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Prepare, Practise and Perform with Perfection

Strategy for General Studies Paper 3


Dileep Kumar

Rank 415, CSE 2015



The potential to score very high in general studies paper 3 is more compared to other papers. This is because, to a large extent, looking at the previous papers, we can easily understand and predict the scope, contours and the nature of questions being asked in GS paper 3. The questions have a pattern. Most of the questions are current affairs based too.


Broadly, GS paper 3 can be divided into 3 major areas:

(1) Economy

(2) Security issues

(3) Science and technology, environment and disaster management.


Lets try to look at the areas and nature of questions in these topics.

(1) The questions on ECONOMY have largely been on following areas:


     (a) Standard and key areas of Indian economy (Jobs,skills, inclusive growth, jobless growth, many FDI related questions)


     (b) Economic reforms oriented (DBT, GST, FRBM)


     (c) Agriculture, cropping, Irrigation (questions on micro irrigation, livestock)


     (d) Infrastructure and industries (Renewable energy, SEZs etc)


     (e) Important initiatives of the day (Make in india, gold schemes,smart cities)


(2) Coming to SECURITY, more focus these days have been on cyber security (cyber threats, guidelines, policy) and border management  and some questions on extremism related topics also. Proper preparation and strategy will yield very good marks in this area.

New and current topics are being asked which can be easily answered if we follow the current affairs little diligently (eg: hot pursuit, surgical strikes etc). Infact, the preparation of international relations of GS 2 will also come in handy (eg: CPEC issue, ISIS issue etc).


(3)  The third area is S&T, environment and disaster management.


      (a) Questions on disaster management more or less have been current based Eg: Kashmir and chennai floods, uttarakhand cloudburst


       (b) Even questions on environment have also focused on topical and popular issues or policy level issues. For eg: Namami ganga, national water policy, go and no go zones of mining, green corridors.


       (c)  Regarding S&T, besides some standard areas like nanotechnology, patents and IPR issues, current areas like IRNSS of space, 3D printing,drug resistant diseases etc have been asked. Therefore current developments in standard areas remains the focus.


Having discussed about the areas of questions, let's see why taking a test series or some writing practice in this paper matters a lot.


1. To fetch good marks, besides mere information, need to have good presentation. Need to know the keywords of a topic and also how to substantiate your answers.


2. Exploring different dimensions of an answer is important. i.e. need to practice writing a holistic answer because in economy and security, there is huge possibility to explore different dimensions as there are many stakeholders.


3. For better integration of standard issues of GS 3 with current developments, writing practice is very much needed.


4. It's only with writing practice that one can see how well could one use the information of economic survey and macro economic data available to improve the quality of answers.




Strategy for Civil Services Examination


Sukhaputra N O

CSE 2015- Rank: 657


Optional: Animal husbandry and veterinary sciences


CSE 2016 is 6th attempt; I have given my 1st attempt in 2011 and qualified for interview in 2011 and also in 2012.


Brief experience:

I started my preparation after completing my post graduation (Animal Genetics and Breeding) in 2010 and attended civil services coaching in Delhi with the support of Karnataka social welfare department.

Then I continued my preparation while working as assistant professor (4 years) in veterinary college shimoga and guiding students and aspirants for different civil services examination. CSE 2014 I got in to IRTS (Indian Railway Traffic Service) and in CSE 2015 I got in to IRS (IT) - Indian revenue service (IT)


Preparation strategy:

Prelims: after completing the basic study material, referred previous years question papers for thorough analysis and understanding important concepts.

Collected question papers from different sources and solved these papers. After solving individually, discussed with my group members for further understanding and clarification of concepts



• Thorough analysis of the syllabus and previous year question papers

• Current affairs(Both mains and Prelims): reading and making notes from news paper (the Hindu) and listening to RSTV news and discussions .while reading/watching discussions relate these with the UPSC syllabus.

