- Candidate Profile
- Electronic Vs Paper material
- Typical day in your Online life?
- Style of Preparation and notes making
- Prelims (CSAT) Paper-1: General studies
- Prelims (CSAT): Paper-2: Aptitude
- Prelim accuracy
- Mains: Compulsory language paper
- Mains: Essay
- General Studies (Mains) paper 1
- General studies (Mains) paper 2
- General studies (Mains) Paper 3
- General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
- Mains answer-writing?
- ELASTICITY of Optional Subject Score
- Mains Optional Subject
- Before the interview
- During the interview
- CSE-2016 Marksheet
- Career Backup
- Views on UPSC reforms
- Insecurity about profile
- Internal Motivation
- Struggle of a Senior player
- Struggle of Working professional
- Grand wisdom
- Credit: Friends/family
- BOGUS Marketing Propaganda
|Rank in CSE-2016||262|
|Total attempts in CSE (including this one)||5|
|Medium chosen for Mains answers||English|
|Medium chosen for Interview||English|
|Home town/city||Kangra, Himachal Pradesh|
|Work-experience if any||Working as Assistant Section Officer, Election Commission of India|
|Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures||Qualified in Assistant Central Intelligence Officer exam of the Intelligence Bureau|
Assistant Commandant exam of the CAPF(qualified in written, rejected in physical)
|Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)||Vajiram & Ravi Classroom Coaching for G.S and Geography|
Mock interview from vajiram
|Service preferences (Top-5)||IAS>IFS>IPS>IRS(I.T)>IRS(Custom)|
|state cadre preference (Top-5)||Orissa>Jharkhand>Madhya Pradesh>Bihar>Himachal Pradesh|
|Education||fill the details here|
|% in class 10||92.20%|
|% in class 12||90.70%|
|Graduation course and %||B.Tech; 75%|
|Name of college, city, passing out year||Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Engineering, New Delhi -2011|
|Any other professional courses||NIL|
|Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements||Making notes of newspaper editorials, Reading articles related to India’s foreign policy, Cooking, Giving provender to birds|
Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
Myself Mohita Sharma, a native of Kangra, Himachal Pradesh but residing in Delhi since birth. I did my schooling from D.P.S Dwarka and later pursued my engineering in electronics and communication trade from Bharati Vidyapeeth College. I joined the Election Commission of India in 2016 as Assistant Section Officer and since then, have been associated with the Code of Conduct section, U.P elections and SVEEP. My father is a retired official from Maruti Udyog Ltd. and my mother a homemaker. Me being the only child, me and my parents encountered so many stereotypes that I resolved to myself that I will give a proud moment to my parents so that their head is always held high in front of those taunting comments they have been facing since my birth.
I entered this field of competitive exams after I completed my graduation, way back in 2012. But since, there was no one to guide me, so I stepped in this journey with almost no clue of what was about to come my way. That is why it took me 5 attempts to reach my dream as the exam itself became my experimental stage and committing mistakes and learning from them became my path of success.
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 do you balance this i.e. electronic material vs. paper material (Books, newspapers).
I used to prepare a list of articles during weekdays for which I need to access the internet and every Sunday I used to sit for 4 to 5 hours and make jottings of all the information that I used to collect from the internet. I also made sure that I surf the internet for a particular topic for only that much amount of information which gives me that extra edge without overloading me with futile information which I can’t even use in my paper.
|Daily hrs spent on online platforms for predicting cutoff / syllabus change / age-attempt limit change and other “peripheral-bolbachchan“ related to civil services.||0|
|Daily hrs spent on whatsapp and telegram studygroups||0|
|Daily hrs spent on online for exam prep.||4 to 5 hours on sunday|
|Primary Device for online study: desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile||laptop|
Q. Any other things that you wish to elaborate on above table:
With so many discussion portals and online forums, make sure you don’t spend your precious time conversing futile things which are of no use in the examination. Also, as far as possible, keep yourself away from the social media sites like facebook, twitter, instagram and even the watsapp so that your focus on the exam is not lost.
Q. What is your style of preparation and notes making? (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, I use xyz software etc.)
