the main exam.
Then case studies for 1 hr 30-40 minutes. Reality – 1.5 hours.
Remaining time for leftover theory questions. Reality – 6 questions in 30 minutes.
Wrote one more test. Felt comfortable with this approach. Was able to complete an ethics test for the first time during the entire process.
For each GS –
3rd iteration of revision. Now, I made short notes for last minute revision. Made templates, sometimes on paper and sometimes in my mind.
Now, final material and approach is settled.
Attempted to perform a rehearsal of the main exam –
GS1 GS2 – one day
GS3 GS4 – next day
Only wrote GS1 and GS2 on the first day. Felt like GS3 demanded one more revision. GS4 was done.
Similarly did it for PSIR alongside GS.
Cycle3 ended 10 days before the main exam.
Last 10 days : Revised everything.
Vaibhav Rawat IFS Notes
A word to the wise : these notes are only for your reference. Do not commit the mistake of reading only this. Read this. Take cues from this. Let this serve as an example on how to make concise notes. Make your own. Understand the subject. Internalize the foundational values of civil service.
In 2019, I referred to Anudeep sir’s ethics notes. But was never able to appreciate the subject in the way I did after reading the book by DK Balaji sir, making my own notes and going through the rigorous process of test – feedback – test (similar to Gandhian way of Struggle Truce Struggle).
Facts and Data for UPSC CSE by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
One may call this a Factbook. The idea was to remember and use these facts wherever suitable in the answers. Also usually one can’t write more than 5 data points in 1 answer. Answer should be an ideal mix of definition, analysis and facts. Hence, I did not try to remember too many facts of the same type.
Vision IAS also releases its Factbook close to the main exam. One can rely on that too. As usual, it is heavily loaded with information. Hence, I preferred having my own.
How I made these notes?
In the final month, I noted facts from all the different sources (static + current) that I had been reading since the first iteration/cycle of main exam preparation. Some I found in Test solutions. Also, googled rarely as a measure of last resort. Eg – Elephant curve of inequality (as mentioned in UN Human Developement Report 2019) was found while searching for data on global inequality.
Be careful not to fall in the trap of gathering too much content. Usually these 2 emotions- greed and fear drive us to collect more and more material.
Especially early in your preparation focus on building the basic blocks. Good static notes that will help you build your understanding.
Always remember examiner has not asked us to remember impressive content/value added material. We want to use such content in our answers here and there to impress the examiner. Examiner demands basic understanding. Display that first.
Food analogy – these facts are only for garnishing/decoration. For appearance. For first impression. But desired taste requires right ingredients first.
Vaibhav Rawat IFS Prelims Booklist
These are the sources that I followed for Prelims –
- Class notes.
- ncert 6th-12th except 11th world history book
- Spectrum modern History
- La Excellence ready reckoner (we shall call it LxRR in future) for Ancient and Medieval History.
- Insights OGP material
- class notes
- Insights material
- Rau’s IAS Prelims compass
- NCERT 9th-12th
- GC leong – except Physical geography
- Insights OGP material
- Amitsengupta YouTube channel
- PMF IAS website – to know more about anything
- NCERT 11th and 12th (this is mandatory)
- Sriram IAS notes
- NCERT 11th and 12th (first 2 chaps from microeconomics book)
- LxRR material at the last moment
- Summary of Economic Survey and Budget – Rau’s IAS
I did not watch videos of Mrunal sir. Just want to clear this confusion. It is possible to clear this exam without going through the videos of Mrunal sir. However, many students watch and find them helpful. If you want you can watch them. Point is – They are not essential.
- Shankar IAS book
- Rau’s Prelims compass
- IAS Parliament International organizations material
- PMFIAS website – biology section
Because of my engineering background, I felt the need to study a bit of biology. You should decide based upon your own strengths and weaknesses.
