- How to Read ?
- Quality Vs Quantity
- How to Read the Newspapers?
- Sources for the Civil Services Exam
- Civil Services a Journey or a Destination ?
- How to start?
- Find your best time of learning
- Plan first, Act later
- Time is an Asset. Utilize it.
- Worried about how much time to give for preparation ?
- Choosing the Right Coaching Institute
- Too much Coaching At a Time Creates Havoc
- Study Materials of Coaching institute
- How should You Start as a Beginner ?
- Practice Answer Writing
- How to improve handwriting
- How to Write Good Essay
- Use Diagrams, Facts and figures
- How to Prepare For Interview
- Note – making
- Advise of seniors
How to Read ?
How to read ( recommended approach )
The first time you’re reading the books, read them like a novel. Highlight the important points using a highlighter ( in case of ebook ) or a pencil ( Hard copy ) . Keep a dictionary handy. If you come across any difficult word, look it up immediately. If you don’t understand a specific concept, use Google and read up about it.
Note On highlighting ( how to know what to highlight )
It’s important that you know what information to highlight and what to ignore. This can be done by analyzing previous question papers. Analyzing previous year’s question papers will help you understand the type of questions asked under each topic. For instance, if you’re studying about the various Government schemes and policies, you should focus on advantages & disadavantages of the policy, need for that policy and its approach. if you’re studying about a specific industry, your focus should be on the location of the industry, the factors affecting its location, challenges faced, opportunities and its current situation
Give a gap of about 2 to 3 days after your first reading, before you begin your second reading. During your 2nd reading, ignore the unwanted details and focus on the notes you had highlighted during your 1st reading. It’s a good idea to try and recall whatever you learnt your 1st reading before revising each chapter.
Not that you’re done with your second reading it’s time to summarize what you have studies. The 3rd reading should be relatively faster than the 1st and 2nd. During the 3rd reading, glance through each chapters’ Highlighted parts. Try and relate the concepts you’re studying to current affairs, and connect the dots.
Quality Vs Quantity
An IAS officer is perceived to have ample and sufficient knowledge to deal with any sorts of problems ranging from daily chores to peculiar problems. He/She should be well l versed with all possible subject matters. Hence, in light of all these, it can be concluded that an elementary level knowledge pertaining to all themes and substances should be imbibed in an IAS officer. Therefore, subject matters of secondary level should from the foundation of an IAS aspirant.
Realistically specifying, there can never be a fixed number of prescribed books. Uniformity can never be maintained at least in mentioning the number of books to be referred. Some likes to read from internet, some likes to refer coaching institutes, notes, even some would like to prescribe only standard NCERT books and some may go for amalgamation of all these sources.
What all books, which all sources and how many in number solely depends upon the comfort and ease of candidates. These vary from time to time from aspirant to aspirant and from experienced to naïve candidates.
How to Read the Newspapers?
Reading the complete newspaper – In a newspaper, there are hardly 5 -6 important news on daily basis which are relevant for Civil Services aspirant. But we tend to read even non – relevant news as well. Nowadays, UPSC has shifted its orientation from static portion to dynamic in which current affairs plays major role. Direct questions from newspapers are part of prelims as well as mains. Most significant role of newspaper is evident in GS2 and GS3 of main examination Few important pints related to newspaper reading :
- News related to crimes, functions of political parties are irrelevant from civil services point of view.
- News related to Environment , Govt. Schemes, Economy, International Relations, Science and Technology are very important from civil services point of view.
- Editorial of news – paper – helps to build the view on recent affairs which is mandatory for civil services aspirant.
Sources for the Civil Services Exam
Going through the exam syllabus will give you a brief idea about the kind of resources/ study material you will need for your preparation. Keep your sources minimal and follow the best source available.
Follow Government websites like, Income Tax Department, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, etc. for authentic information.
These websites are periodically updated with annual reports. Gather and analyze previous year UPSC CSE Exam question papers ( at least last 10 years )
Civil Services a Journey or a Destination ?
If you measure the worth of the journey by the fact that whether you reached the destination or not, you are doing a great disservice to the journey itself. So whether you become an IAS or not, it hardly matters. But once you undertake this journey one thing is for sure, you will not be the same person again. Let us tell you why. This exam brings about a transformational change in person. It makes you aware of so many things that no other exam can. It makes you a far better person than you already are. It makes you empathetic to the plight of the downtrodden and needy millions. It makes you balanced in your outlook and approach You will always be ahead in life after preparing for this exam. You will be able to learn how our past affects our present and our future. You will become a highly intellectual person who could take about anything in highly effective manner. It changes your perspective on how you see things. You will not judge people on how they act, but will learn why they act in that manner Every side has two story. CSE will give you enough perspective to see both sides!
