[Topper’s Interview] Prachi Singh (Rank-154/CSE16): Law Optional, 1st Attempt, Kanpur

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UPSC Paperset
  1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Typical day in your Online life?
  6. Style of Preparation and notes making
  7. Prelims (CSAT) Paper-1: General studies
  8. Prelims (CSAT): Paper-2: Aptitude
  9. Prelim accuracy
  10. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  11. Mains: Essay
  12. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  13. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  14. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  15. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  16. Mains answer-writing?
  17. ELASTICITY of Optional Subject Score
  18. Mains Optional Subject
  19. Before the interview
  20. During the interview
  21. CSE-2016 Marksheet
  22. Career Backup
  23. Views on UPSC reforms
  24. Insecurity about profile
  25. Internal Motivation
  26. Grand wisdom
  27. Credit: Friends/family
  28. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Prachi Singh

NamePrachi Singh
Rank in CSE-2016154
Roll No.0002091
Total attempts in CSE (including this one)1
Optional SubjectLaw
Schooling MediumEnglish
College MediumEnglish
Medium chosen for Mains answersEnglish
Medium chosen for InterviewEnglish
Home town/cityKanpur (UP)
Work-experience if anyNo
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failuresUPPCS Mains 2016 (Result awaited)
UGC NET and JRF (Both in 2015)
CAPF 2016 ( Cleared written exam, didn’t appeared for physical/medical test)
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)Coaching for GS in Vajiram, Mains and Essay test series in Vision, Prelims mocks from various coachings (bought test papers from market)
Service preferences (Top-5)IAS>IPS>IFS>IRS(IT)>IRS(CCE)
state cadre preference (Top-5)UP>MP>RJ>UK>Haryana


Educationfill the details here
% in class 1086 %
% in class 1283.5 %
Graduation course and %B.A.LL.B. with 75.4 %
Name of college, city, passing out yearUniversity of Allahabad, 2014
Post-graduationLL.M. from National Law Institute University, Bhopal (MP)
Any other professional coursesNo
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
I am a post graduate in law. My mother is housewife and father is a PCS officer in Uttar Pradesh. I have one brother who is presently in class 12th.
Joining civil services was my aim since I was in school. But the main efforts were put up in 2015. I started reading newspapers etc since my graduation days but serious preparation started when I joined coaching in 2015. I relied maximum on my self study. Coaching gave me guidance and I wont deny this at all. But self study is of utmost importance.
I don’t have any specific reason for entering into this field. First it was the dream of my parents and then slowly it became my own passion. I am a person who finds the sense of satisfaction by helping the needy and this I discovered myself before even starting the preparation. I realised the importance of being civil servant and the powers and responsibilities it wields to you. In the present society, if an administrator is good and committed to social cause, I think she can bring much required change. To bring the change you need to be at the top and that i observed when my father used to tell me various anecdotes of corrupt Collectors under whom he served. He told me how his positive efforts towards society were stalled by none other than civil servants. This was an enough motivation for me to enter into this field.

Electronic Vs Paper material

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)
In my opinion, there should be perfect balance between the two. Personally I feel that electronic material is easy to handle, manage and comprehend. But it doesn’t mean that we solely leave out our writing habit. I followed the dual approach. I prepared current affairs from 5-6 sources and all this material I used to keep in electronic format. I maintained Evernote account which I think is very handy and helpful. Moreover current affairs are very dynamic, especially international relations. Now, maintaining written notes on them will make you end up with a huge stockpile of A4 sheets which is enough to give a nightmare. So I would suggest to follow e-mode in such cases, wherein you can easily update the relevant information.
Now coming to paper material. Maintain the habit of writing analysis of editorials in your own words everyday. Trust me this is very helpful. It will serve two purposes, firstly, you will learn to write concisely and precisely(which is the essential quality needed to clear mains) and secondly, you will also be able to compile all the current issues which you can easily revise later.
As regards books, I made notes for all if them. All NCERTs and all other basic books. Obviously you are not required to make notes for wholly factual books like Spectrum and Laxmikant, but for all other books, as far as I am concerned, I maintained comprehensive notes, so that there could be no need to open the book at all before exam.
I also made hand written notes from all the video lectures I consulted during my preparation. They helped me a lot. Although it took so much time but it was really helpful.
So the gist is, balance both the formats, paper and electronic. Solely depending on only one source will hamper your progress surely in some or the other way. Hence keep yourself diversified and learn to manage multiple formats and sources.