- NCERT 11th and 12th
- All PT365 Vision IAS except government schemes
- IAS Parliament government schemes document
- Niti Aayog Strategy for New India@75
- All PYQs of UPSC prelim exam since last 10 years. I did not analyze them, only solved them. Many I did not know. It’s okay. After checking the solution, I tried to remember that fact. But I did not bother about such factual questions. My focus was on conceptual questions.
Except for InsightsIAS OGP material and class notes – everything can be found on these websites for free.
In case I have forgotten something, I will update further. All the best.
summary of the book – How India Manages its National Security.
This is summary of the book – How India Manages its National Security. Written by former deputy National Security Advisor Shri Arvind Gupta.
You may use this as value addition over your basic block of internal security.
The method to develop good content in internal security remains the same as for any other subject. Develop basic notes – either by yourself or take someone else’s. Add current affairs over it (in your head; not always it is possible to physically consolidate content of one topic in one place) – either through your newspaper notes or through compilations. Then finally add such value addition material (book summaries, reports, etc).
Happy Diwali to all of you.
Celebrate this festival as victory of right over wrong. Victory of perseverance and endurance over lethargy and weakness.
I wish all of you all the best. May all of you use positive vibes of the festival of lights to work even harder in the pursuit of your goals. May you win the internal fight of light against the darkness.
Here, I am sharing the template that I made for the subject of agriculture GS3. I hope this will serve as an example for you to develop more templates in other topics.
As visible, this was a sticky note that I pasted in front of my study desk.
This was developed based on different stages involved in the process of farming. In almost any question on agriculture, distinct points can be written by thinking about these different stages.
Below each stage, few keywords applicable to that stage are written. For quick revision and easy remembrance. Such keywords in the answer also convey the point/concern/dimension effectively and impressively.
The fundamental method to develop templates remain the same. Think SSS.
The second sticky note here is about the meaning of different command words.
+|- refers to positive and negative aspects of whatever asked.
For example, if the question is of this type- “Xyz”. Comment.
👉 That is they have given a simple statement. No question. And have asked us to comment on it.
Then one could write few positive and few negative comments related to the crux of the statement.
PESTEL = Dimensions. Political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal/administrative.
UPSC CSE Preparation strategy for repeater aspirants
This post is addressed to all the repeaters.
“What changes did I make this year?”
“What made my score jump from 70 to 97 in GS3 and 111 to 121 in GS4?”
“Why I scored only 122 in IR vs 143 in 2019?”
I have shared my perspective on these questions in the session at InsightsIAS. Link of the video is pinned.
Here, I will try to give more clarity over what I have discussed in the video.
This was my assessment after the main exam and before the interview call came –
IR 140-150 | optional score ~ 280
After the final results came, my assessment became this –
Essay ~ 140
GS3 ~ 95
GS4 ~ 115
PS ~ 140
IR ~ 150-160 | Optional score ~ 300
PT ~ 190
To my disbelief the score was only 122 in IR. I don’t think I can ever agree to this assessment. Never mind.
In GS1 I scored only 85. Amomg GS 1, 2 and 3 I felt the most comfortable in this paper while writing the main exam.
However, in GS4 I knew I had done well. Fortunately the marks reflected that. But I wonder in case I was given 100~105 marks in GS4, I would have accepted them humbly. But that would have made all the difference in the world. Atleast in mine (Okay! Only in mine). Reducing my total by ~20 marks. I would not have made it to the IFS. Which is why this exam is so harsh.
One can only connect the dots looking backward. One can justify any score in hindsight. Whatever worked is unknown. Hence, what will work is also unknown.
Statements like :
“I drew 19 diagrams”
“I made 15 flowcharts”
“I wrote positive conclusions”
“I quoted many facts and reports”
All such statements can only be given in retrospect. Only with some sense of inflated ego around one’s success. But success is delusional. Again never mind.
With full responsibility, I can tell you this that the same method or the same strategy could yield vastly different result. Many people experience this over their consecutive attempts.
But then is there nothing that we can do? Ofcourse we can.
