UPSC 2019 Topper Shishir Gupta’s Strategy for IAS (UPSC CSE) Exam (AIR 50) Without Coaching

Updated On -

Mar 1, 2021

Sudeshna Bhar's profile photo

Sudeshna Bhar

Exams Prepmaster

Shishir Gupta gave his first attempt for IAS UPSC CSE Exam in 2016. Instead of heaving health issues, he cleared the IAS Prelims in his first attempt.

In his second attempt, in 2017, Shishir cleared both his preliminary and mains examination. In the interview round, he was subjected to a stress test and it didn’t go well as he expected. But unfortunately, he was unable to clear the Civil Service Preliminary Examination 2018.

Then he deceived not to spend too much time on 20% of the syllabus that is exceptionally hard. Instead, he prepared the rest 80% so thoroughly that he did not miss a single question from the portion. He was confident of 450 out of the 500 marks in his optional papers.

Another unique strategy was that he spent 10 - 15 minutes every day in front of a map, noting places and features in his mind. He also picked up more obscure topics asked every year in different UPSC exams such as CSE, NDA, CAPF-AC, etc. and made data tables.

Key Strategy for IAS UPSC CSE Exam

  • The last 2 months before prelims, the sole focus should be shifted from the IAS Mains exam to Prelims
  • There are topper’s answer papers available online. While practising answer writing, the toppers' papers must be studied. For example, diagrams, flow charts, should be included.
  • Data should be included in any answer to substantiate the answer, especially governmental reports such as NITI reports, economics service, which are preferable.
  • Direct quotations from governmental reports should be included in the answer writing.
  • Micro diagrams, Maps, should be used extensively not only in economics or geography but also in history, international security, disaster management.
  • Use the Indian map in every way possible for every General Studies section.
  • From the IAS (UPSC CSE) Syllabus, make a chart of key terms and note down the definition of each term. This will help to cover the basics of the entire syllabus.
Current Affairs

Current Affairs for Prelims and Mains Exam

In 2016, when Shishir Gupta made his first attempt, the first realization was, 70% of the questions were from current affairs and current events. UPSC maintains a balance. Therefore, 50% of the questions are asked from current affairs. If anyone prepares the current affairs properly, it increases the chances of clearing the Prelims exam.

The current affairs need not be studied very minutely for the prelims. Read the important sections and only an overview of the news are required.

Apart from that, make a list of global bodies because every year, there are at least 2 - 3 questions asked from global bodies. There are lots of questions asked from the banking section regarding RBI circulars, the latest governmental policies etc.

Read more Current Affairs Preparation Tips for IAS (UPSC CSE) 2021

Study Materials

Primary Study Materials for IAS(UPSC CSE) Exam

Here is a list of books that Shashi Gupta used during his IAS (UPSC CSE) Exam Prelims and Mains exam.

Sections Name of Books Authors/ Publishers
Modern History A Brief History of Modern India Spectrum Bipin Chandra Rajiv Ahir
Polity Indian Polity - For Civil Services and Other State Examinations Lakhmi Kant
Environment Environment By Shankar Shankar
Economics SRIRAM IAS Economic Partt 1 & Part 2 -
For all sections NCERT Books of Class 9, 10, 11, & 12 Old NCERT & New NCERT

Check Top Books for IAS UPSC CSE Exam

Youtube Channel for IAS (UPSC CSE) Exam

  • Mrunal Patel’s videos IAS videos are crucial for both IAS Prelims and general Studies papers for the IAS Mains exam.
  • For General Awareness, PRASHANT DHAWAN’s Study IQ videos are essential to follow on a daily basis. The locations in the video also can be practised while practising maps.
  • There is another channel named OnlyIAS which covers continent-wide physical features.

Online Youtube Videos for UPSC CSE Exam


Strategy for Geography Section

For geography, make a list of the type of soils to study the pattern of the main soils and the features thoroughly.

Fix a time when you will practice the Map and will memorize the important places of both India and the world. The names of places which already have been faced in the exam, mark them on the map and try to practice them as well.

Strategy For Polity

  • Government Websites must be thoroughly observed because the latest governmental updates will be there without any sort of modifications. The latest modifications in the constitution can be found there as well.
  • There will be at least 1 - 2 questions from Mains bodies such as constitutional bodies, statutory bodies, etc. For this candidates can use Laxmi Kant or online websites as well.
  • Fundamental Rights, DPSP, Fundamental Duties, - must be studied thoroughly.

Here are more tips on IAS (UPSC CSE) Polity and governance

Static Section for UPSC CSE Mains

This section must be thoroughly covered. Even the current affair on static is also very crucial.

Art and Culture for UPSC IAS CSE Mains and Prelims

Most of the candidates face various types of problems in this section. For beginners, NCERT would be the best source of study. Ancient Indian History by RS Sharma has also been helpful to him. Art and Culture Lucent Objective books are a very detailed source of study. At least one revision is mandatory for the IAS UPSC CSE Mains exam.

Some important topics such as Bhakti women, Buddhism, Jainism, temples and architecture etc are asked frequently but not in-depth. The major tribes, different passes in India, the mountain passes, different states and the water bodies, the latest and classic book lists of major authors, international organizations’ which comes often in the news etc, are extremely important to be covered. At least 2 - 3 times of revision is required for Prelims.

Ethics for IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains

It is a make or breaks section of the IAS UPSC CSE exam. Terminology is very important. The terms mentioned in the syllabus should be revised at least 4 - 5 times before the IAS mains exam.

The ethics paper is totally different from the other three General Studies papers. Here, presenting the answer will signify the ethical side of one’s character. There will be case studies and other mindsets, the responses to other cases, which can be studied with the help of Anuvab Sharma’s Ethics course and test series.

According to Shashi Gupta, the point of view is very important for the Ethics paper. Anuvab Sharma’s teaching strategy and points of view along with the test series were very accommodating for him.

Check IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains 2021 Preparation Strategy for General Studies Paper IV

Mathematics Optional Paper

He chooses Mathematics as an optional subject because he was very comfortable with it and he also cracked the JEE exam. The crucial understanding is that one cannot cover the entire syllabus of any competitive exam. Therefore, make an effort to cover at least 80 - 90% of the syllabus and previous it thoroughly.

By following this way, 450 marks can easily be answered and the excess time will be invested in the GS papers. The notes of the IMS Coaching can be practised for the Mathematics optional subject.

The topics which were not covered by the IMS coaching can be counterbalanced by using books such as Mechanics And Fluid Dynamics by Krishna Series and various test series.

Prepare IAS UPSC CSE Mathematics Optional

Interview Experience

IAS Interview Experience

Shishir Gupta was selected for the Interview round twice in his 4 attempts. In the latest interview, which was scheduled amidst the COVID 19 pandemic, the experience was totally different. Throughout the interview, everyone inside the room was wearing a Face-Shield and mask.

There were many external factors that caused the problem in his case. Due to wearing a mask and spectacles, the visibility level was very low and the authorities were also wearing masks and noise pollution in the neighbourhood, he also faced hearing problems.

Start IAS (UPSC CSE) Interview Preparation today.

There will be various difficulties in the interview round which will not be in the candidate’s hand, yet they must stay calm and smart. IAS (UPSC CSE) exam is not just any exam, it will bring out the best version of any candidate.

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.