How to crack Civil Services Examination : A holistic view ( Nishant Jain Rank 13, Hindi Medium Topper)

Nishant Jain

Rank 13, CSE-2014

First Rank in Hindi/Indian languages medium

In my opinion, Civil Services Examination requires a certain level of maturity and approach. Some students achieve this level at an early age like 22-23 and some achieve it very late. All this depends on our whole upbringing, studies and experience.

In present scenario, when UPSC examination question papers have become very dynamic and innovative, aspirants are also supposed to develop some skills and qualities in them like:-

  1. Integrated Approach
  2. Balanced View
  3. Respecting other’s views
  4. Open-mindedness
  5. Creativity
  6. Writing skills and command over language
  7. Self confidence
  8. Communication skills
  9. Well-arranged thought process
  10. General reading habit

So far as my understanding and area of interest is concerned, I had a keen interest in some areas like-language, literature, culture and philosophy since my student life. Three principles of Indian philosophy became my life changing principles:-

  1. Nishkam Karma Yoga (disinterested action) from Gita
  2. Anekantvad (non-absoluteness) from Jainism
  3. Madhyam Marga (Middle Path) from Buddhism

These three great principles not only help us in our everyday life but also in our UPSC preparation.

Let us talk about prelims first. Preliminary examination of Civil Services is the toughest examination in fact. But it can be handled with some certain techniques like:-

  1. Remaining calm and stress-free on and before this one day examination,
  2. Again Nishkam Karmyoga helps a lot, when you focus on your action only and don’t get attached with the result, you have a psychological edge over other candidates.
  3. Handling negative marking is the key to crack the prelims. There is no substitute of practice while preparing for this phase of Civil Services Examination. Please take help of various test papers.
  4. For qualifying this phase, a candidate must be a keen learner. Diversified study and awareness pays a lot. When we make our area of study comprehensive and become able to connect various segments of General Studies with one another, we get an edge over others.
  5. Always try to learn and attain knowledge. For example, while travelling in metro or on roads, don’t ignore government advertisements like on education, health and taxes etc. Likewise, we must be familiar with AIR, PIB, India portal and other Government media.

Now the most important phase of this examination, Mains Examination begins. Mains examination is the key to achieve final success in this Civil Services Examination. One cannot rely upon Interview but one can give his best for Mains Examination to make the dream come true. I would like to suggest some techniques for Mains also:-

  1. Respecting Other’s views:- When we are open minded and we believe that other’s views are also correct to some extent, then the chances of improving quality of our answers rise for sure. This approach is relevant for all the mains papers including GS- IV (Ethics) and Essay.
  2. Integrated and Comprehensive Approach:- Remaining dependent only on text books and coaching notes will not help. Our approach must be comprehensive and multi-dimensional. Looking things in totality and trying to find a relation among them, pays a lot.
  3. Writing Skill and Command over language:- After 2013, Mains Examination pattern is changed. Question papers are very less traditional and more dynamic. Merely following text books does not pay much. In this situation, the importance of writing skills and language has drastically risen. I have found this thing common among maximum toppers that they had command over the language they opted as their medium and they had excellent writing skills also.

I would also like to add here that if you opt Hindi or any other Indian language as your medium, please make sure that you have command over that particular language and you are able to write well in that language without grammatical errors.

  1. General Reading Habit:- In this age of information revolution and media, our general reading habit other than text books has fallen drastically. If one wants to score extraordinary marks, one must expand his area of reading like books of general interest and magazines like Reader’s Digest, Kadambini (Hindi ) and Aha Zindagi (Hindi) etc. Through this way, our answers become more diversified, comprehensive and interesting particularly in Ethics and Essay.
  2. Essay and Ethics are the game changers:- When you analyze the mains mark sheets, you find that these two papers; GS IV and Essay give marks that are very fluctuating. In Essay, one can get only 50 marks and other one can fetch even more than 150 marks also out of 250 marks. Fortunately, I got 160 marks in essay paper which is probably the highest score. This makes a huge difference. Same is with GS IV. Some candidates get 60-70 marks while some others get 110-120 marks out of 250. It is very clear that if you want to get a good rank, you will have to pay due importance to both of these papers.

Unfortunately, candidates ignore these papers. Some students write their first essay directly in the Examination hall. Please don’t do this. Try to practice more and more for Essay and Case study (GS-IV).

For Essay, I would suggest some points again:-

(i)                Essay must be systematic and a well arranged thought process must be reflected in it.

(ii)             There must be a flow in whole the essay. There must be a clear connection among the two consecutive paragraphs.

(iii)           The range of an essay must be wide and comprehensive. Various aspects like-historical, social, economic, cultural, geographical, philosophical and political, must be discussed during the development of the essay.

(iv)           There must be  a visionary introduction in the beginning in one or two paragraphs. The Essay must be concluded with a clear conclusion. The another angle of the topic must also be discussed before conclusion of possible.

Finally, I would like to share some tips for Interview :-

(i)                You are what you are. So don’t try to become like others. Be natural remain calm.

(ii)             Never bluff. Don’t try to befool the board at any cost.

(iii)           Listen to the board with patience. Start answering only after they conclude their question.

(iv)           Again try to follow the principles of  middle path and respecting other’s views.

(v)             Be humble and a keen learner so that they may indentify whether you are trainable or not.

          I would also like to share some tips for Hindi/ Indian Language medium candidates:-

I have felt on many occasions, that candidates who prepare with medium of Hindi or other Indian languages, feel lack of confidence. I would like to suggest some points for them:-

(i)    Please don’t feel yourself loose confident. Think well, write well and answer well without any hesitation.

(ii) Please try to improve writing skills. For this, command on your own language is required.

(iii)  Linguistics and Psychology say that studying in your own language makes you understand the things better. You have original ideas and thoughts. Use them and have edge over others. Fortunately, I got 851 marks in Mains which is the third highest score.

(iv)  Please avoid grammatical errors in your language.

(v)    English is not a language which is too difficult to learn. Please don’t make English a barrier in your journey. Try to remain in touch with English sources like newspapers, TV/Radio discussions and websites.

In the end, I want to share some General Tips for the whole process of preparation and also for life:-

(i)            Have confidence in yourself.

(ii)           Never, Never, Never give up!

(iii)           If possible, try to gain employability before entering into this long preparation process so that you may join any respectable employment in case of failure in the Civil Services examination. This also helps in remaining a person pressure-free during the preparation.

(iv)           Your family and friends play a very important role in your life and your preparation. So don’t ignore them. I would also advise to remain in touch with those persons who have a positive energy and motivational force in them.

(v)             Try to retain the things which you have studied and revised. “It is better to read one book for ten times than to read ten books for one time.”

(vi)           “Your life is your message to the world. So, try to make it inspiring.”



My Mains Marksheet

Essay – 160 Marks.

General Studies – 378 Marks (89+88+77+124).

Optional Subject – Hindi Literature – 313 Marks (166+147)

Total Marks in Mains – 851 Marks.

Personality Test – 150 Marks.

Total Marks – 1001 Marks.


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