[Topper’s Interview] Mayank Agrawal (AIR 67 /CSE-2012) : Electrical Engineering, Chemistry

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


Roll number 16178
Rank (CSE 2012) 67
Optional Subjects
  1. Electrical Engineering
  2. Chemistry
Number of Attempts 2
Medium for Mains Exam English
Schooling (Medium) English
Centre for Prelim exam Jaipur
Centre for Mains exam Jaipur
Name of home town/city Varanasi (UP)


% in class 10 91
% in class 12 82
Graduation course and % 93
Name of college and year of passing out Indian Institute of Technology Madras, 2011 Batch
PG (if applicable) M.Tech (as part of dual degree) in VLSI Design and Microelectronics
Any professional courses (if applicable) Electrical Engineering


Reading (mostly fiction) and I have interest in teaching.

Work Ex

Not Applicable

Family background

My father is an Engineer and mother housewife. My brother is studying engineering.


Did you join any Coaching? Joined for a month then left (because those people were wasting my time and money)
Did you join any postal courses? I got brilliant tutorial material. (as I had very peculiar optionals, these material though useless provided some segregated question bank for my optionals.) My advice to future candidates is that if you have traditional optionals then you don’t need this. Better find some people who have cleared competition with similar subjects.
Did you join any Mock test series? I came across some of the vision ias mock test series which my friend had subscribed.
Did you appear in any other competitive exams? No.


AIR 67-CSE-2012-Mayank
For most of my life I have been like a race horse and upsc examination was another race that I ran. Though it is ironical but my main motivation was to explore myself and know myself better, other than knowing myself as a race horse. Career as a civil servant provides you variety of challenges and while facing those challenges (both successfully and unsuccessfully) you come to hone your skills and know yourself better. This is the same answer that I gave in the interview and it is mostly true.


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

In my opinion when the general studies is mostly current oriented it may not be very difficult for people outside delhi to prepare for this exam. You can get the standard text books on blogs and websites oriented towards this exam preparation (including mrunal’s) and I think regarding the standard material they are mostly same. I have highlighted some of the books that I referred to later part this questionnaire.

Regarding the non standard and current material coming these days in the exams I followed debates and discussions on Lok-Sabha nad Rajya-Sabha TV channels. I had the recording set-top box where I used to record those programs daily and in about 1-2 hours went through the relevant programs daily. These programs are of very high standard (regarding anchors and panelists) and you could find quality discussions. These programs provide you non-biased complete picture of an ongoing issue or policy matter and stimulates you to form an independent opinion on them. Please note that even the newspapers are biased in their opinion and you cannot form opinion  just on the basis of their analysis. (for example hindu has left tilt in its opinion and vice versa is economics times, etc) But I read Hindu daily.

Some of programs on Lok-Sabha tv  which I found useful were:

Insigt: 1-2 pm mon-fri

Public  Forum / Lok Manch: 3-4 pm mon-fri

Talktime: 8-9pm Thursday

One-on-One: 4-5 pm Friday

Science This week (some time on saturday, please check as its time has changed)

Talk with Rajiv Mishra           9pm: Sunday

Some of programs on Rajya-Sabha Tv: (NOTE: programs of rajya sabha could be found on youtube)

These programs are:

Big Picture

Law of the Land

State of Economy


To the Point

I prepared my general studies with the above said programs and newspaper the hindu apart from standard text books.

Regarding Electrical Engineering and Chemistry, I followed Prakash Rajpurohit and Abhijeet Agrawal’s blog respectively.

Study Momentum

I think this is the most important aspect of preparation especially for this examination. According to me the main problem is the absence of feedback. It is an engineering principle: the world / systems work on negative feedback. I have already hinted above that you have to evolve your own system to your standard of your preparation and continuously update that standard according to the need. For people having surrounded by serious motivated candidates there is little problem. They are always on the edge to compete with their peers. The only problem that I see in this case is finding serious candidates. (I am sorry but this is my personal opinion that you won’t find many serious candidates, most of the candidates are not themselves convinced what they want from their life and just passing time dreaming without any action)

Now coming on other set of people who don’t have peers around them to compete with. I cannot make a general comment on it and I would just highlight my strategy.

