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. Mains answer-writing?
  18. Mains Optional Subject
  19. Before the interview
  20. During the interview
  21. CSE-2015 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

Name Lokesh Mishra
Rank in CSE-2015 44
Roll No. 0455443
Age 25
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 2
Optional Subject Sociology
Schooling Medium Hindi
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Pratapgarh,Uttar Pradesh
Work-experience if any
  1. 2 years as engineer in Chambal Fertilisers and Chemicals Limited, Kota,Rajasthan
  2. 9 months in State Civil Services of Uttar Pradesh.Presently working as BDO in RaeBareli (U.P)
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures 1.Made into the reserve list of CSE-2014
2.Got selected in UP PCS
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) NA
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS>IFS>IPS>IRS(IT)>IRS(CCE)
state cadre preference (Top-5) UP, MP, Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar


% in class 10 75
% in class 12 73
Graduation course and % Chemical Engineering, 5.5
Name of college, city, passing out year IIT Delhi, 2012
Post-graduation NA
Any other professional courses NA
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Watching movies, Reading books etc


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
UPSC Topper 2015 Lokesh Mishra
I belong to a small town Lalganj in Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh. My father is the branch manager, RRB and mother is a housewife. I have one brother and two sisters and all of them are in the civil services (Yogesh Mishra, IOFS, CSE2013; Madhvi Mishra ,IAS,CSE 2014 ; Kshama Mishra,IPS,CSE2015). I studied till intermediate in Lalganj only and completed my garduation from IIT Delhi.
In my society, civil services are the most respectable job and that holds true for almost all the eastern UP. So, my teachers, realtives always encouraged me to give it a try. My interest and inclination too grew towards civil services over the time during my schooling as my place is socially and politically very active (Everyone is a political philosopher in eastern UP……haha!). With the support of parents and my siblings, I entered this field.

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)
Plethora of e-material may be suitable for candidates doing full time prepration,however for already employed candidates, sticking to maximum one is good. However,I was exempted because I had facility of notes of my siblings. One good newspaper is must such as The Indian Express, The Telegraph or The Hindu. Important thing is to stick to the basics and not run for all the materials available in the market. Keep it as simple as possible.

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?
Planning is necessary for the preparation particularly after Prelims and before Mains. Stick to your plan and make short targets. If things are well managed, pressure would be less and so will be the distractions. Mood swings are natural and one should have a small time break from the studies and do what one likes.

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.
This was my second attempt and I got into reserve list in first attempt also, hence there was not much burden on me.
Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?
I lacked few marks in all areas. Hence ,rather than any one  big change, I made several small changes.

Working professional

If you’re a working professional, share some tips on how to manage studies with job
That requires special efforts and planning. Time management and efficiency becomes key factor. Sometimes honest revealation of your preparation to your boss works in your favour.
Selection of study material should be done wisely here as the time is less. Go for short and summarized reading materials. Online sources of preparation is a big boon for working professionals. Capitalize them to the maximum extent.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient Notes of my brother
History Medieval Notes of my brother
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Notes of my brother
Culture and society NIOS Material
Polity (theory + current) Laxmikant
Economy (theory + current) Mrunal
Science (theory + current) Nothing
Environment (theory + current)  NCERT
geography physical NCERT
geography India NCERT
geography world NCERT + G C Leong
other national/international current affairs Newspaper
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Newspaper

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2015 paper?
Question paper was as per the expectation. One should focus on basics for the prelims especially basic theoretical concepts behind any ongoing event which is in the news.
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 have tried the same strategy as last year.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths Left
reasoning Left
comprehension Left
Decision Making Left

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
No, I didn’t attend any mock test. Practice is necessary and one should have enough practice before appearing in the exam.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2015

attempted Q. correct (Expected) Official score
GS 100 141
aptitude 80 176

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper Left
your regional language Left

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2015

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
Initially, my brother explained me how to write a good essay in civil service examination.  After Prelims exam, I wrote few essays for practice and sent them to my brother through whatsapp for evaluation.