I have shared the details of my preparation above. They include-
- The resources/material that I read.
- Approach that I followed for balancing revision and answer writing practice.
- The test series taken and utility of the feedback given.
You may pick and choose from these details whatever you think that suits your style. To plug the loopholes in your preparation.
However, there is this one advice which could be universally applicable.
Hedge the risks. Plan wisely. Work smart. I would suggest you to watch the pinned video if you are not aware of what I mean here.
Generally speaking – Prepare all subjects. Read good content. Understand all subjects. Think critically about each question asked. Do the basics right. Finally give your best performance in each paper for those 5 days. One can’t really predict will it be well received or not or which papers will be well received and which ones will be disregarded.
Moreover, while you listen to fortunately successful people including myself always remember this. One can only share what one has done. Or what one think works. There is no assured path. There is no finality of truth.
Focus on the process. Make yourself better everyday in the process. More suitable to be a civil servant. Believe that results will come. Even if they don’t come, never bother. UPSC will decide your result. Not success. Full effort is full success. All the best.
How to utilize solved PYQs for UPSC CSE by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
This post is related to how to utilize solved PYQs (I used the one published by Drishti IAS). I gained the below mentioned 5 things from this exercise:
1. Understanding – Some questions/answers educated me. Liberated me from my ignorance on a few topics of significance. For eg: I did not deeply appreciate the difference between a mangrove, a coral reef and a coastal ecosystem. My answer would have been almost the same except for the introduction(definition) to a question on them which let us say demands issues that any of these 3 face with respect to climate change and/or the measures to protect them. After reading the given content of the solved question I realized that there are subtle distinct points to be considered in each case.
2. Structureand relevance – Practiced allocation of appropriate space to each part of the question. Solved answers also corrected my habit of writing my notes instead of answering the question. This helped in maintaining a link with the core demand of the question in each point of the body instead of writing superfluous points.
3. Repeated topics – Within each subject, UPSC has shown more interest in selected areas. To name a few in History (GS1) – Viceroys, Different movements/struggles that sprang alongside nationalist movement since 1920s, American and French Revolution. DO NOT SEARCH FOR A SHORTCUT. Do not search for a list of such topics online. Do this exercise and identify them yourself.
4. Language/words and tone of the answer – Answer should be informative and not opinionated. Do not use the tone that we read in the newspapers. State the facts in simple statements. Devoid of exaggeration, unnecessary or inappropriate adjectives. Respectful criticism, moderated praise is a display of sincere character. Even the questions that may seem controversial or political, one should answer bureaucratically – FRAPCCC. Is it fair to say so? Is it relevant to write? Is it accurate? Is it precise? Are my arguments coherent? Is my answer a comprehensive analysis of the issue? Have I written concisely?
5. Confidence. Felt prepared by practicing all that the commission has asked in the past since the change of the pattern. Although they could still ask us unexpected questions and surprise us. But those 3-4 questions do not matter much anyway. It is the deftness displayed in the other prepared 16 questions which matter.
Indeed a few questions were difficult to answer in the main exam, for eg Persian literature or Pala period in GS1, RPA provisions or UK-US judicial system in GS2, Potential GDP or NCAP or Jal Shakti in GS3 and for that matter even the unconventional and frustratingly long case studies in GS4. But do not miss the forest for the trees. Answer the other questions well and do your best in the rest with calmness. One should be concerned about how well they have answered the other 15-16 questions and not about those 4-5 questions. After having written answers to my satisfaction in the prepared questions, I confidently and calmly wrote whatever I knew in the other questions.
All the best.
In sometime, I will be posting links of all the interviews that I gave and of all the sessions that I participated in since the results came out. Hopefully you will find something useful out of them. All channels use catchy (often untrue) thumbnails to gather views. Never mind that.
Today I will be joining the academy for the Foundation Course. One can’t carry their phone while participating in the activities inside the academy. Hence, I will not be able to reply to phone calls.
