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. Prelim accuracy
  9. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  10. Mains: Essay
  11. Mains General studies paper 1 to 4
  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. Mains answer-writing?
  17. Mains Optional Subject
  18. Before the interview
  19. During the interview
  20. CSE-2014 Marksheet
  21. Career Backup
  22. Views on UPSC reforms
  23. Insecurity about profile
  24. Wisdom
  25. Credit: Friends/family
  26. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile


Q. Details
Name Khushaal Yadav
Rank in CSE-2014 28
Roll No. 168820
Age 24
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 1
Optional Subject Med. Sciences
Schooling Medium Eng.
College medium Eng.
Medium chosen for Mains answers Eng.
Medium chosen for Interview Eng.
Home town/city Rewari
Work-experience if any Junior Resident (Nephrology), AIIMS, ND
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures AIIMS PMT /entrance-7th AIR
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS>IFS>IPS
state cadre preference (Top-5) Haryana>Raj>AGMUT>Pb


fill the details here
% in class 10 97.8%
% in class 12 90%
Graduation course and % MBBS, 67%
Name of college, city, passing out year AIIMS, ND, 2014
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Cryptic Crosswords, Debating, Reading, Listening to Ghazals


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

I got inclined towards Civil services as a career option after joining AIIMS in 2009. The limited scope of intervention by a Medical Practitioner in critical areas like Education (Awareness), Preventive and promotive health care , Sanitation and other civic amenities which all are essential for a holistic development of the human resource and the country in general; The opportunity to work and explore and to contribute to this mammoth democracy of ours; Prestige e.t.c


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)

A judicious mix of both. Too much of internet can have undesirable effects. I kept an eye out on the new and ‘awesome’ stuff available on the web and utilized it to the fullest ( Getting some hard copies is my cup of tea. I love the ease with which one can personalize them- Annotate, Mark, Fold e.t.c)

Sundays are good to go fishing on the Net.

I would suggest Mrunal, Insights, ForumIAS, Youtube, AIR, Parivartan

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?

Procrastination is in our genes. Unless the fear of failure looms large, we tend to do everything to avoid any sort of effort. For me it was not a problem, coz I was perennially starting at deadlines. I could never achieve my targets. The targets were probably huge considering it was no kindergarten exam and the competition was killing. They kept piling and I grew more and more restless, thereby, avoiding any sort of complacency . That is not a monk’s way of life but it’s one way to live. As  I was never happy with my preparation, I had no other option.

However, there is a workaround for people with limited concentration spans.

Mix it up!!

Newspapers, Features and Analysis and Documentaries on Youtube, Air spotlight analysis, Your optional, Then some blogs on the net, Ethics, History…

There has to be spice. The best part about the CSE preparation is that it is anything but boring. This is the key!! Realizing that every bit of info, every shade of opinion is making you smarter, and hopefully a better. The exam pattern is more and more dynamic and I believe that played a huge role in my selection. I sucked at traditional coaching stuff. But I was sound with the current affairs. That paid off.

Every aspirant will find that sometimes the stresses would peak and threaten the mental equilibrium, so necessary for a focused study. I encountered such phase in the month of December. My preparation was haywire, my targets were buried deep and under the new ‘Crisis Oriented Targets’, Optional was giving me nightmares. It was in short, SNAFU!

Then I would just go out for a jog in the middle of the night. The Endorphin rush would sooth my frayed nerves and I would tell myself “Hum hain to Jahaan bhi hai”. That worked!
Another factor that helped me stay balanced was that I had nothing to lose. It was a first attempt. I told myself that only good can come out of it. In the worst case, I would atleast have the study material and the strategy to face the war again.

Working professional

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

It’s tough! I was doing my Compulsory one year rotating internship at AIIMS. The nature of job fluctuated between being mundane to extremely demanding and this had spinoffs. The three months of my Rural posting in the scorching heat of April, May, June was the most excruciating period. I could not find any time/Environment to study and the helplessness was making me desperate.

