Union public service commission is India’s premier central recruiting agency. It is responsible for an appointment for an examination of all India services. So, how to prepare for UPSC?
This implies that those who aspire to become IAS, IRS, IPS, IFS and other such officers need to first qualify the CSE (civil services examination) which is conducted by the UPSC.
The Civil Services Examination is not an over-hyped exam, it is a really hard nut to crack and out lakhs of aspirants from all over the country, only about 1000 candidates can make through it. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot qualify it.
The presumption that only genius minds and extremely studious candidates are the ones who can crack it, falls flat when you listen to the interview of most of the toppers. The toppers are more or less like average students, who put in a tremendous effort to fulfill their dreams with full dedication.
PATTERN OF THE EXAM AND OTHER IMPORTANT POINTS
Any Indian person (specifically for IAS, IPS) who is between 21 and 32 years of age on 1 August of the year, in which the candidate aspires to sit for the exam, can attempt the exam. The age varies for the reserved candidates. Also, the candidate must have a valid graduation degree. The maximum number of attempts for an unreserved candidate is 6; however, this varies accordingly for candidates belonging to the other categories.
The Civil Service Exam has 3 stages.
This is an objective paper which is further divided into CSAT and the general studies paper. The preliminary examination is usually conducted in the first week of June. This paper is qualifying in nature and the score is not included while computing the candidate’s rank. There is a negative marking of 33% and the time available is just 2 hours. So you need to race against the clock.
This is a 200 mark paper wherein the candidates need to score a minimum of 66.5 marks to get their GS paper evaluated. This aims to test the candidate’s analytical ability and comprehension skills. A wide variety of quantitative aptitude books are available which can help the candidates ace this section.
b) GENERAL STUDIES
This is also a 200 mark paper. The syllabus for prelims usually focuses on the basics of all the major topics of History, Geography, Polity, Economics, environment, and science. It also includes current events that are of national and international importance.
In the mains examination, the candidates have to attempt 9 papers; all being subjective (essay type). The total marks for this section are 1750.
Out of these 9, two papers are just qualifying in nature, i.e.
a) Paper A- English
b) Paper B- Any Indian language
The rest of the 7 papers include an essay test, a test for history, a test for geography, a test for polity and a test that will focus on the key concepts of economics, science, and the environment. Another paper which is called the “ethics” paper focuses on concepts relating to ethics, integrity and relating aptitude.
The last 2 papers are of the Optional subject, which implies a test on a subject that the aspirants themselves have to choose from a provided list. Usually, the students are advised to choose an option which they have studied in their graduation, or which they are fond of. This would help in easy preparation and would also help to prevent monotony while preparing.
The last step of this ladder is the interview. A panel of experts and professionals interview the candidate. This is a rigorous process as the panel aims to check the suitability of the candidate for the services. Usually, the candidates fear this stage the most although the interview is the easiest of all the 3 stages. The candidate is already among the top 10,000 candidates and he has a great acumen and theoretical knowledge. All that he needs to do is to show alertness and self-confidence as a tick in time saves nine!
STRATEGY FOR PREPARATION
Out of lakhs of aspirants who apply for the exam, 36% drop the idea of even appearing in the exam. Thereby, pointing to the fact that the exam is really difficult. This is the highest drop out rate for any exam in India. So if you aspire to be a civil servant, you must dare to do the extreme.
Step 1: PREVIOUS YEAR PAPERS
The foremost step (both for the beginners and the others) is to skim through the past year’s papers, as it gives basic ideas and direction to the candidate. After all, smart work is the key to such competitive exams.
Step 2: READING THE NEWSPAPER
Anyone who aspires to be an IAS must fully acquaint with the current events which are happening in the world. Reading a newspaper daily would help in building a basic foundation for the candidate, moreover, most of the questions asked are related to the current events. Besides general knowledge, a newspaper also helps in improving one’s vocabulary.
STEP 3: READING THE NCERTS
The NCERT textbooks from class 6-12 are very useful for an aspirant. It will help in making a candidate familiar with the basic concepts. Some parts, for instance, polity can be skipped here, because the reference books available for this section are fairly well detailed. However, a quick reading of the basics would always help.
STEP 4: ATTEMPTING MOCKS
Solving past year papers zeroes out the chances of errors in the examination. It not only gives a boost to your preparation but also increases your speed and accuracy. Further, it also helps you to manage your time.
PRACTISE MAKES A MAN PERFECT!
STEP 5: REVISION
This is an equally important step; until you have revised you are never confident of the concepts. Moreover, a quick revision before the exam puts
STEP 6: MAINTAINING YOUR SELF CONFIDENT
A person who constantly doubts himself is more likely to fail than the one who stays positive and believes in himself. So in an exam like the Civil Services, you need to have unflinching confidence. Nobody will believe in you unless you do. Without this kind of self-belief, seeing through this tough exam would be a difficult task.
COMMON MYTHS/ COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
IS COACHING NECESSARY?
This is a very frequent thought which pesters the mind of almost every candidate. Enrolling into a coaching institution, or not doing so should be a personal decision because even after you join the most reputed institution it is you who has to work hard, they can provide you the material but they can not write the paper for you. Can they?
However, if you need a direction the internet is always the best and the most viable source. With the advent of technology, even the books are available in PDF format on the internet.
WHICH BOOKS TO READ AND WHICH BOOKS NOT TO READ
There is no comprehensive list of books that can provide sure shot success. The candidate should make proper analysis before choosing the books because it is the quality that matters and not the quantity. Even if you are reading 10 books make sure that you have read them properly, rather than trying to read 50 books, all in a haphazard manner.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE OPTIONAL SUBJECT
Make a very cautious analysis before choosing the optional subject. It is very important to know that students should never choose a subject because it is scoring. A keen interest in that subject is the key prerequisite for choosing the optional. You can score marks in any subject if you study it properly, and for the proper study, you need to have a great fervor for that subject.
These are the few tips that can help the aspirants to notch up their success rate; however, the ultimate game-changer in success is the effort. It is your perseverance that will help you reach the shore. You also prepare yourself to face failures and get back to fight back with more strength.
Lastly, success comes to you when you are truly ready, just at the right time. Give every attempt like it’s your first attempt. Please understand that it is a challenging exam and do not get disheartened if it takes more time to qualify it, than what you have anticipated.
Believe in yourself and give it your best shot because if you can dare it, you can always do it.
All the best!
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