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Diary of a Mains finalist

Ashish Sharma, who cleared the Civil Services Mains in his first attempt, recounts his prep days As told to Rahat Bano

education Updated: Aug 19, 2009 13:12 IST
Rahat Bano

Ashish Sharma, 23, sailed through the Civil Services Mains in his first attempt. After his BBA LLB degree from National Law University, Jodhpur, Sharma began preparing for the Civil Services in June 2007. He says he took coaching from three Delhi institutes for different periods till April 2008 and then studied on his own after that.

Poised to join the Academy in Mussoorie later this month, the 89th ranker recounts his prep days.

June to October ’07
I prepared my two optional subjects, law and public administration (PA), logging in 12-15 hours a day.

November to January
I gave PA a break as I would need to tackle it only in the Mains paper in October 2008. Instead, I focused on general studies (GS) and law holistically, that is, for Mains as well.

February ’08 onwards
I studied only law and GS for the prelims in May.

After taking my prelims on May 18, I took a 10-15-day breather.

As June came, I stepped on the gas on law and PA for the Mains.

Side by side, I concentrated on the essay. Every Sunday, I wrote an essay.

I also practised writing answers. Every day, I’d pen an answer to maintain speed and quality. Every fortnight, I attempted a full question paper.

Statistics is an important part of the GS paper. You can score 32 to 36 marks out of 40 in statistics. So, I stressed on this as well.

September onwards
I stopped working on the essay part and paid more attention to GS.

October to November
My GS paper was on October 17, followed by the qualifying English and Hindi on the 18th and essay on 19th. I didn’t study anything between these exams, except going through my current affairs notes before the essay paper. Before my PA paper on October 21, I selectively revised the syllabus.

The law paper was much later, on November 5. So, I celebrated Diwali. As we knew the exam dates, I had given more time to PA in September, knowing the gap between this and the law exam. I revised law in the time between the two.

November to March
For the interview, I read The Hindu, Business Line (UPSC is quite interested in economics these days), Hindustan Times and Indian Express. I also read the magazines Kurukshetra, Yojana and Chronicle. I needed to know current affairs and the balanced opinion on issues. I revised my Mains syllabi because the interview panellists can ask you about your subjects.