How to start?
First of all, know the eligibility criteria of the IAS exam. The aspirant should be a Graduate in any subject. To apply the age of the applicant should be between 21 – 32 , if general categories.
Find your best time of learning
Before scheduling your exam preparations, decide which time suits you for contented learning, either a day time or the peaceful night time. Additionally allot your peak timings for crispy topics, so that may increase your memorizing level and parallel saves your revising time
Decide whether, you are morning person or an evening person. If Morning, then prepare for hard and difficult subjects in the morning. Leave your coaching or revision activities for the evening. Give your best at that time when you feel the most productive.
At a complete stretch no one can be attentive in our planet for more than 2 hours. for every half hour, relax yourself and utilize your time resourcefully. Give yourself in between breaks. Also, if you feel that you cannot give more then try to utilize that time by either feeling refreshed or watching some informative videos. Which could help you in the exam. After making so many works to the edge of success. Have you ever know what pulls you down when everything is perfect? Probably it could be the time management . Hence decide to try time management and you can achieve your targets by knowing time management build up.
Plan first, Act later
Ask yourself : What do you need to do to achieve this ? Write it down ! These are your study goals. Can they be achieved ? If so, what do you need to do ? This may include various goal setting activities in order to achieve your study objectives. If not why not ? What is stopping you ? How can this be overcome? By breaking your study goals down into manageable study tasks, by setting performance goals, you will be better able to asses where you should apply your energies most
The benefits of students setting study goals and study tasks are numerous. Your study immediately becomes more productive as you know exactly what you should be doing, when you should be doing the it and how long it will take you. You will get a better return on investment than if you simply opened a book and started to study a topic. You become more productive and your study is of higher quality – it ‘s a win – win. Students who set study goals and objective are guaranteed to perform better an get better results as they can focus on the study goals they have se t themselves and action to achieve those study goals.
Students who set study goals and objective are guaranteed to perform better an get better results as they can focus on the study goals they have se t themselves and action to achieve those study goals.
Getting organised is the first step you will need to achieve exam success, so make sure you invest the time at the beginning in outlining what you need to do , and importantly , why you want to achieve it be setting goals which are achievable and manageable
Time is an Asset. Utilize it.
Time management is a significant in academics part; however most of students come to know this, only at the time when they face failures. Usually people plan about time management for their exam preparations with eagerness at beginning moment, but in most cases eventually they fail to follow their time management.
Especially in CSE, if one doesn’t knows about time management, then the chance of cracking examination is less. It’s a simple strategy of effective time utilization their tasks and that makes them to get success.
Whenever you start your exam preparation make an advance plan before a week, month and year, keeping in mind all the three stages of the exams. Although following time difficult and make you frustrated. But once you stick with it, then to your surprise, it becomes routing gradually.
Worried about how much time to give for preparation ?
Better note it, CSE is tough examination to crack. Whoever, told you that this will easy was lying. It’s difficult but not impossible to crack. Students are grappled by the anxiety as to how, much time to give for studying in this examination.
Toppers and success candidates say that they studied for 16 hrs. and much more some might even say that they found the examination process very easy and thus they did not had to contribute more than 6 -7 hrs.
How much time to give for daily studying solely depends on an individual. It does not depend on the time but rather on the concentration level that you will be putting. Most students who have higher IQ might have to still retain most of the stuff, whereas some students have to work extraordinarily hard
Don’t go by the time that you friends are giving to daily preparation. Don’t over try and also don’t work under. Maximize the time that you are giving. Try to utilize the time that you are spending on the studies. like Arjun whose eyes were on the target, you should also study in the same manner. Just see how much time it requires you to fulfill your daily targets and then you can calculated how much time you need dedicate for your studies
Choosing the Right Coaching Institute
Best IAS coaching bound you to study in a positive an disciplined manner. They’ll guide you to the best way to crack the exam. They’ll train you, what to study from the IAS syllabus, what are the essential topics being asked frequently in previous years little tricks to solve the questions in the exam, all the things
- Company of like – minded people
- Guidance from the experienced teachers
- Well – researched and updated study material
- Advanced test – series as per the latest trends in the UPSC exam regular review by the teachers via test and mock exam
- Motivation by the teachers and peers
- Great information on latest happenings around you
- Strategies and tactic which you might not get in the books or newspaper
- Sharing general information like study material questions and solutions from fellow mates.
