[Topper’s Interview] Parth Gautam Sharma (AIR-294/CSE-2013): B.Com, Commerce Optional, Madhyapradesh

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  1. Candidate profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Struggle of a Senior player
  7. Prelim (CSAT) General studies
  8. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  9. Prelim accuracy
  10. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  11. Mains: Essay
  12. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  13. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  14. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  15. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  16. GS4 Ethics case study answers in Mains 2013
  17. Mains answer-writing?
  18. Commerce optional?
  19. CSE-2013 Marksheet
  20. Career Backup
  21. Insecurity about profile
  22. Wisdom
  23. Credit: Friends/family
  24. Marketing Propaganda

Candidate profile

Rank in CSE-2013 294
Roll No 176967
Age 23
No. of previous attempts in Civil service Exam 1
Medium chosen for Mains answers ENGLISH
Schooling medium ENGLISH
College medium ENGLISH
Work-experience if any NOPE
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures NOPE
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) i joined rankers classes and srirams.. but given that i had always remained in hostel since childhood, i always had the habit of relying more on self study.. Hence in did not attend it much.


% in class 10 87 CBSE
% in class 12 94 CBSE
Schooling (Medium) ENGLISH
Graduation BCOM(HONS)
Post-graduation NOPE
Any other professional courses NOPE
Hobbies & Extra curricular Watching current political debates, financial investing, big cats ( i wrote this in the mains form)


UPSC topper Parth Sharma

with Mom at Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai

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

My initial inspiration for this exam was my father. He is an IPS officer, cleared the exam at a very young age with a very humble background. He insisted me to start preparing for this exam just after my graduation. He always impressed upon me the advantages of getting into the services early given the amount of difference you can make. Hence I started preparing for this exam from august 2011.  In my first attempt I did not clear because I had public administration, a subject if I had today as my optional, I would’ve been out of the list. Thanks to my graduation that I could do justice to my optional in both the attempts. I was very impressed with the way my father and his batchmates used to talk and wear.  I would like to thank specially my mentor Nitin Singhania(rank 51 batch 2012) who guided me realistically through the tough time and the countless people who gave me hope( im sorry it’s a long list). I thank you Mrunal for making my preparation easier. I have very high regards for people like you who never gave up and truly inspired me all this while.

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 studylife. What is your style of preparation (e.g. I continue making notes no matter what I’m reading, I just read multiple times but don’t maintain notes, I make mindmaps on computer …or xyz style)

I’m not that tech friendly person to rely much upon electronic materail.  99% of my preparation was from paper material either books or coaching material.  One point I’ll like to stress for my fellow aspirants- please do the hindu newspaper very very very nicely at least an year prior to your mains… I used to cut out clippings of my newspaper specially of the editorial and oped section and it helped very much in analytical questions.  It surely is worth the effort.  No magazine or material can supplement that.  Trust me.  I supplemented my newspaper with visionias current affair material which was more than enough.  Current affairs apart, for static portions and topics I made it a point to refer to maximum of 2 sources and kept on revising it… it paid me dividends.  I hope my fellow aspirants do adopt this strategy.

Tempo and style

Q. On an average, how many hours do you study? How do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings?

Never kept a record on the number of hours studied but it wouldve been around 7 hours.  Mood swings were very common to the extent of I doubting myself and being a total skeptic about my caliber and potential.  I was however priveleged to have good friends and room partners who never let the hopes die and kept on telling me that its just a matter of time that your name figures in the list.  I thank them all.

Struggle of a Senior player

After 1-2 failures in any competitive exam, a phase of mental saturation comes. The person knows the booklist, he knows what is necessary to succeed. But it doesn’t yield result. Social and psychological pressure keeps mounting. You’ve cleared exam on second attempt. So, what’re your words of wisdom to other senior players? If any specific inspirational incident(s), please share.

