Cutt off marks for Civil Services Examination, 2015

Upsc has officially declared the cut off marks for prelims,mains and final list of all categories just now, here is the link to official document.

Civil Services Examination, 2015

In  the  Civil  Services  Examination,  2015  the  minimum  qualifying  standards
(marks)/marks secured by the last recommended candidate in various categories at various
stages are as under :

Exam      General    OBC       SC         ST       PH‐1    PH‐2     PH‐3
CS(Prel.)   107.34    106.00  94.00  91.34    90.66  76.66   40.00
CS(Main)#  676      630        622      617        580     627        504
CS(Final)    877        834       810      801       802     830        697

#  Subject to 10% marks in each of the seven competitive papers i.e. Essay, GS‐I, GS‐II, GS‐III,
GS‐IV, Optional‐I and Optional‐II.

Question Papers of CSE mains 2015 Official PDF’s

Hello friends, UPSC have officially uploaded all the Essay, four GS papers , qualifying and Optional papers of CSE Mains 2015, of all subjects. This post is direct copy of that. Hope this helps 🙂


CCivil Services (Main) Examination, 2015


General Studies

Paper I
Paper II
Paper III
Paper IV

English Language (Compulsory)

Indian Languages (Compulsory)

TamilSindhi (Arabic)
Sindhi (Devanagari)Santhali

Optional Subjects for Main Examination

Agriculture Paper IAgriculture Paper II
Animal Husbandary & Veterinary Science Paper IAnimal Husbandary & Veterinary Science Paper II
Anthropology Paper IAnthropology Paper II
Botony Paper IBotony Paper II
Chemistry Paper IChemistry Paper II
Civil Engineering Paper ICivil Engineering Paper II
Commerce & Accountancy Paper ICommerce & Accountancy Paper II
Economics Paper IEconomics Paper II
Electrical Engineering Paper IElectrical Engineering Paper II
Geography Paper IGeography Paper II
Geology Paper IGeology Paper II
History Paper IHistory Paper II
Law Paper ILaw Paper II
Management Paper IManagement Paper II
Mathematics Paper IMathematics Paper II
Mechanical Engineering Paper IMechanical Engineering Paper II
Medical Science Paper IMedical Science Paper II
Philosphy Paper IPhilosphy Paper II
Physics Paper IPhysics Paper II
Political Science & International Relations Paper IPolitical Science & International Relations Paper II
Psychology Paper IPsychology Paper II
Public Administration Paper IPublic Administration Paper II
Sociology Paper ISociology Paper II
Statistics Paper IStatistics Paper II
Zoology Paper IZoology Paper II

Literature Subjects for Main Examination

Assamese Paper IAssamese Paper II
Bengali Paper IBengali Paper II
Dogri Paper – IDogri Paper – II
English Paper IEnglish Paper II
Gujarati Paper IGujarati Paper II
Hindi Paper IHindi Paper II
Kannada Paper IKannada Paper II
Manipuri Paper IManipuri Paper II
Maithili Paper IMaithili Paper II
Malayalam Paper IMalayalam Paper II
Marathi Paper IMarathi Paper II
Oriya Paper IOriya Paper II
Punjabi Paper IPunjabi Paper II
Sanskrit Paper ISanskrit Paper II
Santhali Paper ISanthali Paper II
Sindhi (Arabic) Paper ISindhi (Arabic) paper II
Sindhi (Devanagari) Paper ISindhi (Devanagari) Paper II
Tamil Paper ITamil Paper II
Telugu Paper ITelugu Paper II
Urdu Paper IUrdu Paper II

UPSC GS Paper 4 Mains 2015

Hello friends, this is GS paper 4 of Mains 2105, the question paper is really interesting, and might look easy to some, but to think and see exactly what examiner is expecting from candidate from each question in that short time in mains hall is whole different game.

Section A 

1 (a) What is meant by ‘environmental ethics’? Why is it important to study? Discuss any one environmental issue from the viewpoint of environmental ethics. (150 words) (10)

(b) Differentiate between the following (10 marks) (200 Words)

(i) Law and ethics

(ii) Ethical management and management of ethics

(iii) Discrimination and preferential treatment

(iv) Personal Ethics and Professional Ethics

2) Given are two quotations of moral thinkers/philosophers. For each of these bring out what it means to you in the present context.

(a) “The weak can never forgive; forgiveness is the attribute of strong.” (10) (150 words)

(b) “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light” (10 marks) (150 words)

3) (a) “A mere compliance with law is not enough, the public servant also have to have a well developed sensibility to ethical issues for effective discharge of duties” Do you agree? Explain with the help of two examples where (i) an act is ethically right, but not legally and (ii) an act is legally right, but not ethically. (10 Marks) (150 words)

(b) How do the virtues of trustworthiness and fortitude get manifested in public service? Explain with examples (10)  (150 words)

4) (a) Social values are more important than economic values. Discuss the above statement with examples in the context of inclusive growth of a nation.  (150 words)  (10 Marks)

(b) Some recent developments such as introduction of RTI Act, media and judicial activism, etc. are proving helpful in bringing about greater transparency and accountability in the functioning of the government. However, it is also being observed that at times the mechanisms are misused. Another negative effect is that the officers are now afraid to take prompt decisions. Analyse the situation in detail and suggest how the dichotomy can be resolved. Suggest how these negative impacts can be minimised. (150 words)  (10 Marks)

5) Two different kinds of attitudes exhibited by public servants towards their work have been identified as bureaucratic attitude and the democratic attitude. (10 Marks) (150 words)

(a) Distinguish between these two terms and write their merits and demerits.

(b) Is it possible to balance the two too create a better administration for the faster development of our country?

