Went to London School of Economics

Prepared for Civil Service Exam without Coaching
Gave Jharkhand and Bihar as her cadre preference to serve the society
Got 8th Rank in CSE 2011
Yes I’m talking about 2011’s topper Harshika Singh.

  1. Introduction
  2.  Your Study plan
  3. CSAT (Paper I) General studies
  4. CSAT (Paper II) Aptitude
  5. Mains Examination
  6. Compulsory Language papers
  7. General Studies paper I
  8. General Studies paper 2
  9. Optional Subject #1 and #2
  10. Economics
  11. Anthropology
  12. Interview
  13. Marksheet
  14. Message To Aspirants


Name Harshika Singh
Roll number 006368
Rank (CSE 2011) 8
Optional Subjects
  • Economics
  • Anthropology
Medium for Mains Exam English
Mains Examination Centre Delhi
Number of Attempts 2
Details of Graduation and Post-Grad.
  • B.A Economics(hons)-St.Xavier’s College,Ranchi
  • MSc.Economic History(London School Of Economics and Political Science,London,UK)
Schooling (Medium) English
Extracurricular activities,
hobbies, achievements etc.
  • Classical Dancing(bharatnatyam and Kathak),
  • Debating,
  • Gold medalist in graduation,
  • School head girl,
  • Class representative throughout my college days
Are you a working professional? No
Did you take Coaching? Prelims: No
Mains: No
Interview: No
Did you buy any postal courses? Yes
Did you join any Mock test series? No
Did you appear in any other competitive exams? No
If yes, provide the details: NA


Q. When and how did the inspiration and idea of joining civil service come in your mind?

To be a Civil Servant was a childhood dream for me and especially when I realized and understood the intricacy of the service it became a passion for me.

The Choice of Optional Subjects

Q7. 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?

In my case as I have a background in Economics so that was a natural choice and for my second optional my keen interest in Anthropology was the sole reason for selecting it as my second optional


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. How did you sustain the study-momentum throughout the year?

I prepared a balanced strategy at the very beginning of preparation. I roughly made a mental preparation plan and ensured on a daily basis that I am following it thoroughly.
Any person who is preparing for CSE faces the frequent bouts of enthusiasm and boredom. Even I faced it especially in the evening hours.

When I was bored or lacked enthusiasm ,I took a break..saw TV ,went on Facebook etc-did anything that diverted my mind but only for max 10 mins.
After that I reminded myself of my dreams and was back on my study table.


On an average, How many hours did you study per day? How many months did it take you to complete the core syllabus of GS and optional subjects?

I studied till the time I was able to concentrate..roughly 8-10 hrs daily and I was preparing for CSE since 2009 December for my first attempt in 2010(AIR Rank-640).
However I feel 1 year of intensive study is sufficient.


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

Since I did my preparation from home (ranchi) Internet was the only source of information and guidance for me. I used internet for keeping myself updated on the front of the news and world affairs,for updating myself on recent developments in the field of economics and anthropology and also for Science and Tech portion.


  • How did you prepare yourself for the essay?
  • Which Essay did you write in Mains-2011?
  • What were your keypoints in that essay?
  • How many marks did you get in that essay?

I did not do anything special for Essay.I used to read the editorials of newspapers seriously and in case I found some interesting quote etc I noted them down. I also made a tentative list of essay topics and practiced writing on one of it.
I attempted the essay on the topic “creation of small states and its implications”.
I tried to keep my language very simple. I also ensured that my essay is very comprehensive. I got 100 marks in essay.


Q. Serious players get mentally shattered and depressed after failure in competitive exams. How did you cope up with failures and rose from the ashes again? What had gone wrong in your previous attempts? How did you fix those issues in your 2011’s attempt?

Yes, I did went in depression after my first attempt’s result in 2010(though I got AIR 640 then) .Maybe I had more expectations. But thanks to my parents who helped me to regain back my senses .In my first attempt paucity of time and associated superficiality in my preparation was a major problem.In this attempt ,I tried to rectify this.


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?

I believe CSE interview is solely “PERSONALITY TEST” and as it is CSE is a great leveler where a post doctoral is competing with a simple bachelor’s degree holder.So one’s profile doesn’t play a much important.In stead its You and your dedication that matters. As far as I am concerned ,I would accept that I had a “so called relatively better profile” but with my two years of CSE interview experience .i can say that at the end of the day ..its your personality test..that’s it.Varied medium people should never feel that they are at any disadvantage.If you are confident about what you are and can be original in the interview room …you are bound to succeed.


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

I would definitely be disheartened. However, in case if things would have gone in different direction than I had expected, I would have moved towards a career in academics.

Family and Friends

Q. Behind one topper are many people who stood by her during those uncertain times when 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?

Definitely ,in my case there were many people behind the scenes who helped me to achieve my dream. My parents who stood by me through thick and thin.Their one statement after my first result in 2010 attempt that “You can do it and you will do it,give it a second try” helped me to regain back my senses and I decided to give my 100% for that one dream.

My elder brother and sis –in-law were always there for that much needed “confidence boost” ,my friends who were there as my “vent for frustration” and most importantly some of my professors /teachers who were my true friend,philosopher and guide.

