How To Prepare For Civil Services Exams

In daily routine there is not any ideal time to study because it has to be suited with the needs and requirement of the student. But regularity must be there. Even if you are studying for 5-6 hours which are the bare minimum then you have to be very regular till you are finally selected into the service.

Because there are long breaks between the
exams (PT-mains, mains-interview, and interview-PT). That is time where most of the students are very casual and they don't devote time to studies. The key is that one should be very regular in studies until one gets service of his choice.

Daily routine:

The exam being a long process and since at every stage the focus is different, the routine varies. Generally I am an early riser; I used to get up at 6-6.30 in the morning. By 7 I used to sit for studies. I had divided my day in three slots each of three hours. It was a bit flexible kind of routine.

I used to take out 3 hours between 7-12 and then 12-6 and then 6- I 2. In these three hours two hours were intensive. On an average 5-6 hours study is must. I used to give 2-3 hours every day to optional and one subject of General studies. I would advice candidates to take out 2-3 hours twice a month to practice essays_ The optional subject should be touched daily.

History should not be left for too long. Tests are very important so one should take them every week. He should complete the syllabus five-six days ahead of the test. This will improve his capacity to recall things and he will feel at ease during the exam because during that time you cannot revise everything.

Objective of study:
The core objective is not to get a degree in that subject but to clear and get a good rank in the UPSC exam. For that you will have to understand the nature of the question paper... what they are expecting and what will get you marks. The pattern of questions asked by UPSC has changed from what they asked five years back. Now they are very specific.

They demand analysis of specific areas so you need to have a broad understanding of all the topics. But, in few areas that are given in the syllabus you need to have an in-depth knowledge of the subject. The clarity of concept is very important; your thinking and reasoning abilities need to be developed.

So that when a question is asked you are not confused on the topic and you can address what is being asked. You can't afford to be too vague and generalist while writing the answers. Because now they are asking you to answer a ten marks question within 150-200 words. You have to be very specific in what the question is how well you understand it. You need to have a very clear concept of what the things are. You have to breakdown various complex concepts into simple ones and correlate with various other factors. This will help you enrich the answers.

Notes: You need to revise the entire syllabus atleast three to four times before exams. And one cannot go through the books again and again. When you are reading for the first or the second time you should make notes, in a simplistic manner based on your understanding of the subject. It should not be very superfluous or-made in a ritualistic manner.

And when you are covering the topic for the third time one should make mini notes. In this way you might be able to revise the entire paper in a week. By November you should have the notes of every subject specially the tougher ones, so that before exams in a very short period of time you are able to revise it. Note making should be a very personalized kind of thing based on your needs and requirements. Borrowed notes might not be as helpful for you.

Writing pattern
Candidates often have doubts whether they should write answers in point for or paragraph form. There is no fixed pattern because UPSC is not asking you to write in any of the forms. You should write in a manner in which you are most comfortable with. If you have enough facts then obviously you should write your answers in points. If the paper is very argumentative you have to develop arguments.

The writing pattern depends on the demand of the question. Writing is the most important part of UPSC exams as out of 2025 mark 1750 marks are based on written exams. It has to be supplemented with clarity of thought. Roughly you get 7 minutes to answer a question. The level of thinking should be such that within a minute the answer must be formed in mind and within next six minutes it should be penned down.

When one starts preparing for exams, his preparation for essays and interview also starts. You need to clear your thought process, make things simple, analyse them from different aspects. This will help you in writing essays. The structure and flow of an essay is very important. Flow in essay will only come when you have clarity in your mind and your concepts are dear.

In a month one should practice atleast two essays. UPSC looks for how comprehensive, concise, clear, innovative and original your essay is. Essays are not about facts and figures or Flowery language... it's a myth and needs to be dismantled at the very initial stage. Simple and easy to read the essays fetch you good marks.

Faith and confidence:
Pigeonhole approach is not a good in this exam. Whatever you study at the initial stage it helps you in the later stages. The nature o: the exam is subjective. People generally think of cracking the exam in one go and if not then of not taking it anymore. UPSC has given you 4-6 attempts. So the commission itself is not sure that they can select the desired candidate in the first time.

It is not an objective exam. So even if you are ready and confident there are chances that you won't be given service of your choice or make it to the final list. So in that case, don't get disheartened, don't question your abilities, and take the exam because they are giving you four attempts. Having faith and confidence in one's abilities plays a very important role in the exams.

Stress management:

Taking stress affects your creativity and restricts your thought process. Try to relax by developing some hobbies, I used to chat with friends on constructive events. A stress buster hobby also helps during the interviews.

Interview is the grand finale of the long years you have prepared for the exam. So basic things that one should keep in mind while taking the interview is that you should be honest and sincere in answering questions, because the job that you are being considered for is one of the toughest jobs. Casual approach will not work.

They look for sincerity and honesty. Don't bluff; rather present your real self. It is not a question answer session. Try to display positive traits of your personality. It is not the test of knowledge; rather they see the verb: part of communication. They test your confidence while you speak. The check your grasping power, your understanding on o subject.

The candidate gets prepared to take the interview while preparing for the earlier stages of the exam, only fine-tuning or polishing is required. Interview is just a way to check what your response is. If you are asked vague questions it is just to check how you respond to them. Similarly they might be testing you under stress.

-AK Mishra,
Chanakya IAS Academy

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