6) Today we find that in-spite of various measures of prescribing codes of conduct, setting up vigilance cells/commissions, RTI, active media and strengthening of legal mechanism, corrupt practices are not coming under control. (10 Marks) (150 words)

(a) Evaluate the effectiveness of these measures with justifications

(b) Suggest more effective strategies to tackle this menace

7) At the international level, bilateral relations between most nations are governed on the policy of promoting one’s own national interest without any regard for the interest of other nations. This lead to conflicts and tension between the nations. How can ethical consideration help resolve such tensions? Discuss with specific examples. (10 Marks) (150 words)

8) Public servants are likely to confront with the issues of “Conflict of Interest”. What do you understand by the term “Conflict of Interest” and how does it manifest in the decision making by public servants? If faced with the conflict of interest situation how would you resolve it? Explain with the help of examples. (10 Marks) (150 words)

Section – B

9) A private company is known for its efficiency, transparency and employee welfare. The company though owned by a private individual has a cooperative character where employees feel a sense of ownership. The company employs nearly 700 personnel and they have voluntarily decided not to form union.

One day suddenly in the morning, about 40 men belonging to political party gate crashed into the factory demanding jobs in the factory. They threatened the management and employees, and also used foul language. The employees feel demoralized. It was clear that those people who gate crashed wanted to be on the payroll of the company as well as continue as the volunteers/members of the party.

The company maintains high standards in integrity and does not extend favours to civil administration that also includes law enforcement agency. Such incident occur in public sector also. (20 Marks) (250 Words)

(a) Assume you are the CEO of the company. What would you do to diffuse the volatile situation on the date of gate crashing with the violent mob sitting inside the company premises?

(b) What can be the long term solution to the issue discussed in the case?

(c) Every solution/action that you suggest will have a negative and a positive impact on you as (CEO), the employees and the performance of the employees. Analyse the consequences of each of your suggested actions.

10) You are the Sarpanch of a Panchayat. There is a primary school run by the government in your area. Midday meals are provided to children attending the school. The headmaster has now appointed a new cook in the school to prepare the meals. However, when it is found that cook is from Dalit community, almost half of the children belonging to higher castes are not allowed to take meals by their parents. Consequently the attendance in the schools falls sharply. This could result in the possibility of discontinuation of midday meal scheme, thereafter of teaching staff and subsequent closing down the school. (20 Marks) (250 Words)

(a) Discuss some feasible strategies to overcome the conflict and to create right ambiance.

(b) What should be the responsibilities of different social segments and agencies to create positive social ambiance for accepting such changes?

11)One of the scientists working in the R&D laboratory of a major pharmaceutical company discovers that one of the company’s bestselling veterinary drugs has the potential to cure a currently incurable liver disease which is prevalent in tribal areas. However, developing a variant of the drug suitable for human being  entailed a lot of research and development having a huge expenditure to the extent of Rs. 50 crores. It was unlikely that company would recover the cost as the disease was rampant only in poverty stricken areas having very little market otherwise.

If you were the CEO, then (20 Marks) (250 Words)

(a) Identify the various actions that you could take

(b) Evaluate the pros and cons of each of your actions

12) There is a disaster prone state having frequent landslides, forest fires, cloudbursts, flash floods and earthquakes, etc. Some of these are seasonal and often unpredictable. The magnitude of the disaster is always unanticipated. During one of the seasons a cloudburst caused a devastating floods and landslides leading to high casualties. There was major damage to infrastructure like roads, bridges and power generating units. This led to more than 100000 pilgrims, tourist and other locals trapped across different routes and locations. The people trapped in your area of responsibility includes senior citizens, patients in hospitals, women and children, hiker, tourist, ruling parties, regional presidents along with his family, additional chief secretary of the neighboring state and prisoners in jail.

As a civil services officer of the state, what would be the order in which you would rescue these people and why? Give Justifications  (20 Marks) (200 Words)

13) You are heading a district administration in a particular department. Your senior officer calls you from the State Headquarters and tells you that a plot in Rampur village is to have a building constructed on it for a school. A visit is scheduled during which he will visit the site along with the chief engineer and the senior architect. He wants you to check out all the papers relating to it and ensure that the visit is properly arranged. You examine the file which relates to the period before you joined the department. The land was acquired for the local panchayat at a nominal cost and the papers showed that clearance certificates are available for the two of the three authorities who have to certify the site’s suitability. There is no certification by the architect available on file. You decide to visit Rampur to ensure that all is in the order as stated on file. When you visit Rampur, you find that the plot under reference is a part of Thakurgarh fort and that the walls, ramparts, etc., are running across it. The fort is well away from the main village, therefore a school here will be a serious inconvenience for the children. However, the area near the village has potential to expand into a larger residential area. The development charges on the existing plot, at the fort, will be very high and question of heritage site has not been addressed. Moreover, the Sarpanch, at the time of acquisition of the land, was a relative of your predecessor. The whole transaction appears to have been done with some vested interest. (25 Marks) (250 Words)

(a) List the likely vested interest of the concerned parties.

(b) Some of the options for action available to you are listed below. Discuss the merits and demerits of each of the options:

(i) You can await the visit of the superior officer and let him take a decision.

(ii) You can seek his advice in writing or on phone.

(iii) You can consult your predecessor/ colleagues, etc, and then decide what to do.

(iv) You can find out if any alternate plot can be got in exchange and then send a comprehensive written report.

Can you suggest any other option with proper justifications?

14) You are recently posted as district development officer of a district. Shortly thereafter you found that there is considerable tension in the rural areas of your district on the issue of sending girls to schools.

The elders of the village feel that many problems have come up because girls are being educated and they are stepping out of the safe environment of the household. They are the view that the girls should be quickly married off with minimum education. The girls are also competing for jobs after education, which have traditionally remained in boys’ exclusive domain, adding to unemployment amongst male population.

The younger generation feels that in the present era, girls should have equal opportunities for education and employment, and other means of livelihood. The entire locality is divided between sexes in both generations. You come to know that in Panchayat or in other local bodies or even in busy crosswords, the issue is being acrimoniously debated.

