Assaying the Essay

It is a necessary evil for some, for some a blessing. If it is a hurdle it has to be overcome. It will not happen overnight overnight. It is common sense  that every successful essay has to have sound factual/conceptual underpinnings. There has to a a common theme that pervades the entire piece. It shouldnot be and cannot be a inane repetitions or meaningless ramblings. ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ repeated ad nauseum just won’t do!!

Some Steps-
Pick a topic after considerable thought.
Choose the one which you FEEL about.
Remember that your feeling have to be backed by evidence, facts, sound balanced opinion etc. covering all possible (and relevant) dimensions regarding the topic- Etymological/Historical/Geographical/ Social/ Economical/Political/Ethical/Environmental/personal/local/National/International/Intergalactic! J

Create a skeletal mindmap– ***
Very brief headings and subheadings covering the entire essay.( I had made some rough ones. I will share them if I can find them.)

You can have two kinds of points-
The NUKES and The Fodder.

And the rest will be-Language– This is the easy part. Only link the ideas. The whole should come out as a connected piece with smooth seamless transitions, with one idea leading to other, and still relevant to the main theme. NEVER DIGRESS.

Play to your strengths. If you are not good being verbose, keep it SIMPLE. Simple yet Beautiful. It must appear to be a worl of art not a splattering of excrement on the paper.

Its all about the experience. If you loved writing it, more often than not the examiner will love reading it.

Post Script : 1) Bulking up!!– Ideas grow over time. One has to be equipped with the necessary munition before seriously attempting an essay. Original thinkers are pretty rare. One can easily however, easily bulk up on the conventional ideas being floated around in the tak shows/Mags/Newspapers.

2)Write weekly! You might even submit and article For the OPEN PAGE section of THE HINDU

You folks Keep Slogging, I will keep Blogging 🙂
Cheers

Interview Strategy- Score More!!

The UPSC has finally disclosed the interview and mains marks. More than775 in mains and over around 175 in PT is must for harboring any hopes of getting in the administrative services.

Mains is straight forward Read and Revise and Presentation (More on MAINS later)

Back in the graduation days we used to have theoretical exams and practicals including viva-voce. It was then that I realised the importance of the ‘Interview Skills’. It goes without saying that one needs to have a respectable knowledge of the content before presenting ones viewpoints, but there are certain skills and a particular attitude that can go a log way into making the PT one of your strong areas.

I did not do great in the content aspect, meaning my answers were not extraordinary but being well prepared mentally and being presentable helped me score 201 and make the cut. It compensated for a below par 782 in the Mains that I managed.

State of Mind-

This is perhaps the most important part. Make or break. It would determine your rank, your service , cadre,  everything related to the UPSC CSE

It is the most essential aspect in that you are being tested for your communication, presentation, thinking, reasoning skills which are sine qua non for a prospective Officer.

Get into that frame-
Imagine you are already in the job. Say, you are in a meeting with hot-shots , or addressing a Press Conference. How would you act then? This is in brief what your PT is all about. To express yourself directly, soundly, and convincingly.

The Skills take time
One does not become an orator overnight. It requires great deal of patience, practice and proper guidance. It is true for any other field. Getting into a proper shape- physical or mental is time consuming, but its a frame of mind worth getting into.

