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MOTIVATION: Rank – 147, Second Attempt, Started at the age of 33, Full-time Doctor and a Mother – Inspiring Story of Dr Shubhamangala


All India Rank – 147, CSE-2017Second Attempt, Started at the age of 33, Full-time Doctor and a Mother 

An Inspiring Story of Dr Shubhamangala and Preparation Tips 

Note from Insights: This is an inspiring story of determination and smart preparation. Though lengthy, please read it fully to get motivated and crack this exam. 

Burn me !bleed me !hurt me !O’ life
I don’t care;
I will metamorphose and win every-time! 

Be aware!

Hi friends,
It gives a great happiness to write in this column about my preparation strategy as few such articles in the same platform helped me mould my answers and shortened my journey of entering civil services. I write in the hope of motivating other tireless souls in their quest. 


Early childhood and profession

I was born and educated in Kudremukh. My father was a mechanic in Kudremukh Iron Ore company limited. My parents hail from a village in Kolar district. While my father could not persue studies beyond 10th due to poverty and familial responsibilities, my mother was denied education due to lack of school in her village. However, they wanted to see their children educated. My mother wanted me to study as much as possible and so she never asked me shoulder any domestic work. All I remember doing till age 30 years is just reading and persuing my profession. I had understood the importance education having listened to my parents’ struggle for livelihood. I did my schooling till 12th from Kendriya Vidyalaya Kudremukh and used to be class topper. Few magazines were regular in our house right from first standard : Champak (hindi, English and sanskrit: so that we could understand the translation) and GK today. I would simply see it in early school years but was fascinated by photos of toppers on it. I wanted to do civil service just to see myself in books. With time, I started to solve tests in it and participate in its essay competition and would get my photo published for good writing. When I was in 6/7 th class, someone misguided my father about the nature of exam and fed the thought that there is monetary involvement in the selection process.

That acted as a deterrent for me towards it. I forgot about it totally till 2013. I wanted to be doctor ( initially started because I wanted to take revenge on my paediatrician for his injection when I was in LKG but later reinforced by seeing the respect doctors get in society) and I was too much focussed to acquire a seat in MBBS. Though I would be very active and win prizes in essay, extempore, debates etc till 1999, I suddenly stopped everything and started focussing only on studies. Believe me, last newspaper I had read was in 1999 and that’s when I had written my last essay. I have done my MBBS from Bangalore medical college 2001 batch and I was topper and gold medalist ( this again at a sacrifice of general awareness  and sole focus on medical science. I attribute my academic excellence to the challenge I took when my brother said that it’s tough to be topper in BMC). I got PG seat during my internship ( again the reason for this is a challenge I took when I was told by my brother that it’s impossible to get pg seat by anyone who does internship seriously. I had a bet that I will do internship seriously and also get a seat simultaneously) and did MS ( obstetrics and gynaecology) from Karnataka Institute of medical sciences ,Hubli 2007-2010 batch. I have done post graduate diploma in medical law and ethics from national law school of India University, am certified in diabetology, advanced certification in palliative care from Indian association of Palliative care and certified in fetal ultrasound from fetal imaging academy of India. I have worked as assistant professor in Vydehi institute of medical sciences 2010-2011, assistant professor in Sri Devraj Urs academy of higher education and research, Kolar 2011-2013 , assistant professor in Vinayaka mission medical college, Salem 2013-2015, and as a private practitioner at my own clinic from 2015 till date. 

Turning point

I got married to Dr Venkatesha V, who was then assistant commissioner of income tax in 2013. With his interaction, my father realised that he was wrong in his assumption of UPSC selection process. Since my work at Salem was very light and my husband’s UPSC preparation books were at home, I started reading it to enrich my knowledge. My father had multiple myeloma ( a kind of cancer). I had written a book “Practical cases in obstetrics and gynaecology” and after its release, my father asked me to write civil service exam as he felt that it was his misguidance that made me halt in that direction and  moreover I had achieved almost everything in my profession. So, I wanted to seriously prepare. But, where was I to have a chance when younger generation are competing and I was so ignorant with no touch of newspaper and current affairs for over 15 years? 
I began with reading newspapers ( I could not understand many things as I had a total loss of contact with present outside world other than Medical field), NCERT books and textbooks like Ramesh Singh, history books of Ramachandra Guha. I started loving the subjects. I could not write ( though my preparation was not good ) in 2014 and 2015 due to many familial and professional issues. However, I became very serious after writing 2016 prelims ( which I did not qualify). I had to fulfill my father’s dream as he was dead already, I did not have luxury of time with upper limit of age nearing, all other professional work/ achievements could wait and I realised that there is no glory in just saying that I want to write the exam unless I crack it. In short, I could say that my failure in 2016 with a couple of marks was an eye opener. 


