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Prelims Capsule

Toppers Talk

Toppers Talk – Shishir Gupta | AIR- 50, CSE 2019

How to prepare for UPSC CSE without coaching? UPSC 2019 Topper AIR 50 Shishir Gupta’s strategy

  • Interviewer-Tell us something about your background?

Shishir-Rajasthan is my home state. My father is the principal of the Bassi Government Senior Section School, and my mother is a stay-at-home mom. I graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay with a degree in Chemical Engineering.

  • Interviewer-How did you moved towards the preparation of civil services?

Shishir-After college, I worked in corporate for two years in the UAE. I returned to pursue my IAS goal after ensuring that my family was financially comfortable to some extent, and I first appeared in UPSC CSE in 2015.

In 2016, after returning to India from the United Arab Emirates, I took the UPSC Civil Services Examination for the first time.

  • Interviewer-How did you begin your preparation?

Shishir-I enrolled in Delhi’s Polity classes but was unable to finish due to health issues. It took me over a year to get back on my feet.

I passed the preliminary exam and moved on to the mains. I owe my success to my knowledge of current affairs and the fact that the 2016 UPSC preliminary exam was heavy on current affairs. However, I was unable to pass the mains exam because my preparation fell short of the standards set by UPSC.

  • Interviewer-How was your interview experience?

Shishir-I was put through a stress test at my UPSC interview, which did not go well. However, I mostly blame my Ethics paper for failing me, given I was only 6 marks short of the merit list cut-off.

As a result, I took Anubhav Sir’s 5-day ethics enrichment course to better understand how to address my mistakes. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I was unable to pass the 2018 Civil Service Preliminary Examination.

  • Interviewer-Did you joined any coaching or was it a self-study?

Shishir-I began to wonder if it was my refusal to participate in coaching that was dragging me down. As a result, I relocated to Delhi and began attending full-time classes. But I quickly realised it wasn’t the right fit for me, and the only way I was going to ace this exam was through self-study. To begin, I began studying UPSC topper’s answers, which are freely available online, in order to determine where I was falling short. I quickly recognised how important it was to include micro diagrams, maps, and flowcharts in my responses to make them more engaging for the examiner.

  • Interviewer-What was your optional?

Shishir-Mathematics was my Optional. The Mathematics optional syllabus is extensive. I made the decision not to devote too much time to the 20% of the syllabus that is particularly difficult. Instead, I prepared the remaining 80% of the exam so well that I did not miss a single question. In my optional papers, I expected to get 450 out of 500 marks.

  • Interviewer-How did you prepare for General Studies papers?

Shishir-I made sure that my static material preparation was so good that I would cover at least half of the paper whether it was for prelims or mains.

  • Interviewer- What improvements you did for UPSC CSE 2019?

Shishir-I started with improving my answer writing style using topper’s model answers as guidelines. Every day, I spent 10 to 15 minutes in front of a map, mentally marking places and features. I have developed data tables for more obscure topics asked every year in several UPSC exams such as CSE, NDA, CAPF-AC, and others. I made a list of all the international organizations that India is a member of, as well as her position in each one. As a result, there was minimal risk of him not being able to tackle every softball UPSC threw his way in 2019, and I clearly played a winning game.