— Piyush Bhatia
If you are preparing for UPSC exam, irrespective of what your medium of instruction was during studies, you will have to possess at least a basic level of reading, writing, comprehension and speaking skills in English. Even though one will have to answer multiple-choice questions (MCQs) in the exam one should be able to read and understand English sentences.
Several UPSC aspirants who are from non-English medium educational background should brush up their grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, phrases and idioms to be at par with others. In order to sharpen English grammar, aspirants can take help of ‘English Grammar Book by Wren and Martin’. Also, to improve essay writing skills, ‘Contemporary Essays for Civil Services Examination by Ramesh Singh’ will be of great help.
In the interview rounds too, English plays a major role. One needs to develop the ability to express and understand basic thoughts in English. A book highly recommended for UPSC interview preparation is Interviews The Last Basic Tips on Facing Civil Services Personality Test by Smarak Swain.
To develop professional-level English skills, mere reading a couple of books would not be enough. Here is a point guide that can make aspirants ready for the task –
Develop reading habit: One should read not just one but multiple newspapers daily as well as watch news on television. This will not only develop reading and listening skills in English but will also enrich vocabulary. Aspirants will get familiar with formal and professional English terms.
Develop Vocabulary: One needs to learn and develop a strong vocabulary base. There are many books available in the market to develop English vocabulary for UPSC exams. Some of the books are Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis, Dictionary of Public Administration for UPSC Civil Services Examination by Vikram Singh and Everyday Vocabulary by Kumkum Gupta. Aspirants should learn 25 to 50 words daily and write at least 5 to 10 sentences on each of these words.
Test your grammar: In order to develop English grammar, one should use a lot of online videos, apps or books to not only learn grammar but also, give online grammar tests which will perfect your sentence structure.
Learn to listen: Communication is not just about speaking, one needs to carefully listen to the interviewer. To practice this, one can take mock interviews online and note down the transcripts. Also, make a list of all possible questions that can be asked or have been asked in the past. One of the best technique to develop confidence and assess oneself is to practice in front of a mirror.
— The author is founder and CEO of BM English Speaking Institutes.