My UPSC Journey: From Despair to Destiny

By | May 16, 2018

The best things in life don’t come easy.

Sometime in February 2016, UPSC declared that I had failed in the Civil Services Examination. That was my fourth attempt and third failure. The result didn’t seem as bad then, convinced as I was of my own supreme ability and UPSC’s blatant bias. My inner voice immediately went about searching for excuses. “I must have flunked the language paper. Or some clerical mistake? Surely I must have been wronged!

I eagerly looked forward to my marksheet, mostly to confirm my own prejudice. When the marksheet finally arrived, the scores read as follows, starting with marks in Essay: 100,74,66,91,68,75,91. A grand total of 565, way behind the cutoff. If there were an individual cut off for each paper, I would have probably failed in all of them.

Thus at the end of four gruelling attempts and five years of toil, there I was. I get my worst result in the year I had worked the most. In that moment, the marks didn’t seem so bad— I knew I had failed that year anyway. What difference does a marksheet make?

But like a potent poison slowly making its way to my head, it was only in the hours and days later, I could truly grasp the scale of my defeat. I didn’t just miss the cut, I was nowhere near the competition. My failure was undeniable and total, and it shook me to the core.

Most of us begin our Civils preparation treating it only as an exam. But slowly and surely, as we face hurdles and endure suffering, the exam takes center stage and getting through it becomes our only objective. So when we are defeated in this exam, we almost feel defeated at life. And so it was with me.

The failure crept inward into other aspects of my being. It eroded my drive, confidence and morale. Both professionally and personally, I turned indifferent and underconfident. My day to day life became lethargic, timid and was one of mere existence— I was a walking dead man. And within no time, I unconsciously fell into the most crushing of traps: I was convinced that I am not good enough.

This is the sinking feeling every failed aspirant goes through. No one comes into the preparation thinking of giving this exam twice. That is why for many of us, first failure comes across as shocking, the second humbling and the third absolutely devastating. I was indeed devastated.

At that point in 2016, for me to give another attempt was to risk another failure, and I couldn’t afford it. I wanted to save whatever little confidence that was left in me. I simply didn’t have the courage to carry on, and I knew I had hit a dead end. Within days, I decided to quit. I packed my papers, bundled my books, cleaned my shelves and dumped them in an obscure corner just so that I don’t even accidentally catch the sight of them— for they represented symbols of my inadequacy and collapse.

From that abyss, it took me a couple of months to recover. I realised that life was slowly drifting away, and I didn’t want to standby as a mere spectator. I focussed on work, learnt taxation laws, pursued my interests diligently and took up meditation as a hobby. In meditation, you train your mind to see things clearly. And I did begin to see things clearly.

I realised that I was so absorbed in this relentless exam cycle that I didn’t recognise my own hubris. For all my failures, I kept blaming UPSC, the examiner, my optional, my pen, the clerk entering the marks on the system— everything and everyone apart from me.

Blaming UPSC or someone else only gave me a false sense of satisfaction, made me feel good about myself, and did not in anyway help my cause. Thus, instead of wallowing in self-pity and victimhood, I decided to own up to my failures and accepted that I failed because I didn’t deserve. Once I had accepted this, the inner voice that was so adamantly justifying my failings simply faded away.

The break helped me see that my failure was not that I couldn’t clear in previous attempts, but that I had learnt nothing from it. Year after year I kept repeating the same mistakes. I toiled hard, but hardly made any progress: I was running on a ground that was fast shifting beneath me.

*****

In December 2016, eight months after my debacle, I sat down to think hard and think deep to understand why I failed. It was not an exercise to avenge my defeat, I just wanted to know why.

Prelims couldn’t have been a problem— I always got a good score. Personality test was ruled out too: in the only interview I had given, I got 204. The conclusion was inevitable— I sucked at Mains. It stood like an impenetrable wall against which I had been hitting my head all these years. So I drilled deeper to diagnose my problem.

I downloaded toppers’ answer booklets and invested endless hours going through them. After a while, one thing became evident: Their answers weren’t in any way extraordinary (If you see my answers now, you’d realise the same). I zeroed in on the fact that it wasn’t because of lack of knowledge, and that my failings lay elsewhere.

My optional scores were a big problem too. I’ve always felt my optional Public Administration was treated unfairly. But this time I faulted no one, and I had to do something about it.

In Jan 2017, I decided to take up Anthropology. It was a bold decision: I hardly had 9 months to prepare an entirely new subject. On the other hand, I loved Anthro and it ignited my spirits and breathed intellectual fire into my otherwise dull preparation cycle.

Against that thick, impenetrable wall in front of me, now I had a small chisel. The challenge was daunting, but I kept reminding myself a quote from the film Shawshank Redemption: “Time and pressure. That’s all it really takes.”

