Ghosts, Faith and UPSC Hacks – An Interview with Nilanshi Gupta 3

It was July of 2017. A fresh monsoon morning, somewhere between brunch and lunch. The kind of morning in which one stays available—physically, however, if you’d get into a conversation—you’ll find signs of continuous distractions, like they’re not with you. A shadow of absent mind, something which we all encounter in our daily lives—especially when we’re looking for some answers. It was a similar day for Shital.

At the backyard of our office in Satya Niketan, Delhi; Nilanshi Gupta, founder of IAS Educator, ran into a passionate IAS Aspirant, Shital Taran. She insisted on asking her a few questions—a way out from her consistent struggle of her IAS journey.


When asked about ghosts, Shital Taran, 26 Years old, from Delhi, said –‘I’ve seen more ghosts than anyone I know’.

The process of preparing for UPSC introduces a lot of ghosts—at least, time to time, it feels like we’re possessed–she added.

What started with a few questions, turned into an interesting discussion on Civil Services Examination.

Here is the discussion;

“How can we handle our Fears?” – Shital candidly Asked

Nilanshi – Candidates don’t always know what they are doing, the expert from IAS Educator points out, readily speaking out her years of experience.

They struggle between the blurred lines of their strategy.

Speaking of a solution, it’s ‘Faith’ in their daily routine that can weed out the fear. Anything that’s causing a tremendous stress, which often the huge syllabus and long-term preparation of UPSC does, could only be tackled with a gradual awareness. In this case, the awareness on Civil Services Examination (CSE).

Shital – Why many students, even after giving them strategies, blue print, study-material—all the information on the Internet—are confused?

Nilanshi– Our sharpened knives that we use as our tools to prepare for the exam, should only be utilized to cut the best resources—something we don’t find on the Internet.

Certainly, students feel a lot of pressure in these days–especially when you’re pushed between multiple things; Prelims result, Mains Preparation and the ticking countdown for Mains examination, which is apparently scheduled to bomb candidates on October.

We at Chanakya IAS Academy do acknowledge there is a fear that most of us carry–which if you’d ask a candidate who has, with his hard-work and patience, successfully cracked the examination, would reply that it only contributes in upsetting him.

The better path says one must focus on daily goals, rather than a bigger picture which could trigger exam anxiety—consequently leading to the great loss of time.

Shital – What kind of Daily goals should we have?

Nilanshi–Your Daily goals should include small chunks of work, that if done consistently over a longer period, can help you achieve your goals.

Some short-term goals can be; Reading Newspapers, completing your daily syllabus, revising yesterday’s syllabus, Exercising, sticking to a healthy diet, and so on.

No matter on what we agree and disagree, we all can settle on one fact—UPSC’s syllabus is enormous! For anyone, who is aiming to be an IAS, should set aside at least 10-12 months.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Shital – Yes.

Nilanshi- While your macro goal should be to crack UPSC, your micro goal should be around completing your daily syllabus. One must break down the enormous syllabus of UPSC into several daily realistic goals.  You can take the reference from Tina Dabi’s popular daily routine on Internet and mould it in your own.

You can also get a template that Chanakya IAS Academy recently posted on its Social Media, to help aspirants formulate your daily goals. There is also another template that divides the entire syllabus of UPSC into Daily chores. It’s really helpful.

Here is that popular Template:

Yearly template to schedule your annual UPSC Preparation;  https://chanakyaiasacademyblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/120-days-left-for-civil-services-prelims-preparation-strategy-and-time-table/

Shital, you must understand that it’s not the formulation of timetable that’s challenging, it’s the acquirement of discipline to follow it. There are a lot of attributes that play a significant role; your seriousness, perseverance, concentration, your goal-setting model, your diet and exercise, and so on.

There are several curved corners that need to be fixed and as a serious aspirant, you must fix them all.

Shital – Mam, it took me more than 6 months to get stable, and then find a job to get independent and support myself financially. How can I comfortably prepare for the UPSC while doing a job?


The key is self-awareness. If I must give an advice, it would be – if you’re preparing for Civil Services, learn to understand and adopt.

As an aspirant with a 9-5 job, you’ll not have several luxuries. One must understand this before they even begin their preparation. Go away from Social Media; especially, Facebook and WhatsApp groups.

Use your Apps only to your advantage, and set strict timings. The bottom line is—if you have a family and a job to distract you, it’s enough of a distraction already. Do not compile it with social media, parties and several other contributions that aren’t necessary.

The punch line is— ‘all you have to do is’, as Baba Ramdev says, ‘focus and actually do it’. Also, take smarter routes wherever possible. For say, if you can’t read newspapers every day, don’t! there are several brands that are compiling current affairs for you; monthly—weekly. Use that!

