1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  7. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  8. Prelim accuracy
  9. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  10. Mains: Essay
  11. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  12. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  13. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  14. Mains answer-writing?
  15. Mains Optional Subject
  16. CSE-2013 Marksheet
  17. Career Backup
  18. Insecurity about profile
  19. Wisdom
  20. Credit: Friends/family
  21. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Q. fill the details here
Name Ashish  Agrawal
Rank in CSE-2013 209
Roll No. 097026
Age 26
Total attempts in CSE 2
Optional Subject Pub Ad
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Schooling medium Hindi
College medium English
Home town/city Raigarh,Chhattisgarh
Work-experience if any
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) Vajiram material, CL test series.
Service preference IAS,IRS,IPS
State Cadre preference Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh,Rajasthan


fill the details here
% in class 10 85
% in class 12 85
Schooling (Medium) Hindi
Graduation course and % B.Tech & CGPA 8.63
Name of college, city, passing out year VIT , 2010
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extra curricular listening to music


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?

topper cse 2013 rank 209 Ashwin Agrawal

I belong to a middle class joint family.. My father has been the source of inspiration for me and its because of him i decided to prepare for the exam. I started my preparation after completion of my B.Tech.

Electronic Vs Paper material

Q. In recent times, there is spur in electronic material- blogs, sites, pdfs, RSS-feeds. Many aspirants feel bogged down by this information overload. So, how much do you rely on electronic material and how much on the paper material (Books, newspapers)? If possible narrate a typical day in your study life. What is your style of preparation?

Electronic material is of immense helpful in the preparation of the exam but one have to find a balance between electronic and paper material… And it is important to make notes of electronic materials..otherwise sometimes we just read some article and blog and do not revise it so it would be better to prepare notes of good articles or save the articles and highlight the important points in the article and later revise them..

Tempo and style

Q. People know what books and syllabus points are to be prepared. But most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?

To ensure consistency in the preparation it is necessary that one should not overburden himself/herself with the studies. In every 15-20 days spend an evening with your friends, go to movies or do any other stuff you like.. It will help in relaxing your mind.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient NCERT
History Medieval
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) bipin Chandra+NCERT(for prior to 1857)
Culture society
Polity (theory + current) Laxmikant + newpaper
Economy (theory + current) Sriram + mrunal  + newspaper
Science (theory + current) Crack Ias + Hindu
Environment (theory + current) NIOS
geography physical NCERT + GCL
geography India NCERT
geography world NCERT
other national/international current affairs newspaper
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff India Year Book

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths CL Test Papers
reasoning CL Test Papers
comprehension CL Test Papers
Decision Making CL test Papers

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?

Its not necessary to attend any mock test.. One can bring test papers at home and solve them..

Q2. Your score in prelim (when UPSC uploads it please mail me your score)

  • Paper 1- 91.4
  • paper2- 174.18

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper Previous years papers
your regional language Previous years papers

Q2.other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2013

This year language papers were quite lengthy and tough compared to previous years..so candidates should prepare for these papers along with main papers.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

I had joined essay test series and wrote two mock essays..and writing those two essays helped me..So even if one does not join any test series one should write mock essay on their own and get it evaluated by friends or teachers.

Q2. Which essay did you write? What key points did you include in it?

I wrote an essay on “GDP (Gross Domestic Product) along with GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness) would be the right indices for judging the wellbeing of a country”

  • Initial part of essay dealt with all the aspects of GDP(agriculture,manufacturing,services) and the importance of GDP..
  • Then I highlighted all the dimensions of GDH and their importance.
  • Next part of essay contained that how growth in GDP & GDH mutually reinforce each other and how neglecting any one of the indices will not serve the purpose of judging the well being of the country.
  • And in conclusion it was stressed that growth in GDP must be translated into growth in GDH for effective development of any country.

I’ve received 140 marks in the Essay paper.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
culture Nitin Singhania Notes
Indian history Bipin Chandra
world history NCERT
post-independence India Bipin chandra
  • Indian society
  • role of women, poverty etc.
  • globalization on Indian society
  • communalism, regionalism, secularism
  • In my 1st attempt I had Sociology as my second optional so i prepared society related topics from my previous notes..For society related topics
  • NCERT will be good to start with..If someone has his/her friend with socio as optional then they should ask their friends to give them overview of various dimensions of topics.. It will be helpful i guess..
world geo physical NCERT + Goh Che Leong
resource distribution NCERT + Vajiram printed notes
factors for industrial location NCERT + Mrunal.org/geography
earthquake tsunami etc NCERT
impact on flora-fauna NCERT

