1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  7. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  8. Prelim accuracy
  9. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  10. Mains: Essay
  11. Mains General studies paper 1 to 4
  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

Name Suraj Patel
Rank in CSE-2015 819
Roll No. 0675047
Age 24
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 01
Optional Subject Anthropology
Schooling Medium Hindi
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Kanpur
Work-experience if any 1 year 9 months at pepsico
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures Qualified SBI PO, IBPS , CAPF , RAILWAY senior section engineer in this year only
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) Joined vajiram (batch B11 ) of session 2015-2016 for GS , srinivas anthropology
No mock test
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS IPS IFS IRS(it) IRS (CE)
state cadre preference (Top-5) U.P >Rajsthan>MP>Bihar>Uttarakhand


% in class 10 80
% in class 12 82
Graduation course and % B.Tech , 83%
Name of college, city, passing out year N.I.T allahabaad , 2013
Post-graduation na
Any other professional courses na
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Political activism at college J
Blog : surajreformer.wordpress.com


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
UPSC Topper 2015 Suraj Patel
I am a married man ( got married to love of my life at an early age of 23 , p.s : biologically most optimum age , but socially and economically less viable :P ) .
my father is a farmer and my mother is a government teacher (primary school ) .
most intresting thing due to which I am writing this article is the time which I took in cracking the exam ( otherwise rank 819 is not sufficient enough to grab eyeballs for strategy ).HENCE MY STARETGY IS MOST USEFUL FOR THOSE PERSONS WHO ARE STARTING PREP THIS YEAR AND WANT TO QUALIFY IN THE SAME YEAR , SOMEHOW .
I left my job in april 2015 , came to mecca ( I mean karolbagh ) on 17th may 2015 , joined vajiram and ravi on july 2015 , qualified prelims of 23rd august 2015 , started coaching of optional (anthropology :: no background ) in September 2015 , qualified mains of December 2015 .resumed my vajiram coaching in January 2016 , then mains result , then interview , then selection on 10th may 2016.
( Total time taken :: 365-7 = 358 days )
reason behind giving so many exams ( SBI PO and all ) in between ( all in span of july 15 to feb 16 ) was to keep investor confidence up ( with every result dad got assured that BETA PADH RAHA HAI , KHARCHA DETE RAHO ).
my wife also supported me by leaving me alone for 7-8 months and allowing me to study in a warlike manner.

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)
information overload coupled with choice overload is a problem  , not only in civil services but in every walk of life ( u feel it in mall :: inability to choose one product among many ) .
as a person who is opting to have a leadership position it is very necessary to trust on your decisions .
amidst multiplicity of websites and advices and strategies , its very necessary that you stick to your choices while remaining flexible for improvisation.  for strategy specifically I will say that follow any one strategy with dedication ( EK RAAH TU PAKAD CHALA CHAL , PAA JAYEGA MADHUSHALA).
as I had very less time ( 50-60 days for prelims and 80-90 days for mains ) , I took a rasical decision of not reading news paper .  I only watched big picture and read random online articles (specially from project syndicate) .
insights and vision were not in my list as I was a novice in the market ( but this year I am including vision GS booklets in my catalogue ) .
mrunal as usual helped very much in understanding economy  ( I finished econmy fro  it in 2 days ) and had all questions right in prelims.
I used evrnote to jot down important points .

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?
as I had very less time , every thins was on a war footing….
in sep , October , November I used to spend 8 hours in coaching ( 2.5 hours vajiram GS + morning and evening batch of anthropology so that syllabus can be completed ) . I had nothing to loose as nobody was expecting that I will even qualify pre .
but after prelims I thought lets challenge myself  , lets break the records of quick successes in CS and this thing kept me going . along with that a good chunk of motivation material ( invictus poem , IF poem , dinkar’s poems ,  inspiring movies etc ).

