UPSC 2017 Topper Anu Kumari Detailed Preparation Strategy
I did not have a plan when I started out. Rather I was full of insecurities, doubts and fears (as i have only 2 attempts remaining owing to age factors and the possibility of failure). Then, I tried to pick bits and pieces from different people’s strategies. After going through peoples’ strategies, I tried to do what I felt were genuine and honest suggestion by them. Finally i made my own plan based on their suggestions.By Anu Kumari
We all know that different people have different backgrounds. Just to elaborate, Anu Kumari had working knowledge of Economics as she had done her MBA in Finance, so perhaps she was comfortable with Economy without reading 11th and 12th NCERTs or Ramesh Singh. She only did Sri Ram printed Economics notes . So, design your strategy accordingly.
First of all, She did not take any coaching for GS papers or for that matter her optional. But, she did join a test series for her optional Sociology at Nice IAS which helped her a lot and she gave mock interviews at different institutes.
Anu Kumari Booklist
She did Current affairs from insights daily and did not make any notes from that rather revised from their monthly current affairs compilations.
For GS PAPER II (Aptitude Test), she did no separate preparation, her English was already okay. Her Maths was already prepared as she had cleared SSC CGL exam wherein she had revised different Maths formulae.
Test Series– For Prelims she joined an online test series. She revised the questions that she got wrong 3- 4 times. She started doing the test series in the last 2 months before prelims. She did not follow any other test series.
She had prepared an excel file wherein she had made separate sheets for various national and international reports (like ease of doing business report), another sheet for various world/regional bodies like UN, ASEAN etc, another sheet for different tribes in India, another sheet for important statistics (eg: our spending on education, health etc). She kept revising this excel for prelims, mains and some bits for interview too. It came especially handy for her Prelims preparation.
Advice– Please pick any one website, don’t get carried away by multitude of information available on different websites. Important thing is to revise,
I made sure that I revised all standard books including NCERTs multiple times (4-5 times). Similarly, I revised current affairs and test series multiple times which helped me in prelims, mains and in interview too.By Anu Kumari
Detailed Mains strategy
To start mains answer writing, first cover all the basic books for UPSC and then practice answer writing. For 4-5 months at a stretch (from Aug 16 to Jan 17), she wrote 7-8 answers daily on register and then compared them with other answers written in online websites. She had done this before preliminary exam itself.
After prelims, She prepared notes from current affairs (very short notes for quick revision) in soft copy, paper-wise (like GS-1,2,3 and 4 separately). She also revised standard books multiple times again what she had done during preliminary. She practised answer writing for GS papers by writing 7-8 tests (at home only and then compared them with model answers as given in various test series). She sometimes asked her friends to evaluate her copies.
Some tips to enrich your answers in mains –
- Substantiate with statistics and current affairs
- Use names of expert committees to suggest solutions
- Use diagrams to the extent possible
- Answer on multiple dimensions ( such as: social, political, economic, cultural etc)
- Use quotes (to the extent possible, even in GS 1,2,3 papers)
- Do underline to highlight important stuff
For GS 4 ie, Ethics, she collected good quotes by Swami Vivekanand, Gandhi, Einstein, Mandela etc, made them her laptop wallpapaers. She used to put her syllabus in front of herself and ensured that she have understood and covered each and every topic, especially the definition of each and every word written there.
She reflected back on her entire life and made notes of the good things and the bad things that she had done in life and tried to use real life examples in her answers. (eg- a real life example of moral dilemma is when your friend is cheating in exams and copying from you- On the one hand, she is helping her friend to improve her marks, but on the other hand, this is morally wrong) This exercise was a good self reflection exercise too that helped her in understanding herself better.
She consulted the book G Subbarao and did all concepts from the book and solved several case studies from that.
Advice– Please do not ignore this paper. With less preparation, it can give you an edge over others who are also preparing for the same. Prepare examples of various situations in advance like conflict of interest, moral dilemma etc so that they can be quoted in exam which will enhance your score. Learn names of important people with integrity like S Manjunath, etc too.
She practised writing 12-15 essays easily, learnt a lot of quotes of different leader and tried building essay on temporal scale (ancient, medieval, modern etc) and/or covering multiple dimensions like social, political, economical etc. She also linked the topics with current affairs. She did not use headings but always tried that the person reading the essay should find it like reading a story and used very simple language. She tried to ensure linkage/continuity between successive paragraphs (For eg: If she is discussing social aspect of some issue after its economic aspect, she would write it like “Not only does ABC issue has economic implications but it also has some social implications”). I believe that you guys too should write like that.