It is an exam of intelligence, perseverance, sacrifice and utmost dedication. This sloka aptly conveys what is needed for an aspirant of UPSC:

Kaaka chesta, bako dhyanam, swana nidra thataiva cha
alparahaari, gruhatyagi vidyaarthi pancha lakshanam

(Following are five attributes of a student
activity like crow, concentration of a crane, sleep of a dog, minimal food intake and sacrificing familial bondages.)

I had a different way of reading till my postgraduation: reading without distraction, writing notes, revising every other day etc. However, I had to find out a different way now as I had a naughty son of 3 years age. I therefore used online lectures, reading in PDFs, reading in between patients visits, reading while walking, etc. I have not wasted a single second from 2016 prelims till my interview date other than for 8 hours sleep. I had an integrated way of studying for prelims and mains till April 2017 after which I spent a month for exclusive prelims preparation.

These are the books I read and revised:
NCERT 6-12 social studies
NCERT 6-10 science, 11 and 12 biology
NCERT 6-10 mathematics for CSAT
Geography- NCERT, Majid Hussain, ms. rajtanil video on
History: spectrum India’ struggle for independence , NCERT, Tamil nadu 11 and 12, ( casual reading Ramachandra Guha India after Gandhi), world history: Norman Lowe, Pratik Nayak lectures on
Art and culture – Book by Nitin Singhania, IGNOU notes, fine arts NCERT, Mrunal lectures
Polity- Laxmikant
Economy- Ramesh Singh, economic survey, Mrunal lectures
Yojana and kurukshetra ( I had followed from 2015) 
Science and technology- ( I read nothing. Only current affairs)
Environment- Shankar IAS book
Ethics- Lexicon, 2nd ARC 
The Hindu

Studyiq burning topics playlists for interview
Byjus videos
Medical science lectures
( I am not recommending it to you just because I did.  I had used them as I had to fill my treadmill time, travelling time, professional time listening to something useful for the exam. )


It’s always better to take test series. I had messed up my CET (post 12th) by serially marking against a different question. I did not want it to happen again and therefore enrolled to clearias and Insight test series. I would go though explanations and keep revising. I used feeding time for my child for test series where I would feed in one hand and answer in another. So next day, same schedule would be my revision. I would hear Mrunal lectures while traveling, exercising, doing household chores and even bathing. This slot was taken by studyiq lectures after mains. The reason I am writing this is just to emphasize that we need to convert adversities into opportunities. For CSAT, I had my notes of commonly asked  pattern of questions and read them in the lunch break. I started mains preparation the very next day as I was sure of being selected.

shubhamangala IAS
shubhamangala IAS
Tips for prelims:
1. Give at least 2 test series. I relied mainly on Insights mocks. 
2. Focus on weak areas.
3. Some intelligent exclusions may be needed ( only, always etc would be mostly wrong)
4. See question correctly, whether they are asking correct/ incorrect options
5. Darken the circle in correct question sequence
6. Don’t skip sleep and food
7. Keep all materials, pens, hall ticket beforehand
8. Stay positive
9. Don’t waste time after prelims, start off the very next day

I wrote 15 essays after prelims (from Insights Mains Test Series papers) within time limit and got it evaluated by my husband. He gave  valuable inputs that I incorporated in writing next. I followed weekly essays of insights and saw how other candidates wrote which helped me too.

Some tips
1. Select a topic you can write in varied dimensions and not the one you perceive not many would choose and assume that you would get upper hand due to it. 
2. Spend 5-10 minutes figuring out what they expect? Read and re read the topic in hindi as well as in English
3. Structure the essay in rough format 
4. Have an attractive introduction and meaningful conclusion
5. Be original
6. Stay simply. There is no need for complicated language. 
7. Write legibly without spelling or grammatical mistakes
8. Have paragraphs with a link between each
9. Highlight important things
10. Use varied dimensions
11. Be positive
12. Give equal time for both essays
13. Use quotes( if known properly) or else prepare some for common areas
14. Do write some essays especially if you have lost touch with it like how I had.

