IAS Exam is considered to be the toughest possible examination in India. However, if a candidate is dedicated enough, adopts the best strategies, guidance programs plus study materials then self-study is sufficient to get by the IAS exam. 

Below are a few IAS study tips and tricks which an applicant can adopt to get high marks in the final stages of the same:

Mock test papers for IAS examination preparation

Mock Test is an important part of IAS preparations for Topper candidates. By studying the Mock examinations you get an opportunity to know your mistakes and the field where you require understanding. 

Writing mock examinations not only benefits you to improve your IAS preparation but likewise aids to increase your rate to answer the exam in the future. There is forever a crisis of time in IAS Mains exams. Hence, one has to be extremely quick in writing topics. Mock test articles help in improving the agility of mind to make forecasts. 

Bringing best learning material

It is of prime significance to choose only prescribed books and the best study material for IAS examinations. Also, NCERT textbooks are constantly recommended furthermore are viewed as a must-read by specialists as well as Toppers. 

These are important as they clear up difficulties at a basic level and support applicants in getting higher marks at IAS Mains Examinations.  Although, there are numerous publications ready for IAS in the book store yet one requires to choose only the most beneficial out of them plus plan for simply a few most desirable ones .

The best strategy for IAS Prelims and Mains Examinations

Even though the nature of topics proposed in UPSC Prelims plus Mains examinations is complex, yet there are also several areas wherever one can find an amazing variety of connections in the subjects. For example - In IAS GS - Paper I, an excellent approach hints at including both IAS GS Mains and Prelims outline in detail. First, this gives the idea of clarity regarding all important topics. Sound understanding of common and uncommon fields in the IAS Syllabus of both the General Studies (for Prelims and Mains Examinations) surely gives you higher marks than others.

Effective time management skills

All you require to prepare is the basics of the examination. This must be done to handle your time in a style that you can easily include your selected syllabus and take fitting rest-time along with sleep at the corresponding time. 

Distribute free time according to the parts you have to meet. One needs to note that you do not need too many titles or notes to fully go through the process but only a limited number of excellent publications. 

Also, a broad knowledge of the study material is needed. It is significant for a pupil to get decent rest moreover sleep. Your brain requires both breaks and rest to run on complete force again.

GS paper 3 preparation strategy

We will discuss the effective strategy to prepare for the UPSC IAS examinations. Also, we will discuss the best strategy for UPSC CSE Mains Examination paper - IV. This is commonly called as the IAS Mains - GS 3.

Understanding the overall pattern of the IAS examination -

UPSC IAS Examination has undergone significant changes. The changes are observed both in pattern and outline of the examination.

Moreover, the Commission conducts 4 Exam papers of the subject General Studies. Apart from this, there is one Essay format based exam. 

Another significant examination of the optional subject is added to the same. Hence, there is a total of 6 examination papers. 

UPSC paper designing strategy - 

Before we discuss the GS paper 3 preparation strategy, we firstly discuss the exam pattern - 

Union Public Service Commission or UPSC takes the IAS examination based on the following points - 

  • Questions of IAS examination are designed to check thebasic understanding of the candidate
  • Likewise, the UPSC to test the ability of the candidate to analyze the situation. It appreciates candidates to present their views on the subject. 
  • Moreover, the Commission evaluates the understanding of socio-economic goals, demands, and objectives. 
  • As a result, the candidate is expected to deliver meaningful answers. Also, the same should be relevant and succinct. 

Keeping in light of the above subject, start your IAS examination preparation in this pattern. You do not need to have to master the subjects. It is necessary to however have a basic understanding of the matter. 

The Commission also appreciates candidates who can analyze the situation. Therefore, the ideal strategy for such a case is taking a huge number of mock tests and interviews. 

If you have joined a coaching institute for IAS, you still need to do extra work to get the best results. The key to success is a regular practice. 

GS paper 3 preparation strategy and exam pattern 

GS paper 3 preparation strategy starts with an understanding of the important topics - 

  • Technology
  • Biodiversity
  • Economic Development
  • Environment
  • Security
  • Disaster Management

It must be noted that the examination covers the earlier pattern of General Studies paper 2 of the older pattern. However, it lacks the topics like - international relations and Statistics

Beginning with the GS paper 3 preparation 

To get familiar with the GS paper 3 preparation strategy, you need to first read the syllabus of the same. Similarly, get familiar with the major topics and sub-topics of the subject. 

The syllabus and important topics should be there in your memory. Keep a copy of the syllabus with you to get a better understanding of the situation. 

