AIR 4 Saumya Pandey Strategy for UPSC Exam Preparation

Saumya Pandey IAS strategy

Saumya Pandey, an electrical engineer from Allahabad bagged an impressive fourth rank in the UPSC CSE 2016. She achieved this incredible feat in her very first attempt at the age of just 23 preparing for just one year after her graduation in 2015. This article details the UPSC exam preparation strategy of Saumya Pandey IAS. Also featured is Saumya Pandey book list for IAS preparation.

Strategy for UPSC prelims

Saumya followed an integrated approach for the UPSC prelims and the mains. Although 1-2 months before the prelims exam, she practiced mock tests.

For CSAT: Saumya, being an engineer only had to brush up her math skills a few days before the CSAT. She also studied English comprehension before the exam. The CSAT, being only a qualifier, Saumya did not spend a lot of time on it.

GS Paper I: Saumya studied all the NCERTs from class VI to class XII for subjects like history, geography, political science, sociology and science and tech. For current affairs, she followed online sources that featured regular PIB and Hindu editorials updates.

In the Prelims exam, Saumya recommends attempting all the questions that you are absolutely sure of first and then moving on to other questions.

Strategy for UPSC Mains

Essay Paper: Saumya practiced essays every 15 – 20 days on current affairs topics.

GS paper I: She studied the NCERTs and only a few other books. She read Bipin Chandra’s ‘India’s Struggle for Independence’; Laxmikanth’s ‘Indian Polity’; and Nitin Singhania’s ‘Indian Art and Culture’.

She also followed the CCRT website for art and culture.

GS paper II: According to Saumya, this paper has a lot of current affairs compared to GS Paper I. Here, she focused on monthly magazines like Yojana and Kurukshetra.

GS paper III: Here the focus was on current affairs, Economic Survey and budget highlights.

For science and tech, she focused on the science supplement of ‘The Hindu’ newspaper.

She also recommends online test series for mains exam so that candidates develop speed and get used to the feel of the UPSC exam.

GS paper IV: For the ethics paper, Saumya practiced case studies from previous years question papers.

Language papers: Here there are two qualifying papers – one English paper and one regional language paper. Saumya Pandey’s Indian language was Hindi. Even though they are only qualifying in nature, it is important to brush up on your language skills.

Optional subject: For Saumya’s optional subject of Geography, she referred the following books:

Saumya Pandey Geography booklist

Paper I: Physical Geography – Ravindra Jain; Human Geography – Majid Hussain

Paper II: India Geography – D R Khullar

She also practiced maps from previous question papers. This is important as these questions are scoring.

Strategy for UPSC Personality Test/Interview

The first step in the interview preparation is to fill in the DAF very carefully as the UPSC board will definitely ask questions from what you have filled about yourself. They will ask about your hometown, hobbies, extra-curricular activities, awards and medals.

They will also ask current affairs based questions and also situation-based ones. So, prepare accordingly and practice taking the interview beforehand.

Your answers must be multi-dimensional, balanced and rational.

Also Read | Toppers’ Tips on Answer Writing for UPSC Mains Exam