CSE Physics Optional Strategy

First of all I must thanks the giant of UPSC Physics preparation – D P Vajpayee sir. He has made it possible that I am writing this blog today. I took coaching for Physics from DIAS in 2014 and appeared for test series in 2016.

Secondly, my sincere gratitude to previous years toppers – Supreet Singh Gulati Sir (2007), Abhijeet Agarwal Sir (2009), Kashish Mittal Sir (2012), Divyanshu Jha Sir (2013), Manish Bansal Sir (2013), Rishav Gupta Sir (2013), Vishu Mahajan (2016) and Prateek Jain (2016). I have immensely benefited from their strategy, notes and guidance in past 4 years.

Book list – I stuck to just one book for each topic except for Paper 2 where Resnick and Eisberg helps in covering some topics in Modern Physics.
  • Mechanics
    • JCUpadhyay
  • Optics
    • Ghatak
  • Electricity and magentism
    • Griffith and SP
  • Thermo
    • Garg, bansal, ghosh
  • Resnick and Eisberg
  • Quantum
    • HCV
  • Atomic and molecular
    • Rajkumar and ban well
  • Nuclear and Particle
    • SBPatel
  • Solid state and digital electronics
    • Puri and babbart

Other sources

  • I came across Hyperphysics very late in my preparation. It is immensely helpful for notes making as well to understand certain concepts. You will find a whole of easy to draw diagrams on this.
  • Abhijeet Sir’s notes – available on his blog cited above – use it for in depth study only if you have time.
  • Rishav Sir’s notes – available on his blog cited above – They should be your primary source. He has covered almost all the topics succinctly
  • Brilliant Tutorial Notes – They are usually available in photocopy form in ORN or Ber Sarai market. They are beneficial to cover previous year questions. Also topics like Solid state and digital electronics can be covered from them
  • DIAS classroom notes – If you are not able to attend the classes then get the latest notes from one of the students attending them. All your other notes would be structured around them.

Test series at DIAS

  • You must write all the test. And on time
  • Many opt for test series by correspondence. I would advice against that. There is no way you can simulate that environment sitting 2000km away. The experience of giving the test series at the centre is very different

Answer writing – This is a highly important part in preparation. You need to practice this well. You can get 50-70% marks for a correct answer (taking into account scaling etc)

  • Best way is to prepare model answers for all your tutorial sheets. Get model UPSC answer booklets from market and start writing answers for previous year questions from tutorial sheets. Tutorial Sheet, Previous Year Papers
  • Make it a habit to add a line or two in the beginning and end of the answer. This could be related to the physics/definition of the concept asked in the question or a comment on the answer (like for HUP – you can write that such value of answer make it improbable to witness it directly). You can also write real world application for the concept asked or some meta data like who is the discoverer or which experiment led to the discovery of the concept
  • Draw diagrams as far as possible.
  • Use a different coloured pen (black if you are using blue for writing) for diagrams and underlining
  • Be very neat in your presentation. Reduce the cutting
  • Most critically, choose the questions carefully. Prepare at least 3 topics out of 4 in each paper thoroughly so that you can attempt 90% paper.
  • You can have a look at these model answers by Supreet Sir – Model Answers by Supreet Sir

Notes making – You should ideally take notes in Vajpayee sir class on one side of A4 sheets. Leave the other side blank to add further notes from books or other sources

Revision – Prepare revision notes (summary sheets – 3-4 pages for each units). Cant emphasize the importance of this. If you don’t have these, you’ll be overwhelmed just before the exam by the sheer size of the notes. Have a look at Prateek Jain blog for these flash notes.

I got 303/500 last year and 327/500 this year. On the other hand my preparation last year was much better than this year. But you never know what works in your favour.

All the best!





Answer writing for CSE Mains

I’ve improved my marks  from 394/1000 last year to 471/1000 this year in GS papers. I feel that improving my answer writing skills played an important role in this. There was no new addition of content as such besides the regular current affairs. So in this post I will try to jot down my two cents on this topics

Directive words – Please try to understand the difference between tailwards. Not every question demands pro and cons.  A better understanding of these tailwords will help you in writing relevant content and give better structure to the answer. I am attaching  two pdfs  from which I benefitted for your perusal

Structuring – Use diagrams, double underlines, pragraphing, sub headings, bullet points etc to give structure to your answer. There are no rules on how you go about this. This can come only by practice

  • Draw borders around your diagrams
  • Use double under line for your subehadings
  • Dont strectch a paragraph beyond 3-4 sentences
  • You can us directive words as sub heading in certain cases

I found this document immensely useful for diagrams – IAS4Sure material – for presentation and diagram. 

I ALSO use to analyse answer booklets of each year toppers as well as best copies for the test. Used them to get ideas on presentation and diagrams

Practice –

  1. If this is the first time you are writing answer then go for InsightsonIndia Secure inaitive. It will help you in gradually improving your answer quality. You will see what other candidates are writing, improve your content and strcutring, learn about difference between tailwords.
  2. Join a test series once you are able to do 4-5 questions from insights in an hour.
  3. Never sit for more than 3 hours during a test. Many aspirants have the habit of taking time beyond the permissible limit. I feel this does not help you prepare psychologically which is much needed in mains exam.
  4. Use Previous year Questions for practice

Some of my answer booklets

Wishing you all the best



Notesmaking in Evernote [Online Notes]

I consider this as a skill which lot of aspirant doesn’t give much thought to. Usually what happens is that as soon as one start preparation, they start making notes in some manner – either jotting down important points in a copy, or scribbling in the book or highlighting it. And as they progress,  they are stuck in that particular manner of making notes since one has already invested some time in

In my humble opinion and experience of last 4 years, you need to be constantly on your toes to improve your efficiency in notes making.

There are certain priorities that one should keep in mind

1> Notes should be comprehensive in a way that you don’t need to refer to other sources while revising or in subsequent attempts

2> Try to combine materail from different sources/books/coachings at one place for each topic. Otherwise you’ll be overwhelmed before final exam. For example if you have basic notes on SHGs from M Puri sir’s classes then keep on adding to them from current affairs for any SHG related news.

3> For certain books especially Lakshmikant for Polity, Spectrum for History etc- it is impossible to make notes. Don’t try to do that.

My strategy for making notes

I had both online and offline notes for each topic. This was because I felt that it would consume lot of my time to convert all offline notes to online.

For online notes, I used evernote. It is easy to use and dedicated to note making.


  1. At the top level I created a stack for UPSC..
  2. Under 4 different notebooks for GS1-4. They contained notes for each topic in syllabus
  3. Notebooks for different subjects – Culture, History, Geography, Society, Economics, Polity etc.  These notebooks contained notes for topics which weren’t directly part of syllabus or demanded separate notes
    • Tags like gs1-4, essay for overlapping topics like Governance (GS2, GS4), Corruption, Poverty etc
  1. Evernote provides a functionality to create table of content based on a list of notes – so you can use that
  2. Collection of Datapoints, Quotes, Anecdotes

I use to copy whatever I found useful from online sources to my main notes. Also for all the tests (both prelims and mains) I use to gather solution PDFs so as to copy important content from there to my notes. Later I created Revision notes for each subject so that it becomes easy to revise just before exam.

Ultimately my goal was that before the exam I should not be having 500-700 pages to revise. It becomes overwhelming when you have to revise all of it in 1 day.


Online Sources for CSE preparation

I have heavily used online resources for my preparation. I subscribed to RSS feeds on Feedly. I use to copy whatever I found useful to my evernote. I could gather lot of anecdotes and quotes too by this way. I have given here a comprehensive list of my feeds to give you an idea. You can customise it as per your own preference. I have not read physical newspaper except for interview prep and for the first two months when I started preparing.

Exam Blogs

  1. Civils Daily – Usually to keep track of any news which I might have missed
  2. IAS baba – RSTV articles,
  3. Insights on India – Secure Initiative for answer writing (2015), PIB posts, Mindmaps, RSTV articles, Insights into editorials, Online Mains test series (2016&2017)
  4. Mrunal – One of the best websites for UPSC preparation. Engaging content. I was immensely benefited from NCERT compilation for S&T, Economics articles, Ethics articles, Toppers interview.
  5. xaam.in – Not a blog but a website which regularly post study material from various sources


  1. The Hindu – all pages


  1. The Hindu – Leftist and liberal point of view
  2. The Indian Express –
  3. Business Line – The Hindu – gives a more balanced and pragmatic perspective than The Hindu
  4. Livemint – From a economist point of view


  1. Business standard – Economy and Policy page


  1. ToI – Environment News – to keep track of any happenings which The Hindu misses out on


  1. CPR India – Great way to keep track of good thinkers, commentators and authors
  2. PRS Blog – a must or all UPSC aspirants

International Relations

  1. The Diplomat – south asia edition – insightful articles
  2. Brookings India


  1. The Indian Express – S&T page

Other resources

  1. Project Syndicate – A must read in my opinion to give a international perspective to your thinking. You will start looking at things in bigger picture
  2. PIB Feed – Just browse through it. Read President, PM, VP speeches . They are full of fodder/quotes for essays and answers
  3. PIB Features – For obscure topics.


