Civils Preparation: When to Start?
Many aspirants often inquisitively enquire about the right time to start the preparation, i.e., while pursuing graduation, or after graduation, grab a job with similar preparation or in early education days like in Class XI and XII. One should focus on the curriculum while pursuing graduation or during school days. Those are the formative years of one's personality, so one should focus on that part as personality and enhancement of the knowledge pool is necessary to qualify for the UPSC Exam.
The knowledge that one acquires in these years will help clear the exam ultimately. A focus on the curriculum of graduation with a broader focus on the goal will eventually lead to success.
How to Prepare for UPSC: Necessary Tips
As the UPSC Syllabus is vast, one may find it overwhelming sometimes. One must remain dedicated and determined to follow his/her timetable for UPSC Preparation. The IAS Exam requires a lot of diligence and sacrifice, but the results are most fruitful.
A few essential tips one must follow for UPSC Preparation are:
- Time period: Be aware of the UPSC Exam Pattern. The exam cycle is very time-consuming, i.e., a minimum of one year is necessary to get through all the stages: UPSC Prelims, UPSC Mains, and Interview. So, one needs to be dedicated to his/her efforts and keep the momentum going.
- Determination: Everyone knows that the UPSC Exam's success rate is meager, i.e., 0.1%. Lakhs of candidates every year appear in this exam, and only a few make it to the IAS Toppers List. So, a ruthless determination is required to crack the IAS Exam and get the service of your choice, such as the IAS, IPS, IRS, IFS, or IFoS.
- No space for mistakes: There is no space for committing mistakes either in strategy or preparation, as that might cost you a precious year, which could be utilized productively. Besides knowledge, mental alertness and the right UPSC Preparation Strategy for each exam stage are essential. Every stage requires intense preparation, revision, and a diligent attempt with the presence of mind.
- Mental endurance: The exam is a long process, and inevitably, sometimes, despite the best efforts, one does face failure. The limited number of seats and the UPSC Cutoffs make it challenging to qualify. Resilience is the key; without that, you cannot excel in all the stages.
UPSC Preparation Strategy for Beginners
Check the detailed stage-wise strategy for self-preparation for IAS Exam below:
- Cover the NCERTs: It is very important to thoroughly cover the NCERT Books for UPSC as they make the base of the critical concepts asked in the UPSC Exam. Understanding all subjects, such as History, Polity, Economy, Social Science, etc., is essential for effective governance. Read the UPSC Books thoroughly to apply concepts while solving the questions asked in the exam.
- Role of Coaching Institutes: In the start, coaching does help to give direction to the preparation as the UPSC Syllabus is vast. In this examination, it is necessary to know what to study and what not to study! Diligent segregation and selection help save time, effort, and the attempt. But if one has a mentor, guide, senior, or alumni who know the process and can help save efforts without wasting crucial time and energy. Proper guidance and strategy is the key to this exam to qualify.
- Optional selection: Choosing the right UPSC Optional Subject is very important. The main reason behind choosing the optional should be the candidate's interest. Candidates should go for the subjects that interest them, and UPSC also gives flexibility.
- Integrated Study: Never do segregated study except for a few months before the UPSC Prelim examination, where one needs to practice mocks and revise UPSC Previous Year Question Papers. Preparing first for the UPSC Prelim and then thinking of dedicating time for Main is a very wrong UPSC Preparation Strategy as there is hardly sufficient time to prepare for all the 9 subjects for which one has to write in the UPSC Mains Exam.
After the first reading of GS and Optional, which is very important, focus on other areas. So, after the first reading of the above-mentioned resources, the second reading of the optional and GS should include the hold of Current Affairs. Current Affairs is very important for all the competitive exams, and for UPSC, it forms the major base. Watching Daily Current Affairs Videos and covering Monthly Magazines such as Yojana or EPW helps analyze the topics well.
During the Second Cycle of revision, one should now focus on Ethics Syllabus for UPSC and practice IAS Essay Topics well. Restrict the sources and do not go for different books or magazines. A candidate should focus on convincing the notes and revise them multiple times. In this period, developed a habit of note-making that is very, very crucial. Note-making will help in both Prelim as well as Mains.
Current Affairs for UPSC: When to Start?
For the initial four months, when one starts the UPSC Preparation, one should not focus much on newspapers or answer writing. Just for reading, one should spend time on headlines but not indulge much for at least the initial four months.
After the candidate is done with NCERTs and the Optional Subject, i.e., after spending 4-5 months covering these, the role of current affairs and newspapers becomes essential. By then, a fair understanding of what to read and what not to read is developed!