She used many quotes. She also used Question answer format in my answers eg: She chose the essay “Realisation of Modern woman is a myth”. Here she kept asking Qs and then wrote Ans to these Qs to build on her essay like “Who is a modern woman?…………….” “ What is it that she wants?………………….” “Why is it difficult to realise her?….”. This eventually helped her in forging a better essay.
Economic Survey and Budget
Friends, I am separately mentioning her strategy regarding Economic Survey and Budget because it is extremely important to cover both these things. She did not read the original volume of these but read the summary of GS Score. Initially, it took her around 2-3 days to cover the ES but then she made short notes on every page of the summary of ES and trust me when I say this, in last stages, it took her only an hour to revise the whole ES booklet. So do make notes, it will benefit you only. This is UPSC 2017 Topper Anu Kumari Detailed Preparation Strategy. So please read it completely.Optional Sociology
Basic material that She referred to was- Upendra Sir classroom Notes available in the market which covered both Paper 1 and Paper 2 end to end from these except the thinkers of Paper 2 . Mahaptra Sir classroom notes – She did Paper 2 Thinkers from this, which has been covered in minute detail. Harlambos Blue Book (the bigger one not the orange one)- She did selected topics from this book eg chapter 1, 14 etc.
She joined a test series for her optional subject: Sociology at Nice IAS (Praveen Kishore sir) after her preliminary exam which helped her a lot in structuring her answers and understanding the concepts lucidly (coming from a science background and taking up a humanities subject, she found it difficult to prepare on her own, Test series helped her in clearing her doubts).
For Paper 2, the test series helped her a lot as Praveen sir explained several important concepts to her which She had missed from above sources (For example waves of women movements, social movements topic etc).
UPSC 2017 Topper Anu Kumari Detailed Preparation Strategy
Detailed Optional Strategy
One can start by covering the course from some standard source such as any good teacher’s notes available in the market. Make this as your basic material and then keep supplementing it with few other sources like IGNOU books, HARLAMBOS book, Ritzer etc. If possible, do join a test series. Keep a question bank with you and go through the past years’ Questions to understand the level of your understanding and preparation (whether you are able to answer those Questions or not and if there is some topic that you have missed and so on).
What exactly to study and from where to study is a very subjective thing. It differs from aspirant to aspirant. I am going to present here what Anu Kumari referred..Please note that her sources were haphazard and very extensive (they were based on multitude of information available online). Post the prelims exam and before mains, She narrowed down to few resources and this narrowing down was not systematic or methodical. Rather, it was random and influenced by many factors like paucity of time and also the guidance which she received at the test series. So, there’s no certainty that covering only what She covered would suffice, So please be cautious and pick what you feel comfortable with.
Some bits of her experience and my advice to you are:
- Firstly, let me tell you that it is difficult for those who do not have a background in this subject to prepare without guidance. She tried and she tried hard, but it was quite straning to understand the abstract concepts. Gradually, things started making sense to her after multiple readings but initially it was difficult.
She remembered, “when I joined test series, I asked Praveen Kishore sir how much chance I stood at clearing the exam because I had not read many of the Books/sources that Sir was suggesting, and concepts were also not clear to me. Sir replied- Do you have any choice other than to give your best. I replied “No”. So, I did what I could do best…study study and study. Thankfully, things turned out well.”
- Don’t blindly follow others’ advice. Someone (on the sociology telegram group) said that by covering only two books by a particular Indian author on Paper 1 & 2 respectively would be sufficient for the exam. (But, it is not so, as she found after spending a lot of time on reading those books). You may refer such concise books for supplementing some of the topics which you perhaps could not find elsewhere or in the internet but they are not enough for comprehensive preparation.
- In the beginning (before Prelims exam), Since she was finding it difficult to understand this subject, so she started referring multiple sources like Graduation and Post graduation, IGNOU books (PDFs are available online); Aditya Mongra online notes (available on FB), Notes of Tusharanshu, AIR 75, CSE 2014 (pdf available online); Kshitiz Tyagi Paper 1 Notes (scanned copy of his handwritten notes), Vikas Ranjan books on Paper 1 and 2 . No doubt, it did enrich the content of her answers but let me tell you that after reading from so many sources, she was at total loss as to where from to learn or memorise (So many sources can be read(no doubt) but she seriously doubt if all of these can be memorised.) Hence, one advice is- keep your sources limited and revise them multiple times.
