Success in the UPSC civil services exam, also known as the IAS exam in common parlance, is a combination of Right Knowledge and Right Strategy. No doubt, you have to prepare the topics in the UPSC syllabus thoroughly, but you should also acquire a few skills in order to fare well in the IAS exam. The particular demands of the IAS exam are such that only a planned and guided preparation with the right focus can help you sail through. Always remember when you are preparing for the IAS exam, your goal should only be to clear the IAS, and not to acquire knowledge in a subject.
When you study in the university, you should study for knowledge; but when you are studying for the IAS, you should study solely with the intention of clearing the UPSC exam. This attitude and focus will make a huge difference to your preparation and performance in the exam.
The first step in the IAS preparation process is to understand the IAS exam pattern.
IAS Exam Pattern
The UPSC exam is conducted in three stages. You have to clear one stage and then move on to the subsequent stage. And, at every stage, the number of candidates are drastically reduced. On an average, about 5 lakhs candidates take the first stage and finally, at the end of the process, about 700–1000 candidates get selected into the civil services.
Stage 1: Prelims
This stage consists of two objective type papers , the General Studies I and General Studies II (CSAT). For more details on the papers, you can click on the link below:
Stage 2: Mains
This stage consists of nine descriptive papers.
Stage 3: Personality Test
This stage consists of an interview with the UPSC board.
The UPSC syllabus is the most important part of the preparation. You should go through the syllabus thoroughly before commencing your preparation.
After going through the syllabus, you should compile a list of the IAS study material. It is a good idea to start with the NCERT books as these contain content in a simple language. After that, you can move on the advanced UPSC Preparation Books.
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Important tips for IAS Preparation
- Chart out a preparation plan and stick to it. Since the exam is a long-drawn process, you should be able to sustain your motivation and go along covering portions of the syllabus in a timely manner.
- Revision is paramount. A huge syllabus and multiple subjects make it difficult for you to remember all that you learnt. To make sure that you are able to recall everything you learnt, you should revise repeatedly and regularly.
- You should get adequate answer writing practice as the exam assess you on what you write and not what you know.
- For this, you should enrol for a test series for both prelims and the mains. In the prelims exam, a test series can help you deftly avoid negative marking and also teach you how to make intelligent guess work.
- For the mains exam, a test series is essential as candidates are generally not able to complete the paper. You have to write one answer in about 7 minutes and this requires sufficient practice.
- Your IAS preparation should have an extra focus on current affairs, which is the whole crux of the UPSC civil services exam. This is no mean feat as you have to scan the newspapers daily to keep abreast of the latest national and international news. We make this task easier for you. Check out our offerings in the next section.