Newspaper reading plays a crucial part in UPSC Preparation. Newspaper is one of the major sources to update with the contemporary world and get eyes on the trending topics and current affairs. It helps to enhance theoretical knowledge. A serious candidate should not forget to review the editorial pages and crucial news coverage relevant to the exam.
UPSC Preparation: What to do 3 Months Before the UPSC Prelims?
Three months before the UPSC Prelims, dedicate them extensively for that aspect only. Focus on books with objective parts, such as Spectrum for History and Laxmikant for Polity, which contain a reservoir of minute facts that are asked in the exam. Revise them again and again.
Get a good hold on CSAT, and check the CSAT Syllabus thoroughly. Though qualifying, the level of questions asked in the UPSC Prelims Question Papers is such that many candidates find it difficult to qualify.
To solve as many test series as possible and revise the concepts, facts, and current affairs multiple times. Solving test papers is very helpful as it will give an idea of what kind of questions and how much time frame the questions can be attempted. It provides a good insight into effective time management and performance under exam pressure. Understand one has to manage time in the exam hall.
UPSC Mains: IAS Preparation Strategy
When the IAS Prelim exam is over, candidates should start the UPSC Mains Preparation from the very next day of the exam. Do not waste time waiting for the tentative UPSC Cutoff result to declare. UPSC takes around a month to 40 days to announce the UPSC Result for Prelims, so when declared qualified, one has already lost time that could have been utilized for the Mains preparation, and covering up nine papers becomes difficult at the last lap of time.
The candidate's primary focus should be on UPSC Answer Writing. Writing is an essential part of the Mains exam, and one should have immense practice in UPSC Answer Writing. Write a set number of questions daily, join a 'Mains test series’, and work on the feedback to perform and score better. Discussing in a peer group helps develop perspectives and opinions about ongoing issues. Remember, it does not matter how much one knows; what he/she expresses in the exam counts and becomes the deciding factor!
The time given is 3 hours, and one needs to answer twenty questions in that period. So how one finishes the UPSC Mains paper becomes very important. Writing performance will ensure the candidate's merit (prelim is qualifying, and marks are not counted), and so is the service and cadre allotted.
One should link any issue in the news with the UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus and make notes on that topic. That will help in the effective preparation of the Mains. Practice thoroughly; be ready to formulate answers if taken by some surprise questions asked in the exam hall. Be aware that there is hardly any time to ponder in the exam, and someone else would get an edge to perform. So diligently express yourself on the paper.
IAS Interview: Best Way to Prepare
After the UPSC Mains exam, do not wait for the Mains result. UPSC takes around two months to declare the UPSC Mains result. By this time, one should start the UPSC Interview preparation.
- The interviewer mainly asks questions from the UPSC DAF. One's educational background, place of work, hobbies, etc. should be thoroughly known.
- Read the newspaper thoroughly during this time.
- Should make an opinion on various issues, particularly debatable ones
- Appear for mock interviews. The feedback helps one improve the verbal and non-verbal aspects. These will help refine one's personality.
- Check and read online about the previous year's IAS Interview Questions from the UPSC Toppers.
With this information, we intended to give a fair idea about the basic preparation strategy. It is upon the individual's strength how he/she makes the most of it.
Best UPSC Preparation Books
Check the UPSC Books list for the prelims & mains exam below.
India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra
Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
NCERT XI (Ancient & Medieval)
NCERT XII (Modern Indian History)
Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong
NCERT VI – X (Old Syllabus)
NCERT XI, XII (New Syllabus)
World Atlas (Orient Black Swan)
Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth
Indian Economy by Nitin Singhania
Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri
NCERT XII (Contemporary World Politics)
Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual
Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal
Check the General studies books for the UPSC Mains exam below.
|History, Indian Heritage & Culture|
[GS Paper 1]
Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
India after Independence by Bipan Chandra
History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
Ancient India by R.S Sharma
[GS Paper 1]
Geography of India by Majid Husain
World Geography by Majid Husain
World Atlas (Orient Black Swan)
Certificate Physical and Human Geography – G C Leong
Fundamentals of Physical Geography NCERT Class 11
|Polity & International Relations|
[GS Paper 2]
Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
Introduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu
International Relations: Pushpesh Pant
[GS Paper 3]
Indian Economy – Nitin Singhania
Environment and Disaster Management – Tata McGraw Hill
Challenges to Internal Security of India – Ashok Kumar
[GS Paper 4]
Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination by Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary