1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Typical day in your Online life?
  6. Style of Preparation and notes making
  7. Prelims (CSAT) Paper-1: General studies
  8. Prelims (CSAT): Paper-2: 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-2016 Marksheet
  21. Career Backup
  22. Views on UPSC reforms
  23. Insecurity about profile
  24. Struggle of a Senior player
  25. Grand wisdom
  26. Credit: Friends/family
  27. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Keshav Kumar

Q. Details
Name Keshav Kumar
Rank in CSE-2016 222
Roll No. 0102532
Age 26
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 2
Optional Subject Hindi literature
Schooling Medium English
College Medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Darbhanga
Work-experience if any ALCATEL  LUCENT (2yrs)
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) GS- Byjus
Mains test series – vision
Hindi – samvad ias
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS>IPS>IFS>IRS(IT)>IRS(CE)
state cadre preference (Top-5)


Education fill the details here
% in class 10 94.6%
% in class 12 90%
Graduation course and % 9.18 (cgpa)
Name of college, city, passing out year NIT- PATNA (2013 passout)
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Writing hindi poetry & recitation
Post mains – watching movies :p


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
My father is a teacher (Sanskrit)  and my mother is home maker.
UPSC was always there in my mind as a career option even during my graduation but I never studied for it during that period. It was during job when I finally decided to prepare for it. so I started preparing alongwith my job. But after a period of time I couldn’t manage both and then I decided to resign..31st may 2015 was my last day in office.(31st may2017 final result came J )
Then I took my first pre  in august 2015..i did my optional coaching post pre(I,e between pre and mains) – cleared mains but couldn’t make to the final list. Now in this attempt I was at my home only for entire duration. Although I used to study with full commitment but negativity frustration self doubt was almost a daily affair L I think takeaway is even if you feel so keep calm and carry on ..wo kehte hain na : if you are going through hell..keep going :D
Recently I wrote these lines which summarize my story :
ढलान भी ज़रूरी है, बड़ी उड़ान के वास्ते
चूकने वाला भी अक्सर, काम का तीर होता है
यूँ हक़ारत से ना देख खुद को, शतरंज ए ज़िंदगी में
तू वो प्यादा है , जो ठान ले, तो वज़ीर होता है
( हक़ारत = contempt)

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 do you balance this i.e. electronic material vs. paper material (Books, newspapers)
No doubt in last 2-3 years there has been tremendous increase in online resources..but if not judiciously used it is very much time consuming and confusing as well. So I have relied on only a few websites and ignored others completely.
Eg mrunal (all the lectures) , insight , unacademy (only selected lectures – eg those by mr. roman saini)
Ignored PIB completely = never ever followed it even once.
Read PDFs of vision/PPTs of mrunal  = but always made hand written notes as I am more comfortable with pen and paper.

Typical day in your Online life?

Online life Answer
Daily hrs spent on online platforms for predicting cutoff / syllabus change / age-attempt limit change and other “peripheral-bolbachchan“ related to civil services. 0
Daily hrs spent on whatsapp and telegram studygroups Telegram for pre question papers only
Daily hrs spent on online for exam prep. Not regular as such – but mostly offline mode.
Primary Device for online study: desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile laptop

Q. Any other things that you wish to elaborate on above table:
Don’t go for unlimited internet plans.. otherwise you will open youtube for mrunal and aftersome time you will  find yourself watching something else.

Style of Preparation and notes making

Q. What is your style of preparation and notes making? (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, I use xyz software etc.)

