This 22-yr-old cleared civil services exams without coaching

New Delhi: At the age of 22, this boy has achieved a feat that few of his ilk would dream of. Priyank Kishore is one of those candidates who has managed to clear the much-coveted Civil Services Exams in his first attempt in 2018 and without coaching. In an interview to Better India, Kishore shared his civil services exam preparation strategy, his learnings and the mistakes he made. His All India Rank in the prestigious exam was 274.

What inspired Kishore to take civil services exam?

Talking about his inspiration, Kishore said, “I drew inspiration from my father who is Deputy Superintendent Police, Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. I would say the seeds were sown by him.” Kishore, who holds a B.Com degree from Ramjas College, went on to pursue a post-graduate degree from Delhi School of Economics (DSE) where its world-class library facility helped him prepare better.

What are the mistakes that Kishore thinks you should avoid?

Speaking of the mistakes he made during the civil services exam preparations, Kishore said, “One of the mistakes I made was in essay preparation, or rather the lack of preparation. While I did attempt essays before the examination, I did not join any test series for it specifically.” He said that he often turned to his friends and peers for evaluation and feedback on his essays. However, he added that getting professional advice on his essays would have helped a lot.

The space strategy

While ruing that space was a constraint for civil services aspirants in the question-cum-answer booklets provided during the exams, he said that he had found a solution to approach the problem. “Given that I usually write in a large font, the space that is provided in the answer sheet was a challenge, to begin with. I found it difficult to write 150 words in the given space,” said Kishore. With rigorous practice, he could fit in about 135 to 140 words in the answer sheet. He urged aspirants to be mindful of this aspect.

What’s the best way to approach the questions in the UPSC mains?

Kishore said that while different methods work for different people, he liked answering questions in bullet points. “I ensured that the introduction and the conclusion were written in paragraph format. The body of the answer I put down in bullet points. This helped me keep track of what I was writing and also made it easy for the examiner to read,” he said. Kishore added that in case an aspirant feels that there is not much content for a given question, they should avoid the bullet points format. “Follow it only if you have adequate content, otherwise the lack of substance in your answer may frustrate the examiner,” he remarked.

‘Prepare drafts for 15 to 20 essays’

Talking about the essay preparation methodology, Priyank said, “I suggest all aspirants to prepare drafts of at least 15 to 20 essays. The draft should be like a mind map covering important dimensions you are planning to add in your essay. You can go through Mrunals list of essays to get an idea of the topics you need to prepare in advance.” Sharing his views on candidates who have taken repeated attempts, Priyank says, “If you have made three serious attempts, you should take a break, work on your career and then come back and take the exam with greater determination and renewed energy. If not, take a step back and analyse where you have been going wrong.” He continues, “If General Studies is holding you back, seek professional guidance. You may also need to update your notes. If optionals are holding you back despite you putting in your best, consider a change of optional subject. A new optional can be studied like a novice, and a novice always reads better than a seasoned player.”