[Forest Service Toppper] Prem Kumar R (Rank-70/IFS-2015) 1st Attempt, Forestry, Geology; Anna University, Tamilnadu

[Forest Service Toppper] Prem Kumar R (Rank-70/IFS-2015) 1st Attempt, Forestry, Geology; Anna University, Tamilnadu

  1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Working professional
  7. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  8. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  9. Prelim accuracy
  10. Mains Optional Subject
  11. Before the interview
  12. During the interview
  14. IFS-2015 Marksheet
  15. Career Backup
  16. Views on UPSC reforms
  17. Insecurity about profile
  18. Wisdom
  19. Credit: Friends/family
  20. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Q. Details
Rank in UPSC IFS-2015 70
Roll No. 0152203
Age 21
Total attempts in IFoS (including this one) 1
Optional Subjects Forestry, Geology
Schooling Medium English
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Virudhunagar, Tamilnadu
Work-experience if any Worked in a private bigdata analytics firm till May, 2015
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures NA
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) Shankar IAS academy
Service preferences (Top-5)
state cadre preference (Top-5) TN, KA, KL, AP, Telengana


% in class 10 94.4
% in class 12 96.75
Graduation course and % B.E(Materials Science& Engg)- 83.33
Name of college, city, passing out year CEG, Anna University, Chennai (2015 batch)
Post-graduation NA
Any other professional courses NA
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Story writing ,Folk dances
General Secretary of Department society
UGC award for solar cell project


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?

I am from a semi-urban place, Virudhunagar. My dad works in Govt. ITI and mother in government-aided college. I have a sister in class XI.
Joining CEG, Anna university was the turning point. The exposure I got there was tremendous. The late night discussions (call it chit-chat)we had in hostel dorm, the brand new ACL library in the vicinity and thought-provoking workshops of Kurukshetra were all significant. A debate on nuclear power organized in Kurukshetra fest made me world-conscious. And finally, I was prodded into civil services by my friend Rathinavel, himself an aspirant, in my sixth semester in college.

Electronic Vs Paper material

Q. In recent times, there is spur in electronic material- blogs, sites, pdfs, RSS-feeds. Many aspirants feel bogged down by this information overload. So, how much do you rely on electronic material and how much on the paper material (Books, newspapers)? If possible, narrate a typical day in your studylife. What is your style of preparation (e.g. I continue making notes no matter what I’m reading, I just read multiple times but don’t maintain notes, I make mindmaps on computer …or xyz style)
I used electronic materials whenever physical materials weren’t comfortable. You can’t read a newspaper while travelling without irritating your co-passenger. So, I mixed it up depending on circumstances. I made notes from newspaper(The Hindu) and revised it before exam. For books, I underlined important points to help cut revision time.
I did most of my preparation in my college final year. I joined weekend coaching in Shankar IAS academy, Chennai. The basics were clearly explained and every staff’s notes helped a lot. A typical weekday would start with newspaper, then college classes(interspersed with books of Bipan Chandra, Rajiv Sikri, if I found classes boring ;).And in the evening atleast 2 hours study. Due to pressing engagements, I couldn’t follow a rigid time-table.
After joining job(June 2015), I relied only on MRUNAL in office-hours, followed by standard textbooks after office-hours. My office seniors Rajesh and Sivasubramaniam helped me a lot in making sure that my preparation efforts go unhindered. Prelims test series in Shankar’s helped me identify my weak spots.

Tempo and style

Q. People know what books and syllabus points are to be prepared. But most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?
I got tremendous support from my parents and sister, who sacrificed a lot for my preparation. I made sure that I should get a service the first time itself. And this thought helped me going. Sometimes our days are not as we want them to be. Somethings throw us off track(be it a bad day at work or a half-forgotten girlfriend). At such difficult times I just held on. No progress, but no fall either. In my case, I had good friends. I relied on movies to escape from depression, when it hits. Whenever I was down, I had a get together with my friends Dinesh and Manoj and that kept me sane. Thank you guys!