Prelims (CSAT) Paper-1: General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient Old ncert ( RS Sharma)
History Medieval Class notes only (no book)
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Spectrum ( no bipin Chandra) + pratik nayak sir videos
Culture and society Gk today + nios glimpse + fine art ncert + nitin singhania sir notes + mrunal video + unacademy roman saini
(this section is  vague so I did it from different sources during my first attempt and made one final notebook for it)
Polity (theory + current) Pre – laxmikant
Current – vision current/insight/mrunal current based videos
Economy (theory + current) Theory – fully relied on mrunal + class notes
Current – mrunal economic survey videos / vision /insight
Sriram booklet read once
Science (theory + current) Theory = don’t do it..never asked
Current = vision+ insight ( main focus on ISRO & DRDO recent achievements)
Environment (theory + current) Shankar ias + nios skimmimg + unacademy roman saini
geography physical NCERT new ( 6- 12th) ( no GC leong) + mrunal videos + class notes
geography India NCERT new ( 6-12th) +  mrunal videos + class notes
geography world NCERT new ( 6-12th) +  mrunal videos + class notes
other national/international current affairs Current = vision + insight + a lot of test papers ( almost 70 of different institutes = downloaded from telegram)
NO NEWSPAPER at all + no pib
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff do

Q. Candidates are complaining that compared to earlier years, Prelim 2017 GS paper was very tougher, Tickmasters’ 90+ strategy (and its perverted & populist version known as Guessmaster-giri) and E-learning materials had limited utility. What are you views and wisdom on all these?
Guesses don’t work unless you work hard on basics..most of the candidates (even top rankers) don’t know more than 50 questions with 100% surety. After that they follow elimination method. But for this to work your horizon of knowledge should be very broad. Here importance of test papers increases. So the basic approach of pre should be :

  1. Complete your static portion very well : you cant clear pre without  doing this section
  2. Current from two sources : (I used to do it from vision and insight)
  3. Take a lot of mock tests  = read solution = make notes = revise them.

Q. Suppose, If you had to prepare for Prelims-2018, then after going through this 2017 paper, what changes would you make in your preparation?
No change . I got 140 in pre with above strategy.

Prelims (CSAT): Paper-2: Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Decision Making

Q. In the recent two prelims (2016 and 2017), the comprehension portion becoming quite tough and lengthy. Candidates struggle even to finish the paper-II. Kindly provide some words of wisdom:
If you find yourself in trouble..practice is the only solution.. batman movie says that face your fears J

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
I took a lot of mock tests (almost 70)= vision+ insight+vaji+forum = my intension was to have flavor of different levels of tests so that upsc pre should not be a surprise for me.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in Prelim-2016

attempted Q. correct (Expected) Official score
GS 90 135+ 140.00
aptitude 60 125.83

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper
your regional language Hindi was my optional

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2016
if you are from hindi medium, please do prepare English paper.,don’t take it lightly(eg write 4-5 essays before exam)…it can be a bit surprising for students of hindi medium…

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
Content and presentation are two key components.
Content = gs1 to 4 ( nothing else – no yojna/kurukshetra ) I think our gs knowledge is enough to deal with essay topics because we have to diversify the topic into various dimensions..eg  lets say topic is water disputes
Then think about this topic from GS1(art n culture/history/social issues/geography angle) ; GS2(constitution/IR angle); GS3(economy/sci-tech/environment/internal security angle) and GS4(ethics can one of the best ways to conclude your essay)
Writing introduction varies from person to person – quote/anecdote/data-figures etc are common preferred ways.  I always tried to make some anecdote.
Write atleast 4-5 essays before mains = its important with respect to time management because in exam we generally find cruch of time for second essay.

Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?
Water disputes between States in federal India.
General flow of essay was :
Importance of water > scenario of water disputes in india > why such disputes > impact of disputes on our eco/society/polity etc > how & why it should be handles > if handled properly positive outcomes > conclusion.

Cyberspace and Internet: Blessing or curse to the human civilization in the long run?
General flow of the essay was:
Intro in the form of an anecdote > what is cyberspace > how is it blessing ( various dimensions = pol/soc/eco/etc) > how is it curse( various dimensions) > what should be done to minimize negative impacts > conclusion.

Both intro and conclusion should be around 1 – 1.5 page..one para intro conclusion as per me is not justified.


