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Bhavesh Mishra Essay About Myself

  1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Working professional
  7. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  8. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  9. Prelim accuracy
  10. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  11. Mains: Essay
  12. Mains General studies paper 1 to 4
  13. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  14. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  15. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  16. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  17. Mains answer-writing?
  18. Mains Optional Subject
  19. Before the interview
  20. During the interview
  21. CSE-2013 Marksheet
  22. Views on UPSC reforms
  23. Wisdom
  24. Credit: Friends/family
  25. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Bhavesh Mishra Rank 58, Maths Optional, IIT Delhi

Q.Details
NameBhavesh Mishra
Rank in CSE-201458
Roll No.324724
Age24
Total attempts in CSE (including this one)1
Optional SubjectMathematics
Schooling MediumHindi (Bihar) & English (Haryana, Delhi)
College mediumEnglish
Medium chosen for Mains answersEnglish
Medium chosen for InterviewEnglish
Home town/cityDelhi
Work-experience if any
  1. Working as a Technical Analyst at Estee Advisors, Gurgaon (2013 – Present)
  2. Internship at Samsung Research India (2012)
  3.  Internship at Reserve Bank of India (2011)
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failuresRank 690 in IIT JEE (2009)Could not clear IIT JEE (2008)
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)
  1. Vajiram & Ravi for GS
  2. IMS for Maths
  3. Vision IAS test series for GS and Essay
Service preferences (Top-5)IAS , IFS, IPS, IRS (IT), IRS (C & E)
state cadre preference (Top-5)Bihar, Rajasthan, AGMUT, Madhya Pradesh,  Maharashtra

Education

fill the details here
% in class 1096
% in class 1288.8
Graduation course and %B.Tech in Electrical Engineering (Power)CGPA  –  9.19
Name of college, city, passing out yearIIT Delhi (2013)
Post-graduation
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievementsLearning Languages, Teaching, ChessDepartment Rank – 2 in my batch

RBI Young Scholar Award

Introduction

Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?

  1. Hi !, I am Bhavesh Mishra and I have done my B.Tech in Electrical Engineering  from IIT Delhi. I currently work as a technical analyst at Estee Advisors (Gurgaon).
  2. I had my initial education in Bihar. Thereafter did my 10th class from Haryana and 12th from Delhi. My father is an accounts manager at a private firm and my mother is a homemaker. I have an elder brother who is a Chartered Accountant and he works as a Finance Manager in Coal India Limited.
  3. After graduation I worked for 6 months and then decided to take one year off from my job and prepare seriously for UPSC. After giving mains I joined back in the same company.
  4.  My aim of entering into civil services is to improve the service delivery of various programmes and policies. I especially want to work in the field of education and health.

Electronic Vs Paper material

Q. In recent times, there is spur in electronic material- blogs, sites, pdfs, RSS-feeds. Many aspirants feel bogged down by this information overload. So, how much do you rely on electronic material and how much on the paper material (Books, newspapers)? If possible narrate a typical day in your studylife. What is your style of preparation (e.g. I continue making notes no matter what I’m reading, I just read multiple times but don’t maintain notes, I make mindmaps on computer …or xyz style)

I rely primarily on electronic material

Study Routine

I am a big fan of Marissa Meyer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marissa_Mayer . She is currently the CEO of Yahoo and an ex Vice President of Google. She is famous for working 130 hours a week ! I have tried to emulate her strategy in my study routine.

My study routine is nothing fancy. It involves 12 hours of study (on a weekend) + 2 hours of leisure (usually a movie) + 7-8 hours of sleep (we should never compromise on it). However, the key to my getting good marks is that I followed this routine for every single day in the 1 year break period that I took. I have stayed away from all social media websites, futile games and time wasting habits.

I believe that self discipline is the key component for success in any field.

For students looking for self improvement I would suggest the following books.

  1. As A Man Thinketh – James Allen
  2. The Power of Habit : Why do we do what we do – Charles Duhigg
  3. Talent Is Overrated : What really separates world-class performers from Everyday Else – Geoff Colvin

Tempo and style

Q. People know what books and syllabus points are to be prepared. But most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?

