Have you ever wondered what makes a topper different from the rest? What does it take to go that extra mile and push just a little harder? Is it possible to get a good rank in the coveted Engineering Service Exam in the first attempt? Does one have to study 24 x 7 to do the seemingly impossible?

Nishek Jain who got All India Rank 18 in the UPSC ESE (also known as IES) exam tells us how he did it.

Nishek Jain completed his B.Tech from BITS Pilani and went on to achieve the All India Rank 18 in UPSC Engineering Services Examination (ESE / IES) 2015 in Mechanical Engineering. This UPSC topper is from Sunam, Punjab and believes that there is no substitute to hard work.

If you are aspiring to clear the Engineering Service Exam, then taking a leaf out of his book should be the first thing to do.

Name Nishek Jain College and Degree BITS Pilani; B.E. (Hons.) Mechanical Engineering
Branch Mechanical Engineering Working Not Working
All India Rank 18 Department preferred IRSE Railways


Engineering Service Examination 2015 – Nishek Jain’s Scores

Subject Marks
General Ability Test 137
Objective I 134
Objective II 108
Conventional I 92
Conventional II 95
Interview 121
Total Score 687

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?

With my parents, family members and friends for their constant support and encouragement.

Why did you choose Engineering Services as your career path?

In Engineering we do a lot of multiple choice questions (MCQs) and answers to many of them are found by eliminating the least suitable options. It was a similar situation with me. I graduated in 2011 and got the opportunity to work in a core mechanical engineering company for 3 years. I liked the job but after almost 2 years the work started becoming redundant and I was not quite happy. So I started looking for other options. I could think of four:

  1. Job change
  2. MBA
  3. Civil Services
  4. Engineering Services

Changing job was eliminated because I did not really know how to do it. I applied at a few job portals and at websites of some good companies but did not get any good interview calls. Also, I could not find several good companies where my specific experience of 3 years could be of use and I might not be treated as a fresher.

MBA was again eliminated because I had given CAT two times while working but could not get 99+ percentile because of less preparation. Somehow I did not want to spend more time for CAT preparation.

Civil Services, that seemed like a very lucrative career choice, was again eliminated because I knew that I was not at all good at writing big essays and theoretical questions.
Finally Engineering Services, 1st question was: “Can I clear this exam?” I did a lot of research. Found some friends who have already cleared this exam, discussed with them. Had a look at the previous year papers and was finally confident that if I prepare well I can clear this exam.

2nd question was: “Will it really provide a good career and a solution to my present problem?” Again after a lot of research, the answer was Yes. Engineering Services (especially Railways) provides a very dynamic and challenging career. There is a huge impact of your work on society and nation building and it is one of the most coveted and respectable job for engineering graduates. So, Engineering Services it was.

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

If one has studied all the subjects properly in college and he is in final year or a recent graduate, then I believe 6-7 months of serious preparation should be sufficient. I graduated from college in 2011 and was not in touch with the subjects. Also, I wanted to give just 1 best try and so I thought of giving 1 complete year for preparation.

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

Yes, I took coaching from Made Easy. As I mentioned earlier that I wanted to give my best try so I thought of not leaving any help or support which I could get and so I thought of taking coaching and it was very helpful.

As it had been a long time since college, so coaching helped me in recalling all the concepts in a faster way. Also, periodic tests were helpful in judging the present level of preparation. Good competition in the coaching centre motivated me to study harder. So, coaching was very helpful in my case, but I would not say that it is essential.

Like I have mentioned earlier, if one is a final year student or a recent pass out (or anybody) who remembers the basic concepts and can revise them on his own, then self study can be sufficient. But looking at the level of competition, at least 1 good all India level test series is essential to gauge the level of preparation.

Can you share with our readers your UPSC Interview experience?

My UPSC Interview went well (according to me) but my marks were average. I got 120 out of 200. I practiced for the interview with 3-4 mock interviews but the feel of the real UPSC interview was totally different from any of the mock interview. ESE interview this time (for mechanical, don’t know about others) was completely technical, no current affairs etc. Technical questions included many questions related to job experience, some basic concept based questions and few advanced application based questions. I could answer almost 50-60% of the total technical questions but my confidence level was good.

Please share some tips to crack UPSC interview.

ESE interview for mechanical was purely technical. Also, as per at the new pattern of ESE which is to be implemented from 2017, major portion of the General Studies like History, Geography, Polity etc. is removed from syllabus. So it is my prediction that ESE interviews in future are going to be more and more technical. So I would like to share following tips:

  • Revise all the technical concepts thoroughly before the interview.
  • If you have worked for a significant amount of time, prepare about your job profile, your significant contribution, recent developments in your area of work etc.

Note: Your English speaking skills play very less role in ESE interview. You just need to know the right answer and should be able to convey it to them.

What are the qualities an ESE aspirant must have?

I believe there is just one thing which is essentially required and that is Hard Work. There is no substitute to it. And if one is putting it, all the other required qualities will automatically come in.

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

Focus on technical concepts and practice more and more questions. Revise the class notes (or short notes) again and again. Previous 10-15 years questions are must. For ESE-2016, General Studies and English are also equally important, so do focus on them if you are a serious aspirant and want to clear ESE 2016. From 2017 onwards, what happens to this part of the exam is yet to be seen.

When did you start preparing?

I started in June 2014.

Which books did you prepare from?

For Technical Subjects: I followed only my class notes. I don’t think we have that much time to follow textbooks. Previous year questions book is necessary.
For English:

  1. VoLT – Vocabulary Learning Techniques by Abhishek Jain: Very good book for fast and fun vocabulary learning.
  2. Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis: Very good book for vocabulary improvement but a bit lengthy and time taking.

Grammar, Sentence Correction etc: English Book of Made Easy Publications
General Studies: Made Easy Notes, especially of A.P. Singh Sir.

What was your preparation strategy?

Revise Class Notes on the same day. Practice the questions suggested by the teacher. Make short notes.

What was your preparation strategy in last two months?

Revise the Short Notes. Practice previous years objective and subjective questions. Give mock tests. Mark all the important and difficult questions for next revision.

Anything else to be kept in mind during preparation?

In such long preparation duration, feeling low sometimes is a part of the game and it happens with everybody. So whenever such phase comes, you should not get too much tensed or depressed, you should just take some time off the studies and try to do something to cheer yourself up. Watching a movie, hanging out with friends for some time, eating some good food outside may help.
For achieving a big target, a dose of motivation is also very much required time to time. Motivational posters, videos, computer wallpapers etc. are really helpful. My favorite motivational quote is this one by Swami Vivekananda,“Arise, Awake and Stop not till the goal is reached”


Nishek, you will go a long way! We wish you success in all the good things you do in your life.

This interview was coordinated by Aglasem correspondent Shivika Rastogi.

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.

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