General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
Culture I did same for pre and mains. Same source.
I think giving too much time on this is not judicious= cost benefit is not so favourable
Indian history Spectrum+ pratik nayak sir videos + model solution of vision test series + secure once (but couldn’t revise it properly because its too much)
world history Class notes + vision value addition + ncert old
(no norman lowe)
Pratik nayak sir world history section was posted very close to mains so couldn’t watch it then..but it think it should suffice along with above.
Max 2 questions will be asked,it should be kept un mind. so don’t go too deep.
post-independence India Vision ias value addition + vision mains test series solution
(no bipin Chandra)
Indian society Vision ias current affairs + vision mains test series solution
Prepare short notes on all the sections of society – children/adult/women/minority/SC/ST/elders/ etc
role of women, poverty etc.
globalization on Indian society Insight pdf on this topic
communalism, regionalism, secularism do
world geo physical Ncert ( 6th– 12th new) + mrunal videos watched twice + vision mains test series solution
resource distribution Do
factors for industrial location Do
earthquake tsunami etc Do
impact on flora-fauna

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Entire gs2 = question can be static based or current based.
Static = vision value addition material for each of the below topics.
Current = vision ias current affairs +insight  secure + vision mains test series solution + rstv videos on certain issues.
(NO the hindu + no 2nd arc)
(I have not scored much in gs2  L so please do  refer other articles for gs2 )
comparing Constitution with world Do
parliament, state Legislatures Do
executive-judiciary Do
ministries departments Do
pressure group, informal asso. Do
Representation of people’s act Do
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Do
NGO, SHG etc Do
welfare schemes, bodies Do
social sector, health, edu, HRD Do
governance, transparency, accountability Do
e-governance Do
role of civil service Do
India & neighbors Do
bilateral/global grouping Do
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Do
Diaspora Do
international bodies- structure mandate Do

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Entire gs3 = question can be static based or current based.
Static = vision value addition material for each of the below topics.
Current = vision ias current affairs +insight  secure + vision mains test series solution + rstv videos on certain issues.
+ mrunal lectures on budget economic survey
(NO the hindu)
(I have not scored much in gs3  so please do  refer other articles for gs3)
inclusive growth Do
Budgeting Do
major crops, irrigation Do
agro produce – storage, marketing Do
e-technology for famers Do
farm subsidies, MSP Do
PDS, buffer, food security Do
technology mission Do
animal rearing economics Do
food processing Do  + mrunal articles
land reforms Do + mrunal articles
Liberalization Do
Infra Do
investment models Do
science-tech day to day life Do
Indian achievements in sci-tech Do
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Do
environmental impact assessment Do
Disaster Management Unacademy roman saini video + ashok kumar sir (TMH) book on internal security & disaster management
non state actors, internal security ashok kumar sir (TMH) book on internal security & disaster management
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 Lexicon + mrunal lecture series + vision ias mains test series solution + previous years toppers anwer booklet (eg gaurav agarwal sir answers)
General strategy = understand key words in layman terms not bookish definition.
Eg integrity = man vachan karm ka ek hona ( thoughts words & deeds should be same) + 1-2 example for all these words should be ready before exam since its tough to create examples under exam pressure)
Answer every question wrt administrator fram of mind . eg quotes are asked for explanation = explain them wrt current scenario of administration. Give current examples.
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 Only those who were covered in above sources that too not very well = I think not too much focus should be given on this…because they are going to ask application based questions only which can be handled otherwise also.
Eg this year ques was on rawl concept of social justice= I was not aware of this rawl guy =  but I know what is social justice very well = so I explained it.
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. Lexicon + mrunal lecture series + vision ias mains test series solution + previous years toppers anwer booklet (eg gaurav agarwal sir answers)
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 Do

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 1 ( west Africa world history ques) 20
GS2 19 ( left allelopathy)
GS3 19 ( left mc bride)
GS4 7sins question & Second arc model code of conduct = man ki bat All
Opt-P1 All
Opt-P2 All

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]
Just like dharma where all babas are fighting/divided over how to attain moksha/nirvana = same is the case in upsc also = I am part of the clan which says attempt all even if you have only vague idea.
I think most of the students(including me) don’t have too much deep knowledge which could fetch us extraordinary marks even by attempting only 15 questions. So attempt all 20 average quality answers.

Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
No problem = too much space is given.

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.
MIX format.
But I do use point format in an answer if possible,

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 do follow intro body conclusion format . I think it should be followed. In upsc content & presentation are equally important .

I don’t like asking following rudimentary questions, but these are the most frequently asked questions by new aspirants.

Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers? Nope
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography) Yes.. I try to make diagrams wherever possible
Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen? pencil
Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand? Nope = freehand
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen? writometer blue ball point pen

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
Hindi literature; reason already mentioned. I chose my optional purely on interest. I am from engineering backgroung and i like writing hindi poems/gazals..so I opted hindi literature without asking anyone.  I think personal interest should prevail rather than above rumors.

Q. If a new player wants to pick your subject, would you advice for it or against it?
It’s a good optional If you like hindi  and you are comfortable in writing in devanagri script .

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.)
Samvad ias class notes + studymaterial + drishti study material + all those novels/books which are explicitly mentioned in the syllabus.

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?
No current affairs.

Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
It will take around 4 months @ average pace.

Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
Post pre I started answer writing.. I tried to write one test per week .

Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
Self notes yes = completely in paper format.

Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2016 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?
Difficulty level was more wrt 2015 paper. Not much changes required..work can be done on speed. I am from English medium so speed of writing in hindi is a bit slow.

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?
Google baba

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 + byju + hamdard study circle = total 5 mocks
Although mocks are always different from actual interview..but I think it should be taken ( not much) because here also only content is not enough..presentation also matters.

Q3. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?
My home.
Revision before interview = brought hand made notes but couldn’t revise = talking with other people :D

Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
Shirt + trouser + tie + black shoe

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Mr. ajit bhosle.

Q2. How long was the interview?
Around 35 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?]
sir after working for 30 35 years in any job i would definitely seek that it should provide me personal satisfaction and professional excellence. And the civil services because of its job diversity, decision making roles,huge opportunity to contribute directly in the nation building process,good social status and a decent salary fulfills both my personal aspirations and my obligation towards the society.
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 transcript including follow up questions
how are you mr keshav kumar?you are the last person to be interviewed today..so what were you doing till now?
1)you did your b.tech from NIT patna…so tell me some good and bad things about patna.
2)were you in some form of contact with the local people near your college?
3)people say they want to give something back to the society..do you agree?
4)what did you get from society till now?
5)name some of the officers who have done excellent job in service.
6)define moral courage.

7) you are an engineer then why did you take hindi literature as an optional?
8) these days we see a lot of train accidents,flood,etc etc… one word for this is?
9)define disaster?
10)some of the disaster we have faced since 2016?
11)why are we so concerned about disasters?
12)which  is the national level agency to deal with them?
13)name the force to deal with them?
14)under which ministry does it come?
15)SDMA comes under which ministry?
16)bihar has great contribution in our freedom struggle…can you name some of them?
17)what was champaran datyagraha?
18)where indigo is used?
19)what  was salt satyagraha?
20)what was do or die?
21)who is called the father of modern india?
22)why is he called so?
23) in which languages he wrote books?
24)why gandhiji was against macaulay’s point of view on education?
25)in 1950 there was some controversy over official language..what was the issue?
26)what was gandhiji’s point of view on this?
27)how much percentage of india speak in hindi?
28)so is it justified that hindi should be official language?let me refine the question..should only hindi be official language of india?
29)some amendment in act was made regarding this official language..what was that?
30)there was also a tribhasha sutra?

