Congratulations for deciding to appear in 2021 UPSC exam! This is the reason you are going through this blog. Here you will find various valuable tips for beginners as well as those who have attempted this examination but have missed prelims or mains. Qualifying this exam is not that much tough as students’ virtual imagination makes it.
Every year several candidates pass it without coaching, especially Best IAS coaching in Delhi. Start it today and right away, you have ample time in your hand. Don’t brood about the past but strengthen your present and plan your time targeting 2021 `Prelims & Mains exam.
In fact, is too vast and prudent scheduling of days and time is a necessary element of UPSC preparation. Be disciplined and stick to your study plan (even if you are able to follow 90% of your plan – success will salute you). It has been observed that students start their preparation with great enthusiasm but looses the same after a few months.
Or get engaged in any specific subject with research scholar’s tendency. You need to overcome such habits. Indeed, UPSC wishes to recruit such candidates who have management skill and can accomplish the task with skillful planning with limited resource and time. In brief, they are in search of “Jack of all trades and master of none”.
Now the concern is about starting your UPSC preparation from September?
August is about to pass and so September will be the fresh month to implement your study plan. You have just 9 months for prelims exam (scheduled date 27th June 2021) and 12 months (September 2021) for mains exam. So, how to begin? Instead of directly plunging into preparation, first, plan your study – break them into multiple sections and number of days or month(s).
Just jot down a macro plan for your study in a piece of paper – divide them into several months. Remember, in these 9 months (Prelims) you have to not only complete the syllabus but need time to revise them. I have planned a study chart as an example and you can restructure your plan accordingly. Find it below:
The most important part is that you have to compartmentalize your studies in several months. Arrange the list of subjects for study in such a way that it appears in both Prelims and Mains. For example, History, Polity, International Relations Economics, Science & technology, Internal Security, Environment, etc.
Now, we need to break this UPSC syllabus in several months in such a way that we can complete it as well as revise them. The study plan should be such that last two (2) months before prelims should be kept for revision and practice tests.
1. September (30 Days)
This is a warm-up session (month) and so I believe that you should train yourself for a disciplined life. 6 hours a day is enough in this month, after all, you will be studying for 180 hours in this month. This much of the time is enough to complete at least two subjects. I would recommend you to study only General Studies and not your optional subject, right now.
To keep away monotony it is suggested to pick two subjects of your choice for study. Again, your choice should be based on logic i.e. one subject with familiarity and another with which you are not much aware. If I have the choice – I would choose History and Polity combination.
I’m comfortable with History but Polity will definitely give me some stress to understand. The idea is to discipline oneself and generate interest in the study. Finally, revise the studied chapters every Sunday to develop a better understanding of concepts & facts.
2. October (30 Days)
Your continuity to the second month shows that you have developed a positive mindset for rigorous studies. Now is the time to slightly change your study hours, it should be increased to 8 hours daily.
At the same time, I believe that you have completed your earlier syllabus – at least History. Complete the left part of Polity in the first week of October. Now you should target two important subjects i.e. Geography and Economics.
Geography is a simpler subject and can be completed faster. On the other hand, most of the students are new to Economics. Develop an understanding of its concept and use the saved time (from Geography) in it. Recently it has been witnessed that UPSC is increasing weight for economics in terms of the number of questions asked in Prelims and Mains.
3. November (30 Days)
Now its time to take one of the monotonous and tiresome but important subjects i.e. Environment & Ecology. Dedicate one full month to it. It is one of the trickiest subjects and basic topics are correlated to current affairs. So, while studying Environment and Ecology always keep an eye on current affairs. Meaning to say that, develop a habit of studying this subject along with current developments.
This subject has importance in both Mains & Prelims; but in recent years UPSC has shown a special tilt towards this section – the drastic increase in the number of questions asked in Prelims. In mains, a connection is between base and current.
Your strategy should be to study a basic static book of this subject, and topics should be connected with recent developments. There are plentiful of a website providing free Current Affairs magazines, you can choose anyone. (ELITE IAS also provides such online magazine, you can download it.)
4. December to February (90 Days)
Till now, you have completed major parts of UPSC syllabus for General Studies, now it’s time to pay attention to the optional subject. But it does not mean that you should devote all time to the optional subject.
Once again, you need to schedule your study plan. Now separate your study time in two large blocks – the first part of your study should be dedicated to optional paper(s) and the second part for General Studies. Time slot should not be divided equally but reserve 70% of the study time for the optional subject.
