First JEE Advance, Then GATE & Finally Rank 1 In UPSC ESE; IIT Roorkee Student Shares Story & Tips

First JEE Advance, Then GATE & Finally Rank 1 In UPSC ESE; IIT Roorkee Student Shares Story & Tips

When Kartikey Kaushik, originally a resident of Delhi, cracked the JEE Advanced exam and got into IIT Roorkee in 2015 with an AIR rank of 2945, his career was just starting.   

As he completed his B.Tech in Civil Engineering course, he appeared for the GATE 2020 exam and secured AIR 26 in the very first attempt. Now, at the age of 24, he has added another feather to his cap by securing AIR 1 in UPSC Engineering Services.   

Kaushik’s excellent rank in GATE 2020 secured him a job at Indian Oil while he was still preparing for the Engineering Services exam. However, when he realised that his job was interfering with his exam preparation, he left it and devoted all his time to preparation.  


Although his journey seems smooth and straightforward on the surface, that was hardly the case in reality. He had to navigate several twists and turns before he could arrive at the right choice.   

Let’s take a peek into his incredible journey. 

A Focused Approach

Even though Kartikey Kaushik got a job at Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL), he was always more interested in cracking the UPSC ESE.   

His father is an employee at Indian Railways, while his mother is a housewife. Inspired by his father, Kartikey has always wanted to work in the public sector. This prompted him to prioritize UPSC Engineering Services above everything else.  

Disappointing as it was, Kartikey appeared for the ESE 2020 exam and secured 796 out of 1300 marks, but it fell short of the final cut-off by just 11 marks.   

I joined IOCL in January 2021 on the basis of my performance in GATE 2020. In April 2021, the result of ESE 2020 was declared and I came to know that I missed the final cutoff by 11 marks. After this setback, I decided to leave my job at Indian Oil and prepare with a single-minded focus for ESE 2021,” Kartikey told News18.   

The Second Attempt


In the second attempt, Kartikay gave more focus on the General Studies paper in the preliminary examination. For the Mains exam, he ensured that he was taking more mock tests as he realised that it was the only way for him to improve. “I doubled the number of mock tests as compared to the first attempt. This really helped me to improve my answer writing speed,” Kartikay explained.  

In order to improve his interview performance, Kartikay also focused a lot on the interview. Reflecting on his first attempt, Kartikay observed that he did not give any time to mock interviews – something he knew he had to rectify in the second attempt.   

I gave three mock interviews which helped me to polish my personality and highlighted the technical areas where I was lacking. I also practiced in front of a mirror to observe myself in detail and improve my body language,” he said.   When the results of the second attempt came, he realised that he has not only qualified for the exam but also secured a rank of AIR 1 in it.   

I realized that the syllabus of GATE is a subset of ESE. Therefore, my focus was to complete the whole syllabus of ESE first,” Kartikay said reflecting on his strategy.

The Importance Of Having A Strategy

While looking at how Kartikay Kaushik managed to improve his rank the second time, one cannot help but see how a change in strategy made so much difference. Not only did Kartikay devote more time to preparations but also found out his weaker areas and worked on them strategically.   

According to him, the most important element of his preparation strategy was to maintain a level of preparation throughout the year. “I used to study and revise consistently in order to keep the syllabus on my tips. This really helped me to clear many exams with minimum effort” he observed.  

Kartikay stressed on the importance of having a smart approach where the focus is not exclusively on one exam. For engineering students, exams like UPSC ESE, GATE, ISRO, etc. have overlapping topics and separate preparation for one or the other is not required.   

I never had to study keeping a single exam in focus. I used to take all of these exams as a test of my knowledge with respect to civil engineering. Nowadays, there are a lot of exams which are conducted throughout the year. The best strategy will be to keep things simple,” he explained.  

Furthermore, Kartikay added that taking mock tests double the number he used to take during the first attempt made helped identify and reduce recurring mistakes. It also gave him the confidence to believe in his abilities.