[Topper’s Interview] Pulkit Garg (Rank-27 /CSE-2015) IIT Delhi Civil Engineer, Chemistry Optional, 2nd Attempt

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  15. CSE 2015 mark sheet
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Name Pulkit Garg
Rank in CSE-2015 27
Roll No. 0037646
Age 23
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 2
Optional Subject Chemistry
Schooling Medium English
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Delhi
Work-experience if any No
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures Rank 490, CSE 2014
Rank 823, IIT JEE 2010
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)
  1. DIAS – Chemistry
  2. Vision Ias – Test Series – Pre and Mains
  3. Interview – Chanakya & Samkalp
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS IPS IFS IRS(IT) IRS(C&CE)
state cadre preference (Top-5) Haryana Raj MP UP HP


% in class 10 93%
% in class 12 93.6%
Graduation course and % B Tech,Civil Engineering ; CGPA – 8.15
Name of college, city, passing out year IIT Delhi – 2014
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Hobbies : playing badminton and squash, jogging


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
UPSC IAS Topper 2015 Pulkit Garg Chemistry Optional from IIT Delhi

Hi, I am Pulkit Garg and I have done my B.Tech. in Civil Engineering from IIT Delhi.
I have been a resident of Delhi throughout as I have done my schooling as well as graduation from here. My father is a banker by profession. My mother is a senior lecturer of Mathematics.
During my early college days, I started introspecting about what actually interests me.  What is it that I would like to do throughout my life? It is then I realized a few things about myself. I can not do something just because it pays me well. I really need to have genuine interest in something to do it with full passion and commitment. While reading newspapers casually during this period, I realized that anything related to the development and prestige of India invoked strong emotions in me. I was very happy whenever I read about India’s achievements in the field of economic and human development, whenever we acted as a global leader and set example for other nations to follow. I experienced seething anger and strong urge to change situations whenever it was a negative news concerning India, such as high poverty levels, lack of housing, poor sanitation coverage, mortality in millions due to easily curable disease such as diarrhea, India obtaining poor rank in Gender Inequity Index, Human Development Index, Doing Business Index.
I wanted that the kind of work that I do should touch a lot of human lives and make a wide impact, which is not just restricted to a limited set of people.
Positions of responsibility excite me, and I never shy away from them. There is no other profession which gives such immense responsibility and leadership positions at such a young age and so early in your career.
Hence, all these reasons led me to thinking of taking Civil Service as my career. Interaction with family members, seniors and friends who know me well also reinforced my belief that it was a career which was well suited for me.
It was after my 2nd year that I took the plunge and started preparing seriously for this exam.


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)
I have relied heavily on electronic material(70-80% of my preparation). The exam has become highly dynamic and the kind of information and depth to which it is required is difficult to search for in a book. The ways in which I used electronic media were:
1. Making notes on Evernote – topic wise  – as mentioned by Gaurav Aggarwal Sir(2013 AIR 1) in his blog (https://thesupermanreturns.wordpress.com/) – easy to manage and to add further details as and when they com – I did this in my 1st attempt.
2. Staying abreast with current affairs and to know any issue in detail which has not been covered adequately in the newspapers and books – like reading editorials on Business Standard
3. Following Mrunal, IASBaba, InsightsonIndia and important news articles as stated on these websites.
4. For governments reports such as of ARCs , FYPs , Annual reports of Ministries.
5. For following interviews and success strategies of toppers.
The importance of books is decreasing – primarily important now only for Prelims and GS Paper 1 in Mains.
Reading Indian Express daily is a must.
There is no typical day as such. But newspapers(2-3 hrs) and optional(~3 hrs) must be done everyday along with coverage of topic wise complete syllabus of mains and a lot of answer writing practice for both Gs Mains and optional.
I make online notes of what I read only for important topics of current affairs . But they should be very precise and to the point. Don’t copy paste while making notes. Make it topic wise. Use headings and sub headings for clarity and ease during revision.
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?
Consistence and patience is the most important trait in this exam. One thing that really helps for maintaining momentum is genuine interest and curiosity. Try generating interest for every topic and subject – which could be done by asking regular questions to yourself while reading annything – keep asking why,how,when,what could be done – dont be satisfied with only what the article is telling you – go and find out answers for these natural and self made questions on the net. For example: you read an article that India has got a rank of 128 in Gender Inequality Index and so and so country has such and such rank . In this: find out.. 1. What does this index tell       2. What are the dimensions used to come out to this conclusion 3.Where is India lacking specifically 4.Why is India lacking specifically 5.What is the position of our neighbours; if better – how ? 6. What has been done and what more could be done by different stakeholders – revise in your head for each of the dimensions. This would be the holistic coverage of the topic which would also keep your interest up and enter into a virtuous cycle of interest and learning; out from the negative cycle of mood swings and distraction.
The fact that I knew that this is the career of my choice and I would have to sit again for the exam next year if I dont study well this time – used to motivate me even more i.e what I should study was inevitable and it had to be done – either this time or some other time – so why not this time only.
You can also keep maximum one hour for the things that you love doing – example I used to go for jogging whenever I did not feel like studying – but this should be done within the time limit.
Listening to motivational songs used to help me a lot too.
(Answer only if you’re a senior player.)
After 1-2 failures in any competitive exam, a phase of mental saturation comes. The person knows the booklist, he knows what is necessary to succeed. But it doesn’t yield result. The armchair ‘experts’ would point out UPSC is ‘testing’ emotional intelligence of the candidate or UPSC wants to break the backs of senior players, daily conspiracy theories on orkut.. Not to mention all the emotional struggle-against those irritating neighbors and relatives who keep asking your mother “aap kaa betaa kya karta hai” (What does you son/daughter do?)
MY question are two:


Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient NCERT – only 11th – pretty detailed – would need to be revised multiple times – provides holistic coverage
History Medieval NCERT old – 11th and 12th – detailed as well – would be sufficient
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Spectrum(must – pre centric) + Bipin Chandra some chapters such as on civilian rebellions,peasant movements, working class movements,Gurudwara reforms which are not adequately covered in Spectrum – however if u have time – do read Bipin Chandra completely – as it needs to be done for Mains for sure.
Culture and society Nothing certain – too many sources but I did it from Nitin Singhania(Rank 51 notes) + 11th class NCERT fine arts – some questions could have been easily answered from these books – dont know of any one source from where all questions could have been answered – however people also recommend CCRT + NIOS culture + AL Basham
Polity (theory + current) Laxmikant + reading of bare provisions from PM Bakshi
Economy (theory + current) 11th 12th NCERT – Macro Economics + Economic Survey + Sriram’s IAS notes
Science (theory + current) Nothing specific
Environment (theory + current) Shankar IAS  + lots of Wikipedia + Vision IAS Current Affairs
geography physical 11th + 12th NCERT + GC Leong
geography India -do-
geography world -do-
other national/international current affairs Current Affairs – Vision IAS + Indian Express
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff PRSIndia + PIB + mrunal + iasbaba +  insightsonindia

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2015 paper?
1. More factual questions – change – as 2013 was more understanding based
2. Very high number from Environment,Geography,Culture.
 3. While reading geography – NCERT would be sufficient but focus on the little little things given somewhere in the map in tiny letters – eg. though the name of all passes are given in the maps but the need is to know more about them eg. where is Lipulekh pass – what is its significance – Is India China trade allowed through it.Like this : form maps for a)all passes in India b)all major rivers – and their imp tributaries c) major dams d)type of vegetations in detail and do have certain depth in knowledge about them.
4. While reading env – Shankar IAS is good – but do keep googling stuff which comes in newspaper and follow Vision Ias current affairs – its good  + do have the major national parks,wildlife sanctuaries,biosphere reserves,tiger reserves marked on the map.

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)?
Same as above.

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths none
reasoning -do-
comprehension -do-
Decision Making -do-

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
Yes. I took Vision IAS test series – it is really good as it is topic wise and hence you can prepare a schedule around it which helps in keeping studies for pre structured: eg. take 2 days for prep of polity and give polity test – then 2 days for geo prep – give test.. Giving mock tests is imp as you notice the fine points which you miss sometimes while studying – especially in polity,geography and history. Hence, it is necessary to do mock tests . But it is not necessary to take a test series – you can just buy question papers and answers from the market and solve them under time limit yourself. You can also compare marks with your friends and seniors in this test to know the level at which you are presently and what you should be aiming at. At the end phase – last 10-15 days – mock tests of more coaching institutes could be done.

