Strategy and Tactics for Medical Sciences as an Optional for CSE

At the outset,  let me warn the readers that I am no authority on Medical Sciences or CSE. Blindly aping could be potentially disastrous !

Having said that, I feel that some of my experiences and resources could be helpful to other aspirants. These would be instrumental in reducing the information asymmetry and consequently a great deal of anxiety.

My decision to take up Med. Sc was not well thought out.

No readymade material, No coaching, No test series.

It was mostly one of “exclusion“. After having exhausted Pub Ad, Pali, and similar other worthy subjects I thought it was better to deal with the devil I know. Having seniors at AIIMS who had written  mains with MedSc and scored decently decisively tilted me towards MedSc.

An added comfort was my study group. My close friends had all gone for MedSc. It was rewarding to have a bunch of friends sharing the same anxities and concerns( and of course study material).  Thanks to Navdeep, Lokesh, Devansh, Vijit for being there!!

UNDER-GRAD years as a scaffold-
I was no genius, and was in no mood to work hard during my college years. That meant my understanding of Medicine came from last night cramming and was heavily peppered with Mnemonics. I  managed to do ‘Okay’ in my scores after all sorts of hacks and cracks. Understandably, I was not very keen on Medical Sciences. If anything, I knew it was not going to be my strong area.
A strong base during college years can be a great asset!!

I decided I need to do moderately well in Med.Sc. Excellence has to come in another life. Coupled with a good GS, Interview, Essay I could manage to stay afloat.

1. STICK TO THE SYLLABUS– Medicine is mind boggling in its depth and range. The only way to manage the syllabus is to shut your eyes & ears to any thing outside the prescribed syllabus by the UPSC.


2. BANKING ON QUESTIONS – I went through the question banks and looked for trends and HOT TOPICs. After rigorous efforts a series of frequency  tables was made (one per subject) . I then prepared for these topics depending on their relative importance( as per the frequency charts).
Here are the SCANNED COPIES. (So that you can go full blast straight away!!)




Earlier a pattern was discernible ( uptil 2013 Mains) in Med Sc. One could leave entire subjects, intelligently selecting combinations. This was because leaving questions 1 and 5 rest all were from same subject. Add to this the luxury of choice and Voila!!

However, UPSC tried to mix things up in 2014 Mains MedSc. and now there were sub-questions from different subjects in a Question.

To summarise:-
First get the questions in the list/tables.
Then other topics from the syllabus.
Now, Revise.
And, Repeat


This is a blog post by Mr. Sarvesh Bhure, IAS

Another Informative post by Dr. Shaleen

I did not exactly go for books. I had access to quality revision notes for some topics ( Prepared from the above mentioned books) . For others I had images of tables and flowcharts. But, books are the source.
I personally, find it inconvenient to use books for revision.

some TIPS

Brief, to the point, specific!!
Draw diagrams wherever relevant.
Neat, legible.
Underline/ Highlight

DONOT attempt the question you don’t know. If you have time, attempt it later after all the questions you know are taken care of. I got carried away and wasted time writing nonsense to questions I didn’t know. I cost me. I had to attempt 60 marker in last 7 minutes. And I couldn’t attempt another 10 marker.

Med Sc. can be a rewarding Optional provided you have the necessary background, study resources, friend circle and perseverance.
I managed to score 279. You can do better!!


Assaying the Essay

It is a necessary evil for some, for some a blessing. If it is a hurdle it has to be overcome. It will not happen overnight overnight. It is common sense  that every successful essay has to have sound factual/conceptual underpinnings. There has to a a common theme that pervades the entire piece. It shouldnot be and cannot be a inane repetitions or meaningless ramblings. ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ repeated ad nauseum just won’t do!!

Some Steps-
Pick a topic after considerable thought.
Choose the one which you FEEL about.
Remember that your feeling have to be backed by evidence, facts, sound balanced opinion etc. covering all possible (and relevant) dimensions regarding the topic- Etymological/Historical/Geographical/ Social/ Economical/Political/Ethical/Environmental/personal/local/National/International/Intergalactic! J

Create a skeletal mindmap– ***
Very brief headings and subheadings covering the entire essay.( I had made some rough ones. I will share them if I can find them.)

You can have two kinds of points-
The NUKES and The Fodder.

And the rest will be-Language– This is the easy part. Only link the ideas. The whole should come out as a connected piece with smooth seamless transitions, with one idea leading to other, and still relevant to the main theme. NEVER DIGRESS.

Play to your strengths. If you are not good being verbose, keep it SIMPLE. Simple yet Beautiful. It must appear to be a worl of art not a splattering of excrement on the paper.

Its all about the experience. If you loved writing it, more often than not the examiner will love reading it.

