Interview with Aditya Saurabh: UPSC Preparation Journey of the 495th All India Rank Holder
On 4th August 2020, as the Union Public Service Commission released its result for the 2019 exam, Mr Aditya Saurabh’s dream came true. He secured 495th all India rank in the UPSC civil services exam.
Here’s an inspiring interview with Mr Aditya Saurabh where he talked about his UPSC preparation journey and shared strategies that will be helpful for students aiming at the civil services exam.
So let’s waste no more time and see what Mr Aditya shared.
Interview with Dr Aditya Saurabh
First of all, congratulations on your success in the UPSC 2019 examination.
What is your academic background, Aditya?
I am from Sitamarhi, Bihar. In 2008 I cleared my class 10th examination from N.S D.A.V school with 94% marks. In 2010, I gave my class 12th exam from D.P.S Bokaro and secured 93% marks.
After that, I took admission in IIT Mumbai. I pursued B. tech from 2011 to 2015. In 2015 I started working as a data analyst and continued till 2017.
From there only I started preparing for the civil services exam. But later I decided to completely focus on the preparation so I left my job and devoted myself completely towards it.
You were employed in a good company, so why did you suddenly take the decision of preparing for the UPSC civil services exam?
It was not that sudden. This thought was there since class 10 only but I decided to complete my studies and get a good degree so that my future could be a little secure.
As clearing UPSC is not a very easy task and there is no surety that one would succeed or not so before starting UPSC preparation I considered completing my studies and becoming financially stable.
These days, having skilled knowledge is required for getting a proper job. So when I got a chance in IIT I decided to go for that. The skills I learnt there helped me in becoming IAS.
What motivated me in taking up the UPSC preparation the most was the opportunities an IAS officer gets. Till date, no other job sector can offer as vast opportunities to a candidate as an IAS gets.
Other than this, the societal standard and the scope of implementing whatever I learnt through my education were also another motivation.
Aditya may I ask, which attempt was it at the civil services exam?
This was my second attempt. I started in 2018 but that year I could not even clear the prelims exam. Then I started preparing for the next year and I utilised the entire year in preparing for the prelims exam, mains exam and personality test round.
By the time I filled the form for the 2019 exam, all the subjects were already prepared by me including the optional.
Can you share your UPSC preparation strategy for all the three steps of the civil services exam?
For the prelims exam, you need to have good knowledge and a broad dimension. Topics have a different dimension for prelims and mains examination. For prelims, things are more fact and figure based and require a broader knowledge. You need to read good study material for the prelims exam. Watching Rajya sabha tv and reading the newspaper daily helped me. I referred NCERT books for topics like history, economics, polity etc because there are many questions asked from these books.
Would you like to talk about your mains exam strategy?
For mains, I made notes of 3 to 4 pages for each topic. I made online notes and I kept updating those whenever I got new information regarding current affairs or so. Those online notes were very much helpful.
For prelims exam, notes are not much helpful as the topics are broad but for mains exam, notes play an important role. One should make dynamic notes for the mains exam. Notes should definitely be made on governance, corruption, international relations, economy etc. You should always study the original source for making notes.
Once you prepare the notes, it becomes very easy to study and revise those. There are many good study resources available online. You need to search for those and study.
What would you suggest to aspirants for the personality test round?
Having good grammatical and theoretical knowledge is a different thing and having a well-spoken power is another thing. Aspirants who are not confident about their English spoken skills should opt for Hindi interview. The interviewers are very cordial and I don’t think that there will be any change of approach if someone goes for a Hindi interview.
Aspirants who have manageable English speaking skills can go for spoken classes after mains and prepare themselves.
This is not a test of your fluency but obviously, if you can speak fluently, that creates a better impression, be it in English or in any other language. The main thing is that you should be confident.
Can you recall any of your interview questions in particular?
As I worked as a data analyst, I was asked if I was a district magistrate and asked to file a data which can bring a good amount of funding, so how would I respond?
That’s great! Aditya, can you share your strategy for practising answer writing for UPSC?
Before starting answer writing practising it is necessary to have good knowledge about the topic. Take your time to read about the topic, revise it and then start practising.
You should better join a test series to practice answer writing for UPSC. This helps in improving the writing speed also. You need to practice this a lot and should focus on finishing your tests within time.
You need to work smartly here and get an idea beforehand about what to write in the introduction, in the conclusion etc.
According to you, how helpful are online UPSC preparation portals? Especially in this pandemic situation.
There are many online IAS preparation materials available like prelims test series mains exam test series etc. Presently as it’s not possible to go for offline tests, aspirants should definitely adapt to online platforms.
In online preparations, there is a scheduled pattern. You only need to study as much as required for the exam.
Online education has always been a good source of study and now it’s even more effective. There are fewer distractions in online education.
Aspirants should go for online education for their preparation. If the actual exam is supposed to be conducted through pen and paper then candidates must practice in offline modes too.
What advice would you give to the future civil services exam aspirants?
You have to be very confident and keep working hard no matter even if you have failed before. You must find out the mistakes you have made and work on that.
Most of the successful candidates have failed in their previous attempts so this gives you a strong message that you should never give up.
Aditya, according to you one should study for how many hours a day?
At the starting, you have to put in a lot of effort. You need to study for at least 10-12 hours. You can choose your preferred time. If you find it comfortable to study at night so you can follow that or else you can also study in the morning. But you must follow one schedule as changing it again and again will affect your preparation.
Do social media platforms distract aspirants? What’s your take on this?
Yes definitely. It develops anxiety and we unnecessarily get engaged in things which have no good impact. I think it’s better to take part in discussions going on online educational sites than taking part in social media wars.
We can use the virtual world for our own benefit. Like we can get into a group of aspirants, exchange our numbers and discuss the preparation over a conference call.
This was the inspirational journey of Aditya Saurabh, the 495th all India rank holder in the UPSC civil services exam 2019. He has shared many important tips in his interview and also shared his UPSC preparation strategy which will definitely help many aspirants.
So stay motivated and keep preparing hard. Best of luck!