Mohammad Sana Akhtar, AIR 211, CSE 2014 (IPS)



I joined AMU for pursuing Computer Science Engineering.

After passing my Engineering in 2010, I joined STMicroelectronics and have been working there since then.

Preparation of CSE

I have given three attempts. The 2012 attempt was more like testing the waters without much preparation. 2013 attempt was serious but I couldn’t clear the prelims. In 2014, I cleared the exam with 211 Rank.

I was motivated towards CSE as it provides ample opportunities to impact the life of so many people in a meaningful way which is difficult in most other jobs.


Message to Youth and Civil Service Aspirants

I believe that first a person should analyze one’s skills one is good at and try to go for those fields which require those particular skills.

Prelims strategy

In the ever changing scenario of CSE, One thing is sure that General Studies will always play a major role in the CSE. In 2014, the Paper 2 (Aptitude paper) has been made qualifying which means that only Paper 1 (General Studies paper) will be counted for rankings. However, people should always try to improve their comprehension skills in English as writing skills are important for mains point of view and there maybe changes which can bring the Paper 2 back for rank calculations.

  1. Indian Polity- Laxmikanth
  2. Modern History- NCERT(Bipin Chandra) + India’s Struggle for Freedom (Bipin Chandra)
  3. Ancient history and culture – I skipped most of the culture but I think NCERT + NIOS are good enough. Culture videos of unacademy on Youtube by Roman Saini are a good source for classical dances.
  4. Geography-G C Leong + Major topics from Physical geography notes of any coaching institute + Map practice of Rivers, Mountains, Sanctuaries
  5. Economy – Mrunal videos, PPTs and Economic Survey overview w.r.t. facts
  6. Environment – Shankar IAS Environment book + Independent Googling
  7. Science and Technology – From newspapers + BBC World Tech news
  8. Current Affairs -The Indian Express/The Hindu + Chronicle Magazine + Independent Googling + BBC World News

After covering these resources, one maybe able to do only 30-40% of questions in pre with 100% surety which may not be sufficient to clear the exam. For a higher score, one has to take risks, especially when one is confused between just two choices. This is the change in my strategy for prelims between 2013 and 2014 attempts and it Clicked !!!.


 Mains Exam

Optional Strategy (Geography)

For Geography, I relied on standard text books mentioned below alongwith coaching notes of Vajiram and Nitu Singh.

Paper 1 (106 marks)

  1. Savindra Singh for Physical Geography + Nitu Singh notes
  2. Majid Hussain For Human Geography + Vajiram notes
  3. Shankar IAS Environment book for Environment + Newspapers
  4. Settlement Geography from Majid Hussain + Vajiram notes
  5. Perspective in Human Geography from Vajiram notes
  6. Models, laws etc from Vajiram notes

Paper 2 (146 marks)

  1. Physical India from Khullar and Nitu Singh notes
  2. Maps from Nitu Singh maps compendium + independent Googling of the recent locations
  3. Current Issues from Mrunal, The Indian Express/The Hindu

Test Series

I didn’t attend any test series. In my view, those who feel that they are not comfortable with expressing their views easily, they can join test series for mains. Else mere practicing the tests available in market is also good enough.


 GS strategy

Long term reading these days is the single most important way of achieving good results in GS papers. One should read widely from various sources like newspapers (The hindu, The Indian Express), magazines (Chronicle) and non-fiction books covering different aspects of social issues.

GS Paper 1 (96 marks)

  1. Culture – I skipped most of the culture here too but I think NCERT + NIOS are good enough. Culture videos of unacademy on facebook by Roman Saini are a good source for classical dances.
  2. World Hitory – ALS printed notes + coverage in newspapers about past happenings like anniversaries of important events etc
  3. Modern History-Bipin Chandra
  4. History after Independence – India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha
  5. Society – Newspapers
  6. Geography – My optional but I recommend basics of physical geography from any coaching institute notes like Vajiram/Nitu Singh

GS Paper 2 (100 marks)

  1. Indian Polity-Laxmikanth
  2. IR – From Newspapers + Mrunal
  3. Independent Googling
  4. Newspapers

GS Paper 3 (76 marks)

  1. Internal Security – ALS coaching notes
  2. Economy – Economic Survey is a must read + mrunal
  3. Science and technology – Newspapers, BBC World Technology News

GS Paper 4 (93 marks)

  1. Justice Course of Harvard from taught by Professor Sandler
  2. Meaning of basic terms from Chronicle Magazine
  3. Most importantly, one should be ethical himself to score well here. Familiarity with Indian constitution, Fundamental Rights/Duties, awareness about important social issues plaguing the country are required.


Essay (148 marks)

Got my highest marks among written papers in Essay. Frankly speaking, I never practiced writing a single essay. Again, those who have difficulty in expressing their views should practice. To right a good essay, my strategy was to write on a topic which is scientific/objective in nature and then cover as many dimensions of the topic as possible. Also, try to relate the topic with current happenings of the country and the world. During the exam, I used mind map technique to generate as many ideas about the topic as possible.

This time, there were two essays asked. I wrote on “Increasing competition faced by youth” and “Tourism ”.


Interview (168 marks)

Interview in my view is usually a reflection of oneself. To perform well, one should know about:

  1. Oneself – Place to where one belongs, Family Background, school, college, job, current place of stay etc
  2. Subject studied in College
  3. Subject taken as optional
  4. One’s own job if working or ever worked
  5. Current Affairs specially in the fields of economy, international relations, current social happenings, recent laws etc
  6. Hobbies – Mine was playing football


Interview Transcript

Chairman – Mr Vinay Mittal

  1. You have sports background?
  2. When do you play in office
  3. Indian sports is changing? How?
  4. What’s the new way of these leagues?
  5. How many games have seen this new system?
  6. Is the new system good?
  7. Why are these getting popular?
  8. How do these franchises earn money to fund the auction of the players?
  9. You work in a semiconductor company. What is a semiconductor?
  10. Why they are called semiconductor?
  11. What does your company specializes in?
  12. You work in an MNC, How would you prevent sexual harassment in your company?
  13. Is there some govt guideline regarding these in corporate sector?
  14. What are they?
  15. What else you would do?
  16. A geography question … Tourism based on geography…what is it called?
  17. What are India’s current problems in financial area?
  18. What is fiscal deficit?
  19. When is it good?
  20. What was India’s deficit this year?
  21. When do we say that fiscal situation is bad…3% or 5%…how?
  22. Who decides that it’s bad?
  23. What is shale oil?
  24. How is it diff from other sources?
  25. What are the 3 parts of democracy?
  26. Are CAG etc part of executive?
  27. But they also put check on executive…so are they not like judiciary?
  28. How does computer science helps in study of geography?
  29. He said, no not personally? For the geographic study?
  30. What is GPS ?
  31. What is it’s purpose?
  32. Does GPS helps in calls when you come from one place to another?
  33. What about CDMA?
  34. What is Greenwich?
  35. Why is it used?
  36. How is standard time calculated?
  37. So, how much is 1 degree?

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  1. a alam

    Thanks sir for providing such kind of ideas and techniques of preparation.

  2. Shabbeer Shaikh

    Great! You’re the inspiration to all youth


    Thanks Sir please give me your contact number

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