Hi, I am Vaishali Chopra, Rank 23, UPSC CSE 2022. I am a mathematics graduate from Indraprastha college for women, Delhi University. I have been working throughout my preparation by taking Mathematics optional. I have worked in NCERT, Delhi District courts and DRDO. This was my fifth attempt and first interview at UPSC.
Table of Contents
- 1 Vaishali Chopra UPSC Marksheet
- 2 Vaishali Chopra UPSC Interview Transcript
- 3 Few Last minute points to keep in mind for prelims
- 4 Vaishali Chopra UPSC Booklist
- 5 Coaching Institute joined by Vaishali Chopra
- 6 Mathematics Optional Preparation Strategy by Vaishali Chopra
- 7 Motivational Post by Vaishali Chopra IAS
- 8 Mains Preparation Strategy by Vaishali Chopra
Vaishali Chopra UPSC Marksheet
Vaishali Chopra UPSC Interview Transcript
My Personality Test Transcript:
Date and session: 10rd April 2023 Afternoon session, third one to go.
Board: Sathiyavathy ma’am
Profession: district court assistant, drdo
Keywords: cryptography ( Area of specialisation in DRDO)
Hobbies: no question
Greeted all the members, Sathiyavathy ma’am read aloud the DAF.
- So you have been working throughout?
2.Why didn’t you do masters? Few counter ques
- How to reduce pendency in courts?
- Should vacations be abolished. Counter questions
5.are there frivolous cases causing pendency in courts?
- Tell me about use of cryptography in defence domain and what are latest developments
- Quantum technology use in it. Are we lagging behind?
3.shall AI be adopted fully in government?
- Can AI be given motivation and empathy?
- Tell me about bodmas.
- 4-5 theorems of algebra.
- Your name importance.
- Nalanda place and it’s revival counter ques.
- Relationship of places like rajgir, pavapuri, sasaram
1.tell me about cryptocurrency.
2.is it legal in India.
- Is it good for our country to have that.
4.Again tell how to reduce pendency in cases and why serious crimes conviction is so much low.
- When was G 20 formed and why.
- Who were in its first meeting in India?
3.Why it’s importance for India?
- But some meeting didn’t even got charter summary like finance, external affairs in the end? Then what’s the benefit?
- Take stand on collegium system and suggest reforms
Sathiyavathy ma’am said Thank you.
Few Last minute points to keep in mind for prelims
- Accept the anxiety: It’s Ok to feel anxious and nervous about exam. Everyone is equally scared of prelims whether someone is giving for the first time or some ranker who is giving prelims for rank improvement. Have that faith in your preparation and just be confident in your individual capabilities.
- Focus on scoring areas: Topics like polity, economy and science & tech. Usually fetch more marks as these questions are mostly picked from static/conceptual sources. Keep you accuracy high in them.
In order to realise what areas are scoring, just quickly go through the pyqs since last 10 years. Focus on the repeated themes and just try to find the pattern in framing the statements by looking at pyqs subject-wise. This is valid for CSAT as well.
- Smart quitting: The art of clearing is prelims is not only about making correct attempts but also smartly skipping the questions which are on unexpected lines. For example questions from ancient/medieval history are generally too factual to be attempted correctly. Last year many questions came where elimination can’t be applied (statements like only 1/2/3 are correct). Questions like these have to be skipped.
- Atlas is your last minute revision hack: Just go through the world map again and again for controversial locations like middle East, south China Sea, European and eastern/central Asian region, Ukraine etc. Focus on physical features ( rivers, mountains, straits, seas) as well as political boundaries.
Similarly do for India map in case of environment locations like national park, wildlife sanctuaries, ramsar sites etc. These are sure shot topics to cover.
- Try to eliminate options: look for extreme phrases ‘only’, ‘always’, ‘all’, ‘exclusively’ and eliminate those statements from options. Numerical data is generally incorrect( However exceptions are always there)
- Focus on your Mental well-being: Sleep well, Talk to your loved ones and just have a little banter before examination to keep your nerves cool down and feel good.
7.Have some quick energy snack: Keep glucon-d water with you in exam Hall if you feel drained due to summer heat. Keep chocolates , coffee with you ready for energy boost. Most important is to stay hydrated as people tend to get exhausted after paper 1 and do silly mistakes in paper 2 due to that. Have very light lunch (preferably home cooked) or fruits as scorching summer heat will be there in the exam centre.