• Group discussion: after self study I was discussing important issues with the peer group for clarification and enrichment of contents

• Writing practice: collected mains question papers from different sources and written with time schedule. Evaluated by my peer group members


Dear aspirants:

• Keep the preparation simple with limited number of books and notes

• Focus on making own notes, as far my experience this is the most important aspect of exam preparation

• Thorough analysis of the syllabus and previous years question papers

• Keep writhing tests with proper preparation and evaluate with peers / teachers and discuss for clarification of issues.



We are happy to have the association of Mr. Sukhaputra with Aikyatha ( ) in more ways than one for the benefit of the aspirants.


Essay Strategy


Santhosh B M

Rank 307, CSE 2016


Essay Score: 159/250



Here I would like to share my essay strategy. Before I would explain my strategy it is necessary to understand the importance of essay, even though it has similar weightage (250 Marks) as other GS subjects and Optional the scope for getting high marks is more in essay. And also here the variation of marks is also very high. Hence it plays very important role in ones selection or rejection. So clear focus and strategy is needed to score good marks in essay.


Coming to the strategy first the selection of one essay among four is very important in each section. Here you need to be careful and take sometime before deciding the topic. The selection of topic should be such that you have sufficient knowledge about the topic and have multi dimensional view . Usually science topics are preferred over philosophical topics, but you can chose any topic which one feels comfortable with.


The first part of the essay is Introduction. I usually divided Introduction into two parts one is introduction to the given topic and second introduction to my essay i.e hint of what I am going to write in my essay. For the first part of introduction it is better to start with a quote relevant to the topic, then explain the meaning of topic and its relevance in present world. As mentioned earlier second part give a brief introduction or insights into how you are going to explain the topic with multi dimensional view.


Second part is the body of essay here one should show his/her critical thinking. Various aspects of topics should be critically analyzed by highlighting both pros and cons and also providing innovative solution to the problems. Giving solution is very important and one must always provide solution to the negative aspects highlighted. For multidimensional view I usually used to think in terms of all the four GS papers that is to say, in GS Paper 1 we have History, Society and Geography, in paper 2 Polity, International relations, paper 3 is mainly about Economy ,Environment and Technology and paper 4 about Ethics. So one can think in these many aspects and take those aspects which is very relevant to the given topic.


While writing in different aspects one should always take care that it is not deviating from the central theme of the essay. Structure of essay is also important, there should be continuity from one paragraph to another. In each of aspects you should give both positives and negatives and also solution to overcome the negatives. Here supporting your argument with facts and figures is important . One cannot remember all the facts so it is better to know the basic data like socio-economic indicators like IMR ,MMR ,HDI ,Ease of doing business, GDP, growth rate etc. These data can be taken from Economic Survey .You can also take important data from current affairs materials which you would have studied. Just make notes from those materials and revise those data.


Last part is Conclusion. It should always be OPTIMISTIC  and if possible futuristic. No new topics should be introduced here .It should summarize your entire essay. If possible a quote can be used here which shows the broader aspect of the topic. Finally reading your conclusion examiner must get a sense that the topic has been analyzed in different ways, solution has been provided to all the challenges and the person is optimistic about the future.


And finally practising essay is very important. For practice part I would suggest you to go through previous years essay papers and mock tests of any good institution. 


Having said  these I would suggest any aspirant to follow only those things which s/he feels logical and correct. Finally as saying goes “Practice makes man perfect”, practice some essays, try to incorporate points said by me or any other persons who has good knowledge on essays, get it corrected by resourceful persons and keep getting better everytime.


All the Best!




Strategy for General Studies


Kiran S

Rank 310, CSE 2016


If one observes the marking pattern in the last few years, GS has been the game changer. Despite the vast syllabus, it has a great potential to fetch high marks. And going forward it would play even a bigger role in Mains.


One needs to be thorough with static portions and keep on updating the dynamic aspects of it. For instance, Land reforms ( Paper 3 ) needs one to be aware of the history of Land reforms in India , reasons for its success and failure in different parts of the country, latest land acquisition act and critical analysis of the same.       


