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UPSC topper Pradeep Singh advises prelims aspirants to focus on current affairs

A week left for CSE prelims, here's how 2019 topper Pradeep Singh cracked the civil service (CSE) exams. Follow his preparation strategy

Written by Arnab Mitra | New Delhi |
September 28, 2020 5:01:14 pm
UPSC CSE exam 2020 UPSC CSE exam 2020: Check preparation tips by topper Pradeep Singh. Designed by Gargi Singh

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) will conduct the civil service exam (CSE) prelims on October 4. To guide the aspirants, brings you the detail preparation strategy followed by the 2019 civil service topper Pradeep Singh, and his methodological studies paper-wise.

UPSC CSE Prelims

As just a few days left, Pradeep suggested the candidates solve sample papers and attempt mock tests to get familiarise with the pattern. According to Pradeep, “At the last moment, don’t go for additional topics or subjects. Revise well whatever you studied, the questions on current affairs or other topics will be from the past one year and not on recent topics as papers were already prepared. There are hardly chances on questions from coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic or recent China-India border (Doklam) stand-off.”

READ | Aishwarya Sheoran who cracked UPSC 2019, shares her preparation strategy for prelims, main and final exam 

The questions in prelims — whether it is current affairs, history, or geography — will be based on present events and not conventional type. Referring to his last year’s prelims, Pradeep said, “The questions from current affairs to history, even from science and technology was based on current events. A question in history was from recent excavations in Rakhigarhi, Haryana, among others.”

Regarding his preparation for prelims, Pradeep said he kept studying for 4 to 5 hours regularly, including his office hours and at the time of commuting to and fro. Singh was working as an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer in Faridabad. “For current affairs and other portions like geography etc. I had noted down all the recent developments every day from newspapers, especially from The Indian Express and The Hindu.”

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For other topics from history to science and tech, Pradeep relied on books, online study materials, daily ministry updates on Press Information Bureau (PIB), among other sources. For history, Pradeep followed Spectrum Modern India by Rajiv Ahir, Indian Polity- M Laxmikanth, Indian Economy- Sri Ram Srirangam, environment- books by Shankar IAS, geography- NCERT books. Pradeep also took coaching from Pavan Kumar’s IAS.


Pradeep further said while preliminary examination tests your knowledge on subjects, CSE main analyses your depth and approach on topics. For main, Pradeep took Public Administration as an optional paper and for his answers, he relied upon the editorial and explained portion of The Indian Express. “To build good content and answers, Pradeep shared answers among friends and colleagues and also in online platforms like Telegram, Quora for recommendations and suggestions,” Pradeep said.

IN VIDEO | When and how to start preparing for CSE prelims?

UPSC CSE Interview

Though the interview has no common strategy to crack, according to Pradeep, “Don’t be biased about anything — be it politics, sports or entertainment. Be factual, and keep the rest for the interviewer.” Pradeep advised candidates to fill the Detailed Application Form (DAF) carefully, as the questions are asked on the basis of it.

Referring to his last interview experience, Pradeep said the interviewer asked him population or corruption — which is more harmful to the country, “I replied corruption as it will act as a trust deficit, posing an imbalance in the system, more harmful than population outbursts.”

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