1.  Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Electronic Vs Paper material
  4. Tempo and style
  5. Struggle of a Senior player
  6. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  7. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  8. Prelim accuracy
  9. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  10. Mains: Essay
  11. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  12. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  13. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  14. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  15. Mains answer-writing?
  16. Mains Optional Subject
  17. Before the interview
  18. During the interview
  19. CSE-2017 Marksheet
  20. Career Backup
  21. Views on UPSC reforms
  22. Insecurity about profile
  23. Wisdom
  24. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

 Candidate Profile

Amit Kumar Bedwal

Q. Details
Name Amit Kumar Bedwal
Rank in CSE-2017 224
Roll No. 0793613
Age 27
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 5
Optional Subject Mechanical Engineering
Schooling Medium English
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Hisar , Haryana
Work-experience if any Yes 05 yrs., Engineer , BHEL (Since Feb 2013)
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) No coaching, only VisionIAS test series (online)
Service preferences (Top-5) IPS, IAS, IFS, IRS(I.T), IRS(CUSTOMS AND CENTRAL EXCISE)
state cadre preference (Top-5) As per new zone policy:-

Haryana > Rajasthan >

Gujarat > Maharashtra

Uttar Pradesh >  Bihar


% in class 10 78.3
% in class 12 86.4
Graduation course and % Mech Engg . 71.57%
Name of college, city, passing out year YMCA Faridabad , 2011
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Workout in Gym , Trekking


Electronic Vs Paper material

For me, e-notes were main asset. I used to make notes on evernote so that I can easily access them anywhere. E-notes helped me managing my notes easily without duplicity and editing them with ease. It was much easier to pick notes from various sources and consolidate them under one head.

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?
I believe that self-motivation and determination is the key, In this exam others can pump up you but that is not long lasting. It is only you who is supposed to motivate yourself and such motivation is long lasting and become your inner strength. I would like to mention few things which one should always bear in mind:-

1. Anybody can do it. The exam is considered as toughest but if you are determined, you can certainly do it by hard work and persistency, no matter what background one is having,

2. Whenever you feel like being demotivated, just ask one question from yourself: – Would you like to see a civil servant who is such a demotivated person???? . I bet your answer is No and you will get up with full of your confidence.

3. Whenever I felt low in the course, I used to visit Facebook profiles and YouTube clips of successful dynamic officers, thus regaining momentum.

Struggle of a Senior player

Q. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?

My first attempt was like no attempt. I never prepared and never thought that. But when I gave exam I felt , I can also do it . Result was definitely going to be negative but it gave me initial push . In next attempt I failed in prelims not because of GS but because of CSAT. Improper sleep during night and disturbance because of losing my mobile +wallet early in morning costed me very dearly. But again with this prelims I became more determined. I was sure that I will not make it in but I decided that I will not lose momentum. I started with Vision test series to complete syllabus on time and in third attempt in 2015 I went up to interview. Essay+ethics+ interview did cost me dear (91+72+146). In next attempt I again gave full thrust on weak areas (improved essay -134 , ethics -96 and full thrust on interview prep ) but again in interview I was at 151 and away from list by 14 marks . In 5th attempt, I had already made my mind that it is in written exam where I have to gain as much as because interview is unpredictable. So in this attempt, lot of extensive writing practice , essay writing , extensive previous year paper solving for mechanical Engg. helped me to score decent marks in Mains . Again interview was same with 149 but my written score helped me scoring 224 AIR .

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic Strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient 1.Old ncert written by R.S Sharma
2.Tamil Nadu 11th History
History Medieval 1.Old ncert written by Satish Chandra
2.Romila thapar

3. Tamil Nadu history book

History Modern (Freedom Struggle) 1.Spectrum
2.old ncert by Bipin Chandra

3. Bipin Chandra ( India’s struggle for independence )

Culture and society
  1. GKtoday compendium for culture
  2. R.S Sharma ancient history
  3. Tamil Nadu 11th history
  4. CCRT
Polity (theory + current) M. Laxmikanth, Vision+ Insights compilations +Test Series, PIB +PRS
Economy (theory + current)
  1. Mrunal sir’s articles on fundamentals of economics ( Most
    helpful )
  2. Economic survey
  3. Macro economics NCERT class 11th
  4. Vision+ Insights compilations +Test Series
  5. PIB+PRS
Science (theory + current) Basics from NCERTs + Basic topics like space etc from google +

Current topics of science , Vision+ Insights compilations +Test Series

Environment (theory + current) Shankar IAS book , Vision+ Insights compilations +Test Series
geography physical 1.11th and 12th ncert ( Also 6-10th NCERTs )
2. G.C. leong
geography India 11.11th and 12th ncert ( Also 6-10th NCERTs )
2. G.C. leong

3. Maps

geography world 1.11th and 12th ncert ( Also 6-10th NCERTs )
2. g.c. leong
3. Maps
other national/international current affairs 1. Vision+ Insights compilations +Test Series + ias4sure’s short notes for revision
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff  

1.gk today notes

2. PIB

3. Vision+ Insights compilations +Test Series

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2017 paper?
Nothing specific

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-2018 (if you were going to appear)?