After that (july) came some ‘easier’ postings , but by then Prelims was looming large. I could, as a result never do any thorough study. I did not even finish Laxmikanth. My history was hanging by a thread. All I had was snippets– current affairs related, some question in a mock, some relics of class 9,10 geography, some notes of friends.

Now, looking back, It was a time worth remembering!!

Some Workarounds for Working people

Time Management:  Get a leave if you can afford it. Even a 7-10 days leave can work wonders. It gives you the ease and comfort of studying at your own ‘leisure’. One will end up achieving more in a consolidated time span rather than a month of fragmented study.

Use time wisely:  use internet on devices/ e notes/ infographics/ mindmaps/ audio books/ Radio AIR/ RSTV/Youtube at work / commute.

As Umberto Eco said,Did you know what will happen if you eliminate the empty spaces from the universe, eliminate t Similarly, we have a lot of empty spaces in our lives. I call them interstices. Say you are coming over to my place. You are in an elevator and while you are coming up, I am waiting for you. This is an interstice, an empty space. I work in empty spaces. While waiting for your elevator to come up from the first to the third floor, I have already written an article! empty spaces in all the atoms? The universe will become as big as my fist.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient Sriram History
History Medieval xxx
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Spectrum
Culture and society Nitin Singhania, Roadside notes
Polity (theory + current) Vision Currents, Srirams, Laxmi
Economy (theory + current) Vaji notes, Sriram, Sanjeev Verma
Science (theory + current) Insights, Vision, Vaji, XI,XII
Environment (theory + current) Vision Current, Vaji
geography physical Goh Chen Leong
geography India Vaji
geography world Vaji
other national/international current affairs Vision
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Internet

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

CSAT was a savior. GS, some questions required wise guessing. Some were way off the mark. No amount of prep can be sufficient for those.

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?

Currents focus!!

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)?

only a few formulae and introductory pages of each chapter of any CSAT manual would suffice now

Prelim accuracy

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

Nope. Although I solved papers on my own under timed conditions.

Q2. Your score in prelim

269= 112.6+158.6

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper none
your regional language none

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

Translations were tough in Hindi paper, rest was cool!

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper? and  Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?

I wrote two essays: Olympic glory  and Competitive exam wala

My tips are given on my blog sarvebhavantusukhina.wordpress.com

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.

* A separate write up is possible

General Studies (Mains) paper 1


I never did topic wise study for GS. Whatever came to me I lapped it up. I missed many topics too.

Here, I would credit VISION IAS current affairs for their excellent coverage of Economy, IR, Social, Security, Environmental and other issues. I read them starting from december 2013.

The Hindu and The Indian express- repositories of awesome info


The usual suspects- RSTV, LSTV

  1. Akashvani AIR- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdwm5QNss1TpY_whBkql0dw
  2. Al jazeera English-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNye-wNBqNL5ZzHSJj3l8Bg
  3. Big think-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvQECJukTDE2i6aCoMnS-Vg
  4.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiCPv2sV_D3FqMRzzUFA2Fg
  5. BBC NEWS–  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC16niRr50-MSBwiO3YDb3RA
  6. Big History Project –  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQsm_PPL5jZhcuoowPZDQA
  7. Centre for strategic and international studies-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr5jq6MC_VCe1c5ciIZtk_w
  8. CGP grey-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2C_jShtL725hvbm1arSV9w
  9. CNN-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCupvZG-5ko_eiXAupbDfxWw
  10. Council on foreign relations-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL_A4jkwvKuMyToAPy3FQKQ
  11. Crash Course-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX6b17PVsYBQ0ip5gyeme-Q
  12. DD news –  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKwucPzHZ7zCUIf7If-Wo1g
  13. INdian Diplomacy-   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJyP-OtuzlRV-r-3vR9qQTg
  14. IDSA-   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPchKmESOEs6XvhPYYS1s8w
  15. Journeyman Pictures-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCM2YmsRUeIbRkqjgNm0eTGQ
  16. Nature video-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7c8mE90qCtu11z47U0KErg
  17. Nat Geo- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpVm7bg6pXKo1Pr6k5kxG9A
  18. Online Communication Skills Training-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5Zb02pmVD2VA7lnx8mV4gw
  19. Online Spoken English Course-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4Ue98XJi_0-sWFOwbWBkzQ
  20. Observer Research Foundation-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOZnql2gYgsIvnc-8-7DmcQ
  21. PIB –  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGn6a5SI8SNlj7WylmPD6GQ
  22. PMO India-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDS9hpqUEXsXUIcf0qDcBIA
  23. PRS legislative-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLz-5KdjrNZGdenYfIvt-dw
  24. Shashi Tharoor-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1At8WvjglVCC8TfSXit9BwTalks at Google-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbmNph6atAoGfqLoCL_duAg
  25. TED –  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAuUUnT6oDeKwE6v1NGQxug
  26. The Economist-   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0p5jTq6Xx_DosDFxVXnWaQ
  27. The NYT-  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnbDFdCpuN8CMEg0VuEBqA
  28. Compilations by Undercover group and insights are good too
  29. I would also walk around karol bagh for any new material and would purchase on whim any thing that would interest me. I stumbed upon some great gems. Most, as expected burned a hole in my pocket and are gathering dust.