General studies:

As I had done reading textbooks for prelims, I did not want to do it again. I had read an article by Dr Artika on Insightsonindia where she had appreciated secure initiative. So I thought of exploring it. I took print outs of secure synopsis from January 2016 till August 2017 (almost 1. 5 years) and read only that in the time between prelims and mains. I was not aware of vision IAS material (current affairs, PT or Mains 365 things)  till my interaction with other candidates during mock interviews. I have studied them too (during interview preparation) and I feel that they are good if you know answer writing. Secure synopsis is like ready-to-use-therapeutic-food. 
In addition to the books and website mentioned above, I just madly revised secure synopsis.
I had heard in Mrunal lectures on mains writing ( also with my experience as an examiner for MBBS) that following are important:
1. Decent handwriting
2. Writing an introduction ( definition, or facts or just anything relevant if you cannot find the other two way of doing) and an optimistic/futuristic conclusion.
3. Read question twice to understand what they want 
4. Writing in points
5. Underline important things to catch examiner’s attention
6. Diagrams, diagrams, and diagrams
7. I even used some quotes 
8. Time management so that all questions are attempted.

GS -4

I had lots of hopes in this paper. I perceive that Insight initiative on ethics (70 Days Plan) was useful while writing the paper.  I used quotes ( if relevant), wrote in points, attempted case studies first as they need logical conclusions. I used my experience in life and knowledge gained in PGDMLE too. However, marks is not great that I got. So, I suggest you to follow others who have got better marKs. 

Optional: medical science

I did not think of other optionals. Once my husband had asked me to consider anthropology as it’s highly scoring. I, however, said that if medical science does not hold my hand in this exam, then this exam is not worthy of me. I cant imagine my life without medical science in it. Since, I prepared for a short time and I had so much to study in other subjects, I read Medical science only after prelims. I might have given it a total of 10 days. I hold to the fact that my foundation was very strong, I just needed a brush up in spite of a really long gap of 11 years from actual studies. I never had to study obstetrics and gynaecology too. I might have studied more than 300 medical books till now and 100 would be in obstetrics and gynaecology itself. These were not story book kind of reading but serious studies with actual remembering of stuff. However, in spite of writing good, my marks is 303/500 (which is far far less than what I deserve)  and that makes me uncomfortable about marking pattern. 

I, anyway, still recommend medical science to people with that background. Reading UG books would suffice. Add lots of diagrams and of course write in points. 

In month of July, my son had a surgery. He was comfortable only when I would carry him entire day. I could not read as others do for an entire month. I, however, would plug in an earphone and listen to some of those lectures I have mentioned including medical science subjects. I did not sleep for half a month as he needed my conscious presence at night. I was a bit anxious about my performance in exam but I had to find some way out. I finished off Yojana and kurukshetra (2015 onwards) in those  nights as they are very light to carry and study. My son would tear off papers in those days and I had shortage of time to prepare notes. On 27th July, I was worried about how to do medical science subjects. Even if I would study them before exam, I was wondering how would I revise with such bulky books that can’t be carried.  I was reading pre  and para clinical subjects at my clinic. I had known none to ask for the notes which could help me day before exam for revision. On 27th night when I slept, I just said myself just “BELIEVE IN YOUR CAPACITY”. I thought of my struggle in life. I thought of how luck had favoured me when my intentions were good. I just said that ” I have a goal – a plan to enter civil service which had no self interest involved in it. If my desire was true, somehow universe will conspire and help me”. I was shocked the very next day, i.e, 28th July, to see a doctor and topper Parikshit Zade put his notes in insightsonindia. This is just one example to tell how everything and everyone is responding to your vibrations. If you are honest and selfless in your motives, I can assure that nature/God/ unknown power will assist you with miracles. I  have experienced many such in my professional life. Though I read main textbooks, I used Dr Parikshit notes to read in PDF format in times when I could not carry/ access my bulky books as well as for revising. 

dr shubhamangala IAS

General tips of mains exam: 

1. Sleep well.
2. Eat moderately
3. Take energy boosters like dark chocolate or milkshakes for munching in lunch break
4. Take good quality pens and other writing accessories. Keep in a kit with hall ticket just in case you forget in exam tension
5. Have a writing pad as you can’t know quality of benches in the exam hall
6. Don’t even listen to what others are talking around you expecting some questions or discussing how knowledgeable they are before entering in the hall
7. Do some deep breathing before starting off.

