IAS Gyan



18th November, 2021 Interview


Profile of the candidate


I am Abhishek Saini and have secured AIR 327 in the civil services examination 2020. I am in IRS (Customs and Indirect taxes) since 2015.  In the previous attempt (2019) i scored AIR 627. I did my MBBS from AIIMS Delhi.

Inspiration: How did the journey start?

I derived inspiration from my final year internship. It was a compulsory internship where I was posted in a rural village in district Faridabad (Haryana). During this stint, I realised that there are many things that go beyond the view of a doctor. Example, I realised that resources are limited and they require optimum utilisation. Here administration can play a big role in improving the healthcare system. I watched toppers videos and consulted my seniors from AIIMS who had cleared this exam and  started preparing in the final year of my graduation itself.

Book list for the preparation

The list can vary accordingly with comfort levels of different candidates.

  • Syllabus should be number one guide. It should be memorised. It helps in deciphering what to read and what to leave.
  • NCERTs are a must (especially from 8th standard onwards)
  • Polity- Lakshmikant (start your preparation with this book)
  • History ancient and medieval- NCER; Modern- NCERT and Spectrum; Culture - Nitin singhania and Class 11th NCERT
  • Geography- NCERT, GC leong
  • Environment - NCERT, Shankar IAS Book
  • Economy- NCERT, Ramesh Singh
  • Science and Tech- NCERT.
  • The basic books will take around 6-8 months to cover.
  • Current Affairs- newspaper reading is a must . One can also follow any monthly current affairs magazine and revise it again and again.

How important was newspaper reading?

Newspaper is one of the most important part of preparation. It helps you in multiple ways. Start your daily routine with newspapers. I initially started with light reading of the Hindu. It helped me develop interest and curiosity of the world happenings, economic issues etc.

Internet sources vs hard copy materials

For static portion I referred standard books and NCERTs in hard copy format. For dynamic/ current affairs portion internet research is a must(daily current affairs of IAS GYAN etc).

Strategy for Prelims

First of all focus on NCERTs and recommended standard text books. This should be coupled with current affairs preparation. After around 2-3 months had elapsed from the start of my preparation I started following monthly magazine for current affairs (IAS Gazette by Apti Plus). One can refer any one monthly CA magazine. This has to be coupled with the editorial from the Hindu. They not only help in gaining wider perspective, help in essay writing and descriptive writing. I used to keep one separate register for current affairs.

I religiously followed a two-fold strategy: adequate daily revision and giving more and more mock tests. take papers from at least two sources. You will have around 70 mocks. Attempting PYQs from earlier UPSC exams are a must as questions are repeated.

It is very important to use logic for attempting the questions. You might not have the knowledge for a particular question but with the help of logic you might be able to attempt that question.


  • Motivation coming from inside is long-lasting as compared to that from external factors which soon fiddles out
  • Before preparation: Aspirant should have ample clarity on why they want to be a civil servant?
  • They should where they want to see themselves 10 to 20 years down the line.
  • Next they need to see whether Civil Services will be able to take them to their destination.
  • If the above factors are aligned motivation will naturally come.
  • It is equally important to enjoy the process.
  • Aspirants should realise that success and failure are part and parcel of life.
  • Going through the CSE preparation phase is itself a big achievement as it helps one gain multifarious perspective which helps you in any field in life.

Mains answer writing strategy

This is one of the sacred mantras of success. Start with daily mains answer writing. IAS GYAN provides this feature. Start with one to two answers per day initially. Thereafter join any good test series and give at least 12 mocks.

Time management

It will come through writing practice. Practice as much as you can.

Hard work vs smart work

Focus should be on quality instead of quantity meaning how much hours you are putting into must be of highest quality without disturbance.

Challenges faced during the preparation process

The major challenge was coping with job as well as preparation. I asked for leave as well but didn’t get much. But this came as a source of motivation for me as I realised that I have to achieve my targets in less amount of time which helped me increase my productivity.  

Strategy for Mains

  • For GS I kept four different registers
  • Not more than 2 pages notes
  • For GS facts plus analysis is the key
  • Format should be introduction (data/ CA link), body and conclusion
  • It should be a healthy mixture of paragraph and points
  • Conclusion should be forward looking, solution oriented
  • Quote best practices wherever possible (read summaries of Kurukshetra and Yojana). Aptiplus provides them.
  • Read summary of Economic Survey
  • For GS IV lexicon can be read. I prepared a register where I noted down definitions of all important keywords along with examples of renowned figures. Keep your mind open for GS IV.
  • In optional, you should look like an expert. It should be very technical.

Credits (family, friends)

  • My Family especially my parents who supported me in my low phases.
  • My wife who supported me in times of disappointment.

How did the IAS Gyan materials & DAF Questionnaire helped you?

I scored 173 in the interview. DAF is bible  and APTI PLUS questionnaire helped in this regard. The current affairs and the questions prepared by the APTI PLUS team were very specific and elaborate. I had to maintain a separate register for interview. I gave around 15 mocks.

Interview experience with APTI PLUS Academy

I had given mock interviews with APTI. APTI PLUS provides Interview Guidance Program for Free. They conduct mock interviews in an ambiance which is akin to the actual UPSC interview, with the esteemed panel members consisting of senior retired bureaucrats, personality experts and eminent professors.