How to Prepare for Civil service for beginners

How to Prepare for Civil service for beginners

The purpose of this article is to help the students who are thinking of preparing for the Civil Service Examination. Being India’s Largest IAS Coaching Network, ALS has certain experience which we want to share with you people, the journey which student travel and the preparation tips which we want to give to aspirants. There are certain mistakes that most students commit, so we would like to educate the aspirants about this so that you should not commit those mistakes.

So for a beginner the first thing is the question which comes up is when to start that is the first basic question for the beginners.  We have seen many people asking, whether they should start the preparation in graduation itself or we have received calls of students who are in 11-12th class asking whether they should start preparation from 11-12th.  Let us clear this ambiguity in the very beginning that when you are into your graduation or into your schooling you should focus more on your classes and studies which is very important, because the knowledge which you will acquire from school or college will ultimately help you in clearing this exam. So the basic focus should on your graduation, which should be properly taken care of.

Here is the first question, ‘When to start’.

By the end years of your graduation you should have a goal that, you want to clear the civil services but in the end year of graduation you should start focusing on the exam.

The second question which comes up is ‘How to Start’

This also is a very important question, because the syllabus is very vast and it is very difficult for beginners to understand the pattern of this exam. So here we will share some mistakes which most students may commit so that you can have a good overall plan for clearing this exam.  So the first thing to keep in mind is that you need to understand certain things before starting your preparation. And the first thing you need to understand is the time period of at least 2 to 4 years is required for clearing this exam.

Say if you clear this exam in the first attempt also, then also it requires 2 years because you start your preparation then the whole circle of exams completes in one year and up to the time you go to the academy takes around 2 years. So you should have this period in your that you take a minimum of 2 years and it can go up to 4,5 years so you should be ready for that, that is very important. This is the first thing you need to understand.

The second thing is as everyone knows UPSC is called the mother of all exams. So you require a high level of determination for this exam. Everyone knows it’s a fact that the success ratio of this exam is very less to the tone of 0.1 percent. Lakhs of candidates appear in this exam and only a few gets selected, so ruthless determination is what is required for this exam. So this is the second most important thing, there is no space for committing any mistakes in this exam. Many people who have given interviews have flunked in prelims. The third thing you need to understand before starting your preparation is that, the exam is a long process and you may face many setbacks during these exams.

So you need to prepare your mind to face these setbacks. If you’ll be ready, if you’ll accept these failures, if you’ll see it from a positive perspective then they’ll teach you a lot. So these are the few things you need to understand before starting your preparation.

Strategy for Civil Service Preparation

Suppose you have graduated in the month of June. So consider June as the starting point of your preparation. The first thing you have to focus on is to focus on your basic NCERTs. That will make your base understanding of all the subjects mainly History, Politics, Social Science and everything. So reading NCERT’s is very important and you have to be very thorough with the NCERT’s. Don’t just read them to finish those NCERT’s. Read them to understand them in a very better way. So that is very important. In June the first thing you should do is start with the NCERT’s. Some people ask this question, whether coaching is required the moment you enter this UPSC preparation?

Whether coaching is required or not? What would coaching help you in putting you in a particular direction because a lot of things are required to study? So what to study, what not to study segregate these things. Definitely it helps you, but if you are confident that you can do without coaching also, it is up to you. Many people have seniors; many people have aspirants who help them in this journey. So it is up to them how they decide this thing. So from June to September that is the 1st period where to be focused upon.

The first target is NCERT’s need to be covered thoroughly. The second thing is the Optional Subject. You have to select your optional very wisely because ultimately your selection depends on the marks of optional. So when you are starting your preparation after graduation, the main reason behind selecting your optional should be your interest.

Many people say that ‘I have a particular subject in graduation but I am not comfortable in it’. So you should not go for it. If you are very comfortable with your main subject of a graduation, then go for it. It doesn’t matter what is the trend of that particular subject. How many marks are coming? Or how many students are taking that subject? If you have the interest, if you think you are confident you can get marks in that subject and go for it. That interest is the main criterion before the selection of your optional.

Let us see one example. One of our students shortlisted few subjects like Geography, History, and Political science. He read a few books on these subjects and realized that geography is the subject that interests him more. So he selected Geography as his optional subject. Your interest should be the main criteria behind your optional selection. So, June to September i.e.; June, July August, and September, these four months are there for you in the starting. So you have to start your GS preparation and optional preparation simultaneously.

So when NCERT’s are covered you have to start your optional also. You can join any coaching for your optional or if you think you can do it yourself, you can start with that. So in these 4 months, you should focus on these two things. So this is the first thing that you need to understand in these four months and also the syllabus and previous year question paper, they are very very important.

When you start your preparation, focus on these two things at least for one-and-a-half months, you need to analyze the previous year’s papers and syllabus. They’ll give you an idea of what UPSC is asking and what is the demand for UPSC. The easier it is to understand the trend, the easier it’ll be for you to clear the exam. So focus on this part. And people ask when you are starting your preparation whether answer writing should be your priority or whether the newspaper should be your priority. We suggest that in these four months you should not focus much on newspapers and you should not focus much on answer writing. Answer writing during this time may be done for the sake of writing only. At the weekends you can go to answer writing. So this is the strategy for these 4 months.