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Laxmikant
comparing Constitution with world Vision Ias
parliament, state Legislatures Laxmikant
executive-judiciary Laxmikant
ministries departments Laxmikant
pressure group, informal asso. Laxmikant
Representation of people’s act read the official act
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Laxmikant
NGO, SHG etc newspapers
welfare schemes, bodies India Year Book
social sector, health, edu, HRD 12th FYP
governance, transparency, accountability, e-governance, role of civil service ARC report
India & neighbors, bilateral/global grouping, effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest World Focus + Newspapers + idsa.in
diaspora IGnOU material uploaded on Mrunal.org/download
international bodies- structure mandate internet

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Sriram
inclusive growth yojna
budgeting ARC report
major crops, irrigation IGNOU(for basics) + internet
agro produce – storage, marketing internet
e-technology for famers internet
farm subsidies, MSP IGNOU(for basics) +internet
PDS, buffer, food security IGNOU(for basics) +internet
technology mission newspaper
animal rearing economics Mrunal
food processing internet
land reforms Bipin chandra India since independence
liberalization vision ias
infra vision ias
investment models vision ias
science-tech day to day life Hindu + mrunal + vision ias
Indian achievements in sci-tech same
awareness in IT, space, biotech, Nano, IPR same
environmental impact assessment internet
Disaster Management IGNOU
non state actors, internal security Vajiram printed notes
internal security – role of media, social networking site vajiram + internet
cyber security Internet
money laundering Vajiram+internet
border  Management a book on border issues was available on idsa.in so i downloaded the book n made notes from the book
organized crime, terrorism vajiram
security agencies- structure mandate vajiram

In above table wherever i have mentioned internet it means i searched materials for those topics from net and then made my notes based on the selected material..

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics For Ethics paper I took notes of Synrgey & vajiram & chronicle issues..then i decided which topic to be prepared from which notes and read accordingly..
attitude, moral influence etc.
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc
emotional intelligence, its use in governance
moral thinkers of India and world I focused more on Indian thinkers.. Sriram notes were good..
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. same as above
corporate governance
probity in governance, work culture
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc.
challenges of corruption
case studies on above topics

GS4 Ethics case study answers in Mains 2013

Q. in GS4 ethics papers, please give a sketchy overview of your case study answers:

case your approach/ keypoints
1: RTI: To hide or not to hide I will share my answer sheet of ethics paper once i receive it through RTI.Mrunal comments: you’ve received 113 marks in ethics paper. We certainly want to see your answercopies. Thanks in advance.
2: Engineer: Bogus flyover vs deadline
3: Child Labourers in Sivakasi
4: Nepotism in Job recruitment
5: Leaking information
6: Narrate one incident in your life when you were faced with such crisis of conscience and how you resolved the same.

Mains answer-writing?

Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?

the space given was more than enough..

Q. Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs? Some players (who cleared mains and got interview call letter) were claiming that they wrote entire paper in bullet points, so it doesn’t matter….whether examiner is asking ‘examine, comment, discuss or xyz’….simply write in bullets and points.

  • Its not that one will write all the answers in bullets. Wherever necessary do use bullet points otherwise use paragraph style. So it would depend on d nature of question..
  • In the mains i will suggest candidates to write specific and to the point answers in GS papers.

Q. Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format? because some mains-qualified candidates claim they simply wrote the points they could recall within the time, instead of bothering with proper introduction and conclusion.

Yes i tried to ensure that i write introduction and conclusion even if they were of 2-3 lines.. It would be gud if one write introduction and forward looking/positive conclusion..

Q. In GS papers, Since UPSC came with those 100 and 200 words questions. What was your approach in the exam (I wrote all, I only focused on the questions where I could answer perfectly, I just not to high quality points to reach the word limit etc.) Because the UPSC aspirant Community is divided over what counts as a ‘good’ paper. Some experts claim you should attempt all- even if it involves “making up” an answer with filler lines, some claim attempt only those questions you know perfectly. Where do you stand on this? [Based on your experience and of your seniors/buddies]

  • My strategy was to attempt those questions first on which i had gud knowledge and which could be my best answers.. I did not try to attepmt those questions on which i did not have any knowledge.
  • Ultimately its the quality of answer that matters (that’s what i think).
  • so even in GS stick to what is asked in the question and answer according to that.
  • Even though word limit of 200 words is given but it will be ok to write about 150-160 words.
  • dont try to attempt all the questions(but one should try to attempt atleast 21-22 questions in each paper and if you can complete whole paper den it would be awesome) and attempt that portion in which you have best command.
  • Try to give one or two points in your answers which will be unique or have some specific information.