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2015

  attempted Q. correct (Expected) Official score
GS 87 65 115
aptitude 70 65 ~160


Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper Solved past 2-3 years papers.
your regional language Hindi – Unique publishers Hindi guide book – practiced writing essays . Solved past 3-4 years papers. Did this in the last 2 weeks – 1-2 hrs every day.

Q2.other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2015
Hindi paper is not that easy . Dont take Hindi for granted – do practice it before giving the exam – lack of time. Translation was lengthy.

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
The preparation for essay is mostly integrated with that of GS mains.
However,special attention must be paid to writing practice.
I really liked the strategy of my friend Siddharth Jain, 13th rank, who has got very good marks in essay – in 140s this time, a great improvement from the last year when he only got 60 marks in CSE2014. I would like everyone to go through his strategy. Click here to his video explaining his strategy.


Topic How did you prepare?
culture  Nitin Singhania notes – however one should prepare from AL Basham too and 11th Fine arts book
Indian history Bipin Chandra or NCERT – 12th old – I read NCERT completely and Bipin Chandra’s some chapters – sufficient for understanding – do focus on news in current affairs related to this –
Eg. 70 years to end of World War 2 , so much more focus on WW2 – or lets say Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary – similarily any event of historical importance in news must be done thoroughly as we can expect a question on this.
world history Norman Lowe would be sufficient + Roman Saini sir’s videos could be seen for imp points  as summary.
post-independence India I read Bipin Chandra – but guess no need to prepare in this detail – Vision IAS notes could be done for this. Chapters on major events such as land reforms, wars , India’s challenges just after independence are very important. No need to read Bipan Chandra from cover to cover.
Indian society 11th 12th sociology . More of current affairs and common sense oriented.
role of women, poverty etc. Vision IAS notes
globalization on Indian society -do-
communalism, regionalism, secularism -do-
world geo physical NCERT 11th 12th + wiki
resource distribution Mrunal’s articles for this are really very very good. I would advise do go through this well.
factors for industrial location Mrunal + Ncert
earthquake tsunami etc Vision Ias notes
impact on flora-fauna general


Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Laxmikanth
comparing Constitution with world Vision notes
parliament, state Legislatures Laxmi
executive-judiciary Laxmi + current affairs (CA)
ministries departments Wiki
pressure group, informal asso. Vision + 2nd Arc Report
Representation of people’s act Vision
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Vision
NGO, SHG etc Vision + 2nd Arc Report
welfare schemes, bodies Vision + newspaper
social sector, health, edu, HRD Current affairs(CA) – newspaper + mrunal + insights + Vision IAS current affairs booklet  –
governance, transparency, accountability Current Affairs + 2nd ARC
e-governance Vision + CA + 2nd ARC
role of civil service Vision + 2nd ARC
India & neighbors Rajiv Sikri – IR book + CA + Vajiram book on IR + vision notes on IR released in last month
bilateral/global grouping -do-
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest -do-
diaspora -do-
international bodies- structure mandate -do-


Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Mrunal + Sriram’s notes + Economic Survey + CA
inclusive growth Vision + CA
budgeting Vision
major crops, irrigation Vision + Geo Ncert
agro produce – storage, marketing Mrunal is again very good for this part + Vision + CA
e-technology for famers -do-
farm subsidies, MSP -do-
PDS, buffer, food security -do-
technology mission -do-
animal rearing economics Mrunal
food processing Mrunal
land reforms Mrunal + Bipin Chandra some chapters of Post Independence India
liberalization 11th NCERT Eco
infra CA
investment models Vision
science-tech day to day life Vision notes on Science + CA
Indian achievements in sci-tech NIOS culture – last chapter
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Vision
environmental impact assessment Vision
Disaster Management 2nd ARC report – very good points – would be sufficient
non state actors, internal security Vajiram book on Internal Security – Very good
internal security – role of media, social networking site Vajiram book
cyber security Vajiram
money laundering -do-
border  Management -do-
organized crime, terrorism -do-
security agencies- structure mandate Wiki


Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics I did most of the topics from only one book – Chronicle Lexicon – which I think is more than sufficient for this paper for those topics. It does not cover in adequate detail a few topics for which I used Vision Ias material
attitude, moral influence etc. Lexicon
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc Lexicon
emotional intelligence, its use in governance Lexicon
moral thinkers of India and world How many thinkers did you prepare? – only the ones which were very imp – eg.Rabindranath Tagore and a rough idea of Plato Socrates and 1 or 2 others. But it is not very important to remember their philosphies verbatim as the question would never come as to “what might be considered ethical acoording to Plato?” but for other questions you might quote that as per this thinker, this act would be moral or immoral as per the need.
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. Lexicon
corporate governance Vision
probity in governance, work culture Lexicon
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. Vision
challenges of corruption Vision
case studies on above topics Past year papers + Mock tests


In this paper , the most important thing is how you write your answer, I followed a general framework for writing case studies answers.
1. Start with identifying the values at conflict such as ambition and truthfulness etc. and identify the stakeholders concerned.
2. Then come on the possible scenarios that might take place . Write them clearly. Identify the impacts of any particular scenario on all stakeholders
3. Use a lot of value based terms – such as compassion,empathy,integrity,probity,transparency.
4. You can also use a particular principle to support your stand such as “ as per the utilitarian arguement – maximum benefit for maximum people” or as per the “golden rule”(never do wrong to anyone in any case) etc.
5. Distinguish between short term and long term benefits – dont forget to study env ethics
6. In the conclusion,clearly write the preferred solution and the values due to which you would take the stance.
7. I would also like to guide you to Sumit sir’s strategy for Ethics which I found very good – http://mrunal.org/2014/06/toppers-interview-sumit-kumar-cse-2013air-81-rohtak-mech-engineer-4-years-experience-mathematics-optional.html

For answer writing practice :
1. I gave Vision Ias Mains Test series – which had very good quality questions and their checking was of very high level – helped me to really improve my answer writing in Ethics
2. I also studied Gaurav Aggarwal Sir’s blog as to how to write a good answer in Ethics paper – as he has uploaded all his Vision Ias answer sheets on his blog
Do make sure that you get a lot of answer writing practice before you go for the final exam.

 in  the remaining bol-bachchan type questions (e.g. why ethics important, why probity difficult etc).

Prepare standard answers for such questions – asked again and again in slightly different forms – give test series – have answer writing practice.


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
GS1   10-20 None 250
GS2     None 250
GS3   10-20 None 240
GS4     None 250
Opt-P1   20   220
Opt-P2       250

Q. What was your approach in the exam (I wrote all, I only focused on the questions where I could answer perfectly, I just not to high quality points to reach the word limit etc.) Because the UPSC aspirant Community is divided over what counts as a ‘good’ paper. Some experts claim you should attempt all- even if it involves “making up” an answer with filler lines, some claim attempt only those questions you know perfectly. Where do you stand on this? [Based on your experience and of your seniors/buddies]
1. I think one must attempt as many questions as possible – i tried to attempt all in which even if I had a rough idea.
2. Answer writing is very imp to score high in Mains – go to the paper with a lot of practice – else writing for 3 hrs for 9 papers in a span of 5 days is almost impossible .
The time constraint is always there – hence necessary to write only the main points in a concise manner from as many dimensions as possible – read the question carefully and answer only what is asked. 1 line intro + 1 line conclusion max. No time for filler material – specially for questions you know well. Take time for every 10 marker as 7 mins and for 12.5 marker as 9 minutes.
3. Underline the main points – headings or sub-headings – make it as easy as possible for checker to understand your answers – he already has a lot of copies to check.Write neatly.

Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
The space is adequate.
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.
I wrote as per the needs of the question. If I had multiple distinct points for the answer I would mostly write in bullet form. If it was more of a discussion on a single point,I would write in the paragraph form. Just let it be very clear and easy for the checker to read and understand.Do underline.

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.
Exactly.Mostly only what is asked precisely. In some questions only – 1 line intro + 1 line conclusion max. No time for these fillers.
Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?
No.Just underlined with blue pen.
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
No. but if needed – then you should surely.
Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?
With Pen if required.
Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?
No time for such things.
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue pen. Pilot V5 – light in weight pen – necessary when you have to write for such a long time.


Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
Chemistry. During the time of my preparation for IIT JEE, I developed an interest in Chemistry and scored well, got AIR 1 in Chemistry IIT JEE 2010. Interest + good past performance + high scoring potential if done well were my basis for choosing Chemistry.
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)
Only if a person has sound basics in this subject and an abiding interest would I suggest somone to take this.
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.)
I took coaching from DIAS in Delhi from RK Singh sir in Chemistry.
I found the coaching notes sufficient in Paper 2 for all topics.
For paper 1 – coaching notes + PSP for some topics such as electrochemistry would be sufficient + Abhijeet Aggarwal Sir’s notes could be used.

Nishant Yadav  sir has written a very good strategy for this optional. It is extremely focused and concise and I followed this only.
Abhijeet Aggarwal sir has written detailed strategy on his blog which might be followed – though the number of books that he has mentioned is too large – only some of them need to be done from the exam point of view.

1. http://abhijeetagrawal.blogspot.in/

2. https://nishantyadav1.wordpress.com/category/chemistry/
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?
None. Only books would be sufficient.
Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
5-6 months.
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
Writing practice is very imp . Practice answer writing of all the previous year questions asked. Prepare standard answers to often asked questions.Test series of Dias may also be taken.
Started answer writing in a focused way thorugh mock tests just after Prelims.
However, even before Prelims, I used to practice answer writing for atleast 2-3 questions of previous years, while studying individual topics.

Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
I maintained a synopsis for each chapter – for end minute revision – handwritten.

Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2015 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?
2015 had questions from inorganic in compulsory questions. Normally they are asked in optional questions. This proved to be my Achilles heel. Hence I would suggest that course completion irrespective of the type of question asked in the previous years is a must.
Otherwise the questions were direct and of a simple nature.


Q1. How did you prepare for the interview? – for college grad, hobbies, place of origin, current affairs at national and international level?
Google all the details related to your DAF.
Brush up current affairs – keep reading newspapers after Mains – use Vision Ias current Affairs notes.
Don’t falsely create your hobbies just for DAF if you don’t have any. Leave the column blank. It is a much more safer option. And it doesn’t look bad too, its okay.
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?
Yes. I did. From Chanakya, Samkalp and Vajiram.
I found the interview session at Chanakya very good. It was the only institute which had 5 members in the panel, ranging from senior or retired bureaucrats to psychologists. The quality of questions and feedback given was very good as well. They also provide video recording of the interview on the spot, which is immensely beneficial for self review and analysis.
Personal sessions with AK Mishra sir for interview were also very enlightening.
The group mock at Samkalp was excellent.
Mock interviews are good to prepare for any unexpected and to generate a knack of thinking under pressure conditions and penetrating eyes. It also gives you a rough idea about the type of questions that could be asked.
2-3 mock interviews must be taken by the aspirants. Would gear you up for the final grilling.

Q3. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
A sober white shirt + black trousers + tie.
Q4. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?
At home.Nothing as such.


Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
HC Gupta
Q2. How long was the interview?
Around 30 minutes
Q3. Why do you want to join civil service? Why don’t you continue in your graduation field? Social service can be done from private sector too.  [Since I don’t know whether they ask you this question or not. But if they had asked- what will be your reply?]
Same as stated above.

Q4. Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview. (Earlier some toppers only tell me their question but not their answer. I would appreciate if you give both Question + your original answers)

