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IAS Preparation Tips for Beginners

You are about launch yourself in to what is considered as India’s one of the toughest Competitive Exams. It is going to be long battle. But all this should not frighten you provided you consider this as a challenge and an adventurous journey in your student career. The Rewards which are for life time, are worth the efforts you have put in. Have no doubts on that.
Just to give a brief idea, Civil Service Examination consists of three levels of examinations.

  1. Preliminary Examination. It consists of two papers.

    They are basically, objective / multiple choice questions type: 
    i. Paper – I (General Studies: duration – 2 hours; Marks – 200)
    ii. Paper – II (Civil Services Aptitude Test duration – 2 hours; Marks – 200)
    i. The minimum qualifying marks for Paper II is 33 percent.
    ii. In both Paper I and Paper II for each wrong answer there is a negative marking of 1/3rd of the allotted marks of that question.

  2. The second stage of the civil services is IAS Mains Exam (subjective or descriptive type) and it consists a total of 9 papers:
    I. Essay 
    II. English
    III. General Studies Paper I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)
    IV. General Studies Paper II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)
    V. General Studies Paper III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)
    VI. General Studies Paper IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)
    VII. Optional Subject Paper I
    VIII. Optional Subject Paper II
    IX. Language Paper

  3. Those, who clear UPSC Mains exam with the prescribed cut offs will be called for personality test/interview round (the third and final round) by the commission which will be held only in the UPSC Bhawan in New Delhi.

How to Start:

As you can see in the list of Papers above and detailed syllabus, CS Examinations will demand study of all aspects of India i.e., Polity, History, Freedom Movement, Geography, General Studies, General Science, Ethics, Values, Integrity, Attitude Etc. The subjects and articles and essays offer themselves for short and big questions. The CS Examination is such that you should not only know the fundamentals of variety of subjects but also the current events associated with important aspects in a particular subject. There is no doubt that scope of examination is wide varied and there are many things to remember. Therefore, it is like one year to two years of full time course, almost a post graduate study, in terms of duration. So be prepared for long haul of study. Be ready for long Race. Now let me list systematic steps for getting ready for the CS examination.

1. Study Materials:

You got to start with collection of study materials from various sources. Here is the list.

i. NCERT Books of 10th to 12th standard – Indian History, World History, Indian Geography, World Geography, General Economics, Indian Economy, Polity, Freedom Movement, General Science, Population, Environment, Ethics and Integrity. These are necessary for General Studies and English Essays papers.

ii. For Optional subject- two papers, you have to make choice among more than twenty subjects. If you are good in in your own graduate/post graduate subject, choose the same. Otherwise, choose some general subjects like History, Geography,Polity etc which many students do. Please remember, the scope of this subject for examination purpose would be almost post graduate level.

iii. Current Events on all aspects happen to be very important these days. Therefore, collect books and magazines such as – Latest India Year Book, a Govt. Of India publication,Yojana magazine,News paper- Hindu which is traditionally known to be popular with students. Go for e-papers.

iv. Internet sources are important and valuable. Many IAS coaching Institutes are not so commercial minded and they give lot of updates and tips for exam purpose. Popular web sites are prasarbharti discussions(Audio), inspirational videos appearing on you tube. There are good disussions on Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha TV. On environment and Climate change and world history, watch National Geography, Discovery Channel and Histroy Channel. Be selective and go by the topics relevant for study purpose.

  1. Syllabus and Question Papers.
    Do not forget to down load Civil Service Syllabus either form upsc.gov.in or from popular IAS web sites. So also Question Papers of say last 10 years. Answer keys for prelims are also available for downloading.

  2. Self Study Vs Coaching:
    There is large number of coaching institutes these days, especially located in Metros. Of course, Delhi is most popular destination. Then comes Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bangalore. These days’ state governments are also conducting coaching classes through their social welfare departments for socially and economically backward classes. They also sponsor candidates to popular coaching classes in big metros mentioned above.

Is attending Coaching classes must? In my opinion, for a beginner who does not have absolutely any idea, it may be necessary just get to have feel of examination and its scope. Go for short duration, not a full course. It is because, I think, ultimately, it is your own efforts which will stand by you, once you know what to study and how to study. Further, these days all popular coaching institutes are heavily crowded, they are extremely costly and individual attention is difficult to get.

What about Self Study? Yes, it is definitely good idea. It all depends on your resolution, perseverance, discipline and hard work. Plenty of self study materials are available online and distant coaching. Plenty of Audio Video Study materials combined with internet sources should be sufficient. Online Mock Tests are also available which will build your self confidence.

Audio and Video Study Materials:

Special mention is to be made about Audios and Videos which are very powerful media. You will agree that Audio and Visual waves leave deep impressions, on our psyche. They are absorbed in our mind deeply. They remain in memory far more strongly than mere reading.

Given the vastness of all civil service examinations, time constraints, problems of remembering too many things, it would be nice idea to listen and watch and also read simple, direct and crisp points.

The notes are such that they are useful whether you are studying for State Civil Services or Central Civil Services or any All India Competitive Examinations. You can Watch and listen and also read them, at your convenience in your own privacy, whether you are travelling, working, walking, waiting or relaxing. You can watch and listen in your own Mobile, Tablet and PC through DVDs, Micro SD cards etc.

Wish you all the Best and Bright Career and Prosperity in all walks of your life.

Prakash H Adnur (IRS) Retd.

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