UPSC or Union Public Service Commission conducts the civil services examination on an all India level for 24 and more governmental services including IAS, IPS, and IRS etc. The civil services exam is a competitive examination for recruiting officers to the elite positions of Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Indian Audit and Accounts Services (IAAS), in other words for Group A and Group B level posts.
The UPSC exams are also called by the mass public as simply IAS exam as it is one of the most elite services that the youth nation aspires for. The examination is conducted in a phased manner, totally consisting of three phases in total. The first phase is the preliminary phase, followed by the main examination and finally the interview.
There is a screening process at every level of the examination and is tough, challenging and highly competitive. Only those candidates who qualify in the preliminary stage can attempt the main examination. Successful candidates in the main examination further move on to take up the interview. Finally the shortlisted candidates will be called for allotment to various services.
Every year more than 5 laky aspirants apply for the UPSC exam, but after the final round of selection, only about less than 1000 candidates make it to the ultimate selection process.
UPSC IAS Exam 2020 – Important Dates
|Issue of Notification||12th February 2020|
|Application form availability||12th February 2020|
|Last date for Application Submission (online)||03rd March 2020|
|Prelims Admit card||April 2020 (Tentative)|
|Preliminary Exam date||31st May 2020|
|Prelims Exam Result||Mid-July, 2020 (Tentative)|
|Main Exam Admit Card ||August 2020 (Tentative)|
|Main Exam Date ||18th September 2020|
|Declaration of Final Result ||December 2020/ January 2021 (Tentative)|
|Interview Date||February to March 2020 (Tentative)|
UPSC IAS Exam 2020 – Eligibility Criteria
The complete list of eligibility criteria is as stated under:
- For the IAS, IFS, IPS and other group A services, a candidate must be a citizen of India.
- For group B services, a candidate must be one of the following:
- A citizen of India or;
- A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia or Vietnam with an intention of settling permanently in India.
To be eligible for UPSC IAS Exam, a candidate must possess one of the following educational qualifications
- A degree from a Central, State or Deemed university
- A degree received through correspondence or distance education
- A degree from an open university
- A qualification recognised by the Government of India as being equivalent to one of the above.
- Candidates who have successfully completed graduation in any stream are eligible to apply.
- Those candidates who are in their final year of graduation and awaiting results can also attempt the exam.
- In rare cases, a qualification owned by a candidate that is treated equivalent to graduation will also be considered by the commission upon fair analysis of the degree achieved.
- Candidates in possession of technical and professionally aided degrees are also eligible to apply.
- Candidates appearing for the exam are hereby requested to submit proof of having cleared the qualifying examination plus copy of the application submitted.
- The criteria for medical students are quite different, in case the student is in the final year but is yet to undergo internship and training process. Such students if qualified for the main examination shall submit a copy of the internship program undertaken along with the main examination application without fail.
- The age limit as set by the UPSC panel is a minimum of 21 years and the candidate should not have attained the age of 32 years as on 1st August of the year of examination.
- For OBC candidates the upper age limit is 35 years and for SC/ST, it is 37 years.
- For physically disabled category, candidates from general merit can have maximum attempts till the age of 35, for OBC it is 38 and for SC/ST it is 40.
- For disabled servicemen, general category candidates can make attempts till the age of 35, for OBC it is 38 and for SC/ST it is 40
Numbers of attempts for UPSC IAS Exam
- The maximum number of attempts for general category candidates is 6, for OBC it is 9 and for SC/ST candidates it is unlimited, till their life time.
- For physically disabled, general category candidates and OBC candidates can have a maximum number of 9 attempts plus for SC/ST it is unlimited.
- For disabled servicemen of all categories, they can make unlimited number of attempts.
UPSC IAS Application Form 2020
- The aspirants for civil services examinations need to fill the application form online.
- The form will be available in February 2020 over the official website.
- Please note that there is no other mode to apply. Before applying the candidate must qualify the eligibility criteria and must also read the instructions very carefully.
- The aspirants will have to fill all their personal as well as academic information in the application form.
- The applicants will have to upload their scanned photograph and digital signature after filling all other details.
- The detailed application form for applying to the CSE mains exam is available from August 1st to 16th 2020 and candidates have to submit the form within this stipulated date.
