[Strategy & determination] Safi got Rank 55 without coaching or leaving the job on his first trial

[Strategy & determination] Safi got Rank 55 without coaching or leaving the job on his first trial

  1. Myth#1- you can’t get selected on your first trial
  2. Myth#2- you can’t get selected without going to some big coaching classes @ Delhi
  3. Myth#3- you must quit your job to concentrate for this exam
  4. Myth#4- Management is an unpopular and non-scoring optional subject

And finally we have the man who broke all these myths.
I had the opportunity to get in touch with topper Mr. Safi (he got 55th rank in 2009’s CSE in his 1st attempt without leaving his job). I had emailed him some question and here are the replies.
Here I’m quoting his reply. (take note friends, this is no “usual topper interview that we read in magazines every month’ because  he is talking about the ‘real business- to the point’)


I am Mohammed Y Safirulla (Roll No: 080934) and I have got Rank 55 in Civil Services Exam-2009. I am writing this on the request of Mrunal to describe my preparation strategy. I would be happy if this is of some help to Civil Service aspirants.

About me: I completed my Engineering from ‘PSG College of Technology’ in 2003. I then worked in TCS for 2 years. After writing CAT in 2005 I secured admission in T.A. Pai Management Institute (TAPMI) for PGDM. I completed PGDM in 2007. Since then, I am working with IBM as SAP Consultant.

General Studies

1. How did you deal with general studies + Essay in mains ?

News Paper: I referred ‘The Hindu’ News paper during the last 2 years. I used to take notes for any analysis in this paper. Any center page article which appears to be important I used to cut that and document in a file.
Magazine: Competition Chronicle.
TV: DD News and Lok Sabha Channel (‘Public Form’ – The New Analysis show from 11 to 12 PM every night)
Constitution and Freedom Movement: Referred Prelims Xerox of Brilliant Tutorials
Aptitude: R.S Agarwal

I tried to focus less on data intensive areas and focused on my strengths i.e. Economics, Aptitude and Current affairs. I relied more on Internet to collect data for GS.

Preparation for Options


Ans: My Optional for Prelims was Sociology. For Mains it was Sociology and Management. For Sociology I got guidance from Mrs. Ananya Sharma, who had written the Mains earlier. My Friend and I took guidance from her. Further, I analyzed previous 15 years QPs for Prelims and Mains. I made notes after analyzing them. Source was mainly Internet and the book by C/N Shankar Rao.


For Management I referred my Books (from PGDM days). Here too, I prepared notes.

For 2010 Exam (which I did not take) General Studies preparation, I attended the free GS test series conducted by Namma IAS in Bangalore. I wanted to attend the test series so that I could meet other aspirants and to identify the benchmarks.

For both GS and Optionals I prepared lot of notes from Internet. I believe this gave maximum returns. It is possible to revise notes in short duration (Eg: 2 hours gap between Paper 1 and Paper 2 for Optional in Mains). We can also keep adding points to the topics subsequently.


3. How did you deal with the essay?

No special preparation for essay.

Working professional and time  Management

4. How did you manage it despite being a working professional? The whole time Management aspect? Because everyone doing some job is confused about this.

Few things that I did,
–  Motto of studying for at least 4 hours every working day. Sleep only after study of 4 hours is complete. Absolutely no compromise on this.
–  The study time does not include the time spent for watching News or Browsing on Internet (for whatever).
–  During weekends, study for at least 7 hours each day
–  Alternate days in weekdays for Optional and GS. Both Optional and GS during Weekends.
–  Maintain a chart which indicates the effort in Hours for Optional/GS. In my calendar I have entries which indicate how many hours I spent each day from Jan 2009 to October 22nd  2009 for Optional and GS
–  As far as possible I avoided Social gatherings like Friends get together, Attending Marriages etc…  In short, save every possible minute that you can.
–  I kept the only few close friends and relatives updated about my Civil Service aspiration and progress in the exam.

Motivation -maintaining the rhythm

5.How did you maintain the motivation, rhythm and pace in studies, because most of us go through mood swings like for 10 days “high motivation and working hard” then for next 10 days “no motivation or mood to study anything” and finally month before the exam  doing the fire-fighting, trying to cover everything up in short time.

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