UPSC IAS Prelims Strategy: Gazal Bharadwaj, Rank – 40 CSE – 2015
There had been a number of queries regarding my prelims strategy, books referred to and number of questions to be attempted. So, I thought rather than answering individually, I would come up with a detailed article. The strategy may differ from person to person. I am only discussing what worked for me. I hope it helps.
I cleared prelims in all my four attempts. Marks(2015) : 133.34
THIS IS HOW I’LL GO ABOUT IT
- On how to prepare in long term
- On how to revise in the last crucial 2-3 months
- On number of questions
- On elimination strategy
- On not getting demotivated
1) LONG TERM PREPARATION
- Integrate with mains and interview, by following a sequenced approach. Eg
Growth, inflation and employment topic of economy attracts questions in all three stages, but of different nature. Analyse past questions to understand this.
a.) Prelims– questions are asked linked to
Concept of GDP/GNP, IIP, ASI, alternative indices to measure development like HDI, MPI, GNH etc, who measures what (CSO, NSSO etc) types of unemployment(structural vs cyclical vs disguised etc), causes and effects of inflation on growth, debtors, bondholders etc, definitions like employment elasticity, employability, labour force, labourforce participation rate etc
b.) Mains– nature changes into analysis based questions like inflation targeting approach of rbi, reasons for declining employability and need for skilling, jobless growth (linked with employment elasticity concept of pre), CSO’s changed methodology of measuring growth critical analysis
c.) interview– will discuss with interview prep
- Study past questions thoroughly to understand the mindset of examiner. Eg.
You will find different kinds of questions asked on similar themes every year. Do not neglect such themes.
- Do not run blindly after too many pre test series. Follow one. I think insights test series is a decent one here as it integrates the ncerts along. It’s not about practising too many questions daily, but conceptual clarity.
2) THE LAST CRUCIAL 2-3 MONTHS: FOCUS PRIMARILY ON PRELIMS
- Finish vast and integration based subjects first. These are economy, environment and geography. They will take a lot of your time but attract maximum number of questions.
- Here also link– eg Agriculture questions will be asked every year and are linked to all the three:
Economy: eg. CACP, MSP, FCI related
Environment: eg. NEEM COATED UREA, FERTILISERS N PESTICIDES, BIO FERTILISERS, PULSES AND NITROGEN FIXATION ETC
GEOGRAPHY: SOILS, CROPS, IRRIGATION(ESP MICRO IRRIGATION)
- Do not neglect map based questions. Study the past ones and open atlas for half an hour daily. There are some very easy questions like-
Which one of the following pairs of islands is separated from each other by the ‘Ten Degree Channel’? (2014)
Turkey is located between.. (2014)
The Narmada river flows to the west, while most other large peninsular rivers flow to the east. Why?(2013)
- Study the static subjects like polity and history chapterwise daily (because if you pick them up thinking will finish pilty in 5 days, you know how crazy it gets and saturated too)
- Do not skip revising NCERTs
- Revise important concepts and definitions which are often repeated by checking the wikipedia page (UPSC often asks pre questions from the most common source than from high- fi books)
These are some of the sources I referred to-
- GEOGRAPHY- NCERTs (9-12), GC LEONG last chapters, Selective reading of Savinder Singh and Khullar which was also very helpful for mains, Oxford and Orient longman atlas
- ECONOMICS- Macroeconomics class 12 NCERT, Sriram notes, selective Ramesh singh, Mrunal videos, Economic survey (important boxes and definitions for pre and thorough survey for mains n interview), India year book chapters on finance, industry, planning, commerce, rural and urban development, and basic economic indicators.
- ENVIRONMENT- icsc class 9-12 books for basics, for current Took themes from shankar ias notes and googled
- HISTORY- was my optional so followed an integrated strategy with it, for non optional students would suggest NCERTs 6-12, ccrt website, spectrum and Bipin Chandra
- SCIENCE- 9-10 NCERTS and recent technology basics like GM, NEUTRINOS research, BT, DRUG RESISTANCE etc
- CURRENT AFFAIRS- only basics will be asked in pre. So read newspapers or follow current affairs from any website.
4) ON NUMBER OF QUESTIONS
- I attempted around 85 questions this year of which I was only sure on 55-58. Others were stuck on two options eliminated but two remaining. So here, some calculated risk was taken. I did not touch 15 questions of which I had absolutely no idea.
- But then, it depends from person to person.
- Do not attempt very less questions. 70 is a comfortable range.
5) ON ELIMINATION STRATEGY
I’ll explain with examples
|Wetlands||Confluence of rivers|
|1. Harike Wetlands||Beas and Satluj/Sutlej|
|2. Keoladeo Ghana National Park||Banas and Chambal|
|3. Kolleru Lake||Confluence of Musi and Krishna|
Which of the above pairs is/are correctly matched? (2014)
- 1 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
You could solve it even if you do not know about harike n keoladeo but only if you knew that kolleru lake is between krishna and godavari (ie if you are sure that 3 is definitely false, it eliminates last 3 options, leaving you with just option 1)
6) ON NOT GETTING DEMOTIVATED
I was really touched by some mails and comments on my blog related to missing prelims every time repeatedly and the demotivation attached as it takes your full another year and social pressures are immense. I would say some things here:
- I read that in her first attempt, the 2010 topper Divyadarshini couldn’t clear the UPSC Civil Services Preliminary but in her second attempt, she emerged the first ranker! Do not give up. Its there inside. You just need to explore urself and push yourself to the edges.
- Sometimes it’s a matter of 1-2 questions and you can be in or out of the list. So, do not panic in the exam hall. Attempt with a cool mind. If things go wrong, forgive yourself and improve.
- Yes, missing pre closely can take a toll on your confidence as the period between the next exam is very long. But, decide, just decide how you will go about what was going wrong and go for it.
- Watch some motivational videos and songs or read, whatever suits you. I feel like sharing few links here which were my favourites whenever I would feel low:
Why do we fall? so that we can learn to pick ourselves up.
- DARE YOU TO MOVE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOTcr9wKC-o
- BRAVE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McdMwOV0y6c
- YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1WpGqEOCOg
- LET ME FALL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTAzpLf3Gwc
- JAAGEN HAIN DER TAK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0PLWUsjIOo
I share some posts
( Please drop your queries either here on insights, or on my blog rather than mailing individually. I’ll try to reply here as I get time and it will also benefit others.)