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


Q. Details
Name P.Deepak
Rank in CSE-2014 1110
Roll No. 651211
Age 28
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 4
Optional Subject Sociology
Schooling Medium English
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Tirunelveli
Work-experience if any CTS, RBI
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures RBI Grade B-2014, CPF-2012
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) Time coaching ,Smart leaders(sociology)
Service preferences (Top-5) IPS,IAS,IFS, IRS (C),IRS IT
state cadre preference (Top-5) TN, Kar,AP, Kerala


fill the details here
% in class 10 89%
% in class 12 95%
Graduation course and % 6.11
Name of college, city, passing out year CEG,Anna university, Chennai
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Trekking, Sudoku, Surfing internet, Quizzing


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

Strong determination of service to the society and will power made me to enter this field. Father also held a commendable post in the government, so I was used to the government machinery from my childhood. I thought I can use this machinery to bring about a positive change in the society.

Other selections(RBI grade b ,CPF-2012) were just for the exposure and are just the tip of the iceberg.

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 like to read mostly via paper material and will revise them via electronics. Few new stuff alone which cannot be found in the paper material, I will browse them through internet.

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?

Preparing for this civil services exam was the toughest part in my life. One needs to remain focused and energetic throughout the period. A little deviation can result in heavy price. This was the mistake I did in my previous attempts. I do watch movies, inspiring shoots, go for a walk when I feel low.

My wife is a constant source of motivation to me, without her this wouldn’t be possible. 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.

Stay cool and calm. I think upsc alone does not offers you a job, there are many others jobs available. One can get selected in them , then try for upsc with a fresh mind.

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

I am a fun loving guy, wasn’t serious in my previous attempts. Smart work was there but no hardwork.

This time Smartwork + Hardwork -> Victory

Working professional

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

Buy a big smartphone, upload all ur documents in that , study and revise them.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient -Ncert
History Medieval -Didn’t prepare
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) -Ncert, Spectrum
Culture and society Spectrum
Polity (theory + current) Lakshmikanth
Economy (theory + current) Own notes
Science (theory + current) -basic knowledge
Environment (theory + current) -internet
geography physical -Ncert
geography India -Ncert
geography world -Ncert
other national/international current affairs
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff India year book

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

Was normal

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?

Would buy a special book for environment and agriculture, to enrich upon.

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)?

Need to explore.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths RS agarwal
reasoning Didn’t study
comprehension Didn’t study
Decision Making Didn’t study

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


Prelim accuracy

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

One mock test I attended. Just to get the feel of an exam. Yes they are necessary for me.

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

attempted Q. correct (Expected)
GS Don’t remember 90
aptitude Don’t remember 120

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


Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper Didn’t prepare
your regional language Read newspaper

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


Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Prepared for 4-5 essays per month. Totally wrote 15 essays. And took inputs from newspaper.

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

With great power comes great responsibility.

Tourism: Can this be the next big thing for India?

Strategy – don’t remember much….but covered social, economic, cultural, political aspects and maintained a logical flow.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
culture Spectrum
Indian history NCERT
world history NCERT
post-independence India NCERT
Indian society Didn’t prepare
role of women, poverty etc. Basic knowledge + newspaper
globalization on Indian society Basic knowledge + newspaper
communalism, regionalism, secularism Basic knowledge + newspaper
world geo physical NCERT
resource distribution NCERT
factors for industrial location NCERT
earthquake tsunami etc NCERT
impact on flora-fauna

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Laksmikanth
comparing Constitution with world Internet – cant remember website
parliament, state Legislatures Laksmikanth
executive-judiciary Laksmikanth
ministries departments
pressure group, informal asso. Laksmikanth
Representation of people’s act Basic knowledge + newspaper
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory..
NGO, SHG etc Basic knowledge + newspaper
welfare schemes, bodies India year book
social sector, health, edu, HRD India year book
governance, transparency, accountability Own notes
e-governance Own notes
role of civil service Own notes
India & neighbors Wiki
bilateral/global grouping Wiki
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest
international bodies- structure mandate Wiki

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization For all these – Newspaper + notes – didn’t get good marks in this
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
Indian achievements in sci-tech
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR
environmental impact assessment
Disaster Management
non state actors, internal security
internal security – role of media, social networking site
cyber security
money laundering
border Management
organized crime, terrorism
security agencies- structure mandate

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics Common sense+ Chronicle Lexicon + Time coaching on ethics
attitude, moral influence etc.
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc
emotional intelligence, its use in governance
moral thinkers of India and world
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

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 Common sense approach
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?

Paper Best attempted Average quality namesake answer Total attempt
GS1 Managed to attempt all questions

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]

Content is important, I didn’t bluff.

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

Do u want more sheets to tell stories? That’s not needed… fixed space was good

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.

Depended on the nature of the question – but mostly wrote in paragraphs

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.


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

No time to use them and all

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?

By hand

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?

Sociology – Pure 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)

Depends on the interest of the person. No subject is good or bad. All you need is smartwork and hardwork

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.)


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?

Both are needed

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


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

Right from day 1

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

Self 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?

No difficulty provided you had prepared well

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?

Interview was a blunder for me –

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 didn’t attend. Yes they are very much needed

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

Light blue shirt, Black pant, 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’?


During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

HC Gupta

Q2. How long was the interview?


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?]

Answered earlier

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)

Scored 118 in the interview –very low score – sorry guys

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?

Stress interview on the lines.

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)

Subjects Marks
Essay (Paper-I) 132
General Studies -I (Paper-Ii) 078
General Studies -Ii (Paper-Iii) 076
General Studies -Iii (Paper-Iv) 068
General Studies -Iv (Paper-V) 107
Optional-I (Sociology) (Paper-Vi) 133
Optional-II (Sociology) (Paper-Vii) 128
Written Total 722
Personality Test 118
Final Total 840

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

Interview did the blunder – would attend mock tests for it.

Career Backup

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

RBI grade B.

Views on UPSC reforms

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

Optionals doesn’t create level playing field. It should be removed.

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

Welcome it.

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.

If you have the will, anything can be done… We only create opportunities, they never appear before us.

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).

No idea – didn’t apply to it

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

That’s the process, nothing harm in it.

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

Reduce the lengthy process.

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

Conduct 2 interviews for a single candidate with different interview boards and take the average out of it.

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?

All are not good in all areas. If school, graduation studies wasn’t good, it doesn’t mean they are ineligible for civil services.


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?

Achieving success in civil services needs smart work + hardwork + motivation. All fun loving guys without dedicated preparation will be out of the race. Work+Fun – >Success

Destination is glory, but path is rugged thorns. Travel smartly in the path.

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?

Find your mistakes, revamp it, give your next attempt.

Credit: Friends/family

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

My wife, My parents.

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 your economy stuff. It was awesome. I owe you a lot. My sincere thanks….Rock on mrunal !!!!!