UPSC is one of the toughest Examinations to be held in India annually, with a success ratio of about 5 to 7%. I, Ishita Kishore, a 26-year-old woman, cleared UPSC with rank 1 AIR, CSE 2022. I completed my graduation in Economics from Shriram College of Commerce in Delhi. After going into corporate jobs for 2 years, I finally decided that it was time to prepare for the UPSC examination. My beloved mother is a private school teacher, and my father is an Air Force officer.
I am a very down-to-earth, humble girl who prepared with sheer determination and was never expecting such good outcomes. I can gladly affirm that my first thought after seeing the result and rank was that it was fake, and I did not believe the result I got. I dedicated myself solely to hard work and determination and used the resources I collected firsthand.
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My parents are from Bihar, but I was born in Hyderabad and did schooling in three different places, but mainly in Delhi. I was raised in Hyderabad and completed my graduation in Delhi too. When I think of my private job and corporate life, I find them very soothing and opportunistic. I continue to remember that no matter how good my job was, I was always worried about my future. At that moment, I looked up to the path of UPSC and took full-time preparation seriously, leaving her job. I believe the aspect of the civil service examination and the connection to governance are what built the walls of determination to prepare for the UPSC examination for my first attempt.
As a little kid, I always admired my mentor: my father, who worked for the Indian Army. I always felt closer to the government and wanted to do something for India. The UPSC examination provided me with the platform and the connection I had been looking for since I was young. Even after the first and second attempts, when preliminary results were not so good, I didn’t give up on the connection I felt from the inside to be close to the governance.
I, at first, did not even believe that this was my rank and was almost convinced that it was fake and didn’t want to believe it. But then, as the call from others approached, I was sure and then shocked that I finally did it, breaking the cycle. From the start, I was focused on hard work and determination instead of the results, focusing on the knowledge I was gaining and what other resources I could add to my knowledge. I was always reassured about the result, as the result is always what the preparation is.
The main inspiration that led me to stick with UPSC preparation even after my friends gave up was the connection I always felt from the start with the governance. I was very devoted to studying and finding out the resources. I invested much more time in finding resources firsthand than relying on summaries. I believe the summaries are the colored glasses of someone’s firsthand resource, which can miss initial points that someone can grab for free knowledge or brownie points. I started preparing for the prelims 7 months prior and was 100% focused on completing prelims revision at least twice before the month of prelims.
I devoted 8 to 12 hours to resources and note-making and 4 to 5 hours to studying and revising them. I relied on digital resources, newspaper reading, and note-making with regular question-paper solving. My coaching institute was very helpful during her preparation. In the second attempt, I started to take the coaching institute very seriously, revolving around the answer writing practice and maintaining the hygiene of writing answers carefully while putting the content in the answers appropriately to make an answer 100% right. I used to approach mentors for different answer-writing techniques and answer-solving tips after finding my mistakes twice or thrice from different perspectives and solving a question in as many ways as possible.
My major tip to other aspirants is to dedicate their time and start preparing beforehand. Finding one’s mistakes is key to perfecting answers until one is satisfied with them and until they are up to standard so that one can beat not others but oneself in the game to excel as expected. I always read note papers and collected resources wherever possible, not revolving around the summary. I always listened to the news, and read from the paper wherever I could.
Reading newspapers, collecting notes, and balancing the time for each subject are crucial for someone targeting to clear the UPSC Prelims or Mains. The major difficulty I faced was balancing the time, not knowing which subject would require more or less time. According to me, no stone should be left untouched while preparing for UPSC thinking it is easy because it might surprise someone without preparation. A normal student perspective will not work in the UPSC examination because clearing the UPSC examination is also meant to be a competition among thousands or even lakhs in your locality; hence, you need to be different with your approach, thinking the numbers and the competition in your mind.
I swiftly balanced my UPSC preparations, getting the rank I always dreamt of. I cleared the examination and won an achievement making my parents proud. According to me the first attempt at UPSC made me realize my true passion and how prepared I am with the knowledge I am currently carrying. On the second attempt, I struggled to keep my passion and determination because of the competition. By the third attempt, I was sure to stick up to the expectations making my way to success no matter what.
Many say I, Ishita Kishore am truly a hero for clearing UPSC examinations with step-by-step preparation and careful analysis. But according to me, UPSC examinations are not difficult, but it’s a quest to express oneself to the knowledge they hold towards serving the country.