The How, Why and What of Indian Civil Services Exams–Part 3

Now that you know if you are cut for the Civil Services Exams and are updated about the exam procedure, here’s the information on how and where to begin when preparing for your UPSC Exams

UPSC Exams 2

(i) How to Choose Your Subject for the Main Exam?

The one thing you should keep in mind is that this is a competitive exam. In other words, you need to be the best to win this game. Hence, you have to choose the subject at which you are most proficient. Therefore, select that subject with which you are 100% comfortable and are confident that you could do better than anyone else.

In most cases, over-confidence will sabotage your chances to succeed. Ensure that you spend enough time refreshing the subject matter in the combination you chose. Without adequate preparation, it is very easy to lose valuable marks and fail in the exam.

(ii) Syllabus

Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) 2013

Paper I – (200 marks) Duration: Two hours

o Current events of national and international importance

o History of India and Indian National Movement

o Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic geography of India and the World.

o Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

o Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.

o General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change that do not require subject specialization

o General Science.

Paper II – (200 marks) Duration: Two hours

o Comprehension

o Interpersonal skills including communication skills

o Logical reasoning and analytical ability

o Decision making and problem solving

o General mental ability

o Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)

o English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level).

(iii) Preparations

Meditation – to increase focus and concentration power for studying, meditation is one of the most powerful tools you could use. It is worthwhile to learn yoga asanas that will keep you healthy and at the same time help you memorize the matter you study.

Solving model test papers – there are plenty of sites on the internet that provide free model test papers for practice. You need to keep practicing on the past 5 years exam papers so you could get used to the pattern and increase your speed in answering the papers. Search, subscribe and work with online IAS coaching centers that provide such papers for practice. A list of some of the top online coaching centers is given here – Other sources could be:






- – this is a free and reputed online coaching class that could be of great use.


Communication skills – the prospective IAS candidate needs to be not only fluent in English, but also an excellent communicator. You need to train in the art of communication and master English language. It is not only important that you know, but also that you are able to convey what you know. Enlist in advanced English classes to ensure that you achieve complete mastery on the language. Communication skills however, are something much more than the ability to speak English. You need to know how to listen as much as how to talk. Listening is one of the most important and challenging part of effective communication.

Additional knowledge of at least one other foreign language would be a great advantage.

Online exams – the Government has decided to get majority of tests online. This is one among the many reasons why you should learn and practice how to fill in test papers online. The form fill-up, receipt and admission card are all online now – hence, it is a good time to start becoming friendly with the Net.

Make time for more in your day – Most students are worried that they would not be able to do justice to their engineering course, which is demanding and vast in addition to preparing seriously for the UPSC Exams. It is not very difficult to squeeze in an additional 2-3 hours of study per day provided you decide to organize your time well.

Start with writing down what you exactly you do over the 24 hours of your day. Take one week as the investigation period – and meticulously write down as much as you can what do you do every day, hour by hour. Now cut out all the time you spend on drinking coffee, chatting with friends, talking on the phone, etc. and use the added hours to your preparations schedule.

Design a tight timetable to ensure that you get the most out of your time. Ensure that you go to bed at least 2 hours before midnight. It is very important that you get your night sleep – especially now when you are putting high demands upon your brain. Eat right and drink plenty of water. It would be an excellent idea to engage a nutritionist who could design a diet that is best for you. A healthy body and mind would be your best allies during these intense preparatory years.

Make it a point to keep one day per week totally off studies; for relaxation. On that day – any day you please, but this should be fixed – you do not do any “work”; only play and have fun. The rest of the 6 days, do not even remotely think of anything but studies. There will be enough time for having fun, once you reach your destination. Keeping this day off is not an indulgence; rather a wise investment of your time. Without relaxation, fun and the ability of ‘doing nothing’ you would risk getting frustrated with the heavy load of studying. Just like you do not overload a machine; you should not overload your brain and mind either.

Watch for more valuable tips on preparing for these special exams in the last part of this career guide.

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