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. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  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. Views on UPSC reforms
  24. Insecurity about profile
  25. Wisdom
  26. Credit: Friends/family
  27. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile


Q. Details
Rank in CSE-2014 721
Roll No. 269419
Age 28
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 3
Optional Subject Geography
Schooling Medium Marathi
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Shirdi (Loni) Rural
Work-experience if any 3 years Approx.
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures Failed
SSC = failed Always
MPSC CIVIL service =could not clear prelims even once
MPSC engineering Service = junior engineer.
MPCS = lecturer
BMC= Sub engineer.
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) Vision IAS
Mock interview at Many places
 Service preferences (Top-5) IAS IPS IRS IT, IRS IRTS
state cadre preference (Top-5) Maha , Gujrat, Karnataka Raj, MP


fill the details here
% in class 10 80
% in class 12 81.5
Graduation course and % 6.7/10
Name of college, city, passing out year College of engineering, Pune
Post-graduation PGDM in IPR
Any other professional courses LLB(ongoing)
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Chilling.
Work in Educational NGOs


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
I was obsessed with corporate Job while I was engineering(2009). But many a time was made to work which was way below what I deserved, and my straight forward nature was never going to work in office politics. So I kicked job at AEROSPACE Industry (2011) and moved towards civil services.
My father Shri D B Kusalkar, Worked as executive engineer at Maharashtra Irrigation Department.He always worked for the weakest section with extra deligence that inspired me to complete my journey in UPSC

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)
Basically I selected material very cautiously from Internet and printed it down. I always believe in hard written paper only.
Its a myth that you should read only particular newspaper. I used to change my newspapers periodically from The Hindu to Express to ToI to Business Standard. Which saves you from boredom.
I stared every day at 9.
I have problem with concentration with only one subject so I used to keep 2 subjects together.(I believe change in work is kind of rest).Each weeks workload and Plan was generally defined. More often than not 2 hours sleep in afternoon and a late night movie on internet was my schedule.but I was always honest to my progress report.

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?
Stratergy 1 = read on your own, if bored
stratergy 2 = bother others by telling them what I read today, if bored in that too
stratergy 3= discussion with person having superior smartness than me. Avoid bakar non serious company.
Stratergy 4 = read books of Indira gandhi, Dr Ambedkar etc.  it helps big way and in way you never know.
Bottomline is “By hook or by crook make yourself attached to study.”

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.
Isolation may be rude option but its the best option with minimal mental damage.
Go underground until you are giving UPSC.
Its the process in which you learn to swallow your pride and that my friends is greatest wisdom in world.
So accept that yes , we are vulnerable to mental trauma with all these ppl around.
Reduce your vulnerability by going underground.
Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?
Wrong 1= Too much overconfidence after clearing 1 prelims
Wrong2=  joining job just after 1 st mains because of safety in career.
Wrong 3= not assessing areas of improvements. I was too egoistic to ask other rank holders for my mistakes
Wrong4= Not joining Test series in Attempt 2
Change 1= complete overhaul in material and strategy in Optional
Change 2= Started test series at vision IAS
Change 3= Obtained Guidance from Various seniors
Change 4= Specifically reduced my Scientific writing style and developed ART people like style i.e. To draw many figures , to include scientists name
E.g. If engineer is  using  E=MC^2 he wont mention Einstein but an art person will always quote his name in answer.

Working professional

If you’re a working professional, share some tips on how to manage studies with job
NA. I used to work In BMC (2011) mumbai but is was really difficult to maintain energy for study so I kicked the Job No 2

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient NCERT
History Medieval Dint DO
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Spectrum later Grover
Culture and society NCERT + Nitin Singhania
Polity (theory + current) Laxmikant Zindabad
Economy (theory + current) Datta and Sundaram
Science (theory + current) Only Vision IAS current but nothing is usefull in S & T 
Environment (theory + current) Shankar IAS
geography physical My Optional
geography India SAME
geography world SAME
other national/international current affairs IDSA and Newspaper
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Economic Survey

