The UPSC conducts the Civil Services Examination every year. Civil Services are considered one of the most prestigious careers in India and is highly sought after among the youth. The IAS exam as the Civil Services Examination is popularly known, is considered one of the toughest exams in the country. Many graduates plan on appearing for the Civil Services Examination to realise their dream of serving the nation as IAS, IPS, IRS or IFS Officers.
Most aspirants might ponder over the question “How to start preparing for IAS?” Civil Services preparation can be started by anyone willing and eligible to appear in the examination. Such candidates can go through the eligibility criteria, age limit and the number of attempts available from the UPSC’s official website. The aspirants should keep the following points in mind while preparing:
General Tips for UPSC Preparation
- Understand the Syllabus:
Before starting preparation, one has to read through the entire UPSC syllabus available in the notification from the previous year and understand the requirements. Contrary to popular perception, the UPSC syllabus is well defined though the knowledge level required is high. The questions in the prelims and mains will be asked from well within the syllabus.
- Have a Preparation Strategy and Time Table:
It is important to have a well-planned strategy to study for the IAS exam. A proper timeline and a well-planned coverage of the syllabus is instrumental to success in the examination. It is imperative to have consistency in preparation to be able to succeed in the exam.
- Make a List of Books:
One must cover a lot of topics while preparing for UPSC Civil Services. As such, the number of books one has to read can quickly become overwhelming. A way to not get overwhelmed is to make a list of all the books we have to read, make notes while reading each book and refer to the notes periodically while preparing for the exam.
- Cover Current Affairs on a Daily Basis:
Current affairs for UPSC Preparation is of utmost importance. Aspirants should keep abreast of current affairs by regularly reading at least one reputed newspaper daily and keep notes of important events. Other online material for current affairs can be referenced as a supplement to reading the newspaper but should not replace it completely. Also, read a monthly current affairs digest to keep refreshing your memory.
- Answer Writing Practice:
The mains examination tests the writing ability of the candidate along with the depth of subject knowledge. The answers should be simple and concise and completed within the time limit. The art of writing answers to the point by addressing the demands of the question comes with lots of practice. Therefore it is necessary to start answer writing practice very early in the preparation.
- Essay Writing Practice:
Many people think that answer writing practice and essay writing practice is the same. While the descriptive answers required for mains are essays in their own right, the essay paper in mains requires more practice as the essays which are required to be written in it can be from varied topics. It is advisable to write at least 5 essays each month to stay current and understand the style and speed required for the paper.
- Answering Test Series on a Timed Basis:
Answering test series is an important part of UPSC preparation. This should be done on a timed basis, ideally twice a week or weekly depending on your comfort level. Subscribing to a reputedIAS test series and making sure to attempt them regularly makes the difference between being able to answer questions on time or having to leave questions to which answers are known due to lack of time.
Evaluation of your own performance and getting it reviewed from experienced individuals is a good way to know which area needs improvement. Candidates should make sure that they evaluate their own performance periodically and get feedback on the same from experts. This sounds like too much effort, but is a necessary part of preparing for the UPSC Exam.
- Discuss Topics With Fellow Aspirants:
While this may not fit the style of preparation or even seem like a good idea given the competition level, it is a must as it gives an insight into what issues and topics one may not have paid attention to. Regularly discussing IAS related topics helps keep the knowledge of those topics updated as well as keeping you sharp. However, one should learn how to keep a discussion on track so as not to lose focus on the more important tasks like reading and writing answers.
- Read Toppers’ Interviews:
Reading IAS toppers interviews occasionally, analysing what worked for them and implementing those ideas in your preparation strategy is a good idea to boost preparation. It also helps avoid pitfalls while preparing for specific stages of the exam. As often said, the best experience is gained second hand.
IAS preparation is a long process. An aspirant has to be determined and disciplined. Consistency is a very important part of a successful preparation strategy. With the above tips and the right guidance, it is possible to crack the exam in one attempt.