Consistency can be maintained only through Self Discipline. Today we are surrounded by so many distractions and it is easier to fall prey to temptations and end up wasting time. We should ideally prepare a list of Do’s and Donts and every night before going to sleep put a tick mark against each item. Now every morning when we get up we should resolve to increase the tick marks in Dos and decrease in Donts.

I found the above simple technique very useful in maintaining momentum during studies.

Working professional

If you’re a working professional, share some tips on how to manage studies with job

Yes I work at a High Frequency Trading firm in Gurgaon. I could prepare for preliminary and interview along with my job but found difficulty in preparing for the mains and therefore  took a year break from  my job.

I get about 4 – 5 hours on weekdays and my Saturdays and Sundays are free.  It’s a struggle to balance both studies and job and there are times when I feel totally exhausted and frustrated. For example once I enter my room late in the night there is an urge to leave everything and sleep but I have to push myself to study for atleast 3 hours in the night and 1-2 hours in the morning.

Now I could have easily chosen a less demanding government job for preparation but I am a big fan of C++, Python, Startups etc and therefore on an intellectual level I find my job very satisfying. Working in a startup is an enlightening experience.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topicstrategy/booklist/comment
History AncientAncient India – Old NCERT 11th class is the only book required. The book requires multiple readings to get a firm hold over various topic. Almost all questions asked in prelimn from this section can be done from this book. If one is unable to solve a question then one can be 99 % sure that no student (except History optional junta) would be able to answer the question.
History MedievalMedieval India – Old NCERT 11th class.
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)
  1. India’s Freedom Struggle – Bipan Chandra
  2. Spectrum Book
Culture and societyApart from Ancient and Medieval I referred to NIOS book.
Polity (theory + current)Lakshmikanth.
Economy (theory + current)Mrunal.org  + NCERT
Science (theory + current)Did not prepare. Most of the questions asked in pre are general and correct answer can be found through smart elimination.
Environment (theory + current)Shankar IAS academy book. It’s a wonderful book and almost all questions asked in pre could be solved.
geography physicalNCERT and G.C.Leong
geography IndiaNCERT
geography worldNCERT + Map
other national/international current affairsThe Hindu newspaper.
Schemes, Policy & Filler StuffPIB & PRS monthly report.Learning all provisions of schemes and policy is an overkill. One should have a good idea about schemes as it becomes nearly impossible to know the exact years, days, number of members etc.

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2014 paper?

The number of questions from Environment and Art & Culture was surprisingly high. Students who took these topic lightly had to pay a heavy price.

One should avoid focussing too much on polity part. In recent years the polity section is of easy level.

Q. in GS-Prelims 2014, there was unusual questions from environment and agriculture portion. If you were to give the attempt again in 2015, what new strategy / books / sources would you focus?

I would have followed the same strategy as last year. I picked up Shankar IAS book 1 month prior to the exam and daily studied about 20 pages.

Q. Now that Aptitude paper has become qualifying, obvious more attention needs to be paid on the GS paper so apart from the books that you already have gone through, what else would you have tried for CSE-2015 (if you were going to appear)?

I would have done multiple revisions of books so that I don’t get confused between the options in the exam.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topicstrategy / booklist
MathsDid not prepare
reasoning-do-
comprehension-do-
Decision Making-do-

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2014 paper.

The paper was quite good and some of the questions were tricky.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?

Yes, as a part of Vajiram classes I did give about 10-12 tests. If someone is giving exam for the first time then it definitely helps. However, for 2015 attempt I would not have taken any mock test.

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2014

attempted Q.correct (Expected)
GS7555
aptitude7265 +

Q3. Your score in prelim (when UPSC uploads it please mail me your score)

246

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paperYour preparation strategy / booklist?
English paperDid practice of precis writing and grammar for 10-12 hours In total.
HindiRead last 2 months editorial of Navbharat Times and practiced writing few editorials.

Q2.other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2014

I found the Hindi paper quite tough. The translation part was terrible. I spent nearly 1 hour in translating 2 paragraphs.  I was running out on time on my Essay part and to had to wind up the essay in about 4 pages.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Joined Vision IAS Test Series. Apart from that no exceptional study.

Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?

  • Is Competition Good for our youth – I attempted this essay very well and covered a wide array of points. I took a firm stand that competition is good.
  • Tourism the next big thing – It was a total bakar essay with hardly any intellectual content. Just wrote the usual run of the mill stuff.

Mains General studies paper 1 to 4

I’ve created a table, so you can quickly point out what you referred. Alternatively you can write a separate standalone “Strategy” article in a wordfile.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

History

  1. Art & Culture
    • NCERT – Ancient & Medieval
    • Nitin Singhania Notes
    • NCERT – Art and Heritage books.
    • Youtube videos for dance and other art forms
  2. Modern India
  3. B.L.Grover for period 1757-1857
  4. India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
  5. Spectrum Book on Modern India
  6. Bipan Chandra’s book.
  7. Ramchandra Guha
  8. Politics since Independence – NCERT
  9. NCERT – 9th , 10th , 12th
  10. Mastering World History – Norman Lowe
  11. Youtube documentaries e.g Napolean, Bismarck, French Revolution etc.
  12. Post Independence
  13. World History

Geography

  • NCERT – 11th and 12th class.
  • G.C.Leong
  • Mrunal.org for worlds resources and distribution.
  • Khullar for Indian Geography (only selected chapters)

Social Issues

  • NCERT – 11th and 12th class.
  • Some articles by Andre Beteille and other prominent sociologist.
  • Editorials on social issues – The Hindu and The Indian Express.

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Governance

  • ARC Reports
  • Puncchi Commission Reports
  • PRS
  • Lakshmikant
  • Five Year Plans
  • Yojana – Last 3 years.
  • Newspaper editorials
  • The Big Picture & Desh Deshantar – RSTV

India & World

  • IDSA
  • MEA website
  • India’s World – RSTV

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Economy, Food Processing etc.

  • Mrunal.org (the best source for Economy !!)
  • Editorials of newspapers. I followed Business Standard but lately have shifted to Financial Express.
  • Economic Survey & Budget
  • Five Year Plans

Environment & Disaster Management

  • Down to Earth is the best resource for Environment, Climate Change & Disaster Management.

Security

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Books

  • Ethics in Public Administration – Patrick Sheeran
  • ARC Report on Ethics
  • Yojana March 2014 issue on Reforms in Public Administration
  • Bhagwad Geeta
  • Biographies of Mahatma Gandhi, Vivekananda, Verghese Kurian, Abdul Kalam, Benjamin Franklin etc.

Videos

  • Michael Sandel Harvard lectures.
  • 12 Angry Men movie.

Mains answer-writing?

Please tell us how many marks worth attempt did you give? along with comments if any, in the following cells:

Sorry I don’t recall my exact distribution of attempt.

Q. What was your approach in the exam (I wrote all, I only focused on the questions where I could answer perfectly, I just not to high quality points to reach the word limit etc.) Because the UPSC aspirant Community is divided over what counts as a ‘good’ paper. Some experts claim you should attempt all- even if it involves “making up” an answer with filler lines, some claim attempt only those questions you know perfectly. Where do you stand on this? [Based on your experience and of your seniors/buddies]

I just wrote whatever came to my mind. There is hardly any time to structure your answer or come out with high quality answers.

Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?

UPSC gives us sufficient space to write our answers and space is never a problem.

I am highly impressed with the quality of answer sheets provided by UPSC. The answer sheets look beautiful  and are very smooth and silky to write.

Q. Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs? Some players (who cleared mains and got interview call letter) were claiming that they wrote entire paper in bullet points, so it doesn’t matter….whether examiner is asking ‘examine, comment, discuss or xyz’….simply write in bullets and points.

A mix of both. I simply wrote answers  in a format that I felt comfortable with.

Q. Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format? because some mains-qualified candidates claim they simply wrote the points they could recall within the time, instead of bothering with proper introduction and conclusion.

Not at all. I felt that all this gyan goes for a toss when we start writing answers. The basic instinct is to write whatever comes in our mind.

Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?

No. We hardly have any time to do such stunts in the examination hall !

Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)

Yes but I don’t remember the exact numbers.

Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?

Pen.

Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?

I drew diagrams with hand.

Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?

I wrote all my paper except Mathematics with a blue Reynolds Racer Gel Pen. I attempted my maths paper with a blue Cello Gripper pen.

(Mrunal – since readers keep mailing such queries, therefore I’m asking the topper to clear all the air haha.)

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?

Mathematics. I chose maths as it was a part of my graduation at IIT.  I was equally comfortable in Electrical Engineering as well.

Q. If a new player wants to pick this subject, would you advice for it or against it? (e.g. every senior player in Public Administration seems to be advising against pub.ad)

Mathematics is a very scoring and fun optional. It’s a common misconception that only students from elite colleges do well in this exam.

Q. First the essential book/resource list. (Also mention which one is the “Base book” for covering the theory? + Whatever comments you’ve for a particular book e.g. “my seniors said read xyz book but I found that ABC book was better”.  “xyz topic not given properly in this book, so prepare from xyz website or book…” OR and so on.)

I followed the booklist given by Prakash Rajpurohit, Kashish Mittal .

Q. How much of internet-research / current affairs is necessary for this optional? OR can one simply rely on the books and be done with this subject?

No help from internet is required. The questions are asked directly from the standard textbook.

Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?

It takes around 10 months to complete the whole syllabus.

Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?

I gave test series at IMS.

Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?

I had few pages containing all the formulas, tricks etc.

Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2014 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?

Maths paper set by UPSC is of average difficulty level. This year they had mixed questions from different topics. I paid a heavy price for not preparing 2-3 topics. The advise for future students would be to complete the whole syllabus.

Before the interview

Q1. How did you prepare for the interview? – for college grad, hobbies, place of origin, current affairs at national and international level?

Since I was in a job with working hours of more than 10 hours therefore I was hard pressed for time.  On weekdays I studied for about 5 hours and on weekends it was a full day and night affair. The whole preparation was really challenging as I had to squeeze out time in every possible way. I had downloaded tons of PDF and RSTV debates and used to read / listen while in auto, bus, metro, kirana shop etc.

  1. Read editorials of The Hindu, The Indian Express and Financial Express daily.
  2. Watched RSTV debates of last 1 year.
  3. Tried to revise Electrical Engineering but gave up as I did not have time.
  4. Worked really hard on preparing well for my hobbies. For example for chess I followed all the tournaments, learnt all the openings and scanned through all theories and biographies of famous chess players etc.
  5. I like studying alone so I was not a part of any forum or study group.

Q2. Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? How were they similar / different than official interview? Do you believe it is necessary to attend such mock interviews?

Yes I gave 3 mock interviews : ALS (1) and Vajiram (2).

While no one can predict the actual interview but nevertheless these mock interviews are quite helpful especially for students who are appearing in the interview for the first time.

Q3. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.

Light blue colour shirt,black trouser, black shoe and a tie.

Q4. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?

I work in Gurgaon so I went to interview from there only. I carried that day’s Indian Express with me and I mugged up all the BSE, NSE stock index, Gold Prices etc.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Professor H.C.Gupta.

Q2. How long was the interview?

30 minutes.

Q3. Why do you want to join civil service? Why don’t you continue in your graduation field? Social service can be done from private sector too.  [Since I don’t know whether they ask you this question or not. But if they had asked- what will be your reply?]

I was not asked this question. In case I was asked this question I would have replied that civil service offers more scope, diversity etc.

Q4. Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview. (Earlier some toppers only tell me their question but not their answer. I would appreciate if you give both Question + your original answers)

My interview transcript can be seen at : This Quora Link

Q5. Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or did they ask you totally unexpected questions?  Was it a stress interview, did they ask any uncomfortable questions? If yes, how did you handle it?