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2014 paper?
I am very Poor At GS.
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?
Yes surely, do shankar IAS carefully and MoEF website.
Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2014 paper.
IT was googly for many casual CSAT attempting People. It really scared the hell out of me. But eventually I passed. Thank god

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
No. no they are not necessary for success. Just Use their Xerox and be honest with yourself on scores.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2014   

attempted Q. correct (Expected)
GS 80 60
aptitude 80 70

Q3. Your score in prelim (when UPSC uploads it please mail me your score)
GS 90
CSAT 115

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper Dint do as I am good in English.
your regional language Dint require to do

Q2.other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2014
Papers are sometimes Difficult out of the blue
Don’t ever take it casually  while in exam hall. Never ever, ever ,ever ,ever(I am not mocking anyone). Specially if you think you are weak at language.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
My only strategy was to write an essay which even my grandma would be able to understand.
Keep your English very simple.
More points
maintain logical flow
Convincing and practical conclusion.

Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?
I really don’t remember points but I wrote

  1. power and responsibility
  2. Tourism

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
culture NITIN singania  notes and FINE arts NCERT
I prepared answers so general that can fit any art form.
Like for Dance= Hand and Eye movements are prominent
costume is prescribed only
graceful movements are there etc which fits any dance :-)))
Also use diagrams
Indian history Material = You know it
Write all parts of question from what all you could remember.
world history Material =HAQ ncert and Arjun Dev NCERT
Write all parts of question from what all you could remember.
post-independence India BIPIN CHANDRA
Write all parts of question from what all you could remember.
Indian society NCERT
Write all parts of question from what all you could remember.
role of women, poverty etc. Write all parts of question from what all you could remember.
globalization on Indian society Follow NCERT and datta sundaram style
communalism, regionalism, secularism Democracy in India
world geo physical Mrunal
draw Diagrams and Write all parts of question from what all you could remember.
resource distribution Mrunal
draw Diagrams and Write all parts of question from what all you could remember.
factors for industrial location Mrunal
draw Diagrams and Write all parts of question from what all you could remember.
earthquake tsunami etc Mrunal
draw Diagrams and Write all parts of question from what all you could remember.
impact on flora-fauna Mrunal
draw Diagrams and Write all parts of question from what all you could remember.

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Laxmikanth.. prepare a list of Cases and Articles to put in answers
comparing Constitution with world Laxmikanth
parliament, state Legislatures Laxmikanth
executive-judiciary prepare a list of Cases and Articles to put in answers
ministries departments
pressure group, informal asso. Democracy In India NCERT.. prepare shortcuts for their various aspects
TECHNOLOGY and answer in that manner
Representation of people’s act Download acts and read carefully
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Gather articles from Newspaper, cases, Events etc
NGO, SHG etc Same structure making as in Pressure group
+ there is kurukhetra on SHG which is really helpful
welfare schemes, bodies Prepare standard critiq and appraisal which fits any scheme e.g. Top down approach etc
social sector, health, edu, HRD Prepare standard critiq and appraisal which fits any scheme e.g. Top down approach etc
Plus you should know budgetory expenditure.
governance, transparency, accountability
role of civil service
India & neighbors Democracy in India NCERT + Subra MAMS notes on IR
bilateral/global grouping Democracy in India NCERT + Subra MAMS notes on IR
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Democracy in India NCERT + Subra MAMS notes on IR
diaspora Never did this
international bodies- structure mandate This is very Basic

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Datta and sundaram
inclusive growth Datta and sundaram
budgeting Datta and sundaram
major crops, irrigation Datta and sundaram
agro produce – storage, marketing Datta and sundaram
e-technology for famers Ministry Website gather 2-3 schemes
farm subsidies, MSP Datta and sundaram
PDS, buffer, food security Datta and sundaram
technology mission
animal rearing economics
food processing mrunal
land reforms Datta and sundaram
liberalization Datta and sundaram
infra Datta and sundaram
investment models Datta and sundaram
science-tech day to day life Never did
Indian achievements in sci-tech Never did
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Never did
environmental impact assessment Shankar
Disaster Management DM NCERT
non state actors, internal security MHA internal secutity repot only
internal security – role of media, social networking site Vajiram
cyber security Vajiram
money laundering Vajiram
border  Management Vajiram
organized crime, terrorism Vajiram
security agencies- structure mandate Vajiram

