The Inspiring Story + Strategy of Rishi, Indian Forest Service Rank 1


About two years ago, on a lazy March afternoon, a young man walked in to see me. He looked dejected, with ties loosened around the neck. I asked him, how did the Interview go?

“Sir, Bassi Sir, ka board tha.”, he said with a sad look.

“Did he ask you something on Hindi poetry?”

I shared his disappointment. We had been reciting poetry from Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Nirala and Harivansh Rai Bachchan on the rooftop days before the interview to get things right on the D – Day.

And yet, when Bassi Sir saw “hindi poetry” in his hobby, he unleashed names which this young man had not heard of.  For some reason IPS board members have been known to be a little cruel in the Interview – and this is true for the past decade!

All is well that ends well.

Things ended well for Vaibhav, thankfully.

He got a Rank 98 ( or 99 ) in Civil Services that year.

And Rank 1 in Indian Forest Service.  He, like most other people joined Indian Administrative Service. The last time I spoke, he was happily posted in Bihar.

So when a year later, when I met Pradeep ( the famous guy from the Better Indian ) , I was a little skeptical seeing “Reading Indian Epics” in his hobby. I did grill him thoroughly, given that most people would read Devdutt Patnaik’s Jaya – one single book, and put “reading the Mahabharata story” in hobby.

Thankfully Pradeep also secured a good rank in his first attempt.

And then I finally met Rishi. He had been an MGP and Current Affairs student for sometime, and I remembered him because he was from BITS Pilani – from where @LeoMessi10 had secured Rank 1.

We formed a group, given it was the last leg of his preparation, and we held a couple of mock interviews.

The day after the last group mock, he secured Rank 1 in IFS, and continued to prepare for  Civils interview in aspirant mode.

I had been seeing Rishi on and off for sometime. And finally, I asked him to pen down his story. And here it is.

About myself

Hello everyone my name is Rishi Kumar and I am 26 years old. Me and my younger brother live with my parents in the city of nawabs a.k.a Lucknow. We’re also very close with my uncles and grandparents who still live at our native place near Varanasi.

My Schooling & College

I did my 10th standard studies from Little Flower School, Gorakhpur and passed with 89.6 percent. I did my 12th standard studies from City Montessori School, Lucknow and scored 95 percent. I am a graduate in Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering from BITS, Pilani with a GPA of 8.4. 

My tryst with Indian Forest Service

Coming to my tryst with Civil and forest services, this was my 3rd attempt at Indian Forest Service and I have scored Rank 1 in the Indian forest services examination 2019, my mark-sheet is attached below. I have also appeared for the Civil Services Examination 2019. Previously, I have also been recommended for the CAPF 2018 after scoring All India rank of 53

What qualities do you think are needed to clear this exam?

When we talk about the qualities needed to clear this examination I believe, although I am no expert, that there are two most important qualities which can improve one’s chances of clearing this examination. 

  1. Ability to recognise and work through one’s weaknesses : Unless someone has no weaknesses in the entire length and breadth of the syllabus, ( and yes such people do exist ) he has to work with a strategy which allows him to clear the exam despite such weaknesses (using this word a lot now). For instance, history and culture portion of the syllabus was my weak point. I tried to work through it by doing the basics of the topic while trying to avoid mistakes in other topics.
  2. A strong sense of self belief : Oftentimes, the time it takes to clear the exam exceeds what we had originally planned due to a myriad of different reasons. Self belief is what keeps one going at these points of times.

Mistakes that I made

In my earlier attempts I was not able to clear the prelims stage itself hence here i would like to share the mistakes i made.

In the 2017 examination I was well prepared but I attempted fewer questions than I should have (83) and I got 120.66, missing the IFS cut off by 0.66 marks :(.

This time I tried figuring out whether attempting less or more questions will give me a greater probability of clearing IFS prelims in the mock tests(Hence the quality number one).

I went with the option of attempting more questions (98) and it worked this year.

My preliminary examination strategy

My strategy was to stick to what worked for me in the mock tests without being scared of the exam pressure. During the exam, I did have second thoughts about whether attempting almost the entire paper can turn out to be a disaster and I might end up missing out on the Civil Services cut off as well. But I stuck to my plan and it worked.(Hence the quality number 2)

My book-list for the preliminary examination

During the course of my preparation, I stuck to the standard books along with some additional sources for the topics I expected more questions on, such as Polity. I will be writing these sources in the next section.

I am writing these book lists keeping the cut off of Indian Forest Service in mind. One might be able to clear the Civil Services doing a bit less.

Polity Laxmikant supplemented with the M Puri sir notes and the bare act
EconomyMrunal Sir notes supplemented with Macroeconomics and Microeconomics NCERTs. Current affairs need to be covered from any of the sources. You can do Vision PT 365 because the entire world does that.
Modern History Spectrum Publications Modern history by Rajiv ahir
Ancient and MedievalI did old NCERTs. Not much sleep should be lost over this topic as the questions are hit and hope anyway.
Culture Fine Arts NCERT Class 11
GeographyNCERTs can be supplemented with Geography lectures on Mrunal’s channel
EnvironmentI did Shankar IAS’ book. After preparing forestry for Indian Forest Service Mains, I feel Shankar IAS can be supplemented with the legislations portion of the Manikandan book.
Science Just did Current Affairs for science

Mains Strategy

For the Mains Examination I was enrolled in ForumIAS Current Affairs classes. I have also done the MGP program of ForumIAS.

( Since I was preparing for Civil Services Examination simultaneously.)

However, I did prepare for IFS Mains separately after the Civil Services Mains Examination, and will write a detailed strategy for it separatly.

Keep Sources to the Minimum

Although I kept my sources to a minimum this year, I did attempt the final Forumias simulator tests for Prelims. I scored above 140 in the last one, so it was a good final paper to appear in right before the Prelims. Also the feedback by ForumIAS Mentors before the interviews helped a lot. I secured 225 marks / 300 in the Interview.

Message to future aspirants

  1. People should decide whether they want to take their chances while attempting to clear both Civil Services and the Indian Forest Service. 
  2. The Mains for the IFS can be made much more certain due to the technical nature of the optionals combined with the fact that there are two of them. 
  3. However, trying to clear the IFS prelims can sometimes mean that one might end up missing out on the Civil services cut off as well. So tread well.

My marksheet for IFoS examination


The pillars of my support

In the end I would like to say that I have reached this stage of success due to the following 3 major pillars:

  1. Very strong family support, specially from my father and my mother
  2. An above average strategy
  3. Improved answer writing, thanks to the reviews of a very good friend

I would like to wish all the aspirants good luck in their studies and I hope they achieve their dreams.

Rishi is an offline student of ForumIAS Academy. He has secured Rank 1 in IFS 2019 examination
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By Neyawn

Neyawn is an anonymous member the founder of ForumIAS. He is a coder Mentor & Teacher by profession, and often writes for ForumIAS. You can buy him coffee , if you really really like his work. He has built ForumIAS - the community - twice. You can say Hi to him or ask him a question on ForumIAS, or follow him on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn . You can also write to him at RxAxVxI@FOxRUMxIAS.COM ( remove the small "x" from the email ).