I do believe its very very disappointing to not get results after you’ve invested so much of time, money and effort.  I shall urge all my senior players to please read the story of my friends arpit jain( rank 194 2013 batch) and specially pavitra kumar dubey( rank 388 2012 batch).  Im sure you will start hoping and dreaming again that yes we can and we will.  Please do get to know how, when and in what circumstances did they clear this exam

Prelim (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient NCERT
History Medieval DIDN’T DO.
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) SPECTRUM
Culture society
Polity (theory + current) Srirams Plus Newspaper And Vision
Economy (theory + current) Srirams Plus Newspaper And Vision
Environment (theory + current) IGNOU, CRACK IAS AND SHANKAR IAS MATERIAL
geography physical 11TH NCERT NEW ONE
geography India 11TH AND 12TH NCERT
geography world NCERT
other national/international current affairs NEWSPAPER And vision ias.. it is enough.. wanna do more?? Do Yojna and All India Radio
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Srirams and vision material

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths TMH
reasoning TMH
comprehension TMH
Decision Making TMH

Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelims?


Prelim accuracy

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

I used to get the mock tests being sold in the market to my home.. They help you very very much specially for CSAT.

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2013

attempted correct
GS 85 67
aptitude 80 77

Q3. Your score in prelim (when UPSC uploads it please mail me your score)

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Q1. Please fill this table

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper NO PREPARATION

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

Please don’t play with them

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

This was my weakest part.. I didn’t write a single essay before my mains.. But i wont suggest people to follow my approach.. Practice 2 essays in a month and get it checked by your friends or teachers.. Do read newspapers nicely for fodder points

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

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



General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
Indian history SPECTRUM
world history NCERT 9TH 10TH AND 12TH
Indian society SYNERGY NOTES
role of women, poverty etc. SAME
globalization on Indian society SAME
communalism, regionalism, secularism SAME
resource distribution Same
factors for industrial location Same
earthquake tsunami etc Same
impact on flora-fauna Same

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How did you prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Srirams
comparing Constitution with world Vision ias
parliament, state Legislatures Srirams
executive-judiciary Srirams and newspaper
minsitries departments Same
pressure group, informal asso. Srirams( pressure groups and NGO is very nicely given)
Representation of people’s act Srirams
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Vision
NGO, SHG etc Sriramd
welfare schemes, bodies Newspaper
social sector, health, edu, HRD 12th plan full reports
governance, transparency, accountability Arc report
e-governance Arc report
role of civil service Srirams( nicely given)
India & neighbors Newspaper and vajiram printed material( very very good)
bilateral/global grouping Same
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Same
diaspora Not done
intl.bodies- structure mandate Vajiram material

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How did you prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Srirams( very very good)
inclusive growth Srirams
budgeting Vision value addition material( good)
major crops, irrigation Vision
agro produce – storage, marketing Vision and srirams
e-technology for famers Vision
farm subsidies, MSP Vision and srirams
PDS, buffer, food security Vision and srirams
technology mission Vision and srirams
animal rearing economics Vision and srirams
food processing Mrunal first two articles
land reforms Vision and srirams
liberalization Vision and srirams
infra Vision and srirams
investment models Vision and srirams
science-tech day to day life Only current science done from vision and newspaper
Indian achievements in sci-tech
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR
environmental impact assessment Insightson india website link
Disaster Management Srirams
non state actors, internal security Vajiram and als
internal security – role of media, social networking site Vajiram yellow book
cyber security Same
money laundering Same
border  Management Your article
organized crime, terrorism Vajiram
security agencies- structure mandate Als material

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How did you prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics Only synergy classnotes
attitude, moral influence etc.
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc
emotional intelligence, its use in governance
moral thinkers of India and world How many did you prepare?
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc.
corporate governance
probity in governance, work culture
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc.
challenges of corruption
case studies on above topics

Any other comments, word of wisdom after going through the mains-2013.

I can’t help my fellow aspirants with gs4 coz I still don’t know which material is good. Wait for rank 1 to spell it out.

GS4 Ethics case study answers in Mains 2013

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

Ans. I couldn’t do any justice to these question, so plz spare me.

case your approach/answer
1: RTI: To hide or not to hide
2: Engineer: Bogus flyover vs deadline
3: Child Labourers in Sivakasi
4: Nepotism in Job recruitment
5: Leaking information

Mains answer-writing?

Q1. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?

There’s too much space… like way too much

Q2. 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.

It doesn’t matter.. I used both paragraphs and point form.. but usually explanation and elaboration I did using paragraphs  and discuss comment evaluate and analyse were in point form.

