Faizan Ahmed UPSC Marksheet, Age, Notes, Biography

Faizan Ahmed UPSC Topper

Faizan Ahmed UPSC Biography

An engineer by graduation and anthropologist/history buff by passion. Rank 58 UPSC 2020, IAS Telangana.

A brief introduction about myself

Hey everyone,
Myself Faizan Ahmed, I belong to Kota, Rajasthan. I completed my schooling from St. Paul’s School Mala Road Kota and then did my undergrad from University College of Engineering, Rajasthan Technical University, Kota in mechanical engineering. I graduated in 2018.
This was my second attempt at UPSC in which I cleared the exam with an all India rank 58. In my first attempt, I could not even clear the prelims. My optional subject was anthropology and I am currently pursuing postgrad in the same from IGNOU. I have represented my university at zonal level in table tennis. I love quizzing.
When I am not studying, I can be found playing football, badminton, video games, reading non-fiction books and travelling to different places.

I am an IAS officer of 2021 batch and have been allocated Telangana cadre.

I will be honest with you, I wanted to be something like this in my life but never pursued it seriously until I graduated. I just wanted to have fun and enjoy my life just like other most youth of my age.
I pursued UPSC because I did not have any other better options due to my lack of interest in engineering as such and since it was also a dream of my late grandparents who wanted to see me as a collector, doing good to those who are marginalised and less privileged. So I decided to take a shot at it and fortunately cleared it with the support and prayers of my near and dear ones. The people who clear this exam are normal human beings like you yourself and not some kind of Gods or exceptional superhuman stuff. There’s no Captain America or Shaktiman amongst us who have cleared the exam, only sheer dedication, commitment and consistency to achieve what we wanted to achieve and then also, little bit of luck and prayers earned through goodwill.

So if I can clear this exam, more certainly you also can clear it. Believe me when I say that.
I would be trying my best to guide and help you in whatever way I can so that you also can fulfill your dream of being a civil servant.

That’s it for now. Adios. Take care. 🌸🌼💐

Faizan Ahmed UPSC Answer Writing Copy

These are some of my GS test copies that I wrote after clearing 2020 prelims in my 2nd attempt.

Normally you will only find the best copies uploaded on coaching institute websites but here I have uploaded all the answer copies, the good as well as the bad ones so that you can see for yourself, success and improvement comes gradually and that toppers who clear this exam are not demigods or born talented answer writers.
We have made our own mistakes, again from which you can learn and improve just like I did.

Happy answer writing. 😊

Apart from writing these tests, I have written umpteen answers to improve my answer writing skills. Special focus on writing and solving previous year question papers for mains to understand the type of questions that are asked in UPSC. I almost attempted every single one of them and tried to make some kind of model answers also for them which I believed came in handy a lot.

Faizan Ahmed UPSC Marksheet

Faizan Ahmed UPSC Marksheet
These were my marks in my 1st attempt at prelims in 2019 when I could not clear.
Faizan Ahmed UPSC Marksheet
My marks in 2nd attempt of prelims in 2020 when I cleared prelims and also the overall exam.
Faizan Ahmed UPSC Marksheet
Final marksheet

Faizan Ahmed UPSC Anthropology Optional Notes

Would be uploading anthropology optional test papers soon.
I had received 275 in anthropology, 135 in paper 1 and 140 in paper 2.
And this, despite me rarely crossing 100 in my anthro test series.
Point is that not to be demotivated if you are scoring low in test series, just keep working and improving your answers and content and having faith in yourself that you would ultimately score much better on the final day when it matters.

Tips for Prelims Cleared Students by Faizan Ahmed UPSC Topper


For those who wrote prelims 2022

The cutoffs I suppose will be almost on the lines of the previous year prelims cutoffs only, with a deviation of 2 or 3 marks (+/-)

If you’re scoring near these marks, then I would advise you, as all others would, that start preparing for mains. One of my very dear friend missed out last year because he was on the border and did not believe that he could clear the exam and hence, lost precious time of preparation.

So take a couple of days off, check the keys and start your preparation in case you’re not appearing for UPPCS next Sunday.

