1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Struggle of a Senior player
  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. GS4 Ethics case study answers in Mains 2014
  18. Mains answer-writing?
  19. Mains Optional Subject
  20. Before the interview
  21. During the interview
  22. CSE-2013 Marksheet
  23. Career Backup
  24. Views on UPSC reforms
  25. Insecurity about profile
  26. Wisdom
  27. Credit: Friends/family
  28. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Raja Gopal

Q. Details
Rank in CSE-2014 49
Roll No. 213842
Age 25
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 2
Optional Subject ANTHROPOLOGY
Schooling Medium ENGLISH
College medium ENGLISH
Medium chosen for Mains answers ENGLISH
Medium chosen for Interview ENGLISH
Home town/city HYDERABAD
Work-experience if any Briefly worked in a startup
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures Gave prelims of CDS, CAPF and qualified but didn’t attend further rounds
Details of coaching Prelims

  1. GS – DB Kumar, Hyderabad
  2. Career Launcher Tests


  1. Essay – Pragati IAS, Delhi
  2. Ethics – GS Score/SK Mishra Sir
  3. Anthropology – Sosin Ma’am, Hyderabad
  4. GS Mock Tests – Vision IAS, Synergy


  1. Hyderabad Study Circle
  2. RC Reddy Study Circle, Hyderabad
  3. Vajiram & Ravi
  4. Samkalp
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS (IT), IRS (C & CE)
state cadre preference (Top-5) Telangana, AP, Karnataka, TN, Maharashtra


fill the details here
% in class 10 91.33
% in class 12 94.90
Graduation course and % Dual Degree (B. Tech+M. Tech) in Agricultural and Food Engineering; 7.91/10
Name of college, city, passing out year IIT Kharagpur, 2012
Post-graduation M. Tech (part of the above mentioned dual degree)
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Carnatic Music, Video Making, Dramatics


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

In the middle of engineering, I tried to explore different career paths – job, MBA, PhD, Civil Services. I read and discussed extensively about each of these. I realized that Civil Services was one path where my personal interests and a great work profile converged.

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 am an old school guy. I like reading physical books/newspapers rather than e-books/e-papers/e-content. But, I did use the internet extensively for information that I couldn’t find in books.

UPSC should have a tagline – expect the unexpected. So, what works for one person may not work for the other. What works in one year may not work in the next. So, blogs, sites may be read but one should devise his/her own strategy. There is no end to information and preparation. One should learn to draw a line somewhere based on his/her strategy.

  • 8-10am: Newspapers
  • Tea
  • 10.30-1pm: Anthropology
  • Lunch
  • 2-4.30/5pm: GS
  • Tea
  • 5-7.30pm: GS
  • Dinner
  • 8.30pm onwards: CSAT or watch youtube/movies

My efficiency would reduce as the day progresses. I would take a complete break once or twice a week.

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?

I failed once in the exam. Fear of failure is a beautiful emotion that can be harnessed to keep study momentum going on. Besides, I had confidence in the direction my preparation was heading. My marks in the various mock tests continued to improve as the exam was nearing. This boosted my confidence.

I was lucky to not have suffered from drastic mood swings and distractions. But taking a break once in a while might help.

Struggle of a Senior player

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.

Instead of wasting time listening to armchair ‘experts’, one should look within. Our book list could be wrong. Our strategy could be wrong. A tweak here and there could help us.

I would spend as little time at home as possible. I would go for coaching and then go to a public library and read. This kept me away from intruding neighbours/relatives. Besides, my parents protected me from such people.

