Shubham Kumar: Strategy and Notes for UPSC(CSE)

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This is Shubham Kumar, AIR 1 CSE 2020. This is my official telegram channel through which I would be sharing my notes and strategy.

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Finally the result of Mains 2023 is out. Like last year it came after much anticipation.

First of all congratulations to those who have qualified for the personality test. Those who have given interview before would be well aware that this is not the time of celebration. Surely, a satisfaction comes and gives positive hope for the final stage. Like previous steps of the examination, the final stage also demands preparation but in different way !!

To all those serious aspirants who had put lot of hard work and sweat to this examination, I would say- DON’T LOOSE HOPE.

The only thing in our control is our ability to fight back, our ability to work hard and our ability to maximise our probability for selection. No one can ever say for sure that he/she will get selected - That’s the unpredictability of UPSC exam that everyone has to go through.

After every stage of UPSC exam, some people have to decide and take a tough call- whether to stop the preparation, or continue the preparation. Discuss with your friends and family but this decision has to be yours, nobody knows you better than you. Also it should not be taken in haste but should be a well thought of decision.

Those planning to appear next year, should analyse their mains mock test papers. Compare it with the toppers mock test papers. Evaluate your strategy and try to work upon the weak areas. Now (2 months max) is the time to improve upon the mains. Try to include daily answer writing, writing some 3 hours GS/Optional mock tests into your preparation strategy.

Remember that you are not alone in this preparation. And many times, somethings happen for a reason !!

Best wishes !!

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All the very best for tomorrow’s optional paper.

Some suggestions (Humanities/Anthropology optional)

1) 80% Rule: Even if you are able to recall 80%, you will perform well. Due to vastness of any optional, it is difficult to remember each and every aspect in detail.

2) Select the questions wisely: Give 5-7 minutes at the start of each paper.

Never select questions thinking that these questions would be attempted less by other aspirants.
One should select based on what he/she knows.

Calculate roughly the combined marks that you can get out of 50 in that question.

3) Good time management is highly rewarding in optional

4) First focus on addressing the demand of the question and then linking it with Thinkers/Case Studies/Examples.

By adding theories/thinkers/case studies- your answer will become like optional (Non-GS type)

5) Linking Paper 1 and Paper 2

Indian examples in Paper 1 and Global in Paper 2. Also link the questions with different part of syllabus

6) 10% Rule: If you are able to incorporate maximum
10% unique content, it is sufficient to score very good marks. Don’t take stress that everyone would be writing same.

(Everyone may have read the same content, but very few would be able to actually write that in exam that to according to demand of the question)

7) Explain the points/concept: Can write in points as well as in small small paragraphs.

In optional paper, it is important to explain as in contrast to GS, where we pour down many points.

8) Break the question into different parts: Contemporary Relevance/Way Forward can be added towards the ended- but it should be according to demand of the question

Believe that you will do well !!

Best Wishes !!

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Kartik Jivani (AIR 8, CSE 2020 ) and I, both alumni of IIT Bombay and batchmates (IAS 2021), have come together to bring this resource to you. Leveraging our knowledge of Coding, Artificial Intelligence and UPSC CSE, we aim to benefit all aspirants.

We present the Model Answers for UPSC CSE 2023 Mains GS Papers. Our goal is to deliver curated answers using Artificial Intelligence, trained on the UPSC syllabus, with minimal human intervention.

It’s not just the chatGPT; it is more than that. We hope you find this resource helpful in your journey to success !!

Best Wishes !!
PS: All those writing Mains this year, kindly refer it after your optional papers

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For those preparing for CSE 2024 and not writing mains this year:

Now is the right time to get into the mains preparation.

Till December, one can focus more on Mains- GS and Optional papers

Download all the CSE Mains 2023 Papers. Right now, one can do the following exercise to improve one’s answer writing:

1) Link it with the Syllabus: Analyse the questions of GS1, 2,3,4 asked in Mains 2023 and link with syllabus. Analyse whether it is factual or analytical, static or current etc. Identify areas where questions are being asked more

2) Brainstorming: Try to first write some points (scribble)

3) Current Affairs: Linking the question with Current Affairs

4) Think of apt Introduction and conclusion

5) Answer Writing:
Write a full 2 page/3 page answer with subheading and points/small paragraphs

6) Look for Topper’s mock answers: Before writing answers, one can look for mock test papers of Toppers for that particular GS. Idea is, to know structuring, number of words, sub heading etc

After writing answers also, one can compare and contrast it with topper’s copies and do peer review with friends

Best Wishes !!

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For all those preparing for optional:

Many people would be wasting their time analysing GS papers. Generally we cannot perform 100% to our potential, so we will always have this feeling that we could have performed better.

So, to beat the competition, it is important to study for next 2 days efficiently. From 3rd day, everyone will start revising their optional.

Keep your efficiency high during these 5days.

While revising:

1) Do scribble and write some valuable points

2) Topics like Archeology (for Anthro optional)- select the most important questions and focus revision on these. It is difficult to remember each and every facts. Focus on broader aspects

3) Time should be allocated according to degree of importance of each topics. For example give enough time to Physical Anthropology as it is rewarding also

4) Revise your mock test papers also

5) Revision should also be focused on gaining confidence. And you should touch almost all topics to get the feeling of sense of completion

Best Wishes !!

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Some insights and suggestions

1) Forget about what has happened in GS and Essay. It will unnecessarily impact your performance in optional. Always remember that your relative performance matters and not the absolute

2) From here, If you are able to score 270+ in optional and 180+ in interview, there is enough probability that you will get into the list. So entire focus of yours should shift towards optional

3) Utilise these 5 days well. After a certain point, performance in optional depends upon how well you are able to reproduce concept/facts/data/thinkers in exam. This depends upon how well you have revised and revision requires time

Optional Strategy

I’m sharing what I followed in these 5 days after GS papers

1) Studying for 10-12 hours

2) Revising Optional thrice - 1st revision in 3 days, 2nd revision next 2 days, 3rd revision after language paper

3) Writing some questions: can write 3hours test also, after revising for 2-3days

I wrote 2018 PYQ paper (during 2020 attempt) of Anthropology paper 1 on 3rd day. Till this time I was able to revise whole paper 1 and half paper 2 (1st revision).

It serves 2 purpose-

a) Generally we get out of touch with optional due to minimum 12-15 days of only GS studies. Writing tests boost confidence and prepare us well for real exam

b) Increases your efficiency of revision - generally we become complacent and revise optional in very relax way for first 2 days

4) Avoid studying anything new

Even if you study now, you won’t be able to write in exam.
Have some basic knowledge in every topic so that you can handle compulsory questions

Best wishes for remaining mains papers !!

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How to attempt GS 4

division: 1 hr 35 minutes (max 1:40) for case studies and 1:25 minutes for section A

Section A

1) Write 3-4 dimensions and give examples. Don’t forget to mention administrative dimension where ever possible. Write Ethical angle also as far as possible

2) Other important dimensions- global, environmental, historical, personality based, corporate, current affairs

3) Administrative dimension: Can frame examples- few best scenarios where many qualities are covered are riot control, disaster management, handling election (these departments directly come under DM)

4) Values mapping: Use words from syllabus like integrity, emotional intelligence etc

5) Link with GS 2 (governance): write Constitutional articles, DPSPs, FRs, Acts/Rules (Eg- Civil Services Conduct Rules), NITI, ARC2, Institutions
(true for case studies also)

6) Writing appropriate quotes in section A is rewarding

7) Make flow charts

Section B (Case studies)

1) Write good intro: come out of case study and give a broader perspective- (like the above case study pertains to classic debate between env vs development…)

2) Space management: give more focus on ‘what will you do/be your approach’ - (eg - in questions where it is asked what all options available and what you will do- write 2 extreme steps and then your own)

3) Write long and short term solutions (no need to mention as subheading though): not in all but where ever possible- write some specific and concrete steps

4) Explain ethical dilemmas/issues well - with help of short short paragraphs (don’t only mention it rather explain it)

5) Try to address smaller problems apart from main problem: Underline and mark on (1,2,3,4) the question paper (not answer booklet) and keep it in front of you while writing answers so that you don’t miss anything.