Typical day in your Online life?

Online lifeAnswer
Daily hrs spent on online platforms for predicting cutoff / syllabus change / age-attempt limit change and other “peripheral-bolbachchan“ related to civil services.0 hr
Daily hrs spent on whatsapp and telegram studygroups0.5 hr
Daily hrs spent on online for exam prep.6-7 hr
Primary Device for online study: desktop, laptop, tablet, mobileLaptop, mobile, tablet

Q. Any other things that you wish to elaborate on above table:

Style of Preparation and notes making

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.)
1. Newspaper : Writing down the important factual points from editorials on daily basis and trying to summarise the whole article within 8-10 points. I also wrote important facts which I considered important from the prelims point of view. For e.g. any new geographical indication, critically endangered species, millitary exercise, summits, folk dance or festival etc.
( Its very important for beginners to go through past 10 years question paper of prelims and mains both in order to get the idea of type of questions involved in this exam. Also you should have clear knowledge of whole syllabus of UPSC especially for GS 1,2,3 so that you can quickly filter out the relevant information from the vast ocean. )
2. Online sources: I used to read the articles and news from online platforms and copied the important points in my Evernote account and used to revise them regularly.
3. Books: Made notes of all relevant books and revised them multiple times. For other books where I couldn’t make notes, I underlined important stuff in the book itself. ( Revision is the key. Revise as much as you can.)

Prelims (CSAT) Paper-1: General studies

History AncientNCERT new, Jain sir notes, Nitin Singhania
History Medieval-do-
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)Spectrum, India’s Struggle for Independence
Culture and societyNitin Singhania, Social problems in India by Ram Ahuja
Polity (theory + current)Laxmikant, current affairs from vision and online sources
Economy (theory + current)Sanjeev verma, K. Sankarganesh, Mrunal.org
Science (theory + current)Didn’t prepared
Environment (theory + current)Shankar IAS, current from vision and online sources
geography physicalG.C. leong, NCERT new
geography IndiaNCERT new
geography worldDidn’t prepare
other national/international current affairsVision current affairs and PIB
Schemes, Policy & Filler StuffVision, PIB

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?
I just want to say that blind guess can never work. Undoubtedly one should attempt many questions but linking the question with your knowledge is very important. I don’t think e-material is of no utility at all. I believe whatever you read and learn, will help you somehow in some way in arriving at the answer of the given question. After all no one can predict that from where UPSC is going to ask questions. So our job is to read and analyze from all the possible sources and then implement that knowledge in a practical way in the exam. No paper is tough, its just the manipulated version of our knowledge.

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?
More focus on government sources, regular revision, less time on social networking platforms.

Prelims (CSAT): Paper-2: Aptitude

Topicstrategy / booklist
MathsDidn’t prepare
ReasoningDidn’t prepare
ComprehensionDidn’t prepare
Decision MakingDidn’t prepare

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:
You should have at least one stronghold. Like, I am very bad in maths so I made my reading and comprehension skills very good. For this I tried to read editorials and articles of newspaper speedily and then tried to remember all the points. So key to comprehension is speedy reading plus understanding, which will come only by practice. For maths, I cant provide any wisdom at all. Sorry.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
I joined insights online test series and vajiram mocks, which was part of my GS course. I also solved mocks from other coachings by buying test papers from market. I believe mocks are very important for getting accuracy in prelims. Do as much mocks as possible.

