- Electronic Vs Paper material
- Tempo and style
- Struggle of a Senior player
- Prelims (CSAT) General studies
- Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
- Prelim accuracy
- Mains: Compulsory language paper
- Mains: Essay
- GS Mains Paper-1
- GS Mains Paper-2
- GS Mains Paper-3
- General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
- Mains answer-writing?
- Mains Optional Subject
- Before the interview
- During the interview
- CSE-2014 Marksheet
- Career Backup
- Views on UPSC reforms
- Insecurity about profile
- Credit: Friends/family
- BOGUS Marketing Propaganda
|Rank in CSE-2014||158|
|Total attempts in CSE (including this one)||4|
|Medium chosen for Mains answers||English|
|Medium chosen for Interview||Hindi|
|Home town/city||Delhi (Born in Sonipat(Haryana))|
|Work-experience if any||6.5 years(1.5 years in JSW Steel Ltd + 5 years in BSNL )|
|Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures|
|Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)||Geography at ALS but soon realized that it was wastage of time and money, so later relied on self-study only.|
|Service preferences (Top-5)||IPS,IAS,IFS,IRS|
|state cadre preference (Top-5)||Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, MP,UP|
|% in class 10||78.5|
|% in class 12||82.4|
|Graduation course and %||B.Tech Electronics and Instrumentation Control, 66%|
|Name of college, city, passing out year||YMCA Institute of Engineering (Faridabad, Haryana)|
|Post-graduation||MBA (Distance Education, MDU Rohtak)|
|Any other professional courses||Nil|
|Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements|
Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
- I did engg. In 2007 and started career with a private company later switched to PSU (BSNL), got married in 2009, now i’ve a 5 years sweet daughter. My father is working in MTNL , Delhi as Sr. Sub Divisional Engineer, my mother is a housewife, my wife is a research scholar (doing Ph.D from DTU,Delhi).
- In 2009 when I started commuting from Delhi to Panipat (Haryana) in Local train, I found it very boring as it took 2 hrs daily in UP and Down, so stared studying newspaper, some random reading of major events to make use of my commuting time. I conceptualized idea for Civil Service preparation in 2011 after thinking a lot. I found my job in BSNL not much satisfying and with little career progress, so after lot of consideration I decided to prepare without leaving my current job.
- While traveling in train, I found countless thing which inspired me to do something more on my part for the country and the society.
- Beside I always motivated myself to check and extend my limits, so entered into the race.
Q. In recent times, there is spur in electronic material- blogs, sites, pdfs, RSS-feeds. Many aspirants feel bogged down by this information overload. So, how much do you rely on electronic material and how much on the paper material (Books, newspapers)? If possible narrate a typical day in your studylife. What is your style of preparation (e.g. I continue making notes no matter what I’m reading, I just read multiple times but don’t maintain notes, I make mindmaps on computer …or xyz style)
Initially my style of preparation was a bit haphazard. I didn’t make notes but read multiple books and made notes in the book itself. This was the prime reason for initial failures. Later started to find out my weaknesses and turned them into my strength (Always remained my core stratergy).
My days started at 6 AM when I catch Local train to Panipat, I do study in train from 6-8 AM and then after reaching my office around 8.15AM, I again study 8.15 to 10 AM (this was the routine schedule). In office time I do spared 2-3 hours daily for study after completing my office work. In evening I again studied in Local Train from 5.30 PM to 7.30 PM daily. After reaching home I gave time to my daughter and family, but during exam days did some study at home too. Over all I did studied around 8-9 hours, though initially it was 4-5hrs only.
I relied heavily on internet for preparation (especially for current affairs) as I didn’t find time to read newspaper. Mrunal,Insightonindia & Gktoday help immensely in this.
Q. People know what books and syllabus points are to be prepared. But most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?
Self motivation, determination never let me diverted from the objective. If I found myself saturated or bored of studying, I simply spent time to my daughter, my wife and my family which re-energized me.
Q1. How did you survive through this mental prison and what’re your words of wisdom to other senior players? If any specific inspirational incident(s), please share.
Keep myself focused and remained myself the goal. Many time after failure many thing came to mind “tumse nahi ho payegaa bhai”, I rejected this with positive taught “Aggar aur kar sakte hai toh mein kyo nahi”. Moral of the story :- Self motivation
Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?
