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-2017 Marksheet
  21. Career Backup
  22. Views on UPSC reforms
  23. Insecurity about profile
  24. Grand wisdom
  25. Credit: Friends/family
  26. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

UPSC Rank #29 Keerthi Vasan V- Political Science, 1st Attempt, NIT

Q. Details
Name Keerthi Vasan V
Rank in CSE-2017 29
Roll No. 0611292
Age 23
Marital Status Single
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 1
Optional Subject Political Science and International Relations
Schooling Medium English
College Medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu
Work-experience if any No
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures Qualified IIT-JEE, AIEEE and BITSAT in 2012.
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) Foundation Course – Vajiram and Ravi;

PSIR Optional and Test series- Shubhra Ranjan Ma’am;

Prelims test series- Vajiram and Vision IAS;

Mains test series- Vision IAS;

Essay test series- Ramaswamy IAS Academy;

Service preferences (Top-5) IAS>IFS>IPS>IRS(IT)>IRS(C&CE)
Preference for the first states in top-3 zonal cadres. Tamil Nadu-Maharashtra-Rajasthan
Contact keerthivasanias18@gmail.com or you can connect with me on FB : fb.com/keerthivasan123


Education fill the details here
% in class 10 10.00/10.00 (CGPA)
% in class 12 93.8%
Graduation course and % B.Tech in Civil Engineering

9.30/10.00 (CGPA)

Name of college, city, passing out year National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli.

Batch of 2016.

Post-graduation -NA-
Any other professional courses -NA-
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Digital Poster designing, Watching English web series


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?

I hail from Dharmapuri district in Tamil Nadu. I am an undergraduate in Civil Engineering from NIT Trichy. My father, Mr. R. Venkatesh Babu is a small scale sericulture industrialist. My mother, Mrs. V. Deepa aids my father with his business. My elder sister, Mrs. V. Hema Nivetha is a lawyer.

My interest towards the civil services developed only during my college days. Being an institute of national importance, NIT Trichy attracts prominent luminaries from across the globe. I was also selected as the Chairperson of Pragyan, NIT Trichy’s International Level Techno-management Festival, during my final year. This opened up new avenues for me to hone my administrative skills. Frequent interactions with many bureaucrats helped me understand the real scope that the service offers for a societal, professional and personal growth. Hence, I decided to move to Delhi to prepare for the civils.

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)

This totally depends on an individual’s preference and interests. I am a person who felt comfortable reading from printed materials. But, there are a few areas like Current Affairs, which requires regular updation. So, using a pen and a paper for the same could turn out to be cumbersome. Hence, I made use of evernote to some extent to collect CA based information. Apart from that I always relied on paper material.

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. Didn’t spend any for the mentioned purpose.
Daily hrs spent on whatsapp and telegram studygroups 30-60 minutes
Daily hrs spent on online for exam prep. 1 or 2 hours
Primary Device for online study: desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile Laptop and Tablet

Q. Any other things that you wish to elaborate on above table:

There is greater chance for an aspirant to get sucked into the internet wormhole. One has to stay focused and cautious to avoid such chances. In fact, I logged out of FB in July 2016, with a determined mind that the next time I login would be only to update my status after cracking CSE. So did I. J

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.)

For every stage of the process, I initially narrowed down on the list of materials that I was going to refer to. If I am collecting information from various sources for a single subject, I would make notes and read from it. If not, I had evolved a marking methodology for myself, through which I minimized the content to be revised over successive readings.

My first reading would be a quick glance through the book, to get a mind map of the flow of chapters. Over the next reading, I underlined the important points using a pencil. If you take a look at any of my books, almost all the sentences would have a pencil marking. This is because, we might not be able to distinguish between what is important and what isn’t, just by going through a material once. So, during the next iteration, I read only the pencil-underlined sentences and subsequently underlined important points with a pen. Over the next reading, I made a single-star mark of important content. Then a double-star mark and so on.

So, your focus should be on reducing the content to be read over successive iterations. I don’t think there is any substitute to develop better clarity, than by revising the content regularly.