- Coaching centres concentrate on building concepts and removing doubts – two main blocks of any competitive exams
- But use your own instincts and analyse which coaching institute to go for . There are no dearth of coaching institute in Indore, and thus you would be confused by the claims of many. Seek advice of your seniors and mentors and then go for it. After all they will be the one who will form a good base regarding your preparation. Coaching will provide you the direction which will let you attain success
Too much Coaching At a Time Creates Havoc
many aspirants who come for coaching, do this one mistake which becomes too risky for them. At the time of initial preparation, they decide to attend as many coaching at that time. So they could save time from going to different institutes and also their preparation comes to quicker halt.
What happens is that, an aspirants then run pillar to pillar in various coaching institutes attending different lectures. He/ She jots down the notes, attend classes but at the end of day, they are too tired to even revise. And thus, they continue with the cycle for many months. At the end, when course ends, and they go back to their home town, they realize, that they have many doubts which now cannot be solved. Some of the things which they thought they understood at that time, now seem vague and ambivalent.
Its like starting afresh again. Thus, aspirants seem to miss the whole point of coaching – mentoring and solving their doubts. So, it’s better to study at your pace rather to complete all the course at once. Think, how much time it will require you to study one particular course. An d then go for simultaneous coaching .
Study Materials of Coaching institute
Are the study material of the coaching institute reliable ? Can they be the path to your success ? It cannot be answered in Yes or No. Because it works for some and it might not work for you
Coaching material or handwritten notes by toppers are both important. They have their relevance. They can guide you when you are self – studying. However, it all depends on the quality of the material. Whether it has been updates or not or from which coaching institute it has originated.
Hand written notes give you self - confidence and under standing as Civil Service exam is based like engineering or academics. So only your understanding and clarity matter.
If you are familiar with the syllabus and can judicially select what to read, printed material will go well. Hand written notes at time are difficult to understand and read because it comprehended by the person who has attended live classes and may not be legible.
Thus, it may lack all relevant information about a topic
Handwritten notes at best can be used to get a brief idea of what all has been taught in the class
How should You Start as a Beginner ?
As a beginner starting from point zero one can buy previous years question paper module and attempt some questions daily, moreover the questions from NCERT to will help
Start writing answers as and when you study, don’t wait for the whole or even sufficient amount of syllabus to be finished.
Say you are studying polity and finished President, soon after, check previous year’s papers on this topic and try to answer as many as you wish, you could pick a single question that is the easiest for you and start answering on a piece of paper. You might not able to answer question that involve president and the prime minister as you wouldn’t have covered the latter yet. You can skin such questions for later.
Practice Answer Writing
Answer writing is an important aspect of UPSC civil services exam.
While prelims is only the qualifying exam which separates the grain from the chaff i.e. serious candidates from non-serious candidates, its marks are not added for creating the merit list. Mains exams is worth 1750 marks spanning over 7 papers ( 4 papers of GS, Two papers of Optional, and 1 paper of Essay ). Also there are two qualifying papers of languages which one must write nonetheless even though their marks are not counted in the final list. Since success in Main evidently depends on one’s ability to write close to 100 questions and some 24000 words in all the papers, it is of absolute necessity that one develops the articulation necessary for writing meaningful, to the point and concise answers In the previous era of UPSC exam ( read before pattern change in 2013 ). UPSC used to ask lower no of questions and lesser words to write. There was comfortable time pressure and hence it was possible to try and frame answers in the exam hall itself. But after the pattern change. UPSC asks 20-25 question with 200-250 words to write in each answer.
Sure, they emphasise that the content of the answer is more important than its length in the instruction, still you have to think on the spot and create a mental framework for 20 – 25 questions then and there in the exam hall. And if you don’t practice before hand and that too intensively, you might spend 1-2 mins on creating a framework on each question. That means anywhere between 25-50 mins only on answer framing ! So, you are left with very less amount of time to actually write the answer. This is the biggest issue as far as not writing an answer is concerned. Writing answers also helps in organizing and prioritising your though process. You learn to put forward what exactly is asked and not what you know. You learn to write meat of the argument and not beat around the bush. Last but not the least writing helps in internalising information and in better retention than only reading.
So for the process part one should begin by writing answers or previous year question papers. In addition to giving you adequate answer practice they also help you understanding the exam pattern and the demand of the exam very well. After finishing with previous year’s papers one should move on to writing answers on websites and other sources. As the mains exam approaches one should start taking mock test and get them evaluated.
So a tentative timeline could be :
Every day : Write 1- 2 questions and analyse them your self. If possible show them to seniors and get comments
- Immediately after prelims : Write 2-5 questions /day; start taking weekly topical mock tests
- 2 months before Mains : start taking full length tests.
