UPSC Civil Services Preparation Strategy
Mohd Sameer Islam (MSI), Rank 564
If you have been following Insights for a while, you have definitely seen hundreds of answers written in the name of MSI on this forum. We were wondering how can one be so consistent! Even in February 2015, MSI was writing answers – when many tend to take rest after giving their Mains! Today we are happy that all the hard work of Mohd Sameer Islam (MSI) has finally paid off. He has written following piece to share and suggest his strategy.
As the result is out, there is a mixed atmosphere, both of joy and sorrow. Joy for those who have achieved success in the mother of all the examinations, “The UPSC Civil Services Examination-2014”, but a bit disappointing for those who missed it. But one thing that is common among everyone who aspire to appear for Civil Services-2015, or in future, is searching for the secret mantra, a magic formula to crack the exam, a model that can assure them full proof success. For that we all look forward to our lucky friends who have made it. Believe me, if my wisdom allows me to give just one general statement about this exam it is, “There is no such magic wand, no formula not a single model that can assure success”.
Yet, I would like to share my experience of this examination in case it is of any help to few. The exam, we all know is divided into three separate phases: Preliminary, Mains and Interview. Each phase has its own importance and hence there should be a unique approach for each phase.
The best part of this phase is that UPSC provides us the answer to each question, the worst part is the choices are so close that even the most crystal clear minds are caught up. To avoid confusions both extensive and multiple readings of basic books especially NCERT along with practicing the MCQs on daily basis will help a lot. Avoid multiple test series from multiple coaching as we never have the luxury of time. Just stick to one which you consider is based on NCERT. Also try solving at least last 5 years PT papers and don’t just restrict yourself with finding the right answers but also see the other three options provided as UPSC never puts anything without purpose. May be if we are lucky we find few close questions in this prelim either from what has been asked or even from the other three options that we just ignore in each question.
MAINS IS ALL ABOUT WRITING. How much knowledgeable you are it won’t count until and unless you deliver it on an A4 size paper. We must write answers on daily basis from the day we decide to appear in this exam as this is what the Mains ask from us. Writing answers helps to evaluate our thought process, our ability to articulate our knowledge, our writing speed etc etc. But writing alone without anybody evaluating it is a waste of effort. Evaluation by others not only exposes us but also encourages us to write better and to the point answers. I find InsightsOnIndia a wonderful platform for the purpose. Insightians are the cluster of likeminded aspirants with positive and constructive mindset who will not only correct you but will also provide additional information for value addition. Everyone of us however humble he/she is has an element of ego and it gets hurt if our answers are not evaluated or are criticised by others on social media platform. This pushes us to improve both the quality and the content of the answers. So utilise this ego of yours and tread towards the right path of answer improvement.
Mains is the base of our final selection. Optional subject, whatever you have chosen forms the backbone of mains preparation as GS papers generally don’t bring much margins in our final score.
Hence choose your optional wisely. Subject chosen should be able to attract your interest for a long period of time. Merely choosing you graduation subject or something about which there are rumours that it fetches good marks won’t help. Once you have chosen your optional the first task should be to study basic books taught at graduation level for that subject. Also please avoid the readymade coaching material that are not more than the copy paste of original without covering whole thing. Do peruse the last ten year papers to analyse what all, about a particular topic, UPSC is interested. It will help you to ascertain the depth of each topic that you may dwell into.
For GS Newspaper reading is essential. While reading try to put each news under a particular GS paper and also put the topic serial number on it. Newspaper cuttings collected this way will lead to accumulation of similar news and different view points over a period of time. I generally don’t prefer making newspaper notes as we generally write down what is already written in newspaper. Hence I used to collect newspaper cuttings and invest the time in writing answers.
Group discussion and personal viewpoint on each issue is must. By the time we reach this level we have already developed this. Hence we should speak more and also try to record it to later review it on our own.
To sum up the best thing I like about this examination is that “It Makes us Realise who we are” . Hence be truthful to yourself, do you own introspection honestly and you will achieve your coveted dream. I would also like to congratulate to all those who wish to write this exam as whatever be your reason to qualify this exam, the one thing that is sure is you have taken a very noble step to serve your motherland. All the Best.