IAS Toppers Interview: RISHAV KUMAR JHA Rank 162

  • by IAS Score
Rank in CSE 2015 162
Total Attempts in CSE 2
Optional Subject MAITHILI


Class 10 percentage of marks 98
 Class 12 Percentage of marks 78
Graduation: College and marks NIT SURATHKAL (6.7 CGPA)
Post graduation: College and marks NA
Any other course NA

IAS Score: What were the basic mantras of your success?

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: Hard work and smart work. Besides, consistency and faith in oneself is also important. You have to believe that if someone can do it, you can do it as well.

IAS Score: What were your strategies for the lengthy syllabus of General Studies for both Prelims and Mains?

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: I first started with the basics, viz. Laxmikanth, Ramesh Singh etc. Then, I completed my optional and side-by-side tried finishing the GS syllabus for mains. This way my preparation was streamlined and I never felt any burden. I would make short term goals of 15 days and execute my plans accordingly. The hugeness of GS syllabus will be felt only if the preparation is haphazard and piece-meal. One should always keep the prelims and mains schedule in mind and prepare accordingly.

IAS Score: Did you integrate your Prelims or Mains preparation or was it separate in the changing scenario?

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: Most of the base which needs to be covered for mains forms the core syllabus for prelims. So, I started with basics, then moved on to mains preparation and then before prelims, devoted around a month exclusively for it. So, the preparation was integrated but organized according to the schedule of the two exams.

GS Preparation for Prelims (Summary)

Study material / Guidance Self-study
Basic Books Laxmikanth, NCERTs, Ramesh Singh, Shankar for environment.
Current Affairs Hindu, GK Today, Vision monthly booklets

GS Mains Preparation (Summary)

Paper Study Material/Guidance Current Issues Source Answer Writing Practice
GS Paper 1 Self-study mostly from books No current issues in this paper Vision test series and self-practice at home
GS Paper 2 Mostly from internet and booklets Hindu, Yojana, Mrunal, PRS, Insights Same
GS Paper 3 Mostly from internet and books Same along with Economic survey Same
GS Paper 4 GS Score S K Mishra sir notes Current issues already covered in papers 2 and 3 Same

Optional Subject Preparation  (Summary)

Study material / Guidance Surendra Raut sir (Prabodhan IAS)
Basic Books Syllabus books
Current Affairs No current affairs in this optional
Answer Writing At coaching and at home
Any other

IAS Score: How did your prepare for essay.

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: I firstly went through the strategies of toppers, viz. multi-dimensionality, flow between paragraphs, catchy introduction and conclusion etc. Then I mugged up some quotes by inspirational figures like Gandhiji, Swami Vivekananda etc. Then I wrote down a few essays at home and tried to get them cross-checked by a third person. During mains, I tried to finish the first essay within 1.5 hours and do justice to both the essays.

IAS Score: Did you adopt any specific strategy for GS Paper 4?

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: I firstly joined the classes at GS Score by S K Mishra sir and tried to imbibe the strategies laid out by him. Unfortunately, h fell ill and couldn’t continue with the classes. But, I continued with his strategies, viz. preparing for case studies along with the preparations for the questions in this paper. His overall talisman for this paper was to make our views legal, rational and ethical. I followed this path quite sincerely.


IAS Score: What were the sources of information for general reading? How did you come to know that which sources of reading materials are standard?

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: I went through the strategies of numerous toppers and followed the trial-and-error method to find out what suited me most.


IAS Score:  What is your advice on notes-making for other aspirants?

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: Notes-making is absolutely important. One, it helps one to save time and effort while revising during exams. Two, it helps one to develop answer-writing skills of one’s own. I made hand-written notes from weight-losing sources like Hindu, Yojana, random internet articles etc. But I would never make notes out of books which need to be read cover-to-cover like Laxmikanth. I personally think it is a wastage of time and effort.


IAS Score: How did you manage your time during the preparation?

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: I would plan my studies for the next 15 days and execute them efficiently. So when my target would seem to be in reach, I would take a break and not exert any undue pressure on myself. My typical day would start at 11 in the morning and go up to 4-5 in the morning. There was no strict schedule but I would not waste much time. I would rather sleep or watch a good movie when bored.


IAS Score: What was your style (paragraph or point format) Of writing in the exam? How was it distinct from the general writing style? How did you develop this writing style?

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: This is a sticky issue. Usually, body should be written in points and intro-conclusion in paragraphs. But there are questions where we can’t just write in points. Directives are very important to follow. They make differences to make or break your selection.  I developed this style with continuous practice and self-correction.


IAS Score: So much focus is being given to Test Series, both for Prelims and Mains, in your opinion how useful are they, in the course of a preparation process? Which Test Series did you join and how useful did you find it to be?

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: Test series is not important for prelims as there is no issue of answer-writing and the number of probable questions is infinite. For mains, I joined Vision. One of my friends had joined GS Score and I would write answers from his papers at home only. I sincerely found these test series as extremely beneficial as there were a lot of questions in mains which had already been asked here and also because practicing answer-writing helped me to develop my own tempo and style.


IAS Score: Civil Services Exam process is quite strenuous. It requires long hours of constant study. How did you maintain your tempo and what did you do to break the monotony of preparation?

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: I maintained my tempo through efficient planning and even better execution (at least that is what I tried). I would watch good movies or listen to music to break my monotony. There were days when I wouldn’t feel like studying at all. I would just sleep off or do anything other than studying on those days.

IAS Score: The trend suggests that professionals or working people are more successful in this exam. Does this exam prove difficult for Humanities and Social Science background candidates?

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: I have been completely unemployed since my graduation in 2014, so I have broken the first myth. As I am not a humanities student, I cannot comment on the second part. However, I feel that this exam should, in fact, be difficult for non-humanities people given the syllabus of the exam and the kind of preparation required.

IAS Score: Which sources you referred to prepare for Contemporary Issues.

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: The Hindu, Yojana, PRS, Iasscore free downloads, GK Today, Mrunal, Insights, LSTV and RSTV

IAS Score: Given the recent boom in online initiatives to support an aspirant, which were the platforms that you find useful enough during your course of preparation. Please list the sites.




lstv website,

rstv website,


IAS Score: What is your advice to the candidates who is still in the process of preparing for this examination?

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: Don’t lose heart. The more perseverance you show, the more sweeter your success will taste.

IAS Score: Your word for future aspirants

RISHAV KUMAR JHA: Enjoy the process. The things you learn during this phase will change you as a human being. Competition is tough and seats are limited. So, no matter you fail or succeed, you will always remember this phase. Life gives us many chances, we have to grab just one.



Paper Marks
Prelims 148 (GS)
Essay (Paper 1) 135
GS 1 (Paper 2) 102
GS 2 (Paper 3) 84
GS 3 (Paper 4) 113
GS 4 (Paper 5) 76
Optional 1 (Paper 6) 122
Optional 2 (Paper 7) 119
Written Total 751
Personality Test 165
Total Score 916