Compulsory language:

I chose Kannada in spite of not having it in school ( we had hindi, English and sanskrit) . I just had a knowledge of words and reading. I would write poems in Kannada but they were a kind of sanskritised Kannada. I regret choosing it sometimes as I could have gone for hindi. But, I thought someone would help me in Kannada though it never happened. My husband had a doubt that I could be an epic fail by not clearing it. I became very serious about it too. I would read 15 minutes everyday for last one month. Some essay book in Kannada was there at home with topics of relevance to UPSC. I read Kannada Yojana too. I wrote a small paragraph on the day prior to exam just to realise that I could write the script. I was more tensed in that exam than all others put together. Luckily, essay on demonetisation was there and I had read a Yojana with same content. 

Preparation for personality test:

After writing mains, I was very sure of being called for personality test. I started preparing on my DAF. Orientation classes at insightsonindia by Mr. Vinay and at  Dr Raj Academy convinced me that I would get through it with good marks as it was personality test and not a question & answer session. I came to know about a platform called studyiq. I used to listen to it’s current affairs videos to develop content as well as have a stand on any issue. I participated in many mock interview at Bangalore as I did not want to have any disadvantage of not attending mocks at Delhi. My interactions with aspirants was very useful. I was like a blotting paper ready to absorb any content/ knowledge I would get from them. I have felt bad for some who did not make it this time inspite of being serious candidates. Well , this exam is unpredictable but it brings out best out of you.

Tips for personality test:

1. Be true . Don’t fake things you never did in DAF
2. Have confidence
3. Knowledge is anyway there due to vigorous process of studies involved in it
4. Brush up your graduation subjects
5. Have doubts, try to question why things are the way they are and try to find answers
6. Prepare on your optional
7. Do a thorough preparation on each and every word in your DAF.  I had may be around 200 + questions they could ask about my DAF
8. Wear sober, formal dress and more importantly be comfortable in them
9. Don’t have bias towards any panel. I did not even see the name board of chairperson before I entered the chamber
10. Don’t lie
11. Develop your personality if you find any issue pointed out at mocks
12. Accept your ignorance. Not Just in mocks, but in life. There is nothing wrong in telling you don’t know but will try to. I have many times accepted this in front of my patients and they trust me a lot due to it when I say I may need help of someone who knows more.
13. This is just an interaction, don’t go inside hall linking it with your rank or future, don’t answer to please anyone, and don’t link the marks you get with your personality.
14. They are human. They are elders. You believe that you are a better human and a better youth.

There are few things which people keep asking me after results
1. How could you do while working?
2. How could you at 33-34 years ?
3. How could you when you had a child ?
4. How could you without coaching?
5. Why should you leave your job?

Preparation while working:

I am yet to meet a person who would say they keep continuously working in their job time. As far as I know depending on the institution, there is 10-30percent of time lost in chatting, grumbling, and working below the actual capacity. I had learnt to save time from 2012 when I could write an entire book inspite of having a very busy schedule just by saving those non productive time. I would read in the time between seeing patients, while traveling, and of course in whatever time I had in actual leisure. Doing work gave me personal, professional and  economic satisfaction in addition to motivating  me to work for welfare  of our disadvantaged women irrespective of their economic status.However, if you feel uncomfortable in preparing during work, it’s better to take a break.

Preparing at 33 years age

For me age is just a number. I never felt I can’t compete with people who are in twenties. I had my reasons for starting late and it’s not that I have done nothing till now or was hibernating. I was youngest one in my batch to enter PG. I am youngest person to have authored an entire textbook in obstetrics and gynaecology. So, that kept me not even consider age as a factor. However, inspite of qualifying in prelims in marks that could have made me through unreserved list, I could not available due to age factor. That’s the only disadvantage I see now in that.

How I could study with a child? 

