The UPSC civil services exam is one of the most competitive exams conducted in India. It is attempted by lakhs of candidates every year. However, only a fraction of those come out with flying colours in the end. Clearing this exam gives an entry into the prestigious civil services of the country. As soon as the IAS results are announced, the UPSC toppers gain limelight in the country.The IAS toppers serve as an inspiration to thousands of young people who aspire to clear the Civil Services Exam.


Jatin Kishore who secured an All India Rank of 2 in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Service Examination in 2019 wasn’t so successful the first time around.

Born and raised in Delhi, Jatin graduated from St. Stephens College of Delhi University where he pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. He went on to complete his Master’s degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics.

“Wanting to appear for the CSE was a decision I took rather late. I decided that the services was my true calling,” says Jatin. The right mix of policy making and administrative work is what appealed to Jatin.


In his first attempt, he did not clear the IAS prelims exam. This was his second attempt and he secured the second rank in Civil Services exam. The IAS topper said that in the first IAS prelims, he attempted a fewer number of questions and hence he did not breach the IAS prelims cut off. He did not repeat the same mistake in his second chance and attempted more number of questions (85-90) and qualified the IAS prelims 2019.

Ready to take risks

It was in June 2018 that Jatin attempted the examination for the first time. He says, “My biggest mistake the first time around was being risk averse.” In attempting the prelims, he suggests that aspirants try and answer as many questions as possible. Of the 100 questions in the prelims paper, in his first attempt Jatin only answered 70 questions, which in hindsight he says was not adequate. In his second attempt, he attempted almost 90 questions.

Repeated revisions

While the first attempt was not a success, Jatin says that it helped him build a base, upon which he worked for the second time. “UPSC is not really an exam in which you prepare afresh each year and therefore the time I spent for my first attempt helped me for the second time as well,” he says. Jatin spent his second year of preparation in revision and speaking about it, says, “I suggest that candidates do multiple sets of revisions from a single book rather than picking up multiple books for one subject. I revised each book four times and would suggest the same for other aspirants.”

Making notes

While Jatin did not make notes for any subject, he mentions that if he were to attempt the exam again, he would spend time making notes. “There is a lot of syllabus to cover and making notes will help immensely during the time spent on revision, especially before the main [subjects],” he says. Revising everything at the end from various books might not be the best way to utilise time as well. If aspirants want to choose topics to make notes, Jatin’s advice is to pick the obscure topics, for which not too many books and research material might be available.

Importance of current affairs

“One of the most important parts of the examination is the current affair portion and it is important for aspirants to be very well prepared on this,” says Jatin. If there is a topic that is recurring, then aspirants must be aware of everything surrounding it. Regularly going through the monthly current affairs magazines will help keep track of everything that is happening.

Do not be afraid of experimenting

While attempting the mock tests, Jatin suggests that aspirants try various combinations. “In one test try attempting only the questions you are 100 per cent sure of. In another test, if you are confused between two answers, try picking one that seems like the right one. Doing this will give you an idea of what approach works best for you,” he says. The ultimate aim during the mock test should be to score between 110 to 120.

IAS main answer writing strategy

UPSC Topper 2020 Jatin Kishore emphasized the answer writing practice for the IAS main exam. He suggested that IAS aspirants should not start the IAS answer writing from day one of IAS preparation. He recommended that the candidates should study the basic general studies topics first so they have content for the answer writing and add it up with the current affairs happenings.

For IAS mains, he suggested that the candidates should not criticise the government policies, instead, they do constructive criticism and suggest the solutions for the problems. The candidates should adopt a balanced approach for the IAS Main answer writing.

IAS Essay Strategy

UPSC topper suggested that the Essay paper is the shortest paper in the IAS main exam if we consider the length in terms of the number of words. The candidates need to write two essays of around twelve hundred words. The IAS topper suggested giving fifteen to twenty-five minutes for the planning and structuring the essay.

The IAS topper highlighted that in the IAS essay paper, the candidates should try to cover all the aspects of the topic. He suggested that the candidates should be ready with ten to twelve themes/ideas to present them in distinct paragraphs. It is like writing different general studies answers.

IAS Ethics Strategy

UPSC topper suggested that IAS ethics paper is a difficult paper because the questions are based on the case studies. He suggested that the candidates should stick to the IAS ethics Syllabus. He suggested that the IAS aspirants should start preparing the basic concepts and learn the short definitions of each term.

After doing so, learn and try to incorporate the quoted from famous personalities such as Mahatma Gandhi in your answers. This will immensely help in fetching more marks in the IAS Ethics paper.

Source - Various Internet Sources