Civil Services Mains exam is scheduled to be conducted from September 28 to October 7, 2018. Aspirants must be fully engrossed in covering the vast syllabus of UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam. To ease the pressure of exam, Careers360 brings here UPSC Civil Services 2018 Expert Interview by A.K Mishra, Director of Chanakya IAS Academy. In this Interview Mr A.K Mishra has shared the preparation strategy for UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam as well as important topics, best books, types of questions asked in Personality Test, previous years’ cutoff analysis etc. For more details on UPSC Civil Services 2018 Expert Interview, read this article below.


Excerpts from the interview:


Careers 360: With just a month left for UPSC Civil Services mains exam, what should be the strategy of candidates at this stage?


AK Mishra: First and foremost, I would advise aspirants to avoid reading new topics which they have not touched in the course of their preparation. Candidates should focus on their revision from the pre-prepared notes to get stronger hold on topics. Second, candidates should take mock tests to get a fair idea of probable questions and enhance their writing skills. I would also advise candidates to solve previous year question papers. For current affairs, candidates must read important editorials in the newspapers and must keep a good tab on important government sites for necessary information.


Careers 360: Would you throw some light on the difficulty level of UPSC Civil Services mains exam which took place in the last 3 years?


AK Mishra: Looking at the past few years trend, I would not say that difficulty level has increased. The exam is not too difficult provided the candidates have sound knowledge of current affairs and in depth knowledge of the topics which are currently in news.


Careers 360: As per you, what are the important topics for UPSC Civil Services mains exam?

AK Mishra: Questions asked in the Civil Services Mains Examination require the candidate to describe the event or the topic keeping a dynamic view that leads to the collective benefit of the Society.


Below are the important topics for UPSC Civil Services mains exam


IAS Main Exam GS Paper I

  • Uneven Monsoon and its Effects on Indian Economy

  • Industrial Cluster Location

  • Growing Religious Intolerance

  • Changing Climate and Food Security


IAS Main GS Paper II

  • Most Important Government Schemes II for IAS Exam 2018

  • Most Important Government Schemes I for IAS Exam 2018

  • Provisions of National Intellectural Property Rights (IPRs)

  • National Electricity Policy: Crux of PRS Report

  • Asia Africa Growth Corridor: Key features & Benefits to India

  • NITI Aayog recommendations on Rural Health Care System

  • Highlights of NITI Aayog’s Draft National Energy Policy 2017

  • National Green Tribunal of India for IAS

  • Police Reforms in India: Crux of PRS Report

  • Effectiveness of National Disaster Management Authority in India

  • Most Important Government Schemes for IAS Exam 2017

  • The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance

  • Land Acquisition Bill: Objective and analysis, Nexus of Politician, Mafia and Bureaucrats

  • European Refugee Crisis

  • India’s Changing Perspective

  • Diplomatic Immunity under Vienna Convention and Local Laws

  • India’s Infrastructure needs and the Smart Cities Mission

  • Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Shramev Jayate Karyakram

  • Indus Water Treaty Analysis


IAS Main GS Paper III

  • Causes of Flood in India

  • Indradhanush Scheme for Banks

  • Naga Peace Accord

  • Labour Reforms in India

  • Green Climate Fund

  • Booming E-commerce and the traditional Business model in India

  • Slowdown in Chinese Economy and its impact on India and World

  • Water Security in India


Careers 360: How working professionals should balance their preparation for mains exam along with their job?


AK Mishra: First of all, candidates should read the syllabus thoroughly. Then decide what to studyand what not to. The basic problem faced by aspirants in this field is information overflow. Also, the syllabus provided by UPSC is very open-ended, making it difficult for candidates to demarcate the contours of their preparation.

The topics like current affairs and maps are easy to score and can be prepared during traveling hours too. Keep a copy of student atlas and newspaper to quickly read some facts during traveling hours.

Revise whatever you have studied the previous day during this time. Periodic revision is the key to success in this examination.

Reading a newspapers every day can solve half of the problem. Read newspapers and try to make bullet pointers, once you get used to it, it will not be that difficult. While reading newspapers, don’t forget to read editorials and news articles which are very important for IAS preparation. Leave the time-consuming subjects and topics like history, science etc. for weekends, holidays or early mornings.

It important for working professionals to manage time well and set a routine. Pick a time slot, either early morning or evening when you can devote time to studies for at least 3 hours. Try to cover time-consuming subjects during these hours.


Do not stress yourself as work and exam stress may take a toll on your brain’s efficiency. It is important to relax mentally.

Working professionals have an edge in Interview compared to other candidates since they are already groomed in communication skills and other aptitudes.


Careers 360: What are the best books for UPSC Civil Services mains exam?


AK Mishra: Candidates can refer to the following books to prepare for UPSC Civil Services mains exam.


GS 1 (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the world and Science)

  • Geography – NCERT 11th Class, Geophysical Phenomenon by Dr Khullar, PMF IAS Notes for Geography or GC Leong

  • History – Spectrum, Independence – Spectrum (Integration of Princely States), Bipin Chandra, NCERT 12th Class Political Science

  • World History – NCERT of 9th and 10th Class, Vision Notes

  • Sociology – NCERT of Sociology and Newspaper

  • Culture – Ancient Medieval History


GS 2 (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations)

  • Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations – Laxmikant, Representation of People Act, Welfare Schemes along with Current Affairs compilation

  • Current Affairs – Newspaper, current affairs compilation and other important sources mentioned above in the article


GS 3 (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)

  • Economics, Inclusive Growth, Budget – Economic Survey, Budget Highlight

  • Science and Tech – Current Affairs is enough

  • Environment – NCERTs of 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th

  • Disaster Management – Dr Khullar

  • Other suggested Booklets:– Yojana, Kurukshetra, Science Reporter Magazine


GS 4 (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)

  • Emotional Intelligence, Probity of Governance, attitude, ethics – Lexicon or Subba Rao Learn Real Life Examples

Careers360: What should be the study plan for UPSC Civil Services Mains?