One day you are informed that an unpleasant incident has taken place. Some girls were molested, when they were en route to schools. The incident led to clashes between several groups and a law and order problem has arisen. The elder after heated discussion have taken a joint decision not to allow girls to go to school and to socially boycott all such families, which do not follow their dictate. (250 words) (25 Marks)

(a) What steps would you take to ensure girls’ safety without disrupting their education?

(b) How would you manage and mould patriarchic attitude of the village elders to ensure harmony in the inter- generational relations?

Thanks to Forum IAS

UPSC GS Paper 3 Mains 2015

Hello friends, this is GS paper 3 of Mains 2105, the question paper is really interesting, and might look easy to some, but to think and see exactly what examiner is expecting from candidate from each question in that short time in mains hall is whole different game.

  1. The nature of economic growth in India in recent times is often described as a jobless growth. Do you agree with this view? Give arguments in favour of your answer.
  2. Livestock rearing has a big potential for providing non- farm employment and income in rural areas. Discuss suggesting suitable measures to promote this sector in India.
  3. In the view of the declining average size of land holdings in India which has made agriculture non – viable for a majority of farmers should contract farming and land leasing be promoted in agriculture? critically evaluate the pros and cons.
  4. How can the Digital India program help farmers to improve farm productivity and income? What step has the government taken in this regard?
  5. In what way could replacement of price subsidy with direct benefit Transfer (DBT) change the scenario of subsidies in India? Discuss.
  6. What are the impediments in marketing and supply chain management in developing the food processing industry in India? Can e-commerce help in overcoming this bottleneck?
  7. Craze for gold in Indian has led to surge in import of gold in recent years and put pressure on balance of payments and external value of rupee. In view of this, examine the merits of Gold Monetization scheme.
  8. “Success of make in India program depends on the success of Skill India programme and radical labour reforms.” Discuss with logical arguments.
  9. To what factors can be the recent dramatic fall in equipment cost and tariff of solar energy be attributed? What implications does the trend have for thermal power producers and related industry?
  10. There is a clear acknowledgement that Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are a tool of industrial development, manufacturing and exports. Recognising this potential, the whole instrumentality of SEZs require augmentation. Discuss the issue plaguing the success of SEZs with respect to taxation, governing laws and administration.
  11. What do you understand by “Standard Positioning System” and “Precision positioning system” in the GPS era? Discuss the advantage India perceives from its ambitious IRNSS programme employing just seven satellites.
  12. What are the areas of prohibitive labour that can be sustainably managed by robots? Discuss the initiatives that can propel the research in premier research institutes for substantive and gainful innovation.
  13. Discuss the advantage and security implication of cloud hosting of servers vis-a-vis in house machine based hosting for government business.
  14. India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) which has a database containing formatted information on more than 2 million medicinal formulations is proving a powerful weapon in country’s fight against erroneous patents. Discuss the pro and cons of making the database available publicly available under open source licensing.
  15. Discuss the Namami Gange and National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) programmes and causes of mixed results from the previous schemes. What quantum leaps can help preserve the river Ganga better than incremental inputs?
  16. The frequency of earthquakes appears to have increased in the Indian subcontinent. However, India’s preparedness for mitigating their impact has significant gaps. Discuss various aspects.
  17.  Human right activists constantly highlight the fact that the Armed forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) is a draconian act leading to cases of human right abuses by security forces. What sections of AFSPA are opposed by the activists. Critically evaluate the requirement with reference to the view held by Apex Court.
  18. Religious indoctrination via social media has resulted in Indian youth joining the ISIS. What is ISIS and its mission? How can ISIS be dangerous to the internal security of our country.
  19. The persisting drives of the government for development of large industries in backward areas have resulted in isolating the tribal population and the farmers who face multiple displacements. With Malkangiri and Naxalbari foci, discuss the corrective strategies needed to win the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) doctrine affected citizens back into mainstream of social and economic growth.
  20. Considering the threats cyberspace poses for the country, India needs a “Digital Armed Forces” to prevent crimes. Critically evaluate the National Cyber Security Policy, 2013 outlining the challenges perceived in its effective implementation.

UPSC GS Paper 2 Mains 2015

Hello friends, this is GS paper 2 of Mains 2105, the question paper is really interesting, and might look easy to some, but to think and see exactly what examiner is expecting from candidate from each question in that short time in mains hall is whole different game.

  1. Discuss the possible factors that inhibit India from enacting for its citizen a uniform civil code as provided for in the Directive Principles of State Policy.
  2. The concept of cooperative federalism has been increasingly emphasized in recent years. Highlight the drawbacks in the existing structure and extent to which cooperative federalism would answer the shortcomings.
  3. In the absence of well – educated and organised local level government system, Panchayats and Samithis have remained mainly political institutions and not effective instrument of governance. Critically Discuss.
  4. Khap panchayats have been in the news for functioning as extra – constitutional authorities, often delivering pronouncements amounting to human right violations. Discuss critically the actions taken by the legislative, executive and judiciary to set the things right in this regard.
  5. Resorting to ordinances has always raised concern on violation of the spirit of separation of power doctrine. While noting the rationales justifying the power to promulgate, analyse whether the decision of the Supreme Court on the issue have further facilitated to resorting to this power. Should the power to promulgate the ordinances be repealed?
  6. What are the major changes brought in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1966 through the recent ordinance promulgated by the President? How far will it improve India’s dispute resolution mechanism? Discuss.
  7. Does the right to clean environment entail legal regulation on burning crackers during Diwali? Discus in the light of Article 21 of Indian Constitution and  Judgement of the apex in this regard.
  8. Examine critically the recent changes in the rule governing foreign funding of NGOs under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation)  Act (FCRA), 1976.
  9. The Self Help Group (SHG) Bank Linkage Program (SBLP), which is India’s own innovation , has proved to be one of the most effective poverty alleviation and women empowerment programme. Elucidate.
  10. How can be the role of NGOs be strengthened in India for  development works relating to protection of the Environment? Discuss throwing light on the major constraints.
  11. The quality of higher education in India requires major improvement to make it internationally competitive. Do you think that the entry of foreign educational  institutions would help improve the quality of technical and higher education in the country. Discuss.
  12. Public health system has limitation in providing universal health coverage. Do you think that private sector can help in bridging the gap? What other viable alternatives do you suggest?
  13. Though there have been several different estimates of poverty in India, all indicate reduction in poverty over time. Do you agree. Critically examine with reference to urban and rural poverty indicators.
  14. In the light of Satyam Scandal (2009), discuss the changes brought in the corporate governance to ensure transparency and accountability.
  15. If amendment bill to the Whistle-blowers Protection Act 2011 tabled in the Parliament is passed, there maybe no on left to protect. Critically Evaluate.
  16. For achieving the desired objectives,it is necessary to ensure that the regulatory institution remain independent and autonomous. Discuss in the light of experiences in recent past.
  17. Increasing interest of India in Africa has its pro and cons. Critically Examine.
  18. Discuss the impediments India is facing in its pursuit of a permanent seat in UNSC.
  19. Project ‘Mausam’ is considered a unique foreign policy initiative of Indian government to improve relationship wit its neighbors. Does the project have a strategic dimension? Discuss
  20. Terrorist activities and mutual distrust have clouded India – Pakistan relations. To what extent the use of soft power like sports and cultural exchange could help generate goodwill between the two countries.  Discuss with suitable examples.

