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Correcting Previous Mistakes and Focusing on Mental Health by Priyanshu Agrawal AIR-442 UPSC CSE 2023

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Priyanshu Agrawal, who secured an AIR of 442 in the UPSC Civil Services Examination, shares his insights and strategies for successfully navigating the challenging exam. His journey is a testament to resilience, learning from mistakes, and refining strategies for better outcomes. Here’s a detailed summary of his preparation strategy:

Support System

  • Family Support: Priyanshu credits his family, especially his grandfather, for introducing him to UPSC and providing constant guidance and motivation. His parents and sister provided emotional support, and his fufi (aunt) helped with interview preparation due to her rich corporate experience.

Journey Overview

  • Three-Year Preparation: Priyanshu’s journey spanned three years with ups and downs, including:
  • Cracking prelims in the first attempt but missing mains by a few marks.
  • Not clearing prelims in the second attempt.
  • Achieving AIR 442 in his third attempt.

 Key Learnings and Strategy Adjustments

  • Mental Health: Emphasizes the importance of mental health and confidence. Staying mentally fit and confident is crucial for handling the emotional toll of UPSC preparation.
  • Concise Resources: Avoid overloading with too many resources. Stick to one set of materials and have confidence in them. Overdoing with multiple sources can lead to confusion and inefficiency.

Prelims Strategy

  1. Intuition and Confidence: Trusting intuition and avoiding overthinking. Overthinking can lead to second-guessing, which negatively impacts decision-making during the exam.
  2. CSAT Preparation: As an engineering background student, CSAT was manageable. For others, practice is key. Focus on mock tests and PYQs to get into the groove.
  3. Focused Material: Limit resources, be thorough with selected materials, and avoid switching between multiple sources.

Mains Strategy

  • 1. Answer Writing Practice: Focus extensively on practicing answer writing. Thinking and writing simultaneously is crucial. Develop the habit of writing a lot during the three months between prelims and mains.
  • 2. Three Pillars: Essay, Ethics, and Optional: Ensure thorough preparation in these key areas. For Priyanshu, sociology was the optional subject.
  • 3. Concise Notes: Create concise and effective notes, especially for last-minute revision. Avoid redundancy and ensure notes are useful and targeted.

Interview Preparation

  1. Mock Interviews: Participate in a few mock interviews to understand mistakes and areas for improvement. However, understand that real interviews may differ significantly.
  2. Diverse Background: Engage in various activities during college. A rich DAF (Detailed Application Form) with diverse experiences can lead to a more engaging interview.
  3. Personality Development: Focus on overall personality development throughout life, not just during UPSC preparation.

Common Myths and Advice

  1. Study Hours: It’s not about clocking a fixed number of study hours but about achieving daily and weekly targets. Flexibility in study hours depending on the day’s goals is more effective.
  2. Faith in Materials: Once you choose a coaching or study material, stick with it and have faith in the process. Switching materials frequently can lead to confusion and inefficiency.

Final Message

  • Life Beyond UPSC: Emphasize that UPSC is just a part of life, not the entirety of it. Maintain a balanced perspective and use UPSC preparation as an opportunity to develop values and make a difference, irrespective of the outcome.

Prelims Specific Tips:

  • Mock Tests: Engage in mock tests to simulate exam conditions and build confidence.
  • Timing and Environment: Practice CSAT at the actual exam timing and under similar conditions to avoid surprises on the exam day.
  • Self-Belief: Have faith in your preparation and be confident while marking the OMR sheet.

 Resources and Support

  • GS Score: Priyanshu was associated with GS Score for prelims test series, and he utilized their free resources like booklets for last-minute preparation, which were particularly helpful.

Priyanshu’s strategy emphasizes the importance of mental health, concise resources, and effective practice. His journey highlights that with the right approach and support system, it’s possible to navigate the challenges of UPSC preparation successfully.

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