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     Rank:  5
    Civil Services Examination 2009  2009
     Profile Viewed:  19665 time(s)

    Marks Obtained

    Total Marks Marks Obtained
    Essay 200 102
    General Studies 600 335 (170 + 170)
    Psychology 600 322 (157 + 165)
    Public Administration 600 367 (183 + 184)
    Total (Written) 2000 1126
    Interview 300 183
    Total 2300 1309 (56.91%)

    Optional Subjects

    Choice of optionals has to be wholly dependent upon interest in a subject and aptitude. Since civil service exam involves hard work over a long period of time, interest in a subject is very important to continue studying that subject. Choosing an optional just on the basis of number of successful candidates in previous years or following others’ advice blindly is to be avoided at all costs.

    One should change an optional only after considerable thought. I felt I could improve my performance in these optionals in my next attempts and so focused on working on weak areas.

    Prelims: Psychology

    I developed interest in psychology when I read Morgan and King during college days. It is highly relevant in daily life and lots of additional material is available on the internet. Reading 2-3 basic books and Mukul Pathak sir’s notes is more than enough for prelims.

    Mains: Psychology and Public administration.

    I chose psychology due to the reasons already stated above. Public Administration is another subject which is highly relevant in daily life. Also, public administration doesn’t involve reading too many books. It can be prepared (especially paper 2) side by side with general studies. Also, both these optionals have many overlaps which gives an added perspective to the candidate.

    Choosing the optional is very important. Interest in a subject should be the primary reason, apart from aptitude. Also, guidance from someone who has cleared the exam or recently appeared for the exam is also very important to gauge the changing trend.

    I took advice from family members who were already in the services and by contacting people who had cleared the exam recently. But I feel at the end of the day, all decisions have to be taken by the candidate himself according to his own assessment of his strengths and weaknesses.

    Success Plan

    The exam is highly competitive and therefore, each and every candidate, selected or otherwise, works very hard. I read about some of the successful candidates selected in recent years, and Supreet Gulati and Bijay Ketan Upadhyay’s success stories influenced me a lot, as in spite of setbacks, they pursued their goal and made it to the IAS.

    In my previous two attempts, I relied heavily on text books. I focused on finishing textbooks rather than studying topic wise by seeing the syllabus. In this attempt, I prepared my own notes by choosing at most 2-3 books for the optionals and relying heavily on the internet in case of psychology. For, GS I relied heavily on newspapers.

    Also, answer writing is the key to success in Mains. I got invaluable guidance from Pavan Kumar sir at Sriram’s for public administration and from Mukul Pathak sir for psychology. Even if the content is same, the way an answer is written may decide the marks awarded, which may be very different for 2 candidates.

    The number of hours of study is not important. It is rather quality study with optimum concentration and consistency which is the key to success. I studied 4-5 hours daily and 40 minutes at most in one sitting. Yet, I made it a point not to miss out on any day no matter what, to the best of my abilities.

    I achieved success in my third attempt. I concentrated too much on text books in my 1st attempt and neglected newspaper reading. In my 2nd attempt, even though I read newspapers regularly, yet the way I wrote my answers was not up to the mark. This I realized in my 3rd attempt when I concentrated on writing answers and putting my ideas effectively.

    'Time Management'

    One should always plan realistically. Avoiding backlog of newspapers, magazines, etc is very important. I faced time management problem only once during my 3 attempts when I had to attempt 100 marks in 30 minutes during GS paper 1 in my 2nd attempt. I felt the paper was very easy and I got carried away and didn’t manage time properly. I learned it the hard way and made it a point not to miss out anything in my later papers.


    During prelims, I relied on India Yearbook (Min of I & B), DD Basu’s Indian Polity, Economic Census and reading newspapers and any 1 magazine. I read The Times of India, The Economic Times and The Hindu. I chose Chronicle magazine, yet I feel magazines such Pratiyogita Darpan are equally good. A candidate must read only 1 magazine to avoid duplication of effort.

    For the optional, one must go through the previous years’ papers and rely only on at most 3-4 books. Reading one book five times is much better than reading five books once.

    For psychology, I relied on Morgan and King, Baron and Cicarrelli. Mukul Pathak sir’s notes were also helpful. For physiological psychology, I relied on Leventhal.

    I devoted much more time to general studies as I felt it was very vast. Roughly speaking, 60% of my time went for General Studies and the rest 40% for the optional.


    I applied the same strategy for essay as I did for my other papers. An essay should be as broad-based as possible. The language should be simple and I felt there was no need to unnecessarily include quotes, etc in essays. An essay has to be balanced as points supporting the essay statement as well as against it must be included.

    I practiced by writing 12-14 essays (1 essay a week) after the prelims till September end.

    This time I chose the topic on Healthcare. I felt I had enough content on the topic to write an essay. Also, I could include key concepts in psychology from time to time to present an eclectic approach. But jargons should be avoided in essays, and if used, should be properly explained.


    In my 2 previous attempts, I had studied extensively for the interview and tried to do too many things. But in this attempt, I didn’t focus on studying too much. Instead, I focused on speaking properly, being confident and controlling nervousness.

    One should go through each and every point in the mains form, such as place of birth, date of birth, school, college, organization where working, hobbies etc.

    I joined Sriram’s institute for interview guidance and Samkalp for additional mock interviews.

    I faced Dr KK Paul sir’s Board on 31st march in the afternoon session. My interview went on for 25-30 minutes and the Board members were very cordial.

    Interview Questions

    I was asked a wide range of questions ranging from international affairs such as India, USA, Pakistan, China and Africa

    I was asked to give reasons for leaving my job.

    National issues such as farmers’ suicide, Bt cotton, EPZs, Census, Disasters, FDI and economic recession were also asked.

    Mechanical engineering questions such as machine tool, lathe machine, NC and DNC, etc were also asked.

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