Further, answer writing plays a key role in scoring high marks in GS. Some important pointers in this regard would be as follows:


  1. Answering precisely to the question without beating around the bush.
  2. Each sub-question within a question must be addressed without fail. And it should be evident to the evaluator that one has addressed all parts of the question.
  3. Linking static/theoretical part of the question with current affairs is very important to get an extra edge.
  4. Facts , examples , case studies wherever required ( For ex : Land acquisition models of Haryana , Amaravathi etc )



General Studies – Paper 3


This paper is the most dynamic with respect to the variety of questions that can be asked. But it gives one an advantage with respect to answer writing.


Major subdivisions – Indian economy ( + infrastructure ) ,  Agriculture and related , science and Technology , Environment and disaster management, Security related issues.


Preparation for this paper mostly depends on current affairs ( News papers ). Economic survey , India year book , IDSA site ( for security related issues ) etc


Each topic in the syllabus must be prepared in combination ( static + current affairs portion ). For instance : Investment models ( BOT , DBFO etc as static portions and swiss challenge method , Hybrid annuity as current ones . Critical analysis of them . International comparison, PPP suitability and respective model in India etc )


Important to understand in this paper is how to address a question precisely and bring in larger picture into the answer. For instance a question on Surgical Strikes (2016) should address the need of question and also encapsulate the larger issue of cross border terrorism and security threats in subcontinent.


So, writing practice plays an important role as far as this paper is concerned. For that to happen it is crucial to make notes while reading newspapers in adjacent to respective topics. And one should update it as and when one encounters related facts, examples. And regular revision would help in framing an answer which is multi dimensional, content rich and brings in larger picture into play.


Essay Strategy


Nivya Shetty

Rank 274, CSE 2015


Essay, by its very character is highly subjective and everyone’s approach is dictated by their experiences, take on the subject, subject matter, etc. Getting guidance for the essay paper is like trying to train your brain into thinking a particular way regarding a every subject- that’s not only difficult but antithetical to your creativity. The CSE Essay paper has varied over the years- from papers that forced us to take a stand to papers that want us to elaborate on our perspective on very wide ranging philosophical topics. The shift in approach seems to indicate that UPSC wants us to dictate the course of our essay to determine what our opinions are and how well we can articulate it.


Practical points:

  1. An essay is only as good as its diversity and matter to justify those varied points. Hence, always select those topics that you feel can be elaborated in more ways than one. The other natural advantage is that you have more material to cite and support your argument.

  2. Determine what your conclusion is before you begin. For eg, in an essay where you’re called to take a stand determine what conclusions you will draw and work towards that end goal throughout the essay. This gives your essay direction and clarity.

  3. Read the topics multiple times and try to think of it in multiple ways.  Consider the topic of “Lending a hand to someone is better than giving a dole”, It could be elaborated as to how subsidies may not go a long way in improving the lot of the impoverished or how developed countries can aid the developing countries better by giving them advanced technology rather than simple giving out funds. A single line of the essay can convey multiple meanings.

  4. Clarity in an essay cannot be stressed on enough. Most aspirants have great command over language or a great deal of data on the essay topic but they’re unable to articulate in a manner that seems organized and sorted. The easiest way to deal with that is to plan out the essay using a flowchart before you begin the essay itself. You could write the order of your points, examples that go along with it. That way you know exactly how much time and space to devote to which topic and the form that the essay would take.

  5. The other contentious issue regarding the essay paper is how to begin and end the essay. The oft repeated procedure is to begin and essay with a quote. I personally don’t think it is necessary to do so. The purpose of the quote is to encapsulate your articulation in a few words. Therefore, it you don’t have a suitable enough quote there is no need to worry. But it is true that an essay that begins well and ends beautifully has it’s own charm. I would advise all of you to focus on these two parts. I know of people, who begin the essay with a couplet, poem, question, etc, in other words, begin it in a manner that would set them apart from the other essays automatically. This approach comes with a warning- don’t use the above simply with the objective of having ticked a checkbox against use of quotes/phrases. They must be used if they organically elaborate your point or are relevant to the essay topic.