Step1: you need to be aware of the scope of syllabus.

Step2: figure out materials to be studied. Try to fix the scope while allowing some flexibility for additional material.

Step3: figure out a plan to manage the syllabus with keeping in mind that revision would take at least 50% of the time that the main syllabus has taken.

Step4: Break the plan into monthly, then into weekly targets.

Step5: Now compete with yourself to achieve those targets. As you go on you would have better idea of your capacity.

Over a period of time with positive results you would gain confidence in your progress and would be away from negative thoughts. Remember when you are busy chasing your target you would have little time to worry about your shortcomings.

Study Hours

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

Ans. I am not sure how to answer this question. I was in front of books around 7-8 hours. I think around 60-70% of time I was absorbing the content of the book.

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

Ans. I used to give around 3 hrs to GS daily.

Around 3 hrs each to optionals daily.

Everything took 1-1.25 years to complete syllabus.

Strategy: CSAT (Aptitude)

I didn’t do any preparation for CSAT paper. But if people find reasoning, aptitude difficult they could refer some preliminary CAT books.

Strategy: General studies

Book/ source
History Ancient Left
Medieval Left
Modern India’s Struggle for Freedom by Bipan Chandra
Culture Ccrtindia.gov.in
Mains Same
Polity Basics Lakshmikanth
Current Loksabha and Rajyasabha TV
mains Loksabha and Rajyasabha TV
Economy Basics Hindu Paper
Current Loksabha Rajyasabha TV
mains Loksabha and Rajyasabha TV
Geography Physical Little bit from NCERT,
Indian NCERT
World Left
mains Above sources, economic survey and 12th plan
Environment, Biodiversity Basics NCERT biology classs 12
Current Science Reporter and Down to earth magazine,
Mains Above sources, economic survey and 12th plan
Science Tech Basics Left
Current Science Reporter, down to earth, loksabha tv
Mains Above sources, economic survey and 12th plan
Yearbook / Govt. schemes etc. Economic Survey, 12th five year plan
IR/diplomacy Hindu,  rajyasabha and loksabha tv
  • I didn’t prepare for prelims separately.
  • For mains I covered the standard material. Followed the hindu newspaper and sincerely went over debates and discussions on loksabha and rajyasabha tv (I used to record programs and later listen to them).
  • As I did general studies on a regular basis so I was mostly updated and didn’t  competition magazines.
  • I used to selected issues in Economic and Political Weekly (left research articles in it).

Mains 2013

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

I did start my preparation for mains 2013. I would just give the books for the portion which I had completed. (though most the book list is similar to that provided by mrunal’s website.)

  1. Sociology: Class 12 NCERT both books
  2. World History: Class 9 and 10 NCERT history books
  3. Post Independence: selected chapters from India Since Independence by Bipan Chandra
  4. World Geography: 6,7,8 ICSE geography books
  5. Public admin part: from ARC reports summary : http://www.4shared.com/folder/9YX5CWCf/2nd_ARC_Report.html
  6. Ethics: William Frankena [I am not sure whether it is required or not, I have found it generally useful.]

Other than that IGNOU material is a good source. (it has been highlighted by mrunal in his older older post).

Optional: Electrical Engineering

Electrical Engineering I followed books highlighted by Prakash Rajpurohit’s blog. http://prakashrajpurohit.wordpress.com/

The only challenge for this optional is course content is huge and you need to give time to practice questions. But questions are not unpredictable and candidates can achieve high scored easily

Optional: Chemistry

Chemistry from Abhijeet Agarwals blog: http://abhijeetagrawal.blogspot.in/

Similar comment as above about this optional also.

Optional Subject in Mains 2013?

I would have taken Electrical Engineering. As major syllabus has been covered I require  just practicing questions and scoring high marks is easier as few people opt for it.

