23. CSE-2014 MARKSHEET
  27. WISDOM



Q. Details
Rank in CSE-2014 34
Roll No. 882894
Age 22
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 1
Optional Subject Anthropology
Schooling Medium English, CBSE
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city NIL
Work-experience if any NA
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures IIT JEE cleared
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS>IPS>IFS>IRS(IT)>IRS(C&CE)
state cadre preference (Top-5) Nil


fill the details here
% in class 10 94.8%
% in class 12 91.6%
Graduation course and % CPI is given CPI is given. IIT CPI’s are misleading :P
Name of college, city, passing out year IIT Kanpur, Kanpur, 2014 IIT Kanpur, 2014 passout
Post-graduation NIL NIL
Any other professional courses NA NA
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Reading English Literature, Writing


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

The civil service offers a lot of diversity in terms of career opportunities which I would not find in any other job. It entrusts a lot of responsibilities at a very young age. Also, I would like to stay and work in India and civil service is one of the best opportunities available. The IAS offers an avenue for policy making. I wanted to live life on my own terms. Do whatever I wanted to do and not because it will increase my ‘market value’. I wanted to be relieved from any undue pressure of continuously competing throughout my life in the rat race. The IAS will give me an assured career. Competition is good but its excess will take a heavy toll on life.


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 made online notes using Evernote. Whatever interesting thing I read online and which I felt were important enough to revise were immediately added to the online notes in a line or two. This was helpful when I was revising as all the material I read were condensed to a single online source of my own creation. I relied on both paper and electronic material equally. When I was preparing typically I start with reading the day’s Hindu. Then I move on to the optional or GS static portions. I always make notes as without revision all the effort will be nought.


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 is very important in this exam. We should not study for 12 hours in one day and stop studying for 3 days due to a burn out. Even if we study 4 hours everyday it is enough if we maintain the utmost concentration during that time. And study for 4 hours daily for 1 year. Mood swings are natural. Relax during that time. Watch a movie or go out with friends. It is part of life


(Answer only if you’re 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. The armchair ‘experts’ would point out UPSC is ‘testing’ emotional intelligence of the candidate or UPSC wants to break the backs of senior players, daily conspiracy theories on orkut….…Not to mention all the emotional struggle-against those irritating neighbors and relatives who keep asking your mother “aap kaa betaa kya karta hai” (What does you son/daughter do?)

MY question are two:

Q1. How did you survive through this mental prison and what’re your words of wisdom to other senior players? If any specific inspirational incident(s), please share.

Not Applicable. First attempt

Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?

Not Applicable. First attempt


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

Not applicable. Was on a full time UPSC preparation schedule.


Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient Ancient India – Old NCERT
History Medieval Medieval India – Old NCERT
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Modern India – Old NCERT by Bipin Chandra
Culture and society NCERT 11th Culture book. Online searches
Polity (theory + current) NCERT – Indian Constitution at Work, Hindu
Economy (theory + current) NCERT 11 and 12, Hindu
Science (theory + current) NCERT 6th to 10th, Hindu
Environment (theory + current) NCERT 11th Biology – Last 4 chapters only, Erich Bharucha
geography physical NCERT – 6th to 12th
geography India NCERT – 6th to 12th
geography world NCERT – 6th to 12th
other national/international current affairs The Hindu
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff The Hindu

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

A lot of factual questions which is a divergence from post-CSAT 2011 era. Which has probably resulted in the lesser cutoff of 205/375. But nothing to worry as only relative performance is checked.

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 concentrate on Culture, Indian Freedom struggle, Polity, Environment and Ecology. I would try to attempt more than 75 questions in the GS paper. I would solve question banks on Environment & Ecology and Indian Culture as they have a lot of facts.

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)?

Since CSAT has been made qualifying now, The GS prelim 2015 paper will be extremely tricky to clear. Generally speaking, if the cutoff is say 100/200 marks, then even people with 98 would fail to clear Pre; 98 being not that bad a score, and a candidate scoring that would have probably got only one question wrong than cleared candidates. So the uncertainty increases. Especially as there is often divergence between UPSC’s answer key and informal answer keys brought out after the prelims. There are also some questions with very vague and dicey options in Pre; where 2 options may as well be right. Such questions may make or break a candidate’s chances in 2015 preliminary exam which is graded out of 200 marks.

I would consequently pay more attention to GS and hope that UPSC at least increases the total number of marks and questions it has in its GS paper; if not in 2015 at least from 2016 onwards.


Topic strategy / booklist
Maths Did not read any
reasoning Did not read any
comprehension Did not prepare consciously for this
Decision Making Did not prepare

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

It was a eminently solvable paper if one was thourough with the maths studied in school n 10th standard and has reasonable comprehension skills. NCERT 9th and 10th std maths book if solved is enough for CSAT preparation


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

Downloaded mock papers available freely online and solved them. Attempted nearly 10-15 mock exams. They are absolutely imperative for succeeding. They help build the exam temperament. I suggest that one month before prelims, people should solve one paper every alternate day

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

attempted Q. correct (Expected)
GS 79/100 65
aptitude 78/80 70

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



Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper Didnt prepare
your regional language Solved past 5 years compulsory paper

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

With adequate preparation this paper is a cakewalk. Its only 10th std level. Only people who underestimate this paper and dont prepare for it fail to pass; and there are many cases like that. So take this paper seriously and with minimum preparation compulsory paper will not be the reason why you are not in the IAS


Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Solved last 5 years UPSC essay paper within the specific time frame. It taught me time management and presentation skills.

