Shubham Kumar is the topper of UPSC CSE 2020.
His story of hailing from a humble background and then making it into IIT and then, topping the prestigious Civil Services Exam at a young age is very inspiring.
So, read on.
Shubham Kumar hails from a joint family in Kumhari village, Kadwa Block, Katihar District, Bihar.
His father, Devanad Singh works as a bank manager in the Uttar Bihar Gramin Bank.
Shubham’s mother, Punam Singh is a housewife.
His elder sister, Surabhi works as a Scientific Officer in the department of atomic energy in Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore.
Shubham did his initial schooling from Swami Vivekanand Residential Educational Institution, Shanthi Vihar, Kumhari village.
Then, he moved to Patna and studied from class 2 to class 5 in St. Stephen’s School.
Up to his class 5, Shubham studied in Hindi medium schools.
Then, he studied from class 6 to class 10 in Vidya Vihar Residential School, Parora, Purnia.
Later, Shubham studied intermediate from Chinmaya Vidyalaya Bokaro.
He was very shy and reserved all through his school and college years.
Until his class 8, Shubham was an average student and then, started studying well.
From his class 9, he started focusing on Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics (PCM) subjects so as to get prepared for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and in future, get into an IIT.
Soon, Shubham became very good in PCM subjects.
During that time, he wanted to prepare for the Civil Services Exam but as he hailed from a middle-class family, he thought that it would be better for him to enter into an IIT to secure his future.
Shubham chose PCM in his intermediate and continued preparing for the JEE.
Joining IIT Bombay –
In 2014, Shubham cracked the JEE and got selected into IIT Bombay and chose Civil Engineering.
Prior to him, his sister also cracked the JEE and studied at an IIT.
In his second year of engineering, Shubham did an internship in a company in Mumbai for a couple of months but it didn’t interest him.
In his third year, he did a research internship from Purdue University, United States.
Deciding for CSE-
Shubham was in a leadership position in an IIT Bombay hostel and discovered that he liked being in the leadership position and helping others.
That’s when he decided to prepare for the Civil Services Exam and become an IAS officer, so that he could be in a leadership position and help people.
Shubham discussed with his father before taking this decision.
While doing a research internship from Purdue University, a professor appreciated his work and offered him to move to the United States and do his MS from Purdue University.
But by that time, Shubham decided for the Civil Services Exam (CSE) and so he rejected that offer.
Also, he didn’t appear for the campus placement in his final year of engineering.
Preparing for CSE-
Shubham graduated from IIT in 2018 and immediately started preparing for the CSE by moving to Delhi in January 2018 and by joining an online coaching institute.
During that time, he used to get inspired by watching many CSE toppers interview videos on YouTube.
Shubham started practising answer writing from February 2018 and used to write 2-3 answers daily.
After preparing for around six months for Prelims, Shubham gave his first attempt at CSE in 2018.
As he didn’t have enough time for preparation, he couldn’t study all topics and as a result, wasn’t able to clear the exam.
On the day in which the UPSC CSE 2018 were announced, Shubham decided that he will appear for the next year’s exam.
In his first attempt, Shubham chose civil engineering as his optional.
But when he was unable to clear the Prelims, he realised that civil engineering was his weak point.
At that time, Shubham started losing interest in civil engineering.
So, he researched for one month by reading different resources and then, finally selected anthropology as his optional subject.
Shubham took coaching for anthropology and general studies in Delhi.
An interesting fact-
Apala Mishra also chose anthropology as her optional in the UPSC CSE.
In CSE 2019, Shubham secured a rank of 290 and got selected into Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS).
He started receiving training for IDAS but he wanted to become an IAS officer so that he could work with the people on the ground level and so, he decided to once again attempt the exam.
Shubham attended the Civil Services (Main) Examination, 2020 and continued his preparation for the CSE even while getting trained for IDAS.
Shubham consistently studied every day for eight hours.
But a couple of months prior to the Prelims and in between Prelims and Mains, he studied for ten hours per day.
Shubham used to start his day at 7 AM.
He used to study at a stretch for 45 minutes and then, take a ten minutes break and repeat this cycle many times.
Focus & father’s support-
Shubham studied with utmost focus and completely avoided social media and wasn’t present on any social media platform.
Also, his parents completely supported him as they used to not share their problems with him as they feared that the family problems might distract him.
Shubham’s father was his greatest motivator, many times he would complain to his father about the difficulty of CSE exam and doubt whether he would be able to clear the exam but his father always encouraged him not to fear and expressed belief in his abilities.
Shubham’s plan was to clear the CSE exams within three attempts.
But if he wasn’t able to clear the exam, his plan B was to settle for a civil engineering job.
Shubham’s booklist wasn’t very extensive.
For his entire General Studies preparation, he only read A Brief History of Modern India book by Spectrum Books.
For polity Shubham referred to his class notes and Indian Polity by M Laxmikanth.
He kept his sources limited but revised and practised extensively.
Internet and friends-
Even though Shubham stayed away from social media, he greatly used the internet to read newspapers and download and print materials and prepare with them.
He used to Google the topics of syllabus and read case studies, current examples and success stories and prepare short notes out of them.
Shubham practised interviews with his friends and peer groups.
He used to design his daily and weekly goals and try to accomplish most of his goals.
Shubham stayed in a rented flat in Delhi and prepared for CSE from there.
Shubham used to daily read The Hindu and the Indian Express Explained for current affairs.
He used to remember the facts and figures while reading the newspapers itself.
In 2019, Shubham didn’t give sufficient time to prepare for the optional but in 2020, he prepared for seven months.
The first rank-
Shubham secured the first rank in UPSC CSE 2020 and this was his third attempt.
He topped the exam at the age of 24.
Shubham secured a total of 1054 marks (878 marks in the written exam and 176 marks in the personality test).
He was praised by Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar and Tarkishore Prasad, the Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar for his accomplishment.
So, how are you inspired by the success story of Shubham Kumar?
Share with me in the comment section.