[Topper’s Interview] Shweta Chauhan (CSE-2013/AIR-573): First Attempt, Geography optional, ACIO, B.Sc, Ghaziabad

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  1. Candidate profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  7. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  8. Prelim accuracy
  9. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  10. Mains: Essay
  11. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  12. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  13. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  14. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  15. Ethics Case studies in Mains-2013
  16. Mains answer-writing?
  17. Geography Optional Subject
  18. Before the interview
  19. During the interview
  20. CSE-2013 Marksheet
  21. Career Backup
  22. Insecurity about profile
  23. Wisdom
  24. Credit: Friends/family
  25. Bogus Marketing Propaganda

Candidate profile

Name:Shweta Chauhan
Rank in CSE-2013573
Roll No.099610
Total attempts in CSE 1
Optional SubjectGeography
Medium chosen for Mains answersEnglish
Schooling mediumEnglish
College mediumEnglish
Home townGhaziabad
Other examsCleared IB ACIO Exe of 2013. Training yet to start.
Coaching, if any
  • GS from Raus
  • Geography by Sharad Mani Thakur, Raus
  • Vajiram mock interviews


% in class 1096%
% in class 1294%
Schooling (Medium)English
Graduation course and %Bsc(H) Physics 86%
Name of college, city, passing out yearHindu college passed in 2013
Post-graduationNot done
Any other professional coursesNo
Hobbies & Extra curricularVisiting old age home, Travelling, Listening music


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?


My father is in Army and he has been a great motivation for me. The always fighting spirit and dare to dream are the qualities I was brought up with.My mother have supported me on every stage. My younger brother is doing MBBS and youngest is preparing for IIT.

Electronic Vs Paper material

Electronic material is of great help and necessary for preparation.But there is a limit to that and should restrict to few important sites like Mrunal.org, PIB,

and sites of important ministeries. For newspaper I religiously followed The Hindu, for magazine Yojana, Kurushetra and EPW. Revise from same source rather than getting burdened down with lot of material.

Tempo and style

On an average I studied for 8 hours but regularly.To keep the momentum enjoy the process rather than thinking it as burden.

To fight the mood swings I would take break , follow my hobbies and think why am I in the process and its my choice.

          Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Make polity and economy your strong point they are most reliable. Focus more on environmental issues.

History AncientNCERT
History MedievalNCERT
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)Bipin Chandra-Indian  struggle for independence
Culture societyNCERT , NIOS
Polity (theory + current)DD Basu, The Hindu, EPW
Economy (theory + current)Mishra and Puri, EPW, The Hindu
Science (theory + current)not prepared
Environment (theory + current)NCERT of geography class 11 and 12, The Hindu, Down to Earth website
geography physicalGC Leong
geography IndiaNCERT
geography worldNCERT
other national/international current affairsIDSA, The Hindu
Schemes, Policy & Filler StuffIndia year book

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topicstrategy / booklist
MathsR S Agarwal
reasoningR S Agarwal
comprehensionLast year paper
Decision MakingLast year paper

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2013 paper.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?

No..I dont think anyone can match UPSC standards. Look through last years question papers.

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2013

attempted Q.correct (Expected)

Q3. Your score in prelim (when UPSC uploads it please mail me your score)
Ans. CSAT prelims: GS 96+ Aptitude 164.18

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paperYour preparation strategy / booklist?
English paperdid not prepare
your regional languageHindi did not prepare

Q2.other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2013

Consider them as other question paper and write with same enthusiasm otherwise its easy.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Did not prepare separately but would suggest others to write regularly. The was the mistake I will not repeat again.

Q2. Which among the following essay did you write? What key points did you include in it?

I wrote on the science-panacea topic. I divided the essay such that the benefits of science can be told in every sector like agriculture, industry, defence ,development , disaster management , space, medicine , human resource dev etc.What India have done in each field , ho it have proved beneficial, what is not yet done and what can be done more ith special focus on innovation and science with human face.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

TopicHow did you prepare?
culturespectrum, NIOS
Indian historyNCERT
world historyNCERT
post-independence IndiaBipin chandra Indian struggle for independence
Indian societyNCERT
role of women, poverty etcNCERT,Yojana,Planning    commission
globalization on Indian societyThe Hindu
communalism, regionalism, secularismMrunal.org, NCERT
world geo physicalNCERT
resource distributionMrunal.org
factors for industrial locationMrunal.org/geography
earthquake tsunami etcDown to Earth
impact on flora-faunaDown to Earth