Now the next period is from September to December. So this is the period when you are done with some part of your general studies, you are done with your optional, so you should be having a basic idea of what UPSC is all about.

From now onwards, the role of Newspapers and Current affairs become important. Now you will be able to understand, what you should not. That’ll help your time. So from September to December, you should focus on newspapers and current affairs because they’ll help you a lot. So in the time period from June to December, the first period is from June to September and September to December. In this whole period the 1st reading of your GS and optional should get completed. This is very important because after that you have to focus on other areas also. So the next period, is from December to March that is very important.

So in this period what you need to do is, as you are done with your general studies and optional, now there is a paper called Ethics. If you take up ethics in the starting, you will not be able to understand the demand of that paper. So December to March is the period from where you should focus on ethics paper.

The demand for essay paper will only be in this period only. You should understand that whatever sources you have, whatever things you are reading you should concise it as much as possible because unnecessary going for different books, going for different magazines will not help you. You should concise your syllabus and revise it as much as possible. And during this period,  you should develop the habit of note making which is very important.  Note making is something that will help you in Mains as well as in prelims also. So in this period you should focus on notes making. So the period from December to March is the time when the second revision should be completed along with Ethics and Essay paper. Also, you should get an idea of preparing your notes.


The next period is from March to June. Most of the time the Prelims is in June. So March to June should be solely dedicated to prelims. So in this particular period March to June, for prelims you should do test series as much as possible. They are very very helpful, they’ll help you in getting an idea about what kind of question comes in the exam and they’ll help you in developing that thing that how you are going to tackle this examination. So, the test series is very important.

The second thing which you should focus on in this period is the time management how you are going to manage your time.

We have seen people who have flunked prelims and who are doing very well in the Test series and the only reason why this happened was that they were not able to manage their time because of the pressure which was there in the examination room, so time management is very important.

The third thing, you should focus on during this period is the books in which the objective part of the syllabus is more. For example, our Modern History booklet covers the minute details which can be asked in the exam and should be revised again and again. This is one of the ways you strategize things. Now the prelims day is in June, so up to June your strategy is fixed.

As soon as you give the prelims, the next main thing is to check the answer key. ALS always provide the answer key of Paper – I, the same day itself. So it is easy and important to start your preparation for mains from that day itself. Please don’t wait for UPSE to declare the answer key because we don’t know when they will publish it.  Based on your answer key result, you can start the preparation from the next day for Mains. So now you have time period from June to October for Mains revision.

Now, what should be the focus in these four to five months? Your main focus in these months should be answer writing. You should understand that if you do not practice answer writing you cannot clear mains. It is an essential part of mains. So you have to focus on answer writing. For example you can write 7 questions every day, for an hour and then discuss within your circle. It will help you a lot. So focus on answer writing which is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter how much you know.

Even if you think you don’t know anything, you can start writing from the very first day after clearing the prelims, so this is the thing. The next thing, which you should focus on during this period is the test series again. Test series is something which will give you an idea, how you are going to manage your time in the exam because three hours are there and twenty questions are to be answered.

 How you are going to finish it up?

That is very very important. The first task is to finish the questions, so the test series will help you in managing your time for the mains examination. The third thing which you should focus during the period up to October is your current events and your notes, which is very very important. You should link the current affairs with the syllabus and prepare notes on that particular topic. This will help you in preparing for mains. When you appear for the Mains Exam, the questions asked to you should have been practiced way before.

If you start thinking, what to write for that particular question then you will be losing time and may not be able to complete the paper. So these are the things you should focus on during this period. Answer writing, Test series, Current Affairs, Notes, and last but not the least, Revision. The revision will help you a lot in your mains examination. So this is up to October when the mains will get over you’ll have a period of 2-3 months where you’ll have to start your preparation for the interview.

You should start your interview preparation and for an interview what is required is your opinion, your decisiveness, how expressive you are these all are things in which the interviewer looks in the candidates. So what you should do is you should read newspapers thoroughly during this time. If possible two newspapers can be read, then you should make an opinion on various issues particularly debatable issues. You should be confident while presenting yourself, you should have an opinion. These things are very very important.

The second thing is the mock interviews which are very helpful. When you give a mock interview, the interviewer will tell you what problems you have, what things you can improve upon, your verbal nonverbal issues need to be improved in order to refine your personality. So you can go for 2-3 mocks.

And the third most important thing is your DAF preparation. That is very important when you are going for an interview, the interviewer mainly asks questions from your DAF, your educational background, your place of work, or whatever things you have in your DAF your hobbies so you should prepare your DAF thoroughly. More than 80% of the questions from DAF. So these are some important things which you should take into consideration while preparing. We hope, we have given you a basic idea from June to next June. How you are going to prepare for prelims, mains, and the interview. This will be helpful for aspiring candidates.

We would like to emphasize that no matter how many tips we give you every individual should devise his or her own strategy. We have said many things. If you think they suit you better then go for it or else adopt what is suitable for you and improve on that. So it is upon an individual’s strength, how they can prepare for this exam. We hope that is the best IAS coaching center in Trivandrum, this has helped a lot in building your confidence and strategy. We wish you Godspeed.