- As mains approached (post preliminary exam), she narrowed down to few basic resources which are
- Upendra Sir Notes (classroom handwritten notes available in the market)- which covered both paper 1 and paper 2 from here but remember paper 2 needs more content (paper 2 is not fully covered through these notes).
- Mahapatra Sir classroom handwritten notes (she referred them only for Indian Thinkers section)
- Harlambos Blue book (the big one, not the small orange one)- Covered few topics from this which are-
- INTRODUCTION (Chapter 0),
- Chapter 1- Till Page 26 ie, from “Introduction” to “A critique of the neoliberal perspective”, then from page 30-34 ie from “Social stratification- a marxist Perspective” and “Social stratification- a Weberian Perspective”
- Chapter 7 “Religion”- from page number 431 to 436 ie, “Religion: a functionalist perspective” to “Evaluation of Marxism”. Then from page number 446 to 451 ie “Religion and Social Change“ to “Religion and Social Change- Conclusion”
- Chapter 14- she covered the full chapter.
- Chapter 15-She covered page no. 953 to 984 ie “Introduction” to “Ethnomethodology Critique”
- Complemented and enriched above content with the learnings from the Test series that she joined at Nice IAS (Praveen Kishore Sir). The best part about Sir is that he is very patient. She had so many doubts and queries and Sir very patiently responded to all her queries. Even on the day of mains paper, she asked him one query. The biggest help from this test series was taht she became better in structuring her answers (maintaining flow and continuity), better clarity of concepts and time management in optionals answer writing. Earlier, She had to memorise through force, but now the clarity of concepts made her not only fall in love with this subject but also precluded the need to memorise.
- She covered several topics such as social movements (caste movements, women movements, social change, women rights etc) from test series’ discussion only, as they were not lucidly covered elsewhere which benefited her.
- Certain topics that She covered from particular sources-
- Sociology vs common sense (Tusharanshu Paper 1 notes, available in pdf format)
- Comparison of Sociology with other Social science subjects- she covered this from Kshitiz Tyagi Sir Paper 1 Notes (handwritten notes and scanned copy)
- Tusharanshu notes for Paper 2 which earlier sounded Greek to her, now started making some sense. She referred few portions from this to enrich her answers and also to cover certain topics which she could not find comprehensively elsewhere. These are- Topic 1 (Perspectives on the study of Indian Society), Topic 2 (Impact of Colonial Rule on the Indian Society), Topic 3 (Rural and Agrarian Social Structure of India) and Topic 4 (Caste System in India), she properly covered all these topics. (Caution- these notes are very detailed (perhaps compilation from multiple sources and hence a little lack of flow), they might confuse you. Refer them only selectively, only if you want and only after you have covered the syllabus from alternative source), No need to cover every single line, Cover only what you find relevant and understand properly.
- Yogendra Singh book- Modernisation of Indian Tradition- She covered 1stand 7thchapter from this book.
- IGNOU books- Please note that she I did not refer all the ignou books after preliminary exam (which had consumed a lot of my time before prelims). Now, I covered only selected topics viz. ESO 13 Sociological Thought- From Unit 1 (Emergence Of Sociology In Europe) to Unit 31 (Critique of Parsons and Merton), this saved her time and efforts. Here, I want to emphasise that first, her basic source was Upendra sir Notes, She would then supplement them using Ignou content. If she found anything additional in IGNOU books, she used to add that in Upendra notes itself so that revision becomes faster and concise. (The help that she received from these IGNOU books was that it brought clarity to the concepts (because questions are framed from every topic in IGNOU books and answers are given) that she was reading from Upendra notes and also better presentation)
- Join some whatsapp or telegram group for sociology optional paper, Get in touch with someone who is seriously preparing for the exam so that you can get your doubts resolved if you are preparing on your own which will help in making your preparation easier. Try watching online tutorials (though she did not do so as she found that very time consuming, Moreover She did not know to what depth we need to cover a topic).
