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 & UPSC Prep.
  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. Mains answer-writing?
  18. Mains Optional Subject
  19. Before the interview
  20. During the interview
  21. Interview Transcript
  22. CSE-2015 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 Chandan Prakash Pandey
Rank in CSE-2015 462
Roll No. 3617
Age 28
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 2
Optional Subject law
Schooling Medium English
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Patna
Work-experience if any ACIO-II since Feb 2015, AO(Legal), NICL June-2014-Feb 2015
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures UGC NET-JRF, ACIO, NICL AO
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) NO COACHING, NO MOCK, NO POSTAL MATERIAL
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS-IFS-IPS-IRS(C&CE),IRS (IT)


% in class 10 84%
% in class 12 65%
Graduation course and % B.A.LL.B., 67%
Name of college, city, passing out year CHANAKYA NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY, PATNA, 2011
Post-graduation LL.M.(2012-2014) P.G. DEPARTMENT OF LAW, PATNA UNIVERSITY, 2014
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Watching Hollywood movies, watching Grand Slam Tennis


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

Chandan Pandey ACIO-II
I am a law school pass out and currently working in IB as ACIO-II. My father is self employed and he imparts soft skill training and my mother is a homemaker. I have a younger brother who is a PO in Vijaya bank. I decided to go for civil services while I was pursing my masters in law in 2013. My primary reason to enter into the field of competitive exams is to get a government job so that I can have a secure career and an opportunity to give it back to the society.

Electronic Vs Paper material

I never made notes as I think I am incapable of making notes. I am more of a reader. I used to have my task cut out for a day. I relied extensively on the electronic material like I used to download notes on various topics and read it on my kindle. I have soft copies of all the ncerts and the prescribed standard text books which I used to read. I relied on websites also like Mrunal and IDSA.

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?
for me it has never been about the quantity but the quality of my study. one day before I used to chalk out which portions and what topics I have to finish irrespective of time. it might take me 10 hours and it might take me 4 hours but my focus was to to finish the day’s quota. mood swings are part and parcel of the preparation but what one has to remember that the motivation to go on should always come from within as in you have to be self motivated. I didn’t study when I didn’t feel like because I think its disrespectful when I am sitting with a book physically but I am elsewhere mentally. Music helped me a lot to get over those mood swings and distractions.

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 dont think I will consider myself as a senior player but to those who are all I can say is that sometimes even when you give your best you don’t get the desired result but that should not stop us from giving our 100%. Luck is a major factor and it is something which is beyond our control but the effort we put in is in our hands.
Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?
I missed the preliminary exam by 2 marks.

Working professional & UPSC Prep.

If you’re a working professional, share some tips on how to manage studies with job
Yes, I am working in IB and I had to manage my job and studies. I used to be in the office at 10 am sharp and whenever I had some time to spare I used to read on my kindle. after I come back at 6, I hardly had any energy left in me to study but I still managed 2-3 hours which went to 4-5 hours during weekends.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient NCERT( selectively)
History Medieval NCERT( selectively)
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Spectrum
Culture and society vision ias notes
Polity (theory + current) laxmikanth ( pretty obvious I guess), Vision ias current affair
Economy (theory + current) sanjeev verma, vision ias
Science (theory + current) NCERT, vision ias current affair
Environment (theory + current) NIOS, vision ias current affair
geography physical NCERT
geography India NCERT (New one)
geography world land and people (NCERT)
other national/international current affairs Vision ias current affairs
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Didn’t do

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2014 paper?
people were surprised because current affairs question made a strong comeback. focus should be more on understanding the basic concepts instead of focussing on facts.
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-2016 (if you were going to appear)?
I would focus more on current affairs and the environment section.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths didn’t do
reasoning didn’t do
comprehension didn’t do
Decision Making didn’t do

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2015 paper.
it was deliberately made tough as it was qualifying in nature.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
No, I didn’t get time to attend mocks as I was undergoing my training in IB which trust me when I say this takes a lot of toll.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2014

attempted Q. correct (Expected) Official score
GS 75 60 108.66
aptitude 65 55 114

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper Newspaper
your regional language Newspaper is a must