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics SK Mishra GS SCORE
attitude, moral influence etc. SK Mishra GS SCORE
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc SK Mishra GS SCORE
emotional intelligence, its use in governance SK Mishra GS SCORE
moral thinkers of India and world How many thinkers did you prepare?
Very few
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. SK Mishra GS SCORE
corporate governance SK Mishra GS SCORE
probity in governance, work culture SK Mishra GS SCORE
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. SK Mishra GS SCORE
challenges of corruption SK Mishra GS SCORE
case studies on above topics SK Mishra GS SCORE

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 UPSCNever do even small illegal  and Immoral. rest everything is acceptable Never do even small illegal  and Immoral. rest everything is acceptable
case2: Rameshwar the uptight UPSC topper. Never do even small illegal  and Immoral. rest everything is acceptable
case3: no bribe no contract. Never do even small illegal  and Immoral. rest everything is acceptable
case4: corrupt subordinates file bogus rape complaint against you. Never do even small illegal  and Immoral. rest everything is acceptable
in  the remaining bol-bachchan type questions (e.g. why ethics important, why probity difficult etc). They are the once who kill you.. thorough thinking is key. Dont take casually

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 10 10 5 25
GS2 10 5 4 19
GS3 10 5 5
GS4 210 marks
Opt-P1 3 1 1 or 2 5
Opt-P2 3 1 1 5

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.)
Bottom line = full attempt.
Now, you can think on improving quality after you know that you have to attempt all.
You cant say you will play only first half football at your best and win, it never works that way for common people like me.
May be for People like Tesla it will work.
Even if you get 1 mark for completely made up answer you are a champ.
Bindhast hoke logically feko…… s/he should be never in position to call you completely wrong and rubbish..
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
I targeted it with prepared mindset . my 1 page = 80 words, Which I already knew.
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.
Go for mixed 1 with 80 % bullets and 20 % para.
Keep conclusion in Paras  and  main body in bullets.
Riders like examine, analyze matter a lot , never ignore them.
Your answer is not complete without these riders getting answered.
Q. Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format? because some mains-qualified candidates claim they simply wrote the points they could recall within the time, instead of bothering with proper introduction and conclusion.
Yes I followed it. I cant comment on what others did
but you can always  find smart way to go in mixed bullet plus para form.
Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?
No and don’t advise it
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
A lot.. My imagination was running wild…
always fill gaps with diagrams when you dont have much to write.
If you have contents at least use one diagram
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?
See if you have to go to party at 10 you cant do make up at 9.55. look at the time crunch.
I even saved time of bathroom by avoiding drinking any water so imagine the scale.
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue.. it looks bright. Pilot pen v7
(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?
It is traditionally safe optional.
Guidance/class is available  everywhere.
Large no of successful seniors to guide are available.

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)
Geography is safe. If your knowledge is sound. And your presentation skills are sharp.
But I say check your aptitude about subject before opting.
Choosing optional is like marrying. If you make wrong choice , ………
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.)
See, source building is continuous process. You always find something missing in any book. What is important is how to map these gaps.
Have all the books and make one book as basic( like savinder singh).and map missing topics to other books.

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?
You can rely on books and notes
3% of your entire time. Focus on bringing what you know on your answersheet.
Give very less importance to internet.
To me internet is like khoda pahad nikla chuha.

Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
3 months
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
As this was my third attempt I started writing immidiatly after prelims.
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
I believe in hard paper material and notes of sincere students(which I am not). So I borrowed notes of successful candidates.
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?
Analytical nature of question is increasing.
Role of current affairs is also increasing. But make no mistake factual data always fetches more marks along with analytical explanation.

