Strategy to prepare for civil services exam:

It is said that civil services is the Mother of all exams in India. Hard work, right guidance, perseverance and luck are some the most important parameters to be successful in this exam. We all have the habit of reading newspapers, magazines and watching news channels to be aware of the happenings around us. This is what is required to clear this exam but with minor modifications with regard to selection of the source. You have to do few things which you hate the most: Reading “The Hindu” newspaper, practice “Answer writing”, listening to All India Radio news etc.

There is no One Best Way to be successful. We have the habit of following successful candidates. But because of vastness of the syllabus, subjectivity involved, differences in individual capabilities etc. we need to find out what suits us the best. For example, a candidate might be very creative in writing philosophical essays and score 140+. But we cannot blindly write an essay on philosophical topic if we aren’t creative. We will end up scoring less. So we need to listen to successful candidates and adopt our own approach.

Civil services exam consists of 3 stages: Preliminary, Mains and Personality test. Preliminary exam consists of two papers for 200 marks each. Both papers have multiple choice questions. Every question has four options among which only one will be correct. Every wrong answer marked by the candidates will be penalised by deducting 1/3rd of the marks scored by them. It consists of two papers: Paper I(General Studies-100 questions) and Paper II(Civil Services Aptitude Test(CSAT)-80 questions). Only Paper I will be considered for selecting the candidates for Mains exam. However, Paper II will be of qualifying in nature. Candidates should score minimum 33% marks in Paper II.

Mains exam consists of 9 papers : Essay, General Studies-I, General Studies-II, General Studies-III, General Studies-IV, Optionals (Paper-I and Paper-II), English(qualifying) and regional language(qualifying). All papers are descriptive in nature. Each paper carries 250 marks. Mains exam is for 1750 marks.

Personality test is for 275 marks. Candidates qualified for this round will have to attend interview at UPSC, Delhi. Candidates will be randomly assigned to a board on the day of the interview. There will be 6-7 boards with 5 or 6 members in each board. Final rank list will be prepared by adding marks scored by the candidates in Mains and Personality test.

Book list:

  1. Indian Polity
    1. Indian Polity by Laxmikanth
    2. NCERT 6th to 12th class

                Reference books: Our Constitution by Shubash Kashyap

Introduction to the Constitution of India by D.D.Basu

  1. Economy:
    1. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh,
    2. NCERT 12th class- Macroeconomics
    3. NCERT 11th class- Indian Economic Development
    4. Sriram’s IAS printed material of Economy
  1. Geography:
    1. NCERT 6th to 12th class
    2. Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Liang
    3. Geography through Maps by Ensemble publications
  1. Ecology, Environment and Climate change:
    1. NCERT 6th to 12th
    2. Ecology: Last four chapters in NCERT 12th class biology book
    3. Shankar IAS text book on Environment
  1. History:
    1. Ancient India:
      1. NCERT both old and new 11th and 12th class
    2. Medieval India:
      1. NCERT both old and new 7th and 11th class
    3. Modern India:
      1. Spectrum Modern India
      2. NCERT 8th and 12th
  • India’s struggle for independence – Bipin Chandra
  1. Culture:
    1. Indian Culture by Nitin Singhania
    2. NCERT(All NCERT history books contains culture topics as well)
  1. Science and Technology:
    1. NCERT 6th to 12th
    2. Newspaper
    3. Science reporter
  1. Current affairs:
  • The Hindu Newspaper
  • Indian Express
  • Vision magazine
  • Press Information Bureau
  • Rajya Sabha TV-Big Picture,
  • AIR News Analysis
  • Reports released by Government, RBI, Multi lateral agencies like WHO etc.

Conclusion: We suggest you to follow an integrated approach. Integrated in two respects. Firstly, do not prepare separately for prelims, mains and interview.  Secondly, while reading an article in newspaper refer to the concept from the prescribed source. For example: When you read an article on forming Government say in Manipur(Mar 2017 issue), refer to State Legislature chapter in Indian Polity by Laxmikanth, what are the discretionary powers of Governor etc. You might need more than 3 hours to finish reading newspaper initially but it will help you in the long run. If you follow this approach everyday then you will have revised the topics more than a dozen times before the exam. Otherwise revising polity itself requires 3-4 days before the exam. It also helps you in quoting examples in mains exam.

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