Ayushi Sharma (CSE 2014 Rank 155) UPSC Topper’s Interview – Part 2

Ayushi Sharma, the young engineer from Rajastan did exceptionally well in UPSC CSE 2014 and secured Rank 155. Her optional subject was Public Administration. In the first part of Ayushi’s toppers interview with ClearIAS, she has shared her background and study-plan in general. In this part, she elaborates on the books and study-materials she refereed for Prelims and Mains.

UPSC Prelims

ClearIAS.com: Can you elaborate on your preparation strategies/approach and study materials and books used for Prelims Paper 1 and Paper 2? (Please mention books/materials used for each subject)

  • Books/Study materials for History: NCERT: 6TH-12TH, Bipin Chandra: Brief history of modern India, Spectrum (for revision), post independence: Politics in India since independence(12th),selective reading of spectrum for art and culture apart from what is covered in NCERT.
  • Books/Study materials for Geography: NCERT: 6th-12th (11th and 12th books are very important), G.C. Leong, Atlas (for mapping)
  • Books/Study materials for Polity: NCERT: 11TH -12TH, D.D. Basu, PM bakshi (bare act) {just for an overview of articles}
  • Books/Study materials for Economics: NCERT: 11TH-12TH, Ramesh Singh (TMH)
  • Books/Study materials for Science and Technology: NCERT: 9TH-10TH (overview), 12th NCERT: biotechnology, TMH manual
  • Books/Study materials for Environment: NCERT: 12th Biology, India year book, NCERT: Geography
  • Books/Study materials for Current Affairs: Newspaper: The Hindu and TOI, magazines: Yojana, Kurukshetra, CSR, Chronicle, Frontline (be selective and pick only 1-2)
  • Books/Study materials for General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT): Arihant manual for comprehension only

ClearIAS.com: Any tips/pieces of advice especially for UPSC Civil Services Prelims?

  • Join any mock test series for time management and accuracy or practice at least 25 mock test papers which are easily available.
  • Newspaper reading is a must and prepare notes if you can(though I never prepared the same 🙂 )
  • NCERTs should be read thoroughly and between the line readings is a must.

UPSC Mains

ClearIAS.com: Can you elaborate on your study materials and books used for each topic of Mains Papers? (Please give a detailed view, especially for sub-topics in all the general studies papers like books/materials used for each subtopic like Disaster Management, Internal security, Indian Society, Biodiversity etc.)

ClearIAS Prelims Online Test Series
  • Books/Study materials used for Essay Paper: None
  • Books/Study materials used for General Studies 1 (Indian History, World History, Indian Society, Indian Geography, and World Geography) :
  • History – Bipin Chandra: Brief history of modern India, Spectrum/NIOS: Art and culture, Post independence: politics in India after independence: 12th NCERT World history: 9th-10th NCERT, Jain and Mathur (Only topics mentioned in the syllabus)
  • Society: 12th NCERT/newspaper/magazines (empowerment, urbanization, poverty etc.)
  • Geography: G.C. Leong, NCERT: 9TH-12TH +Atlas for mapping
  • Books/Study materials used for General Studies 2 (Constitution, Polity, Governance, Social Justice, Foreign relations, and International affairs):
  • Constitution, Polity, Governance: DD Basu, 11th-12th NCERT [political science], polity notes [KSG], Bare Act [P.M.Bakshi], Public administration material
  • Social justice: Welfare schemes [KSG notes, Magazines, mrunal/insights/KSG, pib website, the Hindu]
  • Health, Education, Human Resource: Economy (Ramesh Singh (TMH) and India year book)
  • International Relations: Contemporary World Politics (12th NCERT), Chronicle IR special issue, newspapers, internet and magazines for foreign visits and international organizations.
  • Books/Study materials used for General Studies 3 (Indian Economy, Biodiversity, Science and Technology, Internal Security and Disaster Management):
  • Indian economy and development: 11th NCERT, Ramesh Singh, Economic survey (selective), PD special issue (selective), Hindu, Frontline, Mrunal, KSG.
  • Agriculture, food processing and related industries: Arihant manual for GS-3.
  • Disaster mgmt: Part of public administration, NCERT, Arihant manual (only institutions)
  • Bio-diversity and environment: 12th biology NCERT, Arihant manual (selective), Shankara notes (selective), India Year Book.
  • Security: Arihant manual for GS-3
  • Science & tech: KSG notes, The Hindu, Mrunal, Spectrum(selective)
  • Books/Study materials used for General Studies 4 (Ethics + Case Studies): Arihant manual for GS-4 and book by Prof PD Sharma (selective), topics such as values, ethics, transparency etc are part of public administration only.
  • Books/Study materials used for Optional Subject Paper 1: Prasad and Prasad, Prof PD Sharma, Awasthi and Maheshwari, Sajjan Singh sir’s notes.
  • Books/Study materials used for Optional Subject Paper 2: Prof BM Sharma, Arora and Goyal, Sajjan Singh sir’s notes.
  • Books/Study materials used for Regional Language (Compulsory): None
  • Books/Study materials used for English Language (Compulsory):None

