Print Friendly, PDF & Email

TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Srushti Jayant Deshmukh – Rank 5 – UPSC CSE 2018, Religious follower of Insights Initiatives (Especially Secure), Ethics Marks 124, Total 470 Marks in GS Papers!


Srushti Jayant Deshmukh

Rank 5 UPSC CSE 2018

Religious follower of All Insights Initiatives (Especially Secure),

Ethics Marks 124

Srushti Jayant Deshmukh Rank 5 IASThe evening of 5th April was the longest, happiest and greatest evening that I ever experienced. That moment of seeing my name in the coveted list among top ranks, changed a lot of things in my life. My past life was re written.. My opinions suddenly gained weight.. My efforts were appreciated… I saw 101 missed calls on my phone in 4 hrs.. and I got a chance to see myself on YouTube… ūüôā

Day before the result,¬† I was reading the answer to that question on quora. “How did you spend the first 24hrs after result?” Many¬†had written, that they could sleep peacefully that night.. To me, it was absolutely opposite. The talkative mind of this introvert, had an ocean of happiness,¬†waves of questions¬† and breeze¬† of satisfaction.¬† No matter how much you read about it, your experience is gonna be different and unique.

Moving away from these recollections, the beauty of UPSC exam is that it transforms you into so much of a better person. More Aware.. more Responsible… more Concerned.. more Sensitive.. more Disciplined… more Tolerant¬† and more Curious…All in All..a better YOU.. where all your¬† capacities are utilized to the fullest.

I am not following the usual format of Pre, Mains, Interview. I am sharing with you an integrated view  for your entire preparation. For me, specially the mental preparation and proper management did half the work. 

Now, I am from Madhya Pradesh ( though native to Maharashtra) and we aspirants are fond of Mnemonics so I will divide my 2 bits of strategy into 2 Ms and 2 Ps. I hope that it adds some little things to your preparation.


In this day and age of internet, time flies away. Productivity was an issue for me specially because I prepared along with my college. So to take out max output from my efforts, I did everything to squeeze out time and utilise it.

1. Step first is to find out where your time goes . I used SAVE MY TIME APP  to have a record of what all activities eat up my time. Every time I unlocked my phone, it asked me whether I ate, was doing chores,  Studying,  Sleeping or traveling. You could use it to track your time spent among subjects also. 

2. Next step is to utilise your time correctly. I used to read THE HINDU while commuting back and forth from my college. Devise your own timetable to suit  your personal need.

3. Apart from time,¬† your¬† energy too needs to be conserved and channelised in right direction. I avoided major fatigue while out in college as I knew I had to go back and learn. Some BIG sacrifices we make (as they appear to us that time) like not attending friend’s parties, social gatherings, wedding functions etc really help in long run.

Because its not about those 2 hrs or 3 days that we spend, but about the planning we do before and the videos that keep playing in our minds after that… ūüôā


It is the gist of technical part and knowledge we gain for giving the exam. I kept a copy of syllabus on my table all  the time and prepared notes on different sections. I tried to arrange them properly.  This helps us to correctly track how much we know and provides a sense of completion.

CURRENT AFFAIRS was the first pillar of my preparation. 
1. Newspapers helped me to learn about things and understand issues deeply as they develop. It allows us to build our own opinions as we screen through contradicting viewpoints on editorial  pages on different days.
I preferred making my own notes as I could categorize things based on pre.. mains related etc. Mains oriented notes were divided into social, polity, economic,  international relations,  environment etc. Monthly magazine of Vision added final touches to my prep.

2. I subscribed to PIB feed where schemes, data of performance,  briefings are covered well.  You need not read every news but expertise on deciding will come with time. 

3. RSTV and its programme like the BIG PICTURE,¬† INDIA’S WORLD etc. Really helped me to know issues Well. I also listened sometimes to the Programme News Analysis on News on AIR. This too is really helpful.¬†

4. Becoming a little curious while you read current affairs will help you to cover major static portions along with it. Part of learning national parks, environment section, geography, economic concepts of budget- trade, great personalities etc can be covered by doing a little research side by side.