2011 – Gave prelims just to check what is CSE, before appearing in the exam I even didn’t know that 2nd paper change to aptitude and now called CSAT. Finally came with satisfaction that I used 4 hours purposefully. Failed in prelims by just 5 marks (my marks were 193 and cutoff was 198). After result I realized that I can, so started so serious preparation.
2012 –Studied decently and over focused on GS Paper 1, so neglect of Paper II harmed me. My score my just 0.67 below cutoff. Made many blunder in GS paper I and even bigger blunders in Paper II comprehension section. (Paper I – around 103 and paper II- around 104-105).
2013- Scored 270 in Prelims, but due negligence of answer writing failed in mains by 10 marks. Due to my weakness in writing I always postponed writing answers, ultimately mains result shown me the mirror, so now I found the area where I had to focus.
2014- For the whole year I wrote answers using www.insightonindia.com. Joined mains test series of VISION IAS , GKTODAY because of flexibility that they provide. Made strategy to handle GS papers. For Geography (optional) joined VISIONIAS test series, taking clues from evaluation of my answers I corrected my answers and incorporated the suggestions in my future answers (as a result I scored 278 in mains).
I can only say one thing, if you don’t practice answer writing, then either god can pass you or you are extremely extra ordinary and exceptional.
|History Ancient||Old NCERT|
|History Medieval||Old NCERT|
|History Modern (Freedom Struggle)||Bipan Chandra, Spectrum’s book|
|Culture and society||Selective reading of Gktoday and VISION IAS PDFs,|
|Polity (theory + current)||Laxmikanth, GK TODAY,Murnal|
|Economy (theory + current)||Mrunal articles, GK Today, Shri Ram’s printed notes of Economics.|
|Science (theory + current)||Mrunal.org, Normal current affairs notes|
|Environment (theory + current)||GK Today, Taking clues from Mock tests, Current affairs, Selected chapters of 12th class Biology (NCERT) book|
|geography physical||NCERT,Goh cheng Leong (Geography was my optional subject)|
|geography India||NCERT, Majid Hussain,Khullar (Geography was my optional subject)|
|geography world||No particular book, just referred notes available in market|
|other national/international current affairs||Current affairs notes of GK Today, VISION IAS, MURNAL,INSIGHTONINDIA,IDSA,FRPI,, Council on Foreign Relations(cfr) some other sources on internet|
|Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff||Current affairs notes of GK Today, VISION IAS, MURNAL,|
Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2014 paper?
I did practice many mocks and note down important points from solution particularly for art & culture and environment portion, it helped in revision. (Give sufficient time to check your mock test becoz that is the time when you learn from your mistakes)
I attempted around 83 questions of that around 12-13 were wrong, i took some calculated risk otherwise i could had attempted only 60-65 questions. By doing mock you will learn how to take calculated risk, how to eliminate choices and make smart guesses particularly in environment and SnT questions. As in environment question you can never know each and everything, so you have to make some smart guessing.
Q. in GS-Prelims 2014, there was unusual questions from environment and agriculture portion. If you were to give the attempt again in 2015, what new strategy / books / sources would you focus?
I’ll stick to my own strategy.
Q. Now that Aptitude paper has become qualifying, obvious more attention needs to be paid on the GS paper so apart from the books that you already have gone through, what else would you have tried for CSE-2015 (if you were going to appear)?
- A more detailed reading of Indian Culture in ccrtindia
- Repeat what I done earlier
|Topic||strategy / booklist|
|Maths||Just practice one mock every week, that will be more than sufficient|
|reasoning||Just practice one mock every week, that will be more than sufficient|
|comprehension||Just practice one mock every week, that will be more than sufficient|
|Decision Making||Just practice one mock every week, that will be more than sufficient|
Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2014 paper.
Practice is the key to success.
Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
I just solved the mock test of GKTODAY, VISION IAS, INSIGHT ON INDIA at home.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2014
|Compulsory language paper||Your preparation strategy / booklist?|
|English paper||At max you may see last year’s papers, otherwise your serious preparation will make you through this|
|your regional language (in my case it was HINDI)||At max you may see last year’s papers, otherwise your serious preparation will make you through this|
Q2.other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2014
Keep writing and do some practice in writing in your regional language.
Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
No Essay-specific preparation. Before examination write atleast 4-5 full length essays and make proper framework for around 10-15 essays. Your general studies will help you in essay writing. Try to incorporate as many possible dimensions and current events in your essay.
