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UPSC IAS Prelims 2017: Here’s your guide to cracking the exam

education Updated: Mar 24, 2017 20:14 IST
Nilesh Mathur
UPSC Prelims

With just four months left to prepare for Civil Services Prelims 2017, it is important that candidates not only work hard but also work smart. (Prasad Gori /HT file)

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) will conduct the civil services (CS) preliminary examination on June 18 this year. The commission conducts the CS exam every year to select officers for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), among others.

The exam is held in three stages - preliminary, main and interview. Not surprisingly, the prelims draw a horde of candidates.

The syllabus is vast. A student may be very good in the optional subjects he has chosen for the mains examination but the inability to clear the prelims will end his dream at this stage itself.

But how to prepare for the prelims?

With just four months left to prepare for Civil Services Prelims 2017, it is important that candidates not only work hard but also work smart.

Thorough understanding of the pattern and syllabus of the prelims is the first step in preparing for the exam.

The preliminary examination consists of two papers consisting objective type or multiple choice questions: General Studies or Paper 1 and Aptitude or Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) or Paper 2. The GS paper has 100 questions carrying two marks each while the CSAT has 80 questions carrying 2.5 marks each. There is a penalty of 33% marks out of the allocated marks for every wrong answer. The CSAT paper (paper 2) is evaluated first and GS Paper or Paper 1 is evaluated only of those candidates who have qualified in Paper 2 or got 33% or 66 marks in CSAT. The candidates are shortlisted for the mains on the basis of their scores in paper 1.

According to DP Singh, consultant Rau’s IAS study circle, candidates scoring around 125-130 marks in Paper 1 are expected to qualify for the CS main examination. The number of candidates shortlisted for the main examination is about 13 times of the vacancy for the jobs, Singh said.

Talking about the strategy for preparing for the CS preliminary examination 2017, Singh said that candidates who are taking the examination for the first time should go through and analyse the question papers of the last 10 years. “There is a logic to the way questions are asked in the UPSC prelims and candidates should try and understand it,” Singh said. “Knowledge of current affairs has become very important for cracking the prelims examination but as it is a vast topic one must be able to understand the areas from which questions are expected to be asked,” Singh said.

“Half of the battle is won if candidates can decide what to study. Latest developments in the field of environment, latest legislations, knowledge of Constitution of the county, latest economic issues including the economic survey, role of governor in Tamil Nadu political crisis etc are some of the important topics from which questions can be expected,” Singh said.

Once this is done candidates should practice answering questions in an exam environment. They should also revise notes and try to shorten them as far as possible, says Singh. This will help them in revising for the exam during the last few days.

Advising students on how to prepare for CS prelims, Anil Nagar, Founder & CEO, Adda247 said, “Candidates should first form a good foundation with NCERT books, and read a good newspaper daily.” Like Singh, Nagar also lays emphasis on analysing the exam and subdividing it into ‘areas to prepare’ as far as possible, and allocate time and decide books/notes/online resources for these areas. “As aptitude exam has been made qualifying, focus should be on the GS paper but aptitude basics should strong for qualifying the CSAT paper, Nagar said.

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“GS consists of Static GK and Dynamic GK. Static GK comprises of subjects like History, Geography, Economics, and Polity, the bulk of which does not change in the short-run. Dynamic GK is what is commonly called ‘current affairs’ and what we read in the newspapers. So candidates have to read the newspaper and magazines in such a way that both Static and Dynamic GK are covered,” says Nagar.

Nagar also suggests topic-wise list of study material to be followed for prelims:

*History Of Modern India - Bipan Chandra

*India’s Struggle For Independence - Bipan Chandra

*India’s Ancient Past - RS Sharma

*History Of Medieval India - Satish Chandra

*The Wonder That Was India - AL Bhasham

*Indian Art and Culture - Nitin Singhania

*Geography of India - Majid Husain

*Oxford School Atlas - Oxford

*Certificate Physical and Human Geography - Goh Cheng Leong

*Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations - M. Laxmikanth

*Indian Economy - Ramesh Singh

*Economic Survey

*Science and Technology in India - Ashok Singh

*Environmental Studies: From Crisis to Cure - Rajagopalan

*Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains - Khuller

*India Year Book (Current Affairs)

*Manorama Yearbook. (Current Affairs)

*CSAT Paper - 2 Manual by TMH

*CSAT-II - Arihant

*Analytical Reasoning - M. K. Pandey (CSAT - Paper 2: Analytical Reasoning)

*Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning - R. S.Aggarwal (CSAT Paper 2: Reasoning)

*IAS Prelims 22 Years General Studies Topic-Wise Solved Papers - Disha

*IAS (Pre.) Solved Papers General Studies wih CSAT Papers - Arihant

Apart from these books, aspirants can also follow few magazines like Economic and Political Weekly, Yojana, Kurukshetra and Science Reporter, says Nagar.