UPSC GS Paper 1 Mains 2015

Hello friends, this is GS paper 1 of Mains 2105, the question paper is really interesting, and might look easy to some, but to think and see exactly what examiner is expecting from candidate from each question in that short time in mains hall is whole different game.

  1.  The ancient civilization in Indian sub continent differed from those of Egypt , Mesopotamia and Greece in that its culture and traditions have been preserved without breakdown to the present day. Comment
  2.  Mesolithic rock cut architecture of India not only reflects the cultural life of the times but also a fine aesthetic sense comparable to modern painting. Critically evaluate this comment.
  3.  How difficult would have been the achievement of Indian independence without Mahatma Gandhi? Discuss.
  4.  Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. B R Ambedkar, despite having divergent approaches and strategies, had a common goal of amelioration of the downtrodden. Elucidate.
  5.  It would have been difficult for the Constituent Assembly to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India in just three years, but its experience gained with the Government of India Act, 1935 .Discuss.
  6.  Why did the industrial revolution first occur in England? Discuss the quality of life of the people there during the industrialization. How does it compare with that in India at present times?
  7.  To what extend can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically.
  8.  Describe any four cultural elements of diversity in India and rate their relative significance in building a national identity.
  9.  Critically examine whether growing population is the cause of poverty OR poverty is the mains cause of population increase in India.
  10.  How do you explain the statistics that show that the sex ratio in Tribes in India is more favorable to women than the sex ratio among Scheduled Castes?
  11.  Discuss the changes in the trends of labor migration within and outside India in the last four decades.
  12.  Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization on women in India?
  13.  Debate the issue whether and how contemporary movements for assertion of Dalit identity work towards annihilation of caste.
  14.  Explain the factors responsible for the origin of ocean currents. How do they influence regional climates, fishing and navigation?
  15.  Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are the three Mega cities of the country but the air pollution is much more serious problem in Delhi as compared to the other two. Why is this so?
  16.  India is well endowed with fresh water resources. Critically examine why it still suffers from water scarcity.
  17.  The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are reaching the limits of ecological carrying capacity due to tourism. Critically evaluate.
  18.  How far do you agree that the behavior of the Indian monsoon has been changing due to humanizing landscape? Discuss.
  19.  Smart cities in India cannot sustain without smart villages. Discuss this statement in the backdrop of rural urban integration.
  20.  What are the economic significance of discovery of oil in Arctic Sea and its possible environmental consequences?

Thanks to Forums IAS.

UPSC Essay Paper Mains 2015.

Hello friends, this is the Essay paper of CSE mains 2015, which started today. Hope this helps future aspirants .The instructions being write 1000-1200 words with 125 marks each essay and time duration is 3 hours.

Section A

  1. Lending hands to some one is better than giving a dole
  2. Quick but steady wins the race
  3. Character of an institution is reflected in its leader.
  4. Education with out values, as useful as it is , seems rather to make a man more clever devil.

Section B

  1. Technology cannot replace man power
  2. Crisis faced in India – moral or economic
  3. Dreams which should not let India sleep
  4. Can capitalism bring inclusive growth.

To fellow bloggers , please give proper credit while copying.

Tips on Mains answer writing by Ira Singhal and Gaurav Agrawal.

Mains is just around the corner and I hope every one writing have given their best efforts for preparation,most of the first timers have a lot of doubts and stereotypes about answer writing. So here are two excellent articles to help them.

Just be yourself, Go and come out with common sense and believe in your self. go in there as if there is no next time 🙂


  • If you know 1% of the answer, and repeat the same point over and over again 500 times to fit the word limit, then examiner is not going to be fooled, he has seen thousands of copies, let’s not disrespect his intelligence. I made this mistake in 2013, but realised this only wastes our time and fatigues your hand.
  • I only wrote what I knew, I skipped questions where I didn’t know the answer.
  • if I knew 10-40%, I only wrote that much, without bothering about reaching the 100% answer length by writing “stories”.
  • Don’t write vague answers that remotely resemble to what is being asked in the question.
  • I write in bullet points for both general studies and optional papers in Mains
  • I underline the keywords but I don’t use colored pens like most girls do, I don’t understand how do you hold so many pens in your hands without sacrificing speed and efficiency.
  • I didn’t have time to write introduction or conclusion.
  • Good if you write diagrams, especially for geography questions and GS3.
  • Do read question again and again while writing the answer, to ensure you’re not drifting away from what is being asked.
  • Language matters but don’t write complicated sentences, do better than “medium”, don’t write Shakespeare thing- I tried previous time but didn’t work.

Gaurav Agrawal.

