Strategy and Books for IAS Aspirants to Clear IAS Exam

  1. Understand the Syllabus

The first step towards clearing the IAS exam is understanding the syllabus. Get the Syllabus of UPSC Prelims and Mains and make sure you read it once daily. This will help the early birds on focusing the syllabus points while reading Newspapers and reference books. Thus, the time spent on the topics which are not related to the syllabus will be saved.

2. Study Previous Year Questions

Once the syllabus is understood, the next step is to analyze the patterns and sources of questions asked in the previous year Prelims and Mains exam. This can be done topic-wise as per the syllabus given for General Studies 1, General Studies 2, etc. The early birds should also study the previous year’s Essay topics which will help them to comprehend the topics to be studied.

3. Reading the Sources

Most early birds spent 90 % of their time reading the NCERTs and Reference sources. They fail to understand that reading is only a part of the preparation and not the preparation in itself. Reading of NCERTs and Reference material for General Studies, Essay, and Optional subject should be completed in a definite time frame.

4. Preparing the Notes

A huge variety of notes in different formats are easily available in the markets. But to raise the efficiency of their preparation, the early birds should consider making their notes.

This will be beneficial in retaining the important points of any topic that has been read from different sources. Besides, it will also help in establishing the interconnection of Current Affairs with different points in the syllabus. But the aspirants should also take care that the notes should be precise and in a format that is easy to revise.

5. Value addition

The IAS exam demands the aspirants to be up to the mark in terms of current data which may be the latest Report, Indices, Study, or any government Initiative. To increase the weightage of your answers, especially in UPSC Mains Answer Writing, the aspirants should take extra efforts in value addition in every sub-topic of the syllabus. This can be simply done by adding any latest national or international report or any case study in the topic.

Consider the example for the topic “Food Security.” Once you have analyzed the previous year questions on the topic and read the particular reference material, you can go for value- addition by adding the following points in your notes –

FAO’s ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2020 Report

IFPRI’s 2019 Global Food Policy Report

World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture (NVA) initiative

Telangana’s Food Security Card Scheme

Food vision 2050 prize secured by Naandi Foundation

Canada Experience of ‘kitchen table talks’

6. Revise-Revise-Revise

The most important part of any competitive exam is revising the material you have read so far. The early birds should focus on dedicating a fixed time every day for revision of the topics studied in a day. The focus should be on revising each source material 3 times before the Prelims and Mains exam. This will help to recollect the vast information about different topics and improve their learning capabilities and build confidence.

7. Practice Prelims and Mains Mock Tests

Once you have gone through the tedious work of analyzing the question pattern, reading sources, and revising the material, here comes the most game-changing part of the IAS preparation Solving the Mock Tests. The early birds should start solving the Prelims and Mains Test Series only after completion of the revision of material. The reason behind this is that without revision the aspirants will not be able to recall the information while solving the questions. It will only add to the ambiguity in the preparation and lower their morale.

Book Sources: –

The early birds should not get confused by the huge variety of the source material available in the market, and on the internet. They should list out the sources and stick to the same throughout the preparation. The benefit of limiting your sources is that it will provide clarity of the concept and additional time for the revision.

Here we are providing you a standard list of sources to be used for Prelims and Mains preparation.

Subject NameNCERTReference Books
Polity9th NCERT: Democratic Politics 110th NCERT: Democratic Politics 211th NCERT: Indian Constitution at WorkIndian Polity by M LaxmikanthIntroduction to the Constitution of India: D D Basu  
Geography11th NCERT Geography: Fundamentals of Physical Geography 11th NCERT Geography – India Physical Environment 12th NCERT: Geography – India People and Economy 12th NCERT: Fundamental of Human Geography  Certificate Physical and human geography – Goh Cheng LeongOrient Longman Atlas of Oxford Atlas  
Environment  NCERT Biology 12th – Unit 10 (chapter 13, 14, 15 & 16) NCERT Chemistry 11th (Part II) – Chapter 14 ICSE Environmental Education 9th & 10th Unit X – Class 12th Biology NCERT  Shankar IAS book Ecology & Environment Chapter (India Year Book) Down to Earth magazine
HistoryOld NCERT: Modern India by Bipin Chandra New NCERT – Class XII th Themes in Indian History – Part IIIIndia’s struggle for Independence – Bipin ChandraFrom Plassey to Partition: Shekhar Bandyopadhyaya A Brief History of Modern India- Spectrum Publications
CultureOld NCERT: Ancient India Old NCERT: Medieval India Class XI NCERT – Introduction to Fine Art (part 1) Class XII th New NCERT – Themes in Indian History Part -1 and Part 2CCRT website:
Economy  11th NCERT: Economics: Indian Economic Development 12th NCERT: Economics: Macroeconomics 12th NCERT: Economics: MicroeconomicsIndian Economy Dutt and Sundaram  
ScienceGeneral Science books – IX and X standardThe Hindu, Indian Express.

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