I have tried to keep by suggestions as non-generic as possible. The above points are something I hold very dear while planning and writing an essay. Consider the above points as supplementary to your own understanding of how to approach the essay paper BECAUSE I truly believe the Civil Services is a test of how well we understand our strengths and how we work to capitalize on those strengths to be successful. Identify those and you’re set.


Good luck to all the aspirantsā˜ŗ



Priyanka G

Rank 84, CSE 2016


Following is a brief on the strategy that I followed for CSE 2016.


Attempt:             3

Optional:            Anthropology

Academics:        BE in Electronics and Communication Engineering

Hobbies:             Bharatanatyam and reading Kannada novels



Civil Services Exam involves a tough journey requiring patience and perseverance. But, fruits of the efforts are so sweet that temporary struggles seems nothing at all. I have shared my strategy and suggest everyone should come up with their own unique strategy based upon their own unique personality.




I went through 15-20 interviews of toppers from mrunal and came up with standard book for every topic. I referred following materials:


1. Gaurav Aggarwal blog for CULTURE

2. Brief History of Modern India by Spectrum

3. GC Leong and class 11-12 NCERT for Geography

4. Atlas(Mountains, rivers, lakes, sea, oceans, poles, National Parks, important sanctuaries, UNESCO Sites, Ramsar sites, etc)

5. Lakshmikant for Polity

6. Ramesh Singh (First 18 chapters) and Economic survey and Budget highlights

7. Environment by Shankar IAS


I read 'The Hindu' newspaper every single day and made notes for current affairs. I supplemented it with current affairs from GKoday


Here, I revised and re-revised above materials several times. I believe its better to study same book thrice than referring three books.


Taking online prelims test series helped me in analyzing my strengths and weakness and work on them.





In addition to materials for Prelims, I had to study India after Independence, India's Struggle for Independence and World History. I went through materials according to syllabus (Hence I could stay focused) and had prepared points for every topic. Also approach is slightly different, as emphasis in Mains is more on critical analysis of events and personalities. Collection of data, facts and figures is important for value addition in written exam. I picked up points from newspaper and made online notes. I also drew diagrams and flowcharts wherever possible.


Maintaining answer structure of Introduction - Arguments For and Against given question - Balanced and positive conclusion. Here important strategy was extensive writing practice. I used to get my answer scripts evaluated from friends. Their suggestions played vital role in scoring good marks in CSE Mains 2016. I practised several Essays and got it evaluated from friends. For GS Paper 4, I made my own definition as well as case study for every term. I also wrote full length exams for GS Paper 4 to pick up speed.



Personality Test:


I had prepared extensively on DAF. I had made up questions as well as answers for every important word in DAF.

But unfortunately, no question was asked from DAF(Nothing at all!). I couldn't answer many questions. So I honestly accepted that I didn't know the answer and maintained pleasant smile and calm posture.

There were few questions that turned out to be gold mines, where I gave examples from personal life and also used the knowledge of Anthropology which impressed the panel(I think so!).



One of the most important factor to reach our goals is PLANNING. We need to have daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly plans so that we are focused. I Suggest all aspirants to prepare their own plan based on their SWOT analysis.


Good luck for the upcoming 2017 Preliminary Examination!



Priyanka G


We are happy to say that Priyanka G would join hands with Aikyatha ( in her own way for furthering the benefit of all candidates šŸ™‚



Strategy for IFS preparation


Aishwarya Raj

Rank 28, IFS 2016



As you would be aware of, IFS is a three-stage exam wherein first stage is UPSC Preliminary Exam common to both CSE and IFS. It is in fact the biggest hurdle to cross as the cutoff is 15-20 marks higher than UPSC CSE ( this time 16 marks). So prepare for Prelims on a war-footing for now till June 18. Here is sharing my strategy and plan for the same.


Next comes Mains comprising six written subjective papers. Here competition traditionally has been lower than CSE and comparatively easier to crack, assuming your preparation of two optional subjects is good. But since this year IFS mains is in December after CSE , be prepared to have a possibly tougher competition.