Unsure about messages too. Anyway, I have shared everything that I could through many different channels. No advice is universally applicable. I hope you are wise enough to understand the nuances.
Moreover, as the course begins, social media will get flooded with photos and videos about the academy life. I am not sure, if you find watching that useful. I do not. I never spent my time following social media handles of successful candidates of CSE.
Focus on doing your part well. Let us not get distracted. Academy is beautiful indeed. But spending a 100 days in the academy can not be our aim. Our aim is to become a person qualified enough to be given reins of authority. Authority to govern the great Indian nation. Best wishes to you in this grand endeavor of yours. Always remember, civil services exam is only a beginning.
Wishes to Mains appearing students by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
All those who are writing main exam this weekend, firstly all the best to you.
Do well. Do it with joy. Live this week to the fullest. Be in the moment. Do not think about any sort ofconsequences. Just enjoy the gravity of the situation and be dead serious about your job. Enjoy this seriousness. Your job is to write each and every answer with utmost sincerity and to your best potential. Forget everything else.
Embrace winner mindset now. Look forward to this opportunity. Every answer of yours is another opportunity to impress the examiner. Go with this aggresive mindset. Fill in positivity. Remove all doubts, uncertainty, insecurities.
Revise everything again. While revising, I used to think of situations where I can use that content. Visualization of exam performance can help in creating winner mindset.
Sleep well and on time.
Even while writing the exam, forget all rules and notions. Do not compare your answers with any topper’s answers. Just write the way you want. To answer the question in whichever way you find it the most suitable.
Lady luck smiles upon the courageous. Wish you lots of courage 🙂
How tto Prepare for Civil services exam Interview by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
I have not been active on any social media platform for a while now. Hence, I could not reply to the messages.
I hope that you are enjoying life and are on track to achieve your goals.
This post is for all those who are appearing for the personality test a.k.a UPSC interview stage.
Like all other steps in the civil service examination process, the final stage of the UPSC CSE, i.e., the personality test, is also subjective. However, in hindsight, I can say with some certainty that it can be prepared structurally.
I tried to prepare in a certain way. I am sharing that. If you find something indigestible or perhaps offensive, then ignore it. Adopt what suits you.
- I went through the official CSE notification issued by UPSC, where they list out the criteria for judging a candidate in the interview.
- I wrote them down and thought about each one of them. What did they stand for? What did UPSC expect from me? Why did UPSC expect me to have this trait? So on and so forth.
- These youtube videos helped me in finding answers to the above questions:
•Vikas Divyakirti sir’s interview prep playlist (Drishti IAS channel)
•Officers IAS – Israel sir’s lectures
- I enrolled in Samkalp’s interview program. They conduct lectures on the basics of interview prep. Do not miss them. In my case, I did not need informative lectures on general topics. I thought that I had enough knowledge (just enough to discuss it intelligently with 5 learned senior citizens of the country) on the topics of GS. Although this does not mean I did not read anything. But, I did not take any special course that covered current affairs for the interview. Information can be consumed in the last week also. Anyway, the point is that first things first. One must understand what is expected of them. I required clarity concerning the role, responsibilities, and limitations of a civil servant. Samkalp conducts sessions with retired and serving officers. They helped me in getting a clearer mind.
- With basics in place, the time came to start working towards achieving the set objectives. It is important I think to go through this process. It will help you to handle any unforeseen situation on the D-day. I got a fairly good idea of what I needed to project in the interview. Let’s talk about the objectives first. Later, we can talk about the method to attain these objectives.