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2015
They were not difficult per se but hindi made me sweat big time. its been quite a while since I studied or wrote hindi so I would advise people to please do read hindi newspaper whenever you get time.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
I didn’t do any thing specific for essay but when I used to read newspaper or any magazine like Yojana I used to make bullet points in my head as in how will I approach the topic if I have to write.
Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?
lending hand is better than giving dole.
can capitalism bring inclusive growth ?
i am not able to recall the exact points as it was a spontaneous flow of ideas but I do remember that I relied heavily on constitution and its articles to substantiate my arguments.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
Culture vision ias
Indian history ncert(old)
world history ncert(old)
post-independence India nicest (new) politics in india since independence
Indian society sociology ncert
role of women, poverty etc. sociology ncert
globalization on Indian society vision ias
communalism, regionalism, secularism sociology ncert
world geo physical ncert(new)
resource distribution Mrunal
factors for industrial location Mrunal
earthquake tsunami etc Mrunal
impact on flora-fauna Mrunal

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. laxmikant
comparing Constitution with world vision ias
parliament, state Legislatures laxmikant
executive-judiciary laxmikant
ministries departments didn’t do
pressure group, informal asso. vision ias
Representation of people’s act vision ias
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. vision ias
NGO, SHG etc Mrunal
welfare schemes, bodies didn’t do
social sector, health, edu, HRD didn’t do
governance, transparency, accountability vision ias
e-governance Mrunal
role of civil service vision ias
India & neighbors vision ias
bilateral/global grouping didn’t do
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest didn’t do
Diaspora vision ias
international bodies- structure mandate

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization sanjeev verma
inclusive growth sanjeev verma
Budgeting Mrunal
major crops, irrigation Mrunal
agro produce – storage, marketing Mrunal
e-technology for famers Mrunal
farm subsidies, MSP vision ias
PDS, buffer, food security Mrunal
technology mission Mrunal
animal rearing economics didn’t do
food processing vision ias
land reforms vision ias
Liberalization vision ias
Infra vision ias
investment models sanjeev verma
science-tech day to day life vision ias
Indian achievements in sci-tech vision ias
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR vision ias
environmental impact assessment vision ias
Disaster Management vision ias
non state actors, internal security Mrunal
internal security – role of media, social networking site Mrunal
cyber security vision ias
money laundering didn’t do
border Management didn’t do
organized crime, terrorism didn’t do
security agencies- structure mandate vision ias

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics vision ias
attitude, moral influence etc. Mrunal
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc Mrunal
emotional intelligence, its use in governance vision ias
moral thinkers of India and world Mrunal, hardly 3-4
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. vision ias
corporate governance vision ias
probity in governance, work culture Mrunal
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. vision ias
challenges of corruption vision ias
case studies on above topics didn’t specifically practiced case studies

Q. Many candidates found Mains-2015 Ethics paper very peculiar and “out of the book”. What are your observations and tips for future aspirants regarding preparation of this paper?
Ethics is something which cannot be studied from a specific book so I will not say that the paper was very peculiar or out of the book but having said that I did find the paper lengthy and demanding. My scores in ethics disappointed me a lot because my paper went well I was expecting a good score but with UPSC you never know.

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 14 2-3 20
GS2 10 15 0 20
GS3 10 15 2 20
GS4 no idea no idea 1-2 all
Opt-P1 cant recall cant recall none all
Opt-P2 cant recall cant recall none all

i attempted all the questions and my focus was to answer as per the requirement of the question. I didn’t define or elaborate anything unless it wasn’t asked. one should at least try to attempt all the questions but it shouldn’t mean that questions are being attempted just for the sake of it. There is no hard and fast rule regarding how to approach a paper. if you have no idea about a question, it would be a wise decision to leave the question because the person checking the copy is capable enough to call your bluff and once he did its all downhill from there.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
half of the answer sheet was left untouched mostly because my writing is small and the space is more than enough for a 200 word answer.
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.
Its a judgment call. I also wrote in bullets and points and that’s a good strategy in paper 1 and paper 3 but in paper 2 one has to take into consideration the demand of the question but I would suggest to go for bullets and points because it easy for the examiner to read and understand and eventually all we need is good marks to get through.
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, I didn’t follow introduction-body-conclusion format. I wrote in bullets in gs paper except paper 4.
Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?
No, Those who did I would really like to know from them how did they manage to finish the paper.
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
No.I am pathetic when it comes to draw. All I can draw is india’s flag.
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?
you are kidding, aren’t you?
Mrunal– nahi, new players ask all sort of basic thing, hence the question.
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue, Reynolds trimax

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
Law, because I am a also school pass out and I don’t have the wherewithal to study any other paper but law.
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 would suggest people to go for law because of its broad applicability and reading law helps in understanding the policies in a much better way which can further lead to a good analysis which is quintessential for UPSC.
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.)
There are two kind of text books available. first one will help you to do your phd in a particular topic and the second one will help you to get through the exam. never go for the first one though for some conceptual topic one can read it once but just once other wise you will be stuck in it for perpetuity.