Anyways, here starts the list:

Topic How did you prepare?
culture Nitin Singhania Notes
Indian history Spectrum, Sriram for Ancient and Modern Summary,  NO BIPIN CHANDRA
world history Norman Lowe
post-independence India Karol Bagh notes
Indian society Roadside notes
role of women, poverty etc. Rest all Current Affairs, Newspapers, vision handouts
globalization on Indian society
communalism, regionalism, secularism
world geo physical Vajiram material Geography
resource distribution
factors for industrial location
earthquake tsunami etc
impact on flora-fauna

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Laxmikant
Current affairs mostly
comparing Constitution with world
parliament, state Legislatures
ministries departments
pressure group, informal asso.
Representation of people’s act
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory..
NGO, SHG etc
welfare schemes, bodies
social sector, health, edu, HRD
governance, transparency, accountability
e-governance Governance vaji
role of civil service
India & neighbors Rajiv Sikri, VP Dutt?** (one read)
bilateral/global grouping Rest currents
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest
international bodies- structure mandate

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Current affairs, Coaching Roadside notes, Sriram
inclusive growth
major crops, irrigation
agro produce – storage, marketing
e-technology for famers
farm subsidies, MSP
PDS, buffer, food security
technology mission
animal rearing economics
food processing
land reforms
investment models
science-tech day to day life Compilations on Insights
Indian achievements in sci-tech
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR
environmental impact assessment Sriram environmental notes
Disaster Management Vision ias has some good stuff
non state actors, internal security Security Roadside notes
internal security – role of media, social networking site
cyber security
money laundering
border  Management
organized crime, terrorism
security agencies- structure mandate

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

  1. Lexicon Ethics (Lovely Text, Short And Sweet),
  2. Some Roadside Notes, Vaji Notes
  3. Ethics Integrity And Aptitiude ( Is A Good Book, But Bigger)

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 cannot Recall

Paper Best attempted Average quality namesake answer Total attempt

I wanted to attempt all questions. This seems like a mistake in hindsight. I was always hard-pressed for time in all the GS papers. Sometimes I could barely do justice to questions at the end despite knowing a substantial amount because I had frittered my time away attempting answers to which I had no clue. Eg, Greco-Roman Art, Etc

In Ethics paper I had to leave 30 marks unattempted because in my effort to handle the Case Studies maximally I lost track of time. This could have been disastrous.

This is reflected in my GS score as well.

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

Loved it. You don’t need more than that. With liberal spacing 2 ½ , 1 ½  pages are enough for 3 and 2 page spaces.

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.

Depends on question. Bullets could easily be expanded into paragraphs. My Bullets/paras never went beyond 3 lines for an idea. The purpose is to showcase your grasp of the different aspects of the topic in a concise way. Time and Ink are resources , use them wisely. No point stuffing the answer with – in my opinion/ I think/ some people say (fillers of all sorts). Brief , to the point. Help yourself , help the examiner!!


