I got in touch with Kandarp Patel and he agreed to give an interview. Here it goes:

  1. Details
  2. Inception
  3. The Beginning
  4. The Choice of Optional Subjects
  5. Momentum
  6. Working professionals
  7. Hours
  8. Internet
  9. Current Affairs
  10. Policy+ Rights + EnB
  11. Essay
  12. Previous attempts
  13. Rumors
  14. Profile
  15. Backup
  16. Family and Friends
  17. Message
  18. Your Study plan
  19. CSAT (Paper I) General studies
  20. About the CSAT aptitude
  21. Mains Examination
  22. Interview


Name Kandarp Vajubhai Patel
Roll number 218936
Rank (CSE 2011) 414
Optional Subjects 1.Public Administration
2.Literature of Gujarati
Medium for Mains Exam English /Hindi
Mains Examination Centre Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Number of Attempts Two
Details of Graduation and Post-Grad. BE (EC), PGDM (IRMA)
Schooling (Medium) Gujarati
Extracurricular activities,
achievements etc.
Reading, Numismatics, Philately
Are you a working professional? Yes
If yes, then did you leave your job
or prepared while on the job?
I left my job just before the mains exam.
Did you take Coaching? Prelims: Self study
Mains: Self study
Interview: Self study
(attended 1 mock interview@SPIPA, Ahmedabad.)
Did you buy any postal courses? Yes (Vajiram & Ravi for Public Administration)
Did you join any Mock test series? No


Photo Kandarp

Q. When and how did the inspiration and idea of joining civil service come in your mind?
Joining public service was always in mind since my graduation days. That’s the reason later I did my post graduation in rural development sector and worked with development organizations like AMUL and SRIJAN. While working I realized that if I am part of the government machinery which is the largest development organ of our country, I can contribute much more.

The Beginning

Q. What did you do after the inception? Where and how did you gather the information related to UPSC-preparation?

  • First thing I did was to decide on my optional subjects and went through the syllabus/topics to be covered.
  • Gathering information was mostly from internet and UPSC notification. It was not so difficult to find reading material.
  • For Public Administration, I decided to subscribe postal tuition material from Vajiram & Ravi. I also collected material from internet (IGNOU MA Books, NCERT Books).
  • For General Studies, newspapers (The Hindu, TOI), Magazines (Frontline), competition magazine (CSR) and Book from TMH was my source.
  • For Literature of Gujarati, I could find list of books from a friend at SPIPA and could buy most of the books from various book shops.
  • Books which I couldn’t buy, I got it photocopied from my friend who has been preparing at SPIPA

The Choice of Optional Subjects

Q. After a person decides to appear in civil service exam, the first big obstacle is “Choice of optional subjects”. What factors did you consider before selecting your optional?

I chose Public Administration & Lit of Gujarati Language.

  1. Public Administration: 4 criteria:
  1. My interest strongly lies in public service and related subjects.
  2. Material is easily available
  3. It will be helpful later in services
  4. Many aspects of GS paper gets covered under Pub Ad
  • Lit of Gujarati
    1. I have always been strong in Gujarati language with very good handwritings and understanding (being from Guj medium schooling)
    2. Material available
    3. I have seen people passing through with this subject (Good score is possible)


Q. People initially prepare with much enthusiasm but then a boredom phase comes – they don’t even find the motivation to read the daily newspapers, let alone studying the books.
Sometimes they get diverted because of external factors e.g. heavy workload in office, family responsibilities. How did you sustain the study-momentum throughout the year?

While you start on CSE journey, you have to keep that in mind that it is going to be long term. There are number of forces to distract you but you have to keep your ultimate goal in mind. There are no alternative to self-motivation to continue with books esp so many years after your formal education has ended.
Off course, family (esp younger brother, wife and father) has kept me continuously motivated with their support and warmth. They always kept checking if I am on the right path. Friends and colleagues at office have also supported a lot during this time.
I planned and organized my study in such a way that it was never boring though sometimes I got frustrated with long study times and waiting between stages.

Working professionals

Q.Main concern of the working professionals: After the daily fatigue, not enough time or energy left to study. What is your advice to them?

  • When I gave my first attempt I was working. During my 2nd attempt, I quit my job just before the mains once I was sure of scoring well.
  • While working you have to cut lot of unnecessary work/activities from your schedule and do only essential work of your job.
  • For example, finishing work within office time, attending unnecessary phone calls post office hours, put your weekends completely for studies, always keep some study material along to study during free time in office (something like reading newspapers can be done easily during office lunch-time without any issues).
  • I would also advise aspirants to take some days leave (and don’t waste your entitled leave anywhere) before the prelim exam & mains exam.