One instance , I would like to share….usually by the night , I was so drained out that I did not had the strength to read out loud (and I would admit I am in the habit of reading out loud)my GS and Anthropology materials. At that point in time , my mom would just read them for me and I used to hear them while laying down.At the end of a chapter, I used to summarize it and that was how I covered some portions!!!!In the evenings , when any aspirant is facing that bout of frustration, my dad would take me to a close-by ice-cream shop for that much needed “Ice-cream dose”…these are small instances but would like to say these instances mattered a lot !

 Your Study plan

CSAT (Paper I) General studies

Topic Source of your preparation remark, if any
Current Affairs Thorough and intensive reading of newspapers like TOI,The hindu,IE(only for editorials),ET,magazines like frontline ,CSR,Chronicle,Yojana and the Economist. Always keep yourself updated with issues happening around you.I am a news maniac ..won’t ask you to become one but start loving and following news..i am sure you will start enjoying it as well.
History Ancient/Medieval/Modern Spectrum and Vajiram Yellow book +some NCERTS
Physical Geography All the four NCERTS of 11th and 12th Be very thorough with them
Geography of India
Geography of World
Polity and Governance DD Basu/Laxmikant/Vajiram yellow book
Public Policy Internet and self made notes
Rights issue Same as above
Environment and Biodiversity Internet, IGNOU materials
Economic and social Development Economic Survey/PD special issue on Economy/Internet
Science Sriram notes+internet+chronicle special issue
Economy Economic survey/India year book

CSAT (Paper II) Aptitude

Syllabus Topic Source of your preparation Remarks, if Any
Quantitative Aptitude R.S agarwal+Manuals like that of Unique,arihant,intenet sources and even some basic practice papers for CAT
Data interpretation Same as above
Logical reasoning
Reading comprehension
Decision Making and Problem solving I tried to practice some questions which were available on net During exams just read these questions very nicely and calmly .

Mains Examination

Compulsory Language papers

Source of your preparation
English Went through the previous years question papers
Indian language paper Went through previous years question papers and practiced writing essay in Hindi almost like a month before the exam

General Studies paper I

Syllabus Topic Source of your preparation
History Spectrum/Vajiram yellow book
Culture Spectrum+internet
Geography of India Four NCERTS of 11th and 12th Std.
Polity DD basu/Laxmikant/Vajiram yellow book
Issues of social relevance Internet +magazines like chronicle
Indian economy and planning Economic Survey
Public health
Law and order
Good governance

General Studies paper 2

Syllabus Topic Source of your preparation
India and the World Prepared self notes while reading newspapers
Indian diaspora internet
India’s Economic interaction with world Extensive reading of Business newspapers
International affairs and institutions Newspapers
Statistics Practiced from Spectrum esp the graphs etc(but since I have economics background,did not need much preparation for this)
Science & Tech. Sriram study materials+internet

Optional Subject #1 and #2

For both my optional I emphasized on making my concepts very clear and re-read the textbooks. I read all of these books, different books cater to different portions of the syllabus so i have just enumerated them


 For Paper 1

Microeconomics Ahuja and Koutsyansis
Macroeconomics Ahuja
International Economics Salvatore basically
and for some random parts
M.C Vaish
Public finance Lekhi
H.L Bhatia
Money and banking- S.B Gupta
RBI website

For growth and development i followed Mishra and Puri/there is another book by lekhi on it(it covers the syllabus so its bit handy)/ debraj Ray-development economics an extensive use of internet for some new developments in same


Indian Economy part from Dutt & Sundaram
Mishra & Puri
Uma kapila
Economic survey http://indiabudget.nic.in/index.asp
Economy and Political Weekly http://epw.in/epw/user/userindex.jsp
any one business newspaper like ET/FE etc http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/


  • The comprehensive list of Anthropology books i followed was
Topic Books
Physical Anthropology B M das/P Nath
Social Anthropology
Indian Anthropology
Anthropological Thought Upadhyay/ Gaya Pandey

Extensive use of internet for keeping myself updated about any new anthropological development.


How did you prepare for the interview? What questions were asked?

For my interview ,I brushed up every small aspect of my background,my home state,my optional etc(all the information furnished by me in DAF).
I was in Vijay Singh Sir’s Board.Interview board was very cordial and cooperative. Questions were mixture of World economics+my hobbies+world affairs+some decision making questions and some questions on my home state ,Jharkhand


ROLL NO:006368


Remarks: Recommended.


Q. What is your message to the aspirants?

Dream a dream and make a determined effort for that….you will surely succeed. Never get disheartened. CSE preparation is a beautiful and life changing experience. Live it and you will enjoy and relish it forever. All the very best for all your endeavors.

Finally the most important question!

Magazines related to competitive exams, have established the most sacred unwritten rule of conducting Topper’s interview: the last question has to be a loaded question :
“how did our XYZ magazine help you in preparation?
In the era of blatant marketing propaganda, I also have two similar but unloaded questions.

  1. Did you use indianofficer.com  for your preparation? If yes, How did it help you?
  2. Did you use mrunal.org  for your preparation? If yes, how did it help you?

And You can reply “No”, yet it’ll be published without distortion.

Ans. I was an IO member and the forum helped me a lot from compiling the book list for my optional to serving as a platform visiting which helped me to stay connected to the world of CSE aspirants from across the country.Thank you IO for that.
I never visited mrunal.org though.

End of interview.

If you wish to congratulate, compliment, or ask any follow up questions to Harshika Singh, visit the discussion thread on indianofficer.com (Click Me)