It started on a very pleasant note. I entered with a smiling face.
CM : Has anyone told you that have a very good smile Pulkit .
Me: Thank you sir. Yes sir, my friends tell me that. (blushing 😀 ) . It even goes with my name, Pulkit.
All board members in chorus : What does your name mean Pulkit?
Me: Sir, it means a person who is always happy and smiling.
CM : It really suits you then Pulkit.
Me : Thinking ( there couldn’t have been a better start to the interview)
CM : Okay, Pulkit, tell us why do you want to leave IRTS, which is such a good job with immense perks, with houses bigger than that of IAS and where saloons(separate coaches) are provided for travelling through train to the officers.
Me: Definitely sir, it’s a great service. But IAS has its own distinct advantages, such as :
The most important reason Sir is that it gives me immense opportunity to make a deep impact on every aspect on a citizen’s life, ranging from education, health to skill development.
The other major reason is that it gives me great opportunity for career growth. 80% of joint secretaries,85% of Additional secy and 90% of secretaries are IAS. (not sure about accuracy of figures, but I was more concerned about conveying the message)
CM : Okay. What is the capital of Assam?
Me : (In a hurry) Sir, its Guwahati. ( a big blunder)
CM : No, Pulkit, Its Dispur, a locality in Guwahati. Have you read about it?
Me : Yes sir, I have read about it. Thank you for the information. It just slipped out of my mind.
CM : Okay. What is your opinion about scrapping of recruitment into railways through SCRA?
Me : Its definitely a step in the right direction sir. Supported it with 2-3 reasons. ( CM looked satisfied)
M1 : Why do you think that IITs are institutes of excellence, better than our other institutes.
Me : Gave standard answer. Best of the students selected. Very good faculty. Excellent infra. Independent governance.
M1 : Gave me an incomprehensible ( at that time, turned out to be easy later, as soon as I exited the hall) Maths problem, which he had already written beforehand on a sheet of paper.
Me : Can I take some time sir>
M1: Take all the time you want.
Me: Cant think of it right now sir.
M1: No issues.Its totally okay.
Over to M2
M2(Lady) : You would get a lot sifarishein( illegitimate demands) when you are posted in the district. How would you tackle them?
Me:  Ma’am , I would keep a very simple approach. I would ensure that everything works as per the law and procedure. Not even one exception would be there to this norm. Not even for my family members, relatives or friends. It would establish my image as an honest officer, and in some time, I would stop receiving such demands. ( she looked satisfied)
M2 : What is Make in India?
M2 : What is Skill India?
Over to M3
M3 : So you are from Delhi. Tell me 3 problems and the point wise solutions about why Health system in Delhi is crumbling
Me : 1. Underspending as a proportion of GSDP
2. Lack of availability of medicines in govt hospitals
3. Poor medical ethics  among doctors

  1. Increase spending
  2. Improve supply chain
  3. Reform medical education system

There were a few other innocuous questions, which I don’t remember right now.
M4 : Gave a situation. So consider that you are DM of a district. What measures would you take to prevent a railway accident, and in case an accident happens, to minimize injuries and casualties.
Me : Sir, we could undertake a vulnerability analysis survey, to find out the most vulnerable areas, where there is high probability of an accident taking place. Then we could take site specific measures.
Such as , strengthening of old bridges through which trains pass , and strengthening embankments to prevent landslides from affecting railway tracks.
To minimize the adverse effects, we could have a toll free emergency helpline number to provide quick help.
M4 : Anything else?
Me : Sir, we could form a coordination committee consisting of officials from district administration, police, railway officials and officials from health department to provide quick and effective help.
M4 : Could we also train local communities, who are normally the first responders, in such emergencies?
Me : Definitely sir.
CM : Thank you Pulkit, your interview is over. And I think I should take back my comment about your smile, because you were so serious throughout the interview.
Me: Didn’t know what to respond. Just gave him a nervous smile again. J
CM : Thank you!
Me : Thank you sir. Thank you while looking at everyone else.

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?
The interview was on Expected lines. No.
Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
Just go for it when scheduled.

CSE 2015 mark sheet

Prelims mark sheet-

Subject Marks obtained
Paper 1 115.34
Paper 2 176.38

Mains mark sheet-

Subject Marks obtained
Essay – Paper-1 119
General Studies – Paper 2 114
General Studies – Paper 3 94
General Studies – Paper 4 111
General Studies – Paper 5 97
Optional Paper – Paper-1 136
Optional Paper – Paper-2 102
Written total 773
Personality Test 190
Final Total 963

Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?
Lower marks in Essay – so more practice required here.
In addition to this, I would have analysed how to do better in optional subject.


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


What are your views on following issues?
Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
I dont agree. It enables the person to show his proficiency or command over a specific subject in which he is trained in. This is not fully possible in GS due to its very dynamic nature and the limitless course.

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 don’t agree with the above statement.The role of coaching institutes has drastically decreased.Last minute learning of coaching prepared notes wont help anyone. You need consistent study of newspapers and standard reference books and writing practice to succeed in the exam.These days online repository of materials and data has rendered coaching institues completely irrelevant.
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).