- One thing that you should do (whether or not you are preparing on your own) is that after covering a topic, then take out all past year Questions from that topic and assess yourself whether you are able to answer them. (there are last 10 years/20 yrs Question banks available in the market, Go for only Question banks and not the model answers booklets- generally such model answers’ booklets are not upto the mark)
- Do practise answer writing. (She did do some answer writing before mains too, but very little). Mainly, She practised answer writing at the test series that She had joined. She wrote 5 tests there.
- Try to incorporate current affairs in your answers, especially in paper 2 as it enhances the quality of your answers.
- Please continuously assess yourself how you fare vis-a-vis others.She used to go through the answer sheets of other students who had written good answers in Test series (Praveen sir used to scan the best answer sheets of every test) and learn from their good answers.
UPSC 2017 Topper Anu Kumari Detailed Preparation Strategy : Interview
She gave several mocks at various institutes. It helped her in collecting variety of Qs and also helped her analyse her reactions to Qs that she did not know answer to. One important thing that helped her greatly was that She along with her friend of (who secured Rank 80), used to take each other’s mock interview on phone, daily for 1-2 hours. They included a variety of Qs and tried to grill each other too. It helped both of them a lot.
She started reading newspaper during this section of UPSC preparation (ie interview and not for pre or mains which she had covered online).
Anu Kumari’s Interview Experience
She got 187 marks.
She was very calm and smiling throughout the interview. She treated it as if she was talking to the elders in her family. She was not sure of the duration of interview. But she think it went on for 35-40 mins
I felt that my interview went quite well. I answered all except 3 questions but I calmly managed, (smilingly) said sorry I do not know it.By Anu Kumari
Questions and Answers(Interview)
Friends i am now going to tell you what happened in her interview. She has told about it in an interview.
Ms. Smita Nagaraj Board:
- Why UPSC 12 years after graduation?- Lack of internal satisfaction in the private sector, abundance of opportunities offered by Civil services which can help me lead a fulfilling life. Earlier, i got busy with marriage and motherhood, now I had time, so i started preparation for Civil Services and left the job.
- You have worked for 8 years in financial services sector, what was the motivation? What kept you going?- We got an oppurtunity to learn on a bigger scale especially, when we start from scratch; that learning kept me motivated and the fact that my work was instrumental in taking organisational decisions (since I was a part of Business Planning and Analysis department in the Finance function which helped me to develop such qualities).
- There are a lot of unethical practices in the insurance sector going on, what they are and why they are happening so? Is regulators are just sleeping?- Yes, there are many unethical practices such as misselling by the agents; hidden charges, claims denial by quoting T&C which are generally difficult to understand by a layman and try to befool people. They are happening due to lack of awareness in the public and because the sector is still in its nascent stage. The regulator has taken several steps like cap on charges introduced in ULIP products, making persistency a key factor in individual agents’ licesnsing etc
- Recent NHPS helath insurance scheme, it is going to help private sector more than the citizens what should we do to stop such malpractices?- Private sector participation is needed as infrastructure in our country is still weak and I think in order to curb such malpractices we would need to take several steps such as robust claims management, claims investigation, making cashless treatment mandatory in non emergency cases and defining the procedures and the applicable rates, otherwise the situation shall not improve.
- There will be a change in orientation while you move from private sector to public sector..how will you manage?- Yes, There will be a change on following accounts: higher customer centricity is found in the private sector, defined procedures and turn around times in the private sector, performance appraisals are more seen here. I will try to focus on improving transparency and accountability in the public sector as well. Having said that, there will be several things that will be in continuation such as skills of time management, pressure management, stakeholder management etc.
- How technology has impacted these services sectors?- Technology has brought about improvements in the way customers interact with the service providers eg online sales, sale through apps, customer service through IVR/SMS/email/Apps etc. It has brought more transparency into the system, clarity to customers and has brought customers much closer to the service provider firms than ever before.
- 39 Indians got killed in Iraq, Do you think Govt handled the situation well?- Government should be appreciated for the efforts that it undertook to find the Indians stranded in Iraq and in bringing them back safely but at the same time, Govt should have been more sensitive. Families of the emigrants should have been personally informed instead of the families coming to know of such a sad news through parliamentary proceedings which is not good at all.
