Civil Service Prelims preparation as we have seen, starts with previous year question paper analysis and prioritization of the important areas. Success in this IAS/IPS exam vastly depends on the judgement of what not to study than what to study. So the focus should always be towards right areas always keeping the syllabus in mind.
Change in UPSC focus
UPSC has evolved through years. UPSC as the apex body for recruitment to the top services in bureaucracy, is constantly in the process of change, to find out the best brains suited for the job. UPSC wants all the Civil Services Jobs to be equally accessible to all sections of the society – rich or poor, man or woman and has been taking many progressive steps towards this direction.
And the main thing to notice here is the deviation of UPSC from conventional G.K type of questions. The questions are now not easy, they are not direct factual questions and need deep concept clarity to answer them. This is the area where conventional coaching institutes with ready made notes fail. UPSC as explicitly mentioned in the notification wants people who are well-read and educated (not spoon fed by Coaching Institutes!),
Read, Read and Read!
There are no short cut formulas for clearing this exam, and Civil Services Exam Cycle which involves prelims-mains-interview cannot be cracked without proper preparation. What we are planning to provide through ClearIAS.com is effective guidance on how to plan the preparation.
The first area we would like to stress is reading. Any aspirant who wish to be a civil servant should not be averse to reading. Detailed list of useful books for IAS Prelims is provided in this website. Newspaper reading (either The Hindu or Indian Express) as a daily exercise is also advised. Newspaper reading can supplement not only in your verbal skills, comprehension skills or current affairs, but can also update you in almost all areas covered under UPSC exam.
PS: If you have enough time in your kitty don’t miss the article Strategy and Books for Early Birds To Clear IAS Exam.
What kind of UPSC aspirant are you? – Identify YOU among the 4 types of candidates!
NB: This post was initially written after 2012 Prelims. We have made some quick corrections and updates after the recent change in 2015. As Paper-2 has turned as a qualifying paper with just 33 percent marks needed, we don’t think that paper can pose much difficulty to any serious student and hence the below 4 cases may not turn relevant now. But UPSC can always bring surprises, and it’s always safe to be better prepared for tougher questions too.
Case 1: Strong in Paper 1 and Weak in Paper 2
We find this section of aspirants as a minority, as Paper 1 is very vast. The stage where one can say that he is comfortable in general studies comes only after long-term preparation. If you belong to this class of people and clear the prelims stage, then you are clearly at an advantage in the mains exam, particularly GS.
The best advice for this category of people is to build on their Paper 2 skills – particularly on fast reading and comprehension. Concentrate on Reasoning section and practice CSAT papers on a daily basis in order to clear the first stage of the exam cycle.
Case 2: Strong in Paper 2 and Weak in Paper 1
Prelims might be an easy stage for those whose are strong in reasoning and comprehension skills, and with a little effort in GS they can cross the 200+ mark limit in prelims. But if paper 1 is completely neglected, it can turn out as disastrous for mains, even if the candidate clears prelims.
The best advice for these candidates is to build the basics. The fundamental concepts of polity, geography, economics etc from basic books like NCERT and other study materials should be fixed in your mind during the six months of preparation before the prelims. Find the errors, fill the gaps and move forward balancing both papers.
Case 3: Weak in Paper 1 and Paper 2
Don’t worry if you suspect you as a candidate belonging to this class, as majority of the UPSC test takers fall into this group. You took the first right step by realizing your position. The next big step is to climb from Case 3 and jump into either Case 1 or Case 2, as being in Case 3 will not give you any chance for clearing the prelims. To climb to Case 1 or Case 2, you need to fix either Paper 1 or Paper 2 as your favorite and need to work hard on it to take that paper into a level where you are comfortable scoring 120+/200. The take the next paper and do the same so that by the end of June, two months before the actual exam, you will be able to shift towards Case 4.
Case 4: Strong in Paper 1 and Paper 2
This is the ideal case for a candidate though very few candidates fall into this group during the beginning months of preparation. Whatever strategy you adopt, plan and work hard to get into this category atleast 2 months before actual prelims exam. If you are strong in both papers, revise the fundamentals, re-look the areas where you commit mistakes and rectify them. Find areas where you lack sufficient knowledge and fill those gaps.
Being strong in paper 1 and paper 2 is a comfortable position.We would say if you are scoring 65-70% marks for each paper consistently in various mocks tests and self-evaluation of previous year question papers, you will be surely through to next stage, ie Mains Exam. We have launched full length timed online mock test series with negative marking for UPSC Prelims which can be attempted at the url www.cleariasexam.com. Learn and compete with thousands of aspirants across India and rate your performance. All the best!