Q. How many marks worth questions did you skip/couldn’t finish in the GS papers?

GS (Mains paper) couldn’t finish
GS1 30 + i wrote wrong answer in Jai jawan jai Kisan question
GS2 20
GS3 40
GS4 0

Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?

Yes i highlighted important points of my answer by underlining them..

Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)


Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?


Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?


Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?


(Mrunal – since readers keep mailing such queries, therefore I’m asking the topper to clear all the air haha.)

Mains Optional Subject

Q1. First the essential book/resource list and strategy

Public Administration paper 1:

  • Chapter 1 & 2 – vajiram class notes and Prasad and Prasad
  • Chapter 3- Vajiram class notes and Sharma Shadana
  • Chapter 4-  Vajiram class notes(System n Contingency theory) and Sharma Shadana
  • Chapter 5
    • Mohit bhattacharya( RTi, Civil Society, Accountability, Citizen and administration)
    • Social audit(Internet + Fadia and Fadia),
    • Citizen Charter (2nd ARC)
    • Sharma sadana( role of media,interest group and voluntary org)
  • Chapter 6- Sharma sadana
  • Chapter 7- Vajiram notes
  • Chapter 8- made notes by combining various coaching notes
  • Chapter 9-  Fadia fadia(recruitment,training,promotion) + Ignou (rest of d topics)
  • Chapter 10- IGNOU
  • chaper 11- fadia (O&M), Mohit bhattacharya(work study n work management, e-gov,network analysis) MIS, PERT & CPM (M.B+Vajiram)
  • Chaper 12- Sharma Sadana and ARC report

Public Administration paper 2

  1. Goyal & Arora
  2. ARC Reports (it would be good if one can read original report on Local govt, financial admin, personnel admin, law 7 order, state and district admin,org structure of GOI)
  3. newspapers(esp IE editorials) for current affairs

Q2. How much of internet-research / current affairs is necessary for this optional? OR can one simply rely on the books and be done with this subject?

Current affairs is necessary for paper 2 in Pub Ad..One should follow newspapers to prepare for current affairs part.

Q3. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?

4-5 months

Q4. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?

  • Answer writing is the most important aspect of the mains exam (i guess).
  • After reading any chapter one should try to write answer for d questions previously asked from this chapter.
  • Answer writing can be improved through regular practice so one should try to write as many answers possible
  • And even if you don’t join any test series write the answer and get it evaluated by any senior , friend or teacher and try to improve upon your answer every time.

Q5. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?

I made notes of few chapters.

Q.How much did you skip OR couldn’t answer properly, in the optional paper?

optional paper Couldn’t finish __ mark. + comments on any weird questions
Paper I
paper II

Q. would you advice any interested party (new player) to pick this optional? Nowadays wind seems to be flowing towards sociology and political science. Some senior players advice new players not to pick Public Administration given the scaling and odd questions. What’s your take on this?

  • even though presently people are leaving pub ad (cause of horrible experience of 2012)
  • I think fault is not with the subject. In the next one or two year some other subject may have the same experience.
  • So if one opt for pub ad he/she should prepare it in a more rigorous manner..

Before the interview

Q1. How did you prepare for the interview? Particularly college graduation subjects related questions?

My friends helped me alot in my interview preparation. We used to have group discussion on our summary sheet and other national & international news. For college graduation subjects i read some basic books..

Q2. Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? How were they similar / different than official interview? Do you believe it is necessary to attend such mock interviews?

I attended Vajiram and Samkalp..It is not necessary to join any mock session but if one has not given any interview for a long period one can join any institute for preparation..

Q3. What did you wear? Some experts say coat is must, some say tie is must, and some say black shoes must. What attire did you pick up?

White shirt,black pant and tie

Q4. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?

with my friends

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Amar Pratap Singh
Q2. How long was the interview?

around 20 mins

Q4. Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview.

I had A P Singh Board.. Some of the questions were really strange

Ch: How long have you been in delhi?

Did you attend any coaching?

What have been you been doing since your graduation?

Then few questions on Indian Mars Mission

When Mars Mission was sent (He was looking for exact date which i Dint knew)

What is the name of orbiter?

When it will reach?