Here’s the sneak peak to my feedly – Online content

Here’s the opml file for those interested – feedly-81910bcc-c2a8-4f75-8114-90d7f52f6b69-2018-05-21 [Download the file and change the extension to .opml]

Atul Garg sir (OrientIAS) GS4 Ethics class notes

I attended Ethics classes by Atul Garg sir at Oreint IAS in my 4th and last attempt. They were immensly helpful to me. Although there has been strict marking in Ethics paper I still amanged to get a decent score of 99.

Before I attended his classes, I had gone through Ethics class notes from Vajiram, Pawan kumar sir, Ansari sir (Lukmaan) and VisionIAS. But they did not helped. The reason being that Ethics is one subject for which you need to understand and internalise the concept. It is very hard to do so if you just read notes.

I will advise you to attend ethics classes once at least somewhere. Would recommend Atul sir as he keeps on updating his content with demand of the paper. He relates ethical concept with current affairs as well as Indian mythology. You’ll be never short of examples after attending his classes.

The notes are published here



Topper Answer Booklets for GS

Over the period of last 4 years, I’ve regularly analyzed Topper’s answer booklet and best answer copies.

1> Every year VisionIAS shares the test copies of toppers after result. ForumIAS has also started it in 2018.  So have a look at each of them.

2> If you can, get in good books of your friend who is enrolled at other coaching institute to share the best copies of each test before mains. This will help you in gauging the level of competition, any new topic that you might have missed, new types of questions (especially at GS Score) and get new ideas for presentation.

3> After every mock test compare your answer copy with the best copy of that particular test. Analyse where can you improve. During this exercise you’ll also understand how subjectivity of examiner plays a important role in the marks you get. Not everything is in your hand. At times your answer might be better but you cant help if once the marks are given.

For example – In my last attempt I enrolled for MGP at ForumIAS and test series at Orient IAS. Then I  asked a friends of mine who was enrolled in VisionIAS  and GS Score to share best copies from those institute. I asked another friend who used to check copies at Vajiram to share good Ethics and Polity copies.

This might sound too much but it was my Final attempt. Had to do everything possible.

Here is the collection of some of them –

Topper’s booklet – Miscellaneous, GS Score 2015, Vision IAS 2017 Best copies, GS Score 2017 Best copies ,Topper’s booklet 2016, Essay , Ethics, Topper’s booklet 2015

Dont panic and do well,


CSE 2017 – My Interview Transcript

Brief Background -B Tech from IITD. Worked in corporate sector and startups. Currently under training as IPS Probationer. Hobbies are Astrophyiscs, Cooking, Travel Photography, Reading Memoirs.

20/2/18. Afternoon session. First to go.
Ch – Bhonsle sir
-nice haircut! How often?
-‎how did you get interested in astrophysics?
-‎ who gave the theory of evolution and what was the name of the book?
-why have you filled IPS again?
-why do you want to change cadre?
What did you do to get this ambsaador of change award?
Do you think you were successful?
Why so?
What is needed to bring the chaneg?
Three changes that you will like to bring on district?
– who said that we should leave the earth in 100 years? What could be the rationale? Do you subscribe to it?
– ‎some wise man said that Venus was like earth before? Why did he say so?
M3 (lady)
-what do you like to cook?
-‎how do you cook daal baati?
-‎what were you doing in Chile?
-‎what is last memoir you’ve read and what is your favorite memoir?
-‎what do you like about it?
-dont you think there are certain cons of home cadre? what are the pro and cons of home cadre?
-why do you want to opt for IAS? what will you do if you get west bengal again in IAS?
-will you leave police service for IFS?
– is police service or force?
– ‎wb has WB police and WB police service? What’s the difference?
– ‎what is the perception of people about police?
– ‎why is it so?
– ‎what are the issues being faced by police?
– ‎what will you do to address these?
– ‎three challenges facing India?
-What was this Zestbuds?
– what should india do for women empowerment to bring them at the level they are in Singapore?
– ‎have you seen dabang? What’s the image of police it potrays? Is it correct?
The board was extremely cordial. Interview went like a breeze.