In the end, just have that faith in oneself that ‘Sab ho jayega’ aka ‘All is well’. Everyone is a warrior out there and just feel the vibe of examination with full confidence and zeal. If you don’t believe in yourself then who else will? So, focus on giving your best and leaving the rest to the divine power. All the best. May the force be with you!
Vaishali Chopra UPSC Booklist
Booklist that I followed (I am giving the consolidated booklist for prelims as well as mains )
- Modern History: Spectrum+ New NCERT History class XII(Themes part 3)
- Ancient & Medieval: Tamil Nadu History Textbook class XI (It is available in photocopy form at ORN) + New NCERT History class XII(Themes part 1&2)
- World History: Books were too bulky to remember. Watched Pratik Nayak Sir’s Videos to make remember key events like World wars, French revolution etc. Focus on keywords in the mains paper I syllabus and read only those topics, Political science class XII NCERT (Contemporary world politics) has some selective topics to cover.
- Art & Culture: Fine Arts NCERT+ Nitin Singhania hand written notes (It is available in photocopy form at ORN), Pratik Nayak Sir also shared a PPT on unacademy that was easy to understand.
- Post Independence History: Politics Since Independence Class XII NCERT is enough. Alongwith this I did topics repeated in PYQs from internet search like land reforms, state re-organisation etc.
- Geography: NCERT 11th, 12th All 4 books, Oxford Atlas for mapping, Sudharshan Gurjar sir also took mapping classes which I watched before prelims.
- Polity: Laxmikant for static stuff, Current affairs are very important here in mains. I quoted many examples of judgements, latest events in my GS answers using the current affairs compilation’s polity section and newspapers.
- International Relations: Newspaper+ Current Affair Magazine+ Vision IAS Mains 365 (Selective)+ pavneet singh sir’s book on international relations (selectively)
- Economy: (NCERT Class XI and XII, Newspaper)+ Mrunal Sir’s Material (PCB)and his WIN CSP Lectures are very comprehensive + Economic Survey +Budget
- Environment (Shankar IAS (selective)), Atlas for mapping locations of protected sites, Current Affair Magazine
- Current Affairs: The Indian Express, Drishti IAS monthly magazine (I took its postal subscription and I found it very colourful to read), I added the The Hindu as well during my interview preparation.
- Science & Tech, Internal Security, Disaster management : Current affairs magazine and newspapers are must + Dr. Ravi Agrahari Sir’s book on Science and Technology helped to revise some static contents. Internal security book by pavneet singh sir (selective), disaster management ARC report, PYQs help here the most.
Ethics:Cover any material for necessary keywords definition. I’ll be sharing mine notes. Practice can be done via PYQs.
Videos: During my interview/mains preparation I watched shows like Cut the Clutter by Shekhar Gupta (It cover 1 topic of current affair everyday, however I skipped political ones), Mrunal Sir also made daily current affairs videos which I find very good, Palkhi Sharma Upadhaya ma’am also hosted very informative content like Gravitas on WION(Old videos) + daily news show on Firstpost is a superhit for mains answer writing. These videos are meant for value addition. They are not a substitute for core content.
Special Mention: THE HOLY GRAIL ~ THE PYQs
Previous Questions alongwith their solutions are a must have. Pavneet Singh Sir has compiled all the previous years prelims questions with solutions in section wise manner. I found it very convenient to revise.
For Mains PYQs, I solved them from 2013 to 2022. Unacademy has prepared topic wise compilation that was provided to me in QEP programme free of cost.
Whatever keywords were there in mains syllabus, I tried to Google them by adding upsc with them and just jot down few points. I even did reverse engineering from test-series. I tried to read more on topics that I was not able to solve in test-series (both prelims and mains)
Most of my preparation is from basic books, google/youtube and test-series. I deliberately tried to avoid compilation PDFs as I had realised that these will not add uniqueness to my answers. Instead I tried to explore internet for adding diversity to my content. Random googling sometimes lands you up into beautiful reports and you just have to develop an understanding of the concept.
Coaching Institute joined by Vaishali Chopra
My association with coachings:
I didn’t join any classroom coaching for GS/essay and maths optional since I was working full time throughout my preparation. I took help of various online initiatives that boosted my preparation via test series.