I used to make notes of everything that I used to study, be it my optional subject, my G.S. material, information accessed from the internet or the newspaper editorials. Notes making had ingrained into me in such a way that I just could not do without it. It helped me memorize and analyze all the information I used to collect and proved very handy during my revision.
|History Ancient||Arihant Mac book, old NCERT, vajiram classroom notes|
|History Modern (Freedom Struggle)||-do-|
|Culture and society||Nitin singhania, chronicle magazine on culture|
|Polity (theory + current)||Laxmikant, vajiram classroom notes, vision and vajiram current affairs magazines (V & V CAM),|
|Economy (theory + current)||Ramesh singh, Sriram’s economy book, vajiram classroom notes, mrunal.org, V & V CAM, IE, TH newspapers|
|Science (theory + current)||Vajiram classroom notes, vajiram yellow book, TH science page, V & V CAM|
|Environment (theory + current)||Shankar IAS book, mrunal.org, V & V CAM|
|geography physical||Since geography was my optional, I used to revise it from my optional notes and goh cheng leong|
|other national/international current affairs||V & V CAM, IE, TH newspapers|
|Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff||India year book, V & V CAM|
Q. Candidates are complaining that compared to earlier years, Prelim 2017 GS paper was very tougher, Tickmasters’ 90+ strategy (and its perverted & populist version known as Guessmaster-giri) and E-learning materials had limited utility. What are you views and wisdom on all these?
This is what is called as the unpredictability of UPSC. But prelims offers a level playing field for everyone. So, if the candidate is fully updated with the current affairs and has revised the static portion thoroughly, he will clear the prelims for sure, no matter from which source he has studied.
Q. Suppose, If you had to prepare for Prelims-2018, then after going through this 2017 paper, what changes would you make in your preparation?
I will not make any changes based on futile discussions about the future paper. Upsc is known for surprises in paper and any length of argument over the next year paper is useless, as the answer to it is best known to no one else, other than the UPSC itself. I will keep my strategy intact to revise everything, be it the current affairs or the core subjects.
|Topic||strategy / booklist|
Q. In the recent two prelims (2016 and 2017), the comprehension portion becoming quite tough and lengthy. Candidates struggle even to finish the paper-II. Kindly provide some words of wisdom
Solve some mock papers to improve your speed. Since there is no sectional cut off, try attempting the questions of those sections first in which you have an edge.
Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
Neither did I attend any mock tests and nor do I think they are necessary for clearing the prelims.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in Prelim-2016
|attempted Q.||correct (Expected)||Official score|
|Compulsory language paper||Your preparation strategy / booklist?|
|your regional language||Hindi|
Used to revise some grammar like ‘muhavre’, ‘prayvachi’ and ‘samantar shabd’
Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2016.
Don’t take these papers lightly as some students get disqualified every year in these subjects. Practice grammar from Ncert’s standard textbooks of class tenth or solve previous year papers to have an idea about the difficulty level of the papers.
Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
I learnt some quotations and used the study material provided in Shabbir Sir’s essay class (Vajiram) to have some brainstorming ideas on different themes. I practiced a few essays from previous year papers and got it checked.
Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?
If development is not engendered, it is endangered
Cooperative federalism: myth or reality
Don’t remember the exact points but included a lot of GS content in the second essay.
|Topic||How did you prepare?|
|Culture||Nitin singhania, NCERT, Mac Book , vajiram class notes and yellow book|
|Indian history||Bipin Chandra, Vajiram class notes, NCERT, Mac book|
|world history||Vajiram class notes, Mrunal.org|
|post-independence India||Bipin Chandra, vajiram class notes|
|Indian society||Shankar IAS book on society, V&V CAM|
|role of women, poverty etc.||-do-|
|globalization on Indian society||-do-|
|communalism, regionalism, secularism||-do-|
|world geo physical||Geography optional notes|
|factors for industrial location||-do-|
|earthquake tsunami etc||-do-|
|impact on flora-fauna||Shankar IAS environment book|
|Topic||How Did You Prepare?|
|Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc.||Laxmikant, IE, TH, RSTV: Law of the Land, V&V CAM, vajiram class notes, PRS|
|comparing Constitution with world||Vajiram class notes|
|parliament, state Legislatures||Laxmikant, IE, TH, RSTV: Law of the Land, V&V CAM, vajiram class notes, PRS|
|pressure group, informal asso.||-do-|
|Representation of people’s act||Left|
|various bodies: Constitutional, statutory..||-do-|
|NGO, SHG etc||-do-|
|welfare schemes, bodies||-do- + PIB+ IYB|
|social sector, health, edu, HRD||-do- + PIB+ IYB|
|governance, transparency, accountability||-do- + ARC|
|e-governance||-do- + ARC|
|role of civil service||-do- + ARC|
|India & neighbors||IE: C.Rajamohan’s editorials, V&V CAM|
|effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest||-do-|
|international bodies- structure mandate||-do-|
|Topic||How Did You Prepare?|
|Indian economy, resource mobilization||Vajiram class notes, ramesh singh, economic survey, mrunal.org|
|major crops, irrigation||-do-|
|agro produce – storage, marketing||-do-|
|e-technology for famers||-do-|
|farm subsidies, MSP||-do-|
|PDS, buffer, food security||-do-|
|animal rearing economics||-do-|
|science-tech day to day life||TH science page, V&V CAM, vajiram class notes, vajiram yellow book|
|Indian achievements in sci-tech||-do-|
|awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR||-do-|
|environmental impact assessment||Shankar IAS|
|Disaster Management||Internet and ARC|
|non state actors, internal security||Vajiram class notes, Yellow book, TMH|
|internal security – role of media, social networking site||-do-|
|organized crime, terrorism||-do-|
|security agencies- structure mandate||-do-|
|Topic||How Did You Prepare?|
|ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics||Vajiram class notes, mrunal.org, TMH|
|attitude, moral influence etc.||-do-|
|civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc||-do-|
|emotional intelligence, its use in governance||-do-|
|moral thinkers of India and world||How many thinkers did you prepare?|
None: left the topic
|ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc.||-do-|
|probity in governance, work culture||-do-|
|citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc.||-do-|
|challenges of corruption||-do-|
|case studies on above topics||Practiced some from TMH and some from Mrunal.org|
Q. In ethics, they’re asking random definition and concepts out of the book. Most of the serious candidates (both topper and non-toppers) have received marks in similar ranges. What are your observations and tips for future aspirants regarding preparation of this paper?