I tried to include max aspects in my essay e.g. Society, women empowerment, social justice, gender issue, global security, intolerance, inclusive growth, sustainable development, poverty, disparities etc (on a whole whatever came to my mind, I just tried to relate it with the essay topic). I’ll advise same to you as this approach drastically improved my essay score from 98 in 2013 to 142 in 2014.
|Topic||How did you prepare?|
|culture||Ccrtindia , Gktoday, Vision IAS pdfs|
|Indian history||NCERT old books , Bipan Chandra|
|world history||NCERT old books (Arjun Dev), Some reference from GK Today notes|
|post-independence India||Bipan Chandra “India since independence”|
|Indian society||Current Affairs, Internet|
|role of women, poverty etc.||Current Affairs, Internet|
|globalization on Indian society||Current Affairs, Internet|
|communalism, regionalism, secularism||Current Affairs, Internet|
|world geo physical||Gohcheng Leong, NCERT|
|resource distribution||Current Affairs, Internet|
|factors for industrial location||Mrunal.org, Insight on India|
|earthquake tsunami etc||Current Affairs notes, Internet|
|impact on flora-fauna||Current Affairs notes, Internet|
Current Affairs notes, Answer writing using Insight on India , selected topic notes of VISION IAS
|Topic||How Did You Prepare?|
|Indian economy, resource mobilization||Sri Ram’s economics printed notes, Mrunal.org, Insight on India|
|inclusive growth||Current Affairs notes, Internet|
|budgeting||Current Affairs notes, Internet|
|major crops, irrigation||Online ,Govt annual report on agriculture|
|agro produce – storage, marketing||Insightsonindia.com articles|
|e-technology for famers||Online Articles, Current Affairs notes|
|farm subsidies, MSP||Online Articles, Current Affairs notes|
|PDS, buffer, food security||Online Articles, Current Affairs notes|
|animal rearing economics||–|
|food processing||Mrunal.org, Insight on India|
|land reforms||Bipan Chandra|
|liberalization||Mrunal.org, Insight on India|
|science-tech day to day life||Mrunal.org, Insight on India|
|Indian achievements in sci-tech|
|awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR||VisionIAS PDFs,The Hindu|
|environmental impact assessment|
|non state actors, internal security||IDSA special monograph, online reading|
|internal security – role of media, social networking site|
|cyber security||National Cyber Policy, The Hindu|
|money laundering||Insightsonindia article on Black Money|
|organized crime, terrorism|
|security agencies- structure mandate||Wikipedia|
Studied IAS 100 (Chronicles IAS) book, practices case studies from Insight on India. Try to incorporate specific words related to ethics, aptitude and integrity in your answers. In my personal view it add good impression on examiner
Please tell us how many marks worth attempt did you give? along with comments if any, in the following cells:
|Paper||Best attempted||Average quality||namesake answer||Total attempt|
I write with a good speed. But in last one hour always attempted around 100-110 marks paper, due to which quality compromised somewhat. I always had one thing in my mind that I had to complete the paper and so ,I ensured to accomplished it in all the four papers.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
Used slightly big fonts, space in between paragraphs. I tried to fill the space as possible so that it look like that I decently attempted the questions.
Q. Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs? Some players (who cleared mains and got interview call letter) were claiming that they wrote entire paper in bullet points, so it doesn’t matter….whether examiner is asking ‘examine, comment, discuss or xyz’….simply write in bullets and points.
Paragraphs as well as bullet points, It depends on the question available content and time. I freely switched between paragraphs and bullet points.
Q. Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format? because some mains-qualified candidates claim they simply wrote the points they could recall within the time, instead of bothering with proper introduction and conclusion.
Yes, I strict to it as far as possible, but in some cases directly came to point form after writing 1-2 line of intro and at the end concluded in 2-3 lines only, so that answer appears complete.
Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketch pens in your answers?
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
I tried diagrams in questions to save time and consume writing space .
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?
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue ballpoint pen only (Uni ball Mitsubishi 15 Rupees wala)
(Mrunal – since readers keep mailing such queries, therefore I’m asking the topper to clear all the air haha.)
Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
Chose geography because of.
- Somewhat conceptual subject.
- Found it very interesting, love to know various Geographical phenomena’s, events, processes and features.
- Helpful in GS.