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths No Prep
reasoning No Prep
comprehension No Prep
Decision Making No Prep

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2017 paper.
For aptitude paper attempt the previous year paper and if you are easily getting around 100 marks than there is no need to prepare for it separately. However if your score is around 70-80 than you should give time to this paper as well.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
No, I didn’t attend any mock tests but I solved lots of Test Series papers at home. I think one should solve as many papers as he/she can.This will help covering topics which we have not read till now. Also it helps in covering more and more current affairs and keep motivated.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2017

attempted Q. correct (Expected) Official score
GS ——— —- 115.34
aptitude —- —- 105.83

Mains: Compulsory language paper

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

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2017
For this I would suggest to solve the last year papers. This will give you the confidence and the idea about the type of questions that are being asked.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper? 
As per UPSC :- Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

SO no need to follow other things . Stick to these words. To ensure that one can develop more and more idea , follow GHILCEPS model

  • G- Geography
  • H-History
  • I – International
  • L- Legal
  • C – Culture
  • E- Economy , Ethics , Environment
  • P- Polity
  • S- Science , Society

Arrange ideas in orderly fashion and practice as much essays as one can .

Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?
1. Destiny of a nation is shaped in the classrooms .
2. Fulfillment of New women in India is a myth .

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
Culture Same as for prelims  + self-made notes
Indian history Same as for prelims

Previous year papers

world history
  1. Vision booklets
  2. Ignou notes
  3. Previous year papers
  4. Google
  5. NCERT Arjun singh
post-independence India 1.India after independence by Bipin Chandra
2.vision ias notes

3. NCERT Politics in India since Independence

Indian society 1)Referred some pdfs and vision ias notes

2. Newspapers and other sources for current

role of women, poverty etc. Same as above
globalization on Indian society Same as above
communalism, regionalism, secularism Google and self-made notes
world geo physical Same as prelims
resource distribution 1. Mrunal’s articles
2. GC Leong

3. google for different industries

4. IAS Score articles

factors for industrial location 1.Mrunal’s articles https://mrunal.org/geography
2. GC Leong

3. google for different industries

4. IAS Score articles

earthquake tsunami etc vision ias notes, Google etc
impact on flora-fauna Didn’t study it separately

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?

My most of preparation depended on preparing some basic
about each topic from standard reference materials+ Google
and enriching this knowledge with current issues going on .

Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. M. laxmikanth and vision ias notes + Topicwise Google search
comparing Constitution with world Vision ias Supplementary material + Current ( Vision + Insights +
RSTV ( for being updated with latest topics )
+ AIR News analysis from Visionias resources + PRS MPR +
Test series Questions and explanations
(Vision + Insights Secure )
parliament, state Legislatures M. laxmikanth + As above
executive-judiciary As Above
ministries departments As Above
pressure group, informal asso. As Above
Representation of people’s act As Above
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. As Above
NGO, SHG etc As Above
welfare schemes, bodies Vision ias Supplementary material +
Current ( Vision + Insights +
RSTV ( for being updated with latest topics )
+ AIR News analysis from Visionias resources +
PRS MPR + Test series Questions and explanations
(Vision + Insights Secure )
social sector, health, edu, HRD Current (As Above)
governance, transparency, accountability Current (As Above)
e-governance Vision ias Supplementary material +
Current (As Above)
role of civil service Vision ias Supplementary material +
Current (As Above)
India & neighbors Current (As Above) +IDSA + ORF articles
bilateral/global grouping Current (As Above) +IDSA + ORF articles
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Current (As Above) +IDSA + ORF articles
Diaspora Vision ias notes
international bodies- structure mandate Current (As Aboves) +IDSA + ORF articles

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?


