Detailed Preparation Strategy by Roman Saini
Answer by Roman Saini:
(Disclaimer: IAS is used alternatively with Civil Services)
Name: Dr. Roman Saini
Age : 22
Roll number: 074397
Name of the Exam and Year : CSE 2013
Result/Rank : 18 (First attempt)
Graduation Background and College: MBBS, AIIMS, New Delhi passed out in January 2014
Work Experience :: Junior Resident Psychiatry AIIMS- Feb – June 2014
UPSC Optional: MEDICAL SCIENCE
State and Place of Residence: Living in New Delhi for 6 years.
Percentage of Marks in 10th : 85.5
Percentage of Marks in 12th : 91.4
Percentage of Marks in MBBS : 62.8
Extra Curricular Activities: Professional guitarist – Trinity college London
If you would have asked me 4 years ago what is UPSC, I could not even tell you the full form, forget about anything else. I was horribly bad at English and studying social sciences or Humanities as they call it, was extremely inhuman at first. But somehow I developed a likening towards studying diverse subjects which is the first and foremost requirement for preparation of this examination, one of the hardest in the world. Hardness of any examination is determined by Success ratio. In 2014, one million candidates applied, but this year IAS was allotted only till 92nd rank in General Category and one of my friend who got 98th rank has given the examination again just to get into this coveted and sacred service. So, the odds of getting into IAS is less than 1/10,000 i.e <0.01%, making UPSC CSE one of the hardest examination on this planet. Competition is on the rise because many more candidates from professional backgrounds (Engineers, Doctors, MBA) are becoming Civil Servants as it is full of attractions like diverse challenges, authority, opportunity of touching millions of life, prestige etc.
It was never my childhood dream, and I thought of writing UPSC in 4th semester of MBBS. At that time I realised that the basic maladies and grassroots problem needs to be tackled first and if I am being brutally honest with myself, they simply cannot be solved by being a doctor. You need to lock horns with problems like lack of awareness, medication, diagnostic facilities, drinking water, sanitation and above all, opportunities with a level playing field. In short, touching, influencing and affecting millions of lives at one go is possible only by becoming IAS.
I was sleeping when the result was announced 12th June,2014 @ 3.00 pm as I was tired after my work in Psychiatry department of AIIMS. I got to know from my friends the next day i.e. 13th june, 1.00 morning. Yes, I felt good, but thinking that the real work had just began, it humbled me.
PRELIMINARY TEST (26th May,2013)
Attempted Correct Official score
CSAT 1 100 72 125.34
CSAT 2 80 75 183.33
These marks are one of the highest in India and I am yet to find someone who has more marks than me, that too I was just 21 year old when I gave prelims. This is just to emphasise that age is just a number and what is needed is proper guidance and strategy.
MAINS ( First week of December, 2013)
English and Hindi Compulsory Paper: Passed (Obviously)
GS 1 :97
GS II :61
GS III :108
GS IV : 98
Medical Science I: 109
Medical Science II: 112
They are fourth highest written score in India, clearly busting certain myths:
It is not possible to clear this examination in First attempt, while doing graduation, while working or at age of 22-23, blah,blah.
They are below average marks and there is a sense of arbitrariness that runs in both interview and essay preparation so no complains there.
Final score: 884/2025 ,18th rank
Before we get into specifics, I wanted to tell that do not fall prey to these myths:
1 Dream to be an IAS: You really don’t need it. Any reason for you to be a civil servant is good enough as long as it helps you to stay focused.
2 Preparation is possible only by staying in Delhi: It is a myth which has been perpetuated by coaching instates. Though it certainly helps, but it is not sacrosanct to stay in Delhi. You can watch al my videos, order book from flipkart, get hold of any material on internet today, so your sincerity is the only requirement.
3 IQ=220? Most of the toppers I know have an above average IQ only, handwork is what separates what from chaff here.
4 Study for 25 hours per day? We Toppers are very much from Earth and are not aliens. We need our sleep for 7-9 hours per day. Self study for 6-8 hours pre day is more than sufficient.
5 Good Bye Social Life? You dont need to become a hermit to clear this examination, though you do need to limit your social outings. You should exploit social media as much as possible by joining relevant Fb groups and going to my page where I provide lot of worthy content.
6 Bad English/Obscure College/Financially Poor
Its good that you have acknowledged your English is poor. Improve it. College and background hardly matters in interview and before that, you are just known by your roll number. Finances are not that much needed since lots of material is available online and joining coaching is not absolutely essential.
7 Its all Luck?
Luck play a big role and no one denies it. But luck shows random distribution and all of us have equal chance to be lucky. On top of that, handwork is the only variable that can actually create significant difference. The harder you work, the luckier you get.
8 Completing 200 books in 400 days?
You need about 400 days to prepare this examination. You will get 2400 hours (400*6) and considering you can read, understand, analyse, retain and reproduce the content worth 4 pages, it gives us 9600 pages and considering you revise it three times it gives us 3200 pages worth of content over the entire duration of preparation. So you have to extremely choosy while you buy any book in the market.
