Civil Services is one of the most sought-after government jobs in the country. Entry into the Indian Civil Services is through the recruitment examination that is conducted by the UPSC. Here, each aspirant has to clear three stages of screening and is pitted against lakhs of others.
Every year, thousands of aspirants appear in the civil services examination to select officers for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), among others.
In this exam, the first or the preliminary stage consists of two objective papers:
General Studies Paper I, where ranks are determined based on the marks obtained
General Studies Paper II (CSAT- Civil Services Aptitude Test), which is solely a qualifier
The preliminary stage (prelims) is often considered extremely tricky, but a well-planned and dedicated preparation strategy should be helpful for aspirants to succeed in this easily. The following are some tips to ace this stage:
An ideal time to begin preparation for this exam is a year before the prelims. Dedicated preparation purely for the prelims should start at least two months prior to the exam. This would give the candidate enough time for thorough preparation and revision.
Prepare a plan
The aspirant should carry out thorough research and create a study plan that will help S/he dedicate adequate time for every topic and subject. S/he also needs to maintain sincerity towards the study schedule and strict conformity to the study plan.
Not just facts and figures
A common misconception regarding the UPSC prelims is that it is just about remembering facts and figures. One needs to keep in mind that apart from the retention of facts, the candidate is also assessed on the basis of various parameters such as analytical ability and clarity of concepts.
In paper one, 100 questions need to be answered in 120 minutes; therefore, it is essential to understand that the exam also assesses the candidate’s ability to think quickly and choose the correct answer in the shortest possible time frame – so that more time can be utilised on those questions which require recalling of concepts.
The importance of current affairs
It is not an exaggeration to say that current affairs form the bedrock of the UPSC question paper. In the last few years, there have been several questions based on current events and students should make efforts to relate their curriculum with current affairs for easier understanding and retention. For instance, if a certain topic/event is regularly in the news, candidates need to be thoroughly aware of all the important information pertaining to it.
Practise mock test papers
One of the most important steps in cracking IAS prelims is taking regular mock tests. These tests help in revision and boost confidence before the actual examination. Regular tests are also very helpful in improving speed and accuracy while avoiding negative marking.
CSAT- Civil Services Aptitude Test (Paper II) is equally important
The CSAT is a qualifying exam, and a candidate needs to score only 33 per cent or 67 marks to qualify in this. However, I would advise everyone to not completely ignore the CSAT, because irrespective of your performance in Paper I, if you fail to qualify in Paper II, you will not be allowed to appear for the Mains.
Some other important tips:
1. Brushing up NCERT books and solving previous years’ papers would make a good start.
2. Try not to start anything new in the last few weeks before the actual examination; continue to revise what you have already studied.
3. Studying is undoubtedly very important, but consolidating what you have already studied is also equally essential – so keep enough time in hand to revise everything you have studied.
– The author is IAS faculty at BYJU’S – The Learning App