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

  1. Character of an institution is reflected in its leader
  2. Dreams that should not let India sleep

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
Culture NCERT + NIOS
Indian history Notes of my brother
world history Notes of my brother
post-independence India India After Gandhi by R C Guha
Indian society Covered in my optional Sociology
role of women, poverty etc. Covered in my optional Sociology
globalization on Indian society Covered in my optional Sociology
communalism, regionalism, secularism Covered in my optional Sociology
world geo physical NCERT + G C Leong
resource distribution Mrunal
factors for industrial location Mrunal
earthquake tsunami etc
impact on flora-fauna

General studies (Mains) paper 2

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

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Yojana,Frontline
inclusive growth Yojana,Frontline
major crops, irrigation Yojana,Frontline
agro produce – storage, marketing Yojana,Frontline
e-technology for famers Yojana,Frontline
farm subsidies, MSP Yojana,Frontline
PDS, buffer, food security Yojana,Frontline
technology mission Yojana,Frontline
animal rearing economics Yojana,Frontline
food processing Yojana,Frontline
land reforms Sociology notes
Liberalization Yojana,Frontline
Infra Yojana,Frontline
investment models Yojana,Frontline
science-tech day to day life; awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR: Science reporter
Indian achievements in sci-tech Science reporter
environmental impact assessment Yojana,Frontline
Disaster Management Yojana,Frontline
non state actors, internal security Yojana,Frontline
internal security – role of media, social networking site Yojana,Frontline
cyber security Yojana,Frontline
money laundering Yojana,Frontline
border  Management Yojana,Frontline
organized crime, terrorism Yojana,Frontline
security agencies- structure mandate Yojana,Frontline

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics For whole ethics paper, I refered to  notes of my sister Madhvi.
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

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?
GS Paper-4 is very important and scoring. One should thoroughly prepare the syllabus and try to write answers from administrator’s point of view. It should be supplemented with real life examples and events.
This paper is lengthy and hence, time management too becomes very important. Case studies should be solved using logical approach and future course of action should be mentioned.

Mains answer-writing?

Please tell us how many marks worth attempt did you give? along with comments if any, in the following cells:

Paper Total attempt
GS1 250
GS2 237.5
GS3 250
GS4 250
Opt-P1 250
Opt-P2 250

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]
I tried to attempt maximum questions as preparation was done exhaustively and I was confident of completing the paper. I tried to frame the best possible answer in the given time for each question. Questions asked are more of opinion based mostly, so one can always write few things even if one is not well aware of the topic. But if one attempts the full paper, enough writing practice is needed to complete the paper within time comfortably.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
It’s better to have a fixed space for the answer writing. I followed the word limit and there was no problem.
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 wrote both in paragraphs and in bullet points as per the demand of the question. I don’t think it matters much. Important thing is to have a to the point answer and covering maximum dimensions.
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.
I did not follow this format. But I tried to write a good conclusion for each answer.
Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
Rarely. It may be in 1 or 2 questions out of 20.
Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?
With pen only.
Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?
By hand only.
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue pen.

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
My optional subject was Sociology. It’s an interesting subject and all the guidance and reading material was provided by my elder brother Yogesh who was already in the Services. So it became easy for me.
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’ll advice to opt for Sociology as it’s interesting, scoring and easy to understand.
Q. First the essential book/resource list. (Also mention which one is the “Base book” for covering the theory? + Whatever comments you’ve for a particular book e.g. “my seniors said read xyz book but I found that ABC book was better”.  “xyz topic not given properly in this book, so prepare from xyz website or book…” OR and so on.)
I did not read any book for Sociology. I completely relied on brother’s handwritten notes .
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?
Internet-research/ current affairs are very very important for optional to score good marks. Only book reading may fetch good marks in colleges but not in this examination. Ability to see the practical application of that bookish knowledge is needed from any candidate.
Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
It took almost 2 months for me as the reading material was already sorted out.
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
2 months before the examination, I started the writing practice.
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
Yes, there was a revision notes made in the paper format. It was helpful to revise the entire syllabus in quick time.
Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2015 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?
2015 paper was tougher than the last year. I would have kept the same strategy in the future except one thing and that is the selection of the question sets. Selection should be done in a way that capitalises your preparation.

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 just web searched about key points in my DAF. I thought of all the possible questions and searched the answers of them.
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?
No mock interviews in any coaching class. I just took one week leave before interview and went to Nagpur where my brother is undergoing training. There, we discussed the possible scenarios that may come up during interview and my response towards them. On daily basis, he conducted a mock interview for me.
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 in a hotel. I just brought few sheets of paper on which few information was noted down after internet searches.

