1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Struggle of a Senior player
  7. Working professional
  8. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  9. Prelim accuracy
  10. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  11. Mains: Essay
  12. Mains General studies paper 1 to 4
  13. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  14. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  15. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  16. GS4 Ethics case study answers in Mains 2014
  17. Mains answer-writing?
  18. Mains Optional Subject
  19. Before the interview
  20. During the interview
  21. CSE-2014 Marksheet
  22. Career Backup
  23. Credit: Friends/family
  24. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Dr.Sandeep Beniwal

Q. Details
Name Dr.Sandeep Beniwal
Rank in CSE-2014 455
Roll No. 631014
Age 29
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 4
Optional Subject History
Schooling Medium English
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Hisar, Haryana
Work-experience if any Working as Dental Surgeon in govt sector since 2011
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures Haryana PMT 429 rank, shortlisted for ITBP Dental Surgeon Assistant Commandant interview 2011, failed in 2009, 2010, 2013 UPSC CS.
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) No classroom coaching, no postal material. Used to visit Rajinder Nagar to get selected material after analysis.
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS, IFS, IPS, IRS CnE, IRS IT
state cadre preference (Top-5) HARYANA, AGMUT, UTTRAKHAND,HIMACHAL, PUNJAB


fill the details here
% in class 10 84.8%
% in class 12 68%
Graduation course and % BDS  64%
Name of college, city, passing out year SWAMI DEVI DYAL DENTAL COLLEGE, PANCHKULA, 2010
Post-graduation n.a.
Any other professional courses n.a.
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Gk quiz(intra university champions 2010), debates, cricket tournaments through out school and college. Exploring historical sites.


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

I belong to an agrarian family from Haryana. My father Sh. Pushpinder Singh Beniwal is a farmer, mother Smt.Shakuntala Devi is a housewife. My uncle(Fufaji) Sh. Rishiraj Gautam Bhambhu and my aunty(buaji) Smt Saraswati Devi took me under their wings when I was 4 years old. It is because of them that I was able to get a good education. I am indebted to them for their kindness and love.

I had always been passionate for History and had a keen interest in GK quiz competitions. I even wanted to pursue history as my higher education subject, but I opted for medical stream because History was not considered “worthy of a well paying career”.

I decided to appear for civil services when I was in college. I gave the first 2 attempts in 2009 and 2010 without any guidance and proper preparation. Failed in both attempts and after completing my graduation career became a priority. I established my practice in Hisar, I cleared  Govt. Job exam conducted by the Haryana Public Services and joined in 2011.  I had always wanted to prepare again for the  CS exam, it was my best friends who inspired me . Siddharth Harsh , who cleared the prelims in 2011 and Sarvapriya Sangwan who made me realize that I was missing out on something by not giving it a shot. Hence I started preparing in 2012 june , appeared in 2013 but failed to clear the prelims. Appeared again in 2014 and cleared the exam. All throughout my preparation my family and my friends supported me. During preparation it was Siddharth , Chetan kaushik and Khushboo Khan who helped a lot.

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 used both electronic as well as conventional materials for preparation. Books are inseparable , I began with NCERTs, moved on to other materials only after I had built a solid foundation. I followed Mrunal.org since from the very beginning , it was of great help, especially the economics part. My sincerest thanks .  I am not a big ‘notes’ person, I made notes for current affairs only from the newspapers. My style of studying involves multiple readings with footnotes and underlining of important stuff. Internet has been of great help. I had purchased a printer on day one of preparation and it was of great help, as I can not read from a screen, I need it on paper so that I can use my pen/pencil to underline or highlight important points. I did not do any answer writing practice,  I didn’t write even one essay ,but I read and re-read everything. I am told I could have scored better had I done answer writing practice, but somehow i have never been able to do it in any of the exams. It tends to “box me in” restricts my thought process to the preformed points only.

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?

Too be honest, I had long phases when I was down in the dumps, doubting my own abilities. I am more of an externally motivated guy,  my friends, Siddharth , Sarvapriya , Chetan and Khushboo Khan encouraged me and kept me going. Sid, Chetan and Khan were preparing for the exam themselves so it was a great support system that we had. One has to be very honest with oneself, I must know my weaknesses then only I can rectify them. I worked upon mine . For me clearing prelims was the biggest hurdle, Paper 2 of CSAT was my nemesis in 2013. I gave 2 full months to the mathematical aptitude part. I always pick up the hardest things first and get done with them.

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.