Do not get stuck in reading the entire budget—when you have a reliable source that’s giving you its summary. Chanakya gives a summary of all the major publications: PIB, Budget, Economic Survey, Yojna, India Year Book, and a lot of sufficient material. Use that!

Download the summaries of all the major publications: https://www.chanakyaiasacademy.com/student-resources

Shital – My favorite part of the preparation is finding smart shortcuts to lengthy and tiring part of the preparation. Well, but I mostly get stuck with my optional paper. I have a specialized optional paper and there aren’t too many sources to help. I often think I’ve made a mistake. Which do you think is the right optional?

Nilanshi: There should only be one criterion to pick your optional: your interest in the subject. Because, you’d be spending hours of time in it, researching it, doing its in-depth coverage and that would take a lot of love.

If you’re spending uncountable months on a subject—it might as well be of your interest.

The best result comes out from the most loved subject. It could be a soft interesting subject like Philosophy or a hardcore calculation based mechanical engineering. It’s a myth that one subject is scoring and others aren’t. Every optional is interesting and if you’ve enough curiosity on the subject, any subject is scoring too.

Shital – At the start, even I believed that there were a few Optional subjects that were scoring and others weren’t.


“It’s a mundane idea to think about a scoring optional, because a commission like UPSC would always have a scaling system to balance various subjects it offers. In plain words, it’s a myth!”

Shital – What are some popular myth about being an IAS?

Nilanshi: There are many myths! But, there are some outstanding ones. People fancy to think that post of an IAS is a way to gain ultimate power, which is far away from the truth. IAS officers inherently don’t possess any power. There are assignments during the course of their career, like DM, that are powerful. But, all the assignments, contrary to the belief, do not lead to a powerful post.

Shital: That’s right! We all have a lot of myths around UPSC preparation. But, myths are one thing that misleads candidates from their destination, what are the other things that could contribute to a candidate’s failure?

Nilanshi: You might have heard this before, time and time again but let me repeat it once more; “Your actual competition is not those 9 Lakh students who fill up the form for Prelims.


Your real competition is exclusively those 3-4 thousand students, who are dedicatedly devoting themselves for UPSC. I am talking about candidates who are turning their nights into days and days into nights.

I’ll be frank. The majority of students confuse enrolling for UPSC—buying a lot of fancy course material and studying it— as their ultimate preparation strategy.

It’s NOT!

Although there are numerous reasons to fail — there are two distinct reasons; Fear and Laziness.

Another fact, the passive aggression towards the established process of UPSC would not lead one to his/her goal to crack it. Your ranting ‘Undoubtedly’ wouldn’t result in anything. You must acknowledge that except few of your friends and family members, no one cares about your personal struggles. Your personal life is of no-interest to anyone, unless you have some value to share through your life—and to do it—you must come above struggles–petty struggles.

The only way to crack through your Fears and Laziness is—HUSTLE! Crunch your day to its limits. The illusion that you’re already completely dedicated in your last 60 days, even after watching all the Oscar movies, all seasons of Game of Thrones and House of cards, surfing Facebook and Quora and many other participations that are, in a macro level, unnecessary—is a major threat to your preparation. Keep some pleasure time for yourself during your preparation, but last few days must be completely devoted to your revision and preparation.

Maybe you’re not as dedicated as you think you are. May be.

“If you are willing to give what it takes — you’ll win.

Shital: You’ve cleared a lot of fog from my mind. Thank you so much! Can I ask you one last question?

Nilanshi: You are welcome! I am glad I could be of your help! Sure, ask me!

Shital: To conclude, can you tell me the best sources to prepare?

Nilanshi:  There is a helping hand that consistently wave at us from all the aiding bodies around us; especially the coaching institutes, which apart from their regular courses, contribute the market with a lot of valuable free sources. You should just know how to get the most out of them.

Revisions are important! And surprisingly, it’s the most neglected part. Test Series is the best method to rewind your entire journey. Now the question is which test series is the best. The most recommended one is the Vision IAS Test Series which costs around Rs. – 17,000/-. And, if you don’t want to hurt your pockets, there is Chanakya UPSC mains test series – Rs. 10,500/-.

Currently, one of the most structured aiding hand in the industry is IAS Educator. We’ve grouped all the sources, a necessary compilation of study material that can get you started on UPSC preparation. Here is the link: http://www.iaseducator.com/download-study-material-upsc-2017-free/

Do you have any question for Nilanshi Gupta? Kindly ask your questions in the comment section. 

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