Simple Exercises
1)IMAGINE yourself to be into the fabled corridors of the UPSC and being escorted to the interview board. Anticipate it. The walk, the churning of the gut, that rush, that chill down the spine.
2) Mirror, mirror! Tell it all!! 
Practice speaking before a mirror. Write down  questions on a chit and draw them randomly. Think for some time, formulate your thoughts, get the necessary phrases, anticipate the possible counter questions that might follow and respond in a calm, controlled and confident manner.
3) Summarise– after reading say an article of the HIndu or the IE, close your eyes and try to summarize it in say a 100 words, recapitulate the key words. This helps not only in memorisation but also helps to avoid verbosity and brings about brevity in the responses, a desirable trait in an officer.
4) V-LOGS – Alternatively, you could record yourself and analyse the clip later, with or without friends. This helps to identify Gestures( facial/bodily), Slips of tongues, Catch-phrases, Beating around the bush, tone, pitch, pace, etcetera.
An indispensable exercise to master the movements of the tongue and bosy and make them fluid, seamless and purposeful.
5) Learn from the best– Turn to presenters from the BBC, Al- jazeera, CNN; world leaders- Barack Obama, PM Modi ji, Putin, Cameroon; Speakers who have honed the craft of story telling. This is in short what it is. Telling them a tale and keeping them spell-bounded. Additionally, this helps you to stay abreast with the changes in the world, to say the least.

SOME USEFUL RESOURCES-The usual suspects- RSTV, LSTV-Akashvani AIR- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdwm5QNss1TpY_whBkql0dw

Al jazeera English-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNye-wNBqNL5ZzHSJj3l8Bg

Big think-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvQECJukTDE2i6aCoMnS-Vg

 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiCPv2sV_D3FqMRzzUFA2Fg

BBC NEWS-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC16niRr50-MSBwiO3YDb3RA

Big History Project –  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQsm_PPL5jZhcuoowPZDQA

Centre for strategic and international studies-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr5jq6MC_VCe1c5ciIZtk_w

CGP grey-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2C_jShtL725hvbm1arSV9w

CNN-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCupvZG-5ko_eiXAupbDfxWw

Council on foreign relations-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL_A4jkwvKuMyToAPy3FQKQ

Crash Course-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX6b17PVsYBQ0ip5gyeme-Q

DD news –  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKwucPzHZ7zCUIf7If-Wo1g

INdian Diplomacy-   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJyP-OtuzlRV-r-3vR9qQTg

IDSA-   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPchKmESOEs6XvhPYYS1s8w

Journeyman Pictures-   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCM2YmsRUeIbRkqjgNm0eTGQ

Nature video-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7c8mE90qCtu11z47U0KErg

Nat Geo- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpVm7bg6pXKo1Pr6k5kxG9A

Online Communication Skills Training-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5Zb02pmVD2VA7lnx8mV4gw

Online Spoken English Course-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4Ue98XJi_0-sWFOwbWBkzQ

Observer Research Foundation-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOZnql2gYgsIvnc-8-7DmcQ

PIB –  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGn6a5SI8SNlj7WylmPD6GQ

PMO India-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDS9hpqUEXsXUIcf0qDcBIA

PRS legislative-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLz-5KdjrNZGdenYfIvt-dw

Shashi Tharoor-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1At8WvjglVCC8TfSXit9Bw
Talks at Google-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbmNph6atAoGfqLoCL_duAg

TED –  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAuUUnT6oDeKwE6v1NGQxug

The Economist-   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0p5jTq6Xx_DosDFxVXnWaQ

The NYT-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnbDFdCpuN8CMEg0VuEBqA

Hello Folks!!

I am Khushaal. You can call me ‘K ‘! (Read about me here!)

Its been one full week since the declaration of results.I, too was lucky to get tips/ tricks and avail of resources generously shared by the good Samaritans ( Gaurav Aggarwal, Ghanshyam Thori and many others.)  Now that the dust has settled, I feel I must do my bit to help clear the air regarding UPSC CSE preparation. I will share my story, stuff and strategy with you before time runs out for either of us.

I haven’t planned anything concrete yet. There will be something for everything and everybody. Writeups will include-

Essay

Interview

Mains Answer writing,

Youtube channels worth subscribing,

Podcasts

Medical Science QuestionBankAnalysis

There would be a couple of videos detailing how to read newspaper effectively, study smartly, approach the interview.

Let me know if you have any specific queries in the comments below. But, please allow me a couple of days to upload my approach to the exam. If you still find the doubts nagging, fire away!!