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What are the basic ways to start preparing for IAS?

What
strategy should one follow?

I have discussed this in detail in a video where I have divided this into following
questions:-

1. How do I start my preparation for CSE?


2. What should be the booklist for both prelims and mains examination?
3. Should we prepare for mains and prelims separately?
4. Covering the same resources, why results differ?
5. Booklist exclusive to mains examination
6. How do I cover the entire syllabus?
7. What should be your revision strategy?

Apart from it keep these following principles in mind :-

1. A timetable and strategy: Nothing is possible without proper planning, a daily


timetable and short/long term goals setting. So plan and timetable is the first
pillar.
2. A strong foundation and conceptual clarity: it is important to ensure whatever
we read, we understand it thoroughly. UPSC questions are very much applied,
they need analysis and that can come only when we are crystal clear with our
concepts of subject matter.
3. Consolidation and revision: The syllabus is like a vast ocean, it is important to
keep consolidating and revising it time and again. So make notes and
continuously revise every now and then.
4. Evaluation of Preparation: At every point of time you should know where your
preparation stand, that is possible through self-evaluation and evaluation
through tests.
5. Consistency: Nothing happens without it. People who show consistency are
sure shot to be rewarded, provided they work smartly
6. Discussions and Answer writing: Discussions are very important, they will
help in clearing your doubts & better understanding of subject matter.
Similarly Answer writing has a very important role, knowledge without ability
to express and articulate is futile. It is important to develop the ability to
deliver in 8 minutes.
7. Being Optimistic: This is the last but the most important one. UPSC is a time
taking process, full of obstacles and failures. How to cope up with them,
keeping yourself motivated is the biggest key to success.
Before Prelims Exam

We make lot of efforts but sometimes efforts do get reflected due to some mistakes we
make in our preparation process. I would highlight some of these mistakes:-

1. Read more Consolidate none: We generally have this habit of covering as


many books as possible without trying to consolidate things properly. Quality
over Quantity should always be kept in the mind. So when you read always try
to be 100 percent confident over the parts you have covered.
2. Revision?: We often forget what we have read as we dont revise frequently.
Try to ensure you do at-least 3 revisions before appearing for prelims.
3. Evaluation?: We often skip this part in fear that we are not done with
syllabus. This is not an appropriate way. After covering every topic try to solve
last year papers to check where you stand. Also try to solve some test papers as
well.
4. Confidence?: Do not doubt yourself at any stage. Just keep continuing your
preparation with discipline and consistency.
During Prelims Exam

It happens at times that we prepare a lot for the whole year but it does not get reflected
in the main examination. Thus exam temperament matters a lot. It is important to keep
in mind that while solving the paper we need to be very focused and avoid silly mistakes.
Some key dos and dont I would suggest one should keep in mind during the exam are:-

1. Relax last Day : we often try to overwork or out of tension try to do a lot. So
its important to be relaxed on the last day. Make sure you sleep well for sure.
2. What to carry - A black pen, pencil, rubber, fluid, Id card, admit card, Plain
Exam pad. Yes a water bottle, wrist watch and carry something to eat in bag.
We often miss something or the other and then panic out there. Keep 23
Photocopy of your admit card with you and pack your bag a day before only.
3. Check your exam center: Gather info about address, how to reach there
well in advance as many people panic on the last day . Start well in advance and
ensure you have something to eat in case center has no place to eat.
4. How much to attempt: Do not go with pre-conceptions that paper will be
tough, cut-offs will be high, I have to attempt 80/90/100 questions. Decide this
looking at difficulty of paper.
5. Read questions very properly. One word changes the whole meaning. So
be very caution. We often read what or mind says and skip things. Dont do this
at all.
6. Fear from unknown topics: Do read the question even if it is from the topic
that you have not read. Some times questions are very simple but we omit
because of less time or we feel this topic we have not studied. Some times only
common sense is required. So read questions properly even if they are out of
your comfort zone.
7. Judging Yourself: Dont start evaluating yourself in the examination hall
after looking at paper. Some people start getting panic, they start comparing,
they feel they wont qualify. Dont do all this. You cant change the situation but
you can make the most of it and at times it is enough to sail you through. So
Exam temperament is the most essential thing.
8. Attempts: Make a decent attempt of number of questions. If paper is tough
then we can manage with less attempts. But if paper is easy we need to make
more attempt.
9. Dont Overdo: Also do not over do questions as there is negative marking. So
never go for guess work. If you dont know a question at all, dont attempt.
Dont go by gut feelings.
10. Strategy : Follow two ways to solve questions. Selection ( you know which
one is the answer out of 4) or elimination( you know which of the following
cant be the answers for sure)
11. Risk: Take calculated risk in the paper based on logic not guess work. These
days paper is so confusing that we can be sure only in 4045 questions. So in
dilemma type questions you need a strategy to go forward. Intelligent
elimination with some risk might help. If you are able to eliminate 2 options
out of 4 and are quite certain towards a particular one then you can take some
calculated risk with those limited number of questions you face a dilemma.
12. How to solve Paper: You can categorize questions in three parts 1. You know
the answer 2. You are able to eliminate two options and inclined towards one
answer 3. You dont know the answer(by any means). Now depending upon
number of questions in list 1 you can decide number of questions to be
attempted from list 2. List 3 is out of question totally.
13. Fill your bubbles very properly. And well in advance.I marked 5 wrongly
so that is why I am pointing this to you.
14. Stress or Anxiety: Do not panic at all if something goes wrong. I marked 4
questions wrongly and I felt I am done. I lost my momentum in paper solving.
But then I calmed myself down, resolved the issue and proceeded further.
15. Focus: Do not loose focus or concentration.Dont get distracted by someone
taking, tough paper, noise from outside.
16. Break Time: When break time between two papers try to rest rather than
trying to read.
17. Practice many test papers to build exam temperament, also it will help in
revision, evaluation and helping you figure out how to approach a paper and
how to eliminate options to solve questions.
18. Is it a benefit that the pattern for UPSC prelims 2015
has changed? How many marks should one score in the
general studies paper 1 to get through the prelims? What
should be the target?
I can share what is important in the examination hall that helps in doing well. Rest all
are very subjective questions which cant have a definite answers.