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in Prelim-2016

attempted Q.correct (Expected)Official score
GSDon’t rememberDon’t remember140.66
aptitudeDon’t rememberDon’t remember129.18

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paperYour preparation strategy / booklist?
English paperDidn’t prepare
your regional languageDidn’t prepare

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2016
Language papers are qualifying. And it is expected from a future civil servant to have at least normal knowledge of his/her mother tongue as well as English. So it doesn’t require any special preparation if you are well versed with both. Some parts of paper were tough but I believe they cant stop a person from at least qualifying that paper.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
Joined vision test series of essay. Wrote 5-6 essays there. Rest left on God.
Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?

  1. Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare
  2. Cooperative federalism

In both the essays I heavily relied on current issues, government initiatives, important international commitments and fora, various reports, Articles of Constitution. I adopted multidimensional approach of socio-political-economic aspects. Essay should be written in plain and simple language with lucid approach. Irrelevant facts must be avoided and it must include manifold dimensions. Out of the box ideas are always appreciated but they shouldn’t be so out of box that examiner finds it difficult to connect with the given topic itself. Keywords must be highlighted.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

TopicHow did you prepare?
CultureNitin Singhania is more than enough
Indian historyNCERT and Bipin Chandra
world historyCouldn’t prepare. Wanted to read Norman Lowe, it’s a very good book. I read only NCERT and some portions from wikipedia for world history.
post-independence IndiaIndia Since Independence by Bipin Chandra, Pradhanmantri TV series.
Indian societyS.R.Myneni’ sociology which I consulted during my B.A.LL.B. preparation, Ram ahuja’s book as was mentioned above by me.
role of women, poverty etc.Covered in sociology book
globalization on Indian society-do-
communalism, regionalism, secularism-do-
world geo physicalCouldn’t prepare, although wanted to. Candidates are advised to read old ncert geography for this
resource distributionVision test series
factors for industrial locationNcert, vision test series
earthquake tsunami etcNcert, Manocha sir notes, online videos from random sites(couldn’t remember name of site, just type the topic in youtube and see recommended videos)
impact on flora-faunaDidn’t prepare

General studies (Mains) paper 2

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc.J.N. Pandey, M.P. Jain ( I have law as my optional)
comparing Constitution with worldLaxmikant’s book on Governance
parliament, state LegislaturesJ.N. Pandey and M.P. Jain
ministries departments-do-
pressure group, informal asso.Laxmikant polity
Representation of people’s actMade notes from Bare Act
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory..Laxmikant polity
NGO, SHG etc-do-
welfare schemes, bodiesMrunal.org, Laxmikant governance
social sector, health, edu, HRDMrunal
governance, transparency, accountabilityMrunal
e-governanceMrunal, Laxmikant governance
role of civil serviceSubba rao
India & neighborsVision current
bilateral/global grouping-do-
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest-do-
international bodies- structure mandate-do-

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilizationMrunal
inclusive growthMrunal
major crops, irrigationShankar ias agriculture
agro produce – storage, marketing-do-
e-technology for famers-do-
farm subsidies, MSPMrunal
PDS, buffer, food securityMrunal
technology missionMrunal
animal rearing economicsMrunal
food processingMrunal
land reformsSamyak sir notes
investment modelsSanjeev verma
science-tech day to day lifeDidn’t prepare
Indian achievements in sci-techWebsites of ISRO, DRDO, ICAR, IARI. PIB.
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR-do-
environmental impact assessmentShankar ias
Disaster Management2nd ARC on disaster management
non state actors, internal securityAshok Kumar
internal security – role of media, social networking site-do-
cyber securityDidn’t prepare
money laundering-do-
border  ManagementNewspaper articles
organized crime, terrorismDidn’t prepare
security agencies- structure mandateWikipedia

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topicsSubbarao
attitude, moral influence etc.Subbarao
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc-do-
emotional intelligence, its use in governance-do-
moral thinkers of India and worldHow many thinkers did you prepare?
One indian and one western. Had jurisprudence as a subject in BALLB, which helped a lot
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc.Subbarao
corporate governance-do-
probity in governance, work culture-do-
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc.-do-
challenges of corruption-do-
case studies on above topicsLexicon

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?
In ethics, write what strikes your mind first. Its not the test of knowledge. It’s the test of values. And no book can teach you values. Its something you imbibe yourself. It’s a scoring subject, provided you write up to the mark. Write one ethics answer on a weekly basis. Questions are available in many places, like, insightsonindia.com or you can refer previous papers. Practice is essential.

