The Civil Services is one of the most sought-after government jobs in the country. exams but toughest too. Every year, nearly 10 lakh candidates sit for this exam of only handful of them get selected. In this context, one might think the UPSC CSE exam is an insurmountable hill but then to quote Jim Rohn:
“If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
In this exam the first stage (preliminary round) consists of two objective papers:
— General Studies Paper 1, where marks are counted for ranking
— General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT- Civil Services Aptitude Test), which is for qualifying purpose only
Even though the preliminary round is often considered as the trickiest, a well-planned and dedicated preparation strategy helps one to sail through this round. Here are some tips and ideas to ace this round:
Integrating the preparation of the prelims and mains together, a year before the prelims examination is considered an ideal time period. Dedicated preparation for the prelims alone should start at least 2 months prior to the exam.
Prepare a plan
Research and create a study plan that will help one dedicate adequate time for every topic and subject. Being sincere towards the study schedule is one of the key success ingredients.
Not just facts and figures
A common misconception regarding the UPSC preliminary is that it is just about facts and figures but CSE is not about cramming things up. Apart from retaining factual information, the candidate is assessed on various parameters like analytical ability and clarity of concepts. Also, this exam assesses the candidate’s ability to think quickly and point out the correct answer in the shortest possible timeframe – so as to spare some time for those questions which require recalling of concepts, maybe, long forgotten. Remember, one has to answer 100 questions in a span of 120 minutes in paper one.
It won’t be an exaggeration to say that current affairs form the bedrock of the UPSC question paper. In the last few years, a lot of the questions have been based on the current affairs and it will be ideal if one is able to relate the syllabus with the current affairs. For example, if a certain topic is often in news, ensure that the relevant information pertaining to it is noted down.
Practice mock test papers
One of the most important steps in cracking IAS prelims is taking regular mock tests. The saying that the more you sweat in practice the less you bleed in battle is apt for this exam. Regular practice is the key to hone one’s skills – it helps in revision and is a psychological morale booster before the actual examination. Regular tests are also a prerequisite for improving speed and avoiding negative marking.
Don’t ignore Paper II- Aptitude Test
The Civil Services Aptitude Test as mentioned earlier is of qualifying nature and the candidate needs to score only 33 percent or 67 marks in this paper. But then the advice would be to not ignore it as a slip up here may deprive the student from appearing in mains even if one has aced the paper one
— Brushing up NCERT books and previous years’ papers would make a good start
— Try not to start anything new in last weeks before the actual examination
— Studying is important but equally important is consolidating so do keep enough time in hands to do revision
— By Rohit Kumar, IAS Faculty at BYJU’S – The Learning App