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

In my first attempt, I failed in Mains. I wasn’t ready for Mains. I did not practice writing answers. In my second attempt, I worked on both these mistakes. My friend and I prepared our own notes for GS. I enrolled for test series in two coaching centres in Delhi.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient Did not read
History Medieval Did not read
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) DB Kumar Sir’s Notes & Material, India’s Struggle for Independence
Culture and society NCERT Introduction to Indian Art, Friend’s Notes
Polity (theory + current) Laxmikanth
Economy (theory + current) Indian Economy (Key Concepts) by K. Sankarganesh, DB Kumar Sir’s Notes, Mrunal
Science (theory + current) Newspapers
Environment (theory + current) Shankaran IAS Academy Material
geography physical DB Kumar Sir’s Notes
geography India DB Kumar Sir’s Notes
geography world DB Kumar Sir’s Notes
other national/international current affairs Hindu, Indian Express
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Newspapers, Internet

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

I luckily concentrated more on Environment and Culture. A lot of questions came from these areas and I could answer them. But this may not be the case next year.

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?

My strategy would be the same. I would read Shankaran IAS Academy Material more thoroughly.

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 prepare more seriously for SnT.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths Test series
reasoning Test series
comprehension Test series
Decision Making Test series

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

Aptitude paper requires a lot of concentration. If you get distracted while reading a comprehension, you might have to start all over again leading to wastage of time. Concentration is a function of health, exam centre environment, etc. So, protect your health in the last one week leading to the exam. Gossiping by invigilators is commonplace. Do not hesitate to tell them to keep quiet.

Prelim accuracy

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

I wrote some CL tests for Paper II. Their reading comprehensions are good. Mock tests help in improving speed.

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

attempted Q. correct questions (Expected) Official score
GS 77 67 128
aptitude 69 54 122.50
Total 251

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper No preparation
your regional language Previous papers

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

I found the Telugu paper quite tough, especially the translations.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

My friend taught me the structure of an essay that he had learnt at a coaching centre in Delhi. It is as follows:-

  1. Introduction
    1. Context or Narrative
    2. Scope of the topic in the form of Questions
  2. Body
    1. Question 1
      1. Dimension 1 & Example
      2. Dimension 2 & Example
      3. Between i and ii, there should be a connecting sentence.
    2. Question 2
    3. Question 3
  3. Conclusion
    1. Conclusion is not a summary of the essay.
    2. Don’t hurry up. It should have a futuristic perspective.
  4. Miscellaneous
    1. 3 hours
      1. 30 mins for thinking – brainstorm, frame intro, questions, broad answers,
      2. 1 hour 15 mins for each essay
    2. Gaurav Agarwal – Reinforce conclusion after each paragraph
    3. Control urge to write optional points
    4. Connecting sentences between two paragraphs are very important

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

I wrote on the following topics:-

  1. Growing level of competition – I don’t remember much about what I wrote
  2. Is tourism the next big thing in India? – I framed and answered the following questions
    1. What is the current big thing in India?
    2. What scope does tourism have to become the next big thing in India?
    3. What are the obstacles that stop it from becoming the next big thing in India?
    4. What are the measures to be taken so that it becomes the next big thing in India?

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

Topic How did you prepare?
Culture NCERT Introduction to Indian Art, Friend’s Notes, Indian Art & Culture by Devendra Kumar & Dr. Tara
Indian history DB Kumar Sir’s Notes, India’s Struggle for Independece, Internet
world history Vision IAS Material, Contemporary World History (Old NCERT)
post-independence India Narayana Sri Chaitanya Xerox Material, Prepared notes from

  • India Since Independence – Bipan Chandra
  • India After Gandhi – Ramachandra Guha
Indian society Synergy Test Series
role of women, poverty etc. Synergy Test Series
globalization on Indian society Synergy Test Series
communalism, regionalism, secularism Synergy Test Series
world geo physical Friend’s Notes
resource distribution Friend’s Notes
factors for industrial location Friend’s Notes
earthquake tsunami etc DB Kumar Sir’s Notes
impact on flora-fauna Did not read