Role of civil servant by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
It is interesting to note that civil servants by the nature of their profession are leaders. Whichever organization one joins, one will be posted as a manager of that particular organization. In the IAS and the IPS, one is immediately expected to handle tehsil/sub-district level administration. One has a team at their disposal. One has to handle the finances of that organization. Not many professions offer this opportunity to everyone engaged in that profession. For example, in any team sport, only selected one or two get to lead the team out of n players (n being 11 for cricket or football for instance). Being a cricketer does not guarantee that you will get this position of responsibility. But, being a civil servant, you can be certain that you will have this opportunity/responsibility. An opportunity to lead your team. An opportunity to inspire others. As a matter of duty, you will have to attain the goals of the organization. Going back to our analogy of cricket, you are responsible and accountable for the team’s performance. You will have to make your team win. But of course, you can’t always do it alone. You will have to teach your team how to win. You have to create winners by passing on the winner mindset. You will have this amazing opportunity to leave a legacy behind. The attitude that you carry is all that matters, my friend.
Now, imagine you are sitting in the UPSC panel. And then judge yourself, do you carry this attitude. Would you select your clone for the job that we discussed above. Do you possess leadership qualities? I shall post later on what I mean when I say leadership qualities.
Knowledge comes secondary.
Your background is irrelevant.
Your looks don’t matter; your personality does.
A smile is all that it takes to appear cheerful.
Your first impression matters – They would want to see a well-groomed and respectful person having basic etiquettes of saying thank you, sorry, please with a smile.
The most important quality is the ability to answer questions with poise. Please note that it is ‘answering’ and not speaking. This means that whatever you are speaking should be a precise and logical answer to the question asked by the examiner.
One must avoid speaking incorrectly and also speaking unnecessary information / giving inapt solutions. The former case is easier to avoid. Most people prefer saying, “I don’t know” in case they are unsure. It’s not a bad idea, but we can optimize this further. More on this later. I hope you are following the larger idea governing this process of structuring our preparation. To identify vital elements and devote time to them first. Optimizations such as this are meant for the last stage of the preparation. We need to build our base first.
Latter is difficult to master. It is certainly a complicated thing to discern what is a precise and logical answer. It has to be relevant, practical, and politically correct. Most importantly it should be well thought out. Should not contain logical inconsistencies. It takes emotional intelligence to be able to understand what the examiner is asking. With one’s answer, one should be able to convince the examiner of one’s intelligence.
This step took a lot of practice. Two things helped me in this.
• Peer mocks that we used to do online over zoom/meet.
• Samkalp’s mock in group; where one can witness mock interview of others.
Learn from others. Adopt and improve.
Till now, we have discussed the philosophical aspects of interview preparation. It is important to understand the bigger picture. No one is going to ask questions on this in the interview. But clarity and conviction in one’s thoughts are impressive. It is the hallmark of a distinguished personality. They might ask you your opinion on drugs legalization or corruption in the system or what if your friend is a terrorist. We have to apply the same principles while answering different questions appropriately. Hence, one should develop critical thinking abilities.
THINK – Is it True? | Is it Helping the stakeholders? | Is it Important? | Is it Needed? | Is it Kind?
Respond as a leader would. That’s what they want to hear from an intelligent youth of the country who is aspiring to join the team managing the country’s public institutions.
Following are the leadership traits from a speech given by Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw. This might not be an exhaustive list but should give you some pointers to ruminate over.
Qualities of a leader :
1) Professional competence:
He provided an example of a Defence Minister who had no idea about howitzer, motor, etc. How could he lead the army officers!
2) Ability to make a decision and take full responsibility for it :
👉🏻 act of omission is much worse than the act of commission of a wrong.
👉🏻 why a person doesn’t make a decision? because he lacks confidence! why? because he lacks professional knowledge.
3) Absolute justice and impartiality
In this way, you may not be liked by all but be respected.
👉🏻 moral courage: Ability to distinguish right from wrong and stand by it irrespective of what others think.
👉🏻 Yes man is a horrible man. He may rise very high, but will never become a leader. He will be used by superiors and disliked by colleagues.
👉🏻(He mentioned a story when he was summoned, during the East Pakistan crisis, by Indira Gandhi and other cabinet ministers who expected him to agree to intervene in April, which was not prudent and he boldly put forward his dissent about the choice of time rather than being a yesman)
👉🏻 physical courage:
No one is immune to fear but one should be capable of desisting its display.