Studying with a child is challenging. I could not or rather would not leave him without my presence just for sake of preparation of this exam. He tore my paper, I found ways of reading PDF. Just 15 days prior to prelims were his first days in school. I would wait under a tree and answer test series as teachers would ask me anytime to come and  take him home as he would cry. I never even had a bit of doubt that it would affect my performance. I believe that being a mother gave me more strength and determination to work for happiness of other disadvantaged kids of our country. He is my philosopher and guide. For example,
1. He said once, ” you don’t know anything about Gandhi, we need not dress like him to be him. I can be Gandhi even in jeans”. I learnt to shed stereotypes and shed superficial preferences and work.
2. He woke me up and said on a morning” mamma it’s morning!”   I said “so what?”. He said that I should thank Sun for giving us light. I learnt to be grateful for all I have not to mourn for things that are not mine.
3. ” Mamma, don’t worry. Wait for sometime, everything will be fine”. I learnt to give time, sometime to correct everything in life.
4. Most recent, I was sad after release of marks. I spoke to my husband saying that chances of Karnataka cadre are gone and mostly it’s Maharashtra. Though my son doesn’t know what it’s all about but as he saw me very sad, he said ” Maharashtra also good Amma”. 

I can’t ask more. I don’t allow the thought of higher marks or better rank in case he was more cooperative to enter my mind. I just want to be good mother not only for him but for all people whom I would serve now on. Yet for people who have luxury of caretakers or familial support, do stay away from children and prepare if you can. I heard of Mrs.Anu Kumari achieve a laudable rank two by being away from her child. So that could be a better option.

How to prepare without coaching?

I have never taken tuitions or coaching in my life so I would not have thought of it for civil service exam. With overflowing knowledge due to digital era, I consider nobody should feel disadvantaged of not going to it either due to professional, financial or personal reasons. I am ignorant of necessity of coaching for people opting subjects other than their graduation subjects so excuse me for that.

Why would you leave your highly lucrative job?

First, my father wanted me to enter civil service. I am not a person who would have done anything just out of emotions or love. I analysed that anyway I had lived my profession well so moving away was actually ok to explore a new field. However, there were doubts. I was well established in career and if not for preparation for this exam, I would have been a professor in another six months. The path I chose would make me a junior in front of people who are may be even ten years younger. I knew that I could probably not be elevated above joint secretary level. I never had doubts on whether I could get a decent rank but had doubts on the way chosen at this juncture. It was in those time that my beloved father of nation helped me out. His talisman has guided me throughout my life when I was in doubt. ” Will the step you take help the poorest and weakest man you have seen?’

I found “yes” as answer in civil service and “no” in obstetrics and gynaecology so it vanished my ambivalence.

For people who have not made it through list:

Try, try again.

For people who think they can’t:

Karat karat abhyas te, jaDmati hot sujaan;
Rasari aavat jaat te, sil par parat nisaan.
with frequent trials even a dull minded person can become genius in the same way as frequent friction of rope on rock can leave it’s impression

For people who exhausted the age/ attempt limit:

Civil service is not the only way to serve nation or even thinking hedonistic way, to earn livelihood. There are innumerable ways to live happily and stay satisfied. Sweat of our farmers and labourers make more of India than the inks of bureaucrats. There is dignity in every job done ethically.

For people made it to the list:

Let go of the ego or feeling of achievement. This has just given a rank and a place to work. There are thousands and lakhs who never decided to compete with us, so we  have won. Everything will vanish so will this glory. Number of people who succeed, smile or may be even just live due to us  and what’s written on our epitaph would be determining our actual achievement. 

At this juncture, I thank all the souls who helped me knowingly or unknowingly. I thank my father for starting this fire in me, teaching me unconditional love and how to hug death with dignity. I thank my mother for the assistance in getting my foundation right. I thank my little philosopher ( son). I thank my husband for his critical evaluation of my tests that helped me not only improve my handwriting but also my scores in addition to being a lovable and understanding husband. I thank for another person who like Dronacharya never even knew his disciple and in my case, I never knew him too. I am talking about Vinay sir whose insight platform helped someone like me to realise my dream.

I sincerely believe in these words and it keeps me going on in my journey:

” Strength is life,
Weakness is death” 
Swami Vivekananda

You can contact in case these have not vanished your doubts or motivated you or may be even for medical support at this mail id: