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MOTIVATION: Kiran S, Rank 310, Last Attempt, 3 Interviews, Story of Determination and Hope



Journey of Determination and Hope

Kiran S, Rank 310 CSE 2016


Kiran’s journey is an amazing story. We have seen him closely work hard yet undergo so many failures. When it’s your last attempt – after writing 4-5 Mains, giving 2 interviews, and failing to make it into the list despite scoring very well in all papers (thanks to low interview scores) – ordinary individuals would have quit this and would have settled for another job. But, when we met him after Mains 2016 result, Kiran was more jovial than ever. Low scores in last two interviews had really changed him for the better. Others would have been under tremendous pressure to do well in their last attempt and their one and only shot at this exam to realise their dream. But he went and gave his best interview. After interview, he stopped expecting anything from UPSC. Fortunately, this time it was interview, not sociology (where he consistently scored top scores along with GS papers), saved him. This is a story of hope. If at all you are under pressure, stop worrying and start enjoying this journey. It’s when you enjoy what you are doing, you get more lucky. 


Hello Everyone, I am Kiran S from Devanahalli, Bangalore. I secured AIR – 310 in UPSC 2016. It has been a long hard struggle but worthy of every penny. More than the success, this journey has made me a better human being and I am indebted to each and everyone who were part of it.

First and foremost, I would like to thank Vinay Sir for always being there as a strong support. In all my interactions with him, not once did he doubt my abilities. And you need someone who got your back in tougher times. My tryst with Insights goes back to 2014 and from then on it became my second home. It provides a healthy, competitive and cordial environment for civil service preparation and the success is there for all to see. Away from the so called “Mecca” of civil service centers in India, preparation in Insights brings a sense of calmness to a candidate’s routine.


My Journey  

From zero knowledge and background to AIR 310 has been one hell of roller coaster ride.

It has literally been a marathon for me. To start with, the lack of proper guidance in my initial phases costed me dearly. It took me two attempts to understand what the exam is all about. Trial and error, fragmented preparation and wrong guidance pushed me to the wall.

That’s when I chanced upon InsightsonIndia. And I never looked back. The mains offline test series and regular discussions with fellow aspirants took me to the interview stage for three consecutive years.

Last attempt, 3rd interview – Rank 310.  I am stressing this aspect to convey a message that it’s not over until it’s over. Never ever give up at any cost. You have to cling on and it would only be a matter of time when you come out with flying colours.

The below quote, from the autobiography of Usain bolt, sums up the message beautifully.

“Thankfully, Coach had taught me a way of embracing the pain. He called that overwhelming rust of hurt ‘The Moment of No Return’, a point of pure agony when the body told an athlete to quit, to rest, because the pain was so damn tough. It was a tipping point. He reckoned that if an athlete dropped in The Moment, then all the pain that went before it was pointless, the muscles wouldn’t increase their current strength. But if he could work through the pinch and run another two reps, maybe 3, them the body would physically improve in that time, and that was when an athlete grew stronger.”

It is this “The moment of no return” that one should withstand and go ahead with strong self belief. It is this point that is the real test of character.

I was devastated after two successive failures in interview stage. But every time I told to myself that I can bounce back and believed in my abilities. Some times it doesn’t happen alone. You need someone to stay with you in tougher times and for this no better than Insights and their team.

Never loose heart if u don’t clear prelims, mains or interview. Trust me, failure teaches you many times more than what success would do. And in the end you would become very good officers worthy of being in the service. In fact I strongly believe that failure doesn’t mean a person has failed, it only means that a particular event did not work out. You need to detach yourself from that event and never personalize failures.

When the chips are down talk to someone who lend their ears to you. Keep your ego out and discuss with peers and seniors. Share knowledge and be inquisitive to gain knowledge and the more you do, the more it comes back to you. And surround yourself with people who are optimistic and ready to have a healthy discussion with you.

I know it is easier said than done. Even I used to think the same. But it is the truth nonetheless.


My 2 Cents

Prelims: Revision and test series holds key here. Accuracy plays a pivotal role. Test series provides ample opportunity to identify ones pattern of mistakes and condition ones mind to the exam scenario. In this aspect Insights test series is very comprehensive and qualitative. It gives ample practice to evaluate oneself before actual exam.

    1. Don’t skip any topic in your preparation. Even one or two questions can make a huge difference.
    2. Don’t go into the hall with a cutoff in mind
    3. Identify your pattern of mistakes in test series and make sure that your actual attempts in exam taken this into consideration.



I did all mistakes in the book and learnt it in a hard way. So I would list them for your benefit. I strongly believe that success in UPSC is about committing lesser mistakes than other competitors. All 7 compulsory papers must be given importance because each single mark has potential to decide a rank.

  1. Never try to evaluate any of your papers’ performance on that day. It will pull you down for the next paper.
  2. Practicing answer writing is must. Content rich, diversified and well presented answers are rewarded. Just think over the fact that most would be writing similar answers. But the ones which are holistic, better presented (facts, examples, case studies and diagrams when needed) and easy on the evaluator are rewarded more.
  3. Analyze toppers answers and you will get a picture as to why they got good marks. Do peer reviews regularly because it helps a lot in correcting ones mistakes.


In this context, the quality of questions, solutions, evaluation and interaction with Vinay sir has played a major role in refining my answer writing skills. Most importantly the environment in Insights helped us to have healthy discussions with fellow aspirants. And it is a vindication of the fact that many in my discussion group made it to services in last 3 years.

Kiran S Marks Rank 310

Personality test

I scored low marks in 2014( 138 )  and 2015 ( 143 )  interview , However , this year thankfully I ended up scoring a decent 182 ,  which boosted my rank prospects.

In my experience, I can say that personality test needs lot of mental preparation and practice. Knowledge is necessary but attitude and confidence plays a major role in determining the outcome. I trained myself by interacting with lot of people, being in positive frame of mind and developing an attitude to de link my performance with the end result.



  • Think, discuss and fill in the DAF form. In fact it is the most ignored aspect of preparation. But believe me; half of the work is done here.
  • It should be a genuine conversation which engages panel members. Q and A type of interview is a recipe for disaster.
  • Practice lot of mock interviews with friends along with one or two panel interviews ( It helps one to broaden a question , quoting examples and gives confidence to be able to see the bigger picture of any issue )
  • One should shed the inhibition as to the perception that “what panel members think if I say so”. This inhibits ones natural trait. There is no right or wrong answer. It is about the overall impression that one creates in that 30 minutes.


This year I was fortunate enough to get support from Shri Aashay Abhyankar ( ) who took many personal sittings and brought in that extra edge in my personality test. I would like to thank him for that.

In the end, through this platform I would like to convey my heartfelt thanks to my friends who always believed and stood by me more than I did on myself.

BV Manjunath ( DRDO), Punith SS , Ravikiran G ( AIR – 986 , 2016 ) , Kruthika , Keerthishri ( AIR – 380 , CSE 2015 ) ,Krishna Murthy , Narasimha , Parveen Kajle , Anand R ( AIR – 621 , CSE 2015 ) , Madhusudhan ( AIR 392 , CSE 2014) , Chetan TS ( AIR 193 , CSE 2015 ) , Trilochan  and many more who were part of my journey.

In the end , I wont deny that luck played a role in my success. But I firmly believe that happened only because I did not give up and persevered, come what may. So, you should believe in your self, your abilities and your mentor and bide your time. This self belief, grit and determination will sail you through.

Do your duty without expecting the fruits of it. This is the ultimate truth that I have learnt over the years.

All the best for your exams 🙂