- Necessary details like Prelims roll number, name, email id, date of birth etc are essential details to be furnished.
- Please note that candidates who have successfully cleared the prelims exam are eligible to apply for the main examination.
Step by step guide to ease the registration process is provided herein for eligible candidates:
- Log into online registration portal and submit form with necessary details.
- Fill in the detailed application for m with all relevant information.
- Upload all necessary documents like age proof, degree certificates, caste/community certificate, photo ID proof and any other necessary document.
- Pay the fees either through online or offline mode.
UPSC IAS Application fees
- Fees can be paid by candidates in either online or offline mode.
- Online payment of fees can be made through internet banking facilities/ credit card/ debit card/ rupay card.
- For paying fees offline, first download e-challan and submit fees in cash at any of the SBI bank branches.
- For Prelims exam the fee is INR 100 and for Mains exam the fee is INR 200.
- After paying the requisite fees, kindly download and save the submitted online application for future reference.
- Female applicants, SC/ST candidates along persons with disabilities are exempted from paying fees.
UPSC IAS Admit Card 2020
- The admit card will be available for download on the official website of UPSC.
- The admit card contains all necessary details like candidates name, father’s name, age, DOB, photograph, signature, address and exam venue of the candidate.
- The admit card can be downloaded in PDF format.
- All the candidates appearing for UPSC examination will be allotted a unique admit card with a roll number.
- All candidates need to take a printout of the same and carry it for the examination.
- Candidates who fail to show the admit card will strictly not be allowed to take up the examination.
- Along with the admit card, a candidate is also required to carry a photo ID proof for the examination centre.
UPSC IAS Exam Pattern
There are basically three stages of exam but for the final selection, marks secured in Mains and the Interview will be considered. The complete selection procedure is split in three stages. These are:
- Stage-1: Preliminary Exam : 2 papers (Multiple Choice Questions -200 + 200 Marks)
- Stage-2: Main Exam (Subjective Type): 9 papers
- Stage-3: Personal Interview (275 Marks)
Stage 1: Preliminary Exam
- Preliminary exam, commonly known as prelims, is also called CSAT i.e. Civil Services Aptitude Test.
- In the prelims examination there will be two papers each of 200 marks and to be completed in 2 hours duration for each.
- The first paper, known as the GS or General Science paper will check the applicant’s knowledge over current affairs, Indian national movements, Indian history, Indian & world geography, Indian economy, Indian polity, social development, biodiversity, environmental ecology etc.
- The second paper is designed to check applicant’s reasoning and logic building aspects. Here questions are also asked to check in depth understanding in comprehension skills, communication and interpersonal skills, decision making abilities, problem solving techniques, English language and data interpretation etc.
- A candidate needs to score at least 33% in this exam though the marks are not counted for qualifying in mains.
The exam will conducted offline. There includes negative marking as well. Each wrong answer will get a deduction of 1/3 mark as penalty.
|Papers||Details of the question papers||Total Marks||Total Time|
|I||General Studies – this paper contains questions related to everything you have studied in class 6 to 10 along with current affairs. This is the qualifying paper for the mains.||200||2 hrs|
|II||Aptitude test (CSAT) – A candidate needs to score at least 33% in this exam though the marks are not counted for qualifying in mains.||200||2 hrs|
Stage 2: Mains Exam
- The main exam comprises a total of nine papers.
- Out of them two papers are considered qualifying papers and the rest of the seven papers decide your ranking.
- After the examination, all successfully qualified candidates will be called for a personal interview round.
|Paper A (language)||One of the Indian languages from the list selected by the applicants (qualifying)||300|
|Paper B (language)||English (qualifying)||300|
|Paper II||General studies I||250|
|Paper III||General studies II||250|
|Paper IV||General studies III||250|
|Paper V||General studies IV||250|
|Paper VI, VII||There will be two papers of 250 marks each based on the subject which the candidate has selected at the time of application filing||500|
Stage 3: Personal Interview
- Personal Interview is conducted to basically asses the personal suitability of the candidate for a particular civil service.
- A panel of interviewers comprising of various dignitaries and subject experts will be judging applicants for their mental abilities, social traits, intellectual skills and varied and diverse knowledge about current affairs.
- The nature of the interview is to create room for adapting a natural tone interview and assess the students on a range of skills and aptitude parameters.