Working professional

If you’re a working profession-nal, share some tips on how to manage studies with job
There are people who spend 18-20 hours on preparation. But while working, it is like you are fighting with an arm tied behind(sometimes both). So it is important not to waste free time(be it lunch time or team outings). As said in Interstellar, think of time as a resource. Make sure you get some true office-buddies to share your mind with. I got Kishore Balaji and Karthik, which helped me ease up at work. I read newspaper in my office. My work was on the domain of market research. This helped me too, as I could cover my preparations under the veneer of office work 😉

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient NCERT, Mr.Saravanamoorthy’s classes(Shankar academy)
History Medieval -do-
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) -do-
Culture and society -do-
Polity (theory + current) NCERT, Lakshmikanth, Newspaper
Economy (theory + current) NCERT, Economic survey, Mrs. Vaishnavi’s classes(Shankar academy), Newspaper, MRUNAL site
Science (theory + current) NCERT, Mr.Piraisoodan’s notes(Shankar academy), Newspaper, MRUNAL site
Environment (theory + current) Shankar IAS academy’s book and class notes, MRUNAL site
geography physical Shankar sir’s classes, NCERT, Go cheng leong’s Certificate physical geography
geography India Shankar sir’s classes, NCERT
geography world Shankar sir’s classes, NCERT
other national/international current affairs Newspaper, Class discussions, MRUNAL site
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff MRUNAL site, Newspaper (PRS site is really good. I regret not studying it for want of time)

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2015 paper?
Weightage was higher to current affairs questions and regular newspaper reading helped me score higher.
Q. Now that Aptitude paper has become qualifying, obvious more attention needs to be paid on the GS paper so apart from the books that you already have gone through, what else would you have tried for CSE-2016 (if you were going to appear)?

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths Preparations for campus placement from RS Agarwal helped
Reasoning -do-
comprehension -do-
Decision Making -do-

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2015 paper.
Focus was on comprehension with many questions being highly subjective(my opinion). Aspirants who are not comfortable with English found this paper difficult.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
Shankar IAS academy’s mock test series
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2015

attempted Q. correct (Expected) Official score
GS 92 133.34
aptitude 78 153.47

As I hadn’t cleared CSE, I think the following section would be irrelevant. So I will give an insight into my IFS strategy
English: I had a brush-up of my high-school grammar. Any good grammar book is fine. Wren & Martin is good. Grammar is the scoring part in this, so I concentrated more here.
GK paper had elements of GS1,2,3 of CSE. So the same strategy works here.
Geography: Shankar sir’s class, Go Cheng Leong, Savindra singh, NCERT, Newspaper
History: Shankar academy notes, NCERT, Old NCERT, India’s struggle for independence by Bipan Chandra& co
Economics: Shankar academy notes, Economic survey, MRUNAL articles, Newspaper
Diplomacy: Classes by Mr.Chandru, Mr. Suresh IRS, Mr. VP Gowtham IAS (Shankar academy), MRUNAL article, Civilspedia magazine, Newspaper
S&T: Newspaper, Civilspedia magazine, MRUNAL articles
Polity: NCERT, Lakshmikanth’s book
Social issues: Rejitha Mam’s classes(Shankar academy)
Environment: Shankar academy’s book, Classes of Mr.Narendran IFS and Mr.Karthikeyan
Q. What was your approach in the exam (I wrote all, I only focused on the questions where I could answer perfectly, I just not to high quality points to reach the word limit etc.) Because the UPSC aspirant Community is divided over what counts as a ‘good’ paper. Some experts claim you should attempt all- even if it involves “making up” an answer with filler lines, some claim attempt only those questions you know perfectly. Where do you stand on this? [Based on your experience and of your seniors/buddies]
I tried to fill the space and this made me time-starved at the end. So, I suggest sticking to word limits. Kindly make the paper readable, that’s it. A legible handwriting(Mine was terrible) is enough.

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