Mains Plan:

For General Knowledge paper, ensure it is completed side-by-side with CSE. Make sure you go through the last 5 year question papers to get an understanding of the type of questions asked. It is a good mix of static and topical issues usually. Science and technology + climate change/ environmental issues questions like GM crops should be focused upon as well, in addition to History/Geography/Economy/Polity. Current affairs Monthly Booklets are recommended for current affairs part.


Regarding the two science(or engineering) optionals, go through the syllabus of your shortlisted subjects and then decide basis material and guidance available and your graduation background. I chose Chemistry (my UG) and Forestry (interesting, minimal source and easy to revise ). 


For forestry, making short notes on important topics really helped for last minute revisions + use of internet for current topics. You may also refer to the online videos created by IFS officers of the 2017 Batch. Agriculture, Geology, Botany etc. are other commonly chosen optional subjects among candidates.


Also , please do not ignore English. Note that it carries 300 marks vs 200 of one optional paper. Your score in grammar section (50 marks weightage) especially can be a make or break . So spend a couple of days on past papers and refreshing basic essay/report writing/grammar rules. Wren & Martin is a reliable source.


Finally viz UPSC Interview stage called the “Personality Test”, you might be aware how the Board likes to spring surprises in addition to questions from your DAF (Detailed Application Form) and current affairs ( Interview experience here). It is best to put on a conscious effort to evolve into a well-rounded , balanced personality throughout your preparation, as it surely cant be a one-week effort !


Hope that helps as a broad framework for your initiation. Good luck.



Strategy for GS  Papers


Santhosh B M

Rank 307 CSE 2016


I am going to discuss strategy for GS Papers 1,2 and 3. "Well begun, half done” so the very important and key thing to score good marks in GS papers is going through the SYLLABUS very carefully.  I would even suggest one to memorize the syllabus if possible, because if you go through previous four years question papers, majority of questions have come from the key words prescribed in the syllabus. So, analyzing the syllabus and previous four years' question papers makes your task easier to score high in GS papers.

Then coming to the material for these papers, I would divide it into two parts Static part and Dynamic part or Current affairs. For static part I had read Vision IAS materials which is divided according to syllabus, NCERTs, browsing few topics in Internet and also my own notes. So I would recommend Vision IAS or any other good institutions material for static part which is divided according to points mentioned in syllabus.

For dynamic part reading any of the newspapers like “The Hindu” or “The Indian Express” is necessary. I would also recommend materials like Vision Mains365 or similar materials of any other institutions where the entire years Current Affairs are covered comprehensively. These materials will help in quick and effective revision.

Other than this for GS 1 one can refer IGNOU material and NCERT for society part. For GS2 for recent bills and act s/he can refer PRS website, remembering articles and constitutional provisions and relating with current affairs will give an extra edge. And For GS 3 going through “Economic Survey” is important. Sometimes questions are directly asked from Economic Survey, the topics given in the boxes should be stressed while reading Economic Survey. Also the data given in the survey should be used wherever relevant in all three GS papers. Recently, importance has been given to Flagship schemes of the Government. So, one should have good knowledge about the recent schemes of GOI.  Interrelating topics of all 3 papers wherever possible will help in getting good marks.

The final part is answer writing. Here one should apply his knowledge and LINK static part with current affairs. Recent trend is that many sub questions are asked in single question so EACH part should be specifically addressed to and one should not beat around the bush but beat the bush, so addressing SPECIFICALLY to what question is demanding is important. Simply filling the paper will not fetch you the marks so attention must be given so that you address only those things which question is demanding.

Lastly, completing the paper is very important so you need to write some mock tests and make sure that you manage the time well and also STRUCTURE your answer according to demand of question.

Summarizing the things, going through the syllabus, analyzing previous years' question papers, studying and revising the materials mentioned above, specifically addressing the question, taking a few mock tests and completing the paper will definitely fetch you good marks.