- There are certain expectations from the applicants from the panel of judges to be able to escalate them higher up the ladder into the services. Induction into the services requires a certain level of stability in knowledge and intelligence plus aptitude and many other related parameters.
UPSC IAS Syllabus
- The aspirants should be very clear about the syllabus to be covered starting from day 1. Prelims exam consists of two papers of 200 marks each making a total of 400 marks. The duration for each paper is 2 hours.
- The two papers are GS and CSAT. CSAT is the general aptitude test and is just a qualifying paper. You just need to score 33% parks in the paper. The GS paper decides your ranking. The cut off marks here will decide whether you will be qualifying for mains or not.
- Coming over to the mains exam, there will be total of nine papers. Paper A and B will be one from your preferred and chosen language and other is English respectively. Both these exams are qualifying exams. The marks obtained here will not be considered for ranking.
- The next papers such as GS, Essay and optional subject will only be checked if the candidate clears the language papers.
- It is compulsory to attempt both the prelims exam GS and CSAT. Absence in one of the papers will disqualify you and you will lose out on a precious attempt.
- For interview, the aspirants who have qualified in the main exam and have a higher cut off range are eligible for the Personal Interview round.
- The interview is conducted to check your interpersonal skills and social traits as well.
- The questions are asked as per your interest levels.
- Some other qualities which will be judged are your IQ, moral integrity, leadership, critical powers of assimilation, social cohesion, love for country, clear and logical exposition, your interest in current affairs and mental alertness. So for the interview round, your preparation should include these areas.
- The aspirant is expected to have an interest not only in the specialised subjects of their academic study but also in the current affairs which are happening around the international borders and across the globe.
The written Mains exam as per UPSC syllabus consists of the following papers:
Paper A – Modern Indian language 300 Marks
- Comprehension of given passages.
- Precise Writing
- Usage and Vocabulary.
- Short Essay
- Translation from English to the Indian language and vice-versa.
Paper B – English – 300 marks
The pattern of questions would be broadly as follows:-
- Comprehension of given passages
- Precise Writing
- Usage and Vocabulary
- Short Essay.
Essay – 250 Marks
- To be written in the medium or language of the candidate’s choice. Candidate is required to write an essay on a specific topic. The choice of subjects will be given.
- General Studies-I 250 Marks (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)
- General Studies -II: 250 Marks (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)
- General Studies -III 250 Marks (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)
- General Studies -IV 250 Marks (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)
- Optional Subject – Paper I -250 Marks
- Optional Subject – Paper II -250 Marks
UPSC IAS Mains Optional Subject Syllabus
Candidates may choose any ONE optional subject from amongst the list of subjects given below.
|Agriculture Mains Syllabus||Law Mains Syllabus|
|Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science||Mathematics Mains Syllabus|
|Botany Mains Syllabus||Mechanical Engineering Mains Syllabus|
|Chemistry Mains Syllabus||Medical Science Mains Syllabus|
|Civil Engineering Mains Syllabus||Geology Mains Syllabus|
|Commerce Mains Syllabus||Philosophy Mains Syllabus|
|Geography Mains Syllabus||Physics Mains Syllabus|
|History Mains Syllabus||Political Science Mains Syllabus|
|Economics Mains Syllabus||Psychology Mains Syllabus|
|Electrical Engineering Mains Syllabus||Statistics Mains Syllabus|
|Zoology Mains Syllabus||Anthropology Mains Syllabus|
|Public Administration Mains Syllabus||Sociology Mains Syllabus|
|Management Mains Syllabus|
Literature of any one of the following language:
- A cut off list will be declared by UPSC after the examination and interview. The cut off list with the candidates will be shortlisted as per the vacancies available in that field.
- The results for both preliminary examination and the mains will be declared separately. The result for the prelims will be made available by July 2020 followed by mains examination in September and its result in January 2021.
- The results will be declared online and the students can check their results by entering their roll numbers in the official website of UPSC.
List of services in UPSC
Civil Service exam is conducted to recruit officers for three types of services which are State Services, All India Services and Central Services.
- Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
- Indian Police Service(IPS)
- Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
- Indian P&T Accounts and Finance Service (IP&TAFS)
- Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS)
- Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS)
- Indian Corporate Law Service (ICLS)
- Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS)
- Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES)
- Indian Information Service (IIS)
- Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS)
- Indian Postal Service (IPoS)
- Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS)
- Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS)
- Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS)
- Indian Revenue Service (IRS-IT)
- Indian Revenue Service (IRS-C&CE)
- Indian Trade Service (ITS)
- Railway Protection Force (RPF)
- Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Services (AFHCS)
- Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service (DANICS)
- Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Police Service (DANIPS)
- Pondicherry Civil Service (PCS)
- Pondicherry Police Service (PPS)
Important functionalities of each service in UPSC
1. Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
- The dream of every UPSC aspirant is to crack the exam for the post of IAS. As per the previous year analysis, candidates from general merit whose ranking is below 90 stands a fair chance to qualify for the post.
- IAS officers have the responsibilities to serve both the State and Central governments. Almost all the departments which are maintained by state or central governments are headed by an IAS officer or a team of officers.
- They are the highest valued officers moreover they are close to the ministers and they have higher authorities in the private sector too. They also serve as people’s representatives among the governments.
Some services or designations are allotted as follows:
- District Commissioner
- Secretary to Government of India
- Ministry of XYZ (Oil, Transportation, Textile, Telecommunication)
- Health Commissioner,
- Managing Director, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation,
- Secretary, National AIDS Control Organisation, etc.
2. Indian Police Service (IPS)
- Law and Order is maintained by responsible persons serving as IPS officers attached to the government of India. They are equipped with strict dress codes and have gallantry ranks representing their cadre.
- These variations help officers to enhance their skill sets which help them a lot in cracking cases and mysteries.
- IPS team also heads the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). These forces are responsible for protecting local law and order and also taking into account the highest level of security provided for prime minister and president of India.
- They also protect the Indian borders; they serve as the commanding officers and are having lot of power due to the nature of their service.
- They are responsible in cracking international cases which requires great mind, skill-sets and man force.
- Complex nature of fraud these days has created multiple domains among police services.
- Cyber Crime
- Financial Analysis
- International Trafficking
- Juvenile Crime etc.
3. Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
- These are the soul of our country as they represent the India in other countries. They justify the dignity and power of India on international shores.
- Consulates and embassies have been set up among multiple countries for contacting in case of any occasion or emergency by Indian nationals staying abroad.
- They represent our country in all International bodies like IMF, UN, UNESCO, UNICEF etc.
- Their main motive is to sustain friendly relations with other countries and protecting the rights of Indians who are living away from India.
- Ministry of External Affairs comes under the ambit of IFS officers; the head office is situated in South Block of Delhi, India where most of the international decisions of the country are gathered.
- When these officers are posted abroad, they get a proper compensation to maintain their representative country’s status quo and power in that particular country.
- They also have constant interactions with IAS officers and officials from other cadres in order to maintain better relations. They have the chance to learn foreign languages.
- Their safety is done by the local police of the serving country as well as the armed forces of India.
- For maintaining good relations, they have to hold high level meetings amongst dignitaries and expats from foreign shores.
They are responsible for maintaining
- cultural relations,
- trade relations
- academic relations
- Military relations etc.
4. Indian Revenue Service (IRS-IT)
- These officers ensure the smooth implementation of financial rules and regulations in order to generate and maintain economic decorum and revenue from multiple sources for the Government of India. Money is generated mainly through income Tax.
- Every year every citizen has to pay tax on their income depending on the income slab. Tax money has to be collected every year in order to meet the expenditure of the Government.
- With latest technology being implemented, measures are taken to control and false regulations of tax and a constant eye is kept on tax evaders and by passers.
- Tax slabs are made by the team based on the income and sources of income. Income generated either at personal level or corporate levels are to be assessed by the department.
- They are also responsible in evaluating the expenditures done during large events like elections, republic day celebrations at Red Fort etc.
5. Indian Revenue Service (CBEC) (IRS-Customs)
- Department of Revenue has a branch which is known as Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC). This department directly comes under Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
- Customs and Excise duties include tax applied on the materials or purchasing done in abroad and they are taken back in India.
- Department controls service tax, preventing smuggling and administration of matters related to Customs, central excise as well as narcotics.
- The team designs multiple patterns in order to wipe out minute issues coming in Customs.
