Kanishak Kataria has become a common name in the minds of many UPSC aspirants. This is because he secured AIR 1 in UPSC CSE 2018.

Every year around 10 lakh candidates give UPSC Exam and Clearing this is an achievement in itself. But he not only cleared it but also secured rank 1 in it.

About Kanishak Kataria

Lets understand something about Kanishak Kataria’s life

  • He secured Rank 44 in IIT JEE ( 2010 )
  • He did his B. Tech in Computer Science(CSE) in 2014 from the prestigious IIT Bombay.
  • He then joined samsung in South Korea and worked there as a Software Engineer for 2 years. (2014-16)
  • Later he shifted to Bangalore and worked for an American Startup as data analyst. (2016-19)
  • His father is a Civil Servant and mother, a homemaker.
  • His elder sister is a medical student in Sawai Man Singh Hospital.
  • His Girlfriend Sonal Chouhan works in Rakuten Inc. in Tokyo, Japan.
  • He belongs to scheduled caste (SC).

It’s a very surprising moment for me and my family. I was not expecting 1st rank. I thank my parents, sister & my girlfriend for their moral support and help throughout this journey. People will expect me to be a good administrator who will listen to their grievances & that’s exactly my intention.

kanishak kataria Prelims marksheet

Kanishak Kataria Booklist

We will now cover every book which Kanishak Kataria used to study during his preparation. This will help us in knowing which book are important which are not. So let’s start.


For Ancient History:
  • He read class notes of Jain Sir
  • He only read a few chapters of NCERTs
  • Test series helped him doing reverse learning in ancient History

Medieval History

He didn’t study from any specific book but prepared from coaching notes.

Modern History

  • NCERTs of Class 11-12
  • Spectrum’s A Brief History of Modern India
  • He also  prepared from class notes of Parmar Sir

Art and Culture:

  • Nitin SInghania’s Art and Culture
  • He also prepared from Vajiram class notes and also its test series for this.

Indian Polity

  • NCERT Political Science (Class 11): Indian Constitution at Work
  • Class notes of Vajiram


  • NCERT Books For Geography Class 11-12
  • He read class notes of Vajiram especially of Manocha Sir, Amit Sir and Shivarpit Sir
  • Map work: He prepared himself for it. He also used the Internet in its preparation.
  • He used to watch Rajtanil lectures only for Physical Geography.

Download: NCERT Books for Free in PDF form


  • NCERT – XII Macroeconomics
  • Class notes of Vajiram, Sriram notes booklet ( He topwise covered these notes.)
  • Economic Survey especially Part 2
  • He visited sites like investopedia, vikaspedia, etc


  • Class notes of Vajiram
  • He also took Internet’s help


  • He covered the last 4 chapters of NCERT Biology class XII
  • Class notes of Vajiram
  • He prepared notes with the help of Internet
  • Shankar IAS notes

Current Affairs

  • He used to read The Hindu.
  • Daily Current Affairs summaries
  • class notes of Vajiram And Vision IAS PT 365s
  • Internet
  • He did not read Magazines for current Affairs as he hardly had any time for it.


  • The Hindu Newspaper
  • Vision PTs

Read: UPSC 2018 AIR 95 Dhananjay Singh Yadav Preparation Strategy

Kanishak Kataria Preparation Strategy

kanishak kataria marksheet

Kanishak Kataria cleared civil services exam in his first attempt. His Optional subject was Mathematics. Now let’s discuss his strategy.

Since he was from science background and it has been 7-8 years when he left studying, so he had to do everything from scratch. Kanishka then started reading NCERTs to cover the basic things. He believes that one can go to advance studies only  when his basics are clear. So, he read NCERTs which helped him in building a foundation for him.

He read NCERTs for Geography and took some help from Internet. In history, he read old NCERTs as well Spectrum as it has covered all the things in concise way.

It’s important to understand what to read and how much?

  • He used to study 12-13 hours daily before exam.
  • He stopped using mobile phones and social media completely 2 months before the exam.
  • He believes in hard work and persistence.
  • He practised his optional a lot since it has a huge syllabus.

UPSC Prelims Strategy: Mock Test

Read: Prelims Strategy of UPSC 2017 AIR 2 Anu Kumari

Kanishak Kataria believes that Mocks helped him a lot in learning new topics. His aim was to score more correct answers as well as to know those topics about which he doesn’t. He used to analyze whether he had read about that topic earlier or not to have a better clarity of that topic.

He studied for Prelims diligently and took Mains when the time arrived. He maintained a positive outlook throughout during his preparation and it also helped him in staying calm and giving his best performance.

Personality Test 

In his interview, the interviewer asked him questions work experience in Korea, his job profile, etc. Apart from this they wanted to test his knowledge as policy maker. He was asked about the Pulwama Terror attack, his views on that issue as well as about India terror strategy.

Questions related to his Korean experience were also asked from him. He was also given a situation based question where he was a secretary and he was to talk about technological development without impacting job loss.

This is how his interview went but as he has worked in MNC’s so he gave organised answers.  He believes that the main aim of Interview is to test the clarity of thought in a person.

My Opinion about Kanishak Kataria

After analysing his strategy, i noticed that that Kanishak Kataria has one thing which many aspirants does not have that is, clarity. He knew what he had to study, when he has to prepare for it, how many attempts he will give and so on. Apart from this, his family’s as well as his girlfriend helped her a lot during his preparation.


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