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

With Great power comes Greater responsiblilty, Tourism and its potential for India. Analysed both the essays from various perspectives; Historical, Geographical, Economical, Ethical, International Relations wise, Political. Made sure that my beginning and ending of the essay were interesting. Maintained an optimistic tone throughout


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.


Requests while you fill up the following tables

  1. apart from your book/resource list, also comment on your own strategy after mains-2014 (e.g. after exam I realized that I shouldn’t have prepared xyz topic in so much detail, I couldn’t finish xyz syllabus topics properly before exam, I had expected UPSC to ask xyz from but they asked abc……etc.etc.etc.) [Same request for each table given below for gs2, gs3, gs4]
  2. If you used “internet” as source of preparation in xyz, then provide website name as and where possible.
  3. Since mains-2013 had new syllabus and many people relied on Xerox of some coaching notes. so If you used such resource, please attest comment on quality e.g. “it was too deep, but I did only selective study/ It did not cover xyz. OR its quality was not upto the mark, so I suggest future players to avoid it and use ABC instead…..etc..”

Anyways, here starts the list:

Topic How did you prepare?
culture NCERT 11th Art and Culture
Indian history Modern India NCERT by Bipin Chandra
world history NCERt 9th and 10th
post-independence India Politics in India since Independence NCERT 11th book
Indian society The Hindu and Common sense
role of women, poverty etc. The Hindu and Common sense
globalization on Indian society NCERT sociology 11th and 12th
communalism, regionalism, secularism NCERT sociology 11th and 12th
world geo physical NCERT 6th to 12th
resource distribution Same as above
factors for industrial location Same as above
earthquake tsunami etc Same as above
impact on flora-fauna Same as above


Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. The Hindu, Indian Constitution at Work – 11th NCERT
comparing Constitution with world The Hindu
parliament, state Legislatures The Hindu
executive-judiciary The Hindu
ministries departments The Hindu
pressure group, informal asso. The Hindu
Representation of people’s act The Hindu
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. The Hindu
NGO, SHG etc The Hindu
welfare schemes, bodies The Hindu
social sector, health, edu, HRD The Hindu
governance, transparency, accountability The Hindu
e-governance The Hindu
role of civil service The Hindu
India & neighbors The Hindu
bilateral/global grouping The Hindu
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest The Hindu
diaspora The Hindu
international bodies- structure mandate The Hindu


Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization For all the below – The Hindu, Economic Survey of GOI,NCERT 11th and 12th
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 The Google news feed of Science and Technology
Indian achievements in sci-tech Same as above
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Same as above
environmental impact assessment The Hindu
Disaster Management NCERT books on disaster management
non state actors, internal security The Hindu for all the topics below
internal security – role of media, social networking site
cyber security
money laundering
border Management
organized crime, terrorism
security agencies- structure mandate


Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics For all the topics given-Arihant’s Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude I gave a look at. But mostly went without preparation for this paper and I dont think any is required. The questions asked by UPSC are of that level which a 10th std student with some English writing skills can answer; It is an english paper basically. Michael Sandel’s book on Ethics I had read before even starting preparation for the exam
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 thinkers did you prepare?-Did not prepare any particularly other than what I learnt during normal GS preparation
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


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

case your approach/ keypoints
case1: your friend preparing UPSC Wrote subheadings and underlined them. Eliminated the extreme options and took a stable middle path. These questions only test common sense. Also I had practised writing many case studies before going for the exam.
case2: Rameshwar the uptight UPSC topper. Same
case3: no bribe no contract. Same
case4: corrupt subordinates file bogus rape complaint against you. Same
in the remaining bol-bachchan type questions (e.g. why ethics important, why probity difficult etc). Basic common sense. Write a lot of English and you can crack it.


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

Paper Best attempted Average quality namesake answer Total attempt
GS1 Nearly all
GS2 Nearly all
GS3 Nearly all
GS4 Nearly all
Opt-P1 Nearly all
Opt-P2 Nearly all

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]

Wrote all answers. Did not leave any. Had adequate time for all questions as I had focussed on time management during my mock exams

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

There is more than enough space. The only problem if any such ever arises is how to fill up the space :P There is barely 7-8 minutes you have for one question

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.

Used bullet points with underlined subheadings irrespective of what is written in the question

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 used the intro-body-conclusion format

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

Nope. No time for things like that.

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

Yes. I drew diagrams for all questions in geography. Even in IR questions and GS-3 internal security questions I drew rough diagrams. I used flowcharts too

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

With the same pen I was writing with. No time for changing pens and all that

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

By hand. As i already have said there is hardly any time for taking a ruler

Q9. 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.)