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient Didn’t study (no time), but this time I am reading sriram notes (15-16 pages )
History Medieval Didn’t study (no time)
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Spectrum ( mugged it twice before pre )
Culture and society Singhania notes , 11th ncert , festival from mrunal , philosophy from unacademy
Polity (theory + current) Laxmikanth
Economy (theory + current) Mrunal , survey
Science (theory + current) 12th biology ncert ( 2-3 chapters ) , mrunal , googled some topics provided by gsscore on there facebook page
Environment (theory + current) Shankar ias + ncert (3-4 chapters )
geography physical NCERT NEW
geography India NCERT NEW
geography world NCERT NEW
other national/international current affairs NO TIME
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff GK TODAY SCHEME COMPENDIUM

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2015 paper?
Either you should have wide and deep knowledge
OR you should have a threshold amount of knowledge supported with intuition and courage .
I tried 98 questions .
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)?
already mentioned in book list.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths No specific prep
Decision Making

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2015 paper.
no specific preprpration is needed but art background people may solve few mock papers.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2015

attempted Q. correct (Expected) Official score
GS 98 70-75 122.6
aptitude 152

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper No specific prep
your regional language No specific prep

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2015
if you have basic knowledge of languages then no need to worry .

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
had no time to prepare properly for essay . read vajiram’s essay booklet .
lack of preparation of essay proved to be a blunder ( because of it only I lost good rank  , just got 95 marks )

Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?
I need to improvise upon essay , this year I will write atleast 10 essays before exam .

Mains General studies paper 1 to 4

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
Culture Singhania , ncert
Indian history Spectrum
world history Balyan notes
post-independence India Vision booklet
Indian society Smarak swain
role of women, poverty etc. Swain
globalization on Indian society Swain
communalism, regionalism, secularism Swain
world geo physical Cudnt prepare   ( had just 3-4 days for paper 1)
resource distribution No prep ( this year I will read mrunal geo for it)
factors for industrial location No prep ( this year I will read mrunal geo for it)
earthquake tsunami etc No prep ( this year I will read mrunal geo for it)
impact on flora-fauna No prep ( this year I will read mrunal geo for it)

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Laxmikanth
comparing Constitution with world Constitution comparison by googling
parliament, state Legislatures laxmikanth
executive-judiciary laxmikanth
ministries departments laxmikanth
pressure group, informal asso. No prep ( this year will read from vision notes)
Representation of people’s act No prep ( this year will read from vision notes
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. No prep ( this year will read from vision notes
NGO, SHG etc No prep ( this year will read from vision notes
welfare schemes, bodies Gs score pdf
social sector, health, edu, HRD Gs score pdf
governance, transparency, accountability No prep ( this year will read from vision notes
e-governance No prep ( this year will read from vision notes
role of civil service No prep ( this year will read from vision notes
India & neighbors Sriram booklet
bilateral/global grouping Sriram booklet
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Sriram booklet
Diaspora Sriram booklet
international bodies- structure mandate Sriram booklet

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

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

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics Skmishra ethics notes
attitude, moral influence etc. Skmishra ethics notes
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc Skmishra ethics notes
emotional intelligence, its use in governance Skmishra ethics notes
moral thinkers of India and world How many thinkers did you prepare?
6-7 , given in sk mishra booklet
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. 2nd arc 4th report
corporate governance 2nd arc 4th report
probity in governance, work culture 2nd arc 4th report
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. 2nd arc 4th report
challenges of corruption 2nd arc 4th report
case studies on above topics Had no time ( this year I will practice by joining some mains test series

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?
I think 3 pillars are there wih equal weightage :
your comprehending skills , your knowledge , your real character and thinking profile

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 6 4 20
GS2 9 7 4 20
GS3 7 7 3 17
GS4 8 8 4 20
Opt-P1 7 5 3 15
Opt-P2 5 5 5 15

simple thing is that only way to gauge you is by the inscription you make on the paper.
try to give as much information without providing a sense to examiner that you are befooling him. some less related things can be presented under the garb of diversification of topic.
I wrote answers in point wise manner but this time I will write in paragraph manner in the questions in which I am more prepeared.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
it helps in better planning the 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.
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 but in body I wrote point wise
Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
no , but this time I will make maps and flowcharts , feedback loops etc