1. Do not go with pre-conceptions that paper will be tough, cut-offs will be high, I
have to attempt 80/90/100 questions. Decide this looking at difficulty of paper.
2. Cut-off will depend on level of toughness of the paper. each paper cut-offs vary
a lot, so dont have have a pre-conceived target.In a general scenario it should
range between 95110 depending on paper. So aim 1015 marks more than
this.
3. Read questions very properly. One word changes the whole meaning. So be
very caution. We often read what or mind says and skip things. Dont do this at
all.
4. Do read the question even if it is from the topic that you have not read. Some
times questions are very simple but we omit because of less time or we feel this
topic we have not studied. Some times only common sense is required. So read
questions properly even if they are out of your comfort zone.
5. Dont start evaluating yourself in the examination hall after looking at paper.
Some people start getting panic, they start comparing, they feel they wont
qualify. Dont do all this. You cant change the situation but you can make the
most of it and at times it is enough to sail you through. So Exam temperament
is the most essential thing.
6. Make a decent attempt of number of questions. If paper is tough then we can
manage with less attempts. But if paper is easy we need to make more attempt.
7. Also do not over do questions as there is negative marking. So never go for
guess work. If you dont know a question at all, dont attempt. Dont go by gut
feeling, ye lag raha hai types
8. Follow two ways to solve questions. Selection ( you know which one is the
answer out of 4) or elimination( you know which of the following cant be the
answers for sure)
9. Take calculated risk in the paper based on logic not guess work. These days
paper is so confusing that we can be sure only in 4045 questions. So in
dilemma type questions you need a strategy to go forward. Intelligent
elimination with some risk might help. If you are able to eliminate 2 options
out of 4 and are quite certain towards a particular one then you can take some
calculated risk with those limited number of questions you face a dilemma.
10. You can categorize questions in three parts 1. You know the answer 2. You are
able to eliminate two options and inclined towards one answer 3. You dont
know the answer(by any means). Now depending upon number of questions in
list 1 you can decide number of questions to be attempted from list 2. List 3 is
out of question totally.
11. Fill your bubbles very properly. And well in advance.
12. Do not panic at all if something goes wrong. I marked 4 questions wrongly and
I felt I am done. I lost my momentum in paper solving. But then I calmed
myself down, resolved the issue and proceeded further.
13. Do not loose focus or concentration.
14. Practice many test papers to build exam temperament, also it will help in
revision, evaluation and helping you figure out how to approach a paper and
how to eliminate options to solve questions.
P.S. these are my personal fundas. Use or follow any of them with caution.
After all take others advice but do what suits you the most , for all of us have
different ways to approach the same problem.

I am preparing for UPSC 2016. But due to shortage of time I


could not maintain current affairs notes. What's the best
method to cover the shortcoming?
Since not much time is left. You can do the following:-

1. Insight on India current events monthly compilations


2. Vision Ias or some other monthly magazine
From Sep 2015 to July 2016. You can start reading reversely if you feel time is less.

Capture all events, organisation, initiatives, schemes, policy, projects, scientific


developments, Institutions, people etc. in these summations.