Ayushi Sharma UPSC Topper 2014

ClearIAS.com: ClearIAS.com: Did you prepare hand notes or participated in mock answer writing before mains? What was the strategy for preparing current affairs topics in general?

I wrote lot of answers before mains and also joined mock test series. I continuously read newspapers and magazines for current affairs but didn’t prepared notes for the same as it was very time consuming.

ClearIAS.com: What are the government reports that aspirants should go through, before giving Mains Exam?

I didn’t read any report but yes I have gone through the notes related to it.

ClearIAS.com: What was the color of the pen you used for writing mains (Blue Ink/ Black Ink)? Also, the company and brand name of the pen used:

Blue ball point pen, any brand was okay with me..:)

ClearIAS.com: What were your writing style in GS and optional subject? Bullet Points/ Essay style or a mix of both styles?

According to the question paragraph or point wise strategy has to be decided but I tried answering more in points as it was less time consuming and for improvisation diagrams, flow chart, block diagrams can be added. Try to add introduction and conclusion to the answer, underline the keywords, don’t have extreme opinion for any issue rather the answers should reflect positivity.

ClearIAS.com: What are your suggestions to aspirants for improving the score in essay paper? What were the essays you choose to write? Did you use sub-heading/points/graphs in your essay paper?

Try to practice 3-4 essays beforehand and discuss with your friends. In the paper roughly jot down at least 20 points and then elaborate. Underline the key words and sequence of paragraphs must be carefully done to have a holistic approach. I wrote on “Is the growing level of Competition good for youth” and “Was it policy paralysis or the paralysis of implementation which slowed down the growth of our country”. The language must not be too crafty and some progressive suggestions can be added.

ClearIAS.com: What are your suggestions to aspirants for improving the score in GS1 paper (History, Geography, Society etc?

Try to write answers in points and draw diagrams in geography questions, if possible.

ClearIAS.com: What are you suggestions to aspirants for improving the score in GS2 paper (Polity, Constitution, Social Justice, International relations etc?

Link the topics with current events and try to form an opinion and then write the answers.

ClearIAS.com: What are you suggestions to aspirants for improving the score in GS3 paper (Economy, Environment, Science and Tech, Internal Security, Disaster Management etc?

Focus more upon the current and dynamic part for preparation of this paper.

ClearIAS.com: What are you suggestions to aspirants for improving the score in GS4 paper (Ethics paper)? Can you brief on how you attempted the Ethics paper? Strategies and writing style for Ethics case studies?

Freely write your own point of view in this paper as it deals with your ethics and aptitude. Answer case studies in points mentioning pros and cons of each available option.

ClearIAS.com: What was your optional subject? Please give our readers detailed insights on your selection and strategies regarding your optional subject. We are sure that there will be many who take the same optional subject as yours in future.

My optional subject was public administration and I choose it because of my personal interest, its relatedness with the system and the material available for the same. For choosing an optional one should read around 2-3 subjects for a while and then decided according to the interest and understanding of the matter. Length of the syllabus and scoring trend was never in my mind (as many people are saying that scoring is really tough in public administration).

ClearIAS.com: What was your exam hall strategy for mains: attempting all questions even at the cost of compromising quality or writing only quality answers compromising on the number of questions attempted?

First attempt the questions which you can write the best along with diagrams and flow charts. In the second round attempt the ones which you think are average and finally try to attempt maximum questions but writing something completely irrelevant is not desirable.

Read: Ayushi Sharma (CSE 2014 Rank 155) UPSC Topper’s Interview – Part 3

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