My most of preparation depended on preparing some basic
about each topic from standard reference materials+ Google
and enriching this knowledge with current issues going on

Indian economy, resource mobilization Topicwise prepared Self made notes on evernote +

Current ( Vision + Insights +
RSTV ( for being updated with latest topics )
+ AIR News analysis from Visionias resources +
PRS MPR + Test series Questions and explanations
(Vision + Insights Secure ) +IDSA + ORF articles

inclusive growth Same as above
Budgeting Same as above
major crops, irrigation Same as above
agro produce – storage, marketing Same as above
e-technology for famers Same as above
farm subsidies, MSP Same as above
PDS, buffer, food security Same as above
technology mission Same as above
animal rearing economics Same as above
food processing Same as above
land reforms Same as above
Liberalization Didn’t study it specifically
Infra Topicwise prepared Self made notes on evernote +

Current ( Vision + Insights +
RSTV ( for being updated with latest topics )
+ AIR News analysis from Visionias resources +
PRS MPR + Test series Questions and explanations
(Vision + Insights Secure )

investment models Same as above
science-tech day to day life Current (As above)
Indian achievements in sci-tech Current (As above)
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Current (As above)
environmental impact assessment Topicwise prepared Self made notes on evernote
Disaster Management Topicwise prepared Self made notes on evernote +

Current ( Vision + Insights +
RSTV ( for being updated with latest topics )
+ AIR News analysis from Visionias resources +
PRS MPR + Test series Questions and explanations
(Vision + Insights Secure )

non state actors, internal security Same as above
internal security – role of media, social networking site Same as above
cyber security Same as above
money laundering Same as above
border  Management Same as above + Rajya Sabha report over border security
organized crime, terrorism Same as above
security agencies- structure mandate Same as above

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics Vision IAS supplementary material +
Topicwise understanding of each topic from google +
Self made notes for easy understanding in own
language +
Linking basic knowledge with current life examples+

Practiced previous year papers + Vision Test series
questions + Insights Secure

attitude, moral influence etc. Same as above
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc Same as above
emotional intelligence, its use in governance Same as above
moral thinkers of India and world I had to read some thinkers
by doing google search
from some Pub-Ad book
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. Same as above
corporate governance Same as above
probity in governance, work culture Same as above
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. Same as above
challenges of corruption Same as above
case studies on above topics Same as above

Q. Many candidates found Mains-2017 Ethics paper very peculiar and “out of the book”. What are your observations and tips for future aspirants regarding preparation of this paper?
This is one paper which can’t be taught through books or by coaching institutes. So, just read and understand the basic terms from any source and then focus more on answer writing and thinking about day to day examples that can be used in your answers. I think this approach will make your answer more honest and more realistic and this is what this paper on ethics is all about.

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 11-12 6-7 1 all
GS2 11-12 5-6 2 all
GS3 12-13 7-8 0 all
GS4 9-10 4-5 0 all
Opt-P1 240 Marks 10 Marks 0 all
Opt-P2 220 Marks 10 Marks 0 all

I would suggest to attempt the entire paper but ofcourse don’t write anything unnecessary or redundant information just for the sake of writing. There will be some questions about which you will know too much. In that case don’t get over ambitious.  You can give 1-2 minutes extra for that answer but not more than that otherwise you will suffer in some other question. Just remember that every question is of same mark and thus has same importance. Finally manage you time on per answer basis rather than on hourly basis. You can cover the extra time given to a particular answer but it’s very difficult to cover the time if you have attempted less than the required number of questions in an hour.

Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
There is sufficient space available in the answer sheet.
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 used both formats as per the demand of the question. Though I prefer points more than paragraphs.

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 I followed this approach because this format makes your answer look complete and sometimes if you have fewer points than introduction and conclusion can make your answer of average quality at least in some cases. As an introduction I either mentioned background or gave some statistics. As a conclusion I mostly focused on suggesting some innovative solutions

Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?

Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
Yes I used diagrams in GS1 and GS3 (e.g map of north east )

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 had Mechanical as my optional and I chose it because I had graduated with mechanical and having being scoring good marks in GATE , ESE  , I was confident over it.

Q. If a new player wants to pick this subject, would you advice for it or against it?
I can say only one thing in this regard . If one has spent time well with mechanical engineering then definitely he must go for Mechanical as optional . One can initially judge his performance by solving previous year papers . If he/she can easily solve 3-4 Qs from previous year with good accuracy , Then mechanical is the way for the person concerned .

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.)
Will write detailed strategy for the same later on .
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.
Though most of topics can be done from standard reference books , however some topics may not be there in the books and as each topic is required to be covered , one may look at google for those topics .

Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus? 
Around 5-6 months are needed to cover the core syllabus because you have to make notes otherwise you won’t be able to consolidate it in the end. After that one can practice previous year question papers for ESE + IFoS + CSE .

Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?

Once I completed my basic preparation of subject , I always kept myself busy in solving as much as numericals as I can especially from previous year questions .

Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
Yes I maintained self-notes in paper format for revision of optional. I also underlined/Folded pages of the books or other notes .

Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2017 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?
This year’s paper 1 was most easiest of previous year mechanical papers . Paper 2 was more or less on previous lines . For future only one strategy is going to work :- never leave any topic uncovered and solve as much as questions as one can especially from previous year papers .

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?
This was my third interview and all of these things have already being prepared in previous attempts . I made world document and I took each word from the DAF to be included in the document . Over each word I gave time and pondered possible questions and prepared from each aspect .

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 , I attended mock interviews of Samkalpa , Khan Academy and Next IAS . They are not same as official interview , especially the level of cordial atmosphere and quality of questions being asked . UPSC interviews are very cordial these days ( Khan sir try to provide that feel ) . Though not necessary but preferable to attend mocks from some good institutes to have some feel of interviews and also knowing about areas where questions may be asked .
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 at my friend’s room and I brought my own document prepared for interview purpose .

Q4. Any words of wisdom about Medical checkup?
One is not supposed anything to eat before samples are taken . Be on time so that others do not get late .

Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
Dark grey suit and Blue tie

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board? 
Smita Nagraj
Q2. How long was the interview?
30-35 minutes
Q3. 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)
I will try to write my transcript and provide the link.
Q4. 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?
This time my interview was most random . One member asked all fact based questions and I was not able to answer any of these questions . One member asked only a long question of 2-3 minutes no less than a lecture. Though it was not a stress interview but having not answered to many questions was something odd to me. But I had already decided that whatever will happen in interview room , I will not lose my calm and confidence . So I did the same .

Q5. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
Upsc staff is very cordial. Even if you fail to bring some document they will give the time to submit it at a later date. So, no need to worry  about it.

Q6. Any word of wisdom / observations about interview?
This is personality test and all the focus is on the personality of person . Knowledge is part of personality but not the sole thing . One has to bear in mind the fact that to judge the personality of a person , one must interact with the person . And there is only one thing which is a way to communicate i.e. DAF . So UPSC members interact based on that and current issues . So take this as formal communication with respected senior officials and interview will be done .

CSE-2017 Marksheet

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

Subject Marks obtained
Paper 1 115
Paper 2 105

Mains mark sheet-

Subject Marks obtained
Essay – Paper-1 127
General Studies – Paper 2 100
General Studies – Paper 3 112
General Studies – Paper 4 137
General Studies – Paper 5 85
Optional Paper – Paper-1 168
Optional Paper – Paper-2 155
Written total 884
Personality Test 149
Final Total 1033

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 practiced writing more number of essays

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
I am already working in a good organization i.e. BHEL .

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 feel that it should be there else people will lose interest in their graduation subject . Moreover having such optional helps UPSC getting talent from varied areas like engineering , medical , commerce etc .

Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
Increase the qualifying marks should be increased .

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 since 2013. Let’s face it, most candidates who gave Mains 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 feel that now UPSC has taken cognizance of the same and it is now reflected in the Question papers . UPSC is making exam more current oriented and asking questions which do not discriminate the non-coaching students from coaching students . Also online platforms like Mrunal , Insights have helped students not having access to coaching .

Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
I feel that is need of this exam . Because of maintaining such strict stance UPSC is today well known for matching its schedules and helping students avoiding unnecessary harassment being faced because of delays and litigations etc.

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 have already answered about this in above questions . It is just a formal communication with respected senior officials and it is a personality test . Personality holds many traits like humbleness , honesty , integrity , cheerfulness etc. And I feel that even an illiterate person may possess much better personality than a graduate of any top ranking university . So, I would like to advise all candidates to believe in themselves .


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? 
Before starting preparation I was completely unaware about what is going on around me . I was not as strong as I am today. I am very thankful to this preparation which made me aware and confident . The wisdom of life and competition lies in the fact that it does not matter whether one achieved the destination or not , what matters is that how much one enjoyed and learned from the journey . My message to new aspirants is that have faith in yourselves and plan your journey in a targeted manner .

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.

All above mentioned things say very less things about mrunal.org . But here I would like to make it very clear that it was mrunal.org which made me to learn how to walk when I was infant in this preparation . Articles on economy written in very easy and interactive way helped not only understanding the concepts of economy but also gave he confidence that UPSC is not a big deal and it can be cracked . Also I regularly used to visit toppers section to get myself motivated and get some idea from strategy of other toppers .