The interview was more or less on the expected lines. There were some surprise questions but I handled them well.

Initial 5 minutes was really stressful. H.C.Gupta sir put a lot of pressure and tried his level best to convince me that the Gold Monetisation Scheme was a useless scheme. Without being argumentative I was able to hold on to the view that the scheme can be implemented successfully.

Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?

I did not face any problem regarding documentation. However, I would like to point out few things to save headaches in future

  • Students from Maharashtra should make sure that there is no discrepancy in their or their father’s name. I observed a student whose father name was different at 3 different places ! He was asked to submit an affidavit etc.

Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?

  1. If you are wearing specs / contact lenses then please carry medical prescription for the same as some hospitals would refuse to give you medical certificate without this.
  2. If you have a high Body Mass Index (>30) then please try to reduce as this time many candidates with high BMI had a tough time.

CSE-2013 Marksheet

Q1. Please attach both prelim and final marksheet. (when it comes)

Prelim marksheet

GS98
Aptitude148.33
Total246

Mains Marksheet

Subjects Marks
Essay (Paper-I)151
General Studies -I (Paper-Ii)95
General Studies -Ii (Paper-Iii)70
General Studies -Iii (Paper-Iv)66
General Studies -Iv (Paper-V)113
Optional-I (Maths) (Paper-Vi)92
Optional-II (Maths) (Paper-Vii)170
Written Total757
Personality Test209
Final Total966

Remarks

  1. Really surprised by marks in Essay & Interview !
  2. Disappointed with marks in GS2 and GS3. Had worked really hard for these two papers.
  3. My Maths paper 1 was a disaster. Due to paucity of time I had left 3 topics and in the exam I was forced to attempt questions from these topics. To add to misery, I attempted wrong questions and made calculation mistakes. After the exam was over, I cried for nearly an hour. After some pep talk by my friend Prashant, I gathered courage and appeared for the next paper !

Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?

  1. Complete the whole syllabus of Mathematics. Maths is an excellent optional and if prepared well can single handedly give you the desired rank. Nitish K (Rank 8) has got mind boggling 346 marks in maths.
  2. Do more written practice for paper – 2 and paper-3 . Although I had a very sound theoritical knowledge in both papers but that did not get reflected in my marks.
  3. Have a better strategy for revision.

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?

First I would not have given this year (2015) attempt as I had very little time for preparation. I would have given next and final attempt in 2016.

My backup plan was to do a PhD in Electrical Engineering.

Q2. When were you going to “execute” that backup plan? (e.g. after __ failed attempts/ after I cross __ age/after dad retires/ after girlfriend dumps me etc.)

After my second attempt.

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.

I am not in favour of doing away with optional subject as it would make the whole exam very uncertain. We all know that there is a huge gulf between the marks we expect and the marks we get in the General Studies paper. Whereas in case of certain optionals like Physics, Maths, Engineering you are sure that you will get good marks if you have attempted well.

Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.

Yes I think it is a reform which is long due. It would help in avoiding speculation and anxiety.

Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.

Yes the preliminary part can be easily made online. This would shorten the whole examination exercise by atleast a month.

Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?

I would try to shorten the time duration of the whole exam.

Wisdom

Q. Through this struggle and success, what have your learned? What is the wisdom of life and competition? What is your message to the new aspirants?

  • Don’t worry about the uncertainties and outcomes. The competition is scary and statistically speaking the chances of getting into top 100 is extremely remote. So instead of focusing on the result enjoy the process of preparation.
  • Self-discipline, hard work, faith and passion are the key to success.
  • Whenever your tempo is low or you feel like crying or giving up go to LBSNAA website. Half an hour on that website will fire you up and give you the necessary boost to continue study despite all the trials and tribulations.
  • Finally as Vivekananda had said: Arise, Awake and Stop Not till the goal is achieved.

Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2014. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?

My message would be to not make UPSC a case of life and death. Give yourself a time frame of 2-3 attempts / years and if you are not able to clear it then move on with the life.

