Preliminary Examination requires planned study, command over basics and MCQs practice; says Mayank Gupta (AIR 177; CSE 2018)

Preliminary Examination requires planned study, command over basics and MCQs practice; says Mayank Gupta (AIR 177; CSE 2018)

Atul Kapoor Last Update on: 20 Aug 2021

Preparation strategy of Mayank Gupta (AIR 177; CSE 2018) reveals the steps he took in his journey towards his dream career.

It was his fifth attempt and he opted for Medical Science as Optional Subject.

Mayank Gupta

(AIR 177; CSE 2018)

Medium (Language)

Medium of Writing Exam- English

Medium for Interview- Hindi

Nature of Examination

The first and foremost thing is believe in yourself that you can crack the exam.

Then prepare for all the 3 phases simultaneously and focus on analytical part. Exam oriented study is must because syllabus is so vast that you can get lost in the sea of information; so, make a precise macro and micro plan with timelines and sources, and then stick to that plan.

Analyse yourself through tests and self-evaluate your answer sheet to find out scope of improvement in those answers; this cycle of self-evaluation must go on.

In addition, pursue your hobby to make your body and mind fit. Finding a study mate or forming a small group is of utmost value and would have a synergistic effect on your preparation

Views about Preliminary Examination

At the present level of competition clearing Preliminary Examination itself became a big challenge.

But certainly crossing Prelims is not pure luck; it requires planned study, command over basics and MCQs practice.

Role of Optional Subject

Optional subject is very important in Civil Services Examination and it could be a game changer in your success story.

While selecting optional personal interest on the subject is very important; so, instead of going with any so called high scoring optional go with your interest and you will surely get very good marks.

Mayank Gupta-AIR 177-CSE 2018

Furthermore, note making is a very important part of Optional preparation for speedy revision and retention.

Targeting General Studies

General Studies carry highest weightage in Civil Services Examination and it is important for every stage of the examination, so command over General Studies is essential.

My approach towards each paper:

General Studies Paper 1- Paper 1 is mostly static; so, for this I firstly studied NCERTs and basic books for these subjects thoroughly and then revised questions of various test series to have a better understanding of the subjects.

General Studies Paper 2- It is a combination of basic part and current affairs; so, after learning about the basic concepts of polity, constitution, governance and International Relations one should relate and learn them through current affairs.

The pattern of UPSC question in this paper is also very dynamic.

General Studies Paper 3- Similar to Paper 2 this paper also requires relation with current and analysis.

Self-notes making is very beneficial for paper 2 and 3.

General Studies Paper 4- A distinct approach towards Paper 4 is required. One should firstly understand the meaning of each and every term mentioned in syllabus then one should try to collect as many examples and understandable flowcharts related to those topics.

Then while writing test write according to the demand of question with integration of those flowchart and diagrams.

Essay Paper

First, the simplicity of language is very important for every paper.

Second thing is relevance to the question and topic and

Third is presentation and arrangement of points- “Important points must come first”.

In essay preparation firstly, I read model essays of toppers to get basic idea about the scheme of essay writing, then I divided whole syllabus into broad areas and collected relevant introduction and conclusion for those areas and sub areas. 

Apart from that I maintained a set of data and multiple examples of local, national and international levels to integrate in the essay.


Arrangement of ideas in orderly fashion with flow and multidimensional analysis with adherence to topic with optimistic conclusion is the key of good essay write up.

Topic 1. Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere.

Topic 2. Customary morality cannot be a guide to modern life.

Interview (Personality Test)

I was interviewed by Shri P.K.Joshi Sir Board on 26th February 2019; Morning session 2nd to go 

Evaluation of my efforts by UPSC

I got a very good score 198/275 in interview that has played a very big role in my success. Yes my final score was near to my expectations.

Also Read: Success-Story of Mayank Gupta (AIR 177; CSE 2018)

Book List

Newspaper- Indian Express + Editorials of The Hindu

Polity- Laxmikant, ARC, Notes 

Geography- Mrunal videos, PMFIAS notes, NCERTs 

Economy- Mrunal videos, Sriram IAS notes, Self-notes 

History- Notes prepared from Spectrum, Bipin Chandra & Shekhar Bandopadhyay 

World History- Notes prepared from Norman Lowe & Vision IAS Notes

Post Independence- Bipin Chandra notes, Forum IAS notes 

Ancient And Medieval History- NCERT & TN board book 

Culture- Nitin Sangwan sir’s notes 

Environment- Shankar IAS, Notes

Internal Security- Lohit Matani book, Notes 

Disaster Management- Notes prepared from Vision IAS notes and online sources 

Ethics- Vision IAS videos, Lexicon and self-notes  

International Relations- Self-notes


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