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 am cool and confident person plus I dont lie, in a way there was nothing much to prepare for interview. Just brushed up basic  stuff like native area , graduation.
My only strategy was to accept  “I dont know” when I did not know. And that paid off. 184 marks for H.C. Gupta board.
Of course dont say I dont know when asked about ARTICLE 21 or Like such basic questions.
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?
Yess its better if you attend few mocks.
Q3. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
Black  suit with purple tie. And red tape black oxford shoes and mild lacoste perfume!!!!!
none of which is necessary!!!!!. White shirt and black pant and a tie would do.
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?
Q2. How long was the interview?
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?]
Be practical ,  no 1 likes your idealism however romantic it is!!
my answer:civil service gives you immense career opportunities which any private job is unable to give despite being the best (at this age)
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 watched gangs of wassepur 2 just before interview. So there was 0% fear.hahaha

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?
I did not expect anything so there was no element of surprise!!!
they tried to make it uncomfortable interview but I never allowed them to take me out of my comfort zone!!
Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
Dont worry about documents . Upsc gives you time for fullfilment if you dont have some documents but if you have then it will avoide unnecessary turbulance.
Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
You cant do much in medical. Just bring some food with you. Or else you will be starved for the day.

CSE-2014 Marksheet

Q1. Please attach marksheet.

Nitin Kusalkar UPSC marksheet

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

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
UPSC only… since I came till interview.
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.)
my backup plan has been working Simultaneously, without disturbing upsc schedule.
And I have 2 government job offers apart from IPS
I am more suicidal than a safe player.

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
Coaching will always be there since there is some syllabus involved!!!
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
CSAT is only thing which is required on critical jobs like IPS and IAS. rest all knowledge is available in books.
Value of CSAT ability is immense. Rest you can infer!!!!
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.
Its the reality. You have to face reality to pass. You can think about pattern etc if you are policymaker!! but we are not, so why be so much philosophical. Its not our job. So study hard. Obtain what you can with available resources. If not coaching find a guide.

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).
Ifos is all india service, it is rare. If everything you expect is comfort then we might as well  demand removal of exam to.
Always remember this is competitive exam and you have to compete in given circumstances. If you accept this your journey will be smoother.
Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
Yes I believe this is reasonable demand.
Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
Are we comparing apple with orange? Is UPSC=CAT=IBPS? no.
think about the amount of logistics involved. Appreciate  innovations of UPSC. They are not easy jobs.
This duration has practical reasons. LABASSNA , NPA have fixed intake capacities.
Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?
I will not say I will bring reforms revolution but I will definitely try towards reducing subjectivity (if there is any in optionals)

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?
Face with accepted reality. Dont try to defend by giving reasons.
Things happen and its okay to not have big profile.
its not requirement of job, you are still eligible.


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?
Without struggle no one will give you a penny forget about All india service.
Whats the point of life if not for struggle.Enjoy the process. dont cry over things.
Maintain positive attitude and Good Health.
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?
Fellas cheer up.
If you are done hard working why not try Smart work? Is being cynical,hopeless and depressed going to help you? NO.
Dont let your means become your ends, try to devise new means for definite end i.e. UPSC rank

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 fathers Good karma and Wisdom are 2 things which hugely supported me.
He never asked for my any result, just believed in me. this belief my friends is greater than any power on earth.
Just be answerable to only those who believe in you and yourself.
I once was frustrated with my increasing attempt and failures my father said “think 1000 times before taking a decision and since you have decided to be in this game you should never look back, come what may”
That was real rejuvenation and motivation.
I also salute IRS Rohit Joshi for helping me in geography from 150/500  (2013)to 257/500 (2014)

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 think mrunal is/was great help. When no one is there, mrunal bhai is there.
But mrunal.org cannot provide you every material.
It has sufficient guidance so I have picked up many strategies from Mrunal and I think you should do the same.