All the best!




Strategy for General Studies by

Harikrishna, Rank 408, CSE 2015


General Studies Paper -1 consists of the below parts mainly:

Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature  and Architecture from ancient to modern times. 

Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues.

The Freedom Struggle its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.

Postā€independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.

History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars,  redrawal of national boundaries,  colonization, decolonization.

Political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc. their forms and effect on the society.



Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. 

Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, Poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

Effects of globalization on Indian society.

Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.


Geography of the World 

Salient features of world’s physical geography. 

Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subā€continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and  tertiary  sector  industries  in  various  parts  of  the  world (including India)

Important Geophysical phenomena  such  as  earthquakes, Tsunami,  Volcanic activity, cyclone  ,  geographical features and  their  locationā€ changes  in critical  geographical features (including  waterā€bodies and iceā€caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.


Suggested Book List for GS 1


Indian History: 
Old NCERT Class 11th : This will help you in remembering the events in chronological order.


2.    Comprehensive History of Modern India by Spectrum. This covers the entire syllabus in detail.

Indian Heritage and Culture: 

Old NCERT Class 11th – Fine Arts or Tamil Nadu Board Class 11th Book 

Nitin Singhania’s Xerox notes is best source so far along with any institutes material.


Post-independence consolidation and reorganisation within the country.

India since Independence by Bipin Chandra (Chapter 6 to 12).


History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution , world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc. – their forms and effects on the society

NCERT books

Geography of the World: Spectrum Geography is a comprehensive book it is for mains geography but selective reading will help you in both mains and Prelims.

Society: NCERT books and Newspapers will do.



UPSC CSE Strategy


Shabareesh P

Rank 617, CSE 2016


Hello friends..

This is Dr. Shabarish. P and I would like to share the strategy i followed and few aspects that i have learnt in my upsc journey. 


For prelims:

Prelims is the toughest part of the exam and  my suggestion to beginners is to dedicate more time for prelims in first attempt. As u all know learning all the concepts from ncerts is a must. Beyond that is what a real game changer. There are certain core areas where UPSC is fond of - buddhism, environmental conventions, etc.. To know about these one has to go through previous year question papers atleast twice and try to get an idea about how the questions are asked and the approach one needs to hav while dealing with any topic. 


Later, while you read news paper search for the topics that may be asked in the prelims and do a back linkage. For instance G20 summit is in news. Open wiki for that and look for the members and recent places wer summit has been held . Also most important is to see if any summit is held in india. This is common for all international organisations.


Further, make a notes out of all the national parks .. For this, first para from wiki about national parks would suffice. Look for the important points like northernmost, largest, Easternmost etc. 


It may not be possible to give tips on all the topics here. If any one gets any doubt feel free to mail me at



When u develop the skill of answer writing half ur work is done. So concentrate more on writing practice. I would even tell that chances of success is proportionate to the no. of tests one writes seriously.. Because this ll give some of the general points which may be used for all the questions and it ll generate the habit of linking the topic while answering which ll fetch u more marks. 


Along with these, there are two crucial papers which one often gives less time for preparation - ESSAY  AND ETHICS.  Scoring in these papers is very much necessary to get a good rank. Both these papers test a candidates personality and so quoting examples to prove ur personality is important.  Look for the success stories of panchayat raj in google which may be used in women empowerment, inclusive growth etc. Always substantiate your answer . I strongly believe that  in these two papers answers should be such that a candidate is conversing with the evaluator giving an idea about one's personality.. This has to be developed over a period of time and practice is key to success. 


Also.. Give ur best in finding smarter ways to clear the exam and yes smart way is never equal to short cut. It is about finding what is needed for Upsc and what is not. 



U are all here to get into the civil services to bring about a change in the society which has to be reflected in your answers and this ll defenitely come only through practice and wish all the future civil servants here all the very best..!! 


I thank AIKYATHA platform for giving me the oppurtunity to share some of the important aspects i learnt throught out my journey of past three years. 


Thank u all!


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