Manan Agarwal IAS Biography, Age, UPSC Marksheet, Rank, Optional Subject, Preparation Strategy

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Hello everyone,
I am Manan Agarwal, fortunately secured AIR-46 in UPSC CSE 2022 with Mathematics optional. I am from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
I would like to share my own learnings from the preparation process and solve your queries through this channel.
Looking forward to an exciting journey together!
Sit back and relax😄

Manan Agarwal UPSC CSE journey

2020 : Completed B Tech in Chemical Engg from IIT Bombay

2020 : Gave 1st attempt. Appeared in Interview. But was not recommended.

2021 : 2nd attempt. Could not clear prelims

2022 : 3rd attempt. AIR-46

Manan Agarwal UPSC CSE BOOKLIST

A brief history of modern India (Spectrum)Get Book
Indian Art and Culture by Nitin SinghaniaGet Book
Certificate Physical & Human Geography by GC LeongGet Book
AtlasGet Book
Indian Polity by LaxmikanthGet Book
Indian EconomyGet Book
Shankar IAS EnvironmentGet Book
Internal Security and Disaster Management by AshokGet Book
Manan Agarwal UPSC CSE BOOKLIST

Manan Agarwal UPSC Prelims 2020 Marksheet

Manan Agarwal UPSC Prelims 2020 Marksheet

Manan Agarwal UPSC Mains 2020 Marksheet

Manan Agarwal UPSC Mains 2020 Marksheet

Manan Agarwal UPSC Prelims 2021 Marksheet

Manan Agarwal UPSC Prelims 2021 Marksheet

Manan Agarwal UPSC Prelims 2022 Marksheet

Manan Agarwal UPSC Prelims 2022 Marksheet

Manan Agarwal UPSC Mains 2022 Marksheet

Manan Agarwal UPSC Mains 2022 Marksheet

Above are all my scorecards for Prelims and Mains. To give you an idea of my journey 🙂

Motivational post for aspirants by Manan Agarwal

For those who gave Prelims yesterday, the next 3 and a half months will be very crucial days of your life. They can make or break your selection chances. Irrespective of how the Prelims went, you should focus on Mains preparation entirely from here on as if you are writing Mains 2023. Slog for as many hours as you can.

My next few posts would be aimed at the CSE 2023 aspirants. I would address the following questions:
1. For those with Maths optional, how to best utilise the upcoming time?
2. How to score among the toppers in Maths?
3. Number of tests to give for Maths

It’s time to pull up your socks!

If you have any unaddressed queries for Mains 2023, just leave a comment. I will try to address those as well.

What to do between Prelims and Mains especially for those with Maths optional by Manan Agarwal?

The Mains exam is the king of CSE journey and you must treat the king with all due respect. The next 3 and a half months slog as hard as you can.
My What to do between Prelims and Mains especially for those with Maths optional?

The Mains exam is the king of CSE journey and you must treat the king with all due respect. The next 3 and a half months slog as hard as you can.
My own strategy after 5th June 2022 (day of Prelims-22) was as follows:
  1. Of the total 100 days upto Mains, removed 5 days for contingency buffer (sickness, etc)
  2. Of the remaining 95 days, nearly 45 days each for GS and Maths
I planned 3 iterations of both GS and Maths before Mains. At end of each iteration, make re-assement and course correction. The sequence of covering each paper was flexible as the per demand of situation.

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1st Iteration
  1. 06 Jun – 15 Jun : Maths P-1 revision and 2 tests
  2. 16 Jun – 23 Jun : GS-1 revision and 1 FLT
  3. 24 Jun – 02 Jul : GS-2
  4. 03 Jul – 12 Jul : Maths P-2
  5. 13 Jul – 20 Jul : GS-3
  6. 21 Jul – 28 Jul : GS-4

So that roughly by 01 Aug, entire syllabus was done at least once. I had an assessment of my strong and weak areas. This is crucial to optimise spread of resources in 2nd iteration.

2nd Iteration
Plan for 2nd iteration is to give priority to Maths Paper-2 (more scoring) and GS-4 (my own score in 2020 was just 86!).
A Word on Short Notes
Now is the time to start making short notes because you have faced atleast 1 FLT in each paper and we are also just a month away from Mains (fasten your seat belts)! They should be made in a way that you can revise the entire syllabus of 1 GS paper in 1 day. Include only the points that you tend to forget. Also make diagrams, flowcharts, etc as they get stuck in your brain. Keep glancing at these short notes from time to time and especially in the 2 hour break during Mains.

  9. 01 Aug – 06 Aug : Maths P-2
  10. 07 Aug – 10 Aug : GS-4
  11. 11 Aug – 14 Aug : GS-1
  12. 15 Aug – 19 Aug : Maths P-1
  13. 20 Aug – 24 Aug : GS-2
  14. 25 Aug – 27 Aug : GS-3
At the end of 2nd iteration, Vision Abhyaas tests were there. They provided another good assessment of preparation along with practice of writing tests in exam-like environment (seating in a classroom is different from being seated at your home due to distractions, noise, etc).

3rd Iteration
Now the going for the final kill in 3rd iteration with Mains scheduled to begin from 16 Sept.
From here on, I do not have a record of daily subjects that I studied because it gets more dynamic based on your preparation level and exam strategy.

Total Tests
In total between Prelims and Mains, I gave
    a. 18 full length tests for GS
    b. 21 tests for Maths (10 P-1 + 11 P-2)
    c. 4 tests for Essay

What did Manan Agarwal do differently in GS to improve GS aggregate from 333 to 409!



1. Attitude : Earlier I was lethargic in answer writing and had the “Chalta Hai” attitude but after 2 failures, in 3rd attempt, I gave my 200% to every answer that I wrote. I had the killing attitude while writing that this has to be the best ever answer.

