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HomeStoriesIAS Topper's Strategy - Bhavya Mittal, IAS, AIR 34 - How to...

IAS Topper’s Strategy – Bhavya Mittal, IAS, AIR 34 – How to Prepare?

Bhavya Mittal successfully secured Rank 34 in the Civil Service Exam popularly known as IAS exams of 2013. She is an IIT Delhi graduate having B. Tech. and M. Tech in Civil Engineering.

Mark-sheet of Bhavya Mittal


Total Marks Marks Obtained
Total (Written) 1750 677
Interview 275 187
Total 2025 864 (42.67%)




Preparation Strategy

bhavya mittal ias topperShe says about the preparation strategy that there is no static rule or guideline to be followed. It differs from individual to individual depending upon his/her strength and weaknesses.

She further adds,

Dedication, motivation and strategy are essential for cracking this examination. Dedication is dependent on one’s own willpower, and is achieved if there is sufficient motivation yet strategy is an area where I can sufficiently help the aspirants. So my focus shall be on strategy.

How to read?

This question is important because in the entire phase of preparation, a lot of material gets thrown at us and most aspirants in their enthusiasm get boggled down by never-ending material. Selective study can help but the most important question to reflect upon is how to read what one is reading so that it can actually be used in the examination.

How to write Answer?

Bhavya Mittal says, “So much for spending hours and days and what seems like a lifetime on this examination if one is not able to deliver in the paper. Thus the art of writing answers need to be cultivated.”

She explains the importance of answer writing an answer in a very lucid way. She says the answer writing should be based on the following points:


Specificity is how precise the answer is in catering to the requirement of the question i.e. did the examiner get what he was looking for in the answer? This can be ensured by focussing on the demand of the question and on writing with brevity.


Comprehensiveness means that the answer is able to cover multiple and  different dimensions and thus reflects a good understanding of an issue and ability to think from all perspectives . It can be ensured by a good knowledge base and by a good approach in thinking. Both can be built upon during the preparation. Knowledge is to be self developed so I will focus on approach of thinking.


Visibility is a measure of how easy and time-saving it is for the examiner to determine that the answer is right and the marks to be given thereof. It means that the eye of the examiner can quickly find the actual answer in the 1-2 pages of matter that we have written per question.

She further adds,

The best way to improve on answers is continuous practice. It should be an effort to write at least one answer on each topic and sub topic covered.  An approach that can be followed to improve answer-writing is to write an answer to a previous year question.

What articles to read in a newspaper?

She answers this query by step by step methodology to be adopted:

  • Read the heading and try to place the topic of the article under the points of the syllabus for GS given by UPSC. Identify the GS paper it caters to and what heading it belong to ex: security, environment, governance, international affairs etc.
  • Have a thorough idea of the questions that are asked on each of the headings under the syllabus by referring to previous years question papers compiled under separate headings. This can help analyse whether a question is likely to be asked on that topic or how important it is.
  • Read articles that cater to the syllabus and on which question is likely to be asked. Thus an analysis of question papers would help one determine that what alliances are being made during elections or political controversies are not important but voting pattern of voters or electoral reforms are important topics regarding elections.

How to make notes?

The frequently asked question is whether to make notes or not but the more important question is that if one is to make notes, then how?

Bhavya Mittal brilliantly explains following points to be kept in mind while making notes:

  1. Revisable notes are easy to read thus the focus should be on legibility and use of simple words.
  2. Revisable notes should be time-saving thus they should be concise and as briefly written as possible. Only then will you actually read them again.
  3. Notes should help one recall the stored knowledge in our memory. The recall process should start just as one reads a question in the examination. Therefore the notes should help one remember and reproduce later. This can be done as I have detailed below.

Book list for Geography Optional suggested by Bhavya Mittal.

Paper 1:

Part A

  1. Savindra Singh Physical Geography [ All chapters including Glossary behind each chapter]
  2. Rupa Made Simple Physical Geography [ Chapters on Slopes, Landscape Development and Soils should not be missed]
  3. ICSE Goyal Bros. Publications Class IX,X,XI,XII books [ It covers pollution, waste management, EIA, biodiversity] These books don’t need to be read line by line. Go through the books to extract points to improve answers or study uncovered portions on Environment.
  4. R.B.Bunnett Physical Geography in Diagrams OR G.C.Leong [To prepare for diagrams]

Part B

  1. For Population and Settlement Geography: Human Geography by Majid Hussain [Specifically portions on Migration, Theories of Population]
  2. For Perspectives in Human Geography: Evolution of Geographical Thought by Majid Hussain [Ch 8,9,10,12]
  3. For Economic Geography and Models and Theories: K.Siddhartha 
  4. Rupa Made Simple Economic and Social Geography [To supplement in areas uncovered]

Paper 2:

  1. Geography of India by Majid Hussain, OR Khullar.
  2. For Maps: Map Entries in Geography K.Siddhartha [Prepare for map entries and written piece along with it]