I was fortunate enough to have a job which provided me economic freedom and ample of mental space to prepare. When I failed in 2013 prelims, I wasted 3 months brooding about it, that was the worst phase of my life. But then I realized that I had given too much of energy, time and passion to this exam that I couldn’t  afford to be a weakling . There was a time when everyone except myself, believed in my capabilities. I sat down one day pragmatically analysed the exam and my performance, found out what went wrong and started working on it.
Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?

My first attempt in 2009, I was not even eligible for the exam, it was not a very wise decision to appear in it because I hardly had put any effort into it. I prepared my optional History for the 2010 attempt but didn’t devote much time to GS. Those were the times when we had optional in prelims also and had to prepare two optional. I studied sociology and history, but was not consistent enough.

For the 3rd attempt in 2013 I prepared to the best of my ability and yet fell short of cutoff, I had 100 plus score in GS paper 1 but aptitude paper I had a miserable 126. So I worked on it. I always knew that it was only a matter of clearing prelims .

Working professional

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

One has to make changes, you can not compromise on the work quality, I used to wake up early in the morning , took out atleast 3 hours before office, utilized the commute time for studying, my workplace was 60km from my home and I had ample of time on the way. Saturdays and Sundays give your maximum. I availed of Earned Leave  and Extraordinary Leave before mains, being in the govt sector helped.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient My optional, romila thapar and upinder singh.
History Medieval Satish Chandra.
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Spectrum, Bipan Chandra. India after Gandhi.
Culture and society Spectrum, CCRT website, Chronicle material.
Polity (theory + current) Lakshmikant . newspapers.
Economy (theory + current) Mrunal, sriram material of 2012, Ncert and sanjeev verma
Science (theory + current) No specific preparation
Environment (theory + current) Shankar IAS environment booklet. Internet. NIOS.
geography physical Ncert, Wizard. GC leong.
geography India Same as above.
geography world Same as above.
other national/international current affairs Newspapers, the Hindu.
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Mrunal, pib .

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

It was like giving an environment exam. Moreover there were quite a few factual questions too.

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 will not be appearing in 2015, will appear in 2016. Shankar IAS and NIOS material for environment agriculture and geo is good. Magazines like Yojana and Kurukshetra are helpful for prelims too.

Prelim accuracy

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

No I didn’t . nope I don’t think they are.

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

attempted Q. correct (Expected)
GS 82 Score 106.66
aptitude 61 Score 109.18

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

GS 106.66, paper2- 109.18= total 216

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper none
your regional language Hindi, read hindi newspaper, practiced writing everyday  to increase speed and spelling, went through 3 previous year papers.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

I read a few essays but it was not of much help. Though I didn’t  find it useful. The broader preparation for social issues and other parts of GS covers essay preparation too, that is what I relied on. Though it didn’t go very well.

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

With great power comes great responsibility.

50 gold medals in Olympics a reality?

Strangely , I can not  recall much.

Mains General studies paper 1 to 4

Topic How did you prepare?
culture Spectrum,  chronicle magazine edition of 2013, CCRT website.
Indian history My optional, hence covered.
world history Same.
post-independence India India since independence, India after Gandhi.
Indian society Newspapers, frontline, random topics searched from internet.
role of women, poverty etc. Same.
globalization on Indian society
communalism, regionalism, secularism Communalism: A primer by Bipan chndra
world geo physical Ncert, wizards.
resource distribution Mrunal, vision IAS material
factors for industrial location Mrunal, vision IAS material
earthquake tsunami etc Ncert, wizard.
impact on flora-fauna Same plus internet random topics, NIOS, Shankar IAS environment.

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Lakshmikant, yojana, newspaper articles on federalism etc.
comparing Constitution with world Public administration Lakshmikant.
parliament, state Legislatures Lakshmikant polity
executive-judiciary same
ministries departments same
pressure group, informal asso. Vision IAS, Rao n Roy Ethics
Representation of people’s act Vision IAS material
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Lakshmikant, Vision IAS material
NGO, SHG etc Vision IAS material, Mrunla articles, newspaper
welfare schemes, bodies Mrunal. Vision IAS, yearbook.
social sector, health, edu, HRD Economic survey, Yearbook
governance, transparency, accountability Newsapaper, yojana, kurukshetra, frontline
e-governance Vision IAS material
role of civil service Rao and Roy ethics. Sk mishra notes.
India & neighbors newspapers
bilateral/global grouping Mrunal, other internet sources
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Vision IAS material, Newspaper
diaspora Vision IAS material
international bodies- structure mandate Old GS books and random sorces from internet