Mains answer-writing?

Please tell us how many marks worth attempt did you give? along with comments if any, in the following cells:

PaperBest attemptedAverage qualitynamesake answerTotal attempt

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]
I followed strict introduction-body-conclusion format. It helped me a lot by structuring my answers well. I read every question at least twice and answered only what was asked. Neither more, nor less. I used very simple language and underlined keywords.

Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
Very good experience.

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 in both formats as per the demands of question.

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 strictly followed this format in all my answers.

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)Wanted to, but couldn’t.
Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?It would have been pencil, but I couldn’t draw.
Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?I would have drawn by hand.
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen? Blue ball point pen of Fort company ( only Rs. 3 )

ELASTICITY of Optional Subject Score

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.
We can never predict the marks of optional. For eg Public Adm used to be very less awarding optional but this year many candidates got 300+ in it. So I think instead of changing optional each year, improve yourself in that subject. This time in law, very less marks are given especially in Paper 1. But if you are writing everything comprehensively you will surely get good marks. So the point is that no optional is bad or good. Only thing which should matter is your interest and whether you can read and re-read it. I am a law optional student and I consulted normal books for it and got selected. So it all depends on your level of preparation. Time is too less. Pick up your optional wisely and stick to it and improve upon.

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
Law. I chose it as I did my graduation and post grad in it and thus was confident for this subject. Moreover I was interested and motivated enough to read law for more years.

Q. If a new player wants to pick your subject, would you advice for it or against it?
I wont advice against it. See the point is how well you can comprehend it and do you really find it interesting. If yes, then you can surely go for it. Because everything centers around your interest, and if you will find the subject boring, you will never be able to cope up with it.

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.)
1. Constitution: J.N.Pandey, M.P.Jain, recent developments from PRS
2. International Law: Starke, S.K.Kapoor
3. IPC : Pillai, Bare Act in detail because sometimes they ask question directly from the section and illustration
4. Contract: Avtar Singh, Bare Act
5. Administrative law: Massey
6. Prevention of Corruption Act: Bare Act, recent amendments by PRS
7. Civil Rights Act etc: Bare Act only
8. Torts: Bangia
9. Consumer Protection Act : Bare Act ( I think it was amended too, so PRS)
10. Sale of Goods Act: Avtar Singh, Bare Act
11. Negotiable Instruments Act: Bare Act, amended in 2016 so PRS
12. Arbitration Act: Bare Act, Avtar Singh
13. Contemporary: For statures, prepare only bare act. For topics like plea bargain or PIL etc prepare a write up from some good law journal

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?
Internet research needed to supplement recent amendments. Law is very dynamic optional.  Internet is its archangel ( utmost necessary).

Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
For beginners, 3 months sufficient. I did in less than one month due to my past 6 years study on this subject.

Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
Roughly 3 months before

Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
Self notes for revision. Online notes for current updates.

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?
Paper was comparatively more diversified especially International law. The minor statutes shouldn’t be ignored. Moreover everything should be covered. Like this time they asked question on UPSC. So proper understanding of almost everything provided in syllabus is necessary.

Before the interview

Q1. How did you prepare for the interview? – for college grad, hobbies, place of origin, current affairs at national and international level?
I prepared DAF ver well in detail, almost every point mentioned in it. Did thorough research of all the places associated with me. (Although nothing was asked out of DAF in main interview)

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 attended 6-7 mocks. Official interview was lot different. Although I became comfortable in speaking by giving so many mocks but yet was nervous on the day of main interview. Its important to attend mocks for getting the refined version of yourself.  But one should never feel low or feel over excited by the evaluation given by mock interviewers. Just learn and move forward.

