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. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  10. Prelim accuracy
  11. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  12. Mains: Essay
  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-2014 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

Masroor Ahmad

Q. Details
Name Masroor Ahmad
Rank in CSE-2014 914
Roll No. 007645
Age 27
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 2
Optional Subject psychology
Schooling Medium English
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Darbhanga
Work-experience if any Nokia Networks(2 year)
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures SSC(CGL)-Missed cutoff ,FCI-again missed cutoff ,GATE qualified
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) Vajiram and Ravi(classroom course during first attmept), Mains test series-vision ias ,chronicle
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS,IPS,IFS,IRS(IT),IRS(C&CE)
state cadre preference (Top-5) BIHAR,UP,MP,RAJASTHAN,AGMUT


fill the details here
% in class 10 64
% in class 12 53
Graduation course and % 76
Name of college, city, passing out year University institute of technology ,Barkatullah University ,Bhopal 2010
Post-graduation NA
Any other professional courses NA
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Normal hobbies like listening music, playing chess and cricket(truly speaking no hobbies since I entered into the battlefield)


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

To become a civil servant was a dream which I have seen since my childhood. I belong to a small town where I have observed the administration very closely. This is one field which gives you opportunity to work on ground for the peoples & with the peoples. I decided to enter in the arena  when I was working and gave my first attempt then only but failed in prelims .After my failure I extensively discussed with my elder brother Dr Mahboob Ahmad(Asst. manager NTPC) about all concerns. He supported my decision to leave the job so I resigned and start full time preparation.

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)

With the changing dynamics of CSE one need to update himself/herself with current events which sometime not covered by newspaper only. In such context I relied on electronic media(like I used to take print out of your articles) but I am more friendly with paper material. I don’t make notes separately but used to write on book only. I also use lot of pens and highlighters.

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?

There are some quantitative and qualitative points which I used during my preparation like

  1. Weekly and monthly targets
  2. Gives myself reward on completion of each target like movie or outing with friends whichever you like.
  3. Weekly review and giving feedback to yourself and even give points sometime
  4. Be realistic and take CSE as an exam only which have some requirements which need to be catered.
  5. Ask yourself what is your motivation and once you found stick to it.
  6. If you don’t like to study its fine…go have fun till you start cursing yourself .

These are some techniques but others can have there owns J

Struggle of a Senior player

(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.

Luckily I have very motivated environment around me as my family and friends were very supportive but in the above mention conditions one need to be calm and wait for his turn.

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

In my first attempt I relied more on notes and didn’t completed the basic books so I got only 70 marks in GS paper and missed the prelims cutoff by 10 marks. So I made some changes like completed all ncerts ,joined test series for writing skill etc.

Working professional

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

It depends on your work profile. I gave my first attempt when I was working but for me it was quite difficult because of my 24×7 profile.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient NCERT
History Medieval NCERT
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) NCERT & bipin chandra
Culture and society Nitin SInghania notes
Polity (theory + current) Laxmikant &the hindu and Indian express
Economy (theory + current) Ramesh singh & the hindu and Indian express
Science (theory + current) GS manual(TMH) & the hindu and Indian express
Environment (theory + current) Shankar coaching booklet
geography physical NCERT
geography India NCERT
geography world NCERT
other national/international current affairs Newspaper
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff IYB

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

UPSC with its unpredictable nature can ask anything now so revise and practice with extensive coverage from different sources.

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?

Try to master the map. It will help in dealing with most of environment questions. In addition, one should read the newspaper and collect information about recent happening in the field from internet.
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)?

Same as previous

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths Mock test
reasoning Mock test
comprehension Mock test
Decision Making NA

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

Practice revise and practice.

Prelim accuracy

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

Yes I attended during my second attempt. The questions might not appear in the same format but it helps in developing the mental framework if attended seriously.

Q2. Your score in prelim (when UPSC uploads it please mail me your score)

PAPER 1: 108

PAPER 2: 117

TOTAL:    225

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper Previous year question paper
your regional language Previous year question paper

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Wrote 2 or 3 essay  (one should write regularly atleast one in a week if not comfortable )

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

1)with great power comes great responsibility

2)tourism :the next big things

Catchy introduction and then write in flow with keep in mind the different possible dimensions of it.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
culture Nitin singhania notes
Indian history Bipin Chandra and NCERT
world history Norman lowe and NCERT
post-independence India Vision booklet
Indian society VISION
role of women, poverty etc. Different sources including internet
globalization on Indian society Different sources including internet
communalism, regionalism, secularism Different sources including internet
world geo physical Majid hussian
resource distribution Vajiram booklet
factors for industrial location Vajiram booklet
earthquake tsunami etc NCERT
impact on flora-fauna NCERT

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. LAXMIKANT
comparing Constitution with world Vision booklet
parliament, state Legislatures laxmikant
executive-judiciary laxmikant
ministries departments Vajiram booklet
pressure group, informal asso. Vision booklet
Representation of people’s act Internet and newspaper
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. laxmikant
NGO, SHG etc Vision booklet
welfare schemes, bodies IYB
social sector, health, edu, HRD IYB
governance, transparency, accountability Vision booklet
e-governance ARC report on e-gov
role of civil service Laxmikant (pub ad book)
India & neighbors Vajiram yellow book
bilateral/global grouping Vajiram yellow book
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Vajiram yellow book
diaspora Vision booklet
international bodies- structure mandate Newspaper and internet