I’ve always believed that Sports represent a microcosm of our lives and I’ve taken inspiration from many athletes. Roger Federer’s resurgence in 2017 couldn’t have come at a better time. I kept telling myself: After being written off by everyone, if he could come back and win it at 36, why can’t I?

*****

In July 2017, I enrolled at the ForumIAS academy for GS and Essay mains test series (online mode) and wrote my first test on 26-08-2017. I timed the clock, took the test from my home and wrote all answers at my usual writing speed. In a paper I took 3 hr 42 minutes to finish, I scored 87. The problem was clear as daylight.

I didn’t lose heart but worked to improve. The next test took me 3 hr 20 min; and finally by the end of 4th test, I could finish my papers within 3 hours.

The comments and assessment on my test series papers were incredibly helpful. I worked on their feedback to improve my answer content and presentation. Also, during this time I came across answer booklets of Prajit Nair (AIR-87, CSE 2016) and they were absolute gold. I adapted my writing style based on his answers. Points over paragraphs, simplicity over sophistication. Overtime, I’ve learnt to put dense, quality content in fewer words and tighter sentences.

All through this rigorous exercise, my aim was not to clear the exam with a top rank (it never really occurred to me), but to prove a point to myself that I am not a loser at this exam. The battle was intensely personal.

And so I practised and practised hard. On workdays I used to take out at least 3 hrs for preparation, and on weekends I slogged by the sweat of my brow.

Just before my Mains exam in Oct 2017, securing a top rank was never on mind. The immediate, burning goal in front of me was only this: in those 3 hours, for those 20 questions, I’ll answer and answer them well.

Which I did. When I walked out of that examination hall on Nov 3, 2017, I knew I gave my best shot.

*****

When the final results were declared on April 27, 2018, the immediate feeling I had was one of overwhelming disbelief. No one expects to top the exam, especially after failing so many times.

It’s only after sometime that the gravity of the accomplishment finally sinks in. And when it did finally sink in for me, I was slowly overtaken by a feeling that was much more precious. The emotion wasn’t one of ecstasy, but one of contentment. It was a feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction that I had won this personal battle.

After my results, when I went back to my hometown, I had people who came up to me, pulled me close, cupped my face in their hands and told me that they are so overwhelmed with joy as if their own son has topped this exam. The happiness I sensed seeing their faces is much much more than what I had felt on the day of my results. And in that moment I told myself this: all the effort, all the pain and all the suffering was well worth it.

Today, at the end of my UPSC journey, I stand with a firm newfound belief: when you own your failures, you become a better person. And when you work hard to overcome them, you win. And win big.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

193 thoughts on “My UPSC Journey: From Despair to Destiny

  1. Priya rani

    Indeed..it was very helpful in understanding how to tackle failure and get back refreshed.
    Thank you so much….

    Reply
  2. Ramlal Sharma

    Sir I am really very very motivated from you and I will
    be trying follow your every guideline in preparation of UPSC exam but I am Hindi midium student startly.so please sir guide me through your website.Thanks sir

    Reply
      1. Venkatesh

        I am an diploma student. I am poor at history. I want to become ias.Now I want to study b.tech. is it necessary to concentrate on ias or academics?

        Reply
      2. Arish Javed khan

        ANUDEEP Bhaiya app ki Hindi bhut hi acchi hay😊

        Reply
  3. Madhulatha

    Thank you so much for coming forward to help ppl with you tips and guidance.

    Really inspired by you! Hope one day I will be working with you. Cheers ! Looking forward for your further updates.

    Reply
  4. Anuradha C

    Sir, yours is an extraordinary story – one that has fuelled me with inspiration. The inner turmoil you went through & your subsequent satisfaction post results, was palpable through the words you’ve penned so meticulously!
    We have something in common, our unflinching love & utmost reverence for Roger Federer (and Barcelona!!!). I hope that soon enough I can have another thing in common with you – a rank in CSE. Thank you for sharing your story. It’ll help so many aspirants out there who are battling their own demons everyday.
    And a huge huge congratulations once again! It’s an incredible achievement!!
    Looking forward to your blog – you write so well 🙂

    Reply
  5. Shivendu Mishra

    You are an inspiration to the youth. India needs such inspiration.😊

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    You proved that , Failure is the pillar of success . You’re such an inspiration . Your words really touched within.

    Reply
  7. aviral marwal

    thank you anudeep for this wonderful piece. 🙂

    Reply
  8. Ashanki Dixit

    Congrats Sir.. N thank u so much for sharing this incredible failure which turn into a Great Success…

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    You are an Arsenal fan ,no wonder how you stood up in your most difficult situation 😉

    Reply
  10. Namita Pradhan

    First of all , a very big congratulation to you on your great success …………….then thankyou so much for this blog ,it will be really a good start for all the IAS aspirants

    Reply
    1. Atefeh A

      Mr. Durishetty, you write so well. I can almost imagine this being read aloud to me, it’s deeply personal and comforting. May you continue to weave magic with your words!
      You’ve been so humble in your defeat and gracious in your victory. A mark of an extraordinary gentleman. God speed.
      A well wisher from Bhoal

      Reply
  11. Anonymous

    Hats off sir… What an incredible journey… It gave me lots of motivation and m thankful to you sir that u have come forward to help aspirants by sharing your experience… This will definitely give us great boost to crack this exam….

