How to Crack IAS Exam 2019
Making a career in the Indian Administrative Services is a dream that catches the fancy of every young mind in our country at least once. Some rise up to the challenge while others give up the idea considering the daunting odds. Given that the civil services examination conducted by the UPSC ranks fifth in the list of Toughest Exams in the World, the odds really are daunting. Every year, nearly five lakh students appear for the IAS prelims and only about a 1,000 make the cut after the IAS selection process is completed.
For beginners, the psychological pressure can be just as unnerving as the difficulty level of IAS preparation. With more than three months at hand until the IAS prelims (scheduled for June 3, 2019) and over six months for the IAS Mains (scheduled for September 28, 2019), you still have enough time to turn things around. This beginners’ guide to cracking Civil Services 2019 can help you make the cut in your maiden attempt:
Understand the Syllabus
Understanding the vast and comprehensive syllabus is one of the key foundations of a strong IAS preparation. Unfortunately, a lot of aspirants falter right at this stage. It is next to impossible to master every topic in every subject as per the latest IAS Syllabus and Exam pattern. A precise understanding of the scope and nature of the syllabus can give you clarity about the topics you need to focus on and the ones you can skimp through. The same applies to the infinite scope of current affair and general knowledge. Keep a copy of the syllabus handy and refer to it from time to time to make a sound preparation strategy.
NCERT: The Holy Grail of IAS Preparation
There are just as many IAS books out there as there are aspirants hoping to make it to the Indian Administrative Services. However, the best study material to base your preparation on would be the good old NCERT books. The authentic, well-researched content of these books written in simple language offers foundational clarity on various subjects and topics. You must start of your IAS preparation with these before moving on more in-depth IAS books written and recommended by experts.
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Combine Preparation for IAS Prelims and Mains
When working out a strategy and timeline for you IAS preparation, approach the IAS Prelims and IAS Mains exams as one integrated unit. The two exams are held about three months apart, and if you try to focus on the Prelims alone first, there is no way you can cover the vast syllabus for Mains in this short span of time. This time will only be just enough for revisions. Besides, the syllabus for IAS Mains is essentially an extension on syllabus for IAS Prelims, so you are just really doing a thorough preparation of the entire syllabus.
Keep Up with the Current Affairs
Every IAS aspirant knows the importance of current affairs and general knowledge in clearing this exam. Naturally, keeping yourself abreast with the contemporary issues and current affair is the key to your IAS eligibility. Reading at least one newspaper religiously, every day, is an effective way to build up on your general knowledge over time. In addition, you must also study current affairs and subjects like Constitution, Polity, Economy, Governance, Sports, Science and Technology from general knowledge books.
Choose Your Subjects Wisely
Choosing the elective subjects for the IAS Mains is another critical factor that determines your odds of success in the IAS exam. There is a prevalent myth of ‘high scoring optionals’ in the world of IAS preparation, where some subjects are considered to be more scoring than others. As a beginner, you will have a lot of suggestions and advice thrown at you on how to pick such a high scoring subject. Given that these ‘trends’ change every couple of years, this advice can often be conflicting and confusing. The important thing to remember is that the elective subjects accounts for 600 marks out of the total 1,000 marks of the IAS Mains. Since a large part of your IAS preparation will be focussed on this elective subject, you must choose a discipline you love to be able to give it your 100 per cent.
Make Your Own Notes
Every IAS aspirant must make it a habit to prepare notes of anything and everything they study. From newspapers to current affair books, NCERT books to IAS books, whatever you study, make notes as you go along. Make your own pattern and structure for creating these notes, so that these come in handy when you revise. Break your notes into flow charts, pointers, mind-maps and other handy short cuts of your choice for better retention and quick revision.
Test Your Progress
The importance of benchmarking your progress at various stages of your preparation cannot be stressed enough. Attempt question papers modelled on the UPSC IAS Prelims General Studies 1, CSAT and IAS Mains exams to know if you are well-prepared to apply your knowledge to question solving. IAS mock tests, IAS previous years question papers are a reliable litmus test for your preparation levels. They also give you a real sense of the pattern, nature and difficulty levels of the questions asked in IAS exam.
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These beginners’ preparation tips will help you stay exam-oriented and focussed throughout and lend a meticulous, systematic approach to your preparation for the Civil Services 2019 exam.