Compulsory papers

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

Didn’t do any special preparation

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

Didn’t do any special preparation


Q. How did you prepare yourself for the essay?

Didn’t do any special preparation

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

On Public Private Partnership

Q.Provide some keypoints/highlights of your Essay.

My essay was mostly based on one of the debate loksabha tv in the program Taktime

  • Gave general descriptions of investment models.
  • importance and requirements of ppp
  • technicalities of ppp
  • recent controversies
  • legal and auditing issues
  • remedy
  • personal opinion

Score: 86 marks in Essay

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?

I was not able to complete my syllabus during my first attempt. I just attempted the prelims (2011) and due to csat was selected.

I do not think people would have optional like mine, but if by mere chance you have them, then just concentrate on completing the syllabus and practicing old ias questions and text book questions.

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.” What’s your take on this?

Ans. Remember: “It does not depend on the size of dog in a fight but the size of fight in the dog” ( some movie dialog, but don’t know who said it originally).

I think your behavior should be coherent with your profile rather than having too much written in your biodata.

In the interview they asked me why I wanted to join civil services. I gave the answer which I have already mentioned somewhere above in the questionnaire.


There was no backup but if not upsc then I would plan for Ph.D

Family and Friends

I dedicate this success to My family.


Q. How did you prepare for the interview?

I used to discuss regularly questions regarding current affairs and biodata with one of my friend.

Q. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

IMG Khan

Q. How long was the interview?

20-30 min

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

I don’t remember exact questions but will try to give broad outline:

  1. How do look for personally while making decisions.
  2. Reasons for terrorisms in india and outside india
  3. how useful is watching tv nowdays
  4. asked about my hobby
  5. unhrc voting on srilanka
  6. why dense planets are nearer to sun
  7. legacy of british rule in india
  8. sivasamudram project
  9. tidal change behaviour

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

Did they ask you totally unexpected questions?  If yes, how did you handle it?

I didn’t prepare anything specifically for the interview.  I prepared on my Biodata and opinion on current affairs. So, I was not expecting anything special from the interview panel.


Essay 86
GS 107, 124
Electrical engg 114, 167
Chemistry 113,124
Written Total 835
Interview 198
Final Total 1033


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


There are some quotes by some people (which I don’t know) have been a source of inspiration for me.

  1. Success of a person does not depend on how high a person rises but high he bounces after touching the ground.
  2. Being courageous does not mean having no fear, but it is an understanding that something is more important than fear.
  3. There is very little difference between a winner and looser and that difference is of attitude.

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.

Ans. Yes I was a subscriber of mrunal.org since 2011.

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

Ans. In the initial phase it helped to grasp some economic concepts easily. Later helped to remain updated.

Indian History Freedom Struggle Pratik Nayak

71 Comments on “[Topper’s Interview] Mayank Agrawal (AIR 67 /CSE-2012) : Electrical Engineering, Chemistry”

  1. Sir,
    Is it necessary to get the minimum passing marks in both papers of csat or more in one & less in the other.


  3. “””Being courageous does not mean having no fear, but it is an understanding that something is more important than fear””””— Kya baat…kya baat…kya baat…!!! Excellent !! :)

  4. I have a small request. Please upload an interview of any of the average student like who has scored around 60-50% in there boards and graduation level and is still able to crack UPSC.. I m asking you because most of the interview i can across are of all intelligent people who have scored arund 85-90% till there graduation.. It will be great to boost my moral..

    Beside this you are doing AWESOME job..!! God Bless You

    1. priyanka tawde, it seems ur from maharashtra.. go to youtube and watch Bharat Andhale’s speeches they are in Marathi, he was a guy never gone passed 55% in any of his exams and still cleared UPSC thanks to his will…. hope it will motivate u … best of luck for your preparation

      1. Yes.. I m from a Maharashtra and Maharastrian also :P
        I have seen his interview. That guy has created a landmark.. I wont even wish to take so much attempts.. Beside this i belong to General Category If i wont qualify in 2 attempts than i would take up some other job..