- Facebook data leak issue– Do you think that these social media firms are taking their users for a ride? Yes, they deliberately try to keep Terms & Condition difficult for an individual to understand and the users are forced to tick on “I accept the T&C” or provide access to data in the phones before they can use any app. Solution is that we need to have a comprehensive law on protection of user privacy and stringent action should be taken against offender firms.
- Social media was created to unite (socialise) but it is dividing the society, your take? It depends on the purpose that we put social media to. If it is used for spreading fake rumours or to incite violence etc then it will divide society but if used rightly, it has immense potential to revolutionise our lives. So, we should try to make optimal and judicious use of social media which is beneficial for the society as a whole.
- You are from Hindu college, Which minister from Hindu college is currently there in the ministry today? I replied, “Sorry Sir, I don’t know”.
- Pink pyjamas are flying over the Red Fort today, what do you understand by this statement? (smilingly ), its a very interesting question but sorry sir, I don’t know the answer. Then sir explained the concept properly to me, I nodded and said, “yes sir, I thought it was so”.
- Today, there is Narcotic problem in India, how will you handle them in a district? What are some of the drugs consumed by the people? The Root cause of the problem lies in porous borders which facilitates drug trade between golden triangle and golden crescent regions via India. At district level, my focus would be on sound implementation of the laws, effective rehabilitation of drug users, enhancing employment opportunities for the youth and promoting better integration into the family life so that families act as a support system and prevent one from falling into the drug trap and destroying their lives.
- Children are committing suicide, why ? what should be done? Some of its main causes are- Excessive expectations by the parents, very intense competition in our country and society, problems with the education system which emphasises on rote learning and not on critical thinking or a holistic personality developmentwhich should be given priority. To curb this thing, we should revamp our education system and we must teach our students how to live a fulfilling life (and not just focusing on to make them money minting machines). A cost effective and yet efficient solution is having counselling facilities in schools and encouraging the students to seek help when they are in trouble. Parents should also be sensitised to not put excessive pressure on their child.
- Today’s girls (bahus) don’t want to live in a joint family, What do you think? To an extent yes, with the rise of individualism in society, egoism is rising. Another factor is burden of excessive expectations from the bahu who is expected to do a double shift worker (in office as well as home). But i think they should be given some freedom too.
- Are joint families good for women empowerment? Of course they are, because when others in the family help the woman with her familial responsiblities (say child care), she can focus on her career.
- You are a sportswoman, what do you think about the corruption related problems in sports bodies in India? (I have played throw ball in college and some games during my school time). Some major problems are unfair selection, age related fudging, use of drugs and corruption in sports bodies like in BCCI. Some positive developments that are taking place in this field are recently Niti Aayog proposed ranking of sports bodies and linking the fund devolution to the performance in ranking
- What are the ground level differences that you have experienced/observed while travelling in metro in Gurgaon and in Delhi? One is a PPP (public private partnership), other is Government owned? (I said I have not travelled in Gurgaon metro) He asked, others would have travelled and shared their experiences.. (I have been working in Gurgaon, commuting from Delhi) Sorry, I have not travelled in Gurgaon metro, so can’t compare. Sir persisted that some of my friend might have shared his/her experience with me. But, I replied sorry sir, I don’t know that
- What are the problems of PPP? Why is India not able to successfully/properly execute them? Some Major Problems are- Opaque calculation of user charges, ineffective arbitration mechanism, lack of funds, delay in approvals etc. We have seen execution problems in the past but now we are heading towards better models such as hybrid annuity model.
- I have lost money in Mutual Funds, convince me that I should still invest in MFs. Sir, investment in Mutual Funds should be made according to the age, risk profile and needs of the customer. Secondly, these investments are long term in nature. So we should not expect high returns in the short term and we should invest in them keeping in view of our future needs. Further, I would still advise you to invest in mutual funds keeping in mind your the risk appetite and your needs. There are basically debt, equity as well as liquid mutual funds.
- What is colonial hangover? Is itGood or bad? Give Examples… Colonial hangover means those things that are a relic from colonial times even if not relevant to modern times. Examples are culture of red beacon, our obsession with fairness, education system, judicial system, democracy, constitution, police system etc some of these things are good and some are bad
Last question by Smita Ma’am
- You had said that Government should have been more humane in handling the killing of Indians in Mosul issue, but then you also appreciated the Government for their extra efforts in tracing the Indians and bringing them back. Is this your approach to all the things- saying that this is correct but this is also correct, will you be able to take decisions based on this? What will be your approach as an administrator?