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Laxmikanth, Newspapers, Internet
comparing Constitution with world Vision IAS Material
parliament, state Legislatures Laxmikanth, Newspapers, Internet
executive-judiciary Laxmikanth, Newspapers, Internet
ministries departments ARC Report
pressure group, informal asso. Vision IAS Material, Internet
Representation of people’s act Newspapers, Internet – prepared on topics like Model Code of Conduct which was in the news
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Laxmikanth, Newspapers, Internet
NGO, SHG etc Pub Ad Super 50 by Shubhra Saxena
welfare schemes, bodies Internet
social sector, health, edu, HRD Synergy Test Series
governance, transparency, accountability ARC Report
e-governance ARC Report, Pub Ad Super 50 by Shubhra Saxena
role of civil service Prepared on specific topics like lateral entry
India & neighbors Prepare country wise notes from Newspapers, Internet – IDSA, IPCS
bilateral/global grouping Newspapers, Internet – IDSA, IPCS
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Newspapers, Internet – IDSA, IPCS
international bodies- structure mandate

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization
inclusive growth Internet, Newspapers
Budgeting ARC Report on Financial Management
major crops, irrigation
agro produce – storage, marketing Friend’s Notes
e-technology for famers Internet
farm subsidies, MSP Friend’s Notes
PDS, buffer, food security Internet, Newspapers
technology mission
animal rearing economics Internet
food processing Friend’s Notes
land reforms Friend’s Notes
Infra DB Kumar Sir’s Notes
investment models Internet
science-tech day to day life Internet, Newspapers
Indian achievements in sci-tech Internet, Newspapers
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Internet, Newspapers
environmental impact assessment
Disaster Management Internal Security & Disaster Management by Ashok Kumar IPS
non state actors, internal security Internal Security & Disaster Management by Ashok Kumar IPS
internal security – role of media, social networking site Internal Security & Disaster Management by Ashok Kumar IPS
cyber security Internal Security & Disaster Management by Ashok Kumar IPS
money laundering Internal Security & Disaster Management by Ashok Kumar IPS
border  Management Internal Security & Disaster Management by Ashok Kumar IPS
organized crime, terrorism Internal Security & Disaster Management by Ashok Kumar IPS
security agencies- structure mandate Internal Security & Disaster Management by Ashok Kumar IPS

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics SK Mishra Sir’s Notes and Material
attitude, moral influence etc. SK Mishra Sir’s Notes and Material
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc SK Mishra Sir’s Notes and Material
emotional intelligence, its use in governance SK Mishra Sir’s Notes and Material
moral thinkers of India and world Prepared some Western thinkers like Kant, Bentham, Plato, etc
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. SK Mishra Sir’s Notes and Material
corporate governance SK Mishra Sir’s Notes and Material
probity in governance, work culture SK Mishra Sir’s Notes and Material
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. SK Mishra Sir’s Notes and Material
challenges of corruption SK Mishra Sir’s Notes and Material
case studies on above topics SK Mishra Sir’s Notes and Material, Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Subbarao and Roy Chowdhury

In Ethics, I used to mention some legislations (Whistleblowers Protection Act, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013, RTI Act, AIS Rules) in the case studies. I used to mention thinkers names (Kant, Utlitarianism, Nishkama Karma, etc) to add weight to my conclusion.

Another point to be remembered is that one should not give extravagant options in case studies. One should know the limitations of a civil servant. This, I learnt from SK Mishra Sir.

GS4 Ethics case study answers in Mains 2014

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

I am sorry but I do not remember what I had written.

Case your approach/ keypoints
case1: your friend preparing UPSC
case2: Rameshwar the uptight UPSC topper.
case3: no bribe no contract.
case4: corrupt subordinates file bogus rape complaint against you.
in  the remaining bol-bachchan type questions (e.g. why ethics important, why probity difficult etc).

Mains answer-writing?

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

I do not remember and I do not have the question papers with me anymore.

Paper Best attempted Average quality namesake answer Total attempt

I would answer questions in the order given in the paper. This reduces wastage of time in moving from one question to another. Secondly, I tried to attempt almost all questions. In my first attempt, I was on the ‘good’ paper side of the fence and I failed in Mains. In my second attempt, I was on the ‘making up’ side and I ended up getting a good rank. So, I have seen both sides and vouch for the second.

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

Not a problem at all in GS. In Anthropology, we have to draw diagrams, flowcharts, etc. Even there, we can manage provided we practice beforehand.

