Civil Services Examination 2017 has brought about a wave of enthusiasm amongst aspirants for making Civil Services as their career choices. Even with lesser vacancies this year, there is a surge in the aspirants who are all set to work hard and make their place in the merit list of CSE 2018. For the aspirants targeting Civil Services Examination 2018, it’s a ‘get-set-go’ situation, as the prelims is scheduled to be held on June 3rd, 2018, which is merely a few days away. While, for those who have just picked up the pace and eying at IAS 2019, team of IAS Educator has a devised an effective study plan with the help of subject matter experts, which will help them kick-start their preparation in the right direction.
Initially, we want you to understand that you must study within the limits UPSC has set for you in the Syllabus for Civil Services Exam. Having extensive subjects like History, Geography, Science & Technology, Polity, International Relations, Economics, Environment, etc., it seems to make up a vast curriculum for the exam, but if you stick by the UPSC Syllabus, you will get a direction to the preparation, and as a result, you will study only what is relevant. Remember, UPSC never goes beyond its set syllabus.
Since you have just a year to make yourself Civil Services Exam ready, you will have to make sure that you make effective use of each day of this year during your preparation. Hence, it is advisable to divide the preparation strategy into practical chunks. And remember that UPSC is a writer’s exam, it checks how well you can present your answers to any question or a given situation; hence, you are advised to give special space and time to answer writing in your schedule & rigorously follow it. A disciplined study plan, along with dedication and seriousness will ensure that you don’t lose the track of your focused preparation.
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Here’s an easy to follow plan for students targeting IAS 2019
- June 1st – August 31st, 2018: Read the syllabus thoroughly, rather learn it. You must know the syllabus well before you begin the preparation process. Then, amongst the static subjects mentioned in the Syllabus, chalk out your favourites & those that scare you the most. You can also differentiate based on your interest or level of difficulty in understanding. Pick up 3 subjects, one that you like the most and two from the other list. When you start the preparation, you have higher enthusiasm, and you must cover those difficult subjects in the beginning; if not cover, at least make your base stronger by reading NCERTs. While on the other hand, by studying the subjects which are of your interest and are comparatively less difficult will keep your mind balanced and will keep your morale high. So pick 1 subject of your interest and 2 subjects which are comparatively difficult for you.
A few things you must keep in mind here:
- Ensure you study for not more than 5-7 hours a day initially, for, you still need to get habitual to the idea of extended study schedules.
- Ensure a good 6-8 hour sleep every night.
- Make sure you make notes of the important details which would help you in revision phase later. For instance, if you have chosen History as one of the subjects to study initially, you can make a chronological events sheet with columns like Event Name, Era/Date/Period it is associated with, Empire/Colony/Country/Group or People involved, Location/Place (where the event took place) along with an extra column to make any extra pointers for the event/happening.
- Current affairs play a key role in your integrated study plan for Civil Services Examination, as here you will not only be judged on the basis of GS subjects, but UPSC will seek your opinions and knowledge on the current events which are happening in India and world and how those events are impacting the nation. Remember, current affairs updates prove to be factual backing for answers associated with any particular subject. Hence, while studying current affairs make sure you read them with an open mind so that if there is anything related to the subjects you are preparing in this phase, you can make a mental note of mentioning the same in your answers. So, developing a habit of Newspaper reading is must at this stage.
- Keep a day for revision in a week
- Do an integrated preparation in this phase. Try to cover the common GS subjects of both Prelims and Mains along with a chosen optional subject. Your focus should be shifted to prelims only 3 months prior to Prelims 2019 exam.
- Go through the previous year question papers. You are not at all expected to solve those question papers at this stage, but at least get an idea as to what kind of questions are asked in both the stages of the exam (Prelims and Mains).
- Keep yourself away from all kinds of distractions for a year and make sure that you are utilising all your social media platforms in favour of your preparation. Follow pages & groups with similar interests or motives. This nowhere means that you just study and forget any extra curriculum activities. Spare good amount of time to do what you love the most, follow your hobby (you must have a hobby during your preparation; be it music, dance, sports or anything), spend decent time with your family and friends, watch movies, socialize well.
- Discuss the current events with your peer groups or the common public and understand their perspectives. Listen to them with a problem-solving approach, as an administrator. Remember, your perspective of looking at things should get changed the day you begin the preparation for Civil Services Examination.