  5. MAYANK’s roll no. was after me in chemistry paper , he took 3-4 extra sheets in both paper , that may be reason of his low chemistry marks , I was unlucky that couldn’t qualify ENGLISH qualifying paper , I am hindi medium student.

    1. Its Priyanka .. Dont tell me you are the same guy which i met on UPSC group on FB .. hahahhahaha World is definitely shrinking :P

  6. hats off to you … i know its very tough to prepare two science optionals … IITian spirit … salute..

  7. Guys….Somebody who has cleared the exam with law optional please give a detailed description of how to go about with the preparation..

  8. Sir,

    Culture from -Ccrtindia.gov.in
    Great news.

    Please do the next favour-how to extract material from this site.
    Being Govt. site they saling the material in many Volum of CD’s.

    Any way out please ???

    Thanks in advance.(Beacuse you may not be in position to deliver the answer immediately but will deliver the answer certaily)

  9. I don’t have TV connection in my room. Can you please help me out finding lok sabha programmes on internet ?

  10. Good evening Mrunal Sir,

    I am from a small town, i am a graduate in B.Sc(MPC)with very less subject knowledge, and i want to crack civils.
    I am unable to spend much money, i am doing little jobs while studying from the completion of my X class for financial support.
    Now i want to pursue Post Graduation from IGNOU/BRAOU. I am interested in ‘Library Information science’ and ‘Sociology’.

    First i want to get any govt.job for regular monthly income, after getting i want to focus more on civils,

    i request you sir, plz guide me to choosing subject for PG, which will use in civils and my future career, i am in very confusing state,

    plz give reply or suggest some ‘links’

    thanking you.

  11. congrats Mayank for huge success!!
    Can you share the book and author names for ICSE geo 6th, 7th & 8th for world geog.as mentioned in this blog.
    There are many ICSE books i could find written by different authors.

  12. Dear Sir,

    Its great to see people impartial interviews shared by you . Thanking you for that.

    I would like to ask you about choice of optionals, as i have prepared pub-ad , but after looking at people score in binary numbers ( single or double digit but not triple digit) , it seems that i have to leave that optional. Kindly share your view , which option to go for , and any material that you would like to suggest.
    Thanking you again for your useful and innovative notes , which helped me for this year prelims.

    With Regards,

      1. I tried searching your profile on facebook, can you please help us out by giving email address or facebook contact.

  13. Hi Sir!! U are doing a Great job & has become one of the major sources for all Aspirants.Please suggest books,materials,etc for newly changed Mains pattern esp G.S-Ppr 4.
    Thanking U in advance for the Same.
    Will be eagerly waiting for Ur Reply.

  14. Sir,Now I am studying 2/4 b.tech.So how can i start preparation for civils,how to study basics and from where?

  15. I got 100 in chemistry p-2.how to improve my score?please give your total correct attempt in p-1 and p-2.

  16. I got 100 in chemistry p-2.how to improve my score in p-2?please give your total correct attempt in p-1 and p-2.i felt the paper was tough and unconventional for p-2.In p-1 checking was tough(119 attempt-270 solid).

    1. for paper 2 i think, practice is much more required. another thing is the scaling. your marks does not solely depend on your own performance but it is relative. for p-1 my correct attempt was similar to yours around 260. in paper 2, my attempt was near to 240, and i got near about 124. i think paper 2 was tough. i read mostly clayden ( almost complete, leaving some non-relevant last chapters) and did all back questions and practiced previous ias papers. i am not suggesting you to follow this but just telling you what i did.

  17. @mayank

    in paper-1 did you make notes,practice answer writing ?i did not make notes and directly wrote in exam.i think thats why i got less as highest score in my knowledge is around 170 in paper1.

    will only clayden be sufficient for paper 2?

    & thank you for your reply

  18. @ Mayank

    In electrical Engineering, on attempting 240 correctly out of 300 how much marks can we expwxt after scaling..
    please tell us how muxh u attempt correctly in both the papers of electricail engineering..

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