priyanka air 68 upsc preparation strategy



Strategy:Priyanka, AIR 68 (CSE 2019)



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I am S.Priyanka. I have secured AIR 68 in UPSC CSE 2019. This is my second attempt. In previous attempt, i missed to make into final list by 20 marks. But in that first attempt i scored 271(144+127) in my optional Political science and international relations.


Why I opted for PSIR?

1. My UG is B.E Biomedical, so I want to take any humanities subject

2. Habit of reading newspaper from childhood so I am fond of politics and international relations.

3. It is very helpful in covering GS syllabus and writing essay papers.

4. Political science has mix of static and dynamic syllabus. Once you complete static it can be correlated with current affairs which can help in scoring high marks.

5. Availability of guidance in Chennai. (I took complete guidance of PSIR from Kamaraj IAS academy Chennai)

When I started to prepare?

I joined class after basic understanding of syllabus. It lasts for five months from July to December 2017. During that time, I put efforts to understand the concepts and gave some tests. I spend no time in making notes for optional. This was the big mistake I have done.

Only after giving prelims 2018, in which I was sure of clearing, I started to devout my time for optional. From June to September, I spent almost 50% of my time in making notes for PSIR and not much for revising. Here I didn’t get chance to practice answer writing much apart from test series.

In that ill prepared attempt I was scared and I was not very confident about my PSIR score. In my mains I managed to complete all questions. But PSIR paper II, most answers looked like GS answers.

Changes made in second attempt:

1. Revising as much as possible with weekly and fortnight targets.

2. Writing test with strict time limit

3. Being prepared with intro and conclusion for possible parts of the syllabus.

Book list I followed:

Paper 1

Part A

1. Western political thoughts by O.P.Gauba

2. Introduction to political theory by O.P.Gauba

3. IGNOU notes for Indian political thoughts

In this part one has to make precise notes about thinkers and ideologies. Revision again and again of this section helps in remembering quotes and books of thinkers. This section needs more remembering than other section. There is very less scope for incorporating the current events so keep it static. But interlinking can be made between thinkers and ideologies. For example, Machiavelli and Kautilya

Part B

This part mainly deals with Indian politics and Indian government.

1. Indian government and politics by B.L. Fadia

2. Newspaper articles (MOSTLY EDITORIALS by Suhash Plashikar, Christophe Jafffrelot,Aushtosh Varhney, Surjit Bhalla, P.Chidambaram,  Meghnath Desai, Rajeshwari Deshpande,Bibek Debroy, Talveen Singh.Pratap Bhanu Mehta in Indian express and The Hindu)

This section is dynamic in nature and gives a scope for incorporating current affairs. This part also provide chance to show edge over others and score more. It can be done by using above scholars’ quotations and views. Without that, answer will look like GS answers. In answers give one’s own analysis and supported by views of scholars. Use Supreme courts judgments, Committee recommendations, Articles whenever possible.

Paper 2

Part A

1. For comparative politics refer any coaching institute notes plus IGNOU material is enough.

2. The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations by Baylis and Smith

               This part has static topics related to IR, which has to supported by current happenings Ex: For increasing national interest – Brexit, trade wars. It is

Part B

It is completely dynamic part. But here one has scope to show their knowlege by interlinking with static concepts.

1. THE HINDU, Big Picture of Rajya Sabha TV,  INDIANEXPRESS, The Diplomat. Focus on Articles of Suhsini Haidar,  C.Raja Mohan, Rakesh Sood, S.D.Muni, Harsh.v.Pant, Brahma Chellaney, Meera Shankar, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, MJ Akbar, Rajiv Sikri. From Big picture views of Harsh Pant, Kanwal Sibbal, Ahok Sajjanhar,Vivek Katju, s.Jaishankar, Dhruv Jaishankar

2.Rajiv Sikri’s book Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy

3.David Malone’s book Does Elephant Dance

4. Observer Research Foundation website for IR analysis.

Without quoting scholars opinion in this section, answers will look like GS2 IR answers.


1. Try to solve PYQs which help structuring answers and understand question paper dynamics which I failed to do in first attempt.

2. Limiting resources and revising again and again helps in remembering scholars and their quotes which can be used in answers to fetch more marks.

3. Having short notes or highlighted notes to revise before exam.

4. At least reading optional once before attempting prelims.


1. Keep on reading new materials

2. Sticking to only institute materials without reading newspaper or updating dynamic portions.

All the best.