On an average, How many hours did you study per day?

There is no limit to study hours in day. Except for essential sleep, food and rest, all time I used to spend with books. It might go up to 15-16 hours a month before the exam. 10 days before the exam I generally start relaxing with very light studies.


Q.How did you use computer and internet for your exam-preparation?

Internet and computer were the best friends I had during the exam. I prefer reading from online sources. I had much of the material downloaded pdf formats from IGNOU website, government websites (ARC reports etc). I also used to read The Hindu online as it is not easily available in Ahmedabad. It also helped me to remain in touch with 2-3 friends who were also writing the exam.

Current Affairs

Q. How did you prepare the current affairs? I get many panic emails from aspirants that “Reading newspaper alone takes 3 hours, what to do?” What’s your advice to them?

Reading newspaper is essential for civil service exam. But it should be done in a smart way. Looking at previous years question papers, I could decide boundaries for reading newspapers. I religiously read editorials and lead articles. Apart from that issues which are relevant to economy, social development, administration I studied them religiously.
Aspirant has to develop skill of quickly identifying non-relevant issues and skip them.

Policy+ Rights + EnB

Q. In 2011, UPSC changed the preliminary exam system. There was lack of material, lack of direction for following topics

  1. Public Policy,
  2. Rights issue,
  3. Environment and Biodiversity (EnB)
  4. Decision Making.

How did you prepare them?

Material was all available on the internet. In this knowledge era, finding material is not at all difficult. Only difficult thing is to use them judiciously. Decision making question doesn’t require any preparation.


How did you prepare yourself for the essay? Which Essay did you write in Mains-2011?

There was no special preparation for essay. My habit of reading books on various subject helped me in writing essay. I could score 120 marks in my first attempt. That gave me confidence that my line of thinking is correct.
I wrote on ‘smaller states’ topic in CSE 2011. Once I decided to write on this, I devoted 25-30 minutes on brainstorming content for the essay. With all possible topics, I created a broad framework of what to be written in which head and started writing.

Previous attempts

Q. What had gone wrong in your previous attempts? How did you fix those issues in your 2011’s attempt?

When I got my CSE 2010 mark sheet, I realized that I scored very close to the cutoff marks. I started analyzing where to improve my scores. Also, as I was already working in well-paying job during my CSE attempt so I didn’t feel shattered. I already had a fallback option to continue in the present work.


Q. Every Friday, a new movie and a new UPSC rumor hits the market e.g. they’re going to remove optionals from mains, they’re going to reduce the age and attempt limit, they’re going to take separate exam for IPS officers, etc.
These rumors frustrate the aspirants and affect their study-rhythm. I’m sure you too had faced such rumor-bombs during the course of your UPSC journey, what’s your take on the current situation?

Aspirants should keep in mind that none of those rumors are to be believed until it is officially declared by the UPSC. In our political system, any recommendation would also take a lot of time before it is actually implemented. So it’s better to concentrate on information given by UPSC in its notification of Preliminary Examination. It will not get changed at least before this cycle of CSE is over.


Many aspirants fear the interview, thinking that “my profile is not good because

  • I’ve low marks in SSC/HSC/College,
  • I don’t have any extra-curricular certificates,
  • I don’t have work experience,
  • I graduated from some unknown college,
  • I’m from non-English medium and so on…”

So, how important or relevant is the profile of a candidate during interview?
How do you rate your own profile? How much portion of your interview centered on your profile?

Profile of the candidate is important during the interview. Most of the questions are generated from the profile. It is not that everybody has all-good career. But if there is some aberration in your profile, you must have strong justification for the same.
I consider my profile to be one of the strong profiles for public service being a development management professional with experience over 3 years.

During my interview, I had question from the profile and also question indirectly generated from my profile. For example, being from Gujarat they asked about stock market, STT etc.


Q.In case you had not cleared the UPSC exam, what was your career-backup plan?

I am already in to public service work with an NGO. I would have gone for higher studies in US and come back to work again with community.

Family and Friends

Q. Kandarp Patel is a UPSC ‘topper’ now. But there are people had who stood by him during those uncertain times when he was merely an ‘aspirant’. Would you like to tell the world, who were those people? Any specific incidence that you would like to share with the readers?

Family and friends stood by me while preparing. They were always there to support, motivate and help. I would like to mention few people from the family and around.