Prelims : I bought printed test papers of various coaching Institute from market. They included vision, forumias, insightsias and I wrote down the factual stuff in small points that I had done wrong.
Mains: I have given 3 mains and in the last mains I improved my GS score from 405 to 461 marks through answer writing on a daily basis between prelims and mains.
Test series I took:
1. Insightsias core batch mains test series + I wil test series for mains 2021
2. Forum IAS: MGP in mains 2021. They have excellent mentor support and take online mentoring sessions as well.
3. MMP masterstroke programme test series by sachin arora sir: This is the ONLY test series I did in my CSE 2022 attempt. It was absolutely free of cost and had excellent mentor support. Sachin Sir personally monitored the performance. He had taken an entrance test on the basis of a essay test and formed a core batch of around 50 people who were part of this initiative. He guided almost daily on zoom calls. He even took one to one sessions for doubt solving with the group. Himanshu bhasker Sir used to send me question paper everyday in the morning around 6 O’clock. He also evaluated my papers within 2-3 days which was phenomenal in the crucial time between prelims and mains. I find the quality of questions very comprehensive as well as the solution booklets were very neatly prepared in points format. I have attached those answer copies in compiled form in files section for everyone’s reference. This initiative is pure gold as per opinion and has helped me immensely to prepare with my job as I was unable to write full length tests. So, I did small assignments daily via this initiative to be consistent.
4. Unacademy QEP: I got enrolled in this initiative free of cost in CSE Mains 2022 as anyone who has cleared prelims was eligible for that. They provided small PDFs for value addition which I read and tried to incorporate them in my answers. Also, special sessions by educators like mrunal sir, pratik nayak sir, pavneet singh sir helped me brush up my knowledge in more mains centric manner.
Interview preparation : I took mock interview at following coaching institutes only:
Online mocks : Vajirao and Reddy, Insights one to one session with vinay sir, ksg online mock and one to one with khan sir, samkalp group mock
Offline mocks : Vision (faculty + panel), NextIas, Unacademy, Vajiram and Ravi , IAS Gurukul, Chahal academy, Vajirao and Reddy, Samkalp, Byjus
This is the exhaustive list and any other coaching using my name and photograph for their endorsement is unauthorised to do so.
Mathematics Optional Preparation Strategy by Vaishali Chopra
Though I have been a mathematics graduate from delhi university, I didn’t score well in my optional papers due to calculation errors and lack of time for writing practice. Maths requires more efforts as you can’t simply read the solutions and remember. Rigorous practice is necessary again and again for mastering the concepts. Also, I found dynamics, static, fluid dynamics, mechanics very challenging topics as I had never done them in my college time. Rest were the topics in which I had some familiarity.
Regarding Booklist I found IMS notes quite comprehensive. My idea was to focus only average marks in maths. I realised that GS is my strong area and I just have to maintain sufficient marks in maths to balance GS. So I just relied on IMS notes. Also I solved previous year questions from the Made Easy compilation book again and again. They are quite repetitive so it helps to gain marks. I bought a photocopy book of DIPS academy which had some selective solutions of previous years from 1992 onwards. This was very beneficial.
G-20 Maths telegram group has been indispensable part of my preparation. Whenever I find any problem hard to solve, I just click the picture and post it on the group. The response I got from the people out there were very quick and helpful. It is a community that has solved innumerable doubts of mine. Whenever I got stuck, this group was my rescue. The documents shared on the google drive are very comprehensive in nature. All standard books, pyq solutions, test- series are available there for free. I used them extensively. They helped me prepare very efficiently. I am very grateful to be a part of this community.
Mathocrat YouTube channel is a rare gem one can find for maths optional. I did all my physics topics preparation from SHIVRAJ Sir’s videos. They are absolutely free of cost. The way sir teaches is so beautiful that one can’t resist to watch the whole playlist. Also, the PYQ series is beautifully made my sir. The telegram group made my sir is also very beneficial. Sir even helped individuals by answering their doubts on group itself despite being busy. This is truly a selfless service as per my observation.