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Ramesh singh , sriram booklet
inclusive growth internet
budgeting internet
major crops, irrigation GS MANUAL
agro produce – storage, marketing Vision booklet
e-technology for famers internet
farm subsidies, MSP Ramesh singh
PDS, buffer, food security Ramesh singh
technology mission internet
animal rearing economics Not prepared
food processing Internet
land reforms Bipin chandra
liberalization Ramesh singh
infra Not prepared
investment models
science-tech day to day life Newspaper and internet
Indian achievements in sci-tech spectrum
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Newspaper and internet
environmental impact assessment NIOS environment book
Disaster Management Vision booklet
non state actors, internal security Vajiram booklet
internal security – role of media, social networking site Vajiram booklet
cyber security Vajiram booklet
money laundering Vajiram booklet
border  Management Vajiram booklet
organized crime, terrorism Vajiram booklet
security agencies- structure mandate Vajiram booklet

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics Not prepared seperately
attitude, moral influence etc. Not prepared seperately
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc Not prepared seperately
emotional intelligence, its use in governance Not prepared seperately
moral thinkers of India and world Vision booklet(around 10 or 15)
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. Vision booklet
corporate governance Vision booklet
probity in governance, work culture Vision booklet
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. Vision booklet
challenges of corruption Not prepared seperately
case studies on above topics Insightonline

GS4 Ethics case study answers in Mains 2014

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:

Paper Best attempted Average quality namesake answer Total attempt

Q1. What was your approach in the exam (I wrote all, I only focused on the questions where I could answer perfectly, I just not to high quality points to reach the word limit etc.) Because the UPSC aspirant Community is divided over what counts as a ‘good’ paper. Some experts claim you should attempt all- even if it involves “making up” an answer with filler lines, some claim attempt only those questions you know perfectly. Where do you stand on this? [Based on your experience and of your seniors/buddies]

I wrote all the answers even if some of my answers were not upto mark. Thats actually backfired me as I got average marks in gs. But I am yet to figure out the low marks in paper 4(ethics).

Q2. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?

Enough space

Q3. 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.

Both depends upon the requirement

Q4. 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.


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?

No by hand only

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.)

Mains Optional Subject

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

Psychology and I opted it out of interest.

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)

Yes psychology is very interesting subject and a student can score better if he/she starts loving it.

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

I took coaching from Mukul Pathak and read his notes along with NCERT.

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?

Not much

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

4-5 months

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

Just after prelims

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

Yes paper

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?

This year paper was simple compared to previous year.

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?

I wrote the possible answers from my DAF and made a current affairs list of 2-3 months.

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 at vajiram,samkalp and chronicle …they are no way similar to real interview…a student can join if he feels so.

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

Light blue colour shirt and black pant (with 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 home

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Vinay mittal

Q2. How long was the interview?

30-35 min

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?]

Civil services have both external as well as internal motivations. for example external factors like prestigious job ,power etc whereas internal motivation like human factors and gives a platform where you can use your capabilities towards betterment of society.

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)

DAF and current affair based questions

1) About my work profile in previous job

2)2g scam and recently auction

3)4g issue, black money bill

4)resources of bihar after bifurcation

5)why jharkhand is not developed dsepite resocures

6)coalition goverment is bad or good


8)solution to nexalism

9)smaller states

10)diferent smaller states and why they have not been successful

11)north east on basis of resourse in not good

12)range of 4g

14)project in college

15)my project and aadhar card

16)3 words of urdu

17)statment of carl jung(psychology)


19)about distt and priority as administration

20)how to educate the rural area in faster manner

21)recent happening of the day:traffic police hit a girl with brick

22)discharging him from office is right decision or not

23)will it affect the moral of police:demoralising of police

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?

On expected lines however interview was more stress and so many counter questions asked by members.

CSE-2014 Marksheet

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

Prelims :already mentioned above


subjects marks

Career Backup

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

Teaching or Previous job

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

After one more attempt

Views on UPSC reforms

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

Importance of coaching can not be reduce by such reforms as 90 % students are clureless when they enter into it so they see coaching as the only way. Removing optional is not a good option as the concept of generalist-specialist will be diluted.

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

Rather making it qualifying the share of marks added into the final marks should be reduced  like 60:40.

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).

Can’t comment on it as I didn’t appear for ifos.

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


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

No it is an all India level exam where both rural and urban students participates so it would be disadvantage to those rural students.

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

Reducing time duration of exam

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?

Go through my interview you will get the answer.i never get more than 60 percent and did my engineering from decent college :)


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?

Once you started the preparation start living it….remove your distraction completely& focus on one thing only CIVIL SERVICES EXAMINATION:MOTHER OF ALL EXAM plus two more advise

  1. Memorize the syllabus
  2. Read the newspaper consistently

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?

This is not the end and if you believe in destiny then remember god must have something special for you. Read wings of fire (kalam sahib book) and you will get what I said.

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?

Apart from almighty my family(Margoob ahmad,mahboob ahmad,mahfooz ahmad,jamurad praween,mossarat praweena and yasmin fatma) and my friends(ashwani,vilas,manish etc)

BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Q. You are well aware of the sacred rule – the last question must be about self-marketing. So, Did you use Mrunal.org for your preparation and if yes, how did it help you?  And you can even reply “No”. I’ll still publish your answer without tempering.

Yes I did and it really help me lot specially in covering the current affair.