Hi, I am Dhananjay Singh Yadav. I got Rank 95 in UPSC CSE 2018. This was my first attempt. My optional was Political Science and International Relations (PSIR). I took the civil services exam to get into Indian Foreign Service.
I graduated from Shri Ram College of Commerce with a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons.) in 2014. I worked for 3 years with Reckitt Benckiser, a British consumer goods company, in sales and marketing. I worked there till June 2017 and quit to prepare for Civil Services Exam 2018.
I decided to prepare from home, utilising the abundant resources available online. In this journey, blogs and articles of people who took this exam before me were immensely helpful. Advice of people who could clear this exam, or not, both were important in helping me figure out my plan of action. I am putting together the pieces of my 22 months of preparation here, hoping someone somewhere finds this of use.
A word to the wise: There’s no one definite approach to this exam, everyone has to find their own method in this madness. This also means no can “guide” you. Somebody else’s strategy might not work for you. You will have to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, and as heartless as it may sound, figure your way out on your own. You cannot clear by hoping to be spoon fed. There’s significant trial and error involved, and whoever’s strategy you might be reading can only detail their own.
I have cleared this exam but not suddenly gained insights that people who didn’t make it are not privy to. I do not know what worked for me. I would have been as clueless about my strategy being right or wrong if I hadn’t cleared. All I can do is detail out everything I did during this prep.
Ernest Hemingway – “It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
Knowing the unpredictability of this journey, I believed that hard work will make me luckier. Beyond that is intricacies of working of the cosmos. Maybe the babaji who accosted my mother many moons ago for Rs. 100, with an unsolicited prophesy that her son will become adhikaari, really set things in motion.
The name of this blog – English, Agastya – comes from the novel “English, August” by Upamanyu Chatterjee. Inception of the idea of taking civil services exam took place with my reading of the said novel in 2016.
Comment here or reach out to me on Twitter for any doubt that you might have. I might take weeks to reply but I try my best to reply to relevant questions that I have not covered here already for things other than the exam.
UPDATE 8/Aug/20: Next week I leave for Taiwan for next 2 years to learn Chinese. I will not have the time to respond to comments here (I type this out while taking a break from my inspection of expiry date of an unhealthy number of packets of poha that just got delivered). It’s also the right time to let the more worthy 2020 batch take over and share their experiences.
Someone let me talk on the camera for more than 5 minutes, and this was the result: https://youtu.be/8IcvfKRxqUY
If you have recently heard of the UPSC CSE and are wondering what this exam is all about and Wikipedia hasn’t helped, I have written a short note here.