When you start with the GS paper 3 preparation, you need to have a good idea about the important aspects of the examination. For this, read the following points - 

Topic 1 - 

Start your GS paper 3 preparation strategy by the critical reading of - 

  • Indian Economy
  • Issues of planning
  • Resource mobilization and its problems
  • Growth and development issues
  • Employment

This includes both broad and minute details. Before opting for top names, buy and read NCERT textbooks. These are available in PDF format as well

List of important NCERT textbooks - 

  • NCERT textbook for class X - Understanding Economic Development
  • NCERT textbook for class XI - Indian Economic Development
  • NCERT textbook for class XII - Macroeconomics (Focus on chapters - 2, 5 and 6)
  • ET in the Classroom

It is important to get familiar with the basics of Indian Economic Development. Likewise, a sound understanding of Economics brings the best outcomes. 

Use the above books to get a clear understanding of the situation. Post this, start with creating notes on the topics and related news. As a result, you will be able to track current events. For this, you can refer to any of the following business newspapers - 

  • Business Standard 
  • Economic Times
  • Financial Express

Since the examination focuses largely on the Indian Economy, a good understanding of the same is crucial. You need to be ready for the questions that are common in UPSC IAS past examinations. 

Often students complain that the books of the Indian Economy are very heavy. Yet we recommend you stick to the standard books for the best results. 

Recommended books and online resources - 

  • TMH book on Indian Economy for prelims and mains examination. Author - Ramesh Singh
  • Indian Economy for Civil Services Examinations. Author - Ramesh Singh (older versions)

Other authors to read - 

  • Uma Kapila
  • Mishra and Puri
  • Dutt and Sundaram

However, all these are extremely detailed. Refer to these only if you have sufficient time for preparation. 

Topic 2 - 

Secondly, your GS paper 3 preparation strategy should cover a critical reading of - 

  • Inclusive growth 
  • Issues arising from above
  • Five-year plans 
  • Important outcomes of the above plans 

You need to have conceptual clarity on the above subject. Similarly, you can easily read the articles from the below documents - 

  • Conceptualizing Inclusive growth
  • Inclusive growth in India - Past Performance and Future Prospects

Topic 3 - 

Likewise, your GS paper 3 preparation strategy should cover - 

  • Government budgeting
  • Present year budget
  • Implementation of the above

Recommended books and online resources - 

  • Basics of Government budgeting from NCERT textbook for class XII (Macroeconomics - Chapter 5)
  • The budgetary processes
  • The highlight of the current year budget from credible sources

Topic 4 - 

Here your GS paper 3 preparation strategy should cover - 

  • Major crops of India
  • Cropping pattern in other nations
  • Types of irrigation
  • Irrigation systems
  • Storage of such foodgrains
  • Agricultural produce and its marketing
  • Transportation of above
  • Issues and constraints to the agricultural growth
  • E-technology and its impact on farmers

 Recommended books and online resources - 

Basic understanding comes from NCERT textbooks. Refer to the books - 

  • NCERT textbook - Resource and Development
  • Cropping pattern in India (Understand the concepts only)

For an understanding of the irrigation system and its pattern in India, refer to the below topics - 

  • Irrigation systems
  • Types of dams and storage structure
  • Irrigation systems
  • Economic Survey of India
  • State of Indian Agriculture Report
  • Agricultural prices and markets - State of India Agriculture Report
  • E-technology for the aid of farmers

Topic 5 - 

Here your GS paper 3 preparation strategy should ideally cover -

  • Issues of direct subsidy to farmers
  • Problems of indirect subsidies
  • Minimum Support Prices (MSP)
  • Public Distribution System (PDS)
  • Objectives, function, and limitations of the above
  • Buffer stock and issues
  • Food safety and security
  • Technology mission
  • Animal rearing and its issues

This is an extremely important part of the examination. All topics are highly dynamic. Expect at least 2 questions from this. Focus on current trends in food security. 

Aside from conceptual clarity on these matters, candidates additionally have to develop a sharp outlook on these topics. We will give information about relevant features that have appeared in papers like- 

  • The Hindu, 
  • Economic Times,
  • Business Standard,

Prime- The topic of Minimum Support Price including Farm Subsidies:

Read the following for the best results - 

  • Agriculture - Price policy and Minimum Support Price (MSP)
  • News articles on farmers issues
  • Farmers need a free market - Article by Business Line
  • India's Food conundrum. Article by The Hindu newspaper
  • How to Fix agricultural pricing mess. Article by Business Standard

Public Distribution System (PDS)

It is a huge topic that is vital for the GS paper 3 preparation strategy. It should cover the ideal study material. Remember - The idea is to study a few books and learn more. 