Q7. 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?
I choose it because when I narrowed down to geography I found that everybody is taking it. it was a intuitive decision to go for anthro. moreover syllabus is not big , questions are not fuzzy and complicated .
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 think everybody should decide as per his own strength and weakness . I took anthropology and I decided for it on the eve of the last date of filling form ……all my friends were pushin for geography but sometimes you have to follow your gut above all objective realities.
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 just had 60 days for finishing the optional….so I finished paper 1 from srinivas sir’s notes and for paper 2 I read tribal affairs ministry report and rahul venkat’s notes available at mrunal.
this time I will incude makan jha’s book for thinkers as well as some examples by googling for paper 2.
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?
just read tribal related news , rest is static.
Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
I took 60 days
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
cudnt do due to lack of time. this time I will join test series after pre.
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
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?
still need to do that analyisis , but I think paper 2 is becoming more dynamic and analyitical.

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?
made extensive question answer based notes.
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?
samkalp : 2 mocks
chankaya : 1 mock
Q3. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?
patel nagar flat

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
vinay mittal
Q2. How long was the interview?
35-40 mins
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?]
you need to balance your answer among 4 verticals : diversity , job satisfaction , potential realization , value addition.
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)
Chairman ( vinay mittal )
U r Patel
Any linkage from Gujarat

What type of robot you made
It was a team effort or an individual one ?
Pros cons of artificial intelligence
Till what extent artificial intelligence have progressed
Can machines rule men
Give examples of safe use of artificial intelligence
Famous boxer of India
Any sports player who achieved something significant recently
What is this anubhooti social internship project
What was your role
What was it’s outcome

Member 1
What is use of UAV
Indian status in UAV technology
Is it safe to allow some young chaps sitting in Arizona military facility  to provide control of lethal UAV
Use of UAV in India

Member 2
Is it right to put extra tax on cola products so that they will be used less and over all negative impact on health can be minimised
Guitar prohibition policy
What lessons other states should take

Member 3
How to balance economic and social imperatives of any policy
Shouldnt we use education and all in spite of making laws
What about revenue loss to state
What’s your opinion about Delhi government decision to ban diesal vehicles which are 15 year old .

Member 4
What is anthropology
Y anthropology in spite of mechanical , as optional
Relation in sociology and anthropology
Why mayavati failed in having division of u.p ? What’s your view

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?
Good practice helped me in managing stress points in the interview. a smile , little  bit of smartness and a pinch of self confidence is all you need at stress points.

CSE-2015 Marksheet

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

Subject Marks obtained
Paper 1 122.6
Paper 2 152

Mains mark sheet-

Subject Marks obtained
Essay – Paper-1 96 L L L
General Studies – Paper 2 95
General Studies – Paper 3 70
General Studies – Paper 4 79
General Studies – Paper 5 85
Optional Paper – Paper-1 125
Optional Paper – Paper-2 114
Written total 664
Personality Test 179
Final Total 843

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

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
I qualified SBI PO and other exams ….would have joined one among them .
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 this December

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.
yes , they should be removed and two extra papers in GS can be added.
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
I think aptitude based filtration is required but it should not create access bariiers.
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 think internet is the answer to this problem . those without internet , are definitely at a loss.

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).
they should be separated.

Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
yes , key should be released ….but marksheets should be disclosed only after exam.

Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
No ,not in recent future . but yeah online exams cant be avoided . but before that a sufficient broadband penetration and digital literacy is required to provide a level playing field.
Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?
remove optional , bringback aptitude based testing (  in a compatible manner , suiting interests of students of all streams , make interview more objective or reduce its weightage.

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?
previous profile doesn’t matter I think. what matters is who you are rather from where you are.


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?
1- what is needed, must be done.
2- you are sitting for an exam which may provide you authority of giving orders for firing bullets , hence courage , fortitude , decision making and leadership attitude is very necessary in preparation.
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?
you can not be defeated unless you accept the defeat. no exam can gauge your talent , no specific post can give value to your life …what matters most is your personal progress and how you execute your life .
many civil servants hang themselves , while many farmers get padm shree….i think life is a continuous struggle for improvisation both at individual and societal level and we should look at life with this prism only .

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 , siblings , wife and friends and above all hanuman ji.

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 , amidst this multiplicity of material , mrunal is the easiest and most secure choice to make. hats off to your patience , perseverance and determination to contribute to society.