Welcome to the world of UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE), unarguably the most sought after examination in the entire country. This is perhaps the most challenging exam in the whole of Asia and hence has been rightfully called as the ‘Mother of all Examinations’. Here Aspirants from all walks of life and educational background fight amongst themselves for the coveted posts of IAS/IPS/IFS/IRS etc. The shear quality of competition that the examination offers is unknown to none. Hence to crack this examination one must be at his/her best. Well this is far more easily said than done, because the exam is dynamic and requires thoughtful insight into an issue. Understanding, Writing Skill and Opinion building are indispensable part of this examination. Conceptual clarity and decipherment of the command are necessary traits that an aspirant must possess in his/her armour to crack this examination.
This write-up is dedicated to all such aspirants who are starting their preparation or trying to polish their strategy. Friends let me tell you at the very outset that there is no thumb-rule to clear this examination and numerous strategies can be employed to achieve the same goal. Every aspirant is unique and his/her methodology of preparation may differ. Hence the way that I am trying to suggest here is one of the possibilities and not the only possibility and thus aspirants should be mindful of that as they proceed to read this write-up. With my sufficient baggage of experience in this field, I have realized that there are some definite undercurrents and we must explore them. In simple words though there are various ways in which you can prepare there are some general principles that one must follow.
How to Start?
A good start can do wonders, most of the aspirants face this difficulty either due to lack of proper guidance or environment or both. Aspirants generally pick the NCERTs and start reading blindly. First we must understand the task-in-hand, and then only we can devise a strategy to do it. So friends the question still remains from where to start?
First and foremost log on to www.upsc.gov.in and download the syllabus of the UPSC CSE. Once you have done that try to get hold of previous year’s question papers (Both Preliminary and Mains). This will enhance your awareness regarding the examination. Try to read all parts of the syllabus and then revisit the questions and try to do this exercise over and over again. At this juncture it may not make any sense but you will reap the benefits in due course of time.
Secondly you must pick the basic NCERTs and read them diligently. The reading must be done with an open mind and focus should be on conceptual –clarity. You can go to the download section and download the NCERTs of your choice. Reading the NCERTs is an art and one must be aware of it. The NCERTs use very simple language and have a lucid presentation and one must be patient enough to understand them. Do not go for short-cuts like reading the summary or the gist of an NCERT, you may miss something very important. Read a concept then reflect on it. Try to visit the question paper (Pre or Mains) and then analyse what have you learned.
How to decide an optional?
This is perhaps the most important decision that an aspirant has to make. Optional Subject can make or break your game in the Civil Services Main examination. Interest in a particular subject must be the key determinant to decide an optional, only then one can sustain with it. However many aspirants either do not have a particular inclination towards a subject or have such inclination towards more than one subject. Simply put they are confused. Under such circumstances the following tests may help in deciding an optional.
Note– However interest in a subject is paramount and everything else is subsidiary to it. Do not commit the mistake of choosing a subject on the fact that it has done well for someone and hence it may bring same rewards for you. The NCERTs in this case may act as extremely handful in deciding an optional.
Which Books to read?
Once you are done with the basic NCERTs and have decided your optional you must push your learning to the next level. Pick the standard books and read them diligently and religiously. EDEN IAS has provided a basic book list for the prelims and the mains stages. The break-up has been done subject and topic wise. You can click the download section to get hold of these books.
The Art of reading books– The books must be read in such a fashion that you get the implicit part. Simply put you must read between the lines and beyond the words. Try to inter-connect topics and relate it to current developments. One you finish a book try to summarize your learning and revise the contents over and over. This is an extremely difficult task and requires a very high degree of concentration and dedication. A good guide or teacher can help you enormously at this stage.
Once you finish a subject or topic try to visit previous years UPSC prelims and mains question papers and see whether you can answer the questions. If you still feel difficulty try to re-read what you have already read or try to enrich your learning from the internet or other possible and relevant sources.
How to prepare current affairs?
If there is one pertinent issue that bothers almost all the aspirants it has to be current affairs. The prominence of current affairs has only increased with time. Current has a handsome stake in the preliminary stage of the exam and as far as the mains exam is concerned it is indispensable. There is no escaping from it even in the personality test.
