1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Working professional
  7. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  8. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  9. Prelim accuracy
  10. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  11. Mains: Essay
  12. Mains General studies paper 1 to 4
  13. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  14. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  15. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  16. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  17. Mains answer-writing?
  18. Mains Optional Subject
  19. Before the interview
  20. During the interview
  21. CSE-2013 Marksheet
  22. Views on UPSC reforms
  23. Wisdom
  24. Credit: Friends/family
  25. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Bhavesh Mishra

Bhavesh Mishra Rank 58, Maths Optional, IIT Delhi

Q. Details
Name Bhavesh Mishra
Rank in CSE-2014 58
Roll No. 324724
Age 24
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 1
Optional Subject Mathematics
Schooling Medium Hindi (Bihar) & English (Haryana, Delhi)
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Delhi
Work-experience if any
  1. Working as a Technical Analyst at Estee Advisors, Gurgaon (2013 – Present)
  2. Internship at Samsung Research India (2012)
  3.  Internship at Reserve Bank of India (2011)
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures Rank 690 in IIT JEE (2009)Could not clear IIT JEE (2008)
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)
  1. Vajiram & Ravi for GS
  2. IMS for Maths
  3. Vision IAS test series for GS and Essay
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS , IFS, IPS, IRS (IT), IRS (C & E)
state cadre preference (Top-5) Bihar, Rajasthan, AGMUT, Madhya Pradesh,  Maharashtra


fill the details here
% in class 10 96
% in class 12 88.8
Graduation course and % B.Tech in Electrical Engineering (Power)CGPA  –  9.19
Name of college, city, passing out year IIT Delhi (2013)
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Learning Languages, Teaching, ChessDepartment Rank – 2 in my batch

RBI Young Scholar Award


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

  1. Hi !, I am Bhavesh Mishra and I have done my B.Tech in Electrical Engineering  from IIT Delhi. I currently work as a technical analyst at Estee Advisors (Gurgaon).
  2. I had my initial education in Bihar. Thereafter did my 10th class from Haryana and 12th from Delhi. My father is an accounts manager at a private firm and my mother is a homemaker. I have an elder brother who is a Chartered Accountant and he works as a Finance Manager in Coal India Limited.
  3. After graduation I worked for 6 months and then decided to take one year off from my job and prepare seriously for UPSC. After giving mains I joined back in the same company.
  4.  My aim of entering into civil services is to improve the service delivery of various programmes and policies. I especially want to work in the field of education and health.

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 rely primarily on electronic material

Study Routine

I am a big fan of Marissa Meyer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marissa_Mayer . She is currently the CEO of Yahoo and an ex Vice President of Google. She is famous for working 130 hours a week ! I have tried to emulate her strategy in my study routine.

My study routine is nothing fancy. It involves 12 hours of study (on a weekend) + 2 hours of leisure (usually a movie) + 7-8 hours of sleep (we should never compromise on it). However, the key to my getting good marks is that I followed this routine for every single day in the 1 year break period that I took. I have stayed away from all social media websites, futile games and time wasting habits.

I believe that self discipline is the key component for success in any field.

For students looking for self improvement I would suggest the following books.

  1. As A Man Thinketh – James Allen
  2. The Power of Habit : Why do we do what we do – Charles Duhigg
  3. Talent Is Overrated : What really separates world-class performers from Everyday Else – Geoff Colvin

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?

Consistency can be maintained only through Self Discipline. Today we are surrounded by so many distractions and it is easier to fall prey to temptations and end up wasting time. We should ideally prepare a list of Do’s and Donts and every night before going to sleep put a tick mark against each item. Now every morning when we get up we should resolve to increase the tick marks in Dos and decrease in Donts.

I found the above simple technique very useful in maintaining momentum during studies.

Working professional

If you’re a working professional, share some tips on how to manage studies with job

Yes I work at a High Frequency Trading firm in Gurgaon. I could prepare for preliminary and interview along with my job but found difficulty in preparing for the mains and therefore  took a year break from  my job.

I get about 4 – 5 hours on weekdays and my Saturdays and Sundays are free.  It’s a struggle to balance both studies and job and there are times when I feel totally exhausted and frustrated. For example once I enter my room late in the night there is an urge to leave everything and sleep but I have to push myself to study for atleast 3 hours in the night and 1-2 hours in the morning.

