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How to prepare for Civil Services Examination?

UPSC has introduced civil services prelims (CSP) stage as a filtering step process. 7-8 lakhs candidates appear in CSP every year & only 13 thousand successfully qualify for CS mains examination. This cut throat competition renders CSP as an important stage in UPSC civil services examination.

Strategy to crack CSP

A multipronged approach or in other words a "Chankya niti" is required to crack CSP examination successfully

Fact Collection

UPSC syllabus is just like an ocean & you will be asked about a few droplets from that ocean in the examination. So, the right resource is imperative to enable oneself to identify those droplets. Although, market is filled with plethora of books, study material etc. But the selection of right resource will ease your workload to identify those droplets. Thus, right mentoring and guidance will help you provide quality study material for CSP examination.

Reasoning and Aptitude

CSP questions are designed in a way not only to test the factual knowledge but reasoning and aptitude of the candidate too. Reasoning is crucial to solve not only CSAT paper but General studies Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ's) too.
Following are the two important roles of reasoning in successfully solving MCQ's :
1. Eliminating wrong options
2. Interlinking cross subject factual information

Daily Practice

"Practice makes a man perfect", as rightly said daily practice helps develop the ability to choose right answer from multiple choice options. It is hard to impossible to memorize all the facts just by reading the content, "Remember the ocean of UPSC syllabus". In this context solving MCQ's helps memorizing the required factual information. Yet "overnight practice" will not help you to achieve the goal of memorizing all the factual information. Thus daily practice is required to widen your knowledge database.

Current affairs

UPSC has the habit of asking questions based on current news. It can either be a direct current affair based question or based on basic knowledge associated with the current news. To command over such questions, you need to read Newspapers and other current affairs. This approach brings you a step closer to the question being asked in CSP,

Mock test

Practicing mock test is similar to simulating examination environment. Mock test helps you in multiple ways:

  • Managing time effectively to solve 100 MCQ's in 120 Minutes.
  • Practice handling examination stress.
  • Eliminating silly mistakes in examination hall e.g.marking wrong bubbles in OMR sheet.
  • Builds up knowledge database.

Civil services mains guide

Civil services mains (CSM) examination is designed to test the candidates ability to express opinions on various issues, analytical and writing skills & his/her knowledge over the issues concerning matters of national/international importance.

Why to score good in CSM

Scoring good in CSM helps one get through his/her name the final list of selected candidates for interview or more so among the finally selected candidates for various services. Out of 2025 total marks for assessing a candidate, 1750 marks is the weightage for CSM. Thus, one advantage of scoring a good marks in CSM can be a final good rank in the list of recommended candidates for various services.

CSM syllabus division into 7 scoring papers and 2 qualifying papers.

  • General studies paper: I, II, III, IV
  • Essay writing
  • Optional subject: I, II
  • English language: Qualifying paper
  • Regional language: Qualifying paper

How to score good in civil services mains?

  • Selecting the right optional subject:
    1. Choosing optional subject according to one's interest and not by merely looking at the score trend of last year optional subject paper.
    2. Gaining in depth knowledge on optional subject topics through various sources and avoiding sticking to a single source or study material.
  • Essay writing:
    1. Collecting information on current issues and happenings of national/international importance.
    2. Weekly practicing writing essay on various topics.
  • General studies:
    1. Factual information collection through books, newspapers and other study material.
    2. Building opinion forehand on various issues forehand ahead of the CSM examination.

Success mantra for CSM examination

  • Developing the ability to interlink topics cross-board so as to broaden the answer across many dimensions
  • Coherent, succinct & structures writing practice.
  • Good and legible hand writing.
  • Ability to analyze an issue in depth.
  • Balanced answer writing showing the candidates perspective over an issue on both for and against.
  • Time management to attempt all the questions in the given frame of time.
  • Micro notes preparation for the last minute revision.
  • Daily practicing answer writing.

Don'ts for CSM examination

  • Mere reading books and other study material & avoiding writing answers.
  • Overnight answer writing practice.
  • Parochial or one sided views expressed on a particular topic.
  • Memorizing only the factual information.
  • Exceeding the word limit specified for a particular question being asked in CSM examination.
  • Mastering a few papers of mains syllabus & learning others too weak to score good.
  • Neglecting language based qualifying papers ( English & regional language) preparation.