- Laboratory has been set up to maintain the rules and regulations which helps the officers to determine the irregularities coming on board.
6. Indian Audit and Account Service (IAAS)
- Department of Indian Audit and Accounts controls the authority under the supervision of Government of India which is called CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General).
- IAAS officers are designated as the top management in audit department. Checking inconsistencies and mysterious things is called Audit.
- Officers work free from political pressure unlike other departments which comes under government of India. But this independence is under the controlled environment of CAG.
- Auditing department of Union or State government closely work with IAAS officers for better and efficient audit.
7. Indian Information Service (IIS)
- These officers are responsible in managing the government’s press, print and electronic media.
- Mainly government of India’s print media is known as Print Trust of India (PTI). They are the controller of official media of India.
- They also manage the work and revenue of Doordarshan and All India radio. These officers directly report to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
8. Indian Civil Account Services (ICAS)
- Public Financial Management is done by an ICAS officer. These officers closely look at the accounts of every citizen and mainly fraud and large transactional accounts.
- They make rules and regulations to manage the payment of government employees, pensions, financial and accounting reporting along with the internal audit inside the civil ministries.
9. Indian Corporate Law Service (ICLS)
- Corporate sector is maintained by these officers across the country. They are held for the Companies Act and Limited Liability Partnership Act.
- Officers monitor the working of a company which comes under either public sector or private sector or in public private partnership.
10. Indian Trade Service (ITS)
- This service handles the international trade and commerce of India. They also maintain the policies of Foreign Trade.
- They are responsible for the negotiations involved in international trade at multiple forums like World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund (IMF).
- Quality checks, export promotions are some of the tasks done by these officers.
11. Indian Defence Estate Service (IDES)
- Importance of Ministry of Defence is of utmost importance among all other departments. It is the biggest stake holder among all other departments.
- Officers allocated under this department have a crucial role to look after the country’s civil affairs, export import of materials. They are also appointed as the CEOs or CFOs of Cantonment Boards.
12. Indian Defence Account Service (IDAS)
- These officers are responsible for providing the advice related to financial structure, payments to different accounts and functions of internal audit in respect to the Navy, Army, Air force, Ordinance Factories, DRDO, BRO, Canteen Stores, Department of defence and allied organisations
13. Indian Ordinance Factories Service (IOFS)
- Factories which manufacture defence equipment come under Ordinance Factories.
- More than 1.5 lakh employees are working in such factories. Administration of these factories is done by IOFS officers
14. Indian Postal Service
- The officers posted here are responsible for managing and monitoring the postal services of our country. The post offices are available in every part of the country. So, sometimes the government may use these post offices to provide some other needy services as well.
15. Indian Postal and Telecommunication Accounts and Finance Service
- As the post offices are available across the country in every district and town, officers are required for maintaining the accounts and finance of the postal department.
16. Indian Railway Account Service(IRAS)
- Officers appointed in IRAS maintain the accounts of the railways.
- Indian railways are one of the largest employers in government sector.
17. Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS)
- Officers appointed in IRPS are just like the human resources department of railways.
18. Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS)
- Management of passengers and regulation the cargo traffic are the key responsibilities of the officers appointed in IRTF.
19. Railway Protection Force (RPF)
- The officers appointed here are known as security commissioners in the railway Protection Force.
20. Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (AFHQ)
- The officers appointed in AFHQ contribute in proper functioning of Armed Forces Headquarters/Inter Service Organisations except for those which are related to technical and combat.
- The joinee is appointed as a section officer. So group B is lower in hierarchy than group A.
21. Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Island Civil Service (DANICS)
- All the administrative aspects of Delhi (national capital) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Union Territory) are taken care by the officers of DANICS.
22. Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Island Police Service (DANIPS)
- Just like DANICS, the officers of DANIPS take care of law and order aspects of these territories.
23. Pondicherry Civil Service
- The officers take care of the administrative aspects of Pondicherry.
24. Pondicherry Police Service
- The officers take care of the law and order aspects of Pondicherry.
Preparation Tips to crack UPSC IAS Exam
You can start your preparation for UPSC when you enter your first year of graduation. It is always recommended to take the subject which interests you and which you will be studying or have studied in your graduation. Having a proper understanding of the syllabus will definitely help you in estimating your preparation time.