Start with three things –
1. Optional
2. Ethics
3. Essay

In case, even if you are not able to clear this prelims, preparation for these will definitely come handy for the next attempt. Also, these three have limited syllabus and are very scoring. Imagine, GS4 have only one subject that is ethics while GS 3 have multitude of subjects (economics, agriculture, disaster management, security, science and technology, etc.) that you need to study for the same 250 marks on offer. So you can focus more on ethics which have syllabus equivalent to, say economics and hence score more marks that is what I did.
Same is true for optional, 500 marks on the offering and with limited syllabus, you can clear the exam if you score 260+, even if you lack somewhere in essay or some GS papers.

Similarly, for essay also, you have 250 marks on offer and not very huge syllabus to cover. Would soon share a small essay strategy that worked for me.

For now if you’re very very confident, you can go for test series but if you have some doubts, then wait till the result of prelims is out.

So, start working on these three areas till the prelims results are out and I hope and pray that you make it.

And yes, insane and humanly impossible 15-16 hour study is not required, consistent daily study for 8-10 hours is sufficient for the exam, trust me.

All the best! 💪🔥

Faizan Ahmed UPSC Booklist

Booklist and Sources –


1. Ancient
Ncert class 6 to 8, themes in Indian history part 1 class 11, Ancient India by RS Sharma or Tamil Nadu class 11 textbook

2. Medieval
ncert class 6 to 8, themes in Indian history part 2 class 11, Tamil Nadu board class 11th

3. Modern Indian history
NCERT class 6 to 8, themes in Indian history part 3 class 11, Spectrum Modern India by Rajiv Ahir, From Plassey to Partition by Sekhar Bandopadhyay (esp for mains)

4. Post-independence
NCERT Class 12 Politics in India since independence, Vision IAS material on post independence lndia

5. World History
Don’t need to devote a lot of time for this since hardly one question asked in GS1.
OnlyIAS pdf on world history
Arjun Dev History of the World – just superficial reading, no need to dwell deep

Other sources –
1. Bharat ek khoj series on YouTube
2. Pradhan Mantri series on YouTube
3. Crash Course channel YouTube – agriculture revolution, indus valley civilization, Buddha and Ashoka, silk route trade, the dark ages, renaissance, American revolution, french revolution, industrial revolution, capitalism and socialism, imperialism, world war 1, world war 2, nationalism, China’s revolution, cold war, decolonisation, globalization 1 and 2

Art and Culture
1. NCERT class 11 – An Introduction to Indian Art part 1
2. Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania – selected chapters only – Indian Architecture, Sculpture and Pottery
Edicts and Inscriptions
Indian Paintings
Indian Handicrafts*
Indian Music
Indian dance forms
Indian theatre*
Indian puppetry*
Martial Arts in India*
UNESCO’S List of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Languages in India (don’t dwell deep)
Religion in India
Buddhism and Jainism
Indian Literature
Fair and festivals*
India through the eyes of foreign travellers
Bhakti and Sufi movements

*Try to mainly memorise the type and where it belong to as questions from these chapters mostly come in the form of match the correct pairs.

Booklist and Sources

– Class 6 to 12 if you are from technical background and not humanities
NCERT – Class 11 and 12 if you are from humanities background

Geography: NCERT Class VI – The Earth Our Habitat
Geography: NCERT Class VII – Our Environment
Geography: NCERT Class VIII – Resource and Development
Geography: NCERT Class IX – Contemporary India – I
Geography: NCERT Class X – Contemporary India – II
Geography: NCERT Class XI – Fundamentals of Physical Geography
Geography: NCERT Class XI – India – Physical Environment
Geography: NCERT Class XII – Fundamentals of Human Geography
Geography: NCERT Class XII – India – People and Economy

GC Leong – selected chapters only as follows:
Ch 1, 2, 3, 11, 12, 13, 14 to be read in detail and in entirety
Ch 15 to 25 need not be read in very detail, need to have a basic idea like where this type of climate found and why, types of people who live there, rainfall pattern, vegetation, latitude, crops grown, etc.

