Although Satyam prepared from his PG room in Rajendra Nagar, he never joined any coaching institutes for prelims or mains preparation.
Unlike most UPSC civil services aspirants who rely on coaching institutes to crack the coveted examination, Satyam Gandhi decided to self-study and secured 10th rank in his first attempt. A native of Bihar’s Samastipur district, Gandhi completed his school education from Kendriya Vidyalaya and pursued BA (H) Political Science from Dyal Singh College of Delhi University. During his final year of graduation, the 22-year-old decided to begin his preparation for the UPSC CSE 2020.
Gandhi shifted to Delhi’s Rajendra Nagar — a hub for civil services aspirants — in the final year of graduation. “I lived in Rajendra Nagar to have easy access to the study material. From mock tests to preparation books and current affairs, everything is readily available in the bookstores here. It saved travel time to gather study material,” the topper said.
“It was my grandfather’s dream to have a collector (District Magistrate) in the family which inspired me to appear for the exam. Therefore, I chose Political Science as a graduation subject and the same as an optional in the exam,” Gandhi said.
Talking about his preparation strategy, Gandhi shared that he largely focused on clearing the prelims exam as the ‘type of questions asked at this stage is very unpredictable’.
“I started preparing for the exam back in 2019 and was focussed entirely on the same. I concentrated majorly on prelims. While this method is questioned often, I believe that prelims is the most unpredictable stage of UPSC CSE and if you are not able to crack this, you have to wait for an additional year to appear for it again,” he said.
“I spent 12 to 13 hours every day studying the GS subjects. I referred to the standard books and made my own notes. For prelims, I took around 120 mock tests as I didn’t want to take any chances of losing the race at the first stage. Taking mock tests helped me identify my weak areas. I joined online coaching platform Unacademy for mock tests and interview guidance,” the topper said.
Gandhi emphasises the importance of Economics, Polity, and History for the prelims preparation. According to him, aspirants should pay more attention to these subjects. In addition, he also suggests the aspirants take regular mock tests and test series to track their performance and make amends in the strategy.
For the final week revision, Gandhi suggests reading self-made notes and current affairs. He also focused on revising the mock papers. “On the exam day, aspirants should not aim to over-perform but take the exam like the mock test. More than thinking about the result, they should concentrate on understanding and solving the questions,” Satyam said.
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