AK Mishra: Now, when just a month is left for Mains exam, I would not suggest any study plan at the moment. At this stage, I would advice students to revise well and follow the last month revision strategy stated above.


Careers360: What all should be kept in mind while taking the test on the exam day?


AK Mishra: While writing UPSC Civil examination, it is very important that you keep calm and relaxed. First of all read the entire paper carefully, and analyze what you know and what not. There could be questions that you do not know or not able to frame an answer for, just leave it for the moment and move ahead with questions that you are very sure of.


Careers360: Which is the easiest and toughest section in UPSC Civil Services mains exam?


AK Mishra: Difficulty level of Civil Services Examination varies from student to students. It depends upon various parameters such as academic background of a student. For eg, a person having strong academic background in Economics would find GS paper 3 easier whereas GS paper would be comparatively easier for students having law background. It also depend upon the interest level of a student, some may have interest in geography while some may have interest in International relations. I would suggest candidates to study current affairs as most of the questions asked in the exam are from this subject.


Careers360: What type of questions are asked in Personality Test?


AK Mishra: In Personality Test, questions are asked from the following topics.

  • Questions on hobbies that you have mentioned in the Detailed Application Form. So, do not forget to read about those thoroughly.

  • You will be asked questions on geography like the place where were born and brought up, history about it, so get knowledge about it. Also learn about important events of the year or date of your birth.

  • Civil Services Interview questions are majorly asked from your DAF (Detailed Application Form). So remember, it will not be the test of your academic knowledge but your logical reasoning, presentation skills and your overall personality.

  • Many situational questions could also be asked during the interview like what will you do if an earthquake strikes your district and you are the DM/Collector or SP.

  • Questions related to your choice of service preference are also asked. Be prepared on that aspect. Current affairs analysis is important area of preparation.

  • There could be questions on current political issues, pros and cons of coalition, political prospects of regional and national parties. So spend some time reading about political news and related issues.

  • All issues related to current affairs must be covered thoroughly as it will be asked in the interview.

  • Read about your optional subject, why you have chosen the subject and few other related details.

  • If you are a working professional, be prepared to face some questions related to your current job, company, etc.

Your personality will be judged on the basis of your logical reasoning, interest and knowledge on current affairs, mental alertness, social traits, critical power of assimilation, ability for social cohesion, intellectual and moral integrity, and balance of judgment and leadership skills.


Careers360: Can you tell me the structure of Personality Test?


AK Mishra: UPSC Civil Services interview lasts for about 30 minutes. The purpose of this stage is to assess the suitability of the candidates for such responsible positions and to test the administrative skills and other prerequisite personality traits of candidates. The interview carries 275 marks out of the total 2025. Candidates will be allotted to the different administrative posts based on their combined marks of Mains and Interview.


The Interview panel consists of the Chairman of the interview board and four other members. The Chairman of the board is always a UPSC member. The other four members of the panel are usually experts chosen from different fields by UPSC. The panel assesses whether the candidate has the personality traits essential for various Civil Services.


Careers360: How candidates should prepare for the Interview?


AK Mishra: The Interview is aimed at analyzing the personal suitability of the candidate for the career in public service. The Interview board consists of unbiased and competent observers who themselves have splendid career profile as a bureaucrat under different capacities with years of experience in public services. The intent of the test is to judge the mental caliber of the candidate. If you have balanced and precise thoughts and also know how to put it across effectively, cracking interview will become easier for you. On the other side, if you do not possess these skills you can develop it by guidance and practice in right direction.


Despite having all the requisite skills, many candidates are not able to make it to the merit list for want of their knowledge of do's and don'ts in the interview. Below-mentioned points can help you catapult your performance in the interview.

  • No signs of nervousness should be shown during the interview.

  • Avoid carrying cell phone inside the interview room. Ringing of cell phone diverts attention and might be perceived offensive by interview the board

  • Pompous talks leave a negative impression, so it is advisable not to brag too much before interview panel. In addition, it will raise their expectations and they will evaluate against those raised expectations, which might prove detrimental for you.

  • Frequently checking time by looking at your wristwatch is a sign of low-confidence.

  • The worst blooper you can commit is to lie about anything during the interview as while cross-checking it will be easily detected.

  • If you are already employed, never bad-mouth your present employer. Likewise sharing negative opinion about your academic institutions and the persons related to it can jeopardize your chances of clearing the interview.

  • If the interview is not proceeding on the line of your expectation, do not show any sign of nervousness, instead try to bring situation back in your favor. Sometimes, interviewers check your mindfulness and patience during tough and unfavorable times.

  • If you are not sure of the answer asked by an interviewer, instead of making out the answers, just confess it with a smile on your face that ‘I do not know the answer’. People generally are hesitant to accept their shortcomings.

  • You must not communicate either verbally or non-verbally that you are desperate for this career.


Careers360: Which are the books and newspapers candidates should read to score good in Personality Test?


AK Mishra: No books are required to study. Just read The Hindu and Indian Express and fill the DAF very carefully, as the personality test is not the test of knowledge but it is the test of candidates’ personality.


Careers360: Can you provide us past three years cut off analysis of UPSC Civil Services?


AK Mishra: Previous years’ UPSC Civil Services final cutoff is given below.


CS Final cutoff 2017

CS Final cutoff 2016

CS Final cutoff 2015

















PH 1




PH 2




PH 3




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