You can use these three (3) months for the study of Economics and Science & Technology from point of view of mains and prelims. Now the only unread subjects of General studies are Ethics, International Relations, and Ethics. Except for paper IV i.e. Ethics, you will be able to cover the entire UPSC syllabus before prelims exam.
Let’s somewhat discuss the optional subject. Few candidates choose an optional subject from the subject they have graduated, but 95% of candidates choose a new optional subject. Both actions are correct. If a candidate is confident of his/her subject, they should choose graduation subject as their optional in UPSC mains exam.
Criteria for choosing an optional subject should not be ‘emotional’ but ‘rational’ – don’t choose any subject because you have studied it for three years (emotional loyalty won’t pay here), but choose a subject with whom you are comfortable as well as it is fetching good marks in Civil Services exam (eg. Sociology, Geography, Political Science, etc).
Be Positive & Put your 100% Efforts
You can see that highest scorer in human subjects (in IAS exam) are mostly technocrats and not the person who has specialization certificate i.e. BA or MA. The above example shows that a person with certification in a specific subject does not mean s/he will get an extra advantage. UPSC preparation is very different from academic exams.
The rational way of choosing optional subject is (apart of mark fetching criteria) – go through 3 or 4 optional papers’ syllabus and previous year question papers and try to develop overview towards few questions – and if you are comfortable dealing with them, choose the subject of your interest. Yesss…, you should have a liking for it, and easy availability of materials in the market as well as scoring potential.
Once you have decided the optional, you should rigorously go through it for three (3) months. While studying Topics/Units, make sure to develop your own notes. Solve some related questions to get an idea of your strengths and weaknesses. Try to finish at least 2/3rds of your optional subject syllabus during this period.
5. March (30 Days)
From this month, pressure for Prelims preparation starts. But don’t press the panic button, don’t think of focussing just prelims related topics, instead focus should be on completing the General Studies syllabus.
Try to finish International Relations and Internal Security in this month (within 15 days). Start fast revision of important subjects like History, Geography, Economics or can finish those sections of the syllabus which you had left earlier. Now onwards, don’t allow yourself to study any new book.
6. April and May (60 Days)
You have already covered 2/3rd part of your optional subject and have finished the syllabus. Now it’s the time to fully concentrate on the prelims exam. Don’t try to touch your optional subject anymore. Pull out your General Studies notes that you had prepared while studying various sections of your UPSC syllabus for the last seven months.
Revise the whole GS syllabus for at least 3 or 4 times. Yes, you can revise them faster and multiple times, as well as you will be able to retain more information in your mind because they are no more unfamiliar subject to you.
Most important work of these two months: Along with studies, make a habit of solving at least 1 or 2 GS practice papers every day and CSAT every week. For this, you can join online/offline Prelims test series of any IAS coaching in Delhi or else you can find plenty of Prelims practice papers on book-stalls of Old Rajender Nagar or Mukherjee Nagar.
Referring to prelims practice sets from various sources are necessary requirements, it will condition your brain to expect the unexpected. A gentle reminder to IAS aspirants – CSAT is of qualifying nature but if you ignore it, it may backfire in the exam.
7. After Prelims is over (120 Days)
Be positive and start your preparation for the second round. First of all, complete the remaining topics/units of your optional subject as well as Paper IV i.e. Ethics, Integrity, and Attitude. Gear up for your hardest bout, with full speed and energy.
Study schedule should stretch from 10 to 12 hours. You are having approximately 4 months before the mains. The best strategy will be to complete the incomplete part of your UPSC syllabus, both General Studies and optional subject, in the very first month.
During this period, most of the candidate engage themselves in revision but miss the importance of answer writing practice. Spare at least 3 hours daily for answer writing practice.
Write both optional and GS questions daily or adjust it in alternative days (as per your suitability). You can even join any IAS coaching in Delhi for Mains Test Series, this will infuse regularity and discipline in you. Remember, UPSC is a writer’s exam, success depends on your mains examination marks.
Just follow abovementioned tips and you will be able to cover almost the whole UPSC syllabus with a scientific approach to fetch decent marks in the Civil Services examination. (Note: Make a daily routine to read a newspaper or can follow monthly current affairs magazine. This will keep you informed with current developments; an essential component of Civil Services preparation.