    Reply
  12. Spandana Durga

    Loved the Federer’s resurgence part and Stan Wawrinka’s quote in the end!
    Madrid for life though lol.

    Reply
  13. Aparna Ajith

    An evocative write up worth motivating,Sir.So delighted to see the fleeting reference of Shawshank Redemption in this article.(It really did put me in awe as I was expecting a line on ‘Poor but spirited in Karimnagar’,the ofted book in your interview articles.This Morgan Freeman movie teaches a commendable fact that hope is not at all a bad thing and your victory saga exemplifies this.Keep writing and stirring,spirited souls.Best wishes and Regards,Sir.

    Reply
  14. Nishant choudhary

    congratulations sir, u are a real inspiration for me, the way you wrote your story came as if i was reading one of lee child’s thriller nothing to lose and you are jack reacher, i am really very much inspired by you sir, a hearty congratulations once again!!

    Reply
  15. Suchitra

    Anu, such a beautiful journey it was, from rejection to acceptance and from self battle to a country’s success !! Your inner self is kept out to us through this post, thank you so much for this inspiring write-up. Your journey is eternal and your success is an example for persuing any dream. While I was reading, it ignited my self and gave a boost to achieve my goals. Thank you for everything. All the best for another exciting and challenging phase of your life. Keep smiling 😄

    Reply
  16. parika chauhan

    You are truly an inspiration for me.. your whole journey gives each and everyone encouragement who are going through the same phase of life .. “From rejection to acceptance” this line itself depicts the pains you have taken for becoming an IAS officer.. well done.. 👍😊

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

    Congratulations bro .Great job. A blog for Ias aspirants.

    Reply
  18. Anonymous

    Thanks a lot Sir!
    You are ‘The Inspiration’.
    And, Indeed… the battle is intensely personal.

    Reply
  19. pramasrima t

    Champ you are really amazing, inspiring, motivating……..

    Reply
  20. pravah2017

    Great!@nudeep!
    Can u suggest how to improve on writing speed? When I start writing something ,I take too much time to think in order to come up with something different so that my answer will hv a nice start…and in that way I waste a lot of time !
    How to overcome this tendency n improve the writing speed??
    I hope you will help :/…??

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty

      This is the exact problem I faced too. The only way you overcome is to put a timer and practice writing consistently. First see how many words you are able to write in a minute and then keep improving. You can sacrifice your neatness a little to write faster.

      Regarding thinking, you should take a proper test series and write atleast 10-15 tests before Mains. Once you do those many questions, your brain is automatically wired to think faster even as you write.

      Reply
  21. Prashanth

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experience and your journey sir.
    Namaskaram sir🙏.
    Meeru ilage motivate chestu and maku guidance isthuntarani korukuntunnanu. Mee follower(PRASHANTH) who even don’t know about ‘abcd’ of upsc exam.

    Reply
  22. Muskaan hy

    Thank you so much for this :)) you are such an inspiration

    Reply
  23. surendra

    Sir, I am attending for Brahmakumari for meditation in Vidya Nagar, Hyderabad. But they conduct only weekly once and ask the learners to practice whole week. This is not working for me. Could you please tell me which meditation center you attend. In case, you self-learn, could you please share the resources.

    Reply
  24. signature2426

    Dear sir,
    Well , many many heart felt wishes for u , u r ordinary man with extraordinary patience that renders u to be on top and well wishes for all ur future merit wants !!!!!!!

    Reply
  25. Vaishali Jaiswal

    Sir your words are truly magic for all aspirants who toil everyday. Sooner or later we will definitely win over our shortcomings. Keep writing!! Wish you all very best in life!! 🙂

    Reply
  26. Anonymous

    Respected sir can you please tell me the name of student who got provisional rank 51 in 2017 result. And what is the meaning of provisional rank.

    Reply
  27. Priya

    It was so inspiring sir.You have proved that Failure is the stepping stone to success.Thanks for taking such a initiative for guiding IAS aspirants.Keep inspiring…

    Reply
  28. Marx

    Hats off…
    You adapted yourself completely… That’s why you aced…
    One thing I must say that your way of expression is just amazing… I mean its pure and so clear…

    Reply
  29. aakanksha07

    Hello sir, congratulations on your success. Sir, may I please know which test series you took for prelims. Thank you

    Reply
      1. Ajay saroj

        Sir at in last “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” i think fail better replaced by feel better

        Reply
  30. bharathi b

    First of all congrats sir! Your journey is truly inspiration to all of us(IAS aspirants). Thanks for taking such a initiative for guiding IAS aspirants. Can you plz guide me how to prepare for mains.