Now I could have easily chosen a less demanding government job for preparation but I am a big fan of C++, Python, Startups etc and therefore on an intellectual level I find my job very satisfying. Working in a startup is an enlightening experience.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient Ancient India – Old NCERT 11th class is the only book required. The book requires multiple readings to get a firm hold over various topic. Almost all questions asked in prelimn from this section can be done from this book. If one is unable to solve a question then one can be 99 % sure that no student (except History optional junta) would be able to answer the question.
History Medieval Medieval India – Old NCERT 11th class.
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)
  1. India’s Freedom Struggle – Bipan Chandra
  2. Spectrum Book
Culture and society Apart from Ancient and Medieval I referred to NIOS book.
Polity (theory + current) Lakshmikanth.
Economy (theory + current) Mrunal.org  + NCERT
Science (theory + current) Did not prepare. Most of the questions asked in pre are general and correct answer can be found through smart elimination.
Environment (theory + current) Shankar IAS academy book. It’s a wonderful book and almost all questions asked in pre could be solved.
geography physical NCERT and G.C.Leong
geography India NCERT
geography world NCERT + Map
other national/international current affairs The Hindu newspaper.
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff PIB & PRS monthly report.Learning all provisions of schemes and policy is an overkill. One should have a good idea about schemes as it becomes nearly impossible to know the exact years, days, number of members etc.

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2014 paper?

The number of questions from Environment and Art & Culture was surprisingly high. Students who took these topic lightly had to pay a heavy price.

One should avoid focussing too much on polity part. In recent years the polity section is of easy level.

Q. in GS-Prelims 2014, there was unusual questions from environment and agriculture portion. If you were to give the attempt again in 2015, what new strategy / books / sources would you focus?

I would have followed the same strategy as last year. I picked up Shankar IAS book 1 month prior to the exam and daily studied about 20 pages.

Q. Now that Aptitude paper has become qualifying, obvious more attention needs to be paid on the GS paper so apart from the books that you already have gone through, what else would you have tried for CSE-2015 (if you were going to appear)?

I would have done multiple revisions of books so that I don’t get confused between the options in the exam.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths Did not prepare
reasoning -do-
comprehension -do-
Decision Making -do-

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2014 paper.

The paper was quite good and some of the questions were tricky.

Prelim accuracy

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

Yes, as a part of Vajiram classes I did give about 10-12 tests. If someone is giving exam for the first time then it definitely helps. However, for 2015 attempt I would not have taken any mock test.

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2014

attempted Q. correct (Expected)
GS 75 55
aptitude 72 65 +

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


Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper Did practice of precis writing and grammar for 10-12 hours In total.
Hindi Read last 2 months editorial of Navbharat Times and practiced writing few editorials.

Q2.other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2014

I found the Hindi paper quite tough. The translation part was terrible. I spent nearly 1 hour in translating 2 paragraphs.  I was running out on time on my Essay part and to had to wind up the essay in about 4 pages.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Joined Vision IAS Test Series. Apart from that no exceptional study.

Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?

  • Is Competition Good for our youth – I attempted this essay very well and covered a wide array of points. I took a firm stand that competition is good.
  • Tourism the next big thing – It was a total bakar essay with hardly any intellectual content. Just wrote the usual run of the mill stuff.

Mains General studies paper 1 to 4

I’ve created a table, so you can quickly point out what you referred. Alternatively you can write a separate standalone “Strategy” article in a wordfile.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1


  1. Art & Culture
    • NCERT – Ancient & Medieval
    • Nitin Singhania Notes
    • NCERT – Art and Heritage books.
    • Youtube videos for dance and other art forms
  2. Modern India
  3. B.L.Grover for period 1757-1857
  4. India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
  5. Spectrum Book on Modern India
  6. Bipan Chandra’s book.
  7. Ramchandra Guha
  8. Politics since Independence – NCERT
  9. NCERT – 9th , 10th , 12th
  10. Mastering World History – Norman Lowe
  11. Youtube documentaries e.g Napolean, Bismarck, French Revolution etc.
  12. Post Independence
  13. World History


  • NCERT – 11th and 12th class.
  • G.C.Leong
  • Mrunal.org for worlds resources and distribution.
  • Khullar for Indian Geography (only selected chapters)

Social Issues

  • NCERT – 11th and 12th class.
  • Some articles by Andre Beteille and other prominent sociologist.
  • Editorials on social issues – The Hindu and The Indian Express.

General studies (Mains) paper 2


  • ARC Reports
  • Puncchi Commission Reports
  • PRS
  • Lakshmikant
  • Five Year Plans
  • Yojana – Last 3 years.
  • Newspaper editorials
  • The Big Picture & Desh Deshantar – RSTV

India & World

  • IDSA
  • MEA website
  • India’s World – RSTV

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Economy, Food Processing etc.

  • Mrunal.org (the best source for Economy !!)
  • Editorials of newspapers. I followed Business Standard but lately have shifted to Financial Express.
  • Economic Survey & Budget
  • Five Year Plans

Environment & Disaster Management

  • Down to Earth is the best resource for Environment, Climate Change & Disaster Management.