But if you are planning your first attempt, I would suggest that early preparation, at least a year before the exam date would do great justice to your studies. So, suppose you plan to give an exam in 2020, then you should begin your preparation at least by June 2019.
Here, we list out a few important pointers that help students prepare and crack the exam in the very first attempt:
1. Effective and strategic time table.
Organizing our study approach is the first step towards climbing the ladder of success. Knowing what to study and preparing a study time table to systematically complete the syllabus in time is very essential. The syllabus is usually not restricted for the exam and the more we learn, the better we are equipped to crack the exam.
Along with the set study material for reference, it is also good to keep a separate time allocation to refer to at least two national daily newspapers. Along with keeping abreast with the current affairs, one also gets in a rich source of knowledge through the papers. Vocabulary can also be improved simultaneously.
It’s very common that students generally follow the last year’s popular optional subject trend. But make sure that you don’t take an overlapping option with GS, in case you are not too confident in it. There is every possible chance that the subject may turn up counterproductive and unexpectedly tough to crack.
Also, don’t opt for such a subject which requires exhaustive and extensive preparation. As you have a limited time frame i.e. four months it’s better to choose a subject which can be completed within the stipulated time frame.
There are two time tested approaches- prelims cum mains approach and prelims approach.
Prelims cum Mains Approach
- UPSC aspirants having more than one year (such as those targeting for 2020 UPSC exam), can follow the prelims cum mains approach. The aspirants need to prepare their mains exam alongside prelims preparations.
- The aspirants need to give at least three months for preparing for their optional subject and then start preparing for GS paper for both mains as well as prelims.
- Keep the last five months only for your revision and mock tests. Make sure that you are reading the newspapers daily so as to be in contact with the current affairs. Newspapers play a pivotal role in essay writing as well.
- Revision and test series will help aspirants to understand their mistake and work hard to overcome them. This will also help in sharpening their skills.
- This approach is followed by the students which have limited frame of time. Suppose you are targeting UPSE 2020, time is short and you have already missed out on 4 months of precious time.
- You need to gear up and start studying immediately. Kick off your preparation by grabbing a newspaper and start making notes for current affairs.
- After prelims start preparing for mains exam. A mixed blend of hard work and smart work will put you on the success ladder.
- Prelims are the hardest level to cross. Once you have cracked that, you will automatically feel that your confidence level is boosted significantly.
2. Analyzing the most relevant and must-have study materials.
If you search online for the syllabus to be referred to crack the exam, you will realize it’s an ocean of material available. You will have to absorb every small detail you find in any corner of a useful book. So, basically there are all chances you will lose track in the absence of suitable directions. So, go step by step.
Explore what you will need for the preliminary and the main exam separately. Look inside the preliminary and the main exam separately, see what sections you need to study up! Take each section in detail. It’s good to make a list of all relevant sub-sections in the exam paper, based on which it will become easy for you to find a relevant and associated syllabus.
Kick off your IAS preparation by downloading all the authorised books such as NCERT and their solutions. If you are preparing in Hindi medium, NCERT books in Hindi are also available for download. You need to download the NCERT books for classes 6 to 12 as your first step towards IAS preparation. You simply cannot ignore NCERT books as they are the Holy Grail for IAS.
Reading the newspaper on a regular basis so as to correlate current affairs with each subject should be inculcated. Always remember that UPSC will ask logical questions or the application based ones and not direct ones.
If you are good in English, then you can read “The Hindu” but other English newspapers such as “The times of India” or “The Tribune” are equally good. You can also read magazines such as Yojana and The Front-line etc to improve your essay writing skills.
3. Peer discussion and collaborating with people who have cracked the exam previously.
Discuss ideas with other students who are also appearing for the exam, network extensively. The peer group members can meet once in a week to discuss important topics of study and exchange helpful information. This way, you will get a better idea of the exam and get an even higher foothold of what your target should be in the exam.
Another important point is to have regular follow ups with peers who have previously cracked the exam successfully. Learn how to maintain a strict time tab in the exam. It’s very easy to let our mind get entangled in finding a solution for a particular question and find less time for other questions. Basically, time management is a trick you can learn from peers who have solved the exam successfully in a previous attempt.
