IAS RANK 36: Abhinav Goel, 3rd Attempt, Public Administration Optional

Abhinav Goel has secured Rank 36 in Civil Services Examination,2015. This was his third attempt at the coveted exam.

ForumIAS would like to congratulate Abhinav for his spectacular success and wish him all the best for his life as an officer.

Given below is the transcript of his interview with forumias where he describes his journey, experiences and preparation strategy. We hope that it would be of immense help to everyone.



Your Name

Abhinav Goel

All India Rank in Civil Services Examination


Which attempt was this at Civil Services Examination?


Where do you hail from?

Meerut,Uttar Pradesh

Tell us something about your family background

My Parents are doctors.My grandfather was a professor of physics and grandmother was a professor of chemistry

Your graduation or early education

Civil Engineering from IIT Kanpur

Your Optional Subjects

Public Administration

Your medium of Instruction in School?


Your medium of instruction in college?


Your medium of writing the Mains?


Any initial preparation?

I started preparation during my last year in college.Read the basic books

First, tell us something about yourself!

I enjoy reading,singing.Always keen to learn.


What books/notes did you refer to for General Studies and CSAT for prelims?

General studies:
History- spectrum,bipan chandra.
Geography- nevertheless,G.C. long,Mrunal videos
Polity- laxmikant
Economy- Ramesh singh book,ncert , Sriram coaching notes,economic survey
Environment- Shankar Ias material,ncert,biology ncert class 12(last 6 chapters)
Culture- Nitin singhania sir’s notes,ccrt website,ancient and medieval ncert’s
Csat- previous year’s papers

How many questions did you attempt in GS in Prelims?


Do you think attempting more questions is the key to success in Prelims? Is there an ideal number of questions one should attempt? How did you decide to attempt those questions which you were not sure of?

Attempting more ques is not the key.However one should try to attempt 80-85 ques to be on the safe side.Rarely one knows more than 50 ques conclusively.Playing too safe may be a disaster.try taking calculation risks to optimise the score

What was your score in UPSC Prelims?


How much was the variation in your official Prelims score in comparison to that of coaching keys?

5-8 marks


When did you start preparing for Mains Examination?

From mid 2012

How did you cover Current Affairs?

Primarily from newspapers- the Hindu and the Indian express.i used to prepare topic wise notes and a separate section for optional subject was also prepared.Yojana magazine for analysis.occasionaly I read articles from idsa and epw on those areas which were my weak points.

Full Preparation: The Conquering of GS 1

Mostly covered the basic books and prepared notes.

Full Preparation: The Conquering of GS 2

My optional subject helped.Tried to prepare topics from multiple sources and made many points for each topic

Full Preparation: The Conquering of GS 3

Focuses a lot on current affairs.Used to read business standard.I did 3 months coaching from Vajiram and ravi for changed portion of syllabus in 2013 which helped

Full Preparation: The Conquering of GS 4

Coaching helped.Also discussing case studies and writing a few of them was important

Full Preparation: The Conquering of ESSAY

Used points from general studies.Prepared broad topics like health,education,women issues.Yojana magazine was a great source to prepare essays.At least wrote 8-10 essays before the exam.

Full Preparation: The Conquering of Optional Subject

In depth study and consolidation of material and also linking with current affairs was a beneficial strategy


How many questions did you attempt in GS1, GS2, GS3 and GS4?

Gs1-18 GS2-18 GS3-20,GS-all ques

Which Essays did you attempt in the Mains Examination?

Lending hands to someone is better than giving a dole.  

Did you use the headings/subheading in an Essay?


Did you underline the important statements in Essay?


What went wrong in your previous attempt(s)? Which changes did you make in this attempt?

I tried to make my essay holistic.I also focussed on maintaining coherence.I also practiced writing a few essays before the exams

Did you write your answers in bullet points or in paragraphs?

Essay in paragraphs,Gs in points

Did you make any diagrams along with your answers in any of the GS papers?

Very rarely.In geog one can use diagrams

Did you give examples in most of your answers? Also did you mention any points from govt. reports like ARC, Punchhi Commission etc. in your answers?

Yes I tried to substantiate my answer with facts,examples and recommendations.

What was that one smart move you think you made in the exam which you would like others to know.


Did you join any coaching classes for Prelims or Mains? If yes, which one?

For mains
Public admin- Vajiram and ravi,Pavan Sir’s test series
Gs- Vajiram and Ravi ( 3 months for changed syllabus)

How far do you think is coaching necessary for preparing for Prelims and Mains Examination?

Not a necessary condition.May help to clear the basics only.Rest self study is critical

Did you join any test series for Prelims and Mains? If yes, please mention the name and also how useful it was.

For prelims- no test series
Gs- vision ias
Pub ad- pavan sir(2015 attempt),Puri sir(2014 attempt)

Did you practice answer writing for mains? If yes, please mention the approach you followed.

Answer writing is important.i tried to write many points in an answer,write facts/ examples,and also tried to cover many dimensions(social economic administrative etc)


Which Interview Board did you face?

Arvind Saxena Sir

How long was your interview?

30 min

Can you tell us briefly about your interview experience?

The interview board was cordial. they asked me a lot of ques on revenue aspects( considering that I am undergoing training as an IRS probationer).They also a few thought provoking ques like ageing in developed nation,it’s consequences,India- pak and India- afghan relations

What did you wear for the Interview?

Formal shirt,formal trousers and a tie

What qualities do you think are being tested in the Interview? Some strict Do’s and Dont’s for the Interview for aspirants and Interview candidates?

The qualities being tested are whether the candidate is able to comprehend and respond effectively, think innovatively and is motivated to perform his duties efficiently
1 Try to be humble and polite.if u don’t know the answer, refuse politely
2 One should be sympathetic to the vulnerable sections and have a welfare oriented perspective
3 Try to give practical administrative solutions
4 Maintain eye contact
5 be precise and crisp

1 Try to avoid guess-work
2 Avoid using informal slangs

What magazines /newspapers did you refer to for preparing Current Affairs?

Magazines-Yojana,epw( for social issues)
Newspaper- The Hindu,The Indian express,Business standard( for economy )

Did you attend any mock interview sessions at the coaching classes? If yes, were they beneficial?

Yes.They were beneficial.Helped me in sharpening the rough edges and removing the initial hiccups

Do you think marks in school or college can impact one’s score in the Interview?

Not at all.They are just a passive indicator.What matters the most is your interview on the D day

Was there any improvement in your interview marks this year as compared to previous year(s) (if applicable)? If yes, what changed did you incorporate this time?



How far did you use the Internet for your Preparation? Do you think in the changed UPSC pattern, today an aspirant can prepare wholly by referring sources from the Internet?

Internet is a useful source.i used to follow some websites like mrunal, insightsonindia, idsa, epw magazine.In  this age of information explosion,one can selectively use the net to enhance one’ s knowledge. But still,certain things when covered from the textbooks gives an advantage.Internet is not the replacement but only a supplement to conventional preparation

How far did ForumIAS.com help you as a social network, as a sharing platform for you Prelims, Mains & Interview Preparation (and the excruciating period between the exam and results to chill out with co-aspirants and other successful candidates)?

Although I was never a permanent member of forumias,I regularly used to open it to see what others were preparing, discussing and also came to know of various reading material through it.The most thrilling experience was always  the countdown to the final results when the forumias site almost exploded with information

What is the best thing you like about ForumIAS?

It’s interactive and accessible approach which benefits almost everyone

Do you use any other websites for your preparation? Is yes, name them.

Mrunal, insightsonindia


Congratulation for making it. Is there any message you would like to give to IAS Aspirants who look up to you?

The only suggestion is that the aspirants must believe in themselves,have confidence,work smartly,and try to achieve their goal so that they can do something tangible for others.

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