1. Bio
  2. Coaching
  3. Inception
  4. Information
  5. Study Momentum
  6. Hours
  7. Strategy: CSAT (Aptitude)
  8. Strategy: GS
  9. Mains 2013
  10. Optional Subject: Sociology
  11. Optional Subject: Public Administration
  12. Optional Subject in Mains 2013?
  13. Compulsory papers
  14. Essay
  15. Previous Attempts
  16. Insecurity  about “Profile”
  17. Career Backup
  18. Family and Friends
  19. Interview
  20. Marksheet
  21. Wisdom
  22. Bogus marketing propaganda


Roll number 003010
Rank (CSE 2012) 470
Optional Subjects
  1. Public administration
  2. sociology
Number of Attempts Two
Medium for Mains Exam English
Schooling (Medium) English
Centre for Prelim exam Bangalore
Centre for Mains exam Upsc,delhi
Name of home town/city Bangalore


% in class 10 93.92
% in class 12 84.00
Graduation course and % Chemical engineering and 60
Name of college and year of passing out National institute of technology,Karnataka-2010
PG (if applicable) No
Any professional courses (if applicable) No

Extra C

School cricket team captain, Played for college football team for 3 years during engineering, a frequent and an avid quizzer participated in a lot of intra and inter college quiz competitions.

Family background

Father was a Assistant finance officer in a PSU ( ITI,LTD). Mother is a home maker. My mother has always been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement in my life. She always believed in my ability, be it civil services or any other thing. Her encouragement in allowing me to follow my dreams after my engineering even though taking up a job seemed a better option (since my father had  passed on a few years earlier) is the most important reason why I was able to clear this exam.


Did you join any Coaching? 1)Prelims- physical geography module of Neetu singh.No other coaching classes attended.2)Mains- sociology test series of Praveen kishore.3)interview- mock interviews at vajiram and chaitanya.
Did you join any postal courses? No
Did you join any Mock test series? Sociology test series of Praveen kishore


Chandrasekhar AIR470-CSE2012
I first decided that I wanted to become an IAS officer when I was in high school. A neighbor to whom I was very close always used to tell stories about what a DC can do. How he is respected by everyone around him etc. This aspect of power was what initially attracted me. Later as I got to know more about the job and the society and its problems, the desire to become a civil servant deepened because I believed( and still believe) that a lot of good and positive changes can be brought about in our society through a civil servant.


Q. Outside Delhi, it’s hard to dig how to prepare for civil service. So How did you gather the necessary information / strategy / booklist?

Ans. My attempt in 2011 was made completely in Bangalore itself. I cleared prelims and missed interview call by 27 marks. During this attempt, internet was my main ally in digging up information regarding preparation, strategy and booklist. I used to follow a few blogs one of which was yours for clarifying doubts, getting better at concepts and understanding what to read and what to skip ie “smart work” complementing “hard work” rather than “hard work alone. I suggest aspirants who are not in Delhi to make use of internet and blogs such as yours to the maximum. Reading newspapers religiously and studying standard books for subjects like history, polity, geography will be more than enough to clear the exams.

Study Momentum

I feel that the motivation for studying for this exam should come from within for it to be effective and long lasting and the source of such a motivation varies depending on the individual. Personally, for me it was a combination of fear, my ambition and the ability to not over work myself. The fear of failure always motivated me to just go that extra mile when it came to studying. I had given up a potential life of comfort (by not taking up a job)  for civil services. So that played its part in motivating me. Secondly becoming an IAS officer was always my dream. But most importantly I feel that I did not over work myself. I used to study properly when I sat down to study but whenever I felt that I needed a break I did take it and these breaks would be one or two days of complete unwinding. After such breaks I did not regret such breaks but saw them as a refreshner. I did make sure that such breaks were few and far to affect my preparation. Another way I continued preparations even during the phase of low motivation was by taking up my favorite subject’s book (history) and reading it (not with the intention of preparing for the exam but just for the sake of reading).


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

Ans. I am not really sure about this but it was around 4-5 hours (including newspaper). The number of hours increased to around 7-8 as exams got near.