5. I read articles mentioned in SECURE INITIATIVE and that helped me to cover good thoughts from different sources. 

ANSWER WRITING and TESTS were the second pillar of my preparation.

1. I wrote answers for questions given in Insights SECURE. Around 3-4 daily, and uploaded them here for comparison¬† with fellow aspirants. Incidentally we are unable to make out mistakes in our answers but do it pretty well in other’s.

Utilise this tendency to learn as much as you can and get as much upvotes as you can… ūüôā

  1. Add some salt to your answers apart from usual framework of intro, body and conclusion. You can use Data, Indices, International reports, Diagrams,  Flowcharts etc to add authenticity and variety. 
  2. Try and experiment with the structure of your answers. Closely follow the KEYWORDS mentioned and the Tailword like analyze, Examine etc. This thing will. Come with practice so keep writing and learning.  
  3. Tests help you to judge yourself, manage your preparation and simulate the real exam. I used to attempt daily tests mcqs on insights and other websites for practice. Getting close to exam I solved tests of different subjects and worked on my weakness. I also focused on analysing my mistakes whether it was a knowledge gap or over risk.. or inappropriate  application. Every institute or coaching has its own flavor of questions. So add variety and take help from everywhere you can.Coming to Mains..
    Initially don’t¬† press yourself for timing.¬† It will eventually come. I bought a stopwatch to tackle timing thing. Work on the structure of your answers and then fill the gaps with salt. Focus on feedback that you get for your answers. I found that the more organized my notes were and the more answers I wrote..¬† the better my answers got.First M – MOTIVATIONYou can be your critic while you check your answers but when you get up in the morning, be your Best Friend. Tell yourself that¬† you can make it under all circumstances – Come Hell or High water.

    Surround yourself with positive people that motivate you, tell you why you can make it and are with you regardless of your results. For me it was my parents, the family I lived with and a couple of very close friends. 

    Power of Music 

    The YouTube channel FEARLESS MOTIVATION was my one stop source for getting motivated. Those audio clips really gave me a boost. Motivational songs like Whatever it takes by Imagine Dragons or songs from Dangal and Lakshya were there in my playlist.

The best thing about UPSC prep is that we can get motivated by the very facts that we learn. Try and internalize the things you study in your mind. When you do this, you wake up every morning not just to clear this exam,¬† but also to do something for that ‘child’, the ‘girl’, the ‘environment’.. etc. Be moved by what you study and the impact you can make on society. That will be your best source of motivation.

Second M – MINDSET

The journey is no doubt grueling, but ITS POSSIBLE. This one thing has to be kept in mind throughout your Preparation. 

There will be times when you feel you cant make it, but you have to be stubborn enough to continue being a¬†strong contender. And that is where you should¬† remember that …
” There’s nothing more powerful than a Human being with a Purpose “

In the 21st century, this is a war we can fight for our purpose,  ambition and society. These lines by  SUN TZU can be helpful. 
” Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, Defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win… “

So take enough mock tests, simulate exam environment and sharpen your weapons.

Finally, this one thought of Swami Vivekanandji was with me all throughout..

” Take up one idea. Make that idea your life. Think of it, Dream of it, Live on that idea.¬† Let your brain, your muscles, every part of your body, be full of that idea and leave every other idea alone…
That is the way to success”

I  believe single minded Focus,  Consistent efforts,  Right strategy and Firm Belief in Your own self can help you sail through..!!

P.S.   I apologize for taking more than a month to share my views. But I was drowned in wishes and took time to comprehend my journey. 

I scored 105 in PRELIMS, where I made it, but was in doubt. I never felt really confident in Prelims and scored around 90-110 in tests. I feel the most important is your presence of mind during the exam. In the heat of June, I almost felt my head would burn up. So keep yourself hydrated and tell your heart all is well. It is those 3-4 questions,  which might determine your selection. 

I am attaching my Mains Marksheet. I scored poor in Essay. But it was General studies that brought me where I came. Sociology optional played a good supporting role.  In GS 4, I was never really confident, but it was there that I scored highest. That is the beauty of UPSC exam.  
Srushti jayant deshmukh IAS insights

So Give your Best and Forget the rest.