There is no sure shot formula to crack the civil services exams conducted by the UPSC – one of the toughest competitive exams in the country. Lakhs of contenders write the prelims and only a few hundred are finally appointed as civil servants. The numbers reveal that cracking the IAS exam requires a specialised approach to preparation. This article compiles ten handy tips to clear the civil services exam as disclosed by previous IAS toppers themselves. This article gives you toppers’ tips on how to clear the UPSC exam. So read on and get inspired!
IAS Tips from Toppers
Tip #1: When to start UPSC preparation
Most toppers give themselves at least a year to prepare for the UPSC exams. The syllabus to be covered is mammoth and it requires time to acquire a comprehensive understanding of the topics involved.
Tip #2: How to choose optional subject for UPSC
You might be really motivated to study and put in extra-long hours when you start your IAS preparation, but would you be able to remain as motivated half-way through or until the very end? So, it is essential to choose subjects that you are genuinely interested in so that you are enthused about learning more about the topics.
Brief checklist for how to select an optional:
- Narrow the entire list of optional subjects into a maximum of 3 – 4 subjects which you can pursue.
- Go through the syllabi of those shortlisted subjects.
- Evaluate your own academic background and knowledge levels.
- Check your interests in the subjects.
- Weigh the pros and cons of each subject.
- Choose one subject.
For an elaborate strategy on how to select an optional subject for IAS mains, check the linked article.
Tip #3: How to make notes for IAS
Most IAS toppers swear by this technique of studying. Writing reinforces what you have learned and also helps you organise your learning content. This makes recollection easier. If you find it difficult to make notes from newspapers, you can refer to our daily current affairs which are updated regularly. This gives the best analysis of the daily news for UPSC, and also gives sample UPSC prelims and mains questions.
Tip #4: How to write answers in UPSC
Wherever possible, include diagrams, flowcharts, etc. to enhance your answers. They reveal a clear understanding of the concept and would fetch you more marks. Presentation is utmost important. Getting marks in the exam is about first impressions, so, keep it neat, simple, readable and compact.
Tip # 5: NCERT books for UPSC
There are multiple sources of study material for UPSC exams but your basic reading should ideally start with NCERT textbooks. The concepts are explained in simple language. It is recommended to read NCERT books from class VI to class XII for all the relevant subjects.
You can download all the NCERT needed for UPSC exam here.
Tip #6: Newspapers for UPSC
If you are an aspiring civil servant, you should know that reading newspapers are an indispensable part of your civil services exam preparation. Almost all toppers recommend reading The Hindu and The Indian Express to be included as part of your daily routine.
Follow our daily news analysis and news analysis video that is updated every day, giving you the important news items dissected and explained in the most lucid manner for the UPSC exam. Click on the links in the table below to read more.
Tip #7: UPSC Test series
No preparation for the UPSC exams is complete without taking mock tests of the prelims and the mains. They serve the twin purposes of giving you a fair idea of what questions to expect and also helps you time your writing.
Try out IAS Current Affairs Quiz!
Tip #8: Stay healthy
A healthy body fuels an active mind. Apart from intense studying you should also eat right, sleep well, and get enough exercise that will keep you going to crack the civil services exams.
Tip #9: Never give up
Finally, have a never say die attitude. Never lose sight of your goal. A lot of successful IAS toppers got through in their third and fourth attempts. And it is worth waiting and trying again till you succeed. In the words of American civil rights champion Jesse Jackson, ‘If you fall behind, run faster. Never give up, never surrender, and rise up against the odds.’