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Mrunal, economic survey, vision IAS study material
inclusive growth Same plus yojana kurukshetra
budgeting Mrunal, Vision IAS material
major crops, irrigation Kurukshetra yojana
agro produce – storage, marketing Vision IAS material, kurukshetra, yojana, mrunal
e-technology for famers Vision ias material, Kurukshetra, yojana.
farm subsidies, MSP Yojana, kurukshetra, Vision IAs notes
PDS, buffer, food security same
technology mission same
animal rearing economics same
food processing same
land reforms India since independence
liberalization No specific source
infra No specific source
investment models Vision IAS material
science-tech day to day life No specific preparation, mrunal and newspaper were of help
Indian achievements in sci-tech
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Vision IAS matrerial
environmental impact assessment Shankar Environment.
Disaster Management Vision IAS material
non state actors, internal security Vision IAs material
internal security – role of media, social networking site same
cyber security same
money laundering same
border  Management ame
organized crime, terrorism Internet , newspaper
security agencies- structure mandate internet

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics Rao and Roy Chaudhary
attitude, moral influence etc. same
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc same
emotional intelligence, its use in governance same
moral thinkers of India and world How many thinkers did you prepare?

All given in roa and roy chaudhry

ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. same
corporate governance same
probity in governance, work culture same
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. same
challenges of corruption same
case studies on above topics same

GS4 Ethics case study answers in Mains 2014

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

case your approach/ keypoints
case1: your friend preparing UPSC One has to follow the idealist approach in all answers.
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). Same, with small examples from personal life to reinforce ones points.

Mains answer-writing?

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 8 13 4 25
GS2 Don’t  recall exactly Attempted all
GS3 Attempted all
GS4 Attempted all
Opt-P1 Left 2 , 10 marks questions and 35 marks worth of map.
Opt-P2 Attempted all

I attempted all questions except for optional paper 1, I believe quality matters and one should attempt the best ones before proceeding with others, because by the time one reached towards the end, answer quality is compromised due to shortage of time.

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

Ample of space.

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.

I used bullet points and also used the paragraph approach.depended on how much time I had.

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 time for strictly following this format, broadly yes it has to be attempted along these lines but again content matters.

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


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


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


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


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

Blue jetter ball 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?

History , sheer passion for the subject. My marks don’t reflect the respect and love I have for this 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)

I will advise to go for history only if one likes the subject.

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.)

Romila Thapar ancient India, Upinder singh ancient India, the past as present and past before us by thapar. Balyan Classroom Notes available in market.

Satish Chandra medieval plus Balyan Notes.

Modern: Bipan Chandra both struggle for independence and India since independence, India after Gandhi, balyan notes

World history: Balyan 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?

Books will suffice.

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

For me it was a gradual process over 2 years of failures, so cant specify precisely, but in 2014 I took one and half month approx to cover history

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

Didn’t do any

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

No notes

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?

Was easier than 2013. Map practice is must.

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?

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?


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

Formal dark blue suit, white shirt, dark blue tie and formal black shoes.

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

Stayed at a friends place, lakshmikant ,a few current affairs material and economic survey.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?


Q2. How long was the interview?

36 mins, was the last candidate in evening session

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

I wasn’t asked this. I am already in govt health sector serving the people, but I face many hurdles which can be solved by policy changes and removing administrative reforms from higher up in the administrative hierarchy, in my present position I can bring limited changes, but in the prestigious cicil services I will be able to both encourage these limited changes as well as enlarge the scope of such changes.

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)

Chairman: so you are a dentist and you want to join cicil services.  Me: yes mam

Chairman: where are you posted, how far is it from your place, how many days you go there in a week, how many patients you take care of in a day. Me: honest accurate answers.

Chairman:  social issues in Haryana?

Me: casteism, declining sex ratio, khaps, superstition etc.

Chairman: what are khaps?  Me; defined khaps, talked about there modus operandi, composition, orthodox approach etc.

Chairman: what is sarpanch pati?

Me: women sarpanch, husband de facto sarpanch

Chairman: social effects of declining sex ratio

Me: bride purchase from poorer regions of other states, gave examples from the village I am posted in.

Chairman: prenatal diagnostic act, penalities. Me : answered, confiscation of machinery, licence revoked, prison term( didn’t know the exact period)

Member 1: you said khaps are extra constitutional,  have no legal or judicial standing and are totally undesirable, but I think they have social hold and should be utilized for good. They should be consulted for policy making too.Don’t you agree?

Me: no sir, I don’t . of lately some khaps have issued pro women statements and started “beti bacahao” kind of projects which is good, but their overall nature and character still remains the same. They are more attempts at improving their image rather than social change. Moreover once we use such organizations for policy making consultation and also give them brownie points for the good they do, then we are giving them legitimacy which makes curbing their bad actions are the more difficult. There are elected bodies at local level, the panvhayats, they shud be consulted for policy making.