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.

No need for hard core formats. The answers must be logical and they should be seamless. They have to follow some structure in any case for it to be rewarded generously.

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

Highlighters sometimes, whenever I could. Understand the main purpose of highlighting- to draw attention to something sublime that might be overlooked, or to divert attention from the neighbouring filler/half baked material. Don’t over do it. Doing so will only make the exercise futile.

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

Whereever relevant, and wherever remembered.

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

Inconsistent. Whatever was at hand.

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?

Blue , phew!! ( It feels like I am again in the exam hall!)

Mains Optional Subject

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

Medical Sciences.

  • Familiarity with the syllabus.
  • Availability of material ( Notes during graduation),
  • Seniors Advice (Dr. Vijit Patel, IRS), (Dr. Aditya Dahiya, IAS)
  • Dedicated friends’ study circle: Dr. Devansh, Dr. Navdeep, Dr. Lakes .
  • Although I was not pleased with the lack of Readymade material and Test Series.
  • But, better the devil you know

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)

If you have even an average knowledge of the course content it is eminently doable.

Non Medicos- please stay away!

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.)

Notes mostly. plus some Standard textbooks..no skipping Importantly, Strictly stick to the syllabus. Avoid taking a dive in the ocean.  I will be uploading some scanned content.

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?

Syllabus is pretty much traditional. Some questions can be related, however, to current events. Eg, Question on gang-rape ( in previous year following the Nirbhaya incident)

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

I could not finish it all. Having realized the enormity of task at hand I analysed the last 20 years papers, made a spreadsheet to see what topics have been Ultra Imp, Imp, So-So, Slave Labour kinda. And, proportionately devoted time. I was pretty much counting on luck but seems like the gamble paid off.

I manage to score 279 in the optional. There is no short cut to a strong preparation but prioritization is the name of the game.

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

No Answer Writing for Optional. I was sure if I knew the content writing would be easy. Well, not entirely sure. I did have trouble finishing the exam. Left a 10 marker. The last 60 marker question was attempted in bare 7 minutes. Time Management during the exam was sloppy!!

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

Only a few. That being said, they are the bread and butter of every medical student. Hard copies only.

***I will share some scanned copies soon.

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?

Can’t comment. I have had experience of only one paper hence not wise to compare the two. But there are a few tricky questions each time around.

This year the question mix in different sections was challenging to say the least. Earlier, A sound knowledge of physio would preclude preparing for Anatomy but not anymore!!


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?

  • Lots of MOCKS,
  • Discussions with friends at AIIMS esp. Dr. Vipin,
  • Internet blogs,
  • FORUMIAS interview transcripts for 2014&2015,
  • State books- Delhi & Haryana

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?

It helps a lot but the efficacy is limited because no radical transformation can be brought about in a couple of days. It’s advisable to have a feel of the interview atleast in feb/march. That gives time to polish your rough edges and sparkle in the interview hall

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

It was a deep blue formal suit with matte finish, conservative cut, single breasted, double slits at the back with a Cream White shirt and a Maroon tie.

If this does not make sense go to any decent tailor and ask him to stitch one for a ‘Sarkaari Interview’!

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

Hostel.  Current affairs magazines, State Manuals (Delhi/Hry), My notes regarding profile, and current affairs talking points.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Dr. Mrs. Kilemsungla
Q2. How long was the interview?

25 minutes. The guy before me lasted for 45 minutes. I was the last in morning session. My interview started at 1:05 pm ( at lunch hour). I was horrified. Plus, They seemed to be quite keen on getting rid of me! (Kept looking at the wall clock. ) But all is well..J

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?]

The questions are generally posed to throw the candidate off balance. It is not Morally, Legally, Any whichway wrong on your part to switch streams/jobs. The right to practice any profession is guaranteed in the constitution. So, Relax. Just think about what factors were instrumental  in guiding your career choice. Scope, Diversity (Both at Implementation and Policy formulation levels), Experiencing and knowing the Real India, Personal Satisfaction, (Prestige?influence?Public Service at grassroots) Health Sector already in bad shape, Challenging, Etc.

