Inspirational Journey of ForumIAS User Namami Bansal, Rank 17: Motivation and Strategy for UPSC Prelims & Mains

ForumIAS announcing GS Foundation Program for UPSC CSE 2025-26 from 18th June. Click Here for more information.

Name: Namami Bansal

Roll No: 0950301

Optional Subject: Economics

Home town: Rishikesh

I prepared for CSE from my hometown. Usually aspirants come to Delhi to prepare for CSE. In my case it was the other way around – I was in Delhi for 5 years (for Eco hons and work with ET), I left job and went back home to prepare for CSE. I started preparing in isolation. For initial 6 months it was all good, then started the feeling of being lost, especially after prelims 2014. I discovered ForumIAS while searching expected cut offs for prelims 2014. Thereafter, ForumIAS has been my friend in this journey.


ForumIAS has helped me tremendously in various ways like being updated about notifications to reviews about books, latest editions, and general queries even trivial ones- answers to which are difficult to find elsewhere e.g. which pen to use in mains etc. The forum does not let us miss out on anything. It’s a boon for aspirants like me who decide to do self-study and are apprehensive of missing out on important updates.

I read the discussions on the forum. Most of my queries were solved by reading previous comments. I also found Neyawn’s articles very helpful.

My inspiration 

My journey of CSE began way back in childhood but I started dedicated preparation in 2014 January. My father introduced me to what this exam is about and he has been the prime source of inspiration throughout my life. He always supported me in all my decisions. My mother is my best friend. As long as she is smiling, my world is in place. A special mention to my younger brother – Vibhum Bansal who is my biggest critic- he keeps me grounded and at the same time motivates me like no one else. His words echo in mind when I am really disheartened – Didi you can do it! My family is my reason and the ability to come so far.

My strategy

For prelims:

According to me, this is the most difficult stage of this exam. One needs to have a balanced approach (across sections and between static – current portions).

I read standard books like Bipin Chandra, Laxmikanth, NCERT for Geography (be thorough with maps), economic survey and my own notes for current affairs. For science and technology focused only on current developments especially on defence, space technology, biotech etc.

Practice papers to understand where you have scope for improvement and revise those areas.

Don’t refer/read ten sources for one topic rather read one book / material ten times.

Understand your strong areas, how your mind works with MCQs and where you make mistakes frequently. What kind of questions you are consistently getting wrong. All this will help you make better choices on the exam day. It’s important to understand what we really know and what we don’t (half way – I have heard about this but not sure- can be fatal).

For mains: 

Answer writing practice is a must. This was the single most important factor which was lacking in my preparation in 2014 mains when I could not complete most of the papers and cleared mains only to realize that I could have done so much better. Please practice answer writing before appearing for mains.

I revised the same books for mains. For art and culture, referred 11th class fine arts NCERT book and my notes from internet. Practice maps of India, world and diagrams in geography.

For GS 2, mainly Laxmikanth and current affairs of Polity and IR.

For GS 3, Economic survey is highly recommended. It’s a treasure of facts. Focus on current developments in sci-tech, environment and their background information.

For Essay, I wrote a few for practice. One should have a holistic approach and use relevant quotes and facts.

Message for ForumIAS team: 

You are doing a great job. Keep it up. Best wishes.

Message for Forum users:

I will quote something I truly live by:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowl lines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. EXPLORE, DREAM, DISCOVER!” 🙂

Now that you have decided to take the exam, Give it your 100%. Every year serious aspirants refer almost the same sources and otherwise also the information about polity, economy, geography, history is same. The difference is how well you read these. How you use what you read in writing answers. Believe in yourself and work hard, there is no substitute for it.

Wish you all the very best 🙂


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