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 have my own flat in Delhi. I stayed there. I didn’t bring any material for revision before interview. I just went through the newspaper.

Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
Cotton saree.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Mr. B.S.Bassi

Q2. How long was the interview?
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?]
Civil service is the best way to develop the personality of one self and also it gives sense of fulfillment by helping others. It gives me the chance to diversify my mode of working in various fields. As far as my graduation is concerned, I think a person having good knowledge of law can run the administration in a more effective manner. Moreover not continuing in my graduation field is due to the fact that law was never an option of profession for me, it was more about my anxiety and eagerness to understand and comprehend it. Knowledge of law paved my way towards civil service and gave it a defining edge.

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.
Questions asked were:
Chairman: 1. Suppose you are made an IPS officer how would you ensure that FIR registration gets enhanced in your district? 2. What are the common reasons of FIR? What are the problems faced by common man?
M1: 1. Compare the health infrastructure of Allahabad and Bhopal. 2. How hospitals are established based on population? 3. How will you control inflation?
M2(lady): 1. SR Bommai case. 2. Vishakha case. 3. Why there are very less women parliamentarians? Give your views on Women Reservation Bill. 4. How will law help you in civil services?
M3: 1. How will you control violation of Fundamental Rights? 2. Importance of BRICS. 3. Army Act and AFSPA
M4: 1. Competition Act. 2. Difference between lease and license. 3. Easement. 4. IPRs and WTO negotiations
Chairman: “EU is doomed. Give your comments. “

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 don’t understand on what lines my interview went. Seriously I cant comprehend it till now. They didn’t asked any uncomfortable question and didn’t freaked me out. But yes I can say that I was nervous and I guess that proved to be negative. Law questions were asked, which I was expecting. For other questions I just used my common sense and answered.
Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
Take your original id proof on the day of interview. They check it three times at least.

Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
It takes a long time. Carry a water bottle if you want.

CSE-2016 Marksheet

Q1. Please provide both prelim and final mark sheet:

Prelim paper-1140.66
Prelim paper-2129.18
Gs 1114
Gs 294
Gs 3112
Gs 4121
Opt 1141
Opt 2152

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
Appear again. And if couldn’t get selected in all 6 attempts, then phd and ultimately teaching.

Q2. When were you going to “execute” that backup plan? (e.g. after __ number of failed attempts/ after I cross __ age/ after dad retires/ after girlfriend dumps me etc.)
Right after giving interview.

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
I am not in favor of removing optional altogether.

Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
Its good and helpful for many students.

Q. Despite what UPSC has done in last seven years in syllabus and pattern change, it has failed to curb the nuisance of Delhi’s coaching factories and the readymade e-material sellers. In fact, it’s increased under the new Mains-syllabus post-2013. Let’s face it, UPSC added so many topics and so many random questions, even fulltime student struggles to gather and process all standard reference books and material himself within the short time available to him. and This system work against an individual preparing from far-away area, without any financial resources, high-speed internet or contacts in Delhi to procure the said material in authentic or pirated form.
Yeah to some extent this is right. But we have examples of many bright students clearing the exam from even far flung areas. They must guide other such aspirants too. Moreover I think post-2013 diversification of syllabus was necessary owing to increasing challenges in the society and need for a practical administrator with good knowledge in various fields.

Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
Yes this is very much needed to avoid confusions among aspirants.

Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
I think offline exam is going on well. I am not in favor of suggesting online mode for it.

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.
No comments.
Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?
I will reduce the weightage given to interview/personality test. It is far too much and hampers many candidates. I will fix the minimum marks to be given to each candidate in interview based on his/her written score. I am sure I will bring these changes if at all I become the Chairman. :D

Insecurity about profile

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 didn’t suffer from any such insecurity.  Inspite of the fact that I didn’t possess any work experience and any hobby. UPSC has nothing to do with your past academic record. It evaluates you on basis of what you are at present. And even if any question is asked regarding this, answer it confidently. Always remember that you reached to the stage of interview on your own and to reach there, big college or being from english medium or having work experience, never helps.