PMFIAS Geography PDF are also very good and in much detail, would recommend as they are pretty much in notes format itself.

ATLAS – Oxford student Atlas or Orient Blackswan Atlas

YouTube channels
1. Samjho Learning
2. Amit Sen Gupta
3. Crash Course

P.S. For those doing self-study, such channels are a blessing. When you are unable to understand any particular concept, please watch a video on YouTube either on these channels or any other channel, and that will be a huge help to you in understanding the concepts.

Booklist and Sources


1. NCERT – Class 9th to 12th
2. Indian Polity by M. Laxminkanth latest edition
3. Universal’s The Constitution of India Bare Act
4. OnlyIAS important judgement and their significance pdf

Other sources –
1. Abhey Kumar Polity for CSE Telegram channel – it has lot of good quality polity MCQ
2. Abhey Kumar Youtube channel
3. Complete M. Laxmikanth by Siddharth Arora video on YouTube
4. Polity Laxmikanth Videos on YouTube by Study Lover Veer channel – esp recommend for Hindi medium students

Booklist and Sources


1. NCERT Class 9th to 12th (can skip microeconomics book)
2. Indian Economy by Sanjeev Varma for static concepts, unfortunately data is not updated frequently
3. Indian economy book by Sankarganesh K – very thin book, point to point explanation
4. Unacademy videos by Mrunal sir (worth it)
5. Handwritten Notes – Zulfiqar Ali sir
5. Summary of budget and economic survey (esp useful for mains)
6. Vivek Singh 550 questions for economics – for question solving practice for prelims
7. Newspaper and current affairs magazine very important for answer writing material on various topics for mains

Other sources –
1. Investopedia website
2. Arthapedia website
3. Telegram channel by Vibhas Jha sir – Economics an addiction (shares very relevant economics related news articles and other stuff)
4. Amit Sengupta videos on economics – short videos explaining basic concepts

Booklist and Sources


1. Lukman IAS handwritten notes
2. Ethics book by DK Balaji – has very good collection of examples,. anecdotes, quotes and case studies
3. KBC Nano ethics – to get a hang of answer writing
4. Lukman IAS material on case studies
5. 2nd ARC Report ethics in governance
6. Newspaper – to collect latest examples and references for case studies and theory answers
7. BBC Ethics

Other sources –
1. Justice by Michael Sandel on YouTube
2. Crash Course channel on YouTube – Philosophy playlist

Booklist and Sources

Society GS1 and Social Justice GS2

NCERT Class 11 – Introducing Sociology
NCERT Class 11 – Understanding Society
NCERT Class 12 – Indian Society
NCERT Class 12 – Social Change & Development in India

•Vision IAS Society handwritten notes by Smriti Shah ma’am – covers both society and social justice comprehensively
•Yojana magazines and PIB
•Additional source – Vision IAS Value addition material
•Newspaper and monthly magazines to keep the notes updated and get hold of development issues and government initiatives for the same

International Relations GS2
1. Forum IAS notes handwritten by Bipin sir
2. IAS Parliament pdf for international organisations – esp for prelims
3. Vision mains 365 of last 2-3 years
4. Newspaper (Indian express esp carries very good articles on IR issues from Indian perspective) for current affairs because IR is mostly dynamic
5. Pavneet Singh book on IR
6. India’s Foreign Policy by Shashi Tharoor
7. The Oxford Handbook of Indian Foreign Policy by David M. Malone, C Raja Mohan, and Srinath Raghvan
8. IDSA and MEA website for recent happenings

How to utilise the booklist and sources for UPSC CSE by Faizan Ahmed UPSC Topper

Greetings everyone,
I have shared a lot of sources which I referred or found them beneficial for the preparation.
I would be sharing some more sources further for other subjects.

This post, I am writing to share with you the correct way to go with utilising the resources and how to extract maximum benefits from them.

The sources can be divided into two –
1. Basic reading – includes the NCERT
2. Advanced reading – includes notes, scholarly academic books and coaching material

Whenever you start with a subject, say, polity, the correct way to study in my opinion is to first develope and grasp a basic understanding of the subject for which NCERT books would be useful and when done with that, hop on to advanced books like M. laxmikanth that increase the technical knowledge and understanding of the topic as required for UPSC.