Member: I think there is scope for using khaps for good work.

Me: with utmost respect, I differ sir. They are not the ideal bodies for this purpose. We can see how salwa judum was used for bringing good…but it didn’t justify its existence.

Member: smiled and changed topic

Member: why hasn’t the pre natal diagnostic act not been a success?

Me: it curbs the supply side only, doesn’t tackle the problem of demand. As long as there are people with male child preferences there will be a demand and such malpractices will be present even if strong acts are there. Social involvement and awareness are must , once we remove the demand then the act might not be needed even.

Member 2: you have mentioned exploring archaeological sites as a hobby, where have you been?

Me : mentioned the places I have been to/

Member 2: what is Stonehenge? Its relevance?

  • Name civilizations other than harappan
  • Difference between Stonehenge and inca structures?
  • Indian megaliths, purpose, relevance?
  • Ottoman empire, extent, rise and fall.
  • New techniques in archaeology’ various dating techniques.
  • River saraswati and its excavation.

And a few more questions.. all answered  correctly

Member 3: gender equality, your views?

Me: the mere exixtence of terms like gender equality and feminism indicate that there is something utterly wrong with our society, because in the absence of any discrimination, such terms would not have existed. Then I gave the usual both sexes are equal arguments.

Member 3; what about combat role ? do you think women should be given such role?

Me: yes, absolutely.

Member 3: but women cant operate heavy machinery, you are a student of science and you know there are structural differences both skeletal and musculature based. Women are locically and scientifically , not as strong as males , physically.

Me: I agree sir, but we conveniently forget this argument when we allow women to work in agriculture  and construction sites. Moreover physical strength is not something that cant be built over time. Look at salman khan of present day and salman f 1990s, he was thin and now he is all muscular. Same way physical strength can be built over time, let us not rob the women of their rights with such arguments.

Member 4: asked me about an international  camp at bal bhavan  Delhi that I attended what was my take away from this camp?

Why are we unable to reduce marginalization of certain sections of the society.

Me : gave answers satisfactorily. Second question , mentioned failures of education system, reservation benefits confined to particular creamy layer of the SC and ST. lack of political will and social incentive.

Chairman: ok you may go.

Me thank you…as I stand up to leave, member 2; wait , can I ask you a few more questions?

Me: definitely sir.

Member: what are the specialities in dentistry?

Me : mentioned all, briefly described.

Member : why is dental treatment so painful?

Me; it is not sir, it is just the perception, we practice painless dentistry now a days. Even the needle pricks for anesthesia are minimla painful.

Member: smiled, whispered good.

You can go now. Thank you for your extra time.

Me: thank you sir, smiled and wished everyone good evening and left.

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

The interview was in a very comfortable and cordial environment. My interview was what you can actually call a personality test. Very few factual questions.  They tried to change my opinion on khaps and women in combat but I didn’t change my views.

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


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


CSE-2014 Marksheet

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

Prelims: paper1: 106.88 , Paper2: 109.12

Mains:  GS1: 97  GS 2: 75, GS3 73 , GS4  90 ,essay 130 , optional 1: 110, optional 2: 122 total 697

Interview : 209

Total   906

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

Essay , better presentation, less cuttings.

Ethics, better answers I could have, but tried to keep them as natural and authentic.

Maps need practice.

Career Backup

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

The present job.

Credit: Friends/family

Q. Behind every topper are many people who stood by during those uncertain times when he/she was merely an ‘aspirant’. Would you like to tell the world, who were those people in your case? Any specific incidence that you would like to share with the readers?

I am indebted to Mr. Rishiraj Gautam Bhambhu, Smt Saraswati Devi, Neha Bhambhu and all my family members for their support and encouragement.

I am thankful to Siddharth for being the best friend one can hope for,  Sarvapriya, the strongest, most intellectual and sweetest girl I know, for constantly inspiring me. Thanks to Chetan amd Khushboo Khan for being the partners in preparation and for keeping me sane.

For all the friends who believed in my abilities, Vinod Yadav, Manvinder Singh Lather, Gaurav Bishnoi, Ashish Gupta, Sankalp Singh Bisht, Preety Atreja Pahwa, Kanika Kapoor and many more I might not have named. Thank you all.

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.

I used mrunal.org. it was of immense help. The economy part on your portal  was very vital for my preparation. All the material you create and upload is of excellent quality. My sincerest thanks.