  1. constitution- j n pandey, a k jain ( my choice)
  2. torts- r k bang, a k jain ( my choice)
  3. international law- a k jain, ambition law notes
  4. contract- a k jain, bare act, avatar singh
  5. ipc- a k jain, bare act, kd gaur
  6. partnership act, sales of goods act, negotiable instruments act- notes ( being a law school student has its own perks)
  7. other topics- basic and preliminary understanding is needed so internet will do.
  8. recent legal developments- it can be covered in current affairs.

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?
For the recent legal developments current affairs is a must. internet research can be done for few topics like IPR and competition law.
Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
As I have studied law in my law school days so it didn’t take me much time. I did it in one and a half months but one needs at least 4 months. I know it sounds crazy but I was juggling my job along with my preparation.
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
I didn’t practice answer writing.
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
To a certain extent yes.
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?
it’s getting more and more dynamic and analytical with every passing year so I would suggest that preparation should be as per the need of the hour. instead of mugging up things and focussing completely on WHAT we should focus more on WHY.

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?
My optional was same as my graduation subject so that wasn’t a problem. My hobbies were watching hollywood movies and watching grand slam tennis. I didn’t prepare anything specific for movies though I watched the oscars like every year, for grand slams I took the help of interest and read about its history and past winners. I relied on vision ias for current affairs. my place of birth is patna so researching about patna is like reading ancient india all over again.
Q2. Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? How were they similar / different than official interview? Do you believe it is necessary to attend such mock interviews?
i attended chanakya ias (good) and vajiram( waste of time and money) mock interviews. official interview was completely different though the first question I was asked in chanakya ias mock was the same in my official interview. attending mocks can help you gain or regain confidence and can prepare you mentally for the d-day
Q3. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?
i stayed with my brother in delhi and I had with my budget speech and vision ias current affairs of january and february. for the daily updates I was reading the hindu.
Q4. Any words of wisdom about Medical checkup?
keep calm and it will be done soon. don’t wear tight clothes.
Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
grey suit,blue shirt and maroon tie.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Vinay Mittal Sir.
Q2. How long was the interview?
Approx 30-35 minutes

Interview Transcript

Board- Vinay Mittal Sir.
Board consisted of 5 members which included one female member.

CM- Sit Down. Showed me my photo and asked me if thats’s me.
Me- I wished the CM first then the female member and finally the other members before I took my seat.
CM- You have done law. why not join legal profession and earn money. why civil services?
Me- Sir, I have taken that into consideration while applying for civil services. Civil services will also provide me a respectable lifestyle and in addition to that it will provide me a wider platform and opportunity to do what I really want to do.
CM- Tell me about Article 16 in relation to Article 335 of the constitution.
Me- I described Article 16 and also said that it talks about reservation in promotion for sc and st who are not adequately represented in the government job. CM intervened by saying are you sure what you are saying is right. I said yes sir. its article 16.4A. Regarding Article 335 I said I am not able to recall it right now.
CM- you are an LL.M. You should be knowing Article 335.
Me- I smiled and said Yes sir but I am sorry as I am not able to recall it right now.
CM- Tell me about NJAC and the problem with it.
Me- I explained about NJAC and said that it hampers independence of judiciary as the law minister is also supposed to be the part of the committee and separation of power.
CM- It has some issue with Primacy.
Me- Yes Sir, primacy of CJI will not be there as there would be 6 members in the committee and in case of tie the CJI does not have any casting vote or veto power.
CM- What is your view on NJAC?
Me- I said having law minister on the committee is violative of separation of power and independence of judiciary though the apex court itself has said that they are open to reform but NJAC is not the right way to go about it. we can invite applications for the post of judges which will lead to more transparency and accountability.
CM- Where is devolution of power mentioned in the constitution?
Me- 73rd and 74th amendment which has granted constitutional status to panchayat and municipalities.
CM- what has been done in the recent budget to empower them ?
Me- 2.87 lakh crores has been allocated to panchayats and urban municipal bodies for their empowerment. the govt in the budget has highlighted the importance of bottom up approach instead of top down approach. as the panchayats are more aware about their problems and needs they should be made financially more independent to take decisions in this regard.

