[Topper’s Interview] Abhinav Agnihotri (Rank-302/CSE-2015) Sociology, 4th Attempt, Kurukshetra University, Haryana

UPSC Topper Abhinav Agnihotri

[Topper’s Interview] Abhinav Agnihotri (Rank-302/CSE-2015) Sociology, 4th Attempt, Kurukshetra University, Haryana

  1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Struggle of a Senior player
  7. Working professional
  8. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  9. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  10. Prelim accuracy
  11. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  12. Mains: Essay
  13. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  14. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  15. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  16. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  17. Mains answer-writing?
  18. Mains Optional Subject
  19. Before the interview
  20. During the interview
  21. CSE-2015 Marksheet
  22. Career Backup
  23. Views on UPSC reforms
  24. Insecurity about profile
  25. Wisdom
  26. Credit: Friends/family
  27. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Q. Details
Name Abhinav Agnihotri
Rank in CSE-2015 302
Roll No. 0019417
Age 29
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 4
Optional Subject Sociology
Schooling Medium Hindi
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Ambala City, Haryana
Work-experience if any 3 Years  4 Months
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures Haryana PCS, Punjab PCS, Rajasthan PCS—Appeared in interviews, but not selected. 2 Times failed in APFC
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) Sociology Coaching- Upendra Sir, Sociology Test Series- NICE IAS Praveen Kishore Sir. No Coaching and No Test Series for General Studies. No coaching for Preliminary.
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS>IPS>IFS>IRS-IT>IRS-EC
state cadre preference (Top-5) Haryana>Punjab>Rajasthan>


% in class 10 89 %
% in class 12 80 %
Graduation course and % Engineer Instrumentation, 78 %
Name of college, city, passing out year USIC, Kurukshetra University, Passing Out Yr 2008
Post-graduation NA
Any other professional courses NA
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Playing with children, Running, Cycling.


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
UPSC Topper Abhinav Agnihotri
In 1993, my family migrated from a small village Shahzadpur, Ambala District, Haryana to Ambala City. I and my brother had hindi medium till tenth standard. Then parents realized English medium and Non medical streams are promising. So we both were destined to become engineers. My parents always stressed importance of study. I , although being an average student, used to stand first in my class till 10thstandard. This was possible due to my hard work and parents confidence in me. So there was supportive environment for studies in my home. Although my father studied up to 12th standard yet he inspired us to study hard and score good marks.
I stood first in Ambala District in Matriculation Haryana board in 2002. I was also one among toppers in engineering studies Kurukshetra University 2004-2008 Batch, Even During my job at Navratna Engineers India Limited, my passion for learning, being a student always remained alive.
During my job, I met few friends those were preparing for civil services. They inspired me to take civil services as career option. I started thinking this is right job profile for me. As I wish to take more challenging works, as I used to think my sphere of work should positively and directly help people in distress. I was serving the nation through EIL by constructing big refineries like HMEL, PNCP, Panipat. But I thought I must give chance to my potentials.
My job was tough and demanding. I used to work 9-7 PM excluding 2 hours too and fro journey time. So I decided to leave my job. But family members were not supporting this decision. I persuaded them that it is only a matter of 1 year, I’ll clear exam in 2012 attempt itself. But I came to realize these claims are due to ignorance.  When I failed continuously again and again, family supported me but they kept asking do I still have confidence in myself to clear this exam. My answer every time was I will clear this exam this time. Fortunately God made 2015 “this year”.
My father is in Punjab Police. He is presently working as SHO, Freozepur (Punjab).  He is hard working, sincere and dedicated to his works. That is why I imbibed such qualities in my personality. This has helped me a lot in study and other spheres of life.
My Mother is a teacher. She is double MA. She is very patient and humble. She was my first and last helpline during the torturous process of UPSC examination. She used to guide me, helped me to keep patience during preparation. She is one who helped me to overcome my fears, absorb my pressures and make me stronger.
My brother is a IT Engineer. He works as a manager in a IT company, Panchkula, Haryana. He has been my right hand during whole process starting from taking decision to leave my job to finally financing selection parties. He helped me through guidance, motivation, money and many things else.

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 study life. 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 follow internet selectively e.g. current affairs. I use internet to complement the newspapers. Generally I follow some sites like Mrunal, Insightsonindia, EPW, PRS india Newspapers sites. However I make newspapers as basis and try not to be over-indulged in internet surfing. I generally download pdf files, copy-paste data from different sources together in a doc file. I highlight important things so as use these files as notes themselves. And revise them for exam preparation. I have relied a lot on Mrunal.org doc files. I also used internet for tips and guidance from toppers and experts.
For optional papers, I surf internet either to link current affairs with sociology paper 2 or to understand some concepts which I am not able to partially/fully understand from basic books. I make hand written short notes. Generally I try to highlight suitable portions of the downloaded files to make notes onto them. But for some important topics or complex topics I prefer to make hand written notes. Writing by own hand helps retaining the contents.
I had made the notes for specific topics, not for all in General Studies. In sociology, I started with making notes for specific topics. But later I extended note making for almost all topics.
if I have to revise something boring, I prefer writing it in short but quick manner. This keeps my motivation to complete it.
My typical day activities are generally scheduled depending upon the time left for exam, syllabus to be covered, my mind set. However following is a general pattern:
I wake up around 6:00 AM. Then running, daily activities, tea with friends etc will take around 2-2:30 hours. Here running help me to sustain pressures, make a study-physical life balance. Discussions with friends help me discuss topics, getting their point of views. This also expands my social circle.

Share this post