Credit: Friends/family

Q. Behind every topper are many people who stood by during those uncertain times when he/she was merely an ‘aspirant’. Would you like to tell the world, who were those people in your case? Any specific incidence that you would like to share with the readers?

I owe my success to (it’s a long list ! )

  1. My parents (Mummy, Papa, Bhaiya, Bhabhi, Grand Parents)
  2. Bhagwadgita for daily dose of wisdom.
  3. My friends from school to the preparation stage. The best part is that while I always underestimated my capability my friends had unwaivering belief in my ability. I had the privilege to study with the brightest minds in the country.
  4. My teachers at school and at IIT Delhi.
  5. My college IIT Delhi for realising my dreams.
  6. My company (Estee Advisors) for excellent work environment and a good salary !
  7. Mrunal.org, The Hindu, The Indian Express, PRS, Down To Earth, Blogs of successful candidates and other useful websites.
  8. Google, Python,  C++,  Stackoverflow !
  9. UPSC for conducting the exam in such a transparent way.

BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Q. You are well aware of the sacred rule – the last question must be about self-marketing. So, Did you use Mrunal.org for your preparation and if yes, how did it help you?  And you can even reply “No”. I’ll still publish your answer without tempering.

Yes I used your site extensively during my preparation.

  1. I downloaded all the economy articles from 2012 onwards and went through them multiple times.
  2. Your world geography articles are amazing.
  3. I prepared the section on Food Processing from your site.

Q. Any reforms / suggestions for improving this site?

When the html article on website are colourful the pdf that we download are in black & white. It would be better if they were also in color.

Why Maths?

Simply because it is one of the best performing optional subject in UPSC.

  1. Extremely high scoring: If you get your maths optional right then you will make it to the final list. This year Nitish K (Rank 8 ) has got a mind boggling 346 marks.
  2. Certainty: If you have attempted your paper well then you are sure that you will get good marks. For example this year just by attempting 400 marks paper you could get a decent 260+ marks. Even if you don’t get good marks in first attempt you can be sure that you will increase your marks in subsequent attempt.
  3. Fun: Mathematics is a delightful subject and therefore doing maths takes you away from somewhat boring humanities.
  4. Good Impression: The fact that you have taken Maths makes a good impression on interview board members (it happened in my case !). They are very pleased to see that you have opted for a tough optional.
  5. Easy paper: The difficulty level of paper is quite moderate and almost all questions are directly picked from the standard textbooks.

Who should take it?

Anyone who has done B.Tech / M.Tech / B.Sc / M.Sc and has interest in maths.

Myths around science subjects.

Coaching institutions have mastered the art of brainwashing students and creating an atmosphere of gloom and doom around science subjects. There are lots of myths circulating among students. Let’s bust these myths.

  1. Maths optional is only for students from IITs: Definitely not. Anyone willing to put in hard work can easily score very high marks. The best example being Nitish K (Rank 8) who is not from any IIT.
  2. There is heavy scaling: Let the data speak for itself. I attempted 240 marks in Paper 2 and got 170 marks. Now would you call it a scaling?
  3. It plays no role in GS: Yes it’s true that science optional subjects don’t overlap with GS but it’s equally true that GS has never been a rank decider in UPSC. There are 3 major things that decides your rank: Essay, Optional and Interview. Even if one puts in 2-3 years of efforts in GS the advantage in terms of marks would be around 30 marks or so but 1 year of dedicated effort in maths would give you 50+ marks advantage straightaway.

Do’s and Dont’s

  1. Practice, Practice and Practice. The key to success in maths is filling up as many notebooks as you can during the preparation stage. The more you sweat during preparation the less you will bleed in the battlefield !
  2. Don’t read maths book / notes like GS. It is a recipe for disaster. Rather always study with pen, paper and calculator.
  3. While solving examples don’t jump to see solution first. Try giving your best shot and after making sure that you are not able to solve it using your present knowledge then only look at the answer. This will ensure better retention.
  4. Generally we make lots of silly mistakes while solving a question. It is best to catch these errors early and not repeat them in exam hall. The best strategy for this is to maintain a notebook of errors that you usually commit and their mitigation measures. For example, I commit a lot of mistakes when doing Integration by parts and usually the error involves missing negative (-) sign etc. Therefore whenever I come across such type of question I try to devote extra 1 minute to re-check all my steps.
  5. maths.stackexchange.com is the best online resource for preparation. You can create an account and get your maths questions answered within minutes.