It is a two-way thing, one can rightfully demand it from a subordinate if he is also loyal to them.
6) Management of men and resources
He mostly conveyed the role of emotional intelligence, that every human has problems so being stern should be combined with a human touch, and a sense of humor plays a great role in it.
Following the code of conduct.
This shall be the final post in this thread dedicated to the PT preparation.
Coverage of current affairs came from 2 sources –
1> Newspapers that I read:
• Indian Express
• The Hindu
45 days before the date of the interview, I subscribed to these daily newspapers.
2> Watching the news on YouTube is my hobby. That continued.
Books that I found helpful –
- The India Way – S. Jaishankar
- Ethical dilemmas of a civil servant – Anil Swarup
- Ignited Minds – APJ Abdul Kalam
- How to excel in Civil Services Interview – Madhukar Kumar Bhagat
How to prepare DAF –
• Took help from CivilsDaily and ShankarIAS to generate questions from my DAF
• Collected basic info about every single thing mentioned in my DAF.
• Had 3 types of information for things that I mentioned in hobbies, prizes won, sports and positions of responsibilities.
- Factual info – what did I do? When did this happen? Where? Etc
- Analytical info – what did I learn? Why I won? What could I improve? Etc
- Domain info – Stats on Cricket, Stats about software market, stats on national Olympiads etc.
Good mock interviews-
- Chanakya Mandal Parivaar
- Vajirao and Reddy
My interview was scheduled for 10th September. And they started in the last week of July. Hence, I had time.
Extra things that I did –
- Prepared answers for PYQs on common topics through NextIAS PYQ booklet (Helpful exercise to brainstorm)
- Used to look at transcripts shared on telegram by candidates post their interview. Believe me, I was asked a couple of exactly same questions that I had already prepared. My interview was on Friday. In the same week, someone had shared these questions. “He that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Forum IAS Current Affairs review by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
This is my experience of ForumIAS current affairs program by Dipin sir.
Quality of the content – second to none. But more focused on giving value added material that is to be used either in introduction or conclusion.
Coverage – They cover issues in depth which leads to some areas left uncovered. So if you are taking the course, make sure that you also refer to atleast one current affairs magazine to cover the gaps.
Cost benefit ratio – It does take significant amount of your time. The amount of gain depends upon your own level of preparation. If you have good basic notes and understanding of various issues of national importance then you will be able to better appreciate the lecture.
If you are still covering the syllabus and lack consolidated notes then you might find it difficult to comprehensively cover everything. In that case, I would rather prefer reading specially designed compilations that provide basic knowledge about current events that happened (except for Vision – information overload 🙂 ) Forum’s course will give you value added material for the known issues so that you can impress the examiner. But they expect you to already have the base.
If you take forum’s course without a solid base, what is likely to happen is that you might end up scoring 60% in 5 questions but below average score (<40%) in other 10 questions.
However, as we have discussed the goal should be to score 50% in ~15 questions. You do the math, which path will lead to a better score.
Thus, cover your back first and then go for the kill. Forumias course will enable you to get high scores, no doubt about that. Make sure if you take the course, you don’t lose sight of the low hanging fruits.
Secret PSIR Optional Preparation Strategy by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
This post is dedicated to PSIR Optional prep. This is in continuation to the tagged post.
My short notes other than 2b – I have none. I relied on highlighted version of the basic notes to revise. Those basic notes (check out either Tushar Gupta IPS 2017 or Ayush Gupta IPS 2020) already have intros and conclusions.
Revision strategy – One thing that many of you have asked is how to fit PSIR revision in the 3 cycle approach of GS prep? The answer is simple and I have talked about it earlier too. Revision strategy if linked to a test series creates a feedback loop; which I am sure my engineer friends would appreciate is the first principle method of improving a self regulated system.