31)what was your job role in alcatel lucent?
32)what is a virtual machine?
33)there are many railway related services in cse…why railway is so important?
34)what is its social obligation?
35)why people need to move from one place to another?
36)so does it mean we should run railways in losses for its social responsibility?
37)how can you make railways profitable?
38)but we don’t have so much rsources?
39)cant we go for withing country private investment?
40)so do you support privatization of railways?
41)why liquor and petroleum have been kept out of gst?
42)why a state like gujrat where we have prohibition,also opposed liquor to be in gst?
43)why did you resign?
44)what if you don’t get ias and get ips…will you again give the exam again and again?
45)what is this international solar alliance?
46)what is its purpose?
46)whyare we focusing so much on renewable?
47)india’s target for solar energy?
48)solar energy is so costly..then why are we going for it?
49)you are an engineer, what would you suggest for bringing down its cost?
50)so you should have done fabrication work, why administrative job?
51)why taj mahal is turning green?(ans= insects)
52)why insects are increasing near it?
53)name the first poet of hindi,some important modern hindi poets and your favourite poet?
54)so your hobby is poetry writing and recitation..can you recite some thing for us?

55)you did b.tech and then took hindi as an optional…don’t you think it would have been better if you would have taken humanity subject in your graduation?
56) what are the qualities of a good poem?

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 line but score was very unexpected  :D

Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
For gen category = graduation certificate and 10th certificate only.

Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
Please reach on time. In my first attempt (2015) I reached late and my medical was denied that day..and finally it was done on last day L two months of torture.

CSE-2016 Marksheet

Q1. Please provide both prelim and final mark sheet:

Prelim paper-1 140
Prelim paper-2 125.83
Mains marks
Essay 155
Gs 1 114
Gs 2 82
Gs 3 97
Gs 4 118
Opt 1 141
Opt 2 148
Interview 165
Total 1020

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
I would have given ssc cgl this year.
Q2. When were you going to “execute” that backup plan? (e.g. after __ number of failed attempts/ after I cross __ age/ after dad retires/ after girlfriend dumps me etc.)
This year itself .

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
It can be removed  but then only 4 gs papers will make syllabus very small(luck factor will increase I think).
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
Csat should be there. A minimum level of aptitude testing is required.
Q. Despite what UPSC has done in last seven years in syllabus and pattern change, it has failed to curb the nuisance of Delhi’s coaching factories and the readymade e-material sellers. In fact, it’s increased under the new Mains-syllabus post-2013. Let’s face it, UPSC added so many topics and so many random questions, even fulltime student struggles to gather and process all standard reference books and material himself within the short time available to him. and This system work against an individual preparing from far-away area, without any financial resources, high-speed internet or contacts in Delhi to procure the said material in authentic or pirated form.
Personally I  think coaching institutes can ever be eliminated..whatever be the syllabus..so best thing is deepening internet penetration. Because in that case even in remote areas free lectures on websites like yours (mrunal)/unacademy can make it level playing.

Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
Yes..it should.

Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
No.. analysis based questions are asked in mains..pen paper format is the best suitable format for this.

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.
True that L

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?
Yes I had one insecurity = my technical knowledge of b,tech is not so sound..so I was a bit afraid what if they enter into that territory…but luckily in both my interviews no question was asked from core technical side…but I was ready with my master answer for any tough  technical  question = sorry sir :p )
Message = if you are able to solve your insecurity.its good..do it..but if something is beyond your scope now ( eg school/grad marks college) then in that case confidence is the key…
Internal Motivation
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?
Remember these quotes :

  1. The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret.
  2. “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'” – Muhammad Ali

Struggle of a Senior player

(Answer only if you’re 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 = parents and some close all weather friends are the reason of my survival.
At personal level I feel all of us know what should be done/how it should be done..what we lack is self belief..after failure we should try to revive this..
After this mains when I was not very sure whether I will clear mains or not I wrote this poem ( hope this helps) =
gist is – we already know what is required for success but we forget because of pressure/self doubt/ negativity etc.
गिर कर संभलने का हुनर , तू जानता है , याद रख
निश्चित विजय है इस डगर , तू जानता है , याद रख
मिलते नही हैं जामवन्त, हर केसरीसुत को यहाँ
निज शक्ति से होना प्रखर , तू जानता है , याद रख
टूटेंगी तेरी कश्तियाँ, जीवन के इस मझधार में
होना पुनः खुद अग्रसर , तू जानता है , याद रख
काली निशा में दिशाहीन , होगा तेरा शंकित हृदय
होगी मनोबल से सहर, तू जानता है , याद रख
कौन देता है किसी का साथ रण में अंत तक
युद्ध है जीवन सफ़र, तू जानता है , याद रख

Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?
1st attempt = I started optional after prelims. So not much time was there.
But I think real reason was – I never thought I could clear mains in my first attempt ( mental barrier)=
After clearing mains even with this attitude, I think if I would have been in right frame of mind ,the result would have been different.
So attitude matters.