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etcDD Basu
comparing Constitution with worldVajiram notes
parliament, state Legislatures, executive-judiciaryDD Basu
ministries departments, various bodies: Constitutional, statutory. etc.India year book
pressure group, informal asso.NCERT
Representation of people’s actInternet
welfare schemes, bodiesPIB, Yojana
social sector, health, edu, HRDPIB, Yojana
governance, transparency,accountability,role of civil serviceMinistry of personnel
India & neighbors, bilateral/global grouping, effect of foreign country policiesDSA, The Hindu, Mrunal.org
intl.bodies- structure mandateInternet
diasporaMinistry of overseas affairs

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Indian economy, resource mobilizatioPlanning  Commission
inclusive growthPlanning  Commission
budgetingMinistry of finance, Yojana
major crops, irrigationNCERT geography
agro produce – storage, marketingMinistry of food processing
e-technology for famersplanning Commission
farm subsidies, MSP12 FYP
PDS, buffer, food securityMinistry of food processing
technology missionDIETY
animal rearing economicsplanning Commission
food processingMinistry of food processing
land reformsplanning Commission
liberalizationplanning Commission
investment modelsFYP
science-tech day to day lifeThe Hindu, Mrunal.org
Indian achievements in sci-techDept of science and tech. , Mrunal.org
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPRDept of science and tech. , Mrunal .org, The Hindu
environmental impact assessmentDown to earth
Disaster ManagementNDMA
non state actors, internal security, role of media, social networkingvajiram notes, 2nd ARC report
cyber securityNational policy on cyber security
money laundering ,border Managementvajiram notes
security agencies- structure mandateMHA

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

ethics and interface, family, society, emotional intelligence,…. and all the hathodaa topicsvajiram notes
moral thinkers of India and world How many did you prepare?Not prepared
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc2nd ARC Reports
corporate governanceVajiram notes
probity in governance, work culture2nd ARC Reports
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc.2nd ARC Reports
challenges of corruption2nd ARC Reports
case studies on above topicsvajiram

Ethics Case studies in Mains-2013

Q. Narrate one incident in your life when you were faced with such crisis of conscience and how you resolved the same.

I wrote a simple incidence when I was in a dilemma to tell the truth about my brother’s caught cheating in a class to my parents or not. I thought of not telling initially but later I have to because i thought this may seem good for the present time for my brother but in the long term it may prove fatal, so I decided to tell and resolved my dilemma and my voice of conscience worked for me.

caseyour approach/ keypoints
1: RTI: To hide or not to hide Hiding information is against PIO integity to his service which not only make him guilty throughout his life as he is honest but also degrade the very basis of RTI, he should be ready for the cosequences and reveal the truth.
2: Engineer: Bogus flyover vs deadline Public safety cannot be compromised,I need to first look deep into the matter whether my apprehensions are correct if they proved right then the lacunae need to be addressed even if I have to convince seniors.
3: Child Labourers in Sivakasi The units having child labourers first need be given warning that this is against law and strict action can be taken against them. The  family of children need to be counselled and whatever help under govt scheme can be provided should be given with regular inspection in the units and taking strict action for non compliance.
4: Nepotism in Job recruitment  Favouring a candidate for funds is against college good. Funds if are sanctioned will be recieved with time but cheating with candidates will not only provide the college with unworthy student but also deprive the worthy student of studies which will be great loss for the society.
5: Leaking information There need to be level playing field for the good of public. Information cannot be leaked on any terms.

Mains answer-writing?

Q1. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?

Sufficient space.

Q2. Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs?

Started with paragraph writing but have to switch to bullet form because of time limit.

Q3. In GS papers, Since UPSC came with those 100 and 200 words questions. What was your approach in the exam?

I did not try the question with no idea but tried to answer as much possible rather giving perfection to few questions.

Q4. How many marks worth questions did you skip/couldn’t finish in the GS papers?  

Almost 100 marks

Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?


Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)


Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?


Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?

by hand

Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?

blue pen.

(Mrunal – since readers keep mailing such queries, therefore I’m asking the topper to clear all the air haha.)

Geography Optional Subject

Q1. First the essential book/resource list and strategy.

My optional was Geography much of its preparation can be done easily with GS. Book included

  1. NCERTs
  2. GC Leong
  3. Savinder Singh
  4. Majid Hussain
  5. DR Khullar

Q2. How much of internet-research / current affairs is necessary for this optional? OR can one simply rely on the books and be done with this subject?

You need to have definite knowledge about the basics and apply that knowledge in current affairs. Like i read full ICAR report on Indian agriculture. Then the questions political geo was on the basis of current news. Also to make the answers more appealing one should give current example especially in subject like geo to take the edge.

Q3. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?

About 2 months and then revision by writing last years questions.

Q4. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?

I summarised imp The Hindu editioral by myself which gave me confidence to write.

Q5. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?