Internal Motivation

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?
Mood swings and distractions will always be there. One can never part from them wholly. Just keep faith on yourself and give priority to your studies, above all. Life should be balanced. And balanced life is needed for maintaining momentum too.

Grand wisdom

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?
Every stage of UPSC is a lesson in itself. The preparation of UPSC not only develop your mental faculties but also shape your outlook towards yourself and towards society at large. Learn to balance your preparation with your normal routine. Learn to be multitalented. Give time to family and friends too because they will be your pressure valve at last. Keeping yourself completely isolated may grant you success but that success would be devoid of happiness. Hence studies first and rest of the things to be managed practically. J

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?
Feeling hopeless and depressed will not lead you anywhere. It will just waste few more hours of yours. Feeling low after getting failed is quite natural. But was this your aim when you started preparation? To stop working towards your goal once failure hits you? Things don’t go like this. Even I fear failure but to face your fears is the real test of life. Failure makes you strong not weak. It gives you chance for evaluating yourself. Obviously somewhere you went wrong that’s why you failed. Identify that loophole and bridge it.

Credit: Friends/family

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?
Family’s support is of utmost necessity because they are the one who psychologically support you in bad times. Although its you who has to read,write and learn but the pushing force is provided by family. In my case my family supported me psychologically a lot, especially my father. I also got support of some good friends as well who constantly motivated me throughout.

BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

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 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.  
Mrunal.org was of great help in economics, govt policies, economic survey, budget. Infact maximum portion of Paper 3 I did from mrunal.org. Thank you.

Mrunal recommends

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

9 Comments on “[Topper’s Interview] Prachi Singh (Rank-154/CSE16): Law Optional, 1st Attempt, Kanpur”

  1. Daily hrs spent on online platforms for predicting cutoff / syllabus change / age-attempt limit change and other “peripheral-bolbachchan“ related to civil services.

    Rocking & needy question with honest Answer :D it will save lots of time for future aspirants ;)

  2. @Prachi – did u mention extensive case laws in law paper-1 or focused more on philosophy rather than cases ? U’ve scored exceptionally well in this paper. Can u share a few answers that u practised ? did u join any test series ?

  3. Hello mam !
    Being a law optional aspirant i am facing a serious confusion regarding use of case laws (i.e. name of respective case) or not. Last year I got 146 in paper 2 where I have barely used case laws, but in paper 1 , I got 79 where I have used case laws considerably. When i inquire other people, those who use case law very much got consistently lower marks in paper 1. If you could enlighten us about the use of case laws in optional. I am appearing again this time in mains, your advice would be highly beneficial for me.

  4. Heyy Prachi,
    Could you plz guide us IN DETAIL topic wise regarding how to prepare the individual topics,answer writing strategies,details abt which journals to follow.I would be grateful if u could reply me personally at avinash.bpcldelhi@gmail.com.

  5. Ma’am how did you go about Paper 1 in optionals? Your marks are unbelievable high in it given that law seems to be punished this year? Kindly explain in details with examples.
    Any media to establish contact?

  6. Congratulations!!
    your score in Paper 1 of optionals is outrageous!! kindly share some tips to deal with it. thanks

  7. Mrunal Sir,U are the god of civil service aspirants. We the bloggers also respecting ur presence and motivation in this niche. Dear aspirants We (https://www.iassolution.com/) provide basic guidance and current affairs for IAS Exam. Pls visit us.

  8. Mrunal Sir,

    I have a request. I keep coming across folks with “profile” related anxiety around DAF time.

    Then, would it not be a better idea to not mention 10+2 marks (just first div/second division etc), UG/PG university names?
    Just UG degree | percentage | year of passing | work xp years should be enough?

    Thank you for your help so far. Cleared the prelims in my first attempt this year.

    1. Ah read my post again, I meant in the topper’s interviews.

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