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Home » STUDENT ZONE » How to Prepare IAS Exam

HOW TO PREPARE FOR CIVIL SERVICES EXAM

  1. Stage-I: Prelims (GS + CSAT)
  2. Stage-II: Mains (GS Paper-I, II, III & IV)
  3. Stage-III: Interview

Stage-I: Prelims (GS + CSAT)

The Civil Services Examination is conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to screen the candidates for the prestigious civil services at the central level. The candidate, are screened at three stages viz Prelims, Mains, and Interview. This article is all about the approaches to various levels, books to be followed and recent trends of the examination.

Stage-1: Prelims
What are Prelims all about?
The Preliminary stage consists of two papers i.e. Paper-I (General Studies) & Paper-II [Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT)]. Paper-I consists of 100 MCQs of 2 marks each (Total 200 marks) and Paper-II of 80 MCQs of 2.5 marks each. Negative marking is 1/3rd of the marks assigned to each question.
The Paper-II, which is of 200 marks, is qualifying in nature and will not be counted in deciding merit. One has to score 33% marks i.e. 67 marks (approve) to qualify this exam.
The merit is solely decided on the basis of score in Paper-I
What are the subjects/topics needed to be studied for Paper-I & Paper-II and books for reference?

Paper-I: The paper is the most important paper of preliminary stage as the merit is decided on its score. Here is a list of subjects/topics covered under it and the books to refer to respective subjects:-
(i) History: The subject can be divided into:
(a) Ancient History: NCERT Books (old RS. Sharma)
(b) Medieval History: NCERT Books (Satish Chandra)
(c) Modern History: Spectrum, India’s struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra
(d) Art & Culture: NCERT (Class XI)

(ii) Geography: Following the books to be followed for geography:
(a) NCERT (Class XI & XII)
(b) Atlas (very important: Orient Black Swann or Oxford)
(c) G.C. Leong (Last 10 Chapters are mandatory rest book can be followed too)

(iii) Polity: Books to be referred is/are:
(a) Laxmikant or
(b) DD Basu

(iv) Economics: This is a very dynamic portion and needs to be updated time to time. It is very vast too. Books needed for reference are:-
(a) Ramesh Singh (for basic concepts)
(b) Economic Survey (Mandatory)
(c) Current events Including schemes

(v) Ecology & Environment: The weight of this portion is consistently increasing and presently is a vital part of a preliminary examination. Books are:
(a) Environmental studies by Each Bharucha
(b) Notes provided by the institute. (Elite IAS)

(vi) Science & Technology: Books to be referred to this portion are:
(a) NCERT (6-10th)

(vii) Current Affairs: This is becoming one of the most vital portions of all since the last two years. This section cuts across all the other sections viz. Polity, Economy, Science & Tech., Ecology & Environment and Culture. Books to be referred are:
(a) News Paper: (The Hindu or Indian Express)
(b) Elite IAS monthly current affairs monthly magazine.

Recent Trend of the Prelims Exam:
As we know that the merit is decided solely by Paper-I, students majorly focus on this paper. Since the past two years, UPSC has been increasingly asking a question based on current events, both National & International. In 2015 prelims paper around 30-40 question were based on current events and in 2016, a whopping 60-70 questions.
However, it does not mean that in 2017, the weight of current affairs will increase or remain the same as in 2016. The candidate should not bypass the basic concepts and straight away jump to current affairs. One should be prepared holistically i.e. one should prepare the basic concepts, the current events and should also be able to co-relate basic concepts with current events.

This is a foolproof strategy to counter the unpredictable nature of the examination.
The Paper-II is relatively easy as one has to score only 67 marks out of 200. One should bank upon his/her strengths and attempt the paper accordingly. If you are not sure about the answers then it is always better to leave them. Attempt only these questions that you are sure of.

Ideal score for clearing prelims exam:
This question is actually unanswerable/hypothetical. It depends on various factors such as
• Performance of the aspirants
• Level of toughness
But on the safer side, one should aim somewhere between 120-130. In Paper-I. and around 100 (at least) in Paper-II should be targeted.

