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!





Coaching for CSE

In last few days I was told by my friends and wellwishers that a number of coaching institutes are using my photo in their advertisement. They were curious to know if I really utilized these coaching’s services or was it something else? At the same time a number of aspirants have been asking me which coaching to join?

I will answer the second question first – There is no direct answer to which coaching to join. It all depends on what your needs are and which stage of preparation you are in. If you are preparing for CSE from scratch, may be a comprehensive GS programme would be good for you. If you have already gone though certain portion of syllabus than may be individual classes from specific teachers might be better. If this is your 3rd or subsequent attempt then you may go for test series specific coaching. Among all this your optional is different ballgame. So as you see the answer is not very clear. It will vary for person to person.

Now coming to first question – whether I utilized the services of these coaching institutes? I certainly did. 

A clarification first – I don’t know which all coaching are using my name or photo.

So I will list down, in chronological order (from 2014 onwards). the coachings that I attended and for what purpose. May be this will help future aspirants to make a better decision


1> DIAS – For Physics (my optional). I attended regular classes. Vajpayee sir has been a teacher and mentor for me in last 4 years. His was the first class I attended when I came to Rajinder Nagar. Always looked upto him for guidance.

2> Vajiram – Attended their 1 month IR module for 2014 mains. It helped in giving direction to my preparation for topics which I had no idea of.


1> Vajiram – Essay classes by Shabbir sir. Immensely helpful. I followed his strategy till my 4th attempt. Thank you sir.

2> VisionIAS – Test series for mains and essay. The question quality was best in the market but the checking left much to be desired as I felt that the feedback system wasn’t that great.


1> DIAS – Physics test series.

2> Lukmaan – GS4 and GS2 test series by Ansari sir. Enjoyed his classes. He’s a gem of a person. Thank you sir.

3> OrientIAS – Prelims and Mains test series. So my experience last year at Vision taught me that for me personal guidance mattered a lot. I went to Orient initially in May for Prelims and realized that teacher there were much more accessible. So just after Prelims I joined their GS and Essay mains test series.

4> GS Score – Attended Ethics and Essay mains test series. The competition was great and Manoj sir was accessible. Although at times the questions and case studies were totally out of the blue. But there was logic behind that too as it prepared us for the uncertainty in the real exam paper.

5> VisionIAS – Open test for Prelims

6> ForumIAS – Open test for Prelims

7> InsightsOnIndia – Joined their online mains test series for practice purpose

For Interview

1> Samkalp – For both IFoS and CSE interview guidance programme

2> CareerQuest – For IFoS mock

3> Evolution – For IFoS mock.

2> Vajiram – Attended mock sessions. 1-2-1 seating with Ravindran sir gives you quite an accurate idea about tentative marks in interview.

3> Sriram – Sriram sir is a legend. Attended a mock and a class with him. He told me that I was taking 1 step forward and 2 step back in interview. He was right 🙂

4> Chanakya – For mock interview. Good panel.

5> ALS – For mock interview with Jojo Mathew sir. It was a stress interview and I enjoyed it

6> BYJU – For mock interview

7> DIAS – For mock interview with Vajpayee sir.

7> ClearIAS – They did a wonderful DAF analysis (all online) free of cost. I was pleasantly surprised.


1> ForumIAS – Joined MGP programme after Mains. Copies were checked on time. Mentors like Asif sir and Ayush sir were always available. Although I dont know my GS marks as I write this I have a hunch that I might have scored better in GS for which a part of credit definitely goes to Forum.

2> OrientIAS – I joined regular classes for Ethics by Atul Garg sir. I felt GS4 was one area where I was lacking and since it was my final attempt I decided to go all in. Atul sir’s approach to the paper I felt was quite pragamtic. And he is never short of example and anecdotes which are much needed for this paper. I also wrote Essay test series by Kapil sir. Kapil sir’s standard for essay are quite high. It will be a challenge to match them.

3> InsightsOnIndia – Joined their online mains test series. Did not write a single test due to paucity of time.

4> Braintree Hyderabad – Went for a mock. Gave direction to interview prep in short span of time

5> Deeksha Hyderabad – Went for a mock. The best part was the candidates were asked to sit in each other’s mock which helped in finding out area of improvement.

6> NextIAS – Joined their online portal for electrical engineering notes. One of my weakest area in Interview

So as one can see, the coaching are not wrong when they say that this person has been our student. Anyone who has lived in Old Rajinder Nagar (the mecca for CSE) for 3-4 years will attest to the fact that you cant be immune to the coachingwallahs. But few important things to note here:

1> I did not attend GS Classroom coaching anywhere except for Ethics classes by Atul Garg Sir at OrientIAS (in 2017)

2> I attended mock interviews wherever possible in 2016 as I was desperate to get a rank in the list somehow.

I will write a separate post about the notes from various coaching institutes that I’ve used over the years. They are the unsung heroes in my opinion 😉

I hope it clears a lot of apprehensions and doubts. This could help aspirants in making a judicious decision before they commit themselves to a particular coaching.

All the best. May the force be with you!




IFoS – Physics optional

My score – 278/400
I joined DIAS for Physics classes and their test series. More than anything else, the motivation by Vajpayee Sir played an important role in me getting good marks in Physics.
To do
  • Solve all DIAS tutorials properly in UPSC like notebook – Gives you a feel of space, presentation etc
  • Don’t leave any fringe topics especially those which are not in CSE syllabus- Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics, saha’s ionization, cornu’s spiral etc
    • There’ll be invariably 1-2 questions from these and if you have prepared them well, they can give you an edge.
  • 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.
  • For those who join DIAS
    • Attend all classes
    • Solve tutorials as per schedule
    • Give all test on time
Book list
  • 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 babbar
Please remember that this is a test of your perseverance and balanced approach and not of your smartness.