    Reply
  31. priyashetty

    sir thank you for providing such a great material to us i doesnt even know how many many subjects are included and what materials to and how to start preparation with i just cant plan a dam please sir kindly tell me detailedly about this topic when your free please sir

    Reply
  32. Babita

    Heartiest Congratulation Sir !!
    Thanks a lot for taking initiative and helping many aspirants.

    Reply
  33. Anonymous

    What a good bounce back sir !
    May god fulfill your every requirements…….

    Reply
  34. Vikas

    Hi Anudeep,

    I have read your article. I am going through the same despair stage you have gone through. I have given three mains with little improvement in GS Marks(290, 356 and 350). I have improved in Anthropology optional paper I but I am unable score more than 125 in Anthropology paper II. Could you please suggest some improvements I need to make in my preparation?

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty

      Since everyone’s busy giving Prelims, it would make more sense if I pen down detailed Anthropology strategy after Jun 3 so that more aspirants get to read it.

      It will be up soon.

      Reply
  35. Sushmita Deb

    Hi Anudeep ,
    Firstly ,heartiest Congratulations to u..I have gone through your article and i have found it very much interesting n it was kinda motivational…your journey has inspired n encouraged me a lot. I m a BA.LLB.pre-final yr student and i will be preparing for UPSC xm in the upcoming yrs..So kindly do let me know the proper booklist required for Prelims n Mains s well which would be helpful for me to go through it… Lastly Thank you for guiding the UPSC Aspirants n i appreciate u for ur success..you have showed us dt struggles n failures can nly lead a man to reach his achievement goals.

    Reply
  36. pradha meera

    Congratulations!! Not just for acing the most coveted exam but for not giving up and fighting till you won that personal war. And thanks a lot for writing this one.

    ” I realised that life was slowly drifting away, and I didn’t want to standby as a mere spectator”

    There, this is where I am right now and can’t put it in better words. Already too late to start my UPSC journey with hardly 2 real chance before age beats me to it. Thanks for those words…. After all its a personal war….One that I am not ready to let go without a fight 🙂

    You seems someone who is honest to yourself and that’s the kind of inspiration the world needs …. Wish you all the very best.

    From a Nadal fan ( and a RM fan too :/ )

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty

      We all confront challenges, it’s the mindset that helps us face them. It only takes one attempt to get a top rank. So having two is not an impediment. Give your best and you shall win your personal battle, too.

      My best wishes!

      Reply
  37. ipsiasnews

    Firstly congratulations sir for your great success ..you are such a big inspiration for the youth . I m regularly following your intrviews nd blogs .I m being inspired alot from your journey…hope i can with connect u n ll get a chance to overcome my passion of UPSC in ur proper guidance …

    Reply
  38. G.Sravankumar

    That was an amazing and a golden journey Anna….u proved again that THE HARD WORK NEVER FAILS…..soo glad to u …..

    Reply
  39. MahhaLakshmi Patchigolla

    Hey saw your interview in etv n wanted to convey this.. U r really different from all the other toppers. Everyone say they chose this to do service but that zeal of doing service is honestly visible only in few people n u r one among those few….Prestige garland of UPSC is being embedded with diamond because of u…( it look magnanimous)
    Thanks a lot for sharing your story.. It is indeed inspiring for all of us aspirants..

    Reply
  40. Pooja R

    In the words of the great man himself, “If you believe you can go really far in your life…. – RF.”
    You believed. You achieved.
    As a fellow Fed fan I felt so proud reading this blog. You have not just idolized him but have taken a leaf out his book and emulated your idol as well. You are a true champion coz you didn’t give up!
    Roger would be proud of you if he knew his resurgence fired you up!!
    Also…your humility is a gift, treasure it! You are so grounded despite attaining such height of success that it’s inspiring!
    Congratulations bhaiya on your amazing feat. And all the best for the services. This country needs people like you!

    Reply
  41. manichandra938

    Hello Anudeep, the story is really inspiring, you just showed the world that failure is not the end and success is the result of hardwork. You just motivated me to work hard towards achieving the same goal that you too dreamt. Hope i’ll achieve it soon. Being from the same district and also a distant relative of yours, hope to meet you soon one day.

    Reply
  42. Amit Singh

    Sir, Congratulations!! I’ve not prepared well enough for Mains and I’m appearing for Prelims on 3 June. Should I take this attempt seriously or else what should I learn.
    Regards.

    Reply
  43. ahotcuppalife

    I was feeling a lil bit sluggish today morning, until I read this. I am a person who get disheartened at the first glimpse of failure. This is such an inspiring story.