Prelims (CSAT) Paper-1: General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient Class 11- OLD NCERT books
History Medieval Class 11- OLD NCERT books
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Class 12 Old NCERT for basic understanding of the flow of events + Modern India- SPECTRUM PUBLICATIONS
Culture and society Class 11 NCERT- An Introduction to Indian Art + Selective reading of ART & CULTURE by NITIN SINGHANIA
Polity (theory + current) Laxmikanth + Prelims 365 OF VISION IAS
Economy (theory + current) Vajiram Class Notes + Class 11 and 12 NCERT + Prelims 365 OF VISION IAS
Science (theory + current) Vajiram Class Notes + Prelims 365 OF VISION IAS
Environment (theory + current) Vajiram Material + Shankar IAS material + Prelims 365 OF VISION IAS
geography physical Class 11 and 12 NCERTs + GC Leong
geography India Class 11 and 12 NCERTs
geography world Class 11 and 12 NCERTs + GC Leong
other national/international current affairs Vision IAS CA Material
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Vision and Shankar IAS Schemes booklet

Q. Candidates are complaining that compared to earlier years, Prelim 2017 and 2018’s GS papers were 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? If you were to prepare for the Prelim-2019, what changes would you make in the strategy?

From my personal review of the Prelims papers, I felt the 2017’s paper to be more traditional and 2018’s paper to be unconventional. So, the regular strategy could have worked out in 2017. But in 2018, I understood that for CA, apart from reading Hindu regularly, people should also regularly listen to AIR News. Also referring to the monthly summary of PIB articles could be helpful. Moreover, the candidates should not try to establish a pattern in the testing methodology of UPSC. UPSC never fails to deliver the unexpected.

Prelims (CSAT): Paper-2: Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths Solving mock tests
Reasoning Solving mock tests
Comprehension Solving mock tests
Decision Making Solving mock tests

Q. In the recent prelims, the comprehension portion becoming quite tough and lengthy. Candidates struggle even to finish the paper-II. Kindly provide some words of wisdom:

The strategy for CSAT should be to solve as many questions as possible. I tried to complete all comprehension questions first, because, as the name suggests, you need to comprehend the given passage, which can be done properly only with a peaceful state of mind. You just need to look at every paragraph a little closer as the answer is there right in front of your eyes.

Also reading the editorial section of the newspaper regularly, could help you face such questions with ease.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? Do you think they’re necessary for success?

Yes. I took mock tests from Vajiram and Ravi, as it was a part of the foundation course. Apart from this, I solved the question papers of various institutes like Vision IAS. According to me, taking mock tests is really crucial in determining a candidate’s success in the prelims. It helps understand one’s accuracy and helps us evolve a strategy for ourselves. Towards the end of my mock tests spree, I made it a point to attempt a minimum of 85-90 questions, as my accuracy was somewhere around 70-20. Luckily, the same got translated in my paper as well. So, I would recommend solving a minimum of 50-60 papers before the prelims.

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in Prelim-2017

attempted Q. correct (Expected) Official score
GS 91 71 126
aptitude 70 58 135

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper Nothing exclusive. Checked the previous year papers, a day before the mains.
your regional language Tamil- Revised basic grammar and went through the previous year papers, a day before mains.

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2017

Do not neglect any question in the paper. The regional language paper might seem a little lengthy due to lack of practice. But attempting the maximum number of questions should help you fetch the required marks to qualify.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

I had joined a test series to hone my essay writing skills. Apart from the reviews provided by the institute, I took opinion from a few of my peers and from friends who are already in service. I listed down all possible themes like education, healthcare, science and technology, etc. and collected relevant quotes, data and examples from CA. I also tried to innovate by writing my entire essay in the form of a story. Also, I tried to include diagrams, graphs and maps wherever possible to avoid monotony.

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

I wrote essays on the following topics:

  1. Destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms.
  2. ‘Social Media’ is inherently a selfish medium.

I wrote the second essay in the form of a story and the first one in a conventional way. I had used the data that I had collected earlier under both the themes. Story format might be tricky as you’ll have to ensure a proper logical flow and manage the importance of all characters. If well executed, the outcome would be really good.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
Culture Prepare a basic timeline of important rulers and dynasties throughout history. Try to analyze and comprehend how various aspects like art, architecture, literature, etc. have evolved across time.

Collect examples under each head across the prepared timeline. This information would help you manage the questions with ease.