Disclaimer: These are just my inferences from my experiences last year. May be all this is wrong… may be I get as bad or even worse marks than last years. No guarantees. But that is life… When obstacles come, we change course and try to steer our way around them somehow 🙂

I gave my first mains in 2012. My preparation was excellent and I thought I had written all the papers reasonably well. That my preparation was not lacking can be seen from the fact that I got in 130s in prelims GS paper and since prelims I had only improved the preparation. The interview was good as well.

Yet I could secure a rank in only 200s. Everybody except me thought I would have got less marks in History since I had no background in it (took it only out of interest). Economics was my other optional. But when the final marks came, the picture turned out to be entirely different – and frankly darker for me. For it turned out that it was not history which sunk me, but GS and Essay. I had scored reasonably good marks in Economics (280s) and History (240s) and interview (210s) but failed miserably in GS (170s) and Essay (80s). GS and Essay combined took me over 80 marks below average!

I was disappointed and frustrated – for I didn’t know what went wrong in GS and Essay. And the bad news was that from 2013, weight of GS and Essay, where I had scored miserably, would become more than double while that of optional, where I had done well, would be halved. Had history been the culprit, I could have simply dropped it next time and given the exam again without doing anything extra. But it was now GS, with double marks, and I didn’t know what went wrong and what to improve – forget about how to improve. Its like being stranded in the middle of Pacific on a small boat without sails and rudder in a dark hurricane night… And yet we are expected to find the coast on the next morning!

Anyways, one thing would be clear to anybody given the above marks distribution – the main problem lay not in preparation but in answer writing. And so it had to be answer writing alone which had to be improved drastically, even at the cost of preparation.

So how to write better GS answers

So I analyzed, joined 3 test series (vision ias GS + vision ias essay + Synergy GS), wrote answers, sent them to some friends for feedback, discussed with my father and finally felt following things were important.

– GS and optionals answers are completely different. In optionals, one can write a PhD types answer and be confident of getting good marks – because the examiner who is checking an economics paper would be an economist herself. But in GS this will not work. The examiner who is checking the economics answer in a GS paper in more likelihood would not be an economist. She would be a generalist with limited knowledge and interest in the subject.

– So if you write some specialized answer or use some specific terms or models from your optional while writing a GS answer, good luck! Most probably the examiner would not understand/appreciate it. And she would not spend additional time or effort in going back and study the term/model you wrote. She would simply give a zero.

– Similarly, if you write any unconventional answers like say Aadhar cash transfers are not going to increase inflation and even give a logic based proof from basic economics, the examiner will not give any marks. Because she would have read mainstream media where everybody is saying Aadhar transfers would increase inflation. And she has no interest in taking the pain to understand a contrarian view point in your answer. Her life would be much simpler if she just gives a zero.

– So the bottom line is, our answer should be such that they make the life easier for the examiner. She would be happy while reading them and would give us more marks. So no PhD types stuff… just stick to basic points and present them in a way which is easy to read.

– Next, this exam is not a science exam. This is a generalist exam, a humanities exam. Its like a BA or MA exam. In a science exam, if there are 5 points in an answer but point number 1 is the most important point and rest are insignificant as compared to point 1, so if you cover point 1 only in your answer in great detail showing good understanding, you would get good marks. But in a BA, MA exam this doesn’t work. You have to not only write those 5 points, but also invent 2 more points and write. Only then the examiner would feel that you have covered all ‘relevant’ points. So one cannot ignore the trivial points and has to blindly write everything.

– Going further, in BA MA exams, if the question asks something say what is RBI doing to contain inflation and you answer all the points (including the trivial points) on what is RBI doing to contain inflation, you still won’t get good marks. Your answer still won’t be considered complete. In BA MA exams, an answer would be complete if we also write a bit about what preceded the question and what succeeded it. For example, in this RBI question, if I also write 1 para in the beginning on what is causing this high inflation and 1 para in the end on the effect of high inflation if RBI is not able to control, my answer would be considered better (even though a science student would find all this utter stupidity).

– Now the question arises, how to think of so many points in the exam hall? Well, because this is a BA MA exam and doesn’t require any specialist knowledge, the good thing is, if we just pause and think for 1-2 minutes before writing an answer in the exam hall, we would be able to recollect 70-80% of the points.

– Another thing which helps is to beforehand prepare a list of points for few broad topics. For example, one can remember 10 points on how to improve citizen charter, 10 points on how to remove corruption, 8 points on how to contain inflation, 7 on small states or not, 10 on problems of panchayats and so on… The good thing is these broad topics are limited and most questions in the GS exam come only as a subset of these broad topics or ask a particular aspect of these broad topics. Once you remember this block of points on any broad topic and a question comes asking you to look at the topic from a particular angle, you can easily and very quickly modify your existing points to meet the demands of the question. Then you just have to write 1 para each on what came before the question and what happens after the question, and your answer is complete.

– Finally on presentation style. Many coachings tell many things. Don’t believe in any of them. Just use common sense. The examiner is a human being who is checking your copies not because of any interest but because its her job. She would like to get over with it as soon and with as little mental pain as possible and attend to rest of her life. So just present your answers in a way which you think makes her life easier. Personally, I preferred writing point and section wise answers this time with proper section and sub sectional headings. It gives an impression that I have covered all aspects, given a thought to the answer before writing and created a structure. But the choice is yours.


Through this article, I just hope to help some others who may be finding themselves in the same small, rudderless boat in the middle of the Pacific as I found myself after the result last year – and may be again will find after this year’s results.

Anyways, I understand that merely reading the above words is not sufficient in improving answer writing. One has to practice. I didn’t have any systematic guidance and practiced in near darkness. May be I am still in dark. But I want to try my best to make life easier for other deserving students. So mebbe if somebody wants, he/she may post her answers along with the question to any GS questions here in the comments. I would try to come back with feedback. It may take some time due to heavy training activities and interview prep here, but I would surely come back. If I feel I won’t be able to do justice to the question, I would clearly say so. Other fellow readers may also chip in. Les see how it goes. Even if a few are able to benefit by this to whatever extent, the purpose would be served.