    Reply
  44. Jagadeep Surapaneni

    Congratulations from a telugite in USA. Three cheers for your valor and achievement. What do you think your way forward ? You recon you can take the same determination and zeal into the job after this mammoth success and worship you are commanding from different corners of the society ? Please share your thought process at this point of your life.

    Reply
  45. Anonymous

    Hey Anudeep its really inspirational for me … i was remember dat day when i saw u first tym while u r giving MOCK in HSC in Feb 2018. I just thought u will Top the exam and mam also appreciated u..finally u topped the exam…but i could not make it in final list.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty

      Tough luck on not making it this time. Stay positive and work harder, it’s only a matter of time before you make it.

      Best wishes!

      Reply
      1. Ayesha

        Ur really great, aapke pass sabko reply karne ke liye time Hai, tq and once again congratulations to u and to Ur family. I think u will do something towards betterment of society.

        Reply
  46. P. Saikumar Yadav (@PasamSaikumar)

    what an inspirational journey sir. Many many congratulations.

    Reply
  47. indgan

    Amazed by the fire inside you. Many good things from the write-up to takeaway for many of us!

    Congratulations! All the very best for your future endeavours 🙂

    Reply
  48. Bhanu

    Inspring bro…journey begins now….may you acheive greater heights and contribute towards society….you made interesting point about primary education system in one of ur interviews…..very valid…focus on it bro…good luck…..

    Reply
  49. Rushati Ray

    Congratulations Mr. Durishetty. Your blog posts are really helpful. It’d be great if you can write something about preparing alongside a job. You too were working when you gave your final attempt. So, working professionals like me would really appreciciate if you can tell us about your experience.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty

      Thank you for the wishes.

      Before I write a detailed post on that, my brief thoughts on the subject:

      1. Many aspirants preparing with job already have an inferior complex that since they can’t put in 12 hrs a day, somehow their preparation is substandard. Erase such mindset. So I accepted that I was working and that I couldn’t change it, so instead of complaining I took it up as challenge and always strove to do my best in the limited time I got. Mindset is crucial.

      2. Have a dedicated plan ready for weeks and months ahead. See the syllabus and divide it into topics. Now based on the time you can put in per week: with job, I assume you can dedicate a total of 15 hours on 5 weekdays + total of 20-24 hrs on weekend. Make a chart of how many topics you can finish by this week, by this month etc. And always stick to these plans. It’s these small targets that will ensure that you finish the syllabus on time.

      3. While on the go, use Mobile to read or listen to current affairs.

      Reply
  50. Anonymous

    please provide strategy and booklist for Anthropology, sir 🙂

    Reply
  51. Narmadha Radha

    Wow Seriously you have gone through a battle ,Your Hard work gave you Such a unexpected results Sir .Congratulations sir 💐.Need your guidance to clear these exams.

    Reply
  52. Anonymous

    Truly inspiring. Congratulations Anudeep. Thanks for posting your experiences.

    Reply
  53. smitha

    Truly inspiring sir.. Amazed at your courage and determination.. I need a word of advice from you. As I guess you would’ve gone through this year’s prelims paper, what you will suggest for the aspirants to tackle any kind of paper subjective or conceptual..

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      I had a glance at it and found it tough.

      But you must keep in mind that CSE exam is relative, so you only need to score better than others. Even in such a tough paper, if your fundamentals are right you can get a score of 100-105, which I think is enough to clear it.

      Reply
  54. Anonymous

    Congrats sir 😃 your blog is acting as a dopamine 😀

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Hope there’s no over dosage 😀

      Reply
  55. Leekesh Baliyan

    Hey Anudeep, Congrats for your grand success. I wish all the best for your future endeavors.

    Need your guidance on 2 points:-

    1. Was your language in mains paper was more simpler/same/sophisticated as compared to this blog. Here, I specifically meant from language is, the selection of words.

    2. Second, you mention about that you downloaded toppers’ answer booklets. Are the booklets freely available on internet or need paid subscription of any coaching institute?

    Reply
  56. Shubam Deshmukh

    Wow Sir Wht A Inspiring Journey u have..Last Lines tells Everything.. Ya No matter how u fail or how much..But Fail Better.

    Reply
  57. Siddharth S

    Congratulations sir on your momentous achievement! It’s the day when you’ve had everything to do and you’ve done it! Nice work! Everything is possible when you just believe in yourself.
    When you do something best in life, you don’t really want to give that up – and for the GOAT it’s tennis, for you it’s IAS.

    Sir I’m an abecedarian taking the exam for the first time.

    I’ve no clue about how to prepare for the exam.

    So far I’ve heard that going to Delhi is one of the best way to get proper guidance and prepare precisely, but I’m wondering if you might go about it in a different way. I’d love your valuable input.

    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      I wrote a detailed post on coaching and whether it’s necessary to go to Delhi for it. Please go through. I am sure your queries will get adequately answered.