Q. How many months did it take you to complete the core syllabus of GS and optional subjects?

Ans. For someone reading the core subjects of GS for the first time (engineering and medical background) I feel it will take around 2 months to give it one proper read. But revision is very important. I feel it is the same with optional subjects as well if they are not the same as your graduation subjects. Two months each.

Strategy: CSAT (Aptitude)

Topic Books/sources
Maths R.S.Agarwal
Reasoning Cengage learning publications
Comprehension Cengage learning publications
Decision making Cengage learning publications

English comprehension and decision making were my strengths. Didn’t focus on them too much. Hence I don’t think my tips would be helpful for fellow aspirants.

Strategy: GS

Book/ source
History Ancient No
Medieval No
Modern Bipin Chandra
Culture Spectrum’s Indian culture (only for mains)
Mains Bipin Chandra and spectrum
Polity Basics Laxmikanth
Current Newspaper
Mains Laxmikanth and newspaper
Economy Basics Internet
Current Internet,newspaper
Mains Summary of economic survey and internet
Geography Physical Ncert and neetu singh class notes
Indian Ncert and neetu singh class notes
World Same as above
mains No special preparation for mains.
Environment, Biodiversity Basics Internet and icse 9th and 10th std book
Current Newspaper
Mains Newspaper focus on issues more than concepts.
Science Tech Basics Nothing
Current Newspaper hindu S and T issue every week. And last 5 years nobel winners’ work
Mains Hindu newspaper.
Yearbook / Govt. schemes etc. Didn’t read year book in entirety but I did do selective reading as suggested by you in your blog. (but not that extensive as well)
IR/diplomacy Frontline magazine.

The most important thing required to compete in this exam and clear it is the ability to stay calm in adverse situations. No matter how well prepared you are there will be a lot of questions in prelims,mains and interview for which you won’t know the answer. How you react to those questions and move on to the others with confidence will eventually determine whether you clear the exams or not.

Mains 2013

Q. UPSC has changed the GS syllabus for Mains 2013. So if you were to prepare for it, what’d be your approach/strategy/booklist?

Ans. Personally I feel that the pattern change for mains is a blessing for those who feel comfortable studying lot of new things but are not very adept at perfecting a subject by studying it over and over again. Because the weight for general studies has increased the focus should be on it. The optional is still very important since it carries 500 marks. However the weight for GS has increased from 600 to 1000. This makes GS the new ‘optional’ ie perform badly in GS and you are surely out of reckoning. You cannot make up for the non-performance in GS by getting 400+350 in optionals (out of 1200) like previous years. So I reiterate again, focus on GS but don’t ignore optional. As far as the books are concerned, I feel there are a lot of good books as well as documentaries on world history which can be made use of. World geography can be covered through leong. And for the 4th paper on ethics I feel 2nd ARC report on ethics is a must. I am not sure about the other topics added this time. So I plead ignorance on that part.

Optional Subject: Sociology

The book list for your optional has to be varied because all the books don’t cover all the topics and certainly not at the same level. For sociology I followed Haralambos, Anthony Giddens and internet for paper one. IGNOU,BA notes and ‘society in India’ by Ram Ahuja for paper two mainly. Here I have to mention two things. One, I DID NOT read any of the books in their entirety. It was all topic wise and I made a note of which book I referred to for which topic so that during revision I was not reading an entirely new perspective on the topic. And two, IGNOU is a really really good book for sociology paper 2.

Optional Subject: Public Administration

  • Public administration has been given a rough treatment the past two years but it is not a difficult subject to understand or write on. If UPSC decides there has to be low score for a X subject it ensures that it will happen. So that is not in our hands. What we can do is prepare every subject to the best of our ability. For paper one I followed Fadia and Fadia along with Vajiram class notes depending on the topic. For paper two it was Fadia and Fadia, Laxmikanth, Arora and Goyal. Again none of the books were studied in entirety.
  • Here is a small pointer which helped me a lot. I hope it helps other aspirants. Optional whatever you know,you should know it very very well rather than knowing everything under the sun whereas for GS you should try to know everything under the sun even if you don’t have in depth knowledge about it.

Optional Subject in Mains 2013?

Q. Instead of two, now UPSC will have only one optional subject. So if you were to give Mains 2013, which optional would you keep and why?