Recommended books and online resources - 

  • Public Distribution System (PDS) - IGNOU Study notes Set 1
  • Public Distribution System (PDSand Food security - IGNOU Study notes Set 2
  • News reports published in leading newspapers
  • For basics for Food security - Refer to NCERT textbook - Class IX (Economics)
  • The shaky geopolitics of India's Food security. Article by The Hindu newspaper
  • Food security bill - The devil is in the detail. Article by The Hindu newspaper

Technology missions of Government of India

Technology missions of the Government of India are not so vital for GS paper 3 preparation strategy. It covers the new missions of the Indian Government to boost crop production. Likewise, it covers topics like coverage, food security and alternatives to make the production process profitable. Overall the topics are huge yet give an eagle's view to the following points - 

  • Technology missions on Cotton production
  • Technology missions on jute
  • Technology missions on Sugar
  • Technology missions on Horticulture
  • New missions launched by the Government of India
  • Role of livestock in Indian Economy
  • Economics of animal breeding. 
  • Reports from planning commission of India

Have a basic understanding of the above and their core ideology. 

Topic - 6

Food processing and related sectors in Indian Economy - 

  • Scope
  • Importance of the industries
  • Location
  • Development strategies
  • Upstream requirements
  • Supply chain management for these

This is vital for the GS paper 3 preparation strategy. The reason for the same is that the sunrise sector of the Economy. This has been given a huge push by the government sector to get the best results for both farmers and the industrialists. 

Recommended books and online resources -

  • PIB article available on their official website
  • Food processing industry - related schemes in the current five-year plans
  • Articles from the newspaper - The Hindu
  • Articles from the newspaper - Business Line - The untapped potential
  • Articles from the newspaper - Business Line - Key challenges

Topic - 7

Land Reforms in India - 

This is a crucial topic for the GS paper 3 preparation strategy. You can easily get numerous reading materials on the issue. However, sticking to one source is vital to the final success in the IAS examination. 

Recommended books and online resources - 

  • Land Reforms - IGNOU Study notes Set 1
  • Land Reforms - IGNOU Study notes Set 2

Topic - 8

Effects of liberalization on the Economy - 

  • Effect of liberalization policy
  • Changes in industrial policy since Independence
  • Effect of globalization on Economy
  • Effect of above on industrial growth and development

Recommended books and online resources - 

  • Refer to the book on the topic by Ramesh Singh - Indian Economy for civil services examinations (Chapters 6- 10th) 

Topic - 9

In this topic for GS paper 3 preparation strategy, learn the following points - 

  • Infrastructure - Energy
  • Ports
  • Airports
  • Roads
  • Railways

Recommended books and online resources - 

  • India 2013
  • Economic Survey of India
  • Latest energy stats - the best literature on the topic

Topic - 10

In this topic for GS paper 3 preparation strategy, learn the following points -

  • Investment models 

The topic is highly puzzling in nature. This covers topics like infrastructure and growth patterns of India. There are a huge number of financial investment models. For example - the PPP model of partnership has the following points - 

  • Build operate and own model of BOO
  • Build, develop and operate model or BDO
  • Design, construct, manage and finance model or DCMF

Likewise, the private sector has a design and development model. This covers the 

  • Building
  • Development
  • Operations
  • Design
  • Transfer of ownership
  • Financial aspects 

Here, you can come across the following aspects - 

  • Build operate and own model of BOO
  • Buy, build and operate model or BBO
  • Lease, develop and operate model or LDO 
  • Wrap around addition model or WAA

The private sector buys important resources from the Government to boost its outcomes and uses it to - 

  • Renovate
  • Modernize
  • Expand
  • Operate
  • Development
  • Transfer of ownership and research

Recommended books and online resources - 

  • Infrastructure investment - report by Planning Commission
  • Public-Private Partnership in Indian infrastructure development - Issues and Options. Publication by RBI 

Topic - 11

In this topic for GS paper 3 preparation strategy, learn the following points -

  • Science and technology
  • Development of sector
  • Application of the process
  • Effect of above on everyday life
  • Achievement in science and technology
  • Indian aspects of technology
  • Growth of science and technology in India
  • Contribution of India to science and technology
  • Awareness regarding Information and Technology sector, space, computer, robotics, nanoscience, biotechnology, etc
  • Issues in intellectual property rights

Recommended books and online resources - 

  • NCERT textbook from class VI to X. For getting conceptual clarity on the topic
  • Books by Spectrum publishers - Toppers prefer this book to read for the science subject
  • Developments in science and technology - this book is highly vast. Read this textbook selectively
  • The Hindu and Frontline
  • New scientist website
  • Wikipedia

Likewise, previous years' examination papers are important. Thus, focus on the past year's science and technology papers from the syllabus. Also, expect questions from burning topics like - Science, biotechnology, space, nanotechnology, computers, and robotics.  

