UPSC Mains 2016: Kaustubh Jog (AIR 396 CSE 2015) shares his UPSC Mains strategy

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducted the Preliminary stage of Civil Service Exam (CSE) this year on August 7 and the results of the prelims are expected in a few days. With UPSC CSE 2016 Mains to be held from December 3 onwards, PaGaLGuY spoke to Kaustubh Jog, AIR 396 (CSE 2015) about his experience of appearing for CSE Mains. Kaustubh has a Post Graduate degree in History from University of Mumbai. Kaustubh has joined the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) – Customs and Central Excise.

Civil Services Mains – The Kurukshetra

Q 1. What was your study strategy for the Mains exam?

  • Join a good test series either online or offline. Devote only 30% for reading and revising. Remaining efforts should be geared towards writing practice.
  • Have a basic structure ready about broad themes in general studies. Going through the syllabus is imperative.
  • Reading of the India Year Book and Economic Survey is a must.
  • Nothing is fixed. Since I was preparing for this full time, everything was oriented towards studying. I recommend that every candidate should be familiar with his / her own capacity. I cannot sit to study for more than 75-90 minutes. Once that’s done, I would take short breaks. So, a routine can be devised only by observing one’s own likes/dislikes and other habits. Be flexible about this and do what suits you the best.

Q 2. How to attempt Paper IV (Ethics)?

For Paper IV (Ethics), Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) report on Ethics in Governance is a good resource. This can be applied to case studies also. Approach this paper through the questions and not through books.

Q 3. What about other three GS papers?

I read standard books for other papers. Tip is to read limited material but it should be of good quality and one’s command over it should be strong. I also revised periodically.

Q 4. How to develop answer writing?

  • Practice the previous year’s papers. Even though dated, it helps a lot. I did a close study of the question papers from previous years.
  • Apart from this, get hold of questions from various institutes. Attempt writing answers and get them evaluated.
  • Tackle every question on its merit and aim to complete the papers.
  • The game is really in the preceding three months. The actual days of the Mains are very challenging. Not much to innovate. It is just a test of endurance. So one should remember to enjoy writing the exam.
  • Finally, write and write and write – that’s the crux of the exam. Get as much answer writing practice as is possible. Three hours a day is optimum. Ultimately, it is about how positive and optimistic one can be. Work on that through various relaxation techniques.
  • Everyone reads the same things. How one views oneself and one’s place in the larger scheme of things is what determines everything.

 Q 5. Any other suggestion you would like to share with candidates?

Take good care of health as I have myself experienced illness and fatigue and other candidates seem to suffer from this as well. Those few days before the exam, one should just aim to be alert, calm and fresh. One’s performance in the Mains is a function of one’s prior preparation. So, one should just focus on that.

Good Luck!