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.


Despite hailing from a family of IAS including his father, Sanwar Mal Verma, who works in the Revenue Department, Jaipur, Kanishak was not sure that he would be able to clear the exam at first go. “The UPSC civil services exam is subjective and people from diverse backgrounds attempt it. There is no right answer key by which you can judge how much marks one will get and I was not clear how my answers will be evaluated. I know people who secured less in Mains exam during their first attempt and hence there was a doubt that it could be a possibility that I might not have cleared the exam at all,” he said.

clarity on working for the public was not always there in Kanishak’s mind. Before preparing for UPSC exam, he was working with Samsung as a software developer in Korea after which he moved to a Bangalore-based startup as a data scientist. He left both to focus on what he calls ‘sustainable happiness’. “I was happy with my profile and salary in Korea, but that is not the only motivation for me. I can not sustain the materialistic happiness as I wanted to do something where I could make an impact and be satisfied with what I do,” he said while adding, “I had seen my father and uncle how concern they were for the benefit of people. I realised if I am able to improve the life of a needy, I would consider myself successful.”


Study with full Concentration (Effective Study)

He told that he studied for around ten hours every day with full concentration so he can keep and reproduce whatever he is reading and studying. He also suggested the same to the candidates preparing for the IAS exam. He suggested not to study with half concentration. He suggested studying effectively and it is the quality that matters not quantity.

He suggested that half-hearted efforts are not fruitful and will give no result.

Self-Study is the Key

He told that whether the candidates have joined any coaching or not, self-study is the key to success in the IAS exam. Nobody can do magic and make the selection possible. The candidate should try to improve day by day. They should divide the time and study into two slots. One for the optional subject and other for the General Studies.

Make your Strategy

The IAS Topper Kanishak Kataria apprised that he met his friends who were in the IAS preparation and discussed their strategy. He points out the tactics valuable for him and plans his strategy based on his strengths and weaknesses. He suggested the candidates should develop their strategy.

He suggested that the candidates should design their own IAS strategy based on their optional subject, academic background, strengths and weaknesses. The candidates should also take responsibility for the failures.

Time Management in IAS Exam

Time management is the key to this exam. The coaching can give you only a direction, but nobody can spoon-feed. He said if the candidate is good in time management, his half of the problems are solved. He said IAS exam is all about the time management. The candidates should equally treat general studies and optional subjects.

If they are comfortable in the optional subject or general studies topics, he can change the ratio of effort accordingly.

Answer Writing

He said that the answer writing practice is essentially important and the candidates should start doing answer writing practice after the IAS prelims exam. The candidates can only improve when they start early after the IAS prelims exam.

He suggested that the candidates should focus on answer writing after the IAS prelims exam. He said that the answer writing practice can fetch better marks in the optional subject.

Preparing Notes

He said that the candidates should prepare the notes themselves. Be it online or offline, it does not make a difference. He said that while preparing notes; we do active learning and it cannot be done by reading the notes of others.

There are no perfect notes, the notes can be improved over time. Do not wait to produce the perfect notes, instead start preparing the notes from day one.
Prepare the topic strongly

He suggested the candidates should prepare the topic in its entirety and strongly. Strongly means the candidate should be able to give most answers right if the UPSC asks questions from that topic. It should not be the case that the candidates prepare the topic well and still unable to answer the questions. The previous year IAS question papers help significantly in this area.

Integrated Approach

The candidates should prepare the IAS main exam and put the minimum essential effort in the IAS prelims exam. He suggested the candidates should not prepare for the IAS prelims first.

They should not be stuck in the prelims trap. Once the optional subject is prepared, the candidates can do only answer writing and prepare General Studies after the prelims exam.

First, complete the optional subject, an optional subject can give the edge to the candidates. The optional subject will help in getting good rank and desired services. But the optional preparation should be such that you can score over three hundred and fifty marks in it.


Revise the optional subject, once in every two months. He suggests preparing the optional first and then start the General Studies side by side. Once the optional subject is prepared, revise it fully once in every two months.

Revision is the key to retain the subject topics and can be reproduced in the desired format. He said the revision will keep the topics fresh in mind and will help in relating with others.

Source - Various Internet Sources