Now many students ask that how should one read ncert or for that matter, any other book?
I would say that first reading should be just like a novel, where you don’t highlight or mark or underline anything in the book. Because see, the purpose of note making is to write down things that you usually forget and not what is important only. If you start highlighting or making notes in the first instance, you will end up writing down the whole book in your notes.
So, now when you read the same book second time, highlight the important facts that you think you should memorise and are important. This time around you would see that you remember many things that you read during 1st reading and hence you will find little to underline or highlight which is a good thing for revision. Now during the third reading, take a pen and now highlight things which you forgot or were unable to recall, from amongst those that you had already underlined with pencil. You will find that very little is there for you to highlight or mark with the pen in the third reading. This is what you will effectively need to revise when you study the book again. Hence, reducing the amount of papers you’ll have to revise before the exam.
This is the appropriate approach in my opinion, one needs to follow when studying any book or subject.

Whether to make notes from ncert or not and if yes, then how?

I would say that, yes, you can make notes and that helps in revision. But make sure that the entire book is covered in not more than 3-4 pages. After third reading of the book, notes can be made after which, you don’t need to read the book again but only your short notes. Later, you can integrate these ncert notes with the notes of the standard book and make them comprehensive and at one place.

Should you read Many books for one subject during UPSC CSE Preparation?

I have in my sources given more than one reference book and all of them are good. You can choose any of them for reference according to the availability and other factors.. use them for better understanding of the concepts and value addition in notes.

Hope this helps! Best wishes 💫

Anthropology optional booklist of Faizan Ahmed UPSC Topper

Books for developing interest – Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harrari, Anthropology by Ember & Ember

Paper 1
1. Physical Anthropology – P Nath
2. Braintree material
3. Anthropology – Ember and Ember for reference (if you have time)
4. Upadhyay and pandey for anthropology theories
5. Alabama University website for anthropology theories
6. Refer to internet and youtube for physical anthropology topics understanding

Paper 2
1. Indian Anthropology -Nadeem Hasnain
2. Tribal India – Nadeem Hasnain
3. Virginius Xaxa Report
4. Mai bhi bharat documentary youtube for greater understanding about tribes and their culture
5. January 2014 edition of Yojana- Tribal and Marginalized Communities
6. Ministry of tribal affairs website and annual reports for latest tribal related data
7. Anthropology survey of India (AnSI) reports and website

Newspaper, down to earth magazine and internet for case studies and current affairs value addition

Common sources for both papers
1. Vivek bhasme anthropology simplified
2. IGNOU/E pg pathshala material
3. Anthroguru by Pawan – telegram channel for latest
4. Mandar Patki sir notes on Anthropology paper 1 – how to make notes or can directly refer to them for want of time

Detailed strategy to follow soon on how to utilise these resources

Faizan Ahmed UPSC Topper Motivational Post

Faizan Ahmed UPSC Motivational Post
Kintsukuroi – the art form of reparing broken pieces of pottery with gold in Japan. If you feel unworthy and broken after an unsuccessful prelims attempt, remind yourself of this. You’re more amazing when you get up once you’ve fallen down.

How to stay motivated during UPSC preparation by Faizan Ahmed IAS?

I get many a messages from aspirant community that how I used to stay motivated and how the aspirants can stay motivated during this long, arduous and tiresome journey.

To be honest, I cleared the exam in my second attempt itself. Jab tak demotivation mujhe aata, me exam nikal chuka tha. But yes, struggle was always there. To share my struggle in brief, just a month before my prelims, I lost my biggest supporters, my backbone, my both grandparents to covid within a week. I felt completely broken. The thought that the people for whom I wanted to become an IAS officer would not be there to witness it, killed me every single day from inside. I felt like not writing the prelims of 2020 but thankfully, I had wonderful and lovely people around me who always kept me pushing to write the exam and so I did.
Just 3 days had passed after writing my prelims, my nana ji or my maternal grandfather also succumbed to covid. Again, I was devastated. God was taking everything away from me in such a short span of time and I was helpless. The thing that I could not be there with them in their last moments kept stinging me everyday.