I think all the random definitions and concepts have some correspondence or the other with our day to day life. So try answering all such questions by giving an example or quote a famous personality. The questions in this paper are so generic that a candidate who has not even read about that particular theme can write something substantial on it. Focus on the case studies as they fetch good marks. Try to answer the case study on the following lines:
Highlights of the case study:
Possible solutions (elaborate each of them):
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|
|GS4||200 marks||30 marks||20 marks||All|
|Opt-P1||210 marks||40 marks||–||5|
|Opt-P2||230 marks||20 marks||–||5|
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]
Though I believe in answering all the questions but ‘making up’ an answer is only possible in those questions only where you have at least an idea about the topic. I had to leave the question on ‘Mc Bride’ and ‘Krishnadeva Raya’ as I had no information at all, to write on them. So beating around the bush is not always an option and should be avoided where you don’t even have a single substantial point to make, otherwise this can irritate the examiner.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
The fixed space concept is beneficial as it forces the candidate to be precise and to the point, thereby helping in completion of the paper on time.
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.
Depending on the requirement of the question, I sometimes used bullet points and sometimes paragraphs.
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.
I don’t like asking following rudimentary questions, but these are the most frequently asked questions by new aspirants.
|Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?||No|
|Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)||Yes|
|Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?||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|
Q2. What are you views on following observation: “In CSM-2016, the marking gap between average to brilliant scorers is smaller in Essay to GS papers and interviews; but in optional subjects there is huge difference among average to brilliant scorers.” Therefore, the deciding factor was the marking in the optional. I have not asked this question to suggest in anyways that you got ‘lucky’ with your optional. But I’ve asked this question because these days younger candidates tend to select or change optionals based on how their coaching-walla, peer-group or social media portrays the particular optional subject. E.g. some three Mains back, there was an atmosphere “you should shift from Public Administration to Pol.Sci or Sociology or anthropology because of Public Administration is giving only two digit scores in each paper.” Similarly, two mains back, some were preaching others to avoid LAW optional because not even 20 are getting interview calls and so forth (data unverified). So, kindly provide wisdom for younger aspirants.
I think that shifting the optional subject to a completely new one is a wrong strategy and must be avoided. One must remember that however difficult the optional paper might come in a particular year, still some candidates from that subject make it to the list. So what matters at the end is your level of preparation and your dedication towards it.
Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
When I started studying geography for the first time during my preparation, I realized there were concepts related to science in it, especially in the chapters like climatology, geomorphology etc. and I could easily relate to them and understand them with ease. This helped in setting my inclination towards it. Secondly, in the cost benefit analysis I could easily make out that choosing geography will help me in my prelims, GS paper 1 and GS paper 3 as well, thus becoming an obvious choice for me.
Q. If a new player wants to pick your subject, would you advice for it or against it?
Pick up some geography chapters and study them. If you find them interesting, if you feel confident enough to be able to manage the entire syllabus, then go for it. Otherwise take up another subject which satisfies these conditions.
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.)
Shabbir Sir’s class notes and test series best answers were more than sufficient. But I also used to read those particular chapters which sir used to recommend from Savindra Singh and Sudipta Adhikari book on geographical thought.
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?
Paper 1 from books and notes
In paper 2, current affairs form a very important part of the contemporary issues related to Indian geography, be it from agriculture, trade, industry, foreign relations and its geo-strategic implication etc. and thus needs to be covered via economy related books, current affairs magazines and newspapers.
Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
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?
Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2016 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?
Geography was easy this year vis-à-vis the last year.
Most of the students score nearly the same marks in GS but make a huge leap in their optional subjects. So try making your optional as strong as possible to avoid uncertainties.
Q1. How did you prepare for the interview? – for college grad, hobbies, place of origin, current affairs at national and international level?
Lot of internet surfing for the minute details on college, school, home state, hobbies etc.
For current affairs: Watched debates on RSTV, IE, Hindustan Times, AIR, V&V CAM
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?
Vajiram mock interview.
No mock interview can ever be similar to the official interview.
But they help us realize our loopholes and at the same time boost our confidence.
Q3. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?
I m a resident of delhi itself.
Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
Cream and blue colored saree.
Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Q2. How long was the interview?
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?]
I want to join civil services for the diverse platform, challenges and the opportunity it provides to make an impact for the well being of the society and the country as a whole.
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)
I do not remember all the questions but most of them were related to India’s foreign relations with other countries like Israel, US, Japan, Mid-East, Australia, Rim countries and ASEAN. There was one question related to simultaneous election (Election Commission of India being my workplace) and one random question on charismatic leadership. No question was asked from rest of my hobbies or my home state or engineering or geography or rest of my DAF.
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?
Somewhat on the expected lines as reading articles related to foreign policy was mentioned as my hobby. It was not a stress interview as such. The board was very cordial and no uncomfortable questions were asked.
Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
No problems as such. Just bring all the required documents in original.
Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
If you have high myopic or hyperopic number then a medical board may be formed and you might be called another day for check up in front of the entire board.
Q1. Please provide both prelim and final mark sheet:
|Geo paper 1||128|
|Geo paper 2||150|
Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
Already working in Election Commission of India and also got selected in ACIO exam.
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
It’s a good step as it has helped the students from the rural background crack the exam.
Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
Yes it should
Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
No the present pattern is fine
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?
No I did not suffer from any of these insecurities.
My message to all such candidates is to prepare a well thought answer to all the doubts they have about their profile. The board never judges the candidate on the basis of the school or college in which (s)he has studied. Rather, they are more interested in the way (s)he presents (her)himself and the conviction with which the answers are said.
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?
I think internal motivation and self discipline is the best way to handle distractions. I kept myself isolated from the world of social media, facebook or whatsapp thereby helping me maintain my consistency.
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.
Whenever I used to feel that mental and emotional pressure, I used to close my eyes and think of the moment when I will find my name in the list, the happiness, the celebration, the sparkle in my parents eyes and everything. Everytime I used to do this, I used to feel myself invigorated with double energy. Or else, I used to listen Lakshya movie’s title track. Its just awesome and perfectly fits for this exam.
Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?
I took my optional subject casually in my last attempt. But this time I focused on it with complete dedication by revising it 4 times before the exam. Also, there was a flaw in my answer writing strategy which got rectified under the timely guidance of Vijay Dev Sir, Deputy Election Commissioner, ECI.
If you’re a working professional, share some tips on how to manage studies with job
Don’t waste a single minute in the office. Take books or newspaper along with you and study them as and when you get time. When you reach home, start studying only after taking a small power nap.
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?
No one ever fails in life. We either succeed or learn from it.
Learn from your mistakes and be loyal to your work. Embrace the pain and sweat it out. You will definitely achieve your dream.
Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2016 and scored quite low in Prelims-2017. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?
I believe that this exam is a journey from knowledge to wisdom. This is the only exam which not only shapes up one’s career but also one’s personality. I m sure that all those candidates who couldn’t make it will achieve something great out of their life as the knowledge and wisdom that they have inculcated during the course of this journey will forever stay with them and they will be easily recognized as the brighter stars, among the rest.
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?
I would like to thank the almighty for enlightening my life with happiness and knowledge, my parents (Mr. S.D Sharma and Mrs. Neelam Sharma) for their immense patience and supreme sacrifices even at the cost of their health, Shabbir Sir for being my guiding light and mentor, Vijay Dev Sir for letting me know the flaws in my answer writing which ultimately helped me achieve my dream and my friends (Reenu di, Anurag, Ashish) for motivating me whenever I felt low. I owe this success to all of you. Thank you.
Q. You are well aware of the sacred rule of conducting toppers interview- the last question must be about self-marketing. So, Did you use Mrunal.org.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.
I couldn’t have scored 104 in economy and 105 in ethics if your articles would not have been there. I have been a religious reader of your articles and you have been a great contributor in this success of mine. Keep up the good work. Thank you!