Sources used: Class 11 NCERT- An Introduction to Indian Art + Selective reading of ART & CULTURE by NITIN SINGHANIA + Vajiram class notes

world history NCERTs OR VISION IAS value addition material for world history.
post-independence India VISION IAS value addition material for basic timeline of events + selective reading of INDIA SINCE INDEPENDENCE by BIPAN CHANDRA
Indian society Indian Society Class 12 NCERT book + VISION IAS Current Affairs material – Mains 365 + Vajiram class notes
role of women, poverty etc. Vajiram class notes
globalization on Indian society Vajiram class notes
communalism, regionalism, secularism Vajiram class notes
world geo physical NCERTs + GC Leong + Vajiram class notes
resource distribution NCERTs + Vajiram class notes
factors for industrial location NCERTs + Vajiram class notes + Selective reading of Mrunal Location factors
earthquake tsunami etc NCERTs + Vajiram class notes
impact on flora-fauna Vision IAS Current Affairs

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Vajiram class notes + Laxmikanth + Mains 365 of VISION IAS
comparing Constitution with world Vision IAS Value addition material
parliament, state Legislatures Vajiram class notes + Laxmikanth + Mains 365 of VISION IAS
executive-judiciary Vajiram class notes + Laxmikanth + Mains 365 of VISION IAS
ministries departments
pressure group, informal asso. Vision IAS Value addition material
Representation of people’s act Vision IAS Value addition material
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Laxmikanth + Vision IAS Value addition material
NGO, SHG etc Vision IAS Value addition material
welfare schemes, bodies Mains 365 of VISION IAS
social sector, health, edu, HRD Mains 365 of VISION IAS
governance, transparency, accountability Vision IAS Value addition material + Summary of ARC
e-governance Vision IAS Value addition material + Summary of ARC
role of civil service Vision IAS Value addition material + Summary of ARC
India & neighbors For these topics, I relied mostly on my optional subject- PSIR.

Apart from that, I also referred to the IR booklet of Vision IAS- Mains 365.

bilateral/global grouping
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest
international bodies- structure mandate

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Vajiram class notes + Mains 365
inclusive growth Vajiram class notes + Economic Survey
Budgeting Vajiram class notes + Union Budget
major crops, irrigation Vajiram class notes + Mains 365 + Schemes summary
agro produce – storage, marketing Vajiram class notes + Mains 365 + Schemes summary
e-technology for famers Collected examples from CA + Schemes
farm subsidies, MSP Schemes booklet
PDS, buffer, food security Vajiram class notes + Mains 365 + Schemes summary
technology mission Mains 365
animal rearing economics Vajiram class notes + Mains 365 + Schemes summary
food processing Vajiram class notes + Mains 365 + Schemes summary
land reforms Vajiram class notes + Vision IAS value addition material
Liberalization Vajiram class notes
Infra Vajiram class notes + Mains 365 + Schemes summary
investment models Vajiram class notes + Vision IAS – Value addition material
science-tech day to day life Vajiram class notes + Vision IAS- Mains 365
Indian achievements in sci-tech Searched the internet specifically + Mains 365
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Vajiram class notes + Vision IAS- Mains 365
environmental impact assessment Went through the EIA notification, 2006
Disaster Management Summary of 2nd ARC report on Crisis Management + Yojana January 2016 edition on Disaster Management + Mains 365 OF VISION + NDMP for frequent disasters
non state actors, internal security Internal Security- Tata McGraw Hill publication Authored by Ashok Kumar IPS and Vipul ( to understand basic concepts regarding IS)+ Mains 365 OF VISION IAS
internal security – role of media, social networking site
cyber security
money laundering
border  Management
organized crime, terrorism
security agencies- structure mandate

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics For the theory part, you can either use Vajiram yellow book or Lexicon for the basic understanding of terminologies.

I also collected examples from CA to supplement my answers.

I also tried to include thoughts of thinkers in almost all the questions. I used my knowledge from PSIR in this regard.

Prepare a list of thinkers, administrators and philosophers separately and collect 4-5 points under each head.

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 Watched video lectures of Lukmaan IAS.

Q. In ethics, Most of the serious candidates (both topper and non-toppers) have received marks in similar ranges. What are your observations and tips for future aspirants regarding preparation of this paper?

Over the years, ethics has been a paper where the input has almost been directly proportional to the output. But in 2017, ethics has not been very highly scoring, with the average marks hovering around 85-90. Irrespective of the marking scheme, future aspirants can continue with the regular preparation method, as it is all about competing with their peers and emerging as the best among the lot. Just ensure that you cover every single aspect of the syllabus.