      Reply
      1. ABHINAV ANAND

        Sir,

        looking forward to your anthropology strategy. I know you are not that confident about it, but it would help us get at least some assistance.

        Thanks.

        Reply
        1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

          I’ve written detailed posts on it. Please find it under ‘Optional’ tab on the website.

          Reply
  58. Sunandhana

    Hey Anudeep, after going through your detailed journey to your success the following points striked my mind.

    1. A lot of people failed at what you accomplished, simply because they were busy finding problems while you were busy finding solutions.

    2. Skills can be imparted, but the will to persist and persevere is inborn… a talent you have been blessed with. Well done.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      1. From my experience, where people go wrong is in not accepting that there might be some flaw on their part as well. Far too often, we tend to assign blame on others, which only worsens the problem.

      2. I believe even that will to persist can be cultivated– by sustaining that unflinching self-belief even in the face of adversity.

      Reply
  59. Ramani

    Hearty congratulations Anudeep sir,

    I would like to convey you two things ,

    On April 27th , the most happiest moment for my mother was that you had topped the Civil Services. I can still remember the excitement in her voice when she had called me at an unusual hour to inform about your achievement. She was so happy as if I had achieved the feat. And I am sure she might have watched all your interviews in TV.

    The other thing is , me, right now targeting for 2019 found your blog posts and interviews very informative. You write in such a lucid way that the reader senses it as dribbling of honey.
    Being a Fedex fan like you , I used to wait for Nirmal Sekhar Ji’s article in Hindu after every grandslam win of RF. With such eagerness, I am waiting for your further posts related to mains and optional.

    Kindly, if possible please try to upload your evaluated answer scripts Sir.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Thank you Ramani for your kind words. It makes me happy to hear about your mother’s elation on my success. Please convey my sincere gratitude to her. 🙂

      More posts on GS for Mains (especially answer writing) are in the works. Along with the article, I also plan to embed my answer booklets. Hope you find them useful.

      PS: Nice to know that you are a Fedex fan too. Here’s wishing for his 21st title at Wimbledon this year. Cheers!

      Reply
      1. Ramani

        I had conveyed it to my mother Sir , she was surprised at first and later felt very glad about it. 🙂

        Thank you so much sir for your time , motivation and guidance that you are providing for the aspirants like me.

        Wishing for a Federer vs Nadal finale and 21st title for our GOAT ( revenge for his 2008 defeat).

        Reply
      1. Sam

        Hi sir..
        Literature (Telugu) ki Ela prepare kavali sir…
        Need your help sir… became Nenu self preparation cheyalanukuntunna….

        Thank you sir 🙂

        Reply
  60. Deepanshu Kaul

    Many Congratulations to you, Sir! After 2017 debacle, I am going through these phases. With Mains in a few months, I still can’t figure out the low scores in Essay(107) and GS1(89). I always got good marks in Vision Essay and was happy with mains too. GS1 was the only paper I could complete and tackled the googlies too- Juno, Malay etc. In the end a paltry score has left me dumbstruck.
    I am working on the strategy you have suggested for Essay but hoping for any insights for GS1 paper ?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Blog posts on GS will be uploaded soon.

      Reply
  61. Neeraj

    U must be feeling top of the world and should be. Happy for you buddy I am preparing for 2019 one and gave 2018, it went all over me, first of all did not prepare at all, but preparing for 2019, and not taking coaching. Too much tension already.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Tension because you know that your preparation isn’t up to the mark. Do your bit, with cent percent dedication. All this anxiety will wither away.

      Reply
  62. Anonymous

    Incredible journey sir… Really motivating bounce back .
    .Inspired me a lot

    Reply
  63. Nishigandha

    Dear Anudeep,

    Being the UPSC topper means being a guiding light in preparation and inspiration for all aspirants. You come across as a very humble, honest and knowledgeable person. This is very reassuring to us as aspirants that even toppers go through various issues but if you keep going success is assured. Thanks a lot for your write-up. Its very very helpful. Also to whoever I have talked to is all praises about your personality and there is clearly lot to learn from you.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      That’s very kind of you, Nishigandha. Thanks! 🙂

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Sir, can you suggest me how to prepare for literature(Telugu)

        Reply
  64. Anonymous

    You are gem of a person. Such a personality in a successful person is rare to find. Thank u so much for sharing wisdom and helping many of us. 🙏🏻

    Reply
  65. Anonymous

    Sir pls provide mains booklist and ur approach towards mains papers.

    Reply
  66. Priya

    Sir
    how many hours do you spend for learning?
    how do you revise either weekly or daily?

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Number of hours don’t matter as much as what you really learn in those hours. Quality trumps quantity, always.

      Reply
  67. dreamcivil

    hai sir,
    congratz .iam preparing for 2019 civils, my optional is antropology, i am working profesional like you
    i required the resoucres and book list you have followed in preparing civils,
    thanks in advance.