At that time, the philosophy of STOICISM came to my rescue. I had started venturing into the field of philosophy to find some solace in my days of grief and that is when I came across it. The philosophy talks about circumstances not under our control and how we can tackle them to come out victorious.
It says that our state of mind and emotions do not depend on the circumstances we are put in, but depends on our reaction to those circumstances or situation. We are the deciders of our happiness or sorrow. That is how I stayed motivated.
Seneca, a famous Stoic philosopher, would say that he actually pitied people who have never experienced misfortune or trouble in life. “You have passed through life without an opponent,” he said, “No one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.”
Courage, Temperance, Justice and Wisdom, these are the four virtues of stoicism. “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl is a really good book on the topic. Anyway, more on that later.

You have to be your own motivator, you have to be your own inspiration. Remember, when egg breaks from outside, life ends but when it breaks from inside, life begins. So, find that inspiration from inside. Yes, I agree it can be tiresome, exhausting when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. But this is what this exam is all about, it is not merely about memorising facts and information. It tests your patience, attitude and temperament that makes a good officer. So, the problems that come your way, face them, fight them and defeat them.

Buddha used to say, “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

Be your own guiding light, be your own strength.

Ending with this favorite quote of mine, from Game of Thrones –
“Never forget what you are, the rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you.” – Tyrion Lannister

Till next time! 🌸

How to approach ethics for UPSC mains Exam by Faizan Ahmed UPSC Topper ?

A few pointers

1. Focus on revising and revising your notes, from wherever you have made them because that will form the bedrock of your answers.

2. By heart the definition of ethics keywords like integrity, probity, empathy, etc so that you can easily write the definition either in scholarly terms or in your own words. You need to be absolutely clear with the definitions.

3. For every keyword in the ethics syllabus (impartiality, objectivity, etc), try to prepare four examples
One from the life of a famous personality, one from pop culture or current affairs and two examples from your personal life.

4. Try to prepare some famous quotes for every such ethics keyword that you can use in your answers. Eg – when it comes to corruption, you can always include this famous quote of Gandhi in your answers – “Earth has for everyone’s need but not for anyone’s greed.”

5. For getting a hang of how to write good answers, extensively refer to Topper answer copies and KBC Nano Decode Ethics book.

6. For quote based questions, you should first try to explain the meaning of the quote giving the context. If you know who said that quote, you can also mention his name. And then try to justify the quote from the perspective of ethics and integrity in general and civil services in particular giving various examples from diverse fields.

7. For case studies
a) Go through all the case study questions of past 10 years mains and find out the broad topics from which case studies are usually asked.
b) Try to make readymade intro and conclusion for such frequently asked topics.
c) Always try to link theories when writing answers for case studies. Write on what basis you are choosing a preferred plan of action, in ethics there is no right or wrong but only justifications as per the situation. So try to write down if your justification comes under Teleological approach or deontological approach or any such theory and also write the name of the person who gave that theory.
d) For introduction, don’t just simply write the summary of the case study but rather give some additional information. For eg – if case study pertains to corruption, then in the intro, try to write down that the case study is related to corruption, write definition of corruption as per 2nd ARC report or Transparency International and also try to mention any data or stats or report related to corruption and then, proceed with the case study.
e) Don’t write anything which is not asked, you won’t get any extra marks for writing stakeholders if they haven’t been asked explicitly and that will also lead you to losing precious answer space that could have been utilised in a better way.
f) Try to be innovative in your answers and whatever solution that you find out, should be always in line with the constitutional philosophy. Mention the article or provision of constitution under which you are taking a particular step, that will fetch you some extra marks.
g) Also, try to make use of various government schemes and policies while writing solutions. For case study related to slums, you can mention that you would make use of PM Awas Yojana to rehabilitate slum dwellers.

Best wishes!