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 15 4 1 20
GS2 17 3 0 20
GS3 18 2 0 20
GS4 All 0 0 All
Opt-P1 All 0 0 All
Opt-P2 All 0 0 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]

I always felt that when it comes to mains answers, it is all about perception. It is very natural for any evaluator to presume a paper to be of average quality if it doesn’t look filling. But there are also instances where toppers have scored 130+ even after skipping the first 2 questions. So, as far as possible, focus on attempting all questions and try to fill up the space provided for every answer. Try to innovate by including maps, flowcharts and diagrams wherever possible. For example, I drew maps even while answering questions from IR.

On the other hand, if you are totally blank about a question, do not bluff.

Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?

It wasn’t something unusual, since the mock tests were designed in a similar fashion. But the space provided in the UPSC answer sheets is quite more than that provided by the institutes. The major shocker was delivered in the optional papers where the morning paper had 4 sides for 20 marks questions and only 3 sides in the afternoon paper. So check for the number of sides provided for the question before you start writing an answer and structure your answers accordingly.

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.

My answers were always in a combination of paragraphs and points. But, I always ensured that my paragraphs were short and crisp. I structured my answers based on the demand of the questions. I did pay attention to the key words in the question.

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 follow the I-B-C format, as it helps us to think systematically. Wherever possible, I concluded my answers with a ‘way forward’.

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? No
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography) Yes. Drew diagrams even for the numismatics question in GS1. It all depends on how you wish to present the answer.
Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen? Mostly with pencil.
Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand? No. Couldn’t afford the time to do that though I had carried a ruler with me.
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen? Blue for the body. Tried using black wherever possible for titles and to underline.

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?

Political Science and International Relations. The other optional that I had in mind was Civil Engineering. But I found PSIR to be having a huge overlap with the GS subjects and I also had an inclination towards studying IR. Moreover, Civil Engineering would require spending exclusive time in revising the concepts learnt across 4 years of graduation.

Q. If a new player wants to pick your subject, would you advice for it or against it?

I would definitely advice for it. But the aspirant should also understand that the syllabus is quite vast and PSIR also demands really good answer writing skill as the evaluators look for more academic answers. With the right guidance and practice, it is definitely possible to hone your writing skills. So, choose the optional if your interests are inclined towards it.

Q. First the essential book/resource list.

I was totally dependent on Shubhra Ranjan Ma’am’s class notes for the theory part. I did not refer to any other book or resource for the theory. But the candidate has to spend some considerable time in updating the Current Affairs and IR part. Though Ma’am would also support us with the updation during her crash course after prelims, it is better for us to keep a track on the developments till the crash course starts.

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?

A significant internet-research and CA updation is necessary for this optional. This is to supplement the content gained from the books.

Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?

The syllabus can be completed in about 4-5 months.

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

Immediately after prelims

Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?

Yes. In paper.

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?

Nothing in particular.

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 tried to brainstorm and list down all possible questions that could be raised based on my DAF and then started preparing answers for the same. For CA, I started following an additional newspaper to get a variety of opinions. I also took guidance from a few friends for DAF analysis.

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 took mock interviews from a few institutes. Though they might not be able to simulate the exact UPSC environment, they do definitely help us to boost our confidence level and to generate new questions from our DAF. So, attending mocks could help us feel comfortable to present our true self in front of the interview panel.

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 was staying in my room in ORN, as I was preparing from Delhi only. I had a note book filled with issues, opinions and DAF-based questions. This was the only material in addition to the newspapers for the revision before interview.

Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.

I was wearing a white shirt in a dark blue suit with a maroon tie.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Air Marshal Ajit Bhonsle sir.

Q2. How long was the interview?

20-25 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?]

The reason that I had mentioned earlier. The civil services would provide me with an opportunity to contribute for societal growth, apart from excelling at a professional and personal capacity. While civil engineering as a field is very attractive, its scope remains restricted only to infrastructure development.

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]

You can find my interview transcript in the following link:


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?

My interview was mostly on the expected lines. The panel members were very warm and made me feel comfortable throughout. One of the members tried to stress me out. But I was able to handle the questions calmly.

Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?

All details are communicated by the commission well in advance. Prepare a check-list of documents and double check everything before you start to the commission.

Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?