Q4. Any words of wisdom about Medical checkup?
Get some food items such as dry fruits and water with you.
Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
White shirt  over a black pant with a tie with red pattern..

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Mr. Manbir Singh.
Q2. How long was the interview?
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?]
Civil services offers more scope and opportunities for social service. It’s more prestigious too. I agree that private sector is also dedicated for the service of society but my decision to join civil services was influenced by its versatility and scope.
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)
Interview was based mostly on my DAF. The interview panel was cordial and supportive. Some of the questions asked were:

  1. What are the jobs and responsibilitites of a BDO?
  2. What are the challenges in this service? Why development is not reaching to the grassroots?
  3. What actions do you take against any employee involved in corrupt practices?


  1. How much subsidy for the fertilisers in this year’s budget? What is NBS?
  2. What type of subsidies are given to a fertiliser firm?
  3. For which 3 things Kota is famous/infamous ?


  1. What is the famous ‘Etawah Project’ of development launched in the decade of 1950?
  2. MNREGS is a useless scheme. Full of corruption. Why is it still continuing?
  3. How do you tackle the issue of fake job cards, inflated muster rolls and bad quality of works in NREGS?


  1. How much distance a marathoner run? What’s the record time of completion?
  2. In which cities of India, marathon running events are held?
  3. How will you develop your home district Pratapgarh?

M4 (He carried on from where Chairman had left):

  1. Why don’t you straightaway file an FIR against the wrongdoing person?
  2. What legal steps can you take against elected representatives such as “Gram Pradhans” involved in corruption? (I mentioned few provisions.)
  3. Did you take any of these steps? Did anyone in entire state used these provisions?

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?
The interview was on the expected lines but they went deep into my present job. They grilled me over MNREGS and corruption involved in the scheme. I managed it well by giving short answers to many questions.
Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
Bring some food items with you in case you are the last in your board and have to wait for 4 hours.

CSE-2015 Marksheet

Q1. Please attach both prelim and final marksheet
CSE 2015 mark sheet-
Prelims mark sheet-

Subject Marks obtained
Paper 1 141
Paper 2 176

Mains mark sheet-

Subject Marks obtained
Essay – Paper-1 129
General Studies – Paper 2 115
General Studies – Paper 3 84
General Studies – Paper 4 112
General Studies – Paper 5 96
Optional Paper – Paper-1 117
Optional Paper – Paper-2 132
Written total 785
Personality Test 165
Final Total 950

Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?
I would have focused more on GS particularly GS-4.

Career Backup

If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
I was already in the state civil services. Also, I was allocated a service on the basis of CSE-2014 reserve list.

Views on UPSC reforms

What are your views on following issues
Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
I support the removal of optional subject to bring a uniform competition and end the undue advantage/disadvantage to many. The number of common papers can be increased.
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
I think this was a good decision as it gave one set of candidates a big advantage over the others.
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 2015. Let’s face it, most candidates who gave Mains-2015 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 disagree with this. I think now it gives more opportunity for the individual preparing in any far-away area. The design of the question papers in last 3 years has been such that it favours the self-prepared, working professionals , free thinkers etc. The questions asked now are more of opinion based and less of factual orientation.  These things goes against the coaching factories.

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?
I did not suffer from any such insecurities. Profile matters little. They are there to judge the candidate’s personality. Good college, work experience etc makes one’s personality better but one can have a pleasant personality without any good college degree or knowledge of English.  One should shed up this fear of profile insecurity and evolve one’s own individuality.


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?
One should put his/her best efforts hoping for the success but should not get affected by the final result be it positive or negative. Life is much bigger than one competition. Keep working hard and keep moving on.
Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2015. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?
Aanalyse your performance, make changes in strategy and try out some new things. It’s difficult to recollect and remotivate oneself after the failure in interviews. One should draw the positives and make some changes to improve upon the performance. Cynicism and hopelessness has never benefitted anyone. MANN LI TOH HAAR HAI , THAAN LI TOH JEET HAI.

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 and siblings stood there always and encouraged me. My elder brother Yogesh played the key role in my selection. He guided me through each stage of the examination and I was lucky to bypass all the struggle and uncertainties that a new aspirant passes through.

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.
I used Mrunal for my preparation on many topics. It’s the best platform for any beginner. In the beginning, it was helpful to me as it strengthened my basics. Articles are comprehensive and easy to grasp.  Keep up the good work!