2. Writing more number of points for every sub-question. Earlier I used to write only 4-5 points now increased it to 6-7 atleast for a sub-part. The examiner will check not on the basis of what we know but on what we write. So if we write less (which was an issue with me in 1st Mains), we are doing injustice to our knowledge.

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3. Open more dimensions in each answer using the PESTLE approach or any other.

4. Encircle keywords in Question Paper to make sure I did not miss out any dimension and also to better structure the answer.

5. Term Dropping : Including more of govt schemes, keywords, famous terms, diagrams for value addition

6. Crisper introduction and conclusion as per demand of question with Constitutional Articles, data, definition, etc

7. Ready-made standard points for each GS paper from topper’s copy. These standard templates help to write atleast something in questions we have average knowledge.

8. Overall, learnt a lot from Shubham Kumar Sir AIR 1 2020 topper talk

9. Extensively solved PYQs especially of small topics like Governance, Society, Security, etc where high chances of questions getting repeated on same theme

10. Brainstorming over variety of questions from multiple GS test series to get the knack of facing unknown questions. Just grab a question paper, look at questions and think on what you’ll write. You can scribble points, make rough flowcharts. This will help you like a charm in final answer writing. It improves confidence, lowers recall time and helps us push boundaries in terms of breadth of content.

How did Manan Agarwal improve in Maths from 284 (2020) to 310 (2022)?

This post is aimed at CSE 2023 aspirants who would be writing Mains this year. I assume that you already have some basic preparation of Maths by now. I will advise on how to sharpen it further to help you score among the toppers.

I will write a separate post for those who are beginning their preparation with topic-wise sources and strategy later.

Those writing Mains 2023 you have a golden opportunity with you to qualify this exam. Use the next 100-odd days very wisely.

1. Make sure you manage at least 3 revisions of the entire Maths syllabus before Mains

2. At the end of each iteration, write at least 2 FLTs for each Paper-1 and Paper-2 in a timed environment.

a. After writing the 3-hr test, also attempt the remaining 3 questions which you left in 30-min per question (including the sub-parts) time. Keep pushing yourself to solve even the tougher problems.

b. Analyse your solutions with the model solution thoroughly and update Formula Sheet and Learning Diary accordingly (mentioned below)

3. For days when I was preparing GS, I also solved half FLT of Maths daily. This ensured I stayed in touch with Maths throughout

4. During 2nd iteration, make a concise formula sheet for every topic. Keep revising this sheet before every test

5. Also, make a Learning Diary of the questions that you are getting wrong or those that you consider important but somehow you are not able to solve them completely, for ex, in Fluid Dynamics, etc
  a. This will improve your confidence, grasp over difficult topics and accuracy like anything
  b. I actually got a 20 marks question in Paper-2 similar to one in my Learning Diary and I could solve it very quickly in the exam. This boosted my confidence and saved time to revise other questions.

6. Keep solving PYQs till whatever previous year you can. Include important questions in your Learning Diary

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Overall, I feel that following 3 pillars are important:

1. Revision – keep revising and memorising (needed a lot!) the entire syllabus of Maths
2. Practice – as many questions as you can by writing down all the major steps, this will help you build your muscle memory and save time and improve accuracy in exam
3. Simulation – practise as many tests as you can in the simulated 3-hour time. To get that topper’s edge push yourself to solve in 2 hr 55 min. Further, push yourself to write 3 tests in 1 day.

To stay motivated when you feel exhausted with the prep or you are feeling tired/sleepy, keep telling youself, that for every 15 minutes that you study extra, you will get 1 more mark in the Mains exam. The Mains exam is not called a marathon for no reason. It’s the aggregate of sweat, blood and tears (more on this another day!) which is reflected in your Mains score. Keep shedding all of them while you have the golden opportunity to do so!

Feel free to fire away your doubts in the Comments section 🙂

Maths Short Notes

I will start uploading my notes as they get scanned. Here are notes of some of the important topics. More to follow!
I had made these notes after 1st reading of the textbooks, keeping in mind the UPSC syllabus and PYQs to pick important parts in each topic. During revision, I used to first read these notes and then solve the marked questions in the textbook. Only after this, I used to give full length tests in 3 hr mode.

Approaching CSAT paper

Since I was relatively good at English and basic Maths, I did not study anything specifically for CSAT paper. My approach was to practice 2 or 3 previous year CSAT papers before actual Prelims in 2 hour mode. It gave me enough confidence and mental frame of mind to tackle the CSAT paper.

However, given the 2023 CSAT paper, my advice to future aspirants is:

1. The difficulty level of Maths questions asked this year have ensured that one cannot solely rely on Maths and ignore English completely to clear the cutoff

2. We now need to ensure that the CSAT paper is treated with due respect as the “Paper 2” of Prelims exam and not just as a “qualifying paper”

3. It is pertinent that each and every part of CSAT syllabus is paid due attention. We need to know the basics of both English and Maths to clear the cutoff now because UPSC is so unpredictable

4. We also need better time management in CSAT paper since the questions are more involved and need time investment unlike GS paper. So avoid wasting too much time on any one question since we have only 90 seconds per question

5. Keep practising CSAT previous year papers and test series and analyse weak areas, keep working to improve them

6. Final word : Even though the CSAT 2023 paper had some bouncer questions in Maths, there were sufficient number of doable questions from English and Maths combined to clear the 67 mark threshold

Adding my GS Test Copies. You can see the implementation of above changes. However, I never went for very high marks in GS because I knew by investing the same amount of time in Maths I could add much more to my score and with more certainty. Therefore, Maths and GS always shared 50-50 priority.