Ans. I think I would keep public administration. First reason is because I am comfortable studying it. Secondly 2011 I got 306 when the paper was supposedly very very tough and eventhough I am sure my 2012 marks in pub-ad is not as good I am also sure that I wont be very bad. I feel that an above average performance in a very tough paper is much better than above average performance in a relatively easy one.

Compulsory papers

Q. Your booklist/strategy for compulsory Regional language paper.

Ans. Previous years papers should be solved just before the exam.

Q. Your booklist/strategy for compulsory English language paper.

Ans. Same as above.


Q. How did you prepare yourself for the essay?

Honestly nothing specific. I did try to envision the structure of my essay on various topics but never really wrote an essay before the exam. This was a risk considering I had got only 82 in 2011.

Q. Which Essay did you write in Mains-2012?

The women topic. Reason was my sociology background.

Previous Attempts

Q. When you look back in the past, what were the deficiency in your preparation in the previous attempt? How did you rectify them this time?

Ans. This exam is all about strengthening your weak areas and ensuring that your strong areas continues to remain strong. Last time my sociology marks were not up to the UPSC standards, hence this time I attended a test series and wrote a lot of answers and got them corrected. Last time for GS I had all but ignored culture and statistics which I did not this time. This helped I feel.

Insecurity  about “Profile”

Q. Many aspirants have the (unnecessary) fear of interview, thinking that “my profile is not good because  I’ve low score in class 10/12/college/ I’m from unknown college, I’ve no work experience etc.etc.etc.”  So, How important or relevant is the profile of a candidate during interview?


  • Your profile is not at all important and the proof for it is that a lot of IIT,IIM graduates fail to clear this exam not once, but twice, thrice and four times and at the other end we see many number of candidates with rural background, having less than awesome marks throughout their student life clearing it year after year.
  • What really matters is how you handle the questions(simple and uncomfortable ones) during that 25-30 minutes you are inside the interview hall. A few questions should be expected on your profile but none of it will be targeted to make you feel inferior. Hence there is nothing to be worried about. Again this is a personality test, hence uncomfortable questions will be part of it.

Career Backup

I was not thinking about the backup plan while I was preparing but if it hadn’t worked out I could have gotten back to being a chemical engineer. Nothing is end of the world.

Family and Friends

If I start answering this question trust me it would run into pages… I will just say that I wouldn’t have even come close to clearing this exam without a lot of people’s support and encouragement and most importantly my mother.


Q. How did you prepare for the interview?

Two mocks at vajiram and chaitanya. Preparing probable questions on my profile. Updating myself about current affairs and discussing various topics with my friends whom I stayed with in Delhi before the interview.

Q. Who was the chairman of you interview board?


Q. How long was the interview?

15-20 minutes

Q. Provide the list of questions asked (and if possible answers also)

I have attached a separate pdf detailing my interview experience. click me

Q. Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or



GS: 76
Aptitude: 150
Total: 226

Written + interview

Essay: 103
GS1: 136
GS2: 125
Public Administration 1: 49
Public Administration 2: 106
Socio1: 138
Socio2: 108
Written Total: 765
Personality Test: 186
Final Total: 951


Q. Through this struggle and success, what have you learned about life and competition? What is your message to future aspirants?

Ans. If your agenda is honest, if your effort is sincere and if you are willing to make small sacrifices, the rewards you eventually reap will be sweet and worth it.

Bogus marketing propaganda

You are well aware of the unwritten golden rule of conducting toppers’ interview: Final question has to be about the bogus marketing propaganda. So,

Q1. Were you a subscriber/ regular reader of Mrunal.org. If yes, since when?

And You can even say “no”, I’ll publish it without editing, unlike certain magazines hahaha.

Ans. I have been a regular visitor to your blog since very early days of my civil service preparations. I am specially a big fan of the way you articulate economy concepts. Your advise on strategy for pre, mains and interview was also helpful. I have to make a special mention of your GS mains  2012 paper analyses. It was brilliant! And I m not trying to flatter you.

Q2. How did Mrunal.org help you in your preparation?

Ans. Like I have said before I wouldn’t even have come close to clearing this exam if not for a lot of people and one of those is you through mrunal.org. keep up the great work you are doing. All the best.