Preparation mode: You need to get into a preparatory mode before you start to actually prepare for this examination. Just remember this quote that if you are not living on the edge, you are taking too much space.
1 Roman’s Rituals:
These are the rituals I followed meticulously for 2 years and they helped me and I am extremely optimistic that they will help you as well in your preparation. If you have any classes, attend all of them without fail. Do self study for 6 hours per day on a long-term basis. Revise daily whatever you read as that it helps in consolidation of memory and effective recall. Have a dedicated leisure hour per day which is completely stress and anxiety free just to unwind yourself after a hard day’s labour. Keep going out to bare minimum so that you have lots of time left for studies. Put good food in your body, exercise for half an hour per day like walking ,yoga, meditation etc. Do not drink and smoke as it hampers memory formation and performance in other areas. Sleep for 7-9 hours per dayStrategy is to read as much as you can from the same source and revise it again and again.
2 How to read a book or text
Never read a book from page to page. Directly jump to index and mark important pages which you are going to read and then just read them only. Do not try to memorise anything. Keep reading again and again from the same source and you will be able to remember stuff. Just focus on keywords, key phrases and key topics, no need to study trash.
3Book list (Common to Pre and mains)
Solve previous year question paper at
NCERTs Class 6-10 Read all humanities, Science and whichever is relevant for General studies. Freely available NCERT website
. Read new only.
Biology NCERT Class 12 Last 4 chapters
Chemistry NCERT Class 12 Volume 2 Last 2 Chapters
Polity, Economy, Geography, History Class 11th and 12th
Indian Polity- Laxmikanth 4th edition
A Brief History of Modern India- Spectrum
Economics: Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma, , Sriram Economy manual, Economic Survey
Art And Culture: No Separate book. Cover from NCERTs and CCRT website, my videos
Science and Technology: NCERTs, Thursday edition of The Hindu for SnT,
Geography: GC Leong (At least Part 1)
Current Affairs: The Hindu, Yojana, Vajiram Current Affairs Modules
Environment and Ecology: Shankar IAS book, NCERTs, , my videos
For prelims only : CSAT Paper 2 : TMH Manual as one stop solution
Lexicon by Chronicle Publication for ethics, solve as much questions as you can especially case studies. Do not take a very high ground or you might come across as idealist which will be a hinderance in day to day work, but show zero tolerance to corruption and never compromise on integrity, these should be reflected clearly in your answers
World History: Watch videos at Unacademy, Norman Lowe (From 1911 onwards) and L Mukherjee
International Relations : Ravindran Sir of Vajiram Classes , Hand written or printed notes.
for draft legislation and bill passed.
For any abstract topic, do read on Wikipedia or simply google it..
Do not forget to read about the compulsory papers as though they do not contribute to the rankings, yet they are extremely crucial because 8-10% people fail in them and their copies are just thrown away without any evaluation whatsoever.
For compulsory English paper , English by Unique Publicaiton
For Modern Indian Language, I took Hindi, so do read Hindi by Unique Publication
Madhukar Bhagat : How to prepare for Civil Services Interview.
Do join a test series, online or offline, doesn’t matter. You have to give all test with full preparation. As it enables you to fail faster, earlier and more often. Give all test as if you are appearing for UPSC preliminary examination. Start revising at least there days before the test. And always keep a balance between class and test preparation.
If you are attending any classes, do attend all of them. Sit far away from anyone you know personally. Listen to teacher diligently. Make note of every single keyword they are dictating. Revise the class in half an hour on a daily basis.
At least 6 hours per day cumulatively. Make your own goals depending upon your talent, knowledge base, potential and learning speed. Try to achieve at least 70% of that goal. Study whenever, wherever and however you can whether notes, text book , desktop, laptop, tablet ,capsule 😉 only thing that matters is the content. Do revise again and again from the same book. It is advisable to read 10 times from a single book, rather than reading 10 books single time.
Books to avoid
Any book which is difficult to revise i.e having more than 500 pages
India after Independence, India after Gandhi, India Year Book (Read summary only), Manorama Year Book, India’s struggle for independence etc.
Also avoid doubling of books for same subject like DD Basu, Subhash Kashyap etc as only Laxmikanth is needed for polity.
Avoid any market magazine except Yojana.
Avoid heeding to advise to so called well wishers, which always try to demoralise you and pull you down Do not be bogy down by sheer syllabus or number of candidates that apply for the examination.
In fact, from time to time, I also got stressed, anxious and depressed (SAD) because it is a perfectly normal thing to be SAD being in such a high pressure situation. Certain level of anxiety is rather appreciable as it helps in delivering peak performance.
For the benefit of aspirants, I have made lots of video tutorial lessons, absolutely free of cost, for the benefit of future candidates who can not afford coaching and it has turned out to be one of India’s largest Educational YouTube channel i.e. UnAcademy, 15% of syllabus came from videos with just 2 hours of watching time.
Still if you do feel confused, distracted in doubt and delusions and want further deliberation and discourse, there is a one stop solution for you
Be detail oriented. Persistent carelessness leads to consistent failure.