[Topper’s Interview] Akhil Goel (Rank-251/CSE-2015) Mathematics, NIT Allahabad, Adobe Engineer allotted to IRS(IT)I am Akhil Goel.

Akhil Goel

[Topper’s Interview] Akhil Goel (Rank-251/CSE-2015) Mathematics, NIT Allahabad, Adobe Engineer allotted to IRS(IT)I am Akhil Goel.

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

Candidate Profile

Q. Details
Name Akhil Goel
Rank in CSE-2015 251
Roll No. 0007220
Age 24
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 2
Optional Subject Mathematics
Schooling Medium English
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Meerut (UP)
Work-experience if any 2 years 8 months as Software Developer ( 5 months in Oracle Bangalore and 2 years 3 months Adobe Systems Noida) Left my job in Feb, 2015
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures IIT JEE cleared but rank (7892) was not good so joined NIT through AIEEE.
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)
  1. Joined Rau’s Study circle but left in between. History and Geography was fine but rest was utter nonsense.
  2. Joined GS SCORE for Ethics.
  3. Mrunal.org video lectures of Economics and Geography.
  4. Borrowed material of IMS from a friend for Maths preparation.
  5. For current affairs, I used The Hindu newspaper and took help from online sites like mrunal.orgvisionias.in, insightsonindia.com and iasscore.in
  6. Joined GS and Essay test series in GS SCORE, another Essay test series in Vajiram, Maths test series in IMS institute.
Service preferences (Top-5)
  • IAS > IPS > IFS > IRS(IT) > IRS(C&CE);
  • Allotted to IRS(IT)
state cadre preference (Top-5) UP > Haryana > Himachal > Madhya Pradesh > Rajasthan


% in class 10 88%
% in class 12 90.2%
Graduation course and % 9.02 / 10
Name of college, city, passing out year NIT Allahabad, Computer Science and Engineering 2012 batch
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Hobbies -> I like watching cricket.Achievements -> Published 4 Research Papers in different publications including IEEE, Springer and Elsevier.


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
Akhil Goel
I am Akhil Goel. I have my parents, an elder sister and an elder brother in my family. My father is a Stenographer in Education Department in Meerut (UP) and my mother is a housewife. Despite being in a simple job, my father’s dreams were high and he wanted his children to achieve the highest level in education. That manifested in my sister becoming a Chartered Accountant (approx. 12 years back) and my brother becoming an IES officer (2010 batch currently working in Indian Railways). For me, my parents, especially my father wanted me to go for civils but I was hesitant because of the uncertainties civil services offer. After my B.Tech got completed in 2012, I started working as a software developer (initially in Oracle and then in Adobe). The job was lucrative but my dissatisfaction in the job increased year after year. There were multiple reasons. First, the work that I was doing, though technically sound, had little impact in the software world. Second, news of social unrest, corruption came up everyday and people in office including me did nothing but have a discussion which looked nothing but gossip to me. This frustrated me to a great extent. I wanted to do something, so that my work has some impact on people and I can do much more than just “discuss” issues. Civil services offered this but again I never thought I will be able to make it and the dilemma of leaving a lucrative job also crept in. In the midst of it, my father helped me through. He told me “If you don’t take risk now, you will regret latter. If you fail in the effort, you will atleast have a satisfaction that you tried.” Secondly, my brother was also preparing, so his guidance also helped me take a decision to go for it. I read the basic books while working in the office and in Feb 2015, I left my job to prepare full time. I was lucky and got selected.

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)
In today’s time, electronic material is very significant in civil services. For my GS mains preparation, I relied majorly on electronic material. So, for culture I would search answers to previous year questions. Economics and Geography were done via Mrunal youtube videos. Current affairs/articles from various sources online. I practiced Ethics case studies online itself. So, there is a significant usage of electronic material.
Having said that basic books also has a significant role especially in prelims. So, a Laxmikant or a Spectrum, NCERTs for Geography, history etc. are of great importance.
Regarding Notes making, I am not fond of making notes. I read newspaper daily and search for some unknown stuff online and when I read the monthly current affairs compilation of some institute, I use to highlight important information in the PDFs itself. Otherwise, I found notes making highly time consuming.
I relied on fixed material of every subject and read that material multiple times rather than to find more material and not being able to finish them. It is tough to describe a typical day in my study life because I seldom bound myself with a plan.

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?
It is quite normal to feel frustrated, dejected and depressed while preparation. With me, it happened whenever I wasted a day without study or when I got less marks in some test paper.
In those situation, I had to motivate myself by setting a small target of say 10 days. So, I would list down the sources I would complete in those 10 days and at the end of it, test myself with some questions. This helped me in getting my momentum back.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient Old NCERT class 6
History Medieval Old NCERT class 7
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Spectrum
Culture and society Nitin Singhaniya’s Notes,
GKToday PDF shared by Gaurav Aggarwal sir on his blog
Checked out culture questions on GKToday site.
Polity (theory + current) Laxmikant for theory, Read some bills on PRS website and majorly covered current from Newspaper.
Economy (theory + current) Mrunal’s Youtube videos for everything.
Science (theory + current) NCERT from 6th -10th standard. For current, read the VisionIAS science compilation.
Environment (theory + current) NCERT, GKToday PDFs for environment (6 in number) for theory. Mrunal.org and GkToday for current.
geography physical Mrunal’s Youtube videos on Geography. NCERT from 6th to 12th and G C Leong
geography India -do-
geography world -do-
other national/international current affairs Mainly from newspaper and random search online.
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff -do-

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2015 paper?
Prelims 2015 was a sub-standard paper. It had lots of static/factual questions which are not expected looking at the standards set by UPSC. This was the reason for high cutoff for prelims this year. In the last 2 years, the analytical questions have declined which simply means that one has to start cramming the factual stuff more in the future papers.
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)?
I did not read monthly current affairs compilations properly before prelims and relied solely on newspaper for current affairs. This was a big mistake I committed. So, this time around I would be focusing on the current affairs compilations more. In addition, I would be focusing more on solving test papers so that I could find lacunas in my preparation and work on that.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths -nothing-
reasoning -nothing-
comprehension -nothing-
Decision Making -nothing-

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2015 paper.
The paper is redundant now with 33% qualifying marks.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? Do you think they’re necessary for success?
I did not formally join any test series for prelims but solved 10-12 papers which I bought from the market itself. Yes, I think practicing papers before prelims is important especially now when there is only one exam which is deciding your fate. Also, institutes are more inclined to ask factual questions in their test series. So, looking at the trend of prelims exam, these test papers are useful.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2015

attempted Q. correct (Expected) Official score
GS 85 64 114
aptitude 78 67 158.66

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper Solved last 2 years papers
your regional language Hindi. Solved last 2 years papers

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2015
For people from English medium, English paper is a cakewalk. I faced some difficulty in Hindi paper w.r.t synonyms and English to Hindi conversion. 25% is the qualifying marks, so there is nothing much to worry about. But, to be on a safer side, just attempt few papers before the exams.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
I joined 2 test series, one in Vajiram and other in GS SCORE institutes for two evaluation of my essay and practice.  I had no idea of how to approach essays, so I had to write more essays to understand. Unfortunately, due to some constraints, I could write only 5 tests (9 essays) which I think was the main reason for less marks in my essay.
Q2. Which two essays did you write and what key points did you include in it?
Section A – Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man more clever devil.
I divided the essay in 3 dimensions.

  • Why the education, even without values, is required -> Discussion in this dimension was around the increasing use of technology, higher demand for goods and services leads to the need for more technically “skilled” people who can fulfil the demands. And for providing the requisite skills, one need to be educated.
  • How is today’s education creating clever devil -> Discussion focused on lack of values in education. Quoted examples of terrorists.
  • What amendments are needed to fix the existing system? – Few points on education reform and the need of value education from the school level.

Section B – Technology cannot replace manpower.
My discussion primarily in this essay was to prove that with the introduction of technology, few jobs may be affected in the short term but ultimately provides higher employment in the long run.
I divided the essay in multiple paragraphs. Each paragraph dealt with a specific field say agriculture, defence, industrial etc. Each paragraph tried to prove the same point.

Share this post