The How, Why and What of Indian Civil Services Exams–Part 4


If you have read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 well, this one is going to motivate you further and make your journey to the final exam day easier. Confidence with guidance is the key to crack these “hyped” Civil Services Exams. Go ahead and do your best for a bright future.

Civil Services Exam


Important Tips To Help You Prepare Best:

(1) Choose your subject carefully – You can choose engineering subjects – such as electrical or civil – which will help you kill two birds with one stone. Your subject is your passport – choose carefully that subject which you are confident so that it scores the best marks for you.

(2) Stay abreast with current affairs – reading newspaper, listening to the news at least once a day, practicing GK quizzes will help a lot.

(3) Develop an alertness of mind – do not just go through your day concentrating only on your studies. Stay aware of your surroundings. Develop a keen sense of observation of all that is happening around you. Often, in the interview they would ask the prospective IAS candidate – ‘what is the color of the wall in the outer office’ or ‘how many stairs led to this interview hall’. Play mental games with yourself and develop a keen observation sense.

(4) Study time – take a break of about 5 minutes every half an hour. Research shows that memory declines after about 30-45 minutes of continuous study. Frequent breaks actually help you retain matter better.

(5) Do not touch the books the night before the exam – in other words, focus on retaining information in the long-term memory pattern. Study hard until the exam time – and forget about books on the last day before the exam.

(6) Memorize less; understand more – when you understand what you read the effort on retaining the study matter is less than 1/3rd. Understand the process, how to apply it in real life, etc. This would help you remember better than parroting it.

(7) Use white noise for better concentration – play soft music in the background to form white noise for your studies. In this way, you ensure that you do not get distracted by other noises. Research also shows that music also helps the brain to focus better.

(8) Keep one day for fun – you know why dieting never works? Because the person dieting craves so much for the things he is forbidden to take, that he loses the battle in the end. Similarly, do not crave to have fun. Dedicate one day per week for having fun, so you could focus on studies on all other days. This is very important for your success.

(9) Practice online test papers – it is very important that you go through the whole process time and again so that at the time of the exam you would be completely familiar with it- and hence limit your anxiety to the minimum. Also familiarity with the type of questions would ensure better and faster thought process for answering the questions. Pay special attention to brain teasers, IQ type questions and GK.

(10) Eliminate all weak points – keep in mind that this is a competitive exam. In other words, he would win who does better than the others. Identify the weak point you have in your subject and eliminate them with extra preparation.

(11) Practice interview questions – most people lose at this level. Ensure that you develop the ability to ‘think on your feet’. Keep practicing questions that ask you, ‘what would you do if…” Practice looking at everything with an out-of-the-box attitude. Make no mistake about it – you are special, expect the interview panel to treat you like that and expect you to behave like that. Do not shy to be ‘different’ – but when you do it, do it with witty impunity.

(12) Role of NCERT books – National Council for Educational Research & Training (NCERT) books are among the most recommended readings for IAS exams. Download for free NCERT Books from here –,

(13) Group study and practice – it is very important that you know how to discuss in a group. Practice GD (group discussions) to ensure that you learn how to argue your point across, instigate a discussion, drive your point home, etc. This is a very important aspect of the preparations. Many people become tongue-tied in a group or before a group. You need to be able to function optimally in type of setting.

(14) Dressing and other etiquette – dress sense is not something ear-marked only for the best days. It is something that becomes part of you. Work at this for it is an important part of your image. Learn how to dress – formally and informally – to make the most of your clothes. What colors suit you; what style suits you; when to wear shoes and when converse shoes are ok; etc. Build yourself as a brand; for that becomes your personality.

Etiquette too is very important. In other words this is what we call manners. How do you walk in a room with interview panel members/ how you sit on the chair/ your body language during the interview/ how you conclude the interview – all such things go into etiquette – which you should know and master.

(15) Dos and Don’ts at study time/ interview/ personality test – the personality test is a critical gateway for IAS Exams. It is very important that you do well here:


- Be polite and courteous

- Accept tea or coffee if offered; it shows that you are relaxed

- Listen carefully to every question and think before answering; often the questions look more for the way you look at a situation rather than the answer itself

- Do talk just as much as required; keep answers crisp and concise

- Do smile often

- Do ask for repeating a question or clarifications if you need it

- Do be truthful if you do not know something or you feel you have made a mistake

- Do stay away from criticizing the Government in general or any particular Government person in particular


- Go for the interview chewing gum

- Dress informally

- Argue with the interview panel

- Be aggressive/ defensive or offensive. Just stay focused on the questions and not feelings.

- Stay on the fence with your answers. Don’t try to please “both sides”; when asked an opinion give it boldly and be ready to justify it.

- Boast about anything

- React negatively to anything that the interview panel says – even if the comments are inflammatory. This is a test by itself – they want to see how you would behave in uncomfortable situations.

- Panic if you find they are pressurizing you on any subject. Remember this is a test; your reactions to various circumstances would be judged.

- Carry anything more other than your certificates in the interview room.

Finally concluding, it is self motivation; strong willpower and keen interest along with hard work that will help you succeed in this exam. Support from family, friends and institutions also plays an important role. However, it is you who are going to appear for the exam and pursue Civil Services as a career and hence it is important that you are mentally prepared to accept such a responsibility. Believe in yourself and your aim and you are sure to succeed.



  1. This is much needed for me as I am also preparing for APSC–Assam

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