UPSC Civil Services Prelims 2021: Strategy to ace the exam in 10 simple points

Updated on Feb 27, 2021 01:25 PM IST

The first stage of UPSC civil services exam, prelims, is objective in nature, the second stage mains is a written examination and the third stage interview is a verbal evaluation process.

UPSC civil services result 2020 declared at
UPSC civil services result 2020 declared at
ByManoj K Jha

UPSC stands for Union Public Service Commission, which is a body responsible for conduction of Civil Services Examination(CSE). The examination has three basic stages. The first stage prelims is objective in nature, second stage Mains is a written examination and the third stage interview is a verbal evaluation process.

Out of these, prelims stage is unique in nature. It’s unique in the sense that every aspirant irrespective of his level of preparation appears for this stage and aspirants who fail in any of the subsequent stages, start from here only. Hence, the Preliminary exam demands a different approach due to sheer competition faced by aspirants from lakhs of aspirants. Failure in this stage can jeopardise the entire preparation strategy.

Based on our experience of past so many years, we suggest following strategy for the Preliminary stage:-

1. Syllabus should be covered in a comprehensive manner. No portion should be left for granted, whatever be the past trends. UPSC can tilt towards any portion from the massive syllabus and hence it’s advisable to be on safer side. Too much flavour from the Ancient India portion in UPSC Prelims 2020 should be a lesson.

2. After coverage of a substantial portion of the syllabus, a decent number of mock tests must be attempted. Number of mocks should be reasonable. Too many tests would drain your precious energy and too less numbers would leave you unprepared. Mocks should be given in exam type environment only. Joining only one standard Test Series would be a wise idea. Post Test analysis is a must exercise. High performance should not bring elation and poor performance should not bring frustration. Just run the race to continuously improve yourself.

3. The syllabus of Prelims is quite massive and scattered. More than coverage, it’s important to consolidate the entire material. Hence, revision should be both reasonable and time bound. A fine balance is demanded in coverage of syllabus and revision of covered portion. Syllabus should be scanned properly and prioritised.

4. No syllabus of UPSC can be covered with quality without making proper notes. Notes should be made in proper format so that it becomes easier for the aspirants to memorise and reproduce. Notes should not be too bulky and hence the purpose of notes should always be tied in mind.

5. That portion of syllabus which is more data and fact oriented must be revised multiple times before the actual exam. Such portions can be left for last time revision to keep it in fresh memory.

6. The last month before prelims should not be given to cover any new stuff unless it’s extremely and exceptionally important. The month should be kept exclusively for revision. Mains can be taken along with Prelims but proportion of time should be justified.

7. CSAT should be taken very seriously. Taking it lightly can cost a big toll. The people who are completely novice to CSAT should keep it at par with the General Studies. But even the aspirants who are at a comparatively advanced stage should take it seriously. At least past years papers should not be missed.

8. Past year papers should be like radar of preparation which provide direction and orientation to your preparation. Apart from enhancing your knowledge base, past year papers help in forming your mental outlook. This increases your common sense and helps you in eliminating options.

9. Current affairs is the most amorphous part of Prelims. However, non orientation preparation can destroy the entire purpose of Current Affairs. So, it’s important to carve and confine the boundaries. One standard Newspaper, one monthly magazine, gist of Indian Year Book, Economic Survey, Budget, PIB and Yojna should be on your platter of Current affairs. Joining an exclusive current affairs course is a good idea but too much dependency can be a futile exercise.

10. Limit your sources and go for multiple revisions from limited and standard sources only. Too much diversity in study materials will mess up your entire preparation and will bring anxiety and stress during the last leg of preparation.

(Author of this article Manoj K Jha is Director , GS Score. Views expressed here are personal)

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