Special thanks to Mrunal bhai.

suggestions for CSE Main 2015

S uccess in any competitive examination depends on thorough preparation of the entire given syllabus. But as the examination draws to a close, other aspects of the examination need to be taken into account as well. The forthcoming IAS Mains examination, being held next month , will also require a shift in focus at this stage. Ideally, by this time , the entire syllabus should have been covered by the aspirants. But in many cases, for reasons beyond control, this may not happen.

For many students, the syllabus might seem to be only partially covered. Be that as it may, whether the syllabus has been fully covered or partially, it goes for both types of aspirants to look at the exam from a different perspective at this point of time. Traditional ways of learning will not work at this stage.One has got to do the things that needs to be done at this last leg of preparation. There has to be a strategy to maximize ones’ performance with whatever preparations one has done so far. There are many elements of this strategy which are
summarized below:

1. Balancing the preparation on the entire syllabus:

The main examination consists of an optional paper, four GS papers and the essay paper. It is extremely important to assess at this stage whether a candidate has been able to balance the needs of the entire syllabus. A careful, self analysis would help him arrive at a conclusion as to where he lost the balance. For example,while covering GS papers, it is quite possible for a candidate to have completely missed out on the internal security part of the GS paper III syllabus. If this is so, it must be identified and rectified. No area of the syllabus can be completely left out. But at the same time, there is no adequate time left to cover the entire internal security chapter, so, the practical way of doing it will be to focus on the probable questions on this topic. This has to be done by a careful observation of the most important security challenges our country confronts today .

2. Selective preparation:

Although the entire syllabus is important to be covered in both the GS as well as the optional paper, atthis stage, one has to be selective. There is no time left to do the entire range of topics of a paper. Instead, one should only focus on some selected topics. These topics should be from the dynamic areas of the syllabus. For example, if someone is preparing for Indian Polity, then selective preparation at this stage would mean picking up issues like: competitive and cooperative federalism in India, role of NITI AAYOG as an instrument of cooperative federalism, the GST issue and cooperative federalism, the consequences of the Supreme Court judgment on NJAC etc.This will enable a candidate to get ready with likely topics.

3. Focus on the optional paper and a few GS papers to score maximum marks:

It is impossible that a candidate will command all the subjects of the main examination equally well. An attempt to go for this type of command will only dilute his efforts. It is better, therefore, to have this sound strategy to obtain maximum marks in the optional paper and some of the GS papers. It makes good sense to concentrate on your optional paper because its syllabus is well defined and the more you command it , more the chances to increase your score in this. In other words, there is a certain link between the input and output in the optional paper. This strategy does not , however mean that one should neglect other papers. It is only about focusing on some mains papers so that one can leverage his/her preparations in these areas.

4. Special attention on the Ethics and the Essay papers:

In the main examination the two main determinants of success are going to be the Ethics and the Essay papers. These two papers have the potential of giving you the minimum or maximum marks.Many candidates are not able to align their preparations to the needs of these two papers and they end up scoring very poor marks in these papers. On the other hand, if a candidate grasps the nature of the questions of these two papers, he is bound to get extraordinary marks. Many of the last years’ toppers were selected with high ranks because of this strategy. They had been able to score highly in their optional papers, and the essay and the ethics papers. So, the elements of this strategy are: (a) excel in your optional paper, ethics and essay papers, and (b) at the same time ensure at least an average performance in other papers. This will procure the required marks to qualify for the interview.

5. Answer- writing practice:

In the present format of UPSC Mains examination writing answers is a big challenge. The questions are very different now and no text book type of answers will suffice. Each question is framed in such a manner that you will have to improvise the answer in the exam hall itself. You can not go and write the answers according to a script.Therefore, answer writing practice should be the priority at this stage. A good answer is one which is close to the question,answers only what is asked and not extraneous things which has no relevance to the question. For example, if there is a question on describing Shivaji as a great political and military strategist, there is no need to write about any other aspect of Shivaji ‘s life as it is a superfluous information.The second point to remember about answer writing is that in the word limit of 150 words for each question, there is no scope to describe in details any aspect of the question. A question will have many aspects. A few lines should be writtenon all the aspects. Or else, the word limit will be crossed just writing the question partly only.

6. Do not underline your answer:

here is a popular misperception among the candidates that in order to catch the attention of the examiner , the important points in the answer should be highlighted by underlining them. It is in fact a very risky proposition. How can a candidate determine for the examiner as to what is more important? There is every likelihood that the examiner will not find your underlined sentences important and get a negative impression instead. However, one can follow a bullet form answer where there is a scope to do that, but not always. For example , if the question asks for your suggestions to improve governance in India,you may put your suggestions in bullet form. But remember ,no question should be answered only in bullet form . A brief introduction is always necessary before adopting the bulletform format.

7. Do not chase facts and figures in your answer, chase analysis:

The very purpose of the mains exam is to assess your analytical, intellectual capabilities and not your memorization of facts and figures. So if you do not know all the facts of an issue, its not a cause to worry. But you should have a perception, a perspective about the issue. This is what will be looked for in your answers.

8 .Adopt a general, commonsensical approach to answering:

Do not make your answer look like an academic answer.
It should look like a non- expert view on the issue because UPSC does not expect you to be area experts on environment,internal security or any such thing.

9 . Time management:

The biggest challenge in the main exam is going to be how to manage time to be able to write all the ques- tions. The answers are all lengthy now ( 150 words each). Then, there are 20-25 questions to be written in each paper of GS. This implies that in each paper , one has to produce 4000 words in 3 hours time. It is a stupendous task and only repeated practice can give you control over speed and time.

10. Get your answers evaluated by an expert:

Only an evaluation of your answers can tell you about its quality. If you have not got them evaluated by a competent expert, you may not be writing the right answers yet. Therefore, make it a priority to get it checked by any expert who is appropriately able to guide you. Incorporate his suggestions in your next answer practice.Remember, in the final analysis, the main exam is all about writing answers. It is a 3 hour exercise which finally matters and not years of your preparations. So in order to make these three hours high marks yielding hours, go for answer writing practice andtheir evaluation.

11. How to attempt a question about which you are blank?

Many students have asked me this question. It is very natural that some of the questions will leave you completely clueless. How you will attempt those? Leaving them un answered is not the right thing to do. Instead, you should think hard about the question and come to some general observations relating to the questions. Put those observations in your answers. The only caution you should take is that never be specific in your answer as you do not know the real facts about the issue. For example , if a specific question has been asked on India- Nepal relations and you are not aware of this development , then you should make a general answer in terms of importance to resolve the issue in mutual interest, importance India should accord to its relations with Nepal , and the need to protect India’s national interest while dealing with Nepal. It will not be a cogent answer, still it will give you some marks.

The author S.B.SINGH is a noted academician and IAS mentor. He can be reached at his email: [email protected])

[GS Score] Current Affairs for Mains 2015 Part 2

GS score is providing Current Affairs for Mains 2015 study material important for GS Mains Paper 1, Paper 2 and Paper 3.These are pdf’s on some of the important issues.

[GS Score] Current Affairs for Mains 2015 Part 1 

Current Affairs for Mains 2015: Part II has been uploaded on following topics

7. Internal Security
8. Media
9. Polity Part 1
10. Polity Part 2
11. Science & Technology-I
12. Science & Technology-II
13. Social Issue
14. Welfare Policies

GS Mains 2015 : Booklist/Sources

This is the suggested books list by  Ashish Kumar 9th ranker in CSE 2014,he shared this books list on his blog, where he shared shared lot of good stuff, do check it out.

I have tried to reproduce below the sources that I followed for my GS preparation along with certain popular sources that I could not follow. I have also included certain observations regarding the sources that I followed.


Indian Culture


  1. GKToday Notes
  2. Old NCERT
  3. Tamil Nadu board intermediate level books
  1. Tried NIOS material but did not find it to be of any use and put it down after initial 50 pages
  2. AL Basham? Nopes. The font size scared me!
  3. My experience
    1. I found the GKToday material to be a good compilation.
    2. Old NCERT and Tamil Nadu level books help in getting some background of the chronology of dynasties, social structure
    3. Anything more than the above sources, I found to be a overkill given the constraints of time.

Modern History

  1. Read the thick Bipin Chandra (“India’s Struggle for Independence”) once in 2013. However it does not deal with pre-1857 syllabus. Also it deals with the post 1940 developments in a very trifling way.
  2. After reading the above books I stuck to
    1. Old class XII NCERT by Bipin Chandra : This also takes care of pre-1857 syllabus
    2. Spectrum Modern History
  3. The book by Bandopadhyay?
    1. This is a new book that is getting popular. However I did not get the time to read it for the mains
    2. I read some of it after the mains and found it to be much more balanced than the thick Bipin Chandra. It tends to get too trivial details at times. However that can be taken care of by proper underlining/highlighting
  4. My experience
    1. It is very important to keep the syllabus in mind while reading the book. This is because the syllabus says “…personalities..contributors…contributions from different parts of the country…”. So while reading as soon as you come across a particular personality make a mental note or a physical note somewhere. As soon as you come across a tribal movement make a note. Similarly remember the contributions made by various regions as an when you come across them in the book you follow.
    2. Why I liked Spectrum?
      1. Easy Retention
      2. Lots of information which can be linked and correlated to frame the answer
      3. Easy Revision


Post Independence Reorganization

  1. Followed Bipin Chandra’s India After Independence. This was my go to book
  2. Had read R.Guha’s ” India after Gandhi” which is a great book in 2013. It might not be so relevant from the purpose of exam but it is replete with immaculate details and dazzles you with the ‘idea of India’.
  3. Internet search
  4. My experience
    1. Bipin Chandra book is a thick book. Hence it gets very essential to underline the relevant details/make notes so that it becomes easier to revise.
    2. You might need to supplement Bipin Chandra with internet research to get a deeper insight/greater ‘fodder material’. For example the book does not go into detail the role of Lal Bahadur Shastri in the 1964-66 years or the role of B.R.Ambedkar in the Hindu Code Bill.

World History

  1. Followed
    1. Old NCERT class X book – The Story of Civilization
    2. Old NCERT intermediate level by Arjun Dev
    3. Synergy class notes
    4. Lots of internet search
  2. Norman and Lowe? : Heard that this is a great book. But paucity of time and the fact that it deals with post 1900 world made me decide against going for it
  3. My experience
    1. This section of the syllabus is pretty vast but interesting once you start correlating events.
    2. While NCERTs help get a base, they are insufficient if questions of the like of 2013 paper get asked. Thankfully the 2014 paper had easy questions.
    3. Synergy class notes helped in overcoming the inadequacy of NCERTs and provided with material to handle especially pre world war era questions

Topics related to Society

  1. Followed
    1. NCERT Sociology Books of Class XI and XII
    2. Vision IAS booklets on these topics available in the market
    3. My notes from the newspapers.