This is the philosophical answer (which to my mind is more important. Otherwise, this entire effort could become a spoon feeding exercise; which defeats the whole purpose. Hence, let me reiterate, if something troubles you, dont just straight away look for easy solutions like asking someone else. Think about them. Read the messages again and you might find the answer. Trust me, the amount of confidence you will gain when you start getting answers to your questions, changes your attitude. It also reflects in your personality.) This was an unsolicited advice from my side, either you wish to take it seriously or trash it, you decide.
So, in my case, I took SR IAS test series. There were 8 tests in total. I decided to write 7th and 8th tests in the 5 day break between GS and Optional papers. That too, in a single day, as a rehearsal to the upsc exam. However, I ended up not writing these tests. I decided to revise rather than to write.
So, I tried to give psir test as and when it was scheduled in the test series with a margin of 2 days to accommodate GS and essay. Kept 2-3 days to revise depending upon the needs. I will share my rough schedule that I made for myself. Ofcourse it underwent changes, but you can get an idea.
Integration of Current Affairs in PSIR – dont worry at all. Just keep reading the news. Read editorials in the Hindu and the IE related to IR, justice system, democracy and other concepts of political science. Don’t get swayed by any extreme opinion. You will be able to use this knowledge if they will ask anything about it in the exam. Trust yourself on this.
Wrt think tanks and expert opinions– I used to read Harsh V Pant, CR Mohan and retd Foreign Service officers like Shyam Saran, Shivshankar Menon, Rajiv Bhatia, Vijay Gokhale. Don’t miss out on the first two, you will be fine.
(During the interview stage, you might want to read more on these websites. Read and watch Richard Hass, Kishore Mahbubani, John Mearsheimer, Henry Kissinger, take a look at Foreign Affairs magazine, etc)
PYQs – I will share my practice answer. I used to read that topic, mug up imp things and then practice questions from that topic. (incase you are wondering from where did i get these questions; there is a booklet which provides unsolved pyqs of psir. Google search that)
Hope this helps. Good luck.
Vaibhav Rawat IFS Timetable
How to read ShankarIAS (environment) book for UPSC CSE by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
It is a bulky book with lots of facts. I too grappled with this question. Then with the help of a kind college senior who got into IPS that year, I figured out this way.
Read the book once in its entirety. Don’t worry about remembering anything, but take a curious look at it. Use google and spend time exploring this world. Should take 3-5 days.
Once done, start again.
The first few chapters on environmental science are essential. Understand and remember every concept.
Chapters on agricultural science and international cooperation are also important. Try to understand and remember them.
Then comes the problem of how to remember so many flora and fauna species? There scientific names do not make much sense right? (Atleast to ignorants like me). In which schedule are they placed according to WPA or CITES? Which all species are found in any particular climate type?
What to do with all those big tables?
We can’t remember them so no point in wasting time and energy into the effort.
I instead made a list of all critically endangered species and categorized them under mammals, fishes, birds, reptiles and amphibians (if there were any; not sure). Categorization makes remembering facts easier.
With this much knowledge, intelligent guessing became easier. Moreover if you follow a test series your knowledge will keep on expanding as and when they ask you random factual questions.
Hence, my way of revising Shankar IAS was to read specific chapters (concepts, definitions, everything about international bodies) in the book. No short notes. While revising I ignored absurd facts. When the fact seemed important (if you a see a question about it in a test) I tried remembering that. And finally used to end my revision with the list of critically endangered species.
Caution: One has to supplement this static knowledge with current affairs. There one has to remember absurd stuff sometimes; can’t help it. Shankarias book, test series and current affairs compilation was my way of covering the syllabus of environment.
Last 7 days strategy for UPSC CSE Mains by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
All those who are writing the main exam this weekend, firstly all the best to you.
Do well. Do it with joy. Live the next 7 days to the fullest. Be in the moment. Do not think about any sort of consequences. Just enjoy the gravity of the situation and be dead serious about your job. Enjoy this seriousness. Your job is to write each and every answer with utmost sincerity and to your best potential. Forget everything else.
