Frequently Asked Questions
I am new to this field of Civil Services, from where and how should I start?
It is the first challenging question that almost all the aspirants face while getting started. The syllabus and topics to be covered are so vast that the beginners get confused how to initiate. It should be kept in mind that “Even a journey of thousand miles began with a single step”. The first and foremost thing that every aspirant must is to have clarity about the optional subjects to be taken for the Main examination.
The aspirants should first go through the examination pattern and syllabus of Civil Services exam. One should also know the attributes that the UPSC tend to look for in the aspirants.
How should I start for the General Studies?
The syllabus of General Studies is very vast and inter disciplinary in nature. It covers divergent topics from number of subjects. It’s an established fact that irrespective of the educational background of an aspirant there are a few subjects which he/she is not well acquainted with. Thus this exam puts everyone on the level playing field.
The best way to start preparing for General Studies is to start with NCERT books from class 6th to 12th. It is advisable to make notes of the concepts and important facts. With the shift in Examination pattern the sources on internet like Wikipedia have also become valuable resources.
For General Studies the regular reading of Newspapers (The Hindu and Indian Express) and Magazines like Yojna, Kurukshetra and Frontline is also very important.
What should be factors that should be kept in mind while choosing the Optional Subjects?
The choosing of Optional Subjects is a very crucial decision. The following factors should be kept in mind while selecting Optional:
It is always beneficial to choose the Optionals which the aspirants have studied during their educational career. The foremost priority should be given to the subjects which the aspirants find interesting.
The different subjects require different kind of skill sets to gain mastery. The aspirants should be aware of their strengths and requirements of the subjects. They should essentially choose those subjects where they can apply their strengths effectively
The decision of choosing the optional Subjects should not be based on the “success rate” of the subject in the Civil services exam
The availability of the study material should also be one of the criteria for choosing the optional
The aspirants should not base their decision the myths like “popular Subjects and scoring subjects”.
How much time is required to prepare for Civil Services Exam? How much time one should devote to qualify the exam?
Ideally one should start 9-10 months before the prelims. At least one Optional Subject should be ready before one sits for the Prelims in the month of May. As there is not much gap between the Prelims and Mains and also the two exams are based on the different patterns, thus it is advisable to finish at least one option prior to Prelims.
How to prepare for the Essay?
Essay requires a definite strategy to score good marks. The best way to prepare for the Essay is to practice writing it on a regular basis. One should know how to clearly articulate his/her thoughts on paper that too in a rational manner. This requires practice of writing.
It is advisable to practice writing on a regular basis. With the social media available these days it is advisable that aspirants share their thoughts with the other likeminded people. The forums on the internet can be good a source of feedback.
Thus apart from conventional writing, the aspirants should also try writing blogs, mails etc in various forums to sharpen their articulation and manifestation skills.
How important are the writing skills for cracking Civil Services?
Writing Skills play a major role to determine a candidate’s fate in Civil Services. However it should be kept in mind that Civil Services Exam is not a test of language. Thus writing skills does not mean hyper flowery language devoid of thought and clarity. The ideal writing skills for a candidate of Civil Services should essentially be seen as a vehicle of expression of thoughts effectively, powerfully in a lucid manner.
Do the marks obtained in the Prelims have weightage in final merit?
No. Prelim stage is just a qualifying stage. It is meant for screening only. In the final merit only the marks obtained in Mains and Personality Test are counted.
I have always been a mediocre student in my educational career. Should I try for this exam as the competition is very tough?
Civil Services Exam is very different from the other exams of colleges and Universities. There are students with average and below average performance in academics who have emerged to be toppers and have passed the Civil Services Exam with flying colors.
Are there some Optional subjects that are high scoring?
It’s a myth that some of the Optional subjects are high scoring. The UPSC go for inter-subject and intra-subject scaling in order to keep all the subjects on the same level.
Can one opt for the subjects which one has not studied during his/her educational career?
Yes, one can opt for any subject irrespective of his/her educational background.
Does note making help in preparation?
Yes, it does. But one should always rely on his/her own hand made notes.
Do the Prelims and Mains require different strategies?
The exams are different and require different skills. However, it is always advisable to adopt an integrated approach to prepare for them.
How important is time management?
It is the most important part of preparation.
How should one go for the time management?
The time allotted to different subjects should depend upon following factors:
The weightage of the subject in the Civil Services Exam
The difficulty level of the subjects
The aspirants should not ignore the subjects just because they find that they are difficult or have never studied in their educational career.
How reliable is the internet as a source of information for the civil services?
The internet has emerged as a new source of preparation. The bulk of information is available on the internet on various topics. The Search Engines give the reference of millions of pages when a topic is searched. However one should be aware of the reliability of the sources. The aspirants should not waste their valuable time in reading the information which comes from unreliable sources.
Apart from aptitude what else is required to crack the exam?
The emotional intelligence is equally important as aptitude to crack the exam. The whole process of this exam takes a long time to get complete. Thus one should be emotionally strong to sustain the pressure and move in one direction to achieve the goal.