IAS Preparation Tips from Topper Artika Shukla, AIR 4/CSE 2015

Dr Artika Shukla secured a commendable All-India rank of 4 in the civil services exam 2015. In this article she shares her valuable tips to aspirants preparing for the UPSC exam.

Preparation tips for UPSC Prelims

When you prepare for the IAS prelims, your goal should be to qualify for the mains and not necessarily to score maximum marks. The CSAT requires only 33% marks, so don’t spend too much time on it. If you are weak in English and Maths, just solve the previous years’ UPSC question papers and work on your weak points. When you prepare for the GS paper 1, start with those topics that overlap with the mains papers. Focus on history, geography and economics. Understand concepts but for the prelims you cannot avoid studying facts also.

Focus on current affairs. The science and technology, environment and ecology sections should be sourced from the current affairs topics.

Read the newspaper every day. Don’t stop reading it prior to the prelims. Questions can come from news items that featured even a few days before the exam. In addition, this is important for the mains exam too.

Very Important:

Practice at least 20 – 25 test papers for the IAS prelims exam. This is more important than all the textbooks. A month before the exam, practice a test daily.

Preparation tips for UPSC Mains

Here, you must focus on how to improve your answers than the average candidate because your total marks will decide your final rank, which in turn, decides your fate in the UPSC civil services exam.

Essay paper

  • You don’t need a special preparation plan for this paper. The material can be obtained from your preparation for the General Studies 1 and 2, and also current affairs.
  • Always practice essays in a time-bound manner.
  • Learn a few quotes about women, education, empowerment, democracy, nationalism, youth, etc. by eminent personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Max Webber, Auguste Comte, etc. They embellish your essays and take it a notch up.

GS Paper 1

  • There is a lot of static material here.
  • World history is important.
  • India after independence is not that important. You should prioritise the topics according to the time you have left for your preparation.

GS Paper 2

  • This paper is all dynamic. It is recommended that you finish Laxmikanth’s book on Indian Polity before the prelims itself. Now, you should focus on current affairs.
  • PRS website, PIB and Yojana are absolute musts. Check out BYJU’S Gist of PIB and Gist of Yojana.
  • You should also note that the questions on International Relations are not that deep. You don’t have to delve deep into the topics.

GS Paper 3

  • Economic Survey is extremely important. It helps in apart from GS paper 2, also in GS paper 2 and the essay paper. You can expect a question taken directly from this document.
  • ARC reports are also important. 
  • In the science and tech and environment sections, current affairs should be the focus. For the basics, you can go through the NCERT textbooks. If you come across a new development in science that is important or a new initiative in science by the Indian government, always go through the basic science behind the new technology or initiative.
  • Questions can come from space technology and satellites. This is an easy and scoring topic.

Don’t be worried about the exam; be regular!

Take a look at Artika Shukla’s marks in UPSC Exam:

Artika Shukla marks in UPSC
  • Essay: 139/250
  • GS 1: 88/250
  • GS 2: 96/250
  • GS 3: 112/250
  • GS 4: 106/250
  • Optional 1 (Medical Science): 144/250
  • Optional 2 (Medical Science): 142/250
  • Written Total: 827/1750
  • Interview: 173/275
  • Total (Mains): 1000/2025 (49.38%)

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