- Easy availability of material
Q. If a new player wants to pick this subject, would you advice for it or against it? (e.g. every senior player in Public Administration seems to be advising against pub.ad).
The advantages in taking this optional are
- It’s utility in GS paper 1, and Essay.
- It’s contemporary nature, particularly social issues, Indian geography, Environment & Ecology and now papers are become much dynamic which depends on overall knowledge and how you relates things.
Q. First the essential book/resource list. (Also mention which one is the “Base book” for covering the theory? + Whatever comments you’ve for a particular book e.g. “my seniors said read xyz book but I found that ABC book was better”. “xyz topic not given properly in this book, so prepare from xyz website or book…” OR and so on.)
- A whole list of books is already known to every one, still I want to tell you that I studied limited material (My own short note, Vajiram’s class note and notes of one of my friend, NCERT (old + new), internet for topics such as sustainable development, economic geography, urbanization etc)
- still if any doubts, you may contact me at chaudhary(dot)upsc(at)gmail(dot)com
Q. 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?
Necessary for contemporary topics such as sustainable developments, international issues, economics geography.
Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
3-4 months for revision in depth.
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
Yes, 4-5 pages for each part (Like Physical geography, Climato, Oceano, Envir, Geomorpho, Economics Geo, Human Geo, Political Geo etc).
Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2014 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?
2014 Paper 1 was easier compared to 2012 or 2013. Paper 2 in 2014 was dynamic in nature, questions were GS in nature but you had to write answers with geographic prospective along with maps, diagrams and enough examples
Q1. How did you prepare for the interview? – for college grad, hobbies, place of origin, current affairs at national and international level?
- College grad –Did not studied any thing.
- Hobbies – Some basic things searched on internet.
- Place of origin – Google based study
- Current affairs – The Hindu,Business Standard online. Watched Rajya Sabha debates.
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 such mock interviews?
Samkalp, GS Score, Byju’s and Vision India.
Q3. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
White shirt, Black pant, dark red tie, black shoes and a smile.
Q4. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?
- I live in Delhi
Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Q2. How long was the interview?
Q3. Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview.
- The interviewers were very cordial and friendly, Chairperson and members were asking question in English & Hindi, and I was replying in Hindi.
- Why you did MBA and how it help in BSNL.
- What will you do as DM to protect national integrity and internal security?
- What steps you will take in r/o climate change.
- What is the procedure in BSNL to recover the losses is any agency or authority cut your cable.
- How mica is formed.
- Draw a map of India.
- Point Chattishgarh in it
- Which states are it neighboring
- How you will reach to Landon from Delhi by Land route, Tell me the countries u’ll travel through.
- Tell in details about different layers of atmosphere.
- What is the function and usefulness of ionosphere.
- How food get hot in microwave oven.
- What will be the use of MBA in administration.
- What is social justice.
- What is equal pay equal work
- Are subordinates are exploited by managers.
- Your view in respect of recent amendments proposed in juvenile justice act
- What is sarvo system.
- Who communication is managed in disaster cases.
- What is international roaming.
- Asked about some foreign author book that I studied or not for MBA.
- Diffrence between management and administration.
- Low Sex ration in Haryana
- Role of Khap Panchayat
- Why BSNL services are poor.
- Few more questions , not able to recall.
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, did they ask any uncomfortable questions? If yes, how did you handle it?
I had prepared for current affairs, Home state and hobbies. But the interview was more of a job and geography oriented one. Overall it was cordial and friendly except few occasions. I scored poorly 154. In my opinion it was may be because of Hindi medium of interview because of which chairperson was not much comfortable and interested. I replied all answers confidently with relevant content.
Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
No problems at all . Just follow the instructions. Please do not go early as we have to stand outside the gate in the sun.
Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
Take care of BMI and BP, test it before medical examination and in case of any problem take advice from doctor.
Q1. Please attach both prelim and final marksheet. (when it comes)
|Genral Studies -I (Paper-Ii)||096|
|Genral Studies -Ii (Paper-Iii)||090|
|Genral Studies -Iii (Paper-Iv)||080|
|Genral Studies -Iv (Paper-V)||102|
|Optional-I (Geography.) (Paper-Vi)||145|
|Optional-Ii (Geography.).) (Paper-Vii)||133|
Prelims score: Paper one 132 + Paper two 133.33 = Total: 265.33
Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?
