Last Minute Preparations for Civil Services

Cracking the Civil Services is a gruelling task, not just mentally but physically and emotionally too. Many talented students aspire to choose civil services as a career option, but only the finest and the most talented ones come out with flying colours. The candidates often find Civil Services Exam a hard nut to crack not because of lack of hard-work or potential, but due to lack of well-planned strategy. Optimistic approach, motivation to succeed, and time management, etc play a
pivotal role as well. 

Ideally, interested candidates should start their preparation well on time. But for the ones who do not have enough time and are counting on the last minute preparations, should have a positive mindset and a practical strategy. Firstly, one doesn't need to know everything under the sun to clear prelims, but it is important to understand the nature of UPSC questions to crack this exam.

Though the strategy can vary from person to person, giving weightage to time and emphasising on areas of importance generally pays well at the end. Therefore, prioritise your time, syllabus and study materials! Many candidates make a mistake of overloading themselves with lots of information and with the result they end up retaining nothing. Therefore, one should be able to differentiate between relevant and irrelevant. As a rule, never neglect important areas. Secondly, since the prelims is an elimination round, candidates should focus only on the information needed and filter out the rest. Keep yourself informed about current events and world affairs. A focused approach keeping in mind the UPSC Mains syllabus is generally adopted by candidates with long term strategy.

Always remember that the weightage in Civil Services examination will never remain the same, and UPSC is known for surprises. Importance can shift from one subject to the other, so it is important to build knowledge about the fundamental concepts on all the topics as per UPSC syllabus. Once you are strong with the basics, then turn to previous year question papers to find out the nature of UPSC questions. You will see that in the last couple of years UPSC has shifted from factual questions to conceptual questions. Keeping this information in mind, go through as much study material available.
For prelims, you may test yourself by giving mock test series available in books and online too. Beware of negative marking, so good presence of mind is needed to eliminate the least appropriate options. Also, as you practice, mark a negative for every wrong answer. This will help to build your confidence level.

Here are a few tips for the last minute preparations:

Well formulated strategy along with optimum time management are the two basics to achieve your dream goal. It is very important to formulate your own strategy based on your strengths and weaknesses. However for the general guidance to tackle Civil Services examination, here are some guidelines which will help the aspirant to achieve success.

Selection of books. It is advisable not to go through a lot of books, instead go through one quality book on each topic which clarifies your basic concept. Standard books not only save your precious time but also guide you as a perfect mentor. So always rely on standard good books and study material. Also, it is advisable to collect various books on different topics well  in advance so as to save time for the last minute hassle. Chanakya IAS Academy has its very own publication department, which provides students study material which are up to date so to incorporate the latest developments and trends.

Revise a lot. Prepare short notes with important points or briefs for each topic on loose A4 sheets, these you can keep handy and refer while revising during last days. This practice of making self notes will also help you recollect answers while appearing question paper. 

Effective time management is the key to efficient preparation for the Civil Service exam. The syllabus is vast and the time in hand is less, especially if you are aiming to do last minute preparations. There is no fixed formula that can guide you how much time must be spent on each subject. Ideally your time distribution should be according to your own strengths and weaknesses. While dividing your time, consider the following points:
•How much you have already studied
•Whether this is your first attempt or there have been earlier attempts

Simplify. While studying, facts and figures can be further simplified and represented on charts and they can be arranged in form of tables and graphs. Another important technique to help in retaining information is the use of abbreviations. Since the syllabus is exhaustive, abbreviations help you to remember it better.

Speed and accuracy are very important, so try and solve last 2-3 years question paper of civil services prelims exam. This is a very important exercise as part of your last 2 months preparation strategy. Generally students forget (especially 1st timers) or avoid practicing mock tests. Do not panic if you can’t solve them correctly but attempting them would help you overcome your anxiety. The idea is to make you familiar with the exam pattern and know if you are clear with your basics and concepts.

Try to identify the trend.
When solving previous year question papers, try to map a pattern in the topics being focused on by UPSC. This way you can emphasise more on topics which are more expected to be asked in the prelims 2016. Those who clear UPSC prelims in the first attempt always prepare with a definite game plan in mind. Else the syllabus is so vast that preparing well for it is next to impossible.

Join a short term regular test series classes.
This can help you get into the habit of solving questions in a fixed time frame. When you decide to join a test series for CSE, opt for an academy where there are a good number of students enrolled so that you can get a fair idea of your relative performance. And don't forget to track improvement of your performance. At Chanakya IAS Academy, provides a set of 10 sets of test series each for paper 1 and paper 2. Test Series will be available at all centres from 1st March 2016 onwards.

Improvise. Just browsing through study material or taking tests of various institutes is not enough. After every study session you must be able to infer your weak areas. After you take a test you must mark the topics which you were not able to answer correctly. In your next revision try focusing on those topics. Leaving loopholes in a topic that you have already covered is not a good way to go. If you make a habit of doing that, you’ll start building enough confidence and will automatically overcome your anxiety and will be able to prepare and attempt the exam with a peaceful mind.

-AK Mishra

Chankya IAS Academy

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