Grand wisdom

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?
If you  are waging a war then you must understand your opponent i.e UPSC
I believe in 3D strategy.
D1 = DISCIPLINE  = this exam doesn’t contain anything in its syllabus which a normal IQ person can’t understand. Every part of the syllabus can be comprehended very well provided we are disciplined. But what does discipline mean? It means keep on studying even when you don’t want to. i.e It doesn’t matter how you feel, get up , dress up and show up (one of my friends quoted this when I was extremely nervous after this years mains essay paper) …so our task is studying even when our “mood” stops us.
D2 = DIRECTION = if you are very disciplined (ie posses D1) but your D2 is wrong…then all in vain..So what to study /what not to study/ how are we making notes/ how to revise / how to complete paper/ everything becomes very important.
D3 =  aage ayega :D
Now here is a graph depicting entire game of upsc in 4 cases :

(this graph is between time axis= how much time we have given for preparation and y axis = level of preparation)I think there is some minimum amount of time and a certain level of preparation which is must to clear this exam ( as per me minimum 1 year before you are going to appear in CSE).
Now the four cases are explained one by one:

  1. CASE1 :  (T < T0  and L<L0)

It means You have not given the time required to attain a certain level for clearing this exam =  if you appear in CSE = you will end up wasting your attempt in this case.

  1. CASE 2 : ( T<T0 and L>L0)

Now as per me this is an impossible case.
i.e you cannot attain that level too quickly to crack this exam. Learning is a process and it takes time ( as per me minimum 1year.. Some successful candidates say that they started preparing 2-3 months before pre- cleared it – studied for mains after that – cleared it and finally got selected … with all due respect to them I don’t think its possible)

  1. CASE3: ( T>T0 and L < L0)

Now here after putting in the required amount of time the person has not achieved the required level. Why so? Only two reasons : 1) either of D1/D2 missing 2) both missing… so either you are not disciplined or you are directionless or both.. .otherwise you would have achieved the level required for selection ( I am not saying you would have got selected – you would have only got that level … )

  1. CASE4 ( T>T0 and L>L0)

This is the zone in which a serious aspirant should fall in. i,e after giving a certain amount of time one should have attained that level which is required for selection.
But…approximately how many people every year among all the appeared candidates lie in this zone? My guess is it should be 20-30k.i.e this is the number of students who have that level to clear the exam..
But.. how many seats are there? Around 1k. how many people write mains? Around 15k…so it is quite possible that even you have attained that level you might not clear even prelims!!!!  Why so? I call this D3 = Devotion to god / blessings of elders / KISMAT!!!  Although we don’t have any control over this..but still often say to your friends “DUA ME YAAD RAKHNA”/ take blessing of parents etc.. this might look crap to some of you…but this is sad truth of upsc that despite having that level of preparation your name might not be in that list.( that’s why many selected candidates don’t clear even prelims in their next attempts)
BOTTOM LINE: never ever fall in third quadrant..always target fourth one…i.e atleast achieve that level of preparation ..because after attaining that level- its all about D3 and nothing else!!!!!
Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2016 and scored quite low in Prelims-2017. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?
Always try to lie in fourth quadrant = and then fortune favours the brave.

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?
Full credit to parents and some all weather friends J

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.  
Obviously yes.…almost all the video lectures and most of the economy articles.. all the lectures are must watch.
I think those would be critically endangered species who don’t use mrunal. :D…mere se koi puchta hai ki kase preparation suru karu to mera pehla suggestion hota hai mrunal sir k channel p sare lectures dekh lo sbse pehle :-)