Mains : I will read better for GS paper II & III
Prelims : As it is.
Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
I Continue with my current job.
Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
Optional Paper can be removed to provide a level playing field to all. In place of Optional 2 more GS papers can be introduced. One of which specifically focuses on aptitude and basic mathematics along with comprehension skills. Further No of questions in GS paper can be reduced, so that analytical skills of the aspirants can be checked in greater depth.
Some reforms are also needed in the “Personality Test”, it can be slightly modified on the lines of the SSB of NDA / CDS. Or alternatively aspirants have to give 2 interviews to different boards and final marks should be based on average. It will avoid any prejudice or biasedness.
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
It is going to benefit none.
Q. Despite what UPSC has done in recent years, it has failed to curb the nuisance of Delhi’s coaching factories. In fact it’s increased under the new syllabus in 2014. Let’s face it, most candidates who gave Mains-2014 have relied on (authentic OR Xeroxed) coaching notes because there was hardly any time left to prepare so many topics in such short time. This system work against an individual preparing from far-away area, without any financial resources, high-speed internet or contacts in Delhi.
I did not rely on materials of any coaching institute for GS except GK Today and Vision IAS’s current affairs and some miscellaneous topics.
Q. Half-merger of IFoS with CSE is a bad move because it has raised the cutoffs for players who’re solely dedicated to IFoS only (and not to IAS/IPS). Adding salt to the wounds, many who had applied for both jobs, cleared the prelims- they did not even bother to appear in all the papers of Mains-IFoS. (atleast that was the scene in 2013).
Yes, It artificially increased to competition for the prelims but highly reduced competition in the mains. It is a great injustice to aspirants who prepare for IFoS only.
Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
UPSC must disclose the marks and cutoff of prelims immediately after the declaration of pre result. It will help the aspirants to make necessary adjustments in the future strategy.
Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?
I’ll reform the “Personality Test”, it is currently the most unscientific part of the whole processes. Try to address the concerns of Hindi medium aspirants, ensure no discrimination on the basis of language, education background, adecemic performance prior to CSE.
Q. Many candidates prepare sincerely but constantly live under fear about ‘profile insecurity’. I’m not from a big college, I’m not from English medium, and I don’t have work-experience. What if they ask some stressful questions in the interview about this? Did you suffer from such insecurities? What is your message to these candidates?
Just try to reflect better and bright part of your personality with great confidence.
Q. Through this struggle and success, what have your learned? What is the wisdom of life and competition? What is your message to the new aspirants?
Try to achieve balance between various parts of your life, though CSE mean a lot to every aspirant but never forget that it is not the end. Success in CSE depends on many factors, some of them are out of your control, so always put your best and prepare for the worst. Remember countless successful persons who are neither IAS nor IFS/IPS/IRS, still the achieved their dreams and contributed for the society’s well being (APJ Abdul Kalam, Kailesh Satyarathi). You’ll learn amazing things during the preparation; just try to follow the good ones throughout your life. Live a purposeful life.
Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2014. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?
If you are really determined, focused and motivated than always remember that ”Success can only be delayed but can’t be denied”. Delay depends on your own efforts and hard work.
Q. Behind every topper are many people who stood by during those uncertain times when he/she was merely an ‘aspirant’. Would you like to tell the world, who were those people in your case? Any specific incidence that you would like to share with the readers?
- My parents Sh. Jagbir Singh and Smt. Santra Devi
- My Wife Reena Dalal and my loving daughter Yashasvi
- My brothers Mandeep and Ashish
- My friends and co aspirants Parveen Jindal, Yogi, Dinesh, Rajat, Vikram and many more.
- My teachers from School to college.
- My Office fellows especially Vineet, Deepak, Rajeev, Ranaji, and seniors Rajanna sir
- And finally the society and India as a country where I grow and learned the social skills to live.
Q. You are well aware of the sacred rule – 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 still publish your answer without tempering.
Murnal “The great”, you never need any advertisement or publicity, your website function as the basic fundamental platform for the civil services preparation. Your articles are used as a source to study and conceptualized current affairs. Your new initiative of video lecture is even more helpful. It serves a great purpose to especially those who are either working professional or don’t have access to costly coaching tutorials.
Your selfless efforts deserve salute from us. Hats off to you brave heart. I’ll always thankful to you for your guidance.
Love you all. God bless all.