- A week before Mains : take 3-4 FLTs at the same time when the Mains exam is conducted just to conditions.
How to improve handwriting
Handwriting is important but not the most important factor. For mains, presentation is everything. How much you know matters less in comparison to the following factors:
- Ability to understand the question – this is far more difficult than it seems, when you are under exam stress most often only the key words register in our minds and we start off writing on and on, not realising that the question actually demands something entirely different.
- Ability to brainstorm points in a short period.
- Ability to bring in various different perspectives into your answer. The more perspectives you bring to your answer, The better your answer will be. For example, for a particular question you should be able to analyse the same from its social, political, economic, geographical, scientific, governance viewpoints and more.
- And to do all this in a span of 7 minutes and present it in legible handwriting. That is all that matters, the person who is correcting the paper should be easily able to read your answer, without straining her eyes.
You need to worry only if your handwriting is illegible. If it is so, please give due importance to improve the same. Dedicating 20-3- minutes a day for cursive writing will make a world of difference. You may or may not get extra marks if you have very good handwriting. But you are sure to lose out, if your handwriting is illegible.Here are a few tips to improve the presentation and readability of your answer :
- Increase the font of your writing. Generally bigger the font, easier it is to read.
- Give adequate spacing between lines.
- Start each paragraph from the middle of the page. This will give a good appearance to your answer, and it will also be easier for the examiner to differentiate between paragraphs. This will be particularly useful in the essay paper.
- Underline the key words. This is absolutely essential. This will bring the evaluators attention to the important points. Especially if you have a clumsy handwriting there are chances that evaluator may miss our on key points. Divide you answer into sub heading. You can include the different perspectives under each sub heading.
How to Write Good Essay
A good strategy for Essay paper has three parts. The first two part ( four hours out of six hours ) are like sharpening the exe and the last part is performance during the essay paper. Part 1 : Reading from apt sources
- One should read compilations of essays by eminent people to understand how to convey ideas and understand issues from different perspectives
- Quotes : Make a list of quotes topic wise. For eg. Quotes on transparency, freedom, media, and value based education etc.
- Anecdotes : Stories that can provide good introduction
- Endings : Prepare forward looking conclusions that are short, multi-dimensional and optimistic.
- Structure : Cover as many aspects as possible. Start analyzing topics broadly.
- Government Initiatives : Prepare schemes, policy, global indices missions, programmes of the government in various fields. For eg. In tourism there is Swadesh Darshn HRIDAY, PRASAD, Tourist circuits, e – Tourist visa Project Tiger, and so on
- Join a test series by any coaching institute ( although not completely necessary )
- Write essays regularly and get feedback from fellow aspirants and friends. If you can maintain the habit of writing regularly you don’t need test series
- Don’t be shy to show your essays to non-aspirants. You might get some unique feedback from them
- Try practicing last 5 year’s essays of CSE. The themes are repeated.
- Practice different types of topics like sci-tech, polity, economy, sustainable development, women empowerment, philosophical.
- Practice current topics for every year like 10 years of RTI, 10 years of police Reforms, 100 year of cinema, water disputes, blue economy, Mobility, Jobless Growth etc. Whatever is in the discourse for some time.
- Now the third and most important is the day of exam. Performance in the paper is all that matters.
- Topic selection : select a topic that reflects your strength. If you are not good at writing philosophical essays then DON’T attempt it. This step holds the key.
- Brainstorming : Take 10 – 20 mins brainstorming for various aspects and linking them together in a structure. Make sure you have enough time to write the essay.
- Sticking to the topic : A very fatal mistake is writing what you know rather than what is asked. Since you have prepared well and practiced it does not mean you have to write those thing even though it is irrelevant to the topic.
- Generalist Approach : Your essay should appeal to the examiner. It should have all the aspects but there should be some form of analysis so that it doesn’t look like a long GS answer. Quotes, anecdotes, examples help in it. One can also add flowchart, diagram etc.
- Finish on time Make sure you manage time well and do not leave the essay half completed or without an ending.
Use Diagrams, Facts and figures
You have studied hard. You know everything, so what can you do to score high in the mains examination.
These are the following points which can create wonders for your answer writing.
