1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Struggle of a Senior player
  7. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  8. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  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. Mains answer-writing?
  17. Mains Optional Subject
  18. Before the interview
  19. During the interview
  20. CSE-2015 Marksheet
  21. Career Backup
  22. Views on UPSC reforms
  23. Insecurity about profile
  24. Wisdom
  25. Credit: Friends/family
  26. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Q. Details
Name Vinay Goyal
Rank in CSE-2015 79
Roll No. 0002469
Age 27
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 3
Optional Subject Medical science
Schooling Medium English
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Jind, Haryana
Work-experience if any Worked as Medical Officer for 6 months
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures CSE 2014 – 628 rank
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) GS coaching from Vajiram and Insights, Test series from Vision IAS
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS>IPS>IFS>IRS IT>Customs
state cadre preference (Top-5) Haryana>Rajasthan>Gujarat>AGMUT>Punjab


% in class 10 87
% in class 12 79
Graduation course and % MBBS 62
Name of college, city, passing out year PGIMS, Rohtak, 2013
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Playing badminton, football, playing music


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
Vinay Goyal
I belong to Jind, Haryana. My father works in a chemist shop and mother a home maker. The idea of me going for Civil Services matured during my internship in 2012.This was because I used to believe that as a Civil Servant I could work for masses in much more effective way, having greater authority as well as resources at my disposal.

Electronic Vs Paper material

In my view, out of sea of information available one needs to be selective and not get carried away. I used to read newspaper and make notes, also referred to internet for value addition.

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?
The beauty of this exam is that it rewards perseverance. Definitely mood swings will be there but one needs to be focused. Having faith in oneself is the precondition. I used to make small small achievable goals rather than planning big. Also I used to play sports to keep myself fit and energetic.

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.
Have faith in yourself and keep yourself motivated. Talk to your friends, family, relatives. Feel joyous in small achievements like good marks in a test series. This exam takes time till final goal is achieved.
Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?
I got selected last year also but my rank was not satisfactory. The main reason was low marks in optional. I worked on that aspect along with on essay and that paid off well.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient NCERT
History Medieval NCERT
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) SPECTRUM
Culture and society Nitin Singhania notes + Society from The Hindu articles
Polity (theory + current) Lakshmikant +newspaper(Hindu and IE)
Economy (theory + current) Mrunal +newspaper
Science (theory + current) NCERT + newspaper
Environment (theory + current) NCERT  +newspaper
geography physical Mrunal + NCERT
geography India Mrunal + NCERT
geography world Mrunal+ NCERT
other national/international current affairs Newspaper+ Vision IAS notes
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Vision IAS notes

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2014 paper?
Practice the prelims by solving last 3 years question papers and analyzing the trends. Also try some mock tests before appearing in prelims
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)?
Practice as many papers as possible for prelims. Focus more on areas like environment and culture from where too many questions come these days.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths Practice papers
reasoning -do-
comprehension -do-
Decision Making -do-

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2015 paper.
Just solve 2-3 papers of CSAT. If you are finding it difficult need to work more.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
I used to practice sample papers ofVision IAS. Mock tests can help in a way that they streamline your preparation and give you necessary feedback.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2014

attempted Q. correct (Expected) Official score
GS 92 72 131
aptitude Don’t remember Don’t remember

Mains: Compulsory language paper

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

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
In my first attempt I got just 75 marks in essay and thus could not qualify mains. Then I seriously focused on essay .I used to write essays and got them evaluated from many persons. One important aspect of essay writing is that the beginning and ending must be appealing. Ending must also be visionary.

Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?
First one on value education and second on dreams which shouldn’t let India sleep.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
Culture Nitin Singhania notes
Indian history Spectrum
world history Ncert + Norman Lowe
post-independence India NCERT
Indian society Newspaper + GS score booklet
role of women, poverty etc. -do- + Yojana
globalization on Indian society -do-
communalism, regionalism, secularism -do-
world geo physical NCERT + Mrunal videos
resource distribution -do-
factors for industrial location -do-
earthquake tsunami etc -do-
impact on flora-fauna -do-

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Lakshmikant
comparing Constitution with world Vision IAS notes
parliament, state Legislatures Lakshmikant
executive-judiciary -do-
ministries departments Vision IAS
pressure group, informal asso. Vision IAS
Representation of people’s act Vision IAS
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Vision IAS + Lakshmikant
NGO, SHG etc Yojana + Newspaper
welfare schemes, bodies Vision IAS + GS score booklet
social sector, health, edu, HRD Newspaper
governance, transparency, accountability Vision IAS + Newspaper
e-governance -do-
role of civil service -do-
India & neighbors Newspaper
bilateral/global grouping Newspaper
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Newspaper
DIASpora Newspaper
international bodies- structure mandate Newspaper