Overall in brief, I can assure that if someone is aiming for average marks 250 to 270 range and probably 280 as well, one can do IMS notes again and again with PYQs. PYQs even from 1990s sometimes get repeated as it is. So, it’s better to do them diligently. But one has to filter out the relevant syllabus portion only from them. I also bought photocopy of IMS test series from ORN of previous years as syllabus remains the same. I solved them at home with a timer and evaluated them using solutions. Scoring in maths requires repeated iterations with good accuracy. Also, I believe my college background helped me since I was blessed by some fantastic teachers at my college Indraprastha College for Women. They helped to build a strong foundation of concepts that helped me prepare mathematics optional. I referred my college notes sometimes to revise some topic here and there.
Further, I was working in DRDO as a technical assistant in mathematics area . I had some wonderful seniors at my office who are excellent mathematicians. I discussed some problems with them and got my doubts solved. They were very happy to discuss mathematics concepts with me in free time as they themselves were scientists of mathematics background.
Thus, my preparation has lots of support attached to it. It is not merely books that have helped. My entire universe has somehow played a role in my preparation.
Note: I was not associated with any classrom coaching at all. I bought IMS material from photocopy shop and did self-study due to my college background.
Motivational Post by Vaishali Chopra IAS
While there is life, there is hope!
This line motivated me throughout and whenever I felt nothing is working out, I watched this video. I felt goosebumps when I watched Stephen Hawking saying these lines:
“It is clear that we are just an advanced breed of primates on a minor planet orbiting around a very average star, in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies. BUT, ever since the dawn of civilization people have craved for an understanding of the underlying order of the world. There ought to be something very special about the boundary conditions of the universe. And what can be more special than that there is no boundary?
And there should be no boundary to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there is life, there is hope.”
So, Never let your hope die and have faith in your efforts. It’s the constant vishwas and prayas ( faith and efforts) that sails us through.
P. S. I used these lines in my essay as well (the essay on the ship in part 1). So, these short videos pick us up from anxiety and are also a fodder material for essay/ethics !
I am sending some pointers which indirectly helped me in improving my content of answers that were somewhat unique in nature.
Mains Preparation Strategy by Vaishali Chopra
Build a repository of quotes from previous years ethics questions and use them in your answers of case studies.
Make Examiner Surprised with your content:
When I saw the topic of essay ” A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ship is for”, this movie dialogue came to my mind. ” YE DIL MAANGE MORE “. When journalist Barkha Dutta interviewed Captain Vikram Batra following the successful capture of Point 5140, Vikram Batra shared about choosing Pepsi slogan “Yeh Dil Maange More” as his company’s success signal.
What does this show? It shows that he was not satisfied with his stellar achievement . He wanted to stretch his comfort zone and go beyond the so called boundaries. So, I used this reference in my essay. The ship was a metaphor which was signified by Captain Vikram Batra here. He simply personified the essay topic.
I used this reference in my ethics paper as well where I had to define courage of conviction. So, it shows that same material can be used again in different scenarios wisely. This requires practice. We have to train our mind like like by thinking daily on random topics.
How to gain marks in ethics?
Make your answers feel genuine:
I remember an answer where I have to write what is the importance of parents in inculcating ethics. The question was that “If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.” – Abdul Kalam.”
I explicitly mentioned that my father taught me the value of punctuality, humility and discipline in my life. I try to emulate the values he taught me throughout my life. Thus, I brought a personal touch to my answer. I showed that I connect with idea personally.
- (b) Apart from intellectual competency and moral qualities, empathy and compassion are some of the other vital attributes that facilitate the civil servants to be more competent in tackling the crucial issues or taking critical decisions. Explain with suitable illustrations. (Answer in 150 words) Does this picture connect with the answer to this question?
I saw this news some times back DM Suhas LY sat on the floor to listen to the grievances of people. This made me realise the importance of compassion and morality in taking crucial decisions. I used this incident in my answer as a reference to justify that an IAS officer has be intellectually competent but at the same time he/she has to be humble and compassionate enough to hear people’s queries with empathy and care. This shows the awareness of an aspirant towards contemporary situations.
So, moral is to bring real life into your answers through small references. Use your knowledge into ideas and just play with them by weaving arguments around them
Books like these help in generating introductions and conclusions in ethics/essay paper. They have collection of anecdotes, real life ethical dilemmas that can be very interesting read for anyone who aspires to be a civil servant. So, apart from academic side books like these groomed me as an individual to have practical perspective about the challenges encountered by an IAS officer in their journey.