Anchal Chauhan UPSC 2019, Rank 183 – Secret Preparation Strategy


Hello everyone!

I am Anchal Chauhan, AIR 183 (UPSC CSE 2019) from Baghpat District of Uttar Pradesh

Academic background: ECE), 2016 from Amity University, Noida

No prior work experience

Optional subject: Geography

Attempts: 4

Before moving on to stage wise strategy and tips, the aspirants must understand that the examination requires a SMART work which is not subjected to too many hours of studying and too many resources etc.

What I mean by SMART work is

·       Self study: This is to be done with consistency (7-8 hours daily).

·       Minimum sources: Do not run after too many books and magazines.

·        Answer writing:  At least 3-4 questions per day (1 page write up).

·       Revision: Whatever you study and make notes of must be revised religiously.

·       Testing yourself: Take up test series both for prelims and mains.

(Remember: Don’t jump into too many test series and don’t attempt them unless you have done reading and revision properly)

1.     For prelims and GS mains, I solved Vision test papers.

2.     For daily answer writing practice, I solved IAS baba’s TLP.

3.     For geography optional, I took up Shabbir Sir’s test series.

The preparation should revolve around 3 things:



There are general pre-requisites for this exam and every aspirant should do this basic homework while in preparation:-

1.      Newspaper Reading

·       You learn language

·       You develop reading habit

·       You learn answer writing skills

·       You are aware of current happenings

I read THE INDIAN EXPRESS daily and specially focused on Explained and Editorial section

2.     NCERT Books (preferably 9th to 12th)

·       Gives you background which further helps in understanding advance level studies.

3.      Current affairs

·       Monthly current affairs magazines

·       Rajya Sabha TV (In Depth, The Big Picture)

·       Study IQ videos on current happenings

4.     Your own hand written short notes

Note:  Keep in mind the syllabus of UPSC while reading things so that you remain focused only on examination

The preparation of this exam is holistic and integrated (for pre and mains) and cannot be done in isolation. However, I would like to share few stage-wise tips that helped me sail through this competition.


You should move exclusively towards prelims preparation at least 3 months before the exam date

·       Revision of NCERTs, Short Notes, reference books such as Laxmikanth, Spectrum of Modern India and all other books whichever you follow.

·       Attempt tests and revise them, focus on explanation of answers.

·       Daily practice of CSAT is also necessary at least 2 months prior to exam for 1 hour. Don’t avoid this part as it necessary to qualify in this paper as well.

·       Whatever news you study, focus more on “why” it happened rather than on “what” happened. Do have an idea on background of the topic.

·       In examination: Use elimination method and try attempting 85-90 questions.


·       Learn answer writing through editorials

(Make imaginary questions and write down an answer with the help of editorial or summarize it in minimum words)

It shall also help in enhancing essay writing skills  

Eg: Summarizing an editorial on Assam floods


·       Mug up some general introductory and conclusion lines in answer writing so that you save up time in mains examination

·       Use flow charts and diagrams in answers (This helps you brainstorm and touch multiple dimensionsin answer)

·       Make use of data, some numbers and targets of Government of India, NITI Aayog, Economic survey and SDGs, World bank and UN reports (that frequently appear in newspapers) to make an answer look rich and well informed.

·       With the help of test series, learn to complete the paper on time.


·       Make use of maps, diagrams and flow charts to explain the topic.

·       Use geographical terms, name of geographers, geographical theories to make an answer geography specific.

·       Again, mug up some introductions, conclusions and data to use in answer writing.



Your hobbies and interests form an important part in interview that reflects your personality and generally forms a conversation starter there in the interview.

·       Stay honest and guess smartly.

·       Train your mind to get use to random questions.  For this, communicate and interact more on current happenings (I did this with my siblings).

·       Read the newspaper daily and stay updated, informed and confident.

·       Mock interviews are just for practice.  Do not feel dejected by their assessments.

My personal experience is that my actual interview was far better than all the mock interviews. You naturally happen to perform better on that day.

·       Do not listen to too many people while preparing for interview. Be yourself!