We are pleased to have Rohit Shukla here sharing with us, his journey, studyplan for General studies, Psychology and Public Administration.


Name Rohit Shukla
Roll number 034405
Rank (CSE 2011) 238
Optional Subjects
  • Public Administration,
  • Psychology
Medium for Mains Exam English
Mains Examination Centre Lucknow
Number of Attempts 2
Details of Graduation and Post-Grad. BTECH from AKGEC Ghaziabad
Schooling (Medium) English
Extracurricular activities,
hobbies, achievements etc.
Writing articles,
Are you a working professional? Yes
If yes, then did you leave your job
or prepared while on the job?
I left my job and prepared
Did you take Coaching? Prelims: No
Mains: Yes
Interview: Yes
Did you buy any postal courses? Yes
Did you join any Mock test series? No



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

I was good in quizzing as a student and was aware of national issues since chilhood.However during/after graduation (BTECH) it all disappeared. It was during my stint in a private IT company that I realised about my life’s priorities and would ultimately make me a happy individual.Hence,I resigned and started preparing.

The Choice of Optional Subjects

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us 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 did not have any idea initially about optionals etc. I had resigned from my job in a hurry and had to appear that year only.I came across Mrunal’s blog and after going through it chose public administration as the pre optional(it was useful in all stages of the exam).Later on based on personal interest I chose Psychology as the second optional.


Q. People initially prepare with much enthusiasm but then they become slack after some time for various reasons. How did you sustain the momentum throughout the journey?

The biggest force in life comes from within,when you really want something.I was so frustrated (at the same time energetic) that I wanted to change my life quickly.Hence, boredom even if it came was not allowed to rule.Family support is of prime importance in this exam.In my case , i was insulated from even my closest friends and relatives.I hardly ever talked about my preparation with anybody in my family( except my mother).I found that switching subjects after 2 hours is a good way to reduce monotonicity .Run in between,play with pets , watch some news( for half an hour) and be back to study.Whenever you feel you are wasting time-just think about the job in hand,your objective.


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?

My average study hours- around 8. For core syllabus of GS it took  3 months initially.In case of optionals, public administration finished quickly but psychology took 3.5 months.


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

Internet is indispensable for civil service preparation and I feel UPSC wants us to use it .Wikipedia is the best source for any topic.Also , one can quicky check about the background of any topic before studying using internet. But caution must be taken to ensure that useless stuff is not browsed during study time.


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

I did not do any special preparation for the essay. I wrote one full essay before the exam and got it evaluated . I also increased my knowledge base which helped in the essay.Essay should be interesting , in simple language ( yet appealing) and should have a natural flow as per the topic with a balanced conclusion. I wrote the essay on “ creation of smaller states” in mains 2011. I got 108 marks.


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?

I was shattered after not clearing mains written in my first attempt . After 10 days , with the help of my mother’s support and words of wisdom I started preparing again.I was told that since I am so disappointed it only means I am very close to my target.

CSAT was introduced which was a welcome step .In my previous attempt, I had not met some criteria like to the point answers,proper examples,analysis,introduction and conclusion of answers etc. I took guidance from my teachers and corrected those mistakes.


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?

Candidate’s profile is for the candidate , not the interview board. If one feels satisfied and can justify himself, there is no problem.Studying from an unknown college is not a problem.Work experience if there can help if one is prepared and can handle questions on it.It is only one’s confidence and the attitude on the day that matters.Plus interview is so much subjective that anxiety is of no use.

How do you rate your own profile?

I have a decent profile :)

How much portion of your interview centered on your profile?

Questions were mostly on my job experience,hobbies,graduation (apart from some on optionals and others were situational).

Did they ask any uncomfortable questions from your profile?



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

In any case I would not have returned to my previous work. I would have tried for administrative jobs in state services, Bank PO etc. But frankly I didnt have any solid back up plan.

Working professional

What is your advice and tips to working professionals – particularly on time Management?
I cant suggest much since I studied after resigning only.

The Message

What is your message to the aspirants?
“we have limited time,but unlimited energies to accomplish what we need.Hence,instead of following what others do,just follow your inner voice and that will guide you throughout your life(keep listening to it).”

Family and Friends

Q. Behind one topper are many people who stood by him/her 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?

Only one person-My Mother. On a December day in 2009, I called my mother from my office and told her that things were not to my liking and satisfaction there. She forced me into quick introspection based on my attitude,life aim,past experiences and what I was doing when I felt good last time. Civil service preparation emerged as the solution.After deliberation for 4 days,the decision was made.