4. Developing your own unique method of creating notes.
Whether you made your own notes while completing your degrees or not doesn’t matter! Make sure you prepare an organized set of notes for your UPSC exam preparation. It will reward you very well. For quick glances during short breaks and an important task of revision is made easy, thanks to the notes you created.
Keep your notes organized and as a good reference to look up to. Write down important points. Highlight key facts and remember to underline critical points under any aspect.
Practice more and more question from previous year’s papers to improve your writing skills. Assess yourself by attempting the question in a stipulated time frame. Read the editorial sections of the newspaper, this will help in essay writing and opinion building.
5. Revising frequently and making sticky notes for visual grasping.
Revision is an important part of studying! Do not underestimate the importance of revision in your preparation. It acts like a tastemaker in your preparation. The more you revise from time to time; the better is your knowledge about the topic.
When you have time for short breaks in between, take some effort to quickly glance through previously studied sections. Just visually glancing over already-studied parts will help in better interpretation of the concept.
It is important to have clarity in your understanding and learning. What you find tough to remember can be written on a sticky note and placed at a place that you will often look up.
For example, you can make a chart of all the important dates you need to remember in a subject like history and hang it on your room wall. This way your visual senses will keep looking at the chart, making your learn it faster.
6. Organizing mock tests yourself with a strict time-line.
Analyse the previous year’s papers; this will help you to get an insight on the pattern which is followed. The pattern will be changing every year but this will give you an idea that how questions are framed and how you will be deducing answers.
Test yourself from time to time. Self assessment is helpful in making you analyze your strong and weak points. You will learn time management too. You can better your problem solving skills and work at analyzing core concepts and applying them while solving problems.
You will also learn about variety in the exam paper and anticipate the type of questions that may be asked. You will get acquainted with the paper pattern and have a brief idea about how much time to spend roughly on each question. Spending too much time or too less time on a question may be a bad option. Learn to judiciously manage time.
Joining a test series or mock test series will help you know your strengths and weaknesses. Only attempting the tests won’t suffice, you need to analyse your mistakes as well. Make sure that you work over them and they are not repeated.
7. Taking help from a good coaching centre.
Coaching centers work on the ‘been there, done that’ concept. They are there to train you strictly from an exam point of view. Be careful in your choice of a good coaching centre. Make sure it is not too far from the place you stay, make sure it is affordable too, as you are bound to invest both money and time in it. Cut on travel time.
It shouldn’t be that you spend all the time travelling to your coaching centre and back, and have very less time for study and preparation.
Also, take care not to pile up too much of unnecessary study material as it will only confuse you and make you unorganized in your studies. Be crisp and clear in what you need for your preparation.
8. Choosing your optional subjects wisely and carefully.
Choose a subject area that you are good at, or an expert at. Look into what your previous specialization was at your degree level. For instance, if you were good at history during your studies but were passionate about sociology, choose the one where you have more extensive knowledge.
Choose the one where you have clarity in terms of conceptual understanding and factual grasping. See the depth of knowledge in the subject area that you choose. Make sure you have access to key notes and terminologies associated with the subject you choose.
Don’t take the optional paper over the trend or popularity. Choose the subject in which you are comfortable. Suppose you are good at maths but you hate other subjects. So there is no point in taking other subject no matter how scoring it may be. If you are not satisfied, then just leave that and choose a subject of your interest.
9. Covering wide range of topics more important than going in-depth with fewer topics.
GS or General Science is one such subject which is common for both prelims and mains exam. Study them alongside. This will save your energy as well as time. The length or depth of knowledge you have in a few topics would not be too significant.
It would be more functional and valuable if you covered more number of topics with reasonable knowledge in those topics, with importance being given to the key aspects of such topics. By referring a lot of materials, you should be able to gauge what to learn and grasp under a given study topic.
Prepare a list of what you think is important, topics for your study, indication for topics that need more importance, topics that need revision, etc.
The last few days prior to your exam should be exclusively meant for revision. Last minute preparation in trying to learn new concepts may not yield very good results and builds up higher levels of tension in one’s mind. Maintain a cool and relaxed state of mind while attempting the paper.
Be calm and approach the paper in a positive state of mind. Motivate yourself to be organized in studies and set a goal and roadmap to achieve your dream with positive results.