    Reply
  68. Ravi

    Hi Sir
    Congrats and Thanks for sharing ur motivating journey.

    Plz guide on answer writing strategy specially how to begin with it- from writing summary of an newspaper article or joining test series directly or begin with focussing paperwise/subject wise or any other way.
    What should be the stages of mastering it from nowhere?

    There are many good tips avaible on how to increase marks by structuring answers, use of flow charts,etc but I have no clue from where to start with.
    Plz guide on above query…

    Thanks for considering

    Reply
      1. Ravi

        Thanks a lot. Wish you good luck for all your future goals..☺️👍

        Reply
  69. Anonymous

    Hello Sir,
    Thank you for all your articles. Truly inspiring and extremely helpful.

    Can you please suggest any books on mindfulness for beginners?
    Also, apart from Sapiens which are the other non-fiction/thought provoking books you would like to suggest for an aspirant?

    Thank you again! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Mindfulness – Joseph Goldstein
      Why Buddhism is True – Robert Wright

      You can also start with guided meditation: http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations

      ‘Head space’ is another great app for beginners

      Non-fiction books:

      Sapiens
      Homo Deus
      Animal Farm
      Why Nations Fail
      Selfish Gene
      Mindset
      Deep Thinking

      Reply
      1. Veereshwari

        Thanks for suggesting Sapiens in one of your videos. Just started with it and its really interesting one.Thank You Sir for this list 🙂

        Reply
  70. Yasaswi Saraf

    Hello sir!
    Heartiest congratulations to you for the blessed success!

    Sir I’ve just begun my preparation for upsc. I feel pretty lost! Because I don’t know how to study and from where to begin! I aim to sit for the prelims in 2019! And I seem to be running short on time!

    Sir if you could kindly suggest me how to begin my preparation! And what could be the best strategy, timely efficient for me as of now!

    It would be of great help sir!
    Thank you.

    Reply
  71. PRABHATA MAHARANA.

    Everything happens for a reason sir…..and you made this reason to remembrance not only for you but also for many…UPSC chronology of toppers will list you in its golden wall as long as UPSC in indian constitution exist and beyond that system of evolution of homo sapiens sapiens and its culture and activities of its important personalities will never forget you sir…

    Heartiest congratulation ,
    With personal warm regards

    PRABHATA-A micro-scopic part HOMO SAPIENS SAPIENS Group.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Thank you my fellow Sapien. My best wishes 🙂

      Reply
  72. Gayatri

    Journey from “D battle was intensely personal “, to a guide who inspires all other aspirants, to a hope for public, inspired me a lot. Thank u sir for dis post.

    Reply
  73. Maninderjit Kaur

    Thank you for this blog sir. It is inspiring, useful and a delight to read . You truly stand out being so grounded even after the success. There is no way you could not have been successful with that fine balance of humility and confidence. All the best for future.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Thank you for the kind words, Maninderjit.

      Reply
  74. Anonymous

    Thank you sir I don’t have any inspiration till 29 years of age to go through UPSC but now somewhere I found a motivation to crack it. Although I have only 2 attempts I will try my best to satisfy my desire and got success. I am a working person and married also so please suggest some strategy and motivation also.

    Reply
  75. ANKIT PRADHAN

    Sir, thank you very much for sharing your journey which was not only hard but uncertain indeed. But now seeing those books and papers must be filling your heart with a containment, reminding you the amount of sweat and ink you have vested striving for excellence. Its really inspiring to hear your story. I am an UPSC aspirant …left job after working 5 years in private sector and now preparing for the exam.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Thank you Ankit. My best wishes for your exam.

      Have the belief and keep fighting!

      Reply
  76. Sam

    Hi sir,
    Firstly I wish you hearty congratulations sir. Sir can you suggest me how to prepare for language (Telugu).

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Practising last five year papers and referring to a Telugu daily should be enough.

      Reply
  77. vijay kumar

    Hi sir. this is vijay kumar from Jagtial karim nagr. I am preparing for civils from last 2 years, but i couldnt clear prelims 18. Some times i am losing my confidence and i feel i am zero..could u mind please help me in to tackle this situation..

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      This exam is not a good parameter to gauge your capability. So don’t lose the faith. You abilities are way better than what this exam suggests.

      Work on your mistakes, take a test series, practise enough questions. Focus should be on improvement, not on your future success or past failure.

      Reply
  78. G P

    Sir,
    I felt as if it’s my duty to congratulate you and thank you for these words of yours. Every time I feel down and have to look for inspiration, these are the words I head back to.

    The 3 things that you shared at Vision IAS platform in Hyderabad are like a lesson for life.
    Thank you so much for showing the way.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Great to hear that G P. All the very best to you.