True.This should not have been done.There should be separate exams.
Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.

I agree.
Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
Yes this is much needed.At present the lenth of exam from pre to final result is excruciatingly long.

Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?

  1. Making interview more objective.
  2. Releasing cut-offs and marks of candidates after every stage as soon as possible
  3. Reducing the duration of this year long examination.


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?
I have had a privileged background as I have studied in top convent school of Delhi and then graduated from IIT Delhi. Hence,I have not had this insecurity personally. But I guess, the more difficult circumstances you face in life to rise, that is if you are from a rural background or a Hindi medium background or economically not well off – that is all the more appreciated by anyone that I have met and I think is a great advantage in the interview. It gives the message that despite all the hardships and challenges,you have made to it to the top. J


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?
The main aim in life is to maximize happiness. Find what gives you happiness and go for the kill. Don’t think what your friend is doing, don’t think what the society wants you to do. Do what you want to do and you would definitely succeed.
I would like to say that this exam tests patience and determination over everything else. If you are determined and hard working, it is a no-brainer that you would definitely make it.
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?
It would only enhance the taste of success at a later stage.
Keep working hard, analyse your mistakes and weaknesses. Success is bound to follow.


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 have stood like a rock behind me throughout  this preparation. They have had to sacrifice all their sources of enjoyments, outings and meeting with relatives as they firmly believed that a peaceful environment at home is most essential to study. I never had to worry about any financial constraints and never felt any lack of resources throughout my preparation. Hence I never had to bother about anything while in my preparation phase. I just had to concentrate on my studies which made my task easier .This saved precious time as I already had very less time at hand as I had given the exam just after my graduation.
My friends, from college and school have provided me intense motivation. Each one of my friends has excelled in his/her own respective fields. This has ingrained a culture of excellence in me too.They have always been there during my low phases to lift me up and to push me to do more.I would be ever grateful to them for this.


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.

When I started my preparation, Mrunal.org was the 1st website that I came across, which I have extensively used for my preparation. In addition to using it for preparation, I have developed a strong emotional connect with this website and Mrunal. The way you you write, proved to be a big motivator for me during my course of preparation.
There are certain sections which I found to be extremely useful such as :

  1. Economy
  2. World Geography – specially the topic of distribution of natural resources is really excellent.
  3. Topper’s Interview
  4. Current Affairs

I would like to thank you profusely for having this wonderful resource at the aspirants’ disposal during the difficult time of preparation. Carry on this awesome work. Best of luck for the future!!

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books
  2. Environment by ShankarIAS
  3. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  4. Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania (Hindi | English)
  5. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  6. Bipin Chandra: Post Independence
  7. Fast-track to Arithmetic Rajesh Verma
  8. MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning
  9. Disha’s Topicwise Paperset (Hindi | English)
  10. School Atlas
  11. Mains: Language papers
  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

So far 10 Comments posted

  1. Amit Yadav

    Ur words are sunshine ….THX pulkit

  2. Rajesh kumar

    Sir,my name is Rajesh kumar. I am beginner in upsc civil service exam preparation.
    Q.which old or new ncert ,nios should be read for ias exam preparation topic wise according to upsc ias syllabus?
    Q.which topics and chapters from ncert, nios and ignou books should be read for ias exam preparation topic wise according to upsc civil service exam syllabus ?
    Q.please suggest me best reference books for general study pre and mains. I will be very grateful to you ,sir? Thanks.

  3. tharun

    what is -do- in the box

    1. arif

      it means the same as above mentioned entry.

  4. AspiringIAS


  5. nikunj

    sir i am a student of school of open learning Delhi university which declares graduation result in november. Am i elligible for 2017 cse? As it will be my last year of graduation and mains is scheduled in october so niether i will have degree at that time(filling daf)
    nor i will be exam passed as result of graduation will come one month later in november ……..totally confused…


    hi sir

    i am dineshkumar from tamil nadu.i am beginner in upsc civil service exam preparation.
    which book prepared for all exam
    pls tell me sir

  7. Subham Kej

    Nice Learning from u pulkit

  8. Harvendra kumar

    Congratulation sir for a great job

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