Carry sufficient water and snacks, since you would start early to the assigned hospital and you may be asked to wait with an empty stomach till 10/11AM.

CSE-2017 Marksheet

Q1. Please provide both prelim and final mark sheet:

Subjects (Max. Marks) Marks secured Cutoff ranges

(PH to Gen.)

Prelims P1-GS (200m) 126 Cutoff: 40-105.34
Prelims P2-Aptitude (200m) 135 Passing Marks: 67
Mains Subjects Marks secured
Essay (250m) 148 Passing Marks: 25
GSM1 (250m) 99 Passing Marks: 25
GSM2 (250m) 112 Passing Marks: 25
GSM3 (250m) 128 Passing Marks: 25
GSM4 (250m) 94 Passing Marks: 25
Optional Paper-1 (250m) 153 Passing Marks: 25
Optional Paper-2 (250m) 154 Passing Marks: 25
Written Total (1750m) 888 Cutoff: 578-809
Interview (275m) 187 N/A
Final (2025m) 1075 Cutoff: 830-1006

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?

Did not concentrate much on the backup plan as this was my first attempt. But before I chose this path, I wanted to pursue MS abroad and come back to India to start a Civil Engineering venture. Maybe if things had not worked out for quite some time, this could have been my backup plan.

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.)

Did not take time out to think of such a time frame.

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Although Political science and sociology are both humanities subjects, yet in 2016, one of this subject got very favorable scaling-treatment than the other, consequently some candidates were denied even interview calls, despite having good marks in GS and Essay parallel to toppers. So, optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present scenario is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.

Yes. Optional subject can be removed as it is difficult to maintain parity in the scoring scheme.

Q. UPSC should disclose the evaluated mains- answer sheets like some StatePCS are doing. Although such ‘transparency’ has its demerits e.g. in recent GPSC Class-1-2 exam, after uploading the evaluated copies it turned out that those who wrote answer in Gujarati were given less marks compared to those who wrote identical answer in English. In such situation, process gets stuck in litigation and stay orders, therefore UPSC’s decision of being “less” transparent helps UPSC finish exam process within time-frame, without litigation and stay orders. What are your views on conundrum?

Bringing more transparency in the process would definitely add to the existing credibility of UPSC.

Q. (in context of my earlier question on transparency vs litigation) UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.  Your thoughts?

Yes. It would definitely be helpful for candidates who couldn’t clear prelims. By the time the scores are announced after almost a year, the heat of the moment is lost and the candidates also tend to take the scores without much seriousness.

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?

Candidates need not worry much about their past profile. Rather they should try to highlight the positives in a better manner. There are numerous examples of candidates with a nominal profile coming out with good ranks. So just try to build on the existing strengths.

Grand wisdom

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 had designed the a mobile wallpaper using the LBSNAA logo. So, every morning I woke up to this image which kept my momentum on. Moreover, I tried to keep myself engaged throughout the process, so that I don’t find time to think of distracting issues.

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?

Whatever may come your way, you should only focus on the ways to reach your goal. It is not wrong to fall. But your success depends on how quickly you get back on your feet. So, don’t let minor things distract you from the big picture. Fix you goal, choose your path and keep moving forward.

Assuming that only serious candidates would have made it this far in reading this interview, I am providing my contact details here for any kind of guidance: You can mail me at keerthivasanias18@gmail.com or you can connect with me on FB : fb.com/keerthivasan123

Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2017. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?

If you have made it to the interview, you are already one among the creamy lot. There are only a few areas where you need to work upon, which when set right would definitely help you ace the exam.

If you have made it to the mains once, then you know the right direction to move forward. You just need to develop a better foresight in the direction that you are moving. With the right amount of adjustments in the preparation, you will definitely come out with flying colors.

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?

First and foremost, my parents- who helped me develop a vision towards the civil services and for motivating me throughout the process. My sister and my brother-in-law have also supported me through my journey. There is one incident which I would like to share here.

Even before I gave the prelims, my sister and her in-laws were very confident that I would crack the civils in my first attempt. In March 2017, they had prepared an ambassador car shaped cake for my birthday with “Keerthi Vasan, IAS” as nameplate.

Such small incidents kept me motivated and focused throughout.

Finally I would like to thank all my relatives, friends and other well-wishers, who stood by me even when I was merely ‘an aspirant’.

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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.  

Not academically. But I regularly visited the website to read toppers interviews.

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