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Ramesh Singh
inclusive growth -do-
Budgeting -do-
major crops, irrigation Geography NCERT
agro produce – storage, marketing Newspaper
e-technology for famers Yojana + Mrunal
farm subsidies, MSP Newspaper
PDS, buffer, food security -do-
technology mission -do-
animal rearing economics -do-
food processing -do-
land reforms Mrunal
Liberalization Newspaper + Ramesh Singh
Infra Mrunal + Newspaper
investment models Mrunal
science-tech day to day life NCERT
Indian achievements in sci-tech Newspaper
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Newspaper
environmental impact assessment Vision IAS
Disaster Management Yojana issue
non state actors, internal security Vision and Vajiram booklet
internal security – role of media, social networking site -do-
cyber security -do-
money laundering -do-
border  Management -do-
organized crime, terrorism -do-
security agencies- structure mandate -do-

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics Notes of Mohanty sir and S K Mishra sir
attitude, moral influence etc. -do-
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc -do-
emotional intelligence, its use in governance -do-
moral thinkers of India and world How many thinkers did you prepare?
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. -do-
corporate governance -do-
probity in governance, work culture -do-
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. -do-
challenges of corruption -do-
case studies on above topics Test series of Vision IAS

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?
Once basic concepts are clear then paper could be attempted easily. Focus on answer writing particularly case studies.

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 18 2 Full
GS2 18 2 Full
GS3 17 3 Full
GS4 All Full
Opt-P1 190 40 230
Opt-P2 180 30 40 Full

Try to attempt as many questions as possible. Even if you have some idea about a question, attempt it.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
Merely filling space doesn’t matter, what matters is content.
Q. Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs? Some players (who cleared mains and got interview call letter) were claiming that they wrote entire paper in bullet points, so it doesn’t matter….whether examiner is asking ‘examine, comment, discuss or xyz’….simply write in bullets and points.
I tried to answer mostly in bullets, but in some cases paragraph also.
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.
In few questions this can be done but completing paper is race against time so not possible in each and every question.
Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?
In optional papers only. In GSs papers no time left to use them.
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
Yes I drew diagrams in Geography and optional.
Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?
With pen only because no time to use pencil.
Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue pen as it gives a better contrast in white sheet.

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
Medical Science. I chose it as it is my graduation subject and well scoring.

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.)
Basic books referred during MBBS time
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 required
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?
No test series available in market so need to practice previous years question papers.
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
On certain topics like Dermatology and Psychiatry. In paper format.
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?
Same level as of 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?
Searched from internet and books. Read newspapers for current affairs.

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. Not exactly similar but they do help in sensitizing you for the ultimate 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’?
At friend’s room.  Just read the newspaper.
Q4. Any words of wisdom about Medical checkup?
Be there on time and bring your eye prescription if using spectacles.
Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
Dark grey coloured suit.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Arvind  Saxena sir
Q2. How long was the interview?
Approx. 25 minutes
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?]
This question disturbs a lot especially the medicos. I replied that in Civil Services I would have greater resources at my disposal as well as authority to bring the required change which I somehow lack in my present job.

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?
More or less on expected lines. Questions were mainly from medical field and railways (I got IRAS from my last year’s rank)

CSE-2015 Marksheet

Q1. Please attach both prelim and final marksheet
Prelims mark sheet-

Subject Marks obtained
Paper 1 131
Paper 2 ————-

Mains mark sheet-

Subject Marks obtained
Essay – Paper-1 135
General Studies – Paper 2 98
General Studies – Paper 3 79
General Studies – Paper 4 84
General Studies – Paper 5 83
Optional Paper – Paper-1 139
Optional Paper – Paper-2 124
Written total 742
Personality Test 193
Final Total 935

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

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
Though I haven’t thought of it but if not selected I would have continued my career in medical field.

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 finishing my attempts.

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
In my view Optional subject helps aspirants of science background especially when the whole exam pattern is tilted towards humanities, so I am not in favour of removing it.
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
That was a good move but still some issues like Hindi translation are there which needs to be resolved.
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.
Yes in my view IFoS exam should be separated from CSE. Half merger has led to one more problem that the prelims paper is flooded with environment ecology questions.
Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answer key and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.

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?
In my case it wasn’t present as I was working. But honestly speaking these things don’t matter at all. In interview, you are judged based on your views and not your schooling medium and work profile.


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?
Try to give your best and you will succeed one day. Never get bogged down by the facts that you are from rural/poor background. Its only hard work that matters and nothing else.

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?
As mentioned earlier self-confidence and perseverance are the key to success not only in this exam but for every exam. Rectify your mistakes and again prepare with full energy, you will definitely succeed.

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, teachers and friends. Two persons I would like to mention here are: My uncle Dr K S Goyal – he is the person who first suggested me to go for this exam and stood with me during my entire preparation phase and second is my brother Vivek who is my best teacher, mentor and guide.

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.
Yes definitely helpful especially for the starters. Your Economics articles have helped a lot in clearing basic concepts. The lectures on geography are also quite helpful. I owe you much in my success.