Then they will ask what makes you think you are suited to this job?

Again the answer has to be specific to your situation.

For technical backgrounders esp MedSc. As optional-

Things like objectivity, Rationality, Looking at the patient in toto not as sum of organs, Communication skills, Openess to get a second opinion(Very essential in policy making- there are no binaries there, need for feed back, consultations), Finally, that I understood the vital connection between poverty, education, health (At Individual and National level)

All this won’t come to you at the interview. Just a couple of points should suffice

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)

Very Cordial . Madam Kilemsungla’s Board.Was the last member to walk in . Started at 1:00 pm lasted for 25 mins.
It was so sudden and surreal, it took time to set in. Questions were on predicted lines.

Why IAS?

You studies at AIIMS, toughest exams to crack. So much invested , public money, Don’t you think you have a responsibility?

What would be your comittments to medicine as an officer? ( My reply was along the lines of  “Once a doctor, Always a doctor’)

Things you would do for health sector?

Democracy structural vs institutional weakness?

Safeguards for civil servants ?

Proactive media, good or bad?

Sufi history (DAF)

Earthquake , your response as DM

Asked me to solve a crossword..Couldn’t do

Asked me about Anand and his back to back defeats to carlsen.

Education reforms.. RTE. ( I blurted out RTI, was pointed out)

And Telemedicine. ( Repeat!!)
A lot pertained to health sectors and was a formal discussion
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?

Yes, totally. I was a little lost  earlier on, but I found my rhythm soon enough.

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

Nope, Seamless!

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

Get some lunch with you. Its gonna be a long day!! J

CSE-2014 Marksheet

Prelims Marksheet

Paper1 112.66
Paper2 156.68
Total 269

Mains and Interview

Subjects Marks
Essay (Paper-I) 150
General Studies -I (Paper-Ii) 95
General Studies -Ii (Paper-Iii) 76
General Studies -Iii (Paper-Iv) 91
General Studies -Iv (Paper-V) 91
Optional-I (Medical Science) (Paper-Vi) 134
Optional-II (Medical Science) (Paper-Vii) 145
Written Total 782
Personality Test 201
Final Total 983

Career Backup

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

There is no plan B

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.)

Haha! I don’t think that far ahead.

Views on UPSC reforms

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

It would be a level playing field. Is definitely doable. Will increase the credibility, for sure!

Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?

Conflict of interest!

Q. Despite what UPSC has done in recent years, it has failed to curb the nuisance of Delhi’s coaching factories. In fact it’s increased under the new syllabus in 2014. Let’s face it, most candidates who gave Mains-2014 have relied on (authentic OR Xeroxed) coaching notes because there was hardly any time left to prepare so many topics in such short time. This system work against an individual preparing from far-away area, without any financial resources, high-speed internet or contacts in Delhi.

Coaching Institutes are a reality and they cannot be wished away. Who does not want that extra edge? As long as the exams are competitive (Any similar exam for that matter) people will flock to these institutes, for good or bad. They are not bad, per se. They sure cut the learning time. One does not have to reinvent the wheel, so to say. Plus, they also provide a meeting place for like minded people to share ideas, material, etcetera. However, the candidates must not rely solely on them and should exercise judgment. An analysis of the recent trend will show that the exam is moving away from fact based to analytical and conceptual areas. Candidates with a grasp on current affairs of import have done well.

Coaching can only be a supplement at best. The blooming of alternatives such as Mrunal.org, ForumIAS, INSIGHTS, parivartan equips the aspirants to make informed decisions by removing the information asymmetry, besides keeping the uptodate with the happening around the nation and globe.

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

It could be helpful for aspirants who couldn’t make the cut. They can, then do a smart analysis and better  prepare for the next attmpet.

However, the individual marks shouldnot be disclosed as it could lead to bias

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

Only the prelims can be attempted online. But, here too the sheer scale (Approx. 4.5 lakh candidates writing) of the exam poses huge challenge to switch to an online version.