- Eat Healthy & stay fit with regular meditation & Yoga practice. This will also help you boost your concentration & confidence.
- September 1st – October 31st, 2018: After having studied a trimester for 3 extensive subjects, your mind is now kind of habitual to studying and has become better at understanding things like an administrator mindset. Utilise this in your favour and pick up another 2 subjects to cover in this phase. Break the monotony of the preparation phase and ensure you are more interactive henceforth, so, it’s time to find your peers and indulge in intelligent discussions.
Apart from following the 10 tips, mentioned above, also, keep in mind the following:
- Increase your study hours to almost 7- 9 hours a day, depending on your existing responsibilities & study capacity.
- Try to have completed all the tough subjects by the end of this phase, before moving towards more interesting and easier subjects like Environment in the next phase.
- Because, you are taking up tougher subjects in this phase, ensure getting into details of the subject as much as you can so that you get a better clarity on all important topics. You can take help from recommended books, apart from NCERT’s & other authentic online sources. Ensure making notes for important points, events, dates, formulas, etc., that must be remembered.
- Start practice solving few previous year questions, just to check where you have reached with your preparation process and to develop answer writing skills
- Current Affairs are crucial. Keep up-to-date with them
- November 1st – December 31st, 2018: Look at your preparation plan, and find the subjects left to be covered. We expect you to have completed all the extensive subjects by now and the remaining one should be of your interest and easy to cover, say, like Environment. Along with this, take up your optional subject. Begin the preparation for your optional subject with NCERTs. Along with this, keep revising what you have studied subject wise. Cover all other remaining subjects in this phase and follow the steps mentioned in points 1 & 2. Do not forget to stay updated with current affairs as with subjects like Environment, current affairs updates will play a major role in all 3 stages of exam
- January 1st – February 28th, 2019: After having completed the majority of the subjects, by this phase, shift your complete focus to the Optional Subject. If you have any subject remaining, ensure taking it up in this phase and complete the syllabus by the end of February. We hope you have chosen the Optional Subject with your interest in the same so that the pace of your interest and enthusiasm for the Civil Services exam stays intact. Go through your subject thoroughly, in these two months, go through your notes well, and make your notes even crisper and to the point.
- March 1st – till Prelims Exam 2019 (June): Shift your focus entirely to the Prelims Exam now.
- Since you have already covered most of your GS syllabus by now, time for a quick revision for prelims centric preparation
- The focus should be on CSAT as well, start solving maths questions from NCERTs, solve previous year question papers as much as possible
- This is the best time to enrol for Test Series for Prelims. Almost every academy offers Test Series with 40 to 50 test papers, which consists of the syllabus of both GS paper and CSAT paper. The academies also provide answers keys with the explanation which will help you assess your preparation process and make you ready for the actual Civil Services Preliminary Examination
- Read and re-read all your tough subjects at least twice to ensure you know your important topics. Specially the dates/events/names/etc.
- Stay well updated with current affairs from the relevant sources like Newspaper, AIR News, Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha, Indian Year Book, Economic Survey, Yojana Magazine and other current affairs magazine which many IAS Academies offer.
- After Prelims till Mains (July to October): Mains-specific preparation: Civil Services Prelims Exam is mostly scheduled in the month of June, and more specifically in the first week of the month. And the mains Exam are scheduled in or around the month of October, which leave good 3 months for Mains specific preparation for candidates.
- Level-up your preparation in this very period and study for no less than 9-10 hours a day. Remember you only have 3 months to make up for the Mains Exam.
- Although there should not be much left to study, but, if there is, complete that in the first month itself and shift to the third revision phase for all your subjects
- Give special attention to your optional subject & its notes.
- Practice Essay Writing on a regular basis
- Solve previous year papers as this practice is your rescue from scoring low in the Civil Services Exam.
- Solve case studies as much as possible to effectively prepare for paper
- This is the perfect time to go for Mains Test Series which almost every IAS Academy offers and provide the answer explanation which will boost up your preparation process, enhance your writing skills and make you well equipped with the correct approach to framing your opinions well.
- Answer writing must be practised rigorously. A regular habit of writing answers will help you speed up in the main exams. Make sure you maintain focus on writing effective answers rather than focusing on just completing the paper.
- Practice YOGA & MEDITATION
- Eat Healthy & Keep yourself hydrated
- Effective current affairs preparation will be an ultimate rescue
- Writing practice is crucial
- Keep Calm and believe in yourself!