Notwithstanding the importance of current affairs its preparation is perhaps the biggest challenge. Nearly all the aspirants understand and realize the importance of current affairs but are in a lot of vacillation regarding its preparation. This vacillation stems from the fact, that current topics are very dynamic in nature and there is no one source for its preparation. The biggest challenge that an aspirant encounters is perhaps the source and time challenge.
There are multiple news papers, magazines, notes, talk-shows etc. that an aspirant has to follow to keep track of all the current developments. This not only consumes a lot of time but also creates a lot of confusion in the minds of the aspirants. Questions galore for instance-
The answers to the above questions are often not very obvious. Current affairs offer an array of information and cover multiple dimensions. Compiling all this information becomes a humongous task. There is no gainsaying, that a herculean effort is required in developing an in-depth understanding of the current topics. However mere understanding is not sufficient, one should be able to utilize that understanding to enrich his/her preparation. This requires a lot of practice and a comprehensive coverage of all the current events of national and international importance. Though the list is not exhaustive but for a start
The Newspapers which an aspirant should follow regularly include
The Hindu, the Indian Express, the Livemint, the Business Standard.
The Magazines which an aspirant must follow regularly include
Yojana, Kurukshetra, World Focus, Frontline, EPW and Science Reporter.
The Reports which an aspirant must read include
The Economic Survey, the Environmental Survey, the Agricultural Survey and the India Year Book
Apart from it an aspirant must keep track of all the annual reports by various ministries, government schemes, policies, programmes, laws and bills. An aspirant should listen to the Rajya Sabha TV and All India Radio debates, discussions and deliberations.
eeping in mind the importance of current affairs in Civil Services Examination EDEN IAS presents its Current Affairs Module- WCR!!! WCR is an abbreviation for WEEKLY CURRENT ROUND-UP. It’s a current affairs class-room programme conducted by EDEN IAS. To know more about it you can go to the course section of www.edenias.com
Practice Prelims questions every day
Many aspirants feel that the Civil Services Preliminary (CSP) Exam is their Achilles heel. Over the years the number of aspirants applying for the Civil Services Examination has only increased, and this has made the preliminary exam very competitive. The competition has turned more acute after the Preliminary Exam Paper-II (CSAT) was made a qualifying paper. The prospects of selection now completely hinge on the Paper-I (General Studies) performance. This has only increased the overall toughness of the preliminary examination. Although the preliminary examination is a screening test its importance cannot be ignored as you get a chance to move into the next stage only after you have cleared the prelims. Nearly four lakh aspirants appear every year for the CSP and approximately 13000-14000 aspirants get a chance to appear for the Civil Services Main (CSM) examination. Roughly put nearly 30 out of 31 students do not clear the prelims. This uncertainty and unpredictability of the pr4eliminary examination is putting an undue stress on the aspirants both mental and otherwise and is affecting their overall chances. Many aspirants despite their extreme hard-work find it difficult to clear the preliminary exam.
THE IMPORTANCE OF DAILY MCQ PRACTICE
The preliminary syllabus is huge it covers not only the conventional and traditional areas but also a lot of current affairs. An aspirant should never feel complacent during the preparation of this stage. Only learning might not help you should solve questions. Solving questions help you to understand your flaws in a more coherent manner. You also learn new dimensions about the subject-matter dealt within the question. It will also help you in the preparation of current affairs. It will enrich your understanding and will provide new insights into the issue. However most of the aspirants practice the questions once they have read the basic books and preferably through a test series just before the preliminary examination. Notwithstanding the utility of such a test series there is no substitute for DAILY PRACTICE. It will help you to move in a graduated fashion and would enrich your preparation en-route. The aspirants would realize their mistakes more often than not and will get sufficient opportunity to eradicate them.
FEW ADVANTAGES OF DAILY MCQs PRACTICE
However the quality of questions, the importance of model answers and feedback is an indispensable part of Daily MCQ practice for the CSP Exam. Keeping in Mind the importance of DAILY PRACTICE for the Civil Services Preliminary Examination, EDEN IAS presents its daily prelims MCQ program– E-DP!!!