  • IDSA

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude


  • Ethics in Public Administration – Patrick Sheeran
  • ARC Report on Ethics
  • Yojana March 2014 issue on Reforms in Public Administration
  • Bhagwad Geeta
  • Biographies of Mahatma Gandhi, Vivekananda, Verghese Kurian, Abdul Kalam, Benjamin Franklin etc.


  • Michael Sandel Harvard lectures.
  • 12 Angry Men movie.

Mains answer-writing?

Please tell us how many marks worth attempt did you give? along with comments if any, in the following cells:

Sorry I don’t recall my exact distribution of attempt.

Q. 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]

I just wrote whatever came to my mind. There is hardly any time to structure your answer or come out with high quality answers.

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

UPSC gives us sufficient space to write our answers and space is never a problem.

I am highly impressed with the quality of answer sheets provided by UPSC. The answer sheets look beautiful  and are very smooth and silky to write.

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.

A mix of both. I simply wrote answers  in a format that I felt comfortable with.

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.

Not at all. I felt that all this gyan goes for a toss when we start writing answers. The basic instinct is to write whatever comes in our mind.

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

No. We hardly have any time to do such stunts in the examination hall !

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

Yes but I don’t remember the exact numbers.

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?

I drew diagrams with hand.

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

I wrote all my paper except Mathematics with a blue Reynolds Racer Gel Pen. I attempted my maths paper with a blue Cello Gripper pen.

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

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?

Mathematics. I chose maths as it was a part of my graduation at IIT.  I was equally comfortable in Electrical Engineering as well.

Q. If a new player wants to pick this subject, would you advice for it or against it? (e.g. every senior player in Public Administration seems to be advising against pub.ad)

Mathematics is a very scoring and fun optional. It’s a common misconception that only students from elite colleges do well in this exam.

Q. First the essential book/resource list. (Also mention which one is the “Base book” for covering the theory? + Whatever comments you’ve for a particular book e.g. “my seniors said read xyz book but I found that ABC book was better”.  “xyz topic not given properly in this book, so prepare from xyz website or book…” OR and so on.)

I followed the booklist given by Prakash Rajpurohit, Kashish Mittal .

Q. 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?

No help from internet is required. The questions are asked directly from the standard textbook.

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

It takes around 10 months to complete the whole syllabus.

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

I gave test series at IMS.

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

I had few pages containing all the formulas, tricks etc.

Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2014 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?

Maths paper set by UPSC is of average difficulty level. This year they had mixed questions from different topics. I paid a heavy price for not preparing 2-3 topics. The advise for future students would be to complete the whole syllabus.

Before the interview

Q1. How did you prepare for the interview? – for college grad, hobbies, place of origin, current affairs at national and international level?

Since I was in a job with working hours of more than 10 hours therefore I was hard pressed for time.  On weekdays I studied for about 5 hours and on weekends it was a full day and night affair. The whole preparation was really challenging as I had to squeeze out time in every possible way. I had downloaded tons of PDF and RSTV debates and used to read / listen while in auto, bus, metro, kirana shop etc.

  1. Read editorials of The Hindu, The Indian Express and Financial Express daily.
  2. Watched RSTV debates of last 1 year.
  3. Tried to revise Electrical Engineering but gave up as I did not have time.
  4. Worked really hard on preparing well for my hobbies. For example for chess I followed all the tournaments, learnt all the openings and scanned through all theories and biographies of famous chess players etc.
  5. I like studying alone so I was not a part of any forum or study group.

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?

Yes I gave 3 mock interviews : ALS (1) and Vajiram (2).

While no one can predict the actual interview but nevertheless these mock interviews are quite helpful especially for students who are appearing in the interview for the first time.

Q3. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.

Light blue colour shirt,black trouser, black shoe and a 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’?

I work in Gurgaon so I went to interview from there only. I carried that day’s Indian Express with me and I mugged up all the BSE, NSE stock index, Gold Prices etc.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Professor H.C.Gupta.

Q2. How long was the interview?

30 minutes.

Q3. Why do you want to join civil service? Why don’t you continue in your graduation field? Social service can be done from private sector too.  [Since I don’t know whether they ask you this question or not. But if they had asked- what will be your reply?]

I was not asked this question. In case I was asked this question I would have replied that civil service offers more scope, diversity etc.

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. (Earlier some toppers only tell me their question but not their answer. I would appreciate if you give both Question + your original answers)

My interview transcript can be seen at : This Quora Link

Q5. Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or did they ask you totally unexpected questions?  Was it a stress interview, did they ask any uncomfortable questions? If yes, how did you handle it?

The interview was more or less on the expected lines. There were some surprise questions but I handled them well.