I have shared whatever copies I found of anthropology, consisting both paper 1 and paper 2.
Now the correct way to make use of them is to see how I have tried to structure a particular answer and what all important points I have tried to incorporate in my answers since for a 10 marker 150 word answer, you have enough content to even write a 250 word answer but the art is you need to write most relevant and important points so as to address the demand of the question.
Apart from that, you can see how to structure your answers so that it is comprehensive and do not drift away from what is asked.

Now, I do not claim that these are model answers or perfect answers by any means since they were written in an exam setting in a time bound duration. You may even find at times that you can write a much better answer than what I have written in these papers and that is perfectly fine and possible. So in that case if you find any thing useful that you can salvage from these answers, you can cherry pick and add to your notes or model answers.

This is the purpose of sharing my answer copies. At the end of the day, what matters is that you pick up that pen and start writing because only then you will have what it takes to clear this exam.

So, my best wishes and very happy writing to you all!

A Penchant for pen by Faizan Ahmed UPSC Topper

A pen is mightier than a sword.

The above saying cannot be further from the truth when it comes to the mains exam of UPSC. A good pen can make a lot of difference for you between attempting the whole paper or missing out even a single question.
Please pick out a good pen that is smooth and fast and suits your hands and fingers.

Pick a good pen now itself and use that only for writing all your test series so that you get accustomed to it.

I personally had used Pilot v7rt. I chose that because it was ultra smooth and it helped me finish almost all my papers well within time. Although one shortcoming of that pen is that it is quite thick on the fingers so some of you might find it difficult to hold it for 3 hours continuously.

Also, use one pen only in exam, no need for black pen or green pen or any other coloured pen for underlining keywords. It’s a waste of time.

Remember a good pen can make it or break it for you. So choose your pen wisely whichever you want to use on the d-days.

Best wishes.

The IAS Winter Study tour or more popularly known as Bharat Darshan, is an integral part of an IAS officer’s training module. It usually lasts for around 40-45 days and officer trainees, divided into 10 groups of 18-20 people, are given various routes across the country to cover almost entire length and breadth of the country.

This time, the IAS officer trainees were sent on a Bharat Darshan trip of 42 days, with major focus on exposure to national security and strategic issues.
My group, number 10, started from Mussoorie, covering the areas of Assam, Arunachal, Mizoram, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Lakshadweep, Kerala, Bangalore and finally the trip culminated with an attachment with the Parliament in Delhi.

This is a short video documentary that was made by our group, depicting our wonderful experiences as we travelled together for more than 40 days.

Sharing the link here for you guys to watch and enjoy the beauty of our motherland and our fun activities.

How to prepare maps and study atlas for UPSC CSE by Faizan Ahmed UPSC Topper

In UPSC Prelims esp, map knowledge is becoming increasingly important as more and more questions are being asked from maps and atlas.

Typical questions that are asked –
1. Arrange cities (world or Indian) from north to south or east to west
2. Which river flows from which all countries or states of India and drains into which water body
3. Major lakes around the world and India and their specific characteristics, which countries or states border them, etc.
4. Mountain ranges where they are located OR arrange various hill ranges in India from east to west or north to south
5. Places in news – which is located where eg – Mazar Sharif was once asked in PYQ

How to approach –
You need to devote at least half an hour daily for studying the atlas and remembering major places and landforms, where they are located, etc.
Use mnemonic that is available online or make your own mnemonics, eg – countries bordering black sea – GURRBT (Georgia, Ukraine, Romania, russia, Bulgaria, turkey)
You can also use big wall maps for ease of studying.

In newspaper or magazines, various places are mentioned which are in news for some reason or the other, you can make a separate list of them and keep on revising them so that you memorise them easily. In the end, even if you’re able to remember some part of information, then by elimination technique, you can get to the correct answer very easily.

Also practice drawing rough outline map of India and World within 20 seconds which is needed while writing mains answers.

For remembering major resource distribution in India, you can have separate blank maps of India physical and mark the resources in there. For eg – one map can locate uranium reserves, one map can show copper and iron, one can be used for coal distribution etc. which will make your work much easier.

Remember, at the end, constant revision is the key to mastering the maps.

Best wishes 💐

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