Before directly coming to the strategy we would like to tell you briefly regarding the exam pattern.
UPSC Civil Services Examination has three stages:
Prelims Mains Interview
At the Preliminary stage, you have to give two exams:
General Studies(GS): It carries 100 questions of 2 marks each.
Civil Services Aptitude Test(CSAT) It carries 80 Questions of 2.5 mark each. Only 1/3 marks required to clear this.
First of all It is of qualifying nature i.e. marks of the Preliminary stage is not going to affect our final merit list but still, it is the most important stage as only after clearing this stage you can move to next stage i.e. Mains stage.
We believe that ‘the entrance strategy is actually more important than the exit strategy.‘ Hence we will guide you at the very beginning of one of the toughest exam of India. Yes, toughest because we don’t want you to start your journey without making your mind and as this exam would require much more patience, perseverance, discipline. So if you have made your mind to crack this exam than the next step would be to get the right guidance and strategy. For Mains and Interview, we have discussed in their sections. Click on the link after reading the whole strategy of the Prelims.
Syllabus- a bible for us
First of all, like an advocate who wants to fight a case first must know regarding the case details in depth. Here details that we need are given in our syllabus given by the UPSC. Click on the link if you haven’t seen the syllabus even once.
After seeing the syllabus you must realize that the syllabus has used wider terms such as Current affairs of national and international importance, Indian and World Geography, General Science etc. Hence syllabus has to divide into subparts. UPSC has done so by breaking the syllabus into parts in Mains Syllabus.
A good strategy for prelims is one which has limited books, four to five-time revisions and 30-40 tests. Following are the points that you must keep in mind while preparing this exam that why some people crack this exam in 1st or 2nd attempt while others could not even investing six or more years. Many fail in this exam because
- They try to cover many books for a single subject and that too cover to cover.
- They did not give enough room for the revision for what they have read.
- They randomly pick up a subject. Do read some portion of NCERT, do read some content from a standard book than move to the next subject without completing the one in hand. Hence at the end, all subjects have the backlogs.
- They postpone their targets and procrastinate often.
- They sometimes set unrealistic targets and in the end quit this preparation.
- They try to learn many many things but do not consolidate what they have already read.
- They lack self-believe that they can crack this exam.
- Some aspirants take this exam as granted and hence prepare without actually understanding the level of competition involved.
Integrated Learning vs Reading in Isolation
One thing that should be cleared in your exam is that Prelims and Mains preparation go hand in hand. You cannot go mechanically by first preparing for the prelims and then mains. Because suppose you are reading history you would not read it just to solve multiple choice question but should also to write an answer it. Similarly, never prepare current affairs in isolation. Each topic should be prepared by keeping in mind the syllabus of Prelims as well as mains supplemented by current affairs.
Why NCERTS even more important than standard books-
After reading the syllabus, You have to study NCERTS (Basic law books for your case i.e.UPSC). These are well researched and have sufficient content for the prelims. These books are also to be read for mains exam stage.
But one thing should be clear from the very beginning is that you “Don’t just read these NCERT Books, You must have command on these books”
NCERTS LIST TO FOLLOW-Following is the list for NCERTS
1.Geography-NCERTS( 6th 10th 11th 12th classes)+10th ICSE(GC Leong) + Newspaper Reading
2.Polity-Laxmikant+NCERT(+1,+2) + Newspaper Reading
3.History-Ancient(6thNCERT+TN board 11th), Medieval(7th NCERT+TN board 11th book), Modern(Bipin Chandra’s Struggle for Independence or Spectrum by Rajiv Ahir), Art and Culture (11th NCERT), Post Independence(12th NCERT) + Newspaper Reading
4 Economics-(NCERT 9th +1 +2) + Economic Survey and Budget for the specific year in which you are appearing + Newspaper reading
5.Environment -(NCERTS) + Newspaper reading
6. Current Affairs – could be cover from one good newspaper like The Hindu or Indian Express.
7. Magazines: You can read Yojana, Science Reporter magazines for value addition of your content.
8. Websites: Government websites like of HRD, PMO, PIB etc can also be used to get updated regarding the efforts taken by the Government in various sectors.
Notes making is also a very important part of this preparation after all you cannot read so many books so you must make concise notes based on the syllabus supplemented by the current affairs from the newspapers. But do not make the notes from NCERTs or standard books in the very first reading. you must revise them for 2-3 times so that you get a command on them and hence could jot down important points in a very concise manner.
Make notes in GS1 2 3 And 4 format like the way the syllabus is organized.
After reading NCERTs for a specific test do join a good Test Series. Give the test in an exam like condition. For the first few tests do not worry about the marks. Analyze your mistakes and then rectify the same. Do the same for the other subjects too. Revise the syllabus and give the tests. This will consistently improve your marks.
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