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How to prepare for IAS exam : A beginner's guide.

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How to prepare for IAS exam : A beginner's guide.
23 Jul 2020

A career in Administrative Services tends to be the goal of thousands of people. When a person decides that he/she wants to get selected in Civil Services Examination, they barely have any idea about the environment of the completion. This examination is very prestigious in itself and falls under the category of one of the toughest exams of the country.

If you truly want to clear the examination and face the competition, you are required to put your 100% efforts. Now, there are a lot of people, who put their effort but miss the mark, it happens because the efforts you put needs to be in the right direction with right management and right guidance. By the end of today’s blog, you’ll be learning how to place your efforts effectively, when to place them and where to emphasize the most.

  • Self-Study- When we think about preparing for an examination like UPSC, the very first thing you must do is to prepare yourself. Now, this is a very crucial step which most of the people are not aware of. What it is that you need to manage your studies on your own. Preparation of Civil Services Examination drains the aspirant completely, both physically and mentally. So if you want to stand out in the crowd of thousands of other aspirants, you need to work on yourself first. Eat healthy, drink plenty of liquids, get a sound sleep of around 6-7 hours, keep breathing in fresh air , try meditation and do some activities to keep your mind relax and body happy.
  •  Know the syllabus- A lot of aspirants directly join coaching institutes or classes without having an idea about the basics of the examination. Instead of doing this, you should get the overview of the examination first. The Civil services Examination takes place in three steps-
    • The Prelims- This is the first step; it comprises of two examinations in total. One is General Studies exam and the other is Civil Service Aptitude Test. The general studies exam consists of total 100 questions for 200 marks. These questions are in MCQ pattern. The total time allotted is 2 hours. For every wrong answer ‘one-third’ of the total marks allotted to that question is deducted. This exam checks the retention ability and conceptual knowledge of the aspirant. The CSAT is an aptitude exam, which checks the logical reasoning, aptitude and problem-solving skills of the candidate.  It has 80 questions for 200 marks to be solved in 2 hours. The negative marking scheme is same as the former. The objective of the Prelims exam is to check the understanding of the candidate regarding the History, Polity, Geography, Science and Technology and the Current events taking place in the country.
    • The Mains- When a candidate qualifies the prelims as per the cut off marks, he then appears for mains exam. This is a subjective exam, that checks the writing skills of the candidates. Here, the in-depth knowledge of the candidates regarding various topics and events are tested. A candidate is required to have multi-dimensional knowledge of the historical, political and the current events happening in the country. It has a total of 9 papers covering almost all the general subjects under the sun.
    • The Interview- This is the final stage of the examination, clearing which makes you a Civil Services officer. This test assesses the personality, psychology, mental caliber and decision-making skills of the candidate. Most of the times, students are so engrossed in preparing for the prelims and mains examinations that they do not give proper time for the preparation of this stage. Avoid this mistake to get your name in the merit list.
  • Focus on Concepts- Once you’re familiar with the exam pattern and syllabus, start preparing. Either you’re preparing for prelims or mains; you need to focus most on the concepts of the respective subject. Your syllabus and concepts are the most important part of your preparation. If you just mug up the syllabus, it will not help you. You need to have brilliant understanding of the subject so that you will be able to answer any question from that particular topic. There are some tricky questions sometimes, and conceptual knowledge is necessary to solve them.
  • Take Guidance- When you start your preparation, always take guidance from someone who has the relevant knowledge. It may be your teachers, your parents, you friends, relatives, mentors and past year achievers. This helps you in the term of motivation and knowledge. They’ll introduce you to the practical aspect of the examination, subject or your career.
  • Make a Routine- Now, comes the management of you time and resources. A very significant component of the preparation is how you manage your time. An ideal routine is , where you give all of your subjects equal time in the week or in the 10 days, where you take 6-7 hours of fine sleep, where you give some time to yourself and where you take some time to revise what you have learned. Make a nice time table and follow that, no matter what. Do not procrastinate your work, because it you break the rhythm once it’ll be hard for you to make that again. Keep a consistency in your time. If you study 6 hours a day only, continue those 6 hours on a daily basis.
  • Read Newspapers- Make a habit of reading any English newspaper everyday. It will not only increase your general knowledge but will also help you to speed up your reading game. You’ll be amazed by the results if you continue it for about 6 months only. The newspapers enhance your vocabulary and make you habitual of reading everyday. Lay down special emphasis upon the editorial column and look at the writing styles to make you answers more creative and presentable.
  • Use Every Source Possible- In today’s world you have no scarcity of sources. You have hundreds of books, magazines and websites providing all the things you need. Widen your scope, and try to get the best knowledge which you can.
  • Choose Your Optional Subject wisely- In the UPSC you have a choice of two optional subjects. You must choose those subjects which are of your interest and in which you have core knowledge. If done rightly, you can score so well in these optional subjects. You just need to recognize your strengths and weaknesses in respect of a subject and to choose ‘your best subject’.
  • Test Series and Question Banks- Once you memorize your subjects and move further in your preparation, use a test series to give daily mocks. These mocks improve you speed, increase you attempts and teach you time management. If you’re familiar with sitting for 2 hours for these mocks, you’ll feel familiar with the main exam. Apart from these mocks, solve past year question papers. There is a lot of repetition in questions every year, so do not miss a chance to score in these repeated questions.
  • Personality Development- This is the part that most of us skip. Apart from academics, the final stage of this examination is personality interview. You need to prepare for this as well. Groom yourself, work on your public speaking skills, work on your pronunciation and be confident. Some people clear the prelims and the mains easily but fail to clear the interview. From the very first day when you start your preparation, devote some time for your overall personality development weekly on daily.