EDP is an abbreviation for EDEN DAILY PRELIMS. It’s a daily prelims MCQ-test program conducted by The EDEN IAS. Under this program aspirants from all over India and abroad, who are preparing for UPSC Civil Services Examination are invited to solve objective type questions for CSP exam by getting themselves enrolled under EDP. It is conducted online as well as offline. It covers conventional areas as well as current topics of national and international relevance. Real-time results and score card, along with a weekly current affairs enrichment booklet shall be provided to all the students enrolled under EDP. To know more about it you can go to the course section of www.edenias.com
Importance of Daily Answer Writing
The Civil Services (Main) Examination is perhaps the most arduous and challenging stage, that confronts an aspirant, during the entire selection process. It is in fact the very dynamic nature of the mains written exam and the shear quality of competition that it offers, which makes it the toughest nut to crack. Since 2013, when an amendment was made to the main exam syllabus, its prominence has only grown. It ushered in a new era wherein the General Studies along with the Essay paper outweighed the hitherto dominance of the optional papers. In fact one optional paper was removed and four new GS papers were introduced. The marks attached to the Essay paper were also increased so as to make it a game-changer. However this amendment created a new kind of challenge- “The Challenge of Answer Writing”.
IMPORTANCE OF ANSWER WRITING PRACTICE
Today an aspirant has to write, more or less, four thousand words in a single GS paper, within a given space and time constraint. In other words an aspirant, attempting all the questions, in the given time frame of three hours is expected to write on an average two hundred words per question. This roughly translates into approximately eight minutes per question. Within these eight minutes an aspirant has to think, comprehend the actual demand of the question, decipher the true import of the various key words used in the question, understand the underlying context and the command used in the question, structure the arguments and then present it in a systematic, coherent and cohesive manner. This is no easy task and hence answer writing practice becomes imperative. Thus answer writing is an indispensable part of the entire mains preparation.
HOW TO PRACTICE ANSWER WRITING?
Nearly all the aspirants realize the importance of answer writing. They understand that it is the key to success. However most of the aspirants either develop an indifference towards answer writing or do not understand how to make a start. The common practice among most of the aspirants is to join a test series and practice along with it. Test series, though helpful to some extent is no panacea. In fact it suffers from certain limitations. Answer writing is an art which can be best developed when approached step -by-step. It is this approach that creates all the difference. Since 2013 there is a qualitative improvement in the level of questions that are asked. The Content, The Structure and The Presentation are perhaps now the three pillars over which the entire edifice of answer writing rests. To develop these qualities one has to practice daily. Gone are the days of weekly tests, it is the era of Daily Answer Writing.
SOME ADVANTAGES OF DAILY ANSWER WRITING
However blindly writing answers without getting a good and regular feedback on the written answers is not very useful and may not augur well in the long run for the aspirants. Keeping in mind the importance of daily guidance and feedback EDEN IAS presents its Daily mains answer writing program- STEPS!!!
Step is an abbreviation for STAY ON TRACK AND ENRICH YOUR PREPARATION. It’s a daily mains answer writing program conducted by The EDEN IAS. Under this program aspirants from all over India and abroad, who are preparing for UPSC Civil Services Examination are invited to write daily answers by getting themselves enrolled under STEPS. It is conducted online as well as offline. It covers conventional areas of all the four GS papers, as well as current affairs on a daily basis. Essay writing is also an integral part of the steps program. The answers that are written by the aspirants are evaluated by the EDEN team of experts, which consists of EDEN IAS Faculties from DELHI who have rich experience in guiding civil services aspirants over the years. The results are announced on a weekly basis along with evaluated answer sheets and feedback comments from EDEN IAS. The best copies are uploaded on the official website of EDEN IAS every Sunday along with individual score cards. To every enrolled student under the STEPS program Model Answers for the questions that were asked during the week will be provided along with a current affairs enrichment booklet. To know more about it you can go to the course section of www.edenias.com
Dear aspirants as I have already pronounced that this is one possible way of preparation and not the only way. However with my long experience in this field I can understand that this strategy rarely fails and many aspirants have gained by following this approach and hence you can also give it a try.
Disciplined and Determined effort is the only way to succeed in this examination, always remember hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
The huge quantum of work that an aspirant has to undertake and the quality he/she has to maintain throughout the course of this examination is no easy task. It is in fact daunting and intimidating. One has to remain alert and innovative throughout to outlive his/her competitors. However EDEN IAS believes that no challenge is insurmountable and no difficulty can withstand against the WILL-POWER of a Person. Dear aspirants, always remember
“If your mind can conceive it, your heart can believe it, you can achieve it”
Wishing all the aspirants best of luck
Director, EDEN IAS