[Toppers Interview] Prabhakar Prakash Ranjan (AIR 339 / CSE 2011) shares his journey and Booklist for Geography & Public Administration

Prabhakar Ranjan

[Toppers Interview] Prabhakar Prakash Ranjan (AIR 339 / CSE 2011) shares his journey and Booklist for Geography & Public Administration


Roll number 306327
Rank (CSE 2011) 339
Optional Subjects
  1. Geography
  2. Public Administration
Medium for Mains Exam English
Mains Examination Centre Delhi
Number of Attempts 2
Details of Graduation and Post-Grad. Integrated Post-Graduation in Information Technology (IT) from ABV-IIITM, Gwalior
Schooling (Medium) English
Extracurricular activities,
hobbies, achievements etc.
National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) Scholarship
GATE Scholarship
NCC – A Certificate
Blogging, Reading Novels, Learning English Words, Learning Foreign Languages, eg Greek
Are you a working professional? Yes
If yes, then did you leave your job
or prepared while on the job?
Yes, left the job for 1 year to prepare for the exam. Then, joined back and prepared along with the job
Did you take Coaching? Prelims: Yes
Mains: Yes
Interview: Yes
Did you buy any postal courses? No
Did you join any Mock test series? Yes



Q. When and how did the inspiration and idea of joining civil service come in your mind?

Prabhakar Ranjan

Prabhakar Ranjan (AIR 339/CSE 2011)

Ans:- Since childhood, I had an inclination towards the charm of Civil Services. Also I have had a natural dispensation towards societal and governmental sides, esp. vis-à-vis international aspects. However, it all came together during my stay in Cyprus where I was working for an IT company. During my stay there for 3 years & a half and also during various foreign travels, I met numerous people, learnt different cultures, observed India’s standing, and realized the issues, potential, opportunities etc of India’s international relations. Thus, I wanted to move into the higher echelon of Indian Foreign Service, where my aptitude, attitude and interest could find its echo.
I left the job in Feb 2010, and came to Delhi to prepare for the exams. I could clear Prelims, however failed to pass the Mains. I joined the same company, though this time in Gurgaon, in Feb 2011, and appeared for 2011 exam while pursuing the job.
The irony though is that I might not get IFS this time around.

The Choice of Optional Subjects

Q7. After a person decides to appear in civil service exam, the first big obstacle is “Choice of optional subjects”. What factors did you consider before selecting your optional?

Ans :- To be honest, I wanted to take Geography and History, as they have been my favorite ones since school days. Also, being the most traditional and steadfast subjects, not only in relations to Civil Services exams, they have plenty of books, materials, opinions and articles by various authors. I chose Geography in my first attempt in both Prelims and Mains, and it continued till this year. For the second subject, due to paucity of time, I took Public Administration for its less syllabus, more relevance and good record in the Civil Services exams.

So, my selections were based on both interest and practicality, at least which is what I believe.


Q. People initially prepare with much enthusiasm but then a boredom phase comes – they don’t even find the motivation to read the daily newspapers, let alone studying the books.
Sometimes they get diverted because of external factors e.g. heavy workload in office, family responsibilities and so on. How did you sustain the study-momentum throughout the year?

No doubt, it is difficult to sustain the momentum throughout the duration of preparation, which generally spans across a year and a half. So, it is important to take breaks for a fortnight or so, say, after Prelims, Mains etc. Also, a few movies, novels, friends’ parties or get-together, family events once or twice a week, contrary to the popular belief of being diversions, are actually boosters.
This is what I did during my preparation of 2 years.


On an average, How many hours did you study per day? How many months did it take you to complete the core syllabus of GS and optional subjects?
It varied depending on the criticality of the time period. During the months closer to the exams, I studied approx. around 10 hours daily, max being 12 hours which happened only for a few days though. During other months, it dropped down to 6 hours or even lower. So, for the whole duration, I think the average was 8 hours daily. This obviously was for the days when I was not pursuing my job in the office, when I could study for just 2-3 hours daily.
It took me around 9 months to complete both the Optionals and GS.


How did you use computer and internet for your exam-preparation?
I followed the following resources on the Internet:-

  • GK Today
  • Indian Officer
  • The Economist
  • Frontline
  • Wikipedia for a few topics

The Internet was the most accessible and potent source for me during my off hours in the office.


How did you prepare yourself for the essay?
Which Essay did you write in Mains-2011?
What were your keypoints in that essay?
How many marks did you get in that essay?

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