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AIR-12, Yasharth Shekhar's Preparation Strategy for UPSC CSE Prelims GS Paper-I and CSAT

Oct 31, 2022

AIR-12, Yasharth Shekhar's Preparation Strategy for UPSC CSE Prelims GS Paper-I and CSAT

If you want your UPSC CSE preparation to be smooth and efficient, it is worth looking at the preparation strategies of UPSC Toppers. This blog post will examine AIR-12 and 2021 batch IAS officer Yasharth Shekhar's UPSC CSE Prelims GS Paper-I and CSAT strategy. 

Clearing the UPSC CSE Prelims is the first hurdle all IAS aspirants have to cross, and for many, it is a tough hurdle to overcome. The competition-size is the largest at this stage, and more than 60% of candidates are filtered out through this exam. 

Over the years, the Prelims examinations have become unpredictable, and the questions have become more challenging. As Mr. Yasharth Shekhar says, questions were on the tougher side for the 2021 UPSC CSE.

With increasing competition, a well-thought-out preparation strategy is the only way to crack the UPSC CSE 2023 Prelims exam

In the paragraphs below, we shall look at Mr Yasharth Shekhar's Prelims preparation strategy in a detailed manner. Specifically, we shall look at

> Sources for GS Paper-I

> Test Series Strategy

> His Daily Schedule

> CSAT Preparation Strategy

Let us begin with the sources you need to include in the UPSC CSE GS Paper-I preparation strategy for the Prelims. 

UPSC Topper's Recommended Sources for GS Paper-I

Subject: History

Ancient India - New NCERTs 

Medieval India - Old NCERTs 

Modern India - NCERTs and Spectrum 

Arts and Culture - Fine arts book Class XI NCERT and Nitin Singhania. 

From Nitin Singhania's Indian Art and Culture book, he recommends studying only those topics that are important. For example, subjects like literature, architecture and performing arts should be included in your study topics. 

For every topic, you must make notes that include all the critical points. This will help you revise later. For his preparation, Mr. Shekhar revised the new and old NCERT books and the Tamil Nadu board books multiple times. He recommends restricting sources because only by limiting sources can you find the time to revise multiple times. 

Subject: Geography

For geography, he advocates following the same principle as above. Restrict the number of sources and revise as many times as possible. In addition, he recommends the following:

Study the new NCERTs and the old NCERTs because the new ones do not cover every topic. Pay special attention to physical geography and India's physical Environment. 

Next, he suggests using PMF material for geomorphology, climatology, oceanography and Environment. The chapters on Landform Development can be covered from G.C.Leong. 

Subject: Environment 

For Environment, Mr. Shekhar followed the PMF Environment notes because, in his words, the Shankar IAS book for the Environment was too bulky. He suggests revising the entire content a minimum of three to four times for Environment. 

Also read: 5 Saal 25 Sawaal - Your Ticket to Faster PYQ Analysis for UPSC

Subject: Science and Technology 

He suggests going through any of the current affairs compilations for Science and Technology. 

In his own words, Mr. Shekhar says that his entire preparation for science and technology was based on current affairs compilations. Further, he recommends that your preparation be dynamic. That is, you must be updated with the latest developments in science and technology. 

Subject: Polity

For Polity, Mr. Shekhar recommends following Laxminath and studying that book religiously. He says this is the only source for Polity you need to follow, and multiple revisions of Laxmikanth are enough to clear the subject.  

Subject: Economy

For economy, Mr. Shekhar recommends going through Sriram IAS Notes to grasp basic concepts. In addition, he suggests following an excellent current affairs compilation to keep yourself updated with the latest economic developments. 

It would be best if you made it a point to answer the questions from Economy, Polity and geography without fail. As Mr. Shekhar shared with us, the easiest questions come from these three subjects and answering them correctly can lead you to score high marks. 

Before we move on to the next section, here is a video you will find interesting. Watch our leading Economy Faculty for UPSC CSE, Vivek Singh sir take you through the preparation strategy you need for the 2023 UPSC exam. 


Current Affairs

Current Affairs is a dynamic subject that has no beginning and no end. And being dynamic makes it a complex subject for aspirants to study. Since the syllabus for current affairs is dynamic, the best strategy is to restrict your sources. 

The logic here is similar to the one we went through before. If there are too many sources, revision becomes tricky. Therefore, it is wise to limit your sources for current affairs. Once you have decided on your sources, stick to them and do not doubt yourself. 

For newspaper reading, Mr. Shekhar read the Indian Express and the Mint. For your preparation, you may choose The Hindu as well. All of them are equally good and recommended by toppers. 

Since newspaper reading is such an important part of your UPSC CSE preparation, here is a detailed guide on how to read newspapers for UPSC civil services preparation

Mr. Shekhar also recommends following a monthly current affairs compilation. Monthly compilations like PrepMagazine make it easier to cover the news you might have missed and revise your current affairs later.

