UPSC Engineering Services Examination (ESE / IES) is considered to be one of the toughest exams to crack. Getting one the top ranks in the country is no small feat. Perhaps the most awe-inspiring achievement is when an aspirant gets a great rank after having balanced preparations with his work life.

Meet Dhananjay Singh, All India Rank 12 in UPSC ESE (IES) 2015.

Dhananjay graduated from MNNIT Allahabad with a B.Tech (ECE) degree in the year 2014.

After that, he started working as an Asstt. Manager (S&T) in DMRC.

His preparations for the Engineering Services Examination being conducted by the Union Public Service Commission began around the month of August. With hard work, an undeterred focus, motivation from parents, Dhananjay secured a place among the UPSC IES (ESE) Toppers.

Aglasem correspondents Shivika Rastogi caught up with Dhananjay, to find out more about his journey, preparation strategy, and what kept him motivated, to share with all UPSC aspirants.

Name Dhananjay Singh College and Degree B.Tech (ECE) from MNNIT Allahabad in 2014
Branch ECE Working Working as Asstt. Manager (S&T) in DMRC
All India Rank 12 Department preferred IRSSE


I know this is not an overnight success. You must have worked very hard. With whom do you want to share the credit for your achievement?

I owe my success to my parents. They have always supported me. During my preparation they kept me motivated. Without them, this success cannot be imagined.

Engineering Service Examination 2015 – Dhananjay Singh’s Scores

Subject Marks obtained
Objective Papers
General ability test 99.45
Engineering I 127.22
Engineering II 127.78
Conventional Papers
Engineering I 130
Engineering II 140
Penalty marks 0
Written total 624
Personality test 124
Final total 748

Why did you choose Engineering Services as your career path?

Engineering services offer us a diversified job. It has both technical and managerial aspects. We have an opportunity to explore various systems at different places. You can play an important role in operation of mammoth organization like Indian Railway or you can be a part of policy framing in Telecomm dept. You can feel proud in being a part of the process of building the nation. No other job would provide you such opportunity. It is a complete package in itself.

How much preparation time is required to get through UPSC ESE? How did you manage the preparation?

As such there is no fixed preparation time for ESE , it varies from individual to individual. It may vary from 4 months to 1 year. It depends on person if he has already built up a nice base during his B.Tech. study, he may crack in 5-6 months. As I am a working guy , I really had to push it hard to save time out of my job. Though I was having good command over some subjects from my college days but for the remaining subjects, I had to take out some time on weekdays to cover up them.

Did you take coaching from any institute for the preparation of ESE?

Yes, I joined a weekend batch in one of the reputed coaching institute from July 2014 onwards. But soon I realized that apart from coaching, self study is most important. People tend to depend heavily on coaching material during their preparation but I seriously advise the aspirants to focus more on self study because on the final day, it is you who will be writing the exam and not your coaching mentor.

Coaching is meant for guiding you. In your preparation its 30% coaching and rest is your self study. I decided to quit the coaching from November itself as I was losing a lot of time on weekends in coaching. From there on I used to study on my own in weekends.

Can you share with our readers your UPSC Interview experience?

My interview was scheduled on 2nd Dec 2015 in forenoon shift. I was the third candidate to be interviewed that morning.

BOARD: Mr. Chattar Singh (Chairman) and 3 Technical Advisors

After wishing the panel and taking seat…

CH: (showing me my photograph) So this is Dhananjay, Right?

ME: Yes Sir.

CH: (Reading my DAF) You are from Aligarh. You are working in DMRC and you have worked at Freescale Semiconductor for 1 year and you are fond of cooking!

ME: Yes Sir.

CH: So Have you ever cooked for your mother?

Me: Yes Sir, Whenever I visit my hometown Aligarh, I always cooked for my family and they love the food prepared by me.

CH: Good. So What do you cook?

ME: Sambhar vada… (stopped me in between)

CH: What are the ingredients of Sambhar?

I told the answer.

CH: What else do you cook?

ME: Dosa, Utthampam , Upma… (again stopped me)

CH: You are telling the name of South Indian Dishes. Nothing in North Indian ?