      Reply
  79. Nirmal Deepak

    Can you please give me idea on how to be in word limit, bcz when I write answers, I goes in flow thinking everything is important for this question, and at end I found it not possible to put all words in given word limit and later realised that I hadn’t write what was actually required in the question.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      I always found time limit a better indicator to tell you when to stop. For a Mains paper, you need to finish at least 80 marks worth questions per hour. So in the first hour you need to finish eight 10-markers, which translates to two 10-marker questions every 15 minutes. So write only to that extent that you catch up this demand every 15 minutes.

      Once you have that overarching target, it’s not possible to keep overshooting word limit. You will helplessly move onto the next question as soon as you exhaust the time limit set for a particular question.

      Reply
  80. Nirmal Deepak

    Sir, can you please tell me, how to utilize time effectively, I’m asking this bcz, I will Appear for cse in 2020 due to dob issue, since I have good time left, so can you please suggest some measure that I should follow, that will help me or to get through it in one go,i have done a basic reading of ncert, and taking classes in Vajiram, any thing which will improve my efficiency and time management,, newspaper reading. Etc. . What would you do, if you are at my stage, provided you have gained all those your journey experiences, the mistakes that you shouldn’t have done, I have seen you interview, but ans for me, thank you sir,

    Reply
  81. kamal pant

    HI My self Kamal Pant,

    Anudeep bhaiya !! congratulation

    Now you are real Roger federer of me who always fight with own battle,actually,My UPSC journey bit late but not end,I have completed 29 years of my life journey on 1-23 years–study till PG,23-29 years—job in service tourism sector,At present I am in Africa & thinks for the UPSC Battle after reading your blog,How to starts my journey,need in one answer from you.

    My Plan first–

    Study UPSC website & all pillars of CSE (prelim syllabus & Mains)

    Reply
  82. Anonymous

    Dear Anudeep,

    Your journey has become a guiding light and path to fight the failures. Couldn’t be more thankful for helping me out to face the defeat and yet to fight to overcome the failures and move ahead. Thank
    you for bringing back the hope.

    Reply
  83. Anonymous

    Hey,

    Awe Inspiring indeed and Hats Offs to the realisation process you have gone through. I have only two fundamental questions one regarding you and another for Prep:
    1. What worked when you clear UPSC and got IRS?
    2. How do you relate any current affairs topic to the Main Syllabus (which is too general) as the Current affairs topic is very much specific.

    Do help pls.

    Reply
  84. Anonymous

    Sir congratulation for successful journey..sir ur handwriting is awesm..would u pls tell me which pen u use for ans writing practice and in exams also

    Reply
  85. Yogesh

    This brought tears… Helpful for me..!! I learnt humbleness from you..! I always tell your story to my friends and family. Plz keep sharing your precious views.👍huge respect😐

    Reply
  86. Moulya

    Hi Sir, iam a big fan of urs….. iam Btech Food Science and technology graduate and currently working in a company. I want to become IAS officer, can u please suggest me about optional subject ??

    Thanks and Regards,
    Moulya

    Reply
  87. Anonymous

    Every time I read this give me goosebumps..
    You are an inspiration to all the CSE aspirant
    There is no other substitute than hard work
    Thank u sir for inspiring me 😊
    Pls post your strategies during working hours.

    Reply
    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Glad to know that and thank you for reading. I’d written about time management on work days in one of the comments. Please find.

      Reply
  88. Keshava

    My heartly Congratulations sir,now i started self preparation for civil services exam 2019.Is 8 months time suffient to complete the syllabus of prelims?
    Iam also preparing for the competative exams like polytechnique lecturer of AP state government.
    Is it good to prepare both exams at a time or focus on one exam? Please give your valuable information sir.

    Reply
  89. Aditi

    Hey Anudeep,

    Let me start by congratulating you and your family on this tremendous feat. I can only wonder how immensely proud your parents must be.

    Secondly, I was in a bad place motivationally and happened to have chanced upon your blog. But what a positive chance it was. Your post resonated with me. That line “I failed because I didn’t deserve”, I needed to hear that. I haven’t been the most hard working person and most of my life I have been able to get away with it. But once I started failing these papers, rather than accepting my faults, I just sat there blaming everyone from the establishment to the papers. But that line made me accept that I am failing because I haven’t given my best yet. Hell I haven’t even truly given my 50% in over an year. Your post has made me reassess both my attitude and my preparation and pin point the problems. Now I am determined to find a solution, a way out, a chisel, if you will. I am going to work hard. For once in my life I want to take a paper where I can come out and tell myself, “You did the best you could.”

    Thank you for this honest piece. They are so hard to come by. It is uplifting to read how a now successful person used to feel exactly like you currently do, like a failure. It gives you hope. That, if done right, there’s always an out. And like Andy says in Shawshank, Hope is a good thing, maybe even the best of things and no good thing ever dies.
    Oh and go Federer!
    (And I am sorry for I fear this has become a little too long. I really needed to hear this. Thank you once again and more power to you.)

    Reply

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