From covering the syllabus for prelims to writing answers for mains, UPSC topper Valaya Vaidya is sharing his preparation strategy.
It has been five years since I prepared for UPSC. Today, my five years of preparation come to an end. I have secured All India Rank 116 in UPSC CSE 2020-21.’ As soon as the Union Public Service Commission declared the result of Civil Services Exam (CSE) 2020-21, Valaya Vaidya tweeted this from his Twitter account. Wrote lines.
It has been 5 years since I started the UPSC preparation.
Today, the five year plan comes to an end.
Got AIR 116, UPSC CSE 2020-21. 💪🏼
— Valay Vaidya (@valayism) September 24, 2021
Valay, who has appeared for UPSC four times since 2016, told The Better India what kind of study plan worked the most for him. An engineering graduate, Valaya completed his degree in 2015 and started preparing for the UPSC exam since then. He had also reached the interview stage in CSE 2018-19. Later he was selected in the Gujarat Administrative Service. He worked as a Probationary Officer for two years. Valaya wanted to crack the UPSC exam as he knew that this platform gives an opportunity to the officers to work on a large scale. He wanted to work on a large scale and it was his personal goal to clear the national level examination.
Ring Tips for Prospective Participants
1. Start with easy topics
Says Valaya, “Start your preparation with a subject that you have a good hold on. This will also increase your confidence. I started my preparation with History as I had a basic understanding of it and it would take less time to complete it. Once you pick up the pace in studies, it will be easier to read and understand difficult subjects.”
2. Make a habit of reading newspapers
He says, “I didn’t spend much time reading newspapers until I started preparing for CSE. But once the preparations started, I used to spend about 45 minutes every day reading The Hindu newspaper. From the very beginning, it is also important to filter the topics of the newspaper. While reading the newspaper, one should always keep your syllabus in your mind. For example, time should not be wasted in reading about politics (politics), but should read about government (politics). With the passage of time the participants come to understand what is essential and what can be left out.”
3. Make Smart Preparation
“Don’t waste time making notes on the topics of General Awareness. There are many organizations which do just this and their organized notes are sufficient for these subjects. A participant should devote this time to the preparation of other subjects and make notes as per the need,” he says.
4. Always Plan Ahead
Valaya, who started his preparation from July 2016, says that by January, he had read and understood the topics of General Studies once. He had also read the optional subject once for the main examination. He said, “After studying once, I started revision. When I read other books apart from NCERT books like -Lakshmikant for Polity and Spectrum for Modern History. It helped me expand my knowledge.”
5. Give Mock Test Papers Every Day
Valaya says that as the exam day approaches, all the participants should solve a mock paper every day. They suggest that not just solve mock papers, but also focus on the analysis of the paper and see what mistakes they have made. This will give you an explanation of where you stand. Valaya himself had given around 150 mock papers before the prelims exam.
6. Focus on writing the answer
After giving the prelims, Valaya focused on writing the answers for the main exam. He used to prepare five to six answers every day during the preparation. “To save time and write more answers, I created a framework in which I wrote my answers as well as the points to be included in the answer. This made the beginning, body and conclusion of my answer clear. Once this is done, I used to check with the answer key that I have not missed any important point. This will help in the way the questions are solved,” he said.
7. Find thematic preparation methods
He explains, “If I took on a specific topic – I used to make sure to gather as much information as I could on it. If I want to study on infrastructure subject, then I used to prepare my notes by taking information from different sources, so that I can prepare for this subject from my own notes and I do not need to look for any other material or book. ” Valaya says that if there was any new information on that subject, he would include it in the notes he had collected.
8. Analyze Old Question Papers
He says, “This analysis is important as it makes your preparation easier. Always go through old papers, so that you can know what topics are important and which topics you can skip while studying. Likewise, there are many topics which you think are important, but are never asked in the exam.” He suggests to the participants that with the help of old question papers they should analyze deeply.
9. Focus on the process without worrying about the outcome
From his own experience, Valaya says, “Keep improving the process you are following while studying for this exam. Though the result is very important, don’t get stuck on it. Doing this will also help you to keep yourself calm and continue with your preparation.” He also says that you have to persist in this long race for success.
10. Make Small Goals
He explains, “Instead of accomplishing big chunks, set small but achievable goals. You can also set weekly goals or daily goals. Achieving these goals will give you a sense of victory and motivate you to study better. Along with studies, it is also important to make one such habit of yours, which relaxes you in times of stress. At the same time, he also advises the participants to exercise every day, so that they remain physically fit.
11. Revision is the key
He said, “The more you revise the syllabus, the better will be your understanding of the subject. I have found that writing down points helps me remember them better. I also used acronyms and slogans to remember important points,” he further explains, citing an example, “I made up a slogan with their names to remember the names of the tributaries of the Ganges. I remembered this slogan and it made it easy to remember the names of the rivers. It is also important to be innovative while studying.
12. Use technology to your advantage
We all depend on technology. Therefore the ring suggests the participants to use it to their advantage. Valaya said, “I used Evernote. This is an app that helps in taking notes. If I found an interesting article, I used to copy it on this app and read it when I got time. This saved my time and also helped me to read on the go. It also gave me the ability to formulate my answer in a very holistic way.”