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

Anthropology. I covered Introduction to Anthropology by Haviland first. Developed a liking for the subject. So decided to read all the other standard books side by side GS preparation. Used to read all the books like a novel.

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)

Everyone should choose a subject in which they have an interest in. A subject in which they dont mind reading a lot of books other than the standard prescribed books

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.)


2. BM Das

3. Upadhyay and Pandey

4. Nadeem Hasnain

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?

Used to keep cutouts from the Hindu to keep track of the latest developments in the subject

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

3 months when studied daily for 3-4 hours.

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

3 months

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

Highlighted important portions in the text and kept them.

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?

Anthropology was of the same difficulty level as previous years. Always keep abreast of the latest developments in the subject


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

Researched on everything mentioned n my form. interview preparation starts from the moment you fill up the Mains application form

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 attended mock interviews. But the actual UPSC interview is generally vastly different as the board members have much more diverse and vast experience.And you are on much more stress on the actual day. It is not necessary to attend mock interviews

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

Pure White Shirt. Black Pants, Aqua Blue 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’?

At a hotel. I did not revise anything before the interview. It is not supposed to be a test of knowledge


Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

‘Dream Killer’ DK Dewan :P

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?]

The IAS offers a lot of diversity in terms of career oppurtunities. They manage public sector organisations, administer a state or become the Home Secretary and take care of the internal security of India. No wonder its called the Heaven Born Service. Also, I would like to stay and work in India and civil service is one of the best oppurtunities available.

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)

Too many questions to say all. Some were :

1.Do you think the ends justify the means? – The means are as important as the ends. The path we proceed on is also important. That is what the father of our nation Gandhi had also told. The means are as important as the ends

2. The United States uses it in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But why have not we heard of usage of UAV’s in India. Why dont we use it

The United States uses it to bomb terrorists in Afghanistan region and Pakistan region

from a far-off place. But a lot of collateral damage occurs when such missiles are launched

. Many innocent civilians get killed. If India uses it within its own territory then a lot of

common people may be affected and their lives taken. No innocent civilian must be killed by

such missiles

3. Gallantry awards. Name them

Param Vir Chakra. Said dont know more

4. Food subsidy Bill amount of India

Said dont know

5. Which year was the peacock throne taken away

Said dont know

Btw, all these factual questions and more were asked by the great DK Dewan. Opinion based questions were asked by the other members only. But Dewan was in a world of his own

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?

It was not on expected lines. Faced a lot of factual questions from the Chairman. Other members asked opinion based questions. Was around 30 minutes. Kept my cool throughout the interview. Said I do not know for questions I did not know the answer to Definitely the members tried to stress me but I was calm

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

We are sent a checklist before going for the interview. We should make sure that all the documents are proper
Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?

Its a chill thing. People are not declared unfit for services after all the hardwork they have put in


Essay 125
GS 1 98
GS 2 96
GS 3 91
GS 4 127
Anthro 1 143
Anthro 2 150
PT 151

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

I am not going to write this exam again thankfully. I will hope for a better interview board :P Dewan’s average is 20 marks lesser than other boards


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

Had no back up plan in mind

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.)

Not applicable. Was set on the services


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

Yes. Optionals should be removed. Some optionals like Marathi literature have got as high as nearly 370 marks. Its an uneven playing field

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.

On the other hand, I feel a candidate who is thorough with the daily newspaper and NCERT books can easily clear this exam

Q. Half-merger of IFoS with CSE is a bad move because it has raised the cutoffs for players who’re solely dedicated to IFoS only (and not to IAS/IPS). Adding salt to the wounds, many who had applied for both jobs, cleared the prelims- they did not even bother to appear in all the papers of Mains-IFoS. (atleast that was the scene in 2013).

Yes. Many people do not appear for IFoS Mains. The same preliminary exam is a bad move

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

It would be difficult to evaluate the subjective questions online. Manpower can be increased to shorten the duration of the exam

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

I would conduct 2 interviews from different boards and take the average of the marks. Like what was done in essay this year. This will reduce the subjectivity and randomness of PT marks


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?

Not applicable. This is one of the few exams in India which even very disadvantaged people crack because of their hardwork. There is no reason to have any profile insecurity. All kinds of people make it in.


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?

The exam preparation process provided me with an opportunity to go through a wide range of material ranging from topics as diverse as the Indian Constitution, History, Geography, Economics, International Relations, Sociology, Anthropology, Philosophy…The list goes on. You name it and it is there. The Union Public Service Commission wants a jack of all trades to crack their exam and they make no excuses.

This is an exciting journey. You will discover a lot about life during the 2-3 years of ‘marriage’ with the UPSC.

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?

Persistence is the key to success in this exam. Do your action right and forget about the result.


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 parents

– Brother

– Relatives and Family

– Israel sir of Officers IAS Academy who was a friend, guide and philosopher.

– My college Friends from IIT and the wonderful friends with whom I used to prepare for the interview in Officers IAS Academy


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 referred to Mrunal for the preliminary analysis and mains papers analysis. Also I used it for getting the facts right on many issues on which I needed clarity. I also used to read the Topper’s interviews in this site.