Initial 5 minutes was really stressful. H.C.Gupta sir put a lot of pressure and tried his level best to convince me that the Gold Monetisation Scheme was a useless scheme. Without being argumentative I was able to hold on to the view that the scheme can be implemented successfully.

Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?

I did not face any problem regarding documentation. However, I would like to point out few things to save headaches in future

  • Students from Maharashtra should make sure that there is no discrepancy in their or their father’s name. I observed a student whose father name was different at 3 different places ! He was asked to submit an affidavit etc.

Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?

  1. If you are wearing specs / contact lenses then please carry medical prescription for the same as some hospitals would refuse to give you medical certificate without this.
  2. If you have a high Body Mass Index (>30) then please try to reduce as this time many candidates with high BMI had a tough time.

CSE-2013 Marksheet

Q1. Please attach both prelim and final marksheet. (when it comes)

Prelim marksheet

GS 98
Aptitude 148.33
Total 246

Mains Marksheet

Subjects Marks
Essay (Paper-I) 151
General Studies -I (Paper-Ii) 95
General Studies -Ii (Paper-Iii) 70
General Studies -Iii (Paper-Iv) 66
General Studies -Iv (Paper-V) 113
Optional-I (Maths) (Paper-Vi) 92
Optional-II (Maths) (Paper-Vii) 170
Written Total 757
Personality Test 209
Final Total 966


  1. Really surprised by marks in Essay & Interview !
  2. Disappointed with marks in GS2 and GS3. Had worked really hard for these two papers.
  3. My Maths paper 1 was a disaster. Due to paucity of time I had left 3 topics and in the exam I was forced to attempt questions from these topics. To add to misery, I attempted wrong questions and made calculation mistakes. After the exam was over, I cried for nearly an hour. After some pep talk by my friend Prashant, I gathered courage and appeared for the next paper !

Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?

  1. Complete the whole syllabus of Mathematics. Maths is an excellent optional and if prepared well can single handedly give you the desired rank. Nitish K (Rank 8) has got mind boggling 346 marks in maths.
  2. Do more written practice for paper – 2 and paper-3 . Although I had a very sound theoritical knowledge in both papers but that did not get reflected in my marks.
  3. Have a better strategy for revision.

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

First I would not have given this year (2015) attempt as I had very little time for preparation. I would have given next and final attempt in 2016.

My backup plan was to do a PhD in Electrical Engineering.

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

After my second attempt.

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.

I am not in favour of doing away with optional subject as it would make the whole exam very uncertain. We all know that there is a huge gulf between the marks we expect and the marks we get in the General Studies paper. Whereas in case of certain optionals like Physics, Maths, Engineering you are sure that you will get good marks if you have attempted well.

Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.

Yes I think it is a reform which is long due. It would help in avoiding speculation and anxiety.

Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.

Yes the preliminary part can be easily made online. This would shorten the whole examination exercise by atleast a month.

Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?

I would try to shorten the time duration of the whole exam.


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?

  • Don’t worry about the uncertainties and outcomes. The competition is scary and statistically speaking the chances of getting into top 100 is extremely remote. So instead of focusing on the result enjoy the process of preparation.
  • Self-discipline, hard work, faith and passion are the key to success.
  • Whenever your tempo is low or you feel like crying or giving up go to LBSNAA website. Half an hour on that website will fire you up and give you the necessary boost to continue study despite all the trials and tribulations.
  • Finally as Vivekananda had said: Arise, Awake and Stop Not till the goal is achieved.

Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2014. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?

My message would be to not make UPSC a case of life and death. Give yourself a time frame of 2-3 attempts / years and if you are not able to clear it then move on with the life.

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 owe my success to (it’s a long list ! )

  1. My parents (Mummy, Papa, Bhaiya, Bhabhi, Grand Parents)
  2. Bhagwadgita for daily dose of wisdom.
  3. My friends from school to the preparation stage. The best part is that while I always underestimated my capability my friends had unwaivering belief in my ability. I had the privilege to study with the brightest minds in the country.
  4. My teachers at school and at IIT Delhi.
  5. My college IIT Delhi for realising my dreams.
  6. My company (Estee Advisors) for excellent work environment and a good salary !
  7. Mrunal.org, The Hindu, The Indian Express, PRS, Down To Earth, Blogs of successful candidates and other useful websites.
  8. Google, Python,  C++,  Stackoverflow !
  9. UPSC for conducting the exam in such a transparent way.

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.

Yes I used your site extensively during my preparation.

  1. I downloaded all the economy articles from 2012 onwards and went through them multiple times.
  2. Your world geography articles are amazing.
  3. I prepared the section on Food Processing from your site.

Q. Any reforms / suggestions for improving this site?

When the html article on website are colourful the pdf that we download are in black & white. It would be better if they were also in color.