Q3. 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?

I attempted 1660 out of 1750.. but did try my best to maintain quality by mentioning as many points as possible.. I think regular answer writing shall resolve the dilemma between quality and quantity.

Q4. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?

Nope. Only in commerce paper by highlighting the important point using a pencil

Q5. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)

Yes only in commerce paper2

Q6. If yes, did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?


Q7. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?

No ruler used

Q8. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?

Blue pen

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

Commerce optional?

Q1. Your booklist strategy and analysis for the optional subjects. Please provide an elaborate reply on this because in last three years, difficulty level & scaling has become very tough in all optionals. Therefore, old ‘strategy’ articles on internet are pretty much toothless. So, please throw some new light please.

Please do rankers classes classnotes and printed material very very nicely.. it is MORE than enough… nothing more is required.. RS sir keeps on updating his material.. do pick up the most updated one.. trust me don’t go anywhere else

CSE-2013 Marksheet

Q. When UPSC uploads the Marksheets, please mail it to me so I can include it in your interview article.


Career Backup

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

Given that I belong to the field of finance and commerce, I had thought of giving rbi or any banking sector job.

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

Had I failed in my second 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 don’t think any such insecurities should be there… I do admit unfortunately that having these things is an advantage but not having these is not a disadvantage. UPSC is quite fair in assessing you the way you are presently and not your past. My friend Pavitra Kumar Dubey had none of these, did he not clear? Even my father dint have any of these.


Q. Through this journey and success, what have your learned? What is the wisdom of life and competition?

Know your boundaries well, work hard within those boundaries and never ever give up. Because if you do, your dreams are shattered. Live life only to see your dreams being materialized and not to see them being blown away just because someday you lost the courage.

Q. What is your message to the future aspirants?



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 thank my parents, roomates (special thanks To Ashish Dikshit, Shashank Sharma And Ankit Jalan), friends and allmighty god for making this possible.  I remember when I failed in my first attempt when I had worked very very hard for it that why the hell didn’t luck favour me??, why did the commerce paper come so tough, why did pub ad got butchered and not the other optionals? Whats my mistake in it, why the hell that I always heard nothing is impossible with hardwork did I not get selected…my roommate replied to me sitting on the other side of the bed “fortune favors the brave and luck favours the hardworking and you didn’t get through because god wanted to teach you humility in life”.  I do believe yes this was the case because given my ego centric personality at that point in time, had I cleared then, I would’ve never been able to become a better and a humble human being and I wouldve never learnt what failiure wanted to teach me and that was hope and humility.  I now think I’m over it and hence truly deserved to be in the list.

Marketing Propaganda

Q. You are well aware for the sacred rule of conducting toppers’ interview- 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 publish your answer without tempering/editing it.

Yes I did in all those areas where no guidance was possible and no source was available.  Your topics on the economy portion were class apart. And yes I did your current affairs as well for my last and final attempt. I only have one request please do even cover editorials of the hindu… I know sir youre overloaded with work but I suggest you to stop covering pib and do the edit and op-ed instead.  Thank you very much sir.

Mrunal replies: that [PIB] series was later subsumed into [Current] series, so now it encompasses PIB+noteworthy topics from Hindu, IE, Frontline and EPW.

Indian History Freedom Struggle Pratik Nayak

142 Comments on “[Topper’s Interview] Parth Gautam Sharma (AIR-294/CSE-2013): B.Com, Commerce Optional, Madhyapradesh”

  1. Civil services exam more or less has become ,,’the current services exam”please ensure that you r well versed in the medium u r opting and availability of comprehensive coverage on relevant current issues in that medium,,,

  2. Dear Parth gautam sir… I m new to prepre,and I hv only 1 nd half year…thinking to go to Delhi for full time study( as now in Steel Industry in Mumbai). My dilemma, whether to join coaching (Sriram) for GS or self study….bcoz if I prefer self study(for 1 yr) and after then If i think need of coaching then I will hv no time….so plz suggest so tht I could make in d final list at any cost and ASAP. Thanx

  3. I am opting for commerce optional but I struggle with Income tax. is it necessary to have good command in all the topics in commerce paper 1.