Younger brother Aakash: He supported with all his services as a younger sibling. He supported during the high tension days before mains by sharing my frustration and stress.

Wife Swetha: She has been a motivator. She supported in everything from a discussion on relevant topics to making notes for me. She along with my father continuously checked on my schedule studies and tests.

Father Dr. V K Patel: He has been the ‘Sutradhar’ of the whole process. Beginning with giving idea of civil service, continuous motivation and support from him has helped a lot.

Apart from them, my mother, sister and close friends all have supported for any demand from me from good regular food to arranging my study table to writing a note on some topic to getting books/material from the market. Thank you so much dear mother!


Q. What is your message to the aspirants?

I would like to wish all aspirants my best and ask them to remain focused while studying. Only hard work with good strategy will succeed. If you do not succeed in this exam, never mind and lose heart. After all there are many better opportunities waiting for you.

Your Study plan

CSAT (Paper I) General studies

Topic Source of your preparation
Current Affairs The Hindu, CSR, TOI (online)
History Ancient/Medieval/Modern NCERT, Bipan Chandra
Physical Geography NCERT
Geography of India TMH Publication book for UPSC Pre
Geography of World
Polity and Governance
Public Policy
Rights issue
Environment and Biodiversity
Economic and social Development

About the CSAT aptitude

Q. In 2011, UPSC removed optional subjects from preliminary exam and introduced the aptitude paper. There was so much uncertainty and panic about how to prepare for aptitude paper. How did you prepare for the CSAT aptitude paper in such turbulent times?

Syllabus Topic Source of your preparation
Quantitative Aptitude R S Agarwal, CAT material from TIME
Data interpretation
Logical reasoning
Reading comprehension
Decision Making and Problem solving No need for material

Mains Examination

Compulsory Language papers

Source of your preparation
English No need for special prep
Indian language paper No need for special prep

General Studies paper I

Syllabus Topic Source of your preparation
History Bipan Chandra
Culture Websites of Ministry,ICCR
Geography of India NCERT, Vajiram Material
Polity Constitution, NCERT book, DD Basu
Issues of social relevance New paper, frontline
Indian economy and planning Websites
Public health Websites
Law and order
Good governance

General Studies paper 2

Syllabus Topic Source of your preparation
India and the World Journals & blogs on international relations, The Hindu editorials
Indian diaspora MEA website & newspaper
India’s Economic interaction with world Newspaper
International affairs and institutions Websites of institutions
Statistics No special preparation
Science & Tech. CSR, Wizards book, Newspaper


My Civil Service (Main) Exam, 2011 Personality Test

Place: UPSC Office, New Delhi
Date: 30th March, 2012

I was scheduled for interview on 30th March morning session and reached UPSC office at around 8:45 AM. We were taken inside the building and given table number based on our allotted panels. I was allotted to the panel of UPSC member Mr. I M G Khan and was 6th in the sequence to appear for the interview. My turn came at around 12:45 PM. Panel had 3 male members and 1 lady member apart from Chairman of the board.
Question I was asked are as follows:
Q1: What is cloud computing? How does it work?
Q2: Who owns the information in cloud computing?
Q3: What about copy right of authors and publishers when books are published on internet?
Q4: What is biometric identification? How does it work?
Q5: If some genuine person is struck in biometrics. He has lost his fingers, his eyes are also turned sour then what should be done? Should he be allowed?
Q6: Which program of Government of India uses biometrics widely?
Q7: How UID can be used for poverty alleviation programs?
Q8: What is a stock exchange? How does it work?
Q9: There is some changes suggested by SEBI recently for stock exchanges. Do you know?
Q10: Stock brokers have been protesting on some issue recently. Do you know?
Q11: How does Security Transaction Tax work? Is it required? Why?
Q12: What are implications of employment generation programs of the government?
Q13: What is internal migration? Are you aware about the 64th Round of NSSO survey recently conducted?
Q14: What is the principle behind working of microwave oven?
Q15: Which are four important intervention of NDDB in animal health sector?
Q16: What is the difference between pasteurized milk and grocery milk?
Q17: Which are the four important pillar of Amul model?
Q18: How do you maintain quality of Amul product at delivery point?
Q19: What is Amul’s policy regarding unsold products?
Q20: Amul Butter girl has been a big brand. How was it created?
Q21: Our present police force have been unsuccessful during some public order problems like rioting etc.  Political class have misused them. What should be done to reform this police force?



End of Interview

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