Keep a note of the important aspects gathered from the best sources to gain better results.

Keep an idea of the Novartis issue of IPR rights. Also, focus on TRIPS and TRIMS

For more details, specific reading of Indian achievements in the field of science and technology is important. Also, focus on defense and scientific reading for the best results.

Topic - 12

In this topic for GS paper 3 preparation strategy, learn the following points -

  • Environment conservation
  • Environment pollution
  • Degradation of the environment
  • Impact of issues on environment
  • Assessment of the impact of such issues
  • Environment and pollution
  • Atmospheric oxygen and pollution (Technical aspects)
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • Forest and wildlife Issues
  • Problems of conservation of wildlife resources
  • River conservation
  • Pollution in towns and cities
  • Pollution from human sources
  • Marine pollution
  • Waste management

Recommended books and online resources - 

Focus on issues from both India and the World

  • The Hindu newspaper
  • Environmental survey (current issue)
  • Sources like the Ministry of environment
  • Annual report of the environment ministry for the present year. 
  • Issues of conservation
  • Environment impact and its assessment
  • Issues of EIA as given in The leading newspapers

Topic - 13

In this topic for GS paper 3 preparation strategy, learn the following points -

  • Disaster and their management

This is needed for the understanding of the current events in the area. Also, it is highly dynamic, you need to have notes for the purpose. 

Recommended books and online resources - 

Focus on issues from both India and the World

  • Yojana Magazine's special edition on Disaster Management
  • A report on Disaster Management. Read this one selectively to get a brief understanding of the issues. 

Topic - 14

In this topic for GS paper 3 preparation strategy, learn the following points on internal security issues -

  • Linkages between Extremist views and development
  • Role of External Affairs
  • Role of non-government actors in creating challenges to national security
  • Challenges to the internal security
  • Role of communication network on the above subject
  • Role of media and social networking sites on internal security
  • Major issues to internal security
  • Basics of cybersecurity and crimes
  • Money laundering
  • Preventing the above issue
  • Internal security challenges and its management
  • internal security challenges in border areas
  • Linking organized crime and terrorism

Recommended books and online resources - 

  • Internal security challenges
  • Cybersecurity - National cybersecurity Policy
  • Money laundering - Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 or PMLA
  • Basics of Money Laundering
  • FATF on Money Laundering
  • India's National Security - A Reader. Book by Oxford University Press

This book covers both internal and external security issues. Further, issues arising from State and non-state issues can be read here. Also, focus on nuclear issues. 

Topic - 15

In this topic for GS paper 3 preparation strategy, learn the following points

  • Various security forces 
  • Agencies and their mandate
  • Indian armed forces and paramilitary forces
  • Paramilitary agencies

General awareness of the IAS examination

The IAS civil Services examination is highly focussed on developing the best qualities in the managers. Thus, preparation for the mains examination must start even before attempting the IAS Prelims examination. A candidate has merely 4 months to prepare for optional, essay and general studies examination. 

The ideal strategy is to divide the process into two parts - 

  • June sessions
  • October session

Coaching for IAS or not? Answering the most sought after question - 

Important note - The strategies are given in the above article are designed for the use of candidates who are preparing for the examination full time. Hence, candidates without the same may need to design their unique strategy for the best results. A piece of important advice for such candidates is to get professional coaching from an expert. 

A large number of students qualifying for the examination undergo professional coaching and help. Although, other students also exist who do not have any professional help and coaching. 

Ultimately, the coaching is not the absolute answer to the problem. Instead, the dedication of the candidate is an important aspect of the same. 

On the other side of the picture, having professional coaching is helpful as it helps you to understand the basics of the IAS examination. 

Bringing Best Results Through Right Guidance

Being serious about the examination comes at a huge overhead. One needs to have a steady focus on the matter. 

Important Links:

Books which can help you to cover the IAS Syllabus completely
The Mains and Interview CSE do get tricky at times!
UPSC Exam Preparation Strategy for Beginners
Which books for IAS Exam Preparation and How to Study for IAS?
Exam Pattern and the Selection Procedure for UPSC IAS exam
UPSC Exam Pattern