  1. Followed
    1. Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Long
    2. NCERT books Class XI and XII
    3. NIOS material of senior secondary school level
    4. Internet search. For eg: the IMD site
    5. Vision IAS booklets on world geography and resource geography
      1. These booklets hardly served any purpose since they did not have any information worth the mains exam. However I still went through them just for the sake of completeness
  2. Books by Khullar/Majid/spectrum: Did not go through them due to paucity of time. However even if you do have time go only selectively through these books since these are huge books
  3. My experience
    1. Understanding the core concepts of physical geography helps a long way in understanding the Indian geography and correlating things. This should be done with the help of GC Long, NCERT and internet search.
    2. Connect the general events of current affairs with geography. This goes both for physical geography as well as resource geography. For example: a tornado or a gold rush somewhere may trigger off a question in the exam related to cyclones/sources of gold and likewise. For this keep the syllabus in your mind at all times
    3. As earlier, I tried to keep the number of sources limited and focused on revising them




  1. Followed
    1. Indian Polity by Laxmikanth
    2. Sriram IAS Printed Polity Notes available in the market
    3. Vision IAS booklets available topicwise
    4. Gaurav Agarwal Sir’s notes on evernote
      1. I followed them mainly for Federalism, E-governance and Local governance
    5. Synergy class notes
    6. My own topicwise notes from the newspapers
  2. Reports?
    1. Except from what I could gather from Gaurav Agarwal sir’s notes and Vision IAS notes, I did not go through the ARCs or other commission’s reports for my mains. This was mainly due to time constraints.
    2. I went through a couple of ARC reports after the mains exam and found them to be very rich in content and insight. The good thing is that the recommendations are bunched together at one place so that after going through the material once, the revision is very fast. So if time permits, going through reports can be very useful.
  3. My experience
    1. Vision IAS topic wise modules were of great help in completing the syllabus and are of OK quality
    2. Gaurav Agarwal Sir’s notes are very concise and of high quality
    3. Following newspaper and editorials is a must for this section so as to be able to enrich your answers

Social Justice

  1. Followed
    1. Vision IAS booklets available topicwise in the market
    2. Own notes from the newspapers
    3. Certain very selective articles from Yojana
  2. 12th FYP?
    1. Again could not study this before the mains
    2. Did go through many FYP reports after the exam. So if time permits, one can give a shot at them with proper highlighting/underlining to allow easier revision
  3. My experience
    1. Remain updated with the newspapers and link what you read in the newspapers with this section


International Relations

  1. Followed
    1. Rajiv Sikri book
      1. Did not find it useful owing to the time span that has elapsed after the writing of the book. The dynamic nature of the international affairs renders many things redundant in the present scheme of world fora.
    2. Selective reading of Vision IAS booklets to get certain background knowledge
    3. Notes from newspaper
  2. My experience
    1. There is no better source or perhaps no source other than newspapers for this part.
    2. Prepare country-wise/organization-wise notes at one place




  1. Followed
    1. Ramesh Singh TMH book on Economy
    2. Vision IAS booklets available topicwise in the market
    3. Gaurav Agarwal Sir’s notes on certain topics
    4. Economic Survey chapter on Agriculture
    5. Own notes from newspaper
  2. My experience
    1. Again the main source for this part is newspaper
    2. Keep the syllabus in mind and make a mental link to the corresponding item while reading any news/editorial related to it


Science and Technology

  1. No specific preparation except the notes from newspapers
  2. The preparation to this part knows no bounds. Since there was no readily available book/material I preferred to skip this part



  1. Quick revision of the relevant portion from Shankar IAS
  2. Notes from newspapers


Disaster Management

  1.  Followed
    1. Vision IAS booklet
    2. Gaurav Agarwal Sir’s notes
    3. Own notes from newspapers



  1. Followed
    1. Vision IAS booklet
      1. But did not find this booklet to be of much use
    2. TMH book on Security
      1. This is a thin book of around 140 pages but a very good one which covers almost all the topics
    3. Gaurav Agarwal Sir’s notes
    4. Own notes from newspapers
  2. My experience
    1. This is a very interesting component of the syllabus and is also both static as well as dynamic in content. Hence place premium on both newspaper as well as background reading.



  1. Followed
    1. SK Mishra printed class notes available in the market
      1. The class notes are in concise format which allows one to go through the entire material in around 2-3 hours
      2. However the notes do not provide any deep insight
    2. Mohanty printed class notes available in the market
      1. These are comprehensive but are too theoretical. This material approaches the syllabus as it were a philosophy or a psychology optional. It does not go into the administrative component of ethics in any great detail which is afterall what the syllabus demands and hence these notes were of limited value.
    3. Vision IAS booklets topicwise
      1. These are a copy-paste job from various sources
    4. Printed case studies material by Lukmaan IAS
  2. The book by Subba? : Heard of it but did not read it.
  3. My experience
    1. Not much good material is available. However in hindsight, I do not think you need to go through a number of sources.

The above is post originally written for billano786, I do not agree with some sources or books for some topics,but in general he cover almost all books.

Mains 2015

This page is to assist and be a signboard to all the UPSC Mains 2015 materials,links,question papers ,optional strategies that are available on net which are useful for mains 2015 preparation . Will try to update this post with as much relevant information as possible.

If you have joined or joining any test series, or have any useful material please do mail us the question papers, PDF scans to [email protected].

The Most useful stuff in no particular order :

  1. Hindu
  2. Indian Express
  3. Yojana Magazine month wise download
  4. Test series and previous year question papers
  5. EPW- Kurukshetra (selectively) Month wise download
  6. AIR spotlight news analysis Month wise download
  7. Loksabha – Rajyasabha TV videos (selectively)
  8. Vision/Sri Ram/Vaji Ram IAS material
  9. Download Free Study Material for UPSC

Most useful Sites :

Question paper & Materials

YouTube Playlists

Insight Hindu News analysis videos (Month wise)

  1. Insight Hindu News analysis  April
  2. Insight Hindu News analysis May
  3. Insight Hindu News analysis June
  4. Insight Hindu News analysis July 
  5. Insight Hindu News analysis August
  6. Insight Hindu News analysis September

IAS Baba Monthly Yojana Magazine Gist

Insights Daily Current Events PDF compiled.

  1. January 2015 Insights Current Events
  2. February 2015 Insights Current Events
  3. March 2015 Insights Current Events
  4. April 2015 Insights Current Events
  5. May 2015 Insights Current Events
  6. June 2015 Insights Current Events
  7. July 2015 Insights Current Events
  8. August 2015 Insights Current Events

INSIGHTS SECURE – 2015 compilation PDF

  1. January to April – 2015
  2. April – 27 to May 09
  3. May to August – 2015


Essay and GS :

Strategy :