    1. atleast do the theory part nicely… rankers classes notes are good in tax.. but if u need more refer to girish ahuja

  4. For Bipin Chandra: There are lot of books of Bipin Chandra available in the market. Can you please specify which ones to read ?

  5. sir, plz tell me hw to cover hindu newspaper?wat shud we do wen same topic is repeated in editorials means shud we collect all or shud we note all ? really i find it very difficult as it takes much of my tm still it remain incomplete,n hw much tm one shud giv for newspaper? n wat we shud note n wat to leave?plz reply n solve my problem,i wl remain thxful to u.

    1. hi monica i suggest that you follow newspaper guidance given by mrunal earlier.. he has elaborated properly on it

  6. munral sir kindly also share the interview experience of arpit jain( rank 194 2013 batch) and specially pavitra kumar dubey( rank 388 2012 batch).

  7. congratulations PARTH sir,
    I just want to know that, reading the xerox notes of various good coachings like vaijram, vision, sriram etc etc. (infact list continues) or attending classes are equally effective ????
    coz i have heard from people xerox or classroom notes are effective only for those who are the actually go to classes and listen lectures..
    coz many things are not covered there in notes
    IS IT SO ?????? Will we get the clarity by reading notes of vaijiram or sriram etc .
    I CANNOT AFFORD THE COACHING FEE SIR. So plz clarify this. ur point of view ?
    i know you were a hosteler. but still since u have studied notes and attended coaching (for short duration).
    So the difference u obsereved !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    your reply will be helpful for many

    1. i dont think attending classses are important… notes will suffice.. take my word.. read them properly.

  8. given that commerce has lengthy syllabus, how did you revise it before exam? UPSC gave just one day before the paper.

  9. Hello parth sir.i wants to knw ur commerce score in paper1 and 2.
    I myself is a banker nd had commerce as my graduation subject,now at this point im in fix for the optional kindly tell me ur score so tht I can tk sm decision.
    Nd pls tell me one more thing tht is ranker indeed best or I can opt vajiram as well.

  10. Hello parth sir.i wants to knw ur commerce score in paper1 and 2.
    I myself is a banker nd had commerce as my graduation subject,now at this point im in fix for the optional kindly tell me ur score so tht I can tk sm decision.
    Nd pls tell me one more thing tht is ranker indeed best or I can opt vajiram as well.
    Pls rply soon im waiting for ur ans anxiously.

  11. Hi Parth..first of all congratulation on your achievement. I have a query regarding the Financial Accounting paper that which accounting standard do we have to study ( Indian AS or just the AS,as they are different ) ???

  12. Hi Parth..congrats on ur success.please suggest how to prepare practicals for paper 1 commerce..Did u do practice tests at Rankers or u practiced @home? Was it predictable? Because I gave mains in 2012 with Commerce and found 2013 paper 1 very unpredictable..

  13. sir maine 10th aur 12th hindi medium se kiya lekin mai enginearing kar raha hun electronious branch se mere liye kaun sa medium good hoga sir english ya hindi pls replay jald sir

  14. Sir Plz tell me where can i get rankers classes notes for paper 2….i live in kolkata & i dont have any good access over here…plz help

  15. hello sir ,i m presently doing b.com final year and i want to do upsc and i conformed to take commerce as my optional subject…….suggest me what books should i read………………

  16. The topper has repetitively mentioned about Sriram Notes. What is it, can someone plz tell me? Sure, it sounds like notes provided by some coaching institute, but where do I get the Sriram notes? I am from Ladakh. Can someone plz tell me where I can get such notes? And it seems true that one has to be in Delhi for preparing for cse…

  17. Sir,
    Even I am from commerce background, currently studying in T.Y.B.Com Sem 6 at HL College of Commerce(Ahmedabad). Can you kindly enlist the questions that were asked to you in interview, relating to commerce and accountancy. This will help a lot to know the kind of questions that can be asked to commerce graduate in UPSC interview by the panelists.
    Thanks in advance.

  18. Dear sir , please recommend me the books to be preferred for the preparation of income tax and accounting,As i went through the syllabus of UPSC , its almost the same which i prepared in graduation like Accounts – Girish Ahuja and j.r monga , income tax – girish ahuja ,and cost accounting- maheshwari and mittal …will it be sufficient or should i refer to some other books for practice?

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