Interview preparation – CSE

I’m sharing few notes that I made for CSE interview 2017. These are relevant for those who are coming from policing background (IPS/CAPF/DySP) and aiming for IAS or IFS.

Policing – 1

Policing – 2

Policing – 3

Apologies for the formatting. I am current on road for winter study tour.

Good luck,


My videos for CSE and IFoS related guidance

Collating these videos here for reference

CSE guidance video – briefly touches upon important aspects of my strategy for all 3 stages of CSE i.e. interview, mains and interview

CSE Guidance video –

CSE Physics Optional strategy  – exhaustive coverage of Physics strategy. Few words of wisdom from Vajpai sir who has been my mentor.

CSE Physics Optional Strategy

Notesmaking strategy

IFoS guidance video – covers GK, English, Forestry Optional and Interview

CSE GS1 Strategy

GS1 usually takes most times of aspirant as subjects like History and Culture are highly time consuming but not really rewarding. I would suggest you to not devote much time to these topics as either the questions would be so easy that everyone would be able to write something meaningful or so difficult that most of the candidate will have no idea what they are suppose to write.


  • History – TN Board 11th NCERT, Modern Spectrum, Few chapters from TMH
  • Culture – Nitin Singhania’s handwritten notes+GK Today notes
  • Geography – NCERT, G C Leong, Vajiram class notes
  • Society – Vision IAS Notes, Current affairs

I made revision notes for all material. For Spectrum, I got the summary pages at the end of each chapter photocopied and wrote extra stuff on them for last minute revision.

My evernote collection

Other reosurces

CSE GS2 Strategy

I use to think GS2 is one paper where candidates from Public Administration, Sociology, PSIR have a distinct advantage. But that’s not the case really. The paper doesnt demand in depth knowledge. Although in initial years of my preparation I was a little afraid of the content but later became confident.

I’ve relied heavily on current affairs, Vision notes and puri sir notes for this paper. In my opinion they are the key ingredient to attain a certain level of preparation.


  • Polity – Lakshmikant, M Puri sir’s class notes
  • Governance – Current affairs, Vision IAS notes
  • International relations – Vajiram’s class notes, M Puri sir’s class notes

Try and make revision notes for all your content except Lakshmikant as it is humanly impossible to do for this book.

My evernote collection

Other resources

CSE GS3 Strategy

GS3 has scored comparatively high this year. It is difficult to point out a reason for that. Usually GS2 and GS3 have scored similarly.

This paper has been one of my favorites as it contains diverse set of subjects.

Book list

  • Economy – Sriram IAS class notes
  • Security – Vajiram Yellow book
  • Environment – Shankar IAS Notes
  • S&T – Vajiram class notes+Vajiram’s yellow book
  • Disaster management – Yojana’s editions which comes once in two years or so
  • Current affaris – Vision IAS Monthly magazine, Editorials from various news appers especially Livemint, Business standard


  • I made concise revision notes for all subjects except S&T
  • I drew as many diagrams as possible in the paper
  • Kept my online notes updated via newspapers and vision magazine

My evernote collection –

Other resources

Interview Preparation

As I outlined in my other post , I attended mock in 2016 at as many places as I could since I was nervous. My experience was mixed. On one hand it made me comfortable with the interview process but on the other hand I became too conscious of myself. I scored 173 finally in B S Bassi Sir’s board. In 2017, since I was undergoing training at NPA, I didn’t have much time to prepare and mocks. So I gave just one mock. I still scored same marks i.e. 173 in Bhonsle Sir’s board.

In nutshell, My opinion is that you should give at least 3-4 mock interviews properly

Regarding preparation

  • I started reading two-three newspapers 2-3 week after mains – The Hindu/Indian Express+Livemint/Business standard/Economic times+HT/ToI.
    • I use to jot down important news from these papers either in evernote or in a notebook.
  • Your DAF. Each and every word should be carefully pondered over. Prepare possible questions on it.
    •  For example – “Ambassador of Change award for social service”. Possible questions could be about ambassador car, the post of ambassador, type of changes, etc. I know I am stretching it a bit too far but you never know what a interviewer think of after looking at a certain word
    • Another example – My hobby is photography.  So they asked me “You do photography? What Kind? Why not wildlife? What equipment you would need to do wildlife photography?”
  • General question
    • Why do you people want to join IAS and what will be your choice if you’re getting IPS again and why?

What happens?

  • It is a 25-30 min interview with 5 board members.
  • The chairman starts the interview and after 4-5 mins asks one of the members to carry on.
  • There may or may not be a psychologist. One can’t guess.


  • This is a test for your personality and not knowledge. But as Ayush Sir has said in one of his videos – what may be knowledge for you may be personality for UPSC board member. For example – They may ask who is CDO of your district? What is the literacy rate of your district? If you don’t know answer to these basic yet crucial questions then you are in a bad soup. It reflects bad on you that as a person interested to be in public service and who is expected to be well versed with general knowledge of things around him doesn’t know even this much.
  • You are not expected to know answers to all the questions
  • Always smile. While entering, while answering, even if you don’t know the answer, while leaving. Shows a pleasing personality
  • Be humble – Like a cow. You are not perfect and can never be. Accept your weakness. Also start practicing use of “sir”
  • Be prepared to say No if you are not sure of an answer. In my opinion a No is a better answer than “I think it could be” or “I guess”.
  • Work on your communication skills- especially if you have a habit of using filler words like – “you know”.
    • You can video record yourself and analyse it
  • Candidates who’ve gotten into arguments with the board have seen their marks reduced.
    • dont correct a board member
    • don’t be anti establishment
  • Selected aspirants usually hover around 55-70%. But there are always exception.
  • Ask for “May I sit down” if not asked to.
  • No answers in binaries – yes/no – unless very sure? for e.g. – you wasted a seat at IIT?
  • Try to use ‘our country ‘ or ‘our nation ‘ as many times as possible
  • Voice level should be sufficient to make it hear to everyone
  • Appropriate answer and not correct answer is required
  • Always take a position that administration would take
Strategy articles that I’ve referred to
Transcripts collection I’ve referred to

Evernote collection – It also contains notes on Rajasthan, Delhi, electrical engineering, forestry, physics etc

Rajasthan related material besides Evernote

Rajasthan Adhyan (1-4)


Other related material


All the best!

GS4 (Ethics) Strategy

Ethics is one paper which was usually considered scoring in past years but this year it suffered a blow due to strict marking (probably)

Reference Material

These are my Ethics notes from evernote –

Case study approaches

  • My strategy
    • Introduce one line with ethical dilemma involved. explicitly mention other ethical issues
    • mention stakeholders involved – mention values/decision premise – on basis on what values or ethical principles are you going to analyze the case
    • reasoning/justification
      • how the chosen option resolves the dilemmas and issues mention in the beginning using the values involved
      • how the chosen option affects stakeholder -could use table here
      • peripheral issues – how are they resolved
      • approach – base don what principles
    • merit/demrit
      • in each option give justification based on value and implication of the action
  • Atul Sir – framework for ethical decision making
    • Identify ethical issues/value concerns/ethical dilemmas
      • Sun diagram
      • Listing
    • Getting the facts
      • Relevant facts of the case
      • Avoid this due to paucity of space
    • Stakeholder ,- individual and groups that have stake in he outcome
      • Important steps
    • Various option
      • Only if asked
    • Have I identified creative options?
      • Middle path
    • Evaluate alternative options
      • Use 5 schools + leaders + emotional intelligence+ altitude
    • Decision
      • Can write some facts ,- sc judgement or constitution or society
      • Making it
      • Put it in people and society – that course of action is desired by them

Exam Paper Strategy

  • Use ethical theories, moral precedents, examples and anecdotes in reasoning for your decisions in case studies
  • Infant devote maximum time and space to reasoning – that is the area where you can really shine and create difference. Rest is run of the mill things
  • Never break the law in case study
  • Never show your prejudice of politician
  • Emphasis on exploration rather than prescription
  • Problem solving approach
    • Don’t reach conclusion in the starting
  • Personal biases need to be considered – don’t write them
  • Take a ethical stand wherever possible
  • Strict action must be taken
    • Deterrent approach
  • Avoid irrelevant information
  • Be optimistic
  • Attempt the case study with various options first – warmup
  • Quality of suggestions should be applicable to the situation and environment. Eg -Biometric system for school attendance in Bihar would not work
  • Stick to keywords in syllabus and previous year question papers
  • Don’t forget the appeal power – quintessential Indian things (ex – saat phere instead of marriage /mai-baap ) which show that you are integral part of the society
  • use tabular format as far as possible
  • don’t get too bogged down in nitty gritty. focus on the essence or theme of the question
  • Use hypothetical scenarios in Ethics answer
  • Be gender neutral in your answers. Use She/He or Him/Her
  • – Some parts of the syllabus must reflect in the answer
  • bring the language of ethics in the paper
  • – highlight the philosophy behind the answer
  • – contemporary examples
  • – Quote a thinker
  • – mention contradictory principles/values
  • In the quotes question in section a – connect it to one of the issues from syllabus in current context
  • Questions in which suggestions are asked
    • Mention ethical issue before
  • If not asked explicitly always write 1-2 line about why/reason behind the statement
  • Prepare yourself for all kind of SURPRISES IN PAPER
  • Remember the difference between eyesight and vision. Take people beyond what is minimum required.
  • Show your capacity to experience

For case studies

  • Introduce the case before coming to the point
  • should mention main stakeholder in the beginning
  • if stakeholders r not important then mention chief issues in the beginning if not even asked
  • don’t use I too much . try using indirect speech
  • Options are standalone. steps are discrete
  • course of action and justification is the main part of the answer
  • don’t give your best option as the first one- curtain raiser. arrows curiosity of the examiner
  • demerits are basically administrative challenges or limitation
  • try to list as many possible traits of leaders, reformer , administrators
  • If there are multiple stakeholder in the case study – then in your suggestion explain steps that you will take wrt each of them and their alternates if it doesn’t work out
  • Practical solution and not just vague suggestions (how to improve transparency rather than just improve transparency)
  • Also mention the most undesirable option in case study
  • Touch the peripheral issues and not just the core issues
  • Human values+Foundational values are the core of answering all case study

Things to take note

  • When gs 2 type questions are asked in paper 4
    • you have to address issues like why a particular thing is happening?
      • someone not performing their duty
      • lack of values,morals
      • role of family, society
      • it is not there empathy is not there?
    • eg  – migration case studies
      • gs2 perspective – implementation issues etc
      • gs4 perspective – deep rooted disvalues in society, some servants are not doing their duty, lacking commitment, not just systematic failure


Anything else you want to know, please post in comments.

All the best