6) Think from all stakeholders: No need to mention, if it has not been asked exclusively, but thinking in lines with all stakeholders- makes answers comprehensive

(Eg if question came related to drug trafficking in state which share boundary with other nation……- answer should reflect not only control at drug, but other solutions related to problem arising out of being border state)

All the Best for tomorrow !!

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Last year, I posted a message on how to attempt GS papers. I’m posting it again with slight modifications.

How to Attempt (GS1-3)

General Instructions:

While reading question paper (before start of examination, papers are distributed 2-5 minutes before)- try to link questions with your short notes of value addition. If you are able to remember committee name/articles/case studies- try to mark it on question paper itself.

It is better to start answering the questions as soon as exam starts (9am/2pm) and not to waste time in complete the reading of question paper

No need to complete sentences while in writing points- if it conveys the meaning

Hello Specific institutions:


1) History/World History/Art and Culture- enough scope to make maps, diagrams like Ashokan pillar, Stupa, Temples

2) Geography- make diagrams in most of the questions. Micro (Small) diagrams also

3) Society- important to define key terms (like poverty, caste), mention Policy, life cycle approach (eg women- child, adolescent, old age)


1) Analytical- use of small small paragraphs in some questions. Properly explaining the statements becomes important with examples and analysis

2) Show ethical dimension if possible in governance

3) International Relations- political diagram must, historical dimension, use of key words (like track 2 diplomacy), G20

4) Use of ARC2/Articles/SC Judgments/Budget, NCRWC, LCI, Commission (Sarkaria/Punchhi)

5) Linking Static with Current Affairs (for GS3 also)


1) Use of Graphs/pie charts(which I had prepared beforehand) and statistics: economist love stats/data

2) Disaster Management- Use of diagrams and maps, best practices

3)Security- use of bodies/Acts/Institutions

4a) Value addition- Budget/Economic Survey/NITI Aayog/ SDGs

4b) Env and Security: Summits and agreements

5) Time management is utmost important- generally you will be knowing all questions. At the same time you have to be accurate in answering and not beating around the bush as far possible

Best Wishes !!

P.S- No matter how well you have prepared and managed time, for maximum people including me there used to be few questions where I had to rush to finish it !!

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Few last minute tips:

1) Scope for Maps- in Geography and History, A&C. But it should be relevant

2) In 10 marker ques- it is advisable to draw small maps on side of the paper (takes less space rather than in centre)

3) GS2- is more analytical. In big questions- one can write in small small paragraphs initially to cover many dimensions of the question and then shift to point wise format for the core part of the question

4) GS2- Remember to write Articles, DPSPs, FRs, FDs, ARC2 etc

5) Some good case studies/examples/ Schemes in governance questions

6) SDGs in Society and Social Justice ques. Flow charts can also be drawn

7) Incorporation of G20 and other big news related content in the answers

Best Wishes !!

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For all those who are writing mains tomorrow —

All the very Best for small small battles that you will have to fight in every paper to conquer mains.

There will be many questions where you won’t be that confident. But remember that you can score well in GS by attempting 10-12 questions well and then writing average answers for 8 questions.

Few last minutes tips

1) Never JUDGE your performance in the examination hall itself- you might score better in paper where you feel that it didn’t went well

2) Scoring in GS/Optional is RELATIVE.
So you have to outperform other people rather than writing best answers for every questions. If the paper is tough than it is tough for everyone

3) Don’t discuss anything between the break. Utilise the break to cool and relax yourself and REVISE your short notes.
Remind yourself what to write and how you are going to attempt the paper

4) It is advisable to complete the paper somehow. It is always good to devote equal time (11min for 15marker and 7min for 10 marker).

5) Eat light but energy rich food. Can drink tea/coffee- rejuvenate yourself- can take 10min Power Nap !!

Those things which are not under your control, leave it to almighty

All the best once again !!
You WILL do well

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