[Topper’s Interview] Shilipi (Rank-198/CSE-2015) Mathematics, Delhi University, Hails from Gurgaon/Gurugram

[Topper’s Interview] Shilipi (Rank-198/CSE-2015) Mathematics, Delhi University, Hails from Gurgaon/Gurugram

  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. CSE-2015 Marksheet
  21. Career Backup
  22. Views on UPSC reforms
  23. Insecurity about profile
  24. Wisdom
  25. Credit: Friends/family
  26. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Q. Details
Name Shilpi
Rank in CSE-2015 198
Roll No. 0043212
Age 23
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 Gurgaon
Work-experience if any
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) KSG (For GS), Test Series for mathematics and GS
Service preferences (Top-5)
  • IAS
  • IFS
  • IRS IT
  • IRS C&E
  • IPS
state cadre preference (Top-5) Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Agmut, Telangana


% in class 10 96.6
% in class 12 93
Graduation course and % Mathematics Honours, 85.64
Name of college, city, passing out year Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University, 2013
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Yoga & Watching Crime Drama


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

UPSC Topper Shilipi
I belong to Gurgaon (Gurugram to be exact :P), graduated from Delhi University. I am a self-motivated individual with only little push required from outside sources to achieve my goals. My family is more like a business family with no exposure to Civil Services. I live with my parents and an elder brother in our humble abode in Gurugram.
“Civil Services Dream” was handed to me by my father after I aced 10th Board exams. Soon enough, I made it my own dream and entered here soon after I finished my graduation.

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 would have to say here that all these online sources are a boon to all the aspirants. The key is to use them judiciously.
My typical day would start with reading the Hindu online  and make notes of it in Evernote.
Then, in the afternoon, I would go for selected articles of EPW (again available for free for recent weeks) and make notes out of it.
Between these two exercises, I prefer reading a topic that doesn’t require laptop viewing for eye comfort.
These notes were segregated topicwise in different notebooks (Agriculture, Foreign Policy, Security, Geography, etc.)
Slowly, I brought almost everything on Evernote and now I can’t live without it! Preparation of GS was almost made paperless with certain exceptions like History. These days Geography has gone dynamic too, so made some online notes for Geography as well.
One added benefit of making online notes is easy collection of quotations. Columnists start their articles with some quote or fact. If one is smart enough, then it can very well be put into Essay. For example, I read this:
“Oscar Wilde said: Every saint has a past and every sinner a future”
Now, one can use it in multiple ways:
1.  to advocate abolishment of death penalty (polity)
2. emphasise on forgiveness (in ethics)
3. That present reality isn’t the only reality we should be concerned about (philosophical)
This way a pack of quotations can be prepared and used.

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 believe self-motivation is the only motivation that can keep one going for a long period of time without burning out.
Apart from that, one may take help of a friend: I usually advice my friends about making a pact with another person (who is equally dedicated as they are) to prepare. Whenever, there is a low in your preparation, you can count on this person to put you back in the rising cycle of preparation and soon enough, you’d find yourself working again J
The trick here is that your friend should be fully dedicated towards preparation and you make a pact with just one friend. Not two, not three, as it creates a problem of coordination.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient RS Sharma + GS Manual few pages (although I didn’t find it much useful)
History Medieval KSG class notes (just for the sake of touching medieval part)
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Both Bipin Chandra (Ncert + blue cover) + Ready reference data pages of Spectrum.
I  condensed the whole BC into 10-15 odd pages of spectrum that made revision easy
Culture and society CCRT, NIOS, Fine Arts ncert of XI/XII
Polity (theory + current) Laxmikanth + Parliamentary handbook by Mrunal + KSG notes
Economy (theory + current) Mrunal (hands down) + KSG notes (Zulfiqar sir)
About eco book: In my personal view, I didn’t find any book more worthless than Ramesh Singh’s. Sorry Mrunal, but here I sincerely deviate from your recommendation of Ramesh Singh.
Science (theory + current) GS Manual (only Physics) + NCERTs 6-11th
Environment (theory + current) Did gadha majdoori in this topic, internet digging, so can’t recall from act source + Shankar IAS Printed notes (just for the sake of competitive edge)
geography physical NCERT
geography India NCERT
geography world GC Leong
other national/international current affairs Vision CA (again available for free) + my own notes + random website checking (could do Indira Gandhi Peace Prize question because I checked ISRO’s website few days ago)
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Own notes prepared online + GS Score schemes compilation

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2015 paper?
Observation: Tricky paper camouflaged with 10-12 easy questions.
Comment: Kept UPSC’s unpredictable nature alive
Tips: Know your category. You should know what works for you: risk aversion or 90+ attempt. I belong to first category and I attempted only 65 questions. Got 64 correct. Accuracy paid.
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 will try to put in the same effort I managed last year.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths – didn’t prepare
Decision Making

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
For prelims, I bought few question papers and practiced by myself at home. I think it’s necessary that one practices papers but not necessarily by enrolling in a Test Series. Keep sharing papers with friends so that everyone is benefitted.

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