I made self need as revision is must and can be done if something is limited  and compiled. I believe if something goes once under my hand it goes to my mind too.

Q6. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2013 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?

Geography first paper have become unpredictable. From which physical geography the questions come I am unable to understand. It can be harder but should atleast have some basis or limit.

Q7.How much did you skip OR couldn’t answer properly, in the optional paper?

optional paperCouldn’t finish __ mark. + comments on any weird questions
Paper I Very hard I had no idea about 60 marks paper and have to make up many other answer. Questions were literally Greek to me and some them I could even find on internet.
paper II Easy, could attempt whole paper easily.

Q8. Would you advice any interested party (new player) to pick this optional? Nowadays wind seems to be flowing towards sociology and political science. Some senior players advice new players not to pick Public Administration OR Geography given the bad scaling and odd questions. What’s your take on this?

Geography first paper was really very hard but was covered up by second. The thing about geo is that it is easily covered under GS plus this time in GS 1 we had the typical geo questions. Do not think about any scaling down or other things choose the subject you enjoy. Geography is really interesting subject.

Before the interview

Q1. How did you prepare for the interview? Particularly college graduation subjects related questions?

Read Physics Ncerts and its current topics, balanced view on current events, Geography basics, and mock interview in Raus IAS.

Q2. Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? how were they similar / different than official

interview? do you believe it is necessary to attend mock interviews?

I took mock interviews in Raus Ias Study circle. Nothing can match UPSC but they were quite helpful and if one is going for first time then it is good to attend few mocks.

Q3. What attire did you pick up?

A light coloured cotton saree. I would suggest female candidates to wear saree as it gives a beautiful look and confidence.

Q4. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?

No need of revision material. I directly went from my home.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Mr. Amar Pratap Singh

Q2. How long was the interview?

Approx 30 min

Q3. Why do you want to join civil service?

It has always been my dream to become an IAS officer which is not yet fullfilled so will try again harder.

Q4. Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply?

why did you take geo as optional?

I took Geography because it is very much related to my graduation subject Physics.Then it helped me for the preparation of GS and knowledge of geography of an area will help me during the service.

Why do visit you old age home?( My hobby)

I developed visiting old age home my hobby when I went on school visit to a old age home.There, I realised the peace and happiness I get talking to old people cannot be get anywhere. The satisfaction of bringing smile on their faces and getting their blessings are precious part of my life.

What are the problems old age people face?

The most important problem they face is loniliness and worthlessness. This with decline in their physical and economical condition make their life miserable.

What do you want to improve there?

The most important problem they face is thier health issues which should be improved by more geriatic services. There is also need for more recreational activities for them in old age home. It would be better that they do not require to stay in old age home which can be done by making them economically independent and may be by making law stringnent that their children should not abandon them.

Govt old age homes are better or private?

Govt. old age home provide the services free so the facilities are less as compared to private.

Why no. of old age home are increasing?

Globalisation and urbanisation have lead to lot of migration and the fabric of joint family which was the basis for Indian culture of love and respect is breaking. This has lead to independent and individiualistic nature thus lonely parents and development of old age home.

Are they good?

They have become a necessity . They are required but should not become basis for chidren to shirk their responsibility.

What is India’s stand on climate change?

India believe in common but differentiated responsibility. The nature of our future depends on the future of our nature( I made smile everyone here) so we do believe that we too have responsibilty in mitigating climate change but as can be seen by recent reports the developled countries have already contributed much in accumulation of green house gases so they have more responsibilty.

Do you support India’s stand or western countries?

I would support Indian stand as we also want that level of development and because of environmental constraint we suffer. We need to protect environment but in international arena we need put ourself for technological and financial help.

If you have a subordinate who irritates you by sharpening pencil after every minute and that too he gets up throw it every time. What will you do?

I would provide him the new pencil which need not to be sharpened,  provide him the dustbin closer and tell him that his activity irritates me.

What about suspending him?

His activity do not affect the work he does, its only about my irration so I cannot suspend him.

What about providing him a helper?

I cannot hire two persons for same work.

Do you know any IAS officer?

Yes sir, Director of Ghaziabad development authority.

What were the qualities you liked about him?

The qualities I coul observe were his down to earth nature, politeness, humbleness, and the ability to handle 20 people with ease with no panic and biasness.

Do you look upto him as role model ?

Yes sir, He have been a great District Magistrate of Ghaziabad with crime rate lowering down in his tenure.

Do you want be one like him?

I will try my level best.

Do Christian missionary propagation a violation of human rights?(I studied in ICSE school)?

Everyone is allowed to profess his religion, in thier propagation they should not force anyone but if one benefits as I too have seen many examples in my school where the workers there who were converted were living better life because of conversion then it cannot be said wrong.