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.

My answers would be a mix of both. I would start with a brief introduction in paragraph format. The body would contain side-headings and bullet points. I would then write the conclusion (if the question demands) in paragraph format. Words like examine, comment, discuss are there for a reason. Otherwise UPSC wouldn’t have used them in the first place.

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.

As I mentioned in the previous question, I would write introduction so that it forms a context to the body of my answer. I would pick up keywords from the question and put them as side-headings. I would write the conclusion if the question demanded it.

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


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

I drew a couple of diagrams for geography.

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

I don’t remember but I must have used a pen.

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

I didn’t use a ruler.

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


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

Mains Optional Subject

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

Anthropology is my optional subject. I am an Agricultural and Food Engineer. UPSC does not provide Agricultural and Food Engineering as an optional. Agriculture is there but it is more of a science than an engineering subject. It is as new to me as Anthropology is.

After graduation, I was in Hyderabad, which is the mecca of Anthropology. So, I chose Anthropology. Having said that, I should let you know that I found a teacher who was and is very passionate about Anthropology and her classes led to me developing an interest for the subject.

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)

Go for it. I owe my rank to Anthropology. But choose the right teacher.

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.)

Base book for me was my class notes. On top of it, you may selectively read the following:-

  1. Indian Social System by Ram Ahuja
  2. Tribal India by Nadeem Hasnain
  3. General Anthropology by Nadeem Hasnain
  4. Physical Anthropology by P. Nath

When you read these books, make notes.

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?

Most of the text books for Anthropology are very old. Internet research and current affairs helps in getting the latest stats, examples which add a lot of value to one’s answer.

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

3-3.5 months

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

This was my second attempt. So, I have a few years of on and off answer writing practice. I also enrolled for a test series last year with the same teacher.

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

For me, note making was a two stage thing. I would prepare detailed notes in the first stage. I would then condense it to half a page for final revision a day before the exam. I prepared notes by hand.

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?

2014 paper was very very easy. Questions were direct. Many questions were expected as well. In Anthropology, reading is one thing and writing is another. I used a lot of sideheadings, diagrams (almost one for every answer), flowcharts, examples, research papers. Also, attempt questions in physical anthropology. They fetch marks.

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?

  1. Immediately after Mains, I tried to list as many questions as possible regarding each point in my DAF. I tried to answer them as well.
  2. I am from Hyderabad, Telangana. I read books like Hyderabad (by Narendra Luther), Battleground Telangana (by Kingshuk Nag).
  3. As I mentioned earlier, I am an Agricultural and Food Engineer. I read a few of my textbooks. I also used this website a lot – http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/
  4. I used to religiously watch The Big Picture, Policy Watch, India’s World on Rajya Sabha TV.
  5. My friend and I used to ask each other questions from that day’s newspaper everyday for an hour.
  6. For hobbies, I read the technical aspects from the internet.

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

I attended quite a few mock interview. No mock interview can recreate the UPSC interview but they are useful none the same. I’ll give you a few examples of how they helped me improve:-

  1. In one mock interview, one panelist pointed out that I pull my eyebrows closer when I listen intently. This makes me look tensed. He also told me that I should smile more. I worked on both these suggestions.
  2. Another panelist suggested that I need not toe the government line but should use the English language to put my views across in a polite manner. For example, if an encounter has taken place and the government says that it has been done in self-defense, we need not toe the government line. We may put it across in two ways:-
    1. It is a fake encounter
    2. Prima facie, it appears like an excessive use of force.

Option b is preferable. English language has been used to make it sound more polite.

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

I wore a light blue shirt, navy blue trouser and a dark 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’?

I stayed in a guest house in Khel Gaon, Delhi. I brought all the notes/books that I had made in the previous months.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Mr. David Syiemlieh

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?]

As I mentioned earlier, I read extensively about the work done by civil servants. At very young ages, they get to build institutions and bring institutional changes. In Andhra Pradesh, a 42 year old IAS officer is spearheading the development of a world class capital city. Former IAS officer, Jayaprakash Narayan brought two lakh acres under irrigation in his tenure as a district collector. These are just few among many examples. I wish to be part of a service that has the scope to bring lasting impact.