- Answers should be multifaceted
- Try and keep the introduction and conclusion very short
- Avoid reiteration of the similar thoughts
- Use ass many concepts as possible especially for your optional papers
- Give as many examples as possible to support your view. Try to have a contemporary relevance to you answer
- Write in very simple English, academic jargons is not appreciated by the UPSC
- Your answers need to be more dynamic and holistic. As UPSC says “ the candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers
- Write answers directly; do not beat around the bush. Some punctuation marks like this one (;) play a crucial role
How to Prepare For Interview
Being your preparation early, preferably within a fortnight or a month of completion of the main examination. Do not wait for the results of the examination. If you could not do so in this window of time, then begin at the earliest. The first phase of preparation can start with a more purposive reading of newspapers and magazines
Current Affairs and Social Issues
The issues of national and international importance and even those of regional or local signification often from the nucleus around which the interview revolve. Getting a good grasp of such issues is of essence. However, the focus in interview is not on mere facts and figures, but more on issues, their appreciation and analysis.
Such articles are often found in the editorial page of the top national dailies, which must be perused properly and comprehended fully. To give a wider coverage to their preparation, aspirants must go through a couple of national dailies. Similarly, one must read at least one good news magazine.
Note – making It should be very precise as well as concise. Once has gone through the article, one must reflect on it and ask oneself, is it of relevance to me? If yes, then is it worth making a note or can I mentally summarise the essence of article and possibly remember it till the interviw stage? Am I in agreement with what is stated in the article ? If not, why? Always en-deavour to analyse the viewpoint expressed . Does the viewpoint conform to logic and reasoning? Is it falling within the constitutional and legal framework
How is it for the larger good of our nation and its people? Thus, develop your own perspective Identify the most important points which the article is emphasising upon. Note such three to five salient points in a small note book/spiral pad/ memo page of your smart phone. Revise them whenever you catch a few moments of spare time during the day
Television too is an important aid for preparation. However, exercise discretion in what and how much television you should watch it is advisable to switch to prime time news on national channels like, Doordarshan, Rajya – Sabha TV, Lok – Sabha TV, NDTV, etc. look out for those programmes which carry views and opinion of eminent people. Listening to all India Radio ( FM Gold) and programmes like News at Nine, Market Mantra ( economic news programme ) and Spotlingt ( news analysis programmes) are equality good options
Internet has emerged as a viable option for all of the above and more. Besides reading news papers, magazines watching/ hearing news programmes etc. internet resources are rather valuable while working in areas related to one’s personal profile ( DAF). Further, good articles can easily be saved in soft form or important capsules of article be compile. However, beware, net surfing can be addictive and at times a drain on your time.
This phase of preparation is also an opportunity to widen your horizons of thought by reading good books, particularly non-function. Target at least a couple of books per month. Books authored by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, RamchandraGuha, Narayan Nikani. Etc. Which reflect on word issues, India and its society economy, polity etc. are definitely good value for time. Besides, do look out for specific books pertaining to areas of your interest, hobbies, state of domicile, or even those connected with the discipline of your current job/occupation. Advise of seniors
Also look out to meet successful candidates of past year experts/ seniors etc from the field you work or study in. you can also read the blogs of previous year’s toppers. Joining a coaching institute or a guidance programme for the interview is not a must, particularly if one has had in the past an experience of such an interview programme or of the UPSC interview itself. However, for first timers, such programmes may make some value addition. But do join only with the feedback/ recommendation of candidate or a person who has a first-hand knowledge of the coaching institute/ guidance programme, lest it becomes a millstone around your neck
Dilemma between Professional and student
The IAS bug catches everyone; school kids, undergraduates, graduates, doctorates, as also working people among them. After all, Civil Services is one of the most prestigious careers in India one can aspire for.
But, working people face some unique constraints when they decide to jump into the IAS bandwagon. Constraints of time, resources energy, focus and responsibilities. Those preparing for civil services exam full time are to a large extent free of such constraints
It creates the question whether we should give our whole time to this preparation or can we work alongside and prepare ?
However, not all these constraints are hurdles. Some are blessings in disguise while others can be over with the right planning and effort. After all when we are determined how can when we are determined how can a 9 – 6 job stop us from realizing our goal?
Though. Working people don’t have the luxury of dedicating 15 hours daily to IAS preparation. Nor is it require. Instead, get smart with your preparation. Instead of trying to cover the entire syllabus, be selective. Pick the sections that are easy to score cover.
For prelims these topics include current affairs, maps, polity, comprehension, passage, decision making, and statistics. These topics are easy to score off and can be prepared while traveling and in your free time just while preparing in your study time.
If possible keep a copy of India Year book and Student Atlasing your bag so you can quickly reference some facts while traveling or in your lunch time.
Another way to make the most of available time is to read the newspaper or a good magazine in your free time. So you can see having less time is no reason to not prepare for the IAS. By making the right use of limited time. You can turn this seeming liability into an asset. Leave the more time consuming topics like Science, History etc. to weekend and holiday or early morning schedule.