The Paper-II is relatively easy as one has to score only 67 marks out of 200. One should bank upon his/her strengths and attempt the paper accordingly. If you are not sure about the answers then it is always better to leave them. Attempt only these questions that you are sure of.
Ideal score for clearing prelims exam:
This question is actually unanswerable/hypothetical. It depends on various factors such as
• Performance of the aspirants
• Level of toughness
But on the safer side, one should aim somewhere between 120-130. In Paper-I. and around 100 (at least) in Paper-II should be targeted.

Stage-II: Mains (GS Paper-I, II, III & IV)

Stage-II Mains
What is Mains all about?
The Mains examination comprises of 9 subjective exams. 2 of them are English and one regional language. Both of them are qualifying in nature for compulsory English, one needs to score 75 out of 300 & for the regional language, the qualifying score is 90 out of 300.
Note: if the candidate does not qualify in these two exams the rest 7 paper will not be evaluated i.e. General Studies I, II, III, IV, Essay, & Optional I & Optional II. All these 7 exams are 250 marks each and need to be attempted in 3 hours. The following section deals with the approach to all the General Studies papers & Essay.

How to approach G.S. I: The topics covered are –
• History, which included World history too.
• Geography
• Indian Society

Books to be referred:
History: same as that of preliminary stage.
World History: NCERT by Arjun Dev.
Geography: Same as that of preliminary exam.
Additional notes on world resources to be studies via institute notes.
Indian Society: Institute notes are more than enough.
The exam is more or so static and not as such linked with current affairs. It is scoring too. Getting 100 in this paper is considered to be a good score.

How to approach G.S. II: The topics covered are –
(i) Polity & Governance
(ii) Social Justice
(iii) International Relations

Books to be referred:
(i) Polity & Governance- Laxmikant
(ii) Social Justice- Institute notes
(iii) International Relation- Institute notes

This exam is very dynamic in nature and is mostly based on current events. Hence, the candidate needs to prepare accordingly. Newspapers & monthly magazine of current affairs will be quite helpful for approaching this paper. However, the basic concepts should not be ignored. 80-90 marks out of 250 is a decent score on this exam.

How to approach G.S. III: The topics covered are –
(i) Economic & Development issues (ii) Science & Technology & Environment issues
(iii) Disaster Management.
Books to be referred:
(i) Economic survey for economics
(ii) Institute notes for disaster management.
(iii) Current events for science & technology & environment
The nature of the exam is highly dynamic and updating yourself with current events is inevitable for all the topic covered by this exam. Newspaper and monthly magazine of current events will be quite helpful

G.S. Paper IV: This paper is a unique one. It comprises of two sections i.e.
Section-I. it consists of the question based on concepts of ethics, attitude, aptitude, emotional, intelligence and such like. It also consists of theories and saying of eminent thinkers & leaders like Gandhi, Weber, John Raul, and such like.
Section II comprises of case studies which need to be answered accordingly. This section is the most scoring among the two.
Books to be referred:-
(a) Institute notes/booklet which has been designed meticulously
(b) Arihant
(c) Practice case study material
The score of around 90-100 is a decent score in this exam.

How to approach essay:
The first step is to choose wisely and according to one’s own zone of comfort the topic on which essay should be written.
It involves all the knowledge of a candidate encompassing all the subjects he/she studies for General Studies & Optional (if applicable).
The essay should by diverse balanced and comprehensive. It should be updated with current events if possible and properly concluded.
It is a scoring paper and a decent score is around 120 out of 250 in this paper.
This was all about General Studies & Essay. But the real game changes is the optional paper. The candidate should aim to score around 250 out to 500 (2 papers of 250 marks each) in the optional paper.
Note: The mains exam is not all about mental strength but also about physical strength too. The candidate has to appear for two exams per day and there is hardly any gap between the exams.

Stage-III: Interview

Interview
It is all about your personality. One sincere tip for this stage is: Be yourself and do not take.
The exam is one of the toughest one on Earth. Level of uncertainty is quite high, but this should not let the candidate deviate from his/her goal. Efforts in the right directions the key to success. And we, here at Elite IAS are dedicated to guiding the students in the right direction. We do it through classroom teaching. All India Test Series, Online Courses (Interactive) and personal assistance if sought by the candidate.
Those who are willing to pursue a career in coveted civil services should start preparing with a rock solid strategy and firm dedication.

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