Post Script : 1) Bulking up!!– Ideas grow over time. One has to be equipped with the necessary munition before seriously attempting an essay. Original thinkers are pretty rare. One can easily however, easily bulk up on the conventional ideas being floated around in the tak shows/Mags/Newspapers.

2)Write weekly! You might even submit and article For the OPEN PAGE section of THE HINDU

You folks Keep Slogging, I will keep Blogging 🙂

Interview Strategy- Score More!!

The UPSC has finally disclosed the interview and mains marks. More than775 in mains and over around 175 in PT is must for harboring any hopes of getting in the administrative services.

Mains is straight forward Read and Revise and Presentation (More on MAINS later)

Back in the graduation days we used to have theoretical exams and practicals including viva-voce. It was then that I realised the importance of the ‘Interview Skills’. It goes without saying that one needs to have a respectable knowledge of the content before presenting ones viewpoints, but there are certain skills and a particular attitude that can go a log way into making the PT one of your strong areas.

I did not do great in the content aspect, meaning my answers were not extraordinary but being well prepared mentally and being presentable helped me score 201 and make the cut. It compensated for a below par 782 in the Mains that I managed.

State of Mind-

This is perhaps the most important part. Make or break. It would determine your rank, your service , cadre,  everything related to the UPSC CSE

It is the most essential aspect in that you are being tested for your communication, presentation, thinking, reasoning skills which are sine qua non for a prospective Officer.

Get into that frame-
Imagine you are already in the job. Say, you are in a meeting with hot-shots , or addressing a Press Conference. How would you act then? This is in brief what your PT is all about. To express yourself directly, soundly, and convincingly.

The Skills take time
One does not become an orator overnight. It requires great deal of patience, practice and proper guidance. It is true for any other field. Getting into a proper shape- physical or mental is time consuming, but its a frame of mind worth getting into.

Simple Exercises
1)IMAGINE yourself to be into the fabled corridors of the UPSC and being escorted to the interview board. Anticipate it. The walk, the churning of the gut, that rush, that chill down the spine.
2) Mirror, mirror! Tell it all!! 
Practice speaking before a mirror. Write down  questions on a chit and draw them randomly. Think for some time, formulate your thoughts, get the necessary phrases, anticipate the possible counter questions that might follow and respond in a calm, controlled and confident manner.
3) Summarise– after reading say an article of the HIndu or the IE, close your eyes and try to summarize it in say a 100 words, recapitulate the key words. This helps not only in memorisation but also helps to avoid verbosity and brings about brevity in the responses, a desirable trait in an officer.
4) V-LOGS – Alternatively, you could record yourself and analyse the clip later, with or without friends. This helps to identify Gestures( facial/bodily), Slips of tongues, Catch-phrases, Beating around the bush, tone, pitch, pace, etcetera.
An indispensable exercise to master the movements of the tongue and bosy and make them fluid, seamless and purposeful.
5) Learn from the best– Turn to presenters from the BBC, Al- jazeera, CNN; world leaders- Barack Obama, PM Modi ji, Putin, Cameroon; Speakers who have honed the craft of story telling. This is in short what it is. Telling them a tale and keeping them spell-bounded. Additionally, this helps you to stay abreast with the changes in the world, to say the least.

SOME USEFUL RESOURCES-The usual suspects- RSTV, LSTV-Akashvani AIR-

Al jazeera English-

Big think-


Big History Project –

Centre for strategic and international studies-

CGP grey-


Council on foreign relations-

Crash Course-

DD news –

INdian Diplomacy-


Journeyman Pictures-

Nature video-

Nat Geo-

Online Communication Skills Training-

Online Spoken English Course-

Observer Research Foundation-


PMO India-

PRS legislative-

Shashi Tharoor-
Talks at Google-


The Economist-

The NYT-

Hello Folks!!

I am Khushaal. You can call me ‘K ‘! (Read about me here!)

Its been one full week since the declaration of results.I, too was lucky to get tips/ tricks and avail of resources generously shared by the good Samaritans ( Gaurav Aggarwal, Ghanshyam Thori and many others.)  Now that the dust has settled, I feel I must do my bit to help clear the air regarding UPSC CSE preparation. I will share my story, stuff and strategy with you before time runs out for either of us.

I haven’t planned anything concrete yet. There will be something for everything and everybody. Writeups will include-



Mains Answer writing,

Youtube channels worth subscribing,


Medical Science QuestionBankAnalysis

There would be a couple of videos detailing how to read newspaper effectively, study smartly, approach the interview.

Let me know if you have any specific queries in the comments below. But, please allow me a couple of days to upload my approach to the exam. If you still find the doubts nagging, fire away!!