Is the new form of appraisal of civil servants good?

Sorry sir, I dont have much idea.

GK questions

  1. which is the longest river in south America?
  2. Why it is named so?
  1. What is Phalin?
  1. Why Tropical cyclones are named differently?
  2. What is the difference between Tropical cyclone, Storm surge and Hurricane?
  3. Questions about high jump and long jump  (my sports interest).
  1. Can you file RTI online?
  1. What is India’s record in high jump?
  2. Your’s?
  3. What are different forms of high jump?

(I made them literally laugh here)

“You are quite a mature person in small age”.Smiled and said Thank you

Q5. Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or did they ask you totally unexpected questions? Was it a stress interview? If yes, how did you handle it? 

Interview was not at all stressed. Board was very cordial and I made them smile in whole interview. It was on expected lines around my biodata.

CSE-2013 Marksheet

CSAT prelims: GS 96+ Aptitude 164.18

Geography Paper 1066
Geography Paper 2121
Written Total629
Final total783

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?

I would have continued Msc in Physics.

Q2. when were you going to “execute” that backup plan?

Never thought about it..

Insecurity about profile

One cannot change his profile so the need is to prepare considering yourself the best and be confident about yourself.


Q. Through this journey and success, what have your learned? What is the wisdom of life and competition?

I think the process transformed me from a child to a matured person. Learning have become a continuous process and the qualities like patience and empathy are now inbuilt.

Q. What is your message to the future aspirants?

Enjoy the process and keep the patience nothing is impossible. You are here because of your choice so keep that in mind and give your 100%.

Credit: Friends/family

My parents have been a great support and motivator to believe in my dreams. My brothers always helped me with studies and supported emotionally. I remember a incident when my father took a great pain to make me meet Director of Ghaziabad development authority an IAS officer. Interestingly, I was asked direct question in Interview “Have you ever met an IAS officer”.

This proves the dedication and wish of a father.

Bogus Marketing Propaganda

Q. You are well aware for the sacred rule of conducting toppers’ interview- the last question must be about self-marketing. So, Did you use Mrunal.org for your preparation and if yes, how did it help you? And you can even reply “No”. I’ll publish your answer without tempering/editing it.

I thank you for your great work. Frankly, I have read each and every article of Mrunal. I would suggest aspirants that there then net for preparation on Mrunal.org.

Mrunal: Thank you Ms. Shweta for sharing your journey and experience with us. Best wishes for the service allocation, keep in touch.

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Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

133 Comments on “[Topper’s Interview] Shweta Chauhan (CSE-2013/AIR-573): First Attempt, Geography optional, ACIO, B.Sc, Ghaziabad”


  2. Hi swheta how r u
    i wana tomake ips officer plz help …


  4. Dear Ms. Shweta,

    I really delighted to read the interview of a successful aspirant from my own district. Many congratulations on your success.

    Tarun Sharma.

    CSE 2015 s mine.. i am taking geography as optional bcoz i feel comfortable with it.. thanks for the tips and suggestion..

  6. mam, have u completed ur optional subject coaching bfore pre or after pre examination ??
    is it possible to complete d opt. subject after pre ??

  7. ACIO ka exam kab hoga ? abhi tak date nahi aayi

  8. Miss Shweta congrats on your success. Did you attend the college in the last year as i feel it is very difficult to be regular in college and attend coaching and prepare at the same time. FYI i am in dU too so …can you plz tell how you did it.

  9. Congratulations…..

  10. Congratulation…..really nice…..all the best

  11. Dear shweta mam,
    First of all congratulations and all the best for cse 15 .


  12. First of all congratulation making ur father dream true.

    I shown my kids who are studying in Class -vth and 2nd the kind of passion u maintained to fulfill ur as well as father dreams true.

    We too are from pratapvihar, ghaziabad and my daughter also wants to be IAS.

    Wish her ur blessings


    Rajesh singh

  13. mam i am running on veterinary graduation but mam i like geogr. very much but it will against prep. of Indian forest service which permit only art sub. as optional plzzzzzzzzz…. help me mam

  14. I have given search in Google just now with this name and with my sheer surprise get back these pages. I think I find the right person we traveled with in MAS-HWH Corromandal Exp on 9-10 Jan 2016. I have saved these pages to show to my wife and daughters. If you see this msg and if I am correct you are requested to reply in the e-mail. My regards to your parents and blessings to you and your siblings.

  15. Mrunal sir, please ask Shweta Mam to write a fresh article as she has scored 326 marks in geography and got 8th rank in CSE 2016. It would be of immense help to people with geography optional!!

  16. sir please suggest me the books to study economics optional paper-2 for upsc…

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