Yes, ma’am this is how I take decisions in my life after considering both- the positve as well the negative aspects of any issue. I have said that, it does not mean that I vacillate in decision making, but I consider both the aspects and then arrive at a firm decision which would be more suitable. Ma’am asked me to give some examples from my life. I replied that when I would appraise my team members in office I would tell them that these are some of the areas where you have worked quite well but these are the areas where you need to improve and based on both these aspects, I would arrive at a rating for them.
Advice– You can collaborate with like minded and serious candidates for your interview round preparation. Discuss with others to get a holistic view on important issues. Do prepare important topics such as AFSPA, J&K issue, Reservation etc. Prepare your DAF really well- each and every word of it . Talk to your friends and coaching institutes who can help you with framing out possible Questions from your DAF. Prepare your hobby, home state, your graduation subject really well because the board will ask questions from it. This will eventually help you in scoring high marks. So do follow my advice.
Advice for students who are at present in 10th or 12th
Firstly, please do not take much load. Enjoy your student life and diligently study your academic curriculum itself, right now its enough for you. (I am saying this because one cannot prepare at a high pitch for a very long period of time, it should not happen that you starts feeling burnout, even before you reach the crucial stage of preparation which is graduation end). At max, you can start reading newspaper to develop an active interest in the happenings around you and in the world.
Your serious preparation for the Civil Services should specifically begin during the final year of graduation. Till this time, you can cover your graduation subjects diligently so that your optional gets prepared to some extent simultaneously.
Many people are asking me whether to opt for Art (and not Science) in school and graduation if their ultimate aim is Civil Services only. Well, as far as syllabus of UPSC is concerned, though it overlaps a lot with Humanities subjects like History, Geography, Polity etc and you may choose such subject to be your optional subject as well. But please bear in mind that when you take up Arts also means that your Engineering and Medical options get curtailed when you do so. Some people first do B Tech or MBBS later they sit for UPSC exam, so that’s also a strategy.
Finally, it’s completely upto you which path you want to take. So guys, take your decision very cautiously.
Advice for married women and/or mothers
Well, honestly, it’s tougher to prepare post marriage. So, seek maximum support from all possible corners- friends, family, relatives etc. Try taking some time off from your job, if possible as this paper demands high dedication and long hours of study, as IAS Anu Kumari did the same thing. For mothers, I would say, try joining some library where you can study away from your child; Get support from your baby sitter or close family members for the child care; Or worst – try living away from the child if nothing else works (quite a difficult choice though) but still suggesting this because there are so many distractions with a child- sickness, daily care, studies, playtime etc). So it depends upon you.
Having said that, I strongly feel that you can crack this exam, have faith in yourself, give your best shot and you will see the change.
Advice: How to tackle the phases of Demotivation
There will be times when you might feel that you can’t do it or That you are not that kind of topper material etc. My advice is –cry if feel like crying during such phase (to give vent to your pent up feelings), talk to your well wishers (family especially..because they have super faith in you) to get motivation, think of those old good times when you had achieved something in your life.
Finally, get over such phase and think that the only improvement you can do in such a situation is realising your flaws/weaknesses and then improve over them. Think that you will try your best and then leave it to the God, this would mean that you won’t have any regrets because you tried and you tried your best.
When you feel that there are a lot of problems in your life, just try to think of the person who is facing even more difficulties than you (Anu Kumari talks about her father who always says- apne se neeche walon ke dekh ke mushkilon se upar utho aur apne se upar walon ko dekh ke jeevan ke lakshay banao). Also, ponder over this thought “This too shall pass” whether good time or bad time, it will surely pass. The only option you have is to make the best out of it. So go guys it your time, make it large.
Advice for rural and remote students
Please have hope, Today, it’s possible to prepare from remote corners. Anu Kumari did so, hence she think its doable and why not? If she can do it then you can too. Make good use of technology- use online resources to cover current affairs and even to cover static portion through online tutorials. I am trying to help all such aspirants who feel problems in preparing for UPSC through crackupsc.in . So do share this article about UPSC 2017 Topper Anu Kumari Detailed Preparation Strategy so that it can change the fortunes of someone.
All the best to you dear aspirants!!
I sincerely hope that one of you turns out to be the topper next year and then i will pen down his/her strategy to help others.