Your Study plan

CSAT (Paper I) General studies

Topic Source of your preparation
Current Affairs The Hindu,
Indian Express,
Govt Reports
History Ancient/Medieval/Modern Old NCERT books
India’s Struggle for Independence Bipin Chandra (Penguin Publication)
CrackIas Notes
General Studies Manual Tata Macgrawhill Publication
Physical Geography NCERT only
Geography of India NCERT
crackias notes
Geography of World NCERT
school atlas
Polity and Governance Indian Polity by M.Laxmikant (TMH Publication)
crackias notes
Pratiyogita Darpan special edition
Public Policy Internet
Rights issue
Environment and Biodiversity Govt reports on Environment
ICSE environment studies books
India Year Book(selective only)
Economic and social Development
Science TMH Guide
Hindu (Science background helps)
Economy NCERT economics xi,xii
Hindu’s Monday economy analysis
Mrunal’s articles on economy
Pratiyogita Darpan special edition

About the CSAT aptitude

Syllabus Topic Source of your preparation
Quantitative Aptitude Unique’s Book
Data interpretation Unique’s Book
Logical reasoning Unique’s Book
Reading comprehension Did not prepare
Decision Making and Problem solving Did not prepare

Mains Examination

Compulsory Language papers

Source of your preparation
English Solved 2 year papers
Indian language paper Solved 5 year papers
practice it properly,questions are repeated also in grammar portion,attempt full paper,
Do not relax thinking the marks are not counted.*

[*Mrunal Comment:  Mr.Rohit is absolutely right, see this RTI reply of UPSC- so many candidates fail in the compulsory language paper (Click Me)]

General Studies paper I

Syllabus Topic Source of your preparation
  1. India’s Struggle For Independence by Bipin Chandra (Penguin Publication)
  2. Spectrum book on Modern India (selective)
  3. Crackias notes
Culture Spectrum book on Indian Culture (very selective)
Geography of India CrackIas notes
Polity Indian Polity by M.Laxmikanth (TMH Publication)
Issues of social relevance Newspapers
TV debates
Indian economy and planning Yojana
Economic Survey
Crackias notes
Planning Commission website
Public health Internet
Law and order Polity material
Punchi commission report
Good governance Internet(use Wiki)
Environment Govt reports
class 11,12 Env science books

General Studies paper 2

Syllabus Topic Source of your preparation Remarks, if Any
India and the World*
Indian diaspora* current affairs+Internet only make note of famous Indians in past one year abroad(in diverse fields)
India’s Economic interaction with world
International affairs and institutions World Focus Magazine(yearly issue,april,may issue)
Civil Services Times magazine
V N Khanna book for basics
Statistics Spectrum papers
Science & Tech.

Optional Subject #1 and #2


Paper 1

  1. Fadia and Fadia
  2. Nicholas Henry (selective)
  3. class coaching notes +Internet


  1. Newspapers( most important)
  2. Report of 2nd ARC Commission.
  3. Punchi commission report
  4. Govt statistics
  5. PIB releases
  6. Arora Goyal
  7. Avasthi and Avasthi.

Public Administration Preparation Tips

  • Most important approach is to interlink the two papers, using relevant examples from current events,analysing through facts , answers should be new and not bookish at all.
  • Syllabus completion here is important but more important is understanding of relevance of all topics in day to day administration.


Paper 1

  1. Psychology by Baron (Pearson publication)
  2. Introductionn to psychology by Clifford Morgan, Richard King and John Schopler
  3. Psychology an Introduction(Atkinson and Hilguard) by Cengage Learning ( this is very good for latest researches , helped me in making my answers different)
  4. NCERT,
  5. Mukul Pathak Sir’s notes
  6. (writing to the point and with recent developments in core areas will help,can use diagrams also)


  1. Social psychology by Baron
  2. Applied Psychology by Smarak Swain(IRS),
  3. Class notes of Goldi Sir
  4. Internet
  5. Newspapers( thinking from psychological angle of current issues will help)


How did you prepare for the interview?

I prepared my biodata for a set of probabale questions and took mock tests.

Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or Did they ask you totally unexpected questions?

I was in KK Paul Sir’s Board. It was on expected lines ( mostly profile based) but I felt I did not get much opportunity to open up.

Toughest Question in Interview

What was the toughest question you faced during the interview and how did you answer it?

“how will you convince the political leadership if it is unwilling to accept that development is possible.Dont say I will convince,how will you actually do it”

I replied , “Sir, I will initiate a pilot project in my area and based on the result of that I will use the facts to convince the political leadership that change is possible”

I have posted the interview on Indianofficer.com




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.

Did you use indianofficer.com  for your preparation? If yes, How did it help you?

It has mostly serious aspirants so one adds value to his preparation through sharing of info,discussions here.Plus great inputs are provided for study material also.It is a  no nonsense type of forum and different from others .

Did you use mrunal.org  for your preparation? If yes, how did it help you?

The first page that I visited in search of optional subjects was that of Mrunal.I am indebted and use this opportunity to thank Mrunal for his help to all the aspirants since the information,topics,explanations are such in nature that one does not need a second read.

End of the Interview

Want to Congratulate, compliment, say hello or ask any questions to Mr.Rohit Shukla, then post it in this discussion thread on Indianofficer.com