M1: I am narrating a sentence and you tell me what you infer from the sentence.. I dont remember the complete sentence but it had two key words ‘Butter’ & ‘Gun’

i answered.. Sir you might be talking in reference to food and defence spending (he said yes yes good now i ask u the que)

Then He asked 2-3 que on whether we should spend more on food security or defence spending

M1: Why there has been series of accidents in navy recently?

Why are we lagging behind in our defence modernization?

Should Army,Navy be given free hand in their operation without civilian oversight?

M2: What is hygiene factor?

What is Maslow need hierarchy?

Why some of the aircrafts went missing from radar?(I replied with refernce to Malaysian incident But he asked there has been a similar Indian incident do you know about it)

What is Black Box? Why it is being called black?

Whats the use of Black Box?

What technology are we using to communicate from ground station to aircrafts?

Are we using any new technology for aircraft communication?

M3: What is Vedic Mathematics (Vedic Mathematica was in my bio data)

What all calculation can we do fwith the help of V.M.?

Why are we not promoting it when it is helpful in calculation?

then he gave me two three digit no and asked to multiply them within thirty seconds

What percantage of sun rays are get absorbed by the per square meter area of the earth?

What percantage of sun rays are get absorbed by plants?

Why is the colour of plant green?

What is chlorofil?

Whats its use?

Is communication possible without electronics?

How will you transport men electronicaly ?

Is there any technology which can transport men electronicaly ?

M4: I am reciting a sanskrit shlok, tell me the meaning.. (obviously i couldnt answer)

what have you read in sanskrit till class 10th?

What are the problems in Chhattisgarh apart from Naxalism?

What is the situation of health and education in Chhattisgarh?

There is a ashram near Vellore, tell me the name of that ashram.. (He was looking for any specific ashram which i did not knw)

What are the other famous places in Vellore?

Ch. tell me something about Vellore fort

Your interview is over you can go now..

CSE-2013 Marksheet

Public Administration paper 1 098
Public Administration paper 2 091

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?

I would have joined my family business..

Q2. when were you going to “execute” that backup plan? (e.g. after __ failed attempts/ after I cross __ age/after dad retires/ etc.)

i was going to execute it after my third attempt.

Insecurity about profile

Q. Many candidates prepare sincerely but constantly live under fear about ‘profile insecurity’. I’m not from a big college, I’m not from English medium, and I don’t have work-experience. What if they ask some stressful questions in the interview about this? Did you suffer from such insecurities? What is your message to these candidates?

I am a hindi medium student and if i can achieve this success i think anyone else from hindi background also can do the same..ultimately what matters is study in a planned manner in the right direction..


Q. Through this struggle and success, what have your learned? What is the wisdom of life and competition? What is Your message to the new aspirants?

  1. Self-Belief and Self Discipline are the two most important things in course of preparation.
  2. One has to do planned and strategic study to ensure that the candidate do not waste his/her time on numbers of materials.
  3. first ensure that material is of high quality and will help you in your answers then only start studying that material.
  4. Make habit of making notes from newspapers (short notes in bullet points) and electronic materials.
  5. During course of preparation work upon your weaknesses and improve upon your strength.
  6. And most importantly enjoy your preparation and maintain balance between studies and your personal life.

Q. Many hardworking candidates have been given petty marks in Mains/Interview of CSE-2013. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?

GLORY LIES IN ATTEMPT TO REACH ONE’S GOAL AND NOT IN REACHING IT. I would give this message to those who could not make it to the final list, try to figure out areas where you think there is scope for improvement and then work upon those areas.

Credit: Friends/family

Q. Behind every topper are many people who stood by 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?

I would be thankful to my family. They have always supported me in this journey would especially thank to my mother. I could not have done it without her.

I dedicate this success to my late Father. I and my father saw this dream together and it was he who wanted me to study and gave me free hand in choosing my career.

And then my friends in Delhi (Kunal, mayank, Saurabh, Aman(AIR 210 CSE 2013),Ram(AIR 500 CSE 2012)) who stood with me during one of the toughest period my life..

BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Q. You are well aware of the sacred rule – the last question must be about self-marketing. So, Did you use Mrunal.org for your preparation and if yes, how did it help you?  And you can even reply “No”. I’ll still publish your answer without tempering, unlike those competitive magazines.

I have been following this site right from the starting of my preparation. Mrunal you are really doing a commendable job and I would be glad if I can help you in any manner.

Mrunal: thanks Mr. Agrawal. Very informative tips about the preparation of GS and Public Administration. We wish you the best for the service and cadre allocation ahead. Keep in touch.