Embrace winner mindset now. Look forward to this opportunity. Every answer of yours is another opportunity to impress the examiner. Go with this aggresive mindset. Fill in positivity. Remove all doubts, uncertainty and insecurities.
Revise everything again. While revising, I used to think of situations where I can use that content. Visualization of exam performance can help in fostering a winner mindset.
Sleep well and on time.
Inside the exam hall, forget all assumptions, sacrosanct rules and/or preconceived notions. Do not compare your answers with the ideal/topper’s answers inside your head. Just write the way you want. Answer the question in whichever way you find it the most suitable. Your only goal should be to understand every question and answer it comprehensively. Cover all the parts of the question and also showcase your knowledge. Simple language, basic principles and common sense displayed properly across all answers will help you excel in the GS papers. All the best to all of you again.
Lady luck smiles upon the courageous. Wish you lots of courage 🙂
Last minute tips for PSIR optional by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
- There is no question in PSIR which can’t be answered (unlike other technical or science optional subjects). One can always write something related to what is asked. Hence, do not worry if in the first glance you feel that you are not familiar with the question. Which brings me to another point.
- No question can be answered perfectly. Hence, do not spend extra time on any question that you have prepared well. One might feel the urge to display everything that they remember, but it is more important to keep track of the time left.
- Focus on the core demand of the question more than what you remember from your notes. You may use your own language to write the answer. This fetches more marks as it displays one’s own understanding. Most aspirants read the same material in PSIR. Hence, most people get similar sort of marks. But someone using their own words, that is, the same content ‘expressed differently’, gets appreciated.
- Let me elaborate on what do I mean by ‘expressed differently’. Notes are written in a certain fashion. SR maam provides opinions of different scholars by plucking them out of a certain context. However, the question on the same issue is asked in a different way. The question has a different context. Hence, it is always better to answer the question. Imagine, someone asking you this question in real life. Would you be replying back by running circles around the question or would you be directly answering what was asked? Leave aside Intro and conclusion. In the main body, start with your argument, build it, discuss it by bringing in expert voices in your answer and then conclude it using positive vision for our beloved country.
- Dont overquote books and scholars. Your opinion matters more. Display your knowledge but dont overkill. Your understanding will be rewarded more than your memory.
Hope this helps. All the best. Enjoy the questions tomorrow. Be courageous, write your heart out.
Diwali wishes to students by Vaibhav Rawat IFS
A very happy Diwali to you and your family! 🎇😊
Let the festivities sink in deep and reinforce the values that Diwali teach us. Always remember that Goodness is victorious over Evil whatever maybe the circumstances. But what constitutes Goodness?
IMHO the immortal characters of Ramayana teach us about possessing values such as sacrificing self-interests for love, being compassionate to others and having the moral, physical and intellectual courage and prowess to do our duty whatever it may be.
Wish that all of us get enormous amount of conviction in being good and build strength to
• honorably progress on the path of Dharma and spread the light all around us
• choose virtuousness over temptation
• choose right over wrong
Let no one ever tell you that you can’t change anything. Conquer yourself first and the world will be yours too. This is the ancient wisdom of our civilization. We are the generation that is going to propel India into its Amrit Kaal. But what is Amrit Kaal? This is a period when India is poised to again become a prosperous, united and harmonious country of rich yet kind, ambitious yet virtuous and contended individuals. However it is incumbent upon us, my dear friends, to build a society that imbibes the enlightened wisdom of excellence- moral, physical and intellectual. One individual at a time India (and naturally as a consequence, the world) will become better. As the grand old man (Mahatma) had said, the change starts with self.
But why I am delivering an unsolicited speech to all of you suddenly. Because Diwali is the perfect occassion to gather and reincorporate our innate goodness. Supported by positive external vibes and the warmth of Diyas let us rejuvenate ourselves this Diwali. Lets be a little more kind, a little more caring for not just others but also for ourselves and a little more courageous! Happy Diwali to each one of you again 🎇 ^_^