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IAS Topper’s Interview 2015: Akhil Goel AIR 251

Name Akhil Goel
Rank in CSE 2015 251
Total Attempts in CSE 2
Optional Subject Mathematics
Medium English


Class 10 percentage of marks 88%
Class 12Percentage of marks 90.2%
Graduation: College and marks NIT, Allahabad (Got 9.02 CPI)
Post graduation: College and marks
Any other course

IAS Score: What were the basic mantras of your success? 

Incremental study over the period of time. Constant evaluation of my progress through test series and amending any faults that prop up.

IAS Score: What were your strategies for the lengthy syllabus of General Studies for both Prelims and Mains?

I decided to fix my material for each subject and revised the material multiple times. In addition, I read newspaper “The Hindu” regularly and a monthly compilation of current affairs to remain in contact with the current issues.

IAS Score: Did you integrate your Prelims or Mains preparation or was it separate in the changing scenerio?

I did integrate my prelims and Mains preparation for few subjects like Economy, Geography, Indian History and Culture. There were few topics which I covered after prelims like International Relations, Internal Security, World History etc. I covered Ethics and Essay completely after prelims.

GS Preparation for Prelims (Summary)

Study material / Guidance Spectrum for History, Geography and Economics lectures from Mrunal Youtube channel, Polity from Laxmikant, Environment from GK Today Pdf, Culture from Nitin Singhaniya notes and GK Today Pdf.
Basic Books NCERT from 6th to 12th for History, Geography. Macroeconomics
Current Affairs The Hindu newspaper. Monthly compilation from any institute will work for prelims (I followed Vision IAS monthly compilation).
Any other

GS Mains Preparation (Summary)

Paper Study Material/Guidance Current Issues Source Answer Writing Practice
GS Paper 1 Spectrum, Mrunal lectures for Geography, Nitin Singhaniya notes on culture, Vision IAS compilation for World history and Post-Independence India. Not needed for GS1 GS Score Test series
GS Paper 2 Laxmikant GS Score compilation released after prelims for Polity, IR, Social Issues GS Score Test series
GS Paper 3 Mrunal Lectures for Economy, Random articles online for Environment and disaster management GS score compilation for Economy, S&T, Environment and Internal Security. GS Score Test series
GS Paper 4 GS Score material and guidance from Manoj sir Not Applicable GS Score Test series

Optional Subject Preparation (Summary)

Study material / Guidance IMS institute study material
Basic Books
Current Affairs
Answer Writing IMS Test series
Any other

IAS Score: How did your prepare for essay.

I took Essay Test series in GS Score and Vajiram to get 2 different evaluation for my essay.

IAS Score: Did you adopted any specific strategy for GS Paper 4?

I focused primarily on not leaving a single question in Ethics and for this I did answer writing practice a lot through test series in GS Score.

IAS Score: What were the sources of information for general reading? How did you come to know that which sources of reading materials are standard? 

I did most of the general reading online and read articles topic wise. I searched for the topic and read various articles related to it.

IAS Score: What is your advice on notes-making for other aspirants? 

Making notes is personal choice. I tried to make notes of newspapers initially but didn’t find it useful. As most of the study I did was through PDFs, I generally highlighted important information in the PDF itself. So, making notes depend on personal comfort.

IAS Score: How did you manage your time during the preparation?

I gave maximum time to my optional which was Mathematics, it required lots and lots of practice. I started preparation of prelims before 3 months and did not touch my optional in that period. After prelims, I again gave about 2 months for Maths, in between I was writing answers for Ethics. After 2 months, I started finishing GS syllabus and simultaneous answer writing for GS. Mathematics test went till it was 10 days left for mains.

IAS Score: What was your style (paragraph or point format) Of writing in the exam? How was it distinct from the general writing style? How did you develop this writing style?

In GS papers, I tried to follow point format in maximum questions.

For Ethics I followed paragraph format for questions and point format for Case-studies.

Point format comes naturally to me as I am an Engineer. But for Ethics questions, you need to elaborate a statement most of the time which can’t be described in points, so I followed para format for such questions.

IAS Score: So much focus is being given to Test Series, both for Prelims and Mains, in your opinion how useful are they, in the course of a preparation process? Which Test Series did you join and how useful did you find it to be?

Test series are of utmost important in both the stages. I did not formally join test series for prelims but took some test papers from friends from multiple institutes and practiced them.

In mains, I wrote about 40 test papers before appearing in the mains exam as my writing speed was slow. I joined GS Score test series for GS, Essay and Ethics. I also joined an Essay test series in Vajiram and 2 test series for Mathematics in IMS institute, one before prelims and 1 after prelims.

IAS Score: Civil Services Exam process is quite strenuous. It requires long hours of constant study. How did you maintain your tempo and what did you do to break the monotony of preparation?

Yes, it is tough to maintain tempo and whenever things didn’t go well and I couldn’t study for a day or 2 thinking about the failure, I had to motivate myself saying that nothing will happen if I didn’t study. In such situations, I created a time table for the next 15 days and tried to follow that strictly.

To break the monotony, I always studied 2 subjects simultaneously and whenever I got bored with one, I switched to other.

IAS Score: The trend suggests that professionals or working people are more successful in this exam. Does this exam prove difficult for Humanities and Social Science background candidates?

I think the professionals or the working people have been exposed to externalities a bit more. This helps them connect things comparatively easily. Having said that, Humanities people have almost gained expertise in their optional subjects which make them a tough competitor to beat. This year example of topper from Humanities background prove this point. So, ultimately it boils down to who has given extra effort and understood the extent of competition better.

IAS Score: Which sources you referred to prepare for Contemporary Issues.

I followed The Hindu newspaper and contemporary issues PDFs released by GS Score for each subject was very helpful

IAS Score: Given the recent boom in online initiatives to support an aspirant, which were the platforms that you find useful enough during your course of preparation. Please list the sites.

Online resource is very useful these days for civil services. Following are the sites I regularly followed: for contemporary issues and reading articles. for Mrunal Videos and Rajya Sabha Big Picture episodes. for environment related material

Many other random articles were read online.

IAS Score: What is your advice to the candidates who is still in the process of preparing for this examination?

Keep calm and just focus on the process rather than the result. Constantly evaluate yourself to see where you stand in the crowd and work accordingly.

IAS Score: Your word for future aspirants

Please choose the path of civil services wisely. It is a tough terrain to pass through. Please have a backup option ready in case you are unsuccessful. My backup option was to go back to IT sector and work as a software developer.

Mark sheet

Paper Year 2015 Year 2014
Prelims Expected 115 (Yet to be released by UPSC) 194 (Did not clear prelims)
Essay (Paper 1) 110
GS 1 (Paper 2) 97
GS 2 (Paper 3) 65
GS 3 (Paper 4) 96
GS 4 (Paper 5) 87
Optional 1 (Paper 6) 142
Optional 2 (Paper 7) 133
Written Total 730
Personality Test 173
Total Score 903

Click Here to Download Topper’s Test Copy of CSE 2015


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