ME: Yes Sir, I can cook North Indian food as well. I can cook Poha, Chhola Bhatura… (stopped me)

CH: How do you prepare Bhatura?

I told him whole recipe as well as the quantities of various ingredients.He listened to the whole recipe and kept on asking the quantitiy and ratio of every ingredient.

CH: I am impressed that you can cook for yourself. Its good

CH: You have worked in Freescale Semiconductor. What was the job about?

I told him about my work profile.

CH: Its good that you are from hardware industry background but why it is so that people are more in software or IT industry rather than hardware? Why hardware industries are not developed in India?

I told him about the cost factor in setting up a fabrication lab in India but he was never convinced with my answer. He kept on asking about various other semiconductor firms.

CH: What do Intel manufacture?

ME: Processors.

CH: Are they manufactured in India?

ME: No sir, they are designed in India but fabricated in Taiwan or Malaysia.

Then, chairman kept on discussing with other technical advisors that core of the whole process is done in abroad and in India we are only designing the chip.

He then passed on to TA1

TA1: Why it is so that people are going abroad for studying and starting their company and then do not come back to India but in China or Japan, they come back to their country ?

I tried answering this but my answer could not satisfy him

TA1: What is the amount of power dissipated from a chip used in smart phones? Which technology node are we using? What are the other advancements in this technology? What is the size of a die used in chip of smart phone? Draw the characteristic of CMOS inverter with active and passive load?

I was able to answer almost 80% of the questions

TA2: Dhananjay you have worked in Freescale, you said it manufacture chips, What kind of chip it manufactures? What is their functionality? How do you take care of safety of a chip? How can you increase the life of a chip? What are their key areas of focus? On what projects it is working now? What are the projects coming up in Future?

I told him about the automotive business, Internet of Things and various other key areas. He was satisfied.

TA3: What are the various ways through which you can access the internet today? How a broadband works? What are the various devices used in setting up a broadband? How can you separate the data and voice when you are using your landline phone for a broadband connection? Tell me about the type of telecomm network used in DMRC? what type of data travels through optical fiber? What are the various sub-systems involved in telecomm system of DMRC? How do you monitor speed of a metro train? How does train cab receives target speed? How data travels through rails?

I could answer around 70% of the questions.

After this Chairman told me that my interview is over and I can go.

Overall the interview went well. It took around 30min

Please share some tips to crack UPSC interview.

UPSC Board is very cordial. They will make you feel comfortable by asking about your hobbies , your family etc. They are very learned persons. So do not try to deceive them by providing wrong information in your DAF. No need to give yourself airs and graces. Only mention those things which are true.

What are the qualities an ESE aspirant must have?

Focused Approach and Dedication.

Some words of wisdom for the students who are aspiring to crack the UPES ESE exam.

Take it as a game and as Sachin Tendulkar says “Enjoy the game and chase your dreams. Dreams do come true.”

When did you start preparing?

My preparation started from August 2014 after I had joined a coaching.

What was your preparation strategy?

Start from your favorite subject. Read it thoroughly and keep looking at previous year question in between so that you have an idea about the relative importance of different topics. Solve previous year questions of GATE and IES. Move on to the next subject. Remember you can never finish a subject completely in one go. So do not waste your time on one subject rather move onto another one after completing the previous year questions. Its an iterative process, you will get hold in 2nd or 3rd round of your revision. Keep revising and solving previous year question.

What was your preparation strategy in last two months?

In last two months, I decided to focus on previous year questions and aligned my revision plan according to them. The topics ,which were asked more in previous years, were given more emphasis during revision.For General Study, listen to the current affair lectures by Kalyan Sir, they were of great help to me. Most of the topics were covered during discussion of current affairs in his lecture.

Make it a hobby to watch his lectures and listen to news bulletin on FM.

Anything else to be kept in mind during preparation?

Do not underestimate your competitors. You know nothing about them. Always try to improve yourself.

—–Thank you

Thank you Dhananjay for sharing your wise words of wisdom! We wish you all the very best for your future endeavors.

Are you also preparing for UPSC Engineering Service Exam (ESE / IES)? Have questions in mind? Clear your doubts from UPSC Toppers. Post your queries in discussion forum.

UPSC Topper Interview

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