M1- what is the reason behind pendency of cases in sc and hc?
Me- sir. there is lack of judges as the courts are not operating at their designated strength, secondly, the adjournment tactics which is used by the lawyers. thirdly, lack of infrastructure and dedicated cadre for judiciary and lastly there is tribunalisation of justice.
M1- how the problem of PIL and SLP can be dealt with ?
Me- the courts can impose costs on vexatious PIL and regarding SLP the protection is provided in Article 136 itself which says that slp jurisdiction should be invoked judiciously and rarely by the apex court and only in cases where there is gross violation of law and miscarriage of justice.
M1- Dont you think we spend too much money on defence and that money can be used in social sector.
Me- No Sir, I don’t think we spend too much money on defence. India lives in rough neighbourhood where its neighbours are not going to miss even a single opportunity to hurt India. I also explained my personal experience of working in IB at India Bangaldesh border and problems of illegal migration and FICN ( FAKE INDIAN CURRENCY NOTES). Having said that we can still go for cost cutting in defence by way of modernisation.

M2- Does IB comes under any statute?
Me- No Sir.
M2- do you think it should ?
Me- Yes sir, it should.
M2- why?
Me- sir, it will make us come within the purview of RTI and secondly it will define our rights and duties because due to lack of clear cut defined rights and duties, our functions often overlaps with state police. I explained it further with an example of my work place where one of the IB officer was abducted and killed by the militants and police did not react the way it should have once we got the information of abduction.
M2- IB deals with national security issue, so why RTI ?
Me- sir, information of general nature which does not pertain to national security can be given to people after all we are there to serve the people only and it will increase transparency and accountability.
M2- why citizen perceive police this way and what can be done to deal with this ?
CM also intervened and said can it be due to some historical reason ?
Me- sir I am not able to recall any historical reason behind the situation but the image can be improved by having more interaction between citizens and the police. various programmes can be organised jointly by the police and citizen on occasions like 26 jan and 15th august and it has to be quid pro quo from both sides.

M3- What is your opinion on recent juvenile justice bill?
Me- Madam, it has some good things in it and some not so good things in it. good things like ban on corporal punishment given to children in institutions and creation of child adoption regulation agency which will regulate cases of adoption. some not so good things are that it talks about trying children between 16-18 accused of committing heinous crimes as adults. this is volatile of article 14 of the constitution as tow children of the same age group having done the same crime are being treated differently.
M3-Delhi police comes under central govt. do you think its right ?
Me- yes madam, its right, as delhi has various vital installations like supreme court and parliament and the central govt has the infrastructure, manpower and the finances to take care of it but having said that areas such as traffic can be given to delhi govt.
M3- Why traffic why not law and order?
Me- as there is a huge trust deficit between central and delhi govt we should start with traffic and later we can move on to law and order.
M3- Madam smiled and said this is what the central govt is also planning to do.

M4- what is difference between hollywood and bollywood movies?
Me- Answered
M4- favourite hollywood movie?
Me- The shawshank redemption
CM- why?
Me- because of the message it gives
CM- what message ?
Me- it talks about hope and says that hope is the best thing we can have. I am an optimistic person and I also cling on to hope at the time of despair and the situation we are in right now I believe hope is the best thing we have.
M4- Have you seen any hindi movie recently ?
Me- Yes sir, Aligarh. it dealt with the serious and sensitive topic of homosexuality.
CM- what is your view on sec 377?
Me- sir I think it should be repealed because what two consenting adults are doing in private should no body’s business. The country which enacted this section i.e. England itself has legalised homosexuality in their own country and third, law should be dynamic in nature and should evolve with the society.
CM- what is grand slam?
Me- 4 major tournaments i.e. australian,french,us and wimbledon
CM- how is india doing in singles ?
Me- India has not done anything great in singles but San and hingis won the australian open doubles in 2016 and paes and hingis are currently wimbledon 2015 mixed doubles champion.
CM- what is the recent issue of maria sharapova?
Me- Answered.
CM- but she didn’t check her email. so it wasn’t her fault.
Me- sir ignorance of law is no excuse. she should have checked her mail and she cant take the defence of not checking her mail
M4- what is Santhara?
Me- sir its a jain tradition of self starvation oneself to death.
M4- it was in news recently .
Me- sorry sir I am not able to recall.
M4- what is mercy killing?
Me- active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. active euthanasia is banned in indian and passive euthanasia was dealt extensively by the sc in aruna shanabaug case. the govt has changed its stance on passive euthanasia and has said it will decide after the apex court’s judgment regarding it.
M4- shah bano case
Me- it dealt with maintenance to muslim women under sec 125 crpc as the muslim personal law doesn’t provide for maintenance to muslim women.
M4- mohribibi case
Me- it dealt with minor’s capacity to enter into an contract. as a minor is not capable to enter into an contract so any contract entered with a minor is void ab initio.