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)

I was dissatisfied with my performance in the interview. For 3-4 questions, the panelists kept prodding me for something more even after I gave 3-4 points. I thought I wasn’t giving the answer that they were expecting. But I ended up getting 212 marks. This proves that answers do not matter but our composure matters. This is precisely why, I would not like to reveal my answers. Aspirants shouldn’t copy any toppers’ answers. They should instead work on their smile, composure, etc.

David Sir:

1) Your hobbies are learning carnatic music and making videos. How can you integrate both?

2) What is your choice of cadre?

3) In the context of Delhi’s demand for full statehood, should Andaman and Nicobar be given full statehood?

4) What is a startup?

Member 1:

1) What is disarmament?

2) What types of weapons come under disarmament?

3) What are the treaties and conventions related to disarmament?

4) Why is drama not as popular as Bollywood?

5) What about infrastructure (lights, sets) in drama?

6) What are GM Crops, pros, cons and your stand?

Member 2:

1) Differences between Carnatic and Hindustani Music?

2) Famous carnatic musicians?

3) Who is famous for Veena?

Member 3:

1) How will Naxalism be affected after separation of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh?

2) What is genetic engineering? How are genes cut?

Member 4:

1) Why did not cooperative model in dairy industry succeed in other states? (I focused on strength of institutions in Gujarat)

2) Is it not because of the leadership of some individuals?

3) Are individuals more important or institutions?

4) What plays have you performed in?

5) Why did you not do Shakespearean Drama?

David Sir:

1) How did you recreate a particular scene in a particular play (that I had mentioned earlier)?

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 questions on disarmament came out of the blue. As I mentioned earlier, the panelists kept prodding me for more even after I gave them 3-4 points. This happened 3-4 times. I told them that I cannot recall anymore points. Member 3 thought Agricultural and Food Engineering includes Gene Splicing, etc. I told him politely that that was not a part of our curriculum and he didn’t seem to mind.

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

We are given a checklist. Just take those documents. Everything else happens very smoothly.

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

It was more tiring than the interview itself.

CSE-2013 Marksheet


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

  1. I would re-assess my strategy for essay. I would practice more essays.
  2. For GS II, III, IV, I might change my sources (notes/material).

Career Backup

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

I was planning to join my friend’s startup.

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.)

I had given myself a maximum of two attempts. So, I joined my friend’s startup after the Personality Test.

Views on UPSC reforms

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

I owe my rank to Anthropology. I wouldn’t mind if it is removed either. I have observed many students who spend more time discussing whether optional should be removed, whether there is scaling in optional or not. They should instead concentrate on preparation.

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

I feel it should be atleast 40-50% but I might be wrong. Aptitude can be tested irrespective of whether a student has a science background or a social science background.

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.

Like any business, any coaching centre will adapt to changes in the market. No change in the pattern can put an end to coaching centres. Yet, I was fortunate enough to meet people who have cleared the exam without joining any coaching centre which proves that the above constraints can be overcome.

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?

Do well in Mains. Nothing can be said about interview. Even those with the best of profiles have got poor marks in interview. For the interview, work on your presentability.


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?

Civil services is a tough examination. So,

  1. If you are sincere and if you work smartly, you’ll achieve success. Do not cheat yourself and your parents by living in false hopes. Merely being in Delhi or joining a coaching doesn’t ensure a rank.
  2. Choose the right mentors/seniors/friends/books/material/coaching centre. This is half the job.

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?

I failed in my first attempt. I was low for a couple of days. Then, I found people in a similar situation and started preparing again along with them. I tried to correct the mistakes that I had committed earlier. With a little bit of luck, I ended up being successful. Good luck to 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?

There is a very long list. To cut it short, I have to thank my family, friends, teachers and every person who has had an impact on my personality.

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.

In my first year of preparation, I used mrunal.org extensively, especially for economy basics.