Why did I score only 262?

Among all the students in the final list who had maths as an optional, I have scored the least. My paper – 1 was a complete disaster and I only scored 92 marks in it. In fact I could only attempt 160 marks paper and had to leave 90 marks paper completely.

The reasons for the above situation in Paper – 1 are as follows:

  1. Lack of written practice: In many topics (especially statics and dynamics) I used to just look at a question and its solution without solving it first. As a result I forgot the exact method in the exam hall !
  2. Left many topics: I prepared only 25% 3-D, 80% Calculus and 25% Statics & Dynamics and had to pay a heavy price in the exam.

On the other hand my preparation for paper – 2 was excellent and therefore I scored an amazing 170 marks in it 🙂

Topic Wise Detailed Plan of Action

Paper – 1

Linear Algebra

  • Difficulty: 2 / 5
  • If you have not studied it before then you will take sometime in getting used to Vector Space nomenclature. Rest all topics are straightforward.
  • The questions on Diagonalization are lengthy and therefore there are chances of committing errors.

3 Dimesional Geometry

  • Difficulty: 4 / 5
  • I found this topic difficult as the syllabus is vast and questions are very lengthy and difficult.
  • In many questions we simply have to mug up the method of doing questions.
  • The best way to prepare is to revise it as many times as possible. Simply doing it one or two times will not help.

Ordinary Differential Equation

  • Difficulty: 2.5 / 5
  • The number of methods to solve a question is overwhelming !
  • Differential equation with variable coefficient is the most difficult part from this section.
  • All questions from Raisinghania book must be done thoroughly.

Calculus

  • Difficulty: 2 / 5
  • Single variable calculus is similar to what we prepare for JEE exam.
  • The questions on surface of revolution etc are lengthy.

Vector Analysis

  • Difficulty: 1.5 / 5
  • The most scoring portion in paper – 1
  • There are only 4 theorems and all the questions in the exam come directly from Krishna series book.

Statics & Dynamics

  • Difficulty: 2 – 4
  • If you are covering this topic from 10 marker point of view then it should not pose any problem.
  • However, covering it completely requires a lot of time as the questions are very lengthy.

Paper – 2

Modern Algebra

  • Difficulty : 4.5 / 5
  • The most difficult part of the exam.
  • If you are new to this topic then you will not understand even 10% of what is going on initially. It’s a completely different ball game altogether.
  • Mastering this topic is not at all easy.
  • However, the 10 markers are easy and can be prepared easily.

Real Analysis

  • Difficulty: 3 / 5
  • It has a huge syllabus but questions asked are relatively easy and repeated.
  • Sometimes questions from topology comes and we have left with no option but to leave it.

Partial Differential Equation

  • Difficulty: 3 / 5
  • Methods are quite similar to Ordinary Differential Equations.
  • Requires lots of practice especially in Charpit’s method (although officially it is not part of the syllabus).

Complex Analysis

  • Difficulty: 1.5 / 5
  • One of the easiest and highly scoring part.

Numerical Analysis

  • Difficulty: 1 / 5
  • Easiest portion of the syllabus.
  • No brainer 🙂

Linear Programming

  • Difficulty: 1.5 / 5
  • Very easy topic. Only Simplex method questions tend to be lengthy.

Mechanics

  • Difficulty: 2 – 4 / 5
  • If one prepares from 10 marker point of view then it is not that difficult.
  • However, covering it completely is a difficult task.

Fluid Mechanics

  • Difficulty: 3.5 / 5
  • A difficult topic for those who have not studied Fluid Mechanics earlier
  • In case of time crunch it should be prepared with 10 markers point of view.

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