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

There is plethora of reports and recommendations already. I would rather aim for a timely implementation of those reports.

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?

With so much at stake, a bit of anxiety is only natural. I will deal with these separately-

College- A degree from a reputed college is a feather in the cap. (Most of them have entrances of their own, and it an indication of your previous successes). But, that’s it. Just feather. The people at UPSC are looking for ‘meat’. Your achievements in your college matter more. ( Academic / Extra-curricular). In short, stop worrying and Play the hand you are dealt!!


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?

Fortunately, I did not have to learn it the hard way. It is a remarkably unpredictable exam. I was bracing myself for another attempt as I searched with bated breath for my name in the list. It was surreal. I thought it was another one of my dreams. Dream, an elaborate, beautiful dream. It is slowly sinking in. I knew it inside that I would do it, but when I wasn’t sure. I had my schedule ready. Was once again regular with the op-eds, but was yet to take the plunge.

Prelims, Mains, Interview,List , Rank, Service, Cadre…There are so many stages, too much perplexity. Thinking too much about it is sure to make one land in a Psych ward.

The Only Panacea- Just Do It!

Hard work, Smart work. Life will give you shocks. Be prepared.

Dream It, Deserve it!

There are a few friends of mine who had it hard this year. Intellingent people, too. There are endless areas where one can screw it up– Essay, Language paper, GS, Ethics case studies, optionals, Interviews..but on the other side, one can make up for some deficiencies in GS with optional or vice-versa.

In my opinion, aspirants do a very fractured study. Eg,

1) Ignoring Hindi paper for example.

2) With essays the approach is – “ I cannot learn to write essays/ There is not much scope anyway/ I am poor at language”
3) Interview- A couple of mocks would be enough

4) All reading, no writing.

Now, the preparation has to be wholesome. Some suggestions to avoid these lapses-

1.  Attempt this exercise-—Imagine sitting for the interview and vocalizing the responses to plausible questions. The responses have to be crisp, balanced, nuanced, flawless in tone,pitch,loudness, with attention to body language. This exercise has to be repeated daily, before a mirror/camera. For example, after reading a stimulating article, one could summarise it and say it out loud.

This leads to better retention, increased confidence, and enhanced performance.

Regularly repeated, this will make the dreaded interview a walk in the park. Okay, if not exactly that, it will make interview a very ‘NORMAL’ situation and you would not lapse into a coma during a ‘tough’ interview.  You would have your wits about you , and would know to make a graceful exit from cornered situations. Your each waking moment you have to be working for the interview. Newspaper/ TV/ Internet everything is in essence a preparation for the BIG DAY.

2. Read a Hindi daily/ Magazine ( for those who have only conversational knowledge of Hindi)- We all claim Hindi as our mother tongue but our vocabulary is severely limited. Know atleast basic terms such as Republic/Democracy/Socialist/Secular[UPKAR HINDI chapter] (Basically, the entire preamble—for only the night before or early morning). Remember you will be dealing mostly with hindi speaking populace, not some English spouting ‘Hot Shots’. Most of the official work in some states is done in HINDI. So, its pretty rewarding. Not to scare anybody, but the panelist might ask you to answer in Hindi (Mock panelist asked me to briefly tell about the history of Haryana in Haryanwi)

All that I know is that one has to be prepared. No matter what may come!

There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time. -Malcolm X

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?

Before success comes in any man’s life, he’s sure to meet with much temporary defeat and, perhaps some failures. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and the most logical thing to do is to quit. That’s exactly what the majority of men do. – Napoleon Hill

Which one are you??

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?

My Mother and Father, Kid Brother.

My colleagues and seniors at AIIMS.

Not to forget remarkable people behind Mrunal.org, Insights(Current Affairs), Forum, Parivartan and other contributions from previous toppers.

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, it helped. I was a regular visitor to the site. I loved the hilarious ‘infographics’. Saved the images for easy revision. The Videos and PPTs are great too, but didn’t get much time to learn from them. Lastly, the regular barrage of articles is sure to keep any sincere aspirant on his toes.