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This UPPCS Topper’s Success Story Is Made Of Sheer Grit

Lucknow's Pratiksha Pandey cracked UPPCS in her fifth attempt She overcame major health issues to make her mark She feels preparing for UPSC and PCS can be advantageous
Indian Masterminds Stories

Barely two weeks before her final Interview, Pratiksha Pandey from Lucknow was hospitalised. She could barely speak and yet her answers so impressed the panel that she notched the second spot in the UPPCS-2022 exams.

So as they say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”, this Tech graduate did not allow anything to stand in her way. Her health was clearly not her wealth, so she raced against destiny, running in circles around hospital corridors, but never giving up on her dreams.

Speaking with Indian Masterminds, Ms. Pandey said, “My health was my cross to bear. Focusing on preparation was challenging for me. I was under constant mental stress because even after hard work, I couldn’t crack the Prelims for four years straight.”

CHOICE SHE MADE

Pratiksha gave her first UP PCS exam in 2017 and qualified for mains, but could not pass it. Then till 2021, she couldn’t crack the prelims even once. 

Her civil services preparation began with UPSC CSE. Her first three years were dedicated to UPSC. 

It was then that she decided to the state services a go. She started taking PCS seriously from 2021.

Pratiksha with her mother and brother

NURTURING DREAMS

Ms. Pandey, who originally belongs to a Jaunpur village, grew up under an engineer father, who is now retired. With their mother as a homemaker, she and her two elder siblings were all dedicated students. With her brother being an IITian and her sister employed in the private sector, Pratiksha too needed to make her mark.

Starting her education at a primary school in Kanpur, Ms. Pandey moved to Lucknow after her class 8, and passed her 10th and 12th from the CBSE board. 

Her health started to crumble in her final year of graduation (B.Tech) from Shri Ramswaroop College of Engineering. This was also the beginning of her foundation for the civil services.

DIFFICULT ROAD

After graduating in 2016, she started her preparation and joined a civil services coaching in Lucknow for a year 2018-19. However, constant deterioration in her health affected her preparation. 

Pratiksha did not give up. She chose Sociology as optional and gave her exam in English.

Remembering her struggle, Ms. Pandey said, “I tried hard not to let my studies be affected by the sickness, but spending hours in the hospital took its toll.”

She was running between hospitals and studies for months and years. “It had become a part of my life. My daily routine,” she recalled.

Pratikhsa (in the middle) with her family

STRATEGY

She focussed on hand-written notes, small targets and analysis of her weakness. She also gave many mock tests before every exam. She believes if the preparation of UPSC and PCS are done simultaneously, it will help.

She said, “In 2021, when I shifted focus to UP PCS, I targetted current affairs as it was my weak spot. I started multiple revisions of my notes. These notes turned out to be my ‘Brahmastra’.” 

Her notes sailed her through her Mains. She also used to set day-wise targets. If her three-day targets on topics were not completed, she would put them in pending. “In the end, whenever I got time, I used to read the pending topics,” she explained.

INTERVIEW

Pratiksha’s interviewer left an indelible mark on her for the way they accepted her situation and did not prod her on her poor health. “That does not mean I was not grilled. As I could not speak well, there was a slight constraint. But no question regarding my health was asked in the interview. They focused only on my optional and other topics,” she said.

She had to answer questions on poverty, caste discrimination, inter-caste marriages, women who inspire her and the importance of biodiversity among others. 

Why is there talk of giving equal recourse to all to remove poverty? Where is Rio de Janeiro? Two women in India that inspire you? These are some of the questions they asked her.

With her parents

MANTRA

“Learn what not to do from toppers,” is Pratiksha’s mantra to all aspirants.

Do not do random study, your preparation has to be strategic. Make a plan and move accordingly. Analyse your weaknesses and strengths. Keep limited study material. Reading two books per subject is sufficient.”

As she gets ready to take charge as…, she believes she has many more battles to win, but with determination like her’s destiny will not make her “pratiksha” any harder.


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