CM- thank you, your interview is over.
Me- I wished everybody 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?
it was on expected lines and I will not call it a stress interview.
Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
carry your mark sheets and degree and recently clicked photograph.
Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
not really.

CSE-2015 Marksheet

Prelims Marksheet

Subject Marks obtained
Paper 1 108.66
Paper 2 114.66

Mains Marksheet

Subject Marks obtained
Essay – Paper-1 142
General Studies – Paper 2 85
General Studies – Paper 3 62
General Studies – Paper 4 91
General Studies – Paper 5 81
Optional Paper – Paper-1 115
Optional Paper – Paper-2 110
Written total 686
Personality Test 198
Final Total 884

Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?
I am in state of shock after I saw my paper 2 marks. I expected more. I will try to focus more on paper 2 and ethics paper i.e.paper 4. As I had to manage everything in 3 months including my optional I know I have not done justice to few of the topics. Moreover I would practice answer writing though the only time I wrote an essay was in the examination hall and I managed to score 142 but I can still do better.

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
I am an LL.M. and a UGC NET/JRF, so I can always go for teaching but right now I was working as ACIO-II in IB.
Q2. When were you going to “execute” that backup plan? (e.g. after __ failed attempts/ after I cross __ age/after dad retires/ after girlfriend dumps me etc.)
i already executed it.

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
i do agree that optional should be removed as it will make the level playing ground same for everyone,
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
I am happy because I know I can never score 180+ in CSAT and today I am a civil servant primarily because CSAT was qualifying this year.
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 Mains-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.
i cant agree more. even in my own preparation I relied extensively on coaching notes for various topics but we have to understand that UPSC has its own limitations. it has made the syllabus as holistic as possible and with every passing year the pattern and style is changing and these coaching institutes are capitalising on the fear of the aspirants.
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).
i cant comment upon this as my knowledge regarding ifos is extremely limited but I would say that ifos and cse should be conducted as two separate exams for prelims.
Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
Yes they should. it will give the aspirants more time and they will not be stuck in limbo.
Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
i dont think its practically feasible. ibps and cat are conducted across weeks having different set of questions for each sitting which is not the case with UPSC.
Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?
i will cut down drastically on the time taken to declare the results of prelims, mains and the final result and will declare the cut off of prelims and marks of the candidates as soon as the results of the prelims are out ( there is no harm in dreaming).

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?
It hardly makes any difference. My law school is just 10 years old and I am the first one from my college to sit in an UPSC interview and I managed to score a whooping 198. So, always be confident about yourself because its not the institution which matters but the individual and how he/she performs.


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?
This exam has made me sagacious to say the least. it taught me to enjoy the process as much as I can and it also made me a patient man. My only message to the aspirants is- we are limited by our own thinking. half of the battle is won in mind so see yourself as a winner and I guarantee you one day you will be one.
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?
Success can be delayed but it can not be denied. I know how it feels to fail but the best teacher in this world is failure. When I can do it ,i believe anybody can.

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 parents especially my mother and my little brother. my father was hospitalised two days before my mains exam but my mother and my brother took care of everything so that I can finish the job in hand. If I have qualified this exam today its only because of my parents and the believe they had in me. My friends who supported me all the way and helped me with even the littlest of things and last but not the least god for giving me the strength to go on and for blessing me with such an amazing family and giving me the opportunity to serve my country.

BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Q. You are well aware of the sacred rule of conducting toppers interview- 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.
hahahahahaha, I did use Mrunal.org. I would say use is an understatement, I literally slept with my laptop with your site open through out my mains. Thank you very much Mrunal for all the amazing classes. Mrunal, you are a rockstar. stay the way you are.
Visit Mrunal.org/TOPPERs to see more interviews of successful candidates in UPSC civil services exam, from other optional subjects and academic backgrounds.