Ankita Agarwal (AIR 2) - IAS Toppers 2021

AIR 2 Ankita Agarwal UPSC Topper 2021

Image Credits: India Today

On May 30, 2022, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), announced the UPSC Results 2021 for the coveted Civil Services Exam. Taking another step towards equity, the top three ranks have been secured by women for the first time. Considered one of the toughest examinations to crack, the girls emerged successfully at the top in their second attempt, and in the case of the second-ranker, Ankita Agarwal in her third try.

Read on to know more about Ankita Agarwal’s background, preparation strategy, number of attempts, UPSC optional subject and more.

Shruti Sharma and Gamini Singla hold the first and the third rank respectively in the IAS toppers list. 

Ankita Agarwal IAS Topper 2021: 

Ankita Agarwal who secured AIR 2 in her third attempt, hails from Kolkata. Ankita completed her school education in Kolkata and earned her bachelor’s degree in Economics from St Stephen’s College of Delhi University. She chose Political Science and International Relations as her optional subjects.

Ankita has taken the UPSC Civil Services Exam three times: in 2019, 2020, and 2021. She obtained the AIR 236 Rank in 2019 and currently training with Indian Revenue Services Customs and Indirect Taxes at Faridabad. Despite getting selected for IRS, she decided to study harder to join the Indian Administrative Services (IAS). On asked about her reaction to securing the second rank, she said expected to qualify for the civil services exam but getting the second rank seemed far-fetched and came as a surprise.

Read about the Preparation Strategy of Shruti Sharma AIR 1, in the linked article.

Family Background:

Ankita was raised in a joint household under the supervision of her grandparents and uncle-aunties. Ankita’s family hailed from Bihar many years ago. Her father is a businessman who owns a hardware store in the Burrabazar area. Her mother is a stay-at-home mom. Her brother is an MBA student in Delhi. The family stays in Kalindi. 

Ankita says her family supported her a lot in pursuing her dream to become an IAS officer. They never burdened her with their dreams or forced her to study hard. She said she is grateful for the support her family provided throughout the long journey of clearing the UPSC Exam.

Educational Background:

Since her childhood, Ankita has been reserved by nature and has been very sincere in her studies. 

  • Ankita received her primary and secondary education in Kolkata. She completed her schooling at DPS Ruby Park where she got in 2003. Her teachers remember her as a sincere student with a sharp mind.
  • She earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics (Hons) from Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College.
  • She then worked with a corporate house before quitting the job to pursue her civil service dreams.
  • She prepared by doing both, self-study and taking coaching when needed.

Ankita’s Success at Civil Services Exam

Ankita Agarwal considered appearing for UPSC while she was in the second year of her college. As she was unsure at that time, so she worked for a year in the private sector and then quit her job to study exclusively for the IAS Exam. She scored a total of 1050 marks in her third attempt and bagged an AIR 2 in the prestigious exam.

Ankita began preparing for the UPSC Civil Services Exam in 2018 and after appearing for the exam three times, she successfully became one of the UPSC Toppers. She obtained the AIR 236 Rank in 2019 but decided she wanted to study harder and join the Indian Administrative Services. When asked why she didn’t pursue a post-graduation degree, she said-

“I was clear about my goal and therefore chose not to enrol for a postgraduate degree. I worked for a year and then jumped into UPSC preparation. I qualified for the exam in 2019 and got into the IRS but my goal was to join the Indian Administrative Services. So I reappeared in the exam in 2021. This was my third attempt,”

Aspirations: On being asked about her future plan, Ankita Agrawal expressed interest in working in the areas of women’s empowerment and primary healthcare. She expressed her desire to serve at the grass-root level and believes that this is the best chance to do so, being an IAS. She has chosen West Bengal as the cadre of her choice. Issues of poverty, unemployment and climate change are some of the main issues she wishes to work towards after joining the IAS.

Ankita Agarwal’s UPSC Preparation Strategies

When asked about her preparation strategy Ankita Agarwal said she prepared through self-study as well as coaching. She believes both play equally important roles in a candidate’s life. Ankita defied UPSC clichés by keeping her preparations well-balanced. She would take breaks and go out with her friends.

  • She began her UPSC preparation 4 years ago and apart from basic books, she kept herself updated with current affairs. 
  • She devoted as much time as she could to the preparation for the exam.
‘I studied hard as I could while still giving time to her health, her family members and to her friends. I tried to fit in as many hours as I could to study for at least 8-12 hours a day.”
  • For current affairs, she read newspapers and monthly magazines.
  • She made her notes on a computer as it is easier to organise notes digitally. She used to study from sources and translated them into her own language which makes it easier to revise.
  • She solved a few test series to help her get enough practice before the actual exams.
  • For Mains preparation, her centre of attention was answered writing practice. She took Political Science and International Relations as her optional subject in the Mains.
  • Instead of counting the number of hours, she used to give as many hours as possible for the exam preparation. She said-
“Instead of putting in a definite number of hours, I tried to maintain a sustainable study schedule.”
  • She developed a study timetable but limited her study sources and stated that she did not pick up additional books or study materials during revision time.
  • While preparing for the Civil Services Exams, Ankita kept a balanced schedule, taking time out to relax and unwind, to meet her friends. To help her prepare with full concentration, she also confessed to deleting all her social media so that she would not get distracted.
  • When queried about her motivation for the exam, Ankita said,
“More than strategy, I think if someone wants to be a civil servant, they should be very clear about their motivation as only that will push you on difficult days. Consistency is key.”
  • She solved previous years’ UPSC prelims question papers to get an idea about the nature of the questions asked in the UPSC prelims examination.

If you are wondering about How to Start UPSC CSE Preparation, visit the linked article.

A few tips for UPSC exam preparation

  • Action Plan – Set aside at least one year for CSE preparation and create an action plan to get started.
  • Plan meticulously– When preparing for the UPSC CSE, always have a realistic and feasible study programme in place. Making a calendar and keeping track of your goals might also assist.
  • Limit your study material – Jumping from book to book for test preparation will only lead to confusion; thus, choose a few books and resources and try to keep to them as much as possible.
  • Use the internet for good – While the internet is a wonderful source of knowledge and study material, she cautions pupils from overusing it because there are several distractions.
  • Do not be anxious– it will take some time to find a CSE preparation routine that works for you. Do not worry if a topic appears difficult and you become stuck; think it through and you will gain insight on how to learn that specific idea.
  • Understand yourself- Knowing your own strengths and shortcomings will allow you to focus your preparation. This focus and clarity will be extremely beneficial in improving each level of preparation based on your requirements.
  • Practice- Before taking the actual exam, take mock practice examinations for both the prelims and the mains. This will help you develop confidence and expertise in appropriately structuring your responses.
  • Stay focused- Preparing for the UPSC exam can be extremely difficult, so stay motivated and positive. Always see the positive side of things and believe in your abilities to pass UPSC CSE 2022.
UPSC Topper 2021 Background
Name Ankita Agarwal
Civil Service Exam  2021
All India Rank  2
Number of Attempts 3
Age  25
Optional Subject  Political Science and International Relations
Native  Kolkata
Education Graduation in Economics

All it takes is determination, unwavering focus and of course, a smart and guided approach to the IAS exam. Aspirants of UPSC 2022 can go through the following links for assistance in their preparation.

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