The UPSC preparation strategy presented here below is based on our vast experience of seeing several aspirants over the years. This will help you plan your preparation given the time you have in hand. One of the major mistakes for an UPSC candidate is lack of information. Popular opinions of toughness or simplicity of the exam often confuse candidates. It is advisable to get the correct information first, get to know the exam, and then assess the exam realistically. This will help you understand your chances of succeeding in the exam better.
Awareness and Speed
We urge you to first understand the overall landscape before arriving at conclusions about the exam. Taking an informed decision will help you in the long run. No strategy is perfect, so take everything with a pinch of salt, and take your own decision. You may be a college student, or a woking professional, and now you plan to appear for an IAS position. Let’s approach it like a marathon instead of a sprint. Based on the time you have in hand, you will need to pace your preparation accordingly. The tale about the tortoise and the hare where persistence and sincerity wins is a prime example applicable here as well. We need a balanced pace, not too fast that we burnout, nor too slow that we are not able to properly prepare for the exam.
The Power of Habit
We have come across a nice book called ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg. It is the culmination of our habits that form who we become. For the UPSC exam, let’s get ready that we may need to change many of our habits that do not improve our chances of succeeding in the exam. Say for example, when we listen to a news, there may be certain keywords that we are not aware of. This should trigger a few minutes of research where you get to understand the new words and terms you just came across. In many cases, a background study of why a situation unfolds is also necessary to understand why it happened. Whenever you come across a news, form a habit to understand why something happened, and take a few minutes to learn the new terminologies you came across.
Reading a newspaper is one of the essential habits for UPSC. Two crucial newspapers are The Hindu and The Indian Express. These newspapers present you important topics in easy language, and the UPSC exam can be seen to ask questions from news in these papers. We present daily content of these papers with the crucial bits that are helpful to prepare for the UPSC. The knowledge that you come across in these papers, many names of ministers when you repeatedly come across in various news, will give you tremendous learning with regular reading of the newspapers. The terminologies will gradually get more and more familiar.
Maps of India on various topics are crucial to understand the different metrics and demographics of India. The UPSC Practice app will enable you to explore various such infographics available publicly. Another important source of information is Yearbook. These contain various different topics that are essential to be aware of for the UPSC examination. Surround yourself with informative sources with such quality details, like books, magazines, online learning sources, training materials and so on. Keeping on listening and listening to these discussions and topics, you will see how your overall learning grows. With continuous enrichment, you will start seeing a difference on how your brain starts functioning.
Time and Discipline
Time flies. It’s even ore true with such a vast amount of syllabus such as UPSC. Hence do not feel complacent about the time you have in hand. Break down the number of years you have in hand into months, days, and then you will see how much less time you have in hand. Succeeding at the highest level of the UPSC examination will require an effective time table. Following a time table is as important and critical as it is to create it realistically. Know your strengths and weaknesses, know where you need to improve, and stick to the time table you have created in the best way you can. The power of discipline is undisputed. It will surely give you an edge on sticking to a time table for several months.
First 6 Months
Let’s plan for first half of a year. It is advisable to start with the NCERTs. It is essential to read the NCERTs of 11 and 12. By NCERTs it means all NCERTs of all subjects. M Laxmikanth is a very good book on Polity as we already know, such books are in addition to the NCERTs. Finishing the NCERTs is essential for UPSC. Completing all the NCERTs forms a core of the UPSC preparation. Several questions can be found in the UPSC examination that can easily be answered with thorough reading of just the NCERTs. Then keep reading them beyond the first 6 months as and when required to review and revisit important topics.
Second 6 Months
In the next 6 months, assess your strengths and weaknesses and address these areas. Pay attention to maps, current affairs, aptitude and any other area that you need to improve on. In addition, keep building on your strengths and knowing that you can score maximum questions from such topics. With long term neglect your strength may unknowingly become your weakness. With a balanced study approach of targeting your strengths and weaknesses over several weeks, you will find that your overall preparation is moving sharply ahead. You may not be the expert on any key area, but being overall prepared in all topics is crucial for the UPSC examination.
Next 12 Months
With regards to the UPSC exam, having a comprehensive preparation for Prelims, Mains, and Interview is essential. Know the details and papers that is associated with each phase of the exam. Then, break down each paper into several sub-topics like Ancient History, Medieval History and so on. Until before the actual exam, focus on preparing each of the topics in these papers. Keep sticking to the habits that you developed in the last 12 months. Here is a guide on how to prepare for the UPSC examination that you can use to follow in the coming months. Thus with a strategic method of preparation, you will be able to perform at your highest level of potential.