Further, they also make it easier to follow government schemes. In addition, Mr. Shekhar followed CA compilations for his Society paper preparation. For government schemes and Society, he did not follow any static source. 

Test Series Strategy for Prelims 

To clear the Prelims exam, Mr. Shekhar recommends a rigorous testing regimen. He suggests solving at least 60 tests for Prelims and then reading the solutions well. However, do not read the answers immediately. We shall cover that when we discuss his daily schedule. 

While 60 tests is the minimum suggested by Mr. Shekhar, the ideal number is 100. If you can solve 100 tests, you are looking at at least 10000 questions in MCQ format. This knowledge, combined with NCERT, will give you enough information to clear the Prelims exam. 

Now let us come to the daily schedule followed by Mr. Shekhar. 

Daily Schedule to Clear UPSC Prelims Exam 

For Mr. Shekhar, his daily schedule was divided into four parts.  

The first part of the day was reserved for NCERTs and the revision of notes. 

The second part of the day included a daily test of 2 hours. After the test, he only checked his score and avoided looking at the solutions. This is because your brain is tired after a test, and even if you look at the answers, you will not be able to absorb them completely.  

The third task was to read the newspapers or current affairs compilations. 

The fourth and last part of the day was reserved for reading the solutions from the daily test. Here you must devote at least two to three hours because you need to read them thoroughly. 

Overall, this is what Mr. Shekhar's schedule looked like. He avoided restricting himself to fixed timings and completing his tasks within them.

Instead, he focused on completing all four tasks daily regardless of the time each task took him. 

According to Mr. Shekhar, having a tight schedule makes no sense because it does not give breathing space.

If you do not give yourself a little breathing space or allow some flexibility in your daily routine, it will become challenging to maintain it. 

Mr. Shekhar followed the above routine two to three months before his Prelims exam. 

Now that we are done with the overall Prelims strategy, let us look specifically at the plan for CSAT. 

Preparation Strategy for CSAT - UPSC Prelims 

The goal for CSAT should not be attempting to score just above 33% and pass the paper. The goal, instead, should be to score as much as possible. 

CSAT is a qualifying paper, but that does not mean you need to prepare for it any less than the other papers. When you aim to score high, your chances of clearing this paper to become better. 

Also, if you cannot score above 66 or 68 marks in your CSAT Test series, you will not be able to study for the Mains exam in peace. By scoring very close to the cut-off, you will deny yourself the mental peace crucial for Mains preparation. 

Follow the tips given below and you will definitely improve your marks in CSAT

For CSAT, test series are the best way to prepare. First, attempt a few tests and then figure out which areas or topics are challenging for you. For example, questions with clocks, seating arrangements, and blood relation questions are a few difficult topics. 

To make your preparation easier, Mr. Shekhar suggests going to SSC-CGL questions on YouTube and solving them. First, look at the question, pause the video, attempt to solve it yourself, and then play the video and look at the solution. Repeat this for every question until you improve.  

For CSAT, Mr. Shekhar suggested avoiding any books. Attempting successive test series is enough to help you improve and clear this paper. Most importantly, he recommends aiming for incremental improvement and focusing on building a solid grasp of maths. 

Mr. Shekhar says, "Do not believe that you will be able to clear CSAT with comprehension questions alone. Basic maths is necessary, and without maths, you will not be able to clear CSAT."

So there you go. That is everything you need to know about Mr. Yasharth Shekhar'sUPSC preparation strategy that helped him crack AIR-12 in the CSE exam. You can follow his preparation strategy or incorporate some elements into your plan. 

Out of everything, Mr. Shekhar says solving test series was the most crucial factor that helped him clear Prelims. Only by attempting multiple test series was he able to improve his score incrementally and ultimately clear the Prelims exam. 

If you are preparing for UPSC CSE 2023, solving test series should be the essential thing in your preparation strategy to clear Prelims. And if you need any help with that, the PrepLadder App can help you. 

You can find high-yield full-length, subject-wise mock tests to enhance your preparation. 88% of the UPSC CSE 2021 Prelims exam questions came from PrepLadder's tests.

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The top 100 scorers in each test will get the chance to interact LIVE with India’s leading UPSC Faculty. Top scorers will also win a 12-month FREE subscription to the UPSC-GS Dream Pack. 

Download the PrepLadder App, and you shall find everything you need to ace the UPSC exam.  

Keep following our blog for exciting posts like AIR-12, Yasharth Shekhar's UPSC Prelims Preparation Strategy. Follow our Telegram channel to stay updated with the latest exam-related news. 

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Arindam Goswami

Arindam is a Content Marketer who looks after the Medical Super Specialty segment, specifically the NEET SS category, at PrepLadder. He aims to help aspirants crack exams and realize their dreams through his work.


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