The Civil Services Examination is conducted in three stages – Preliminary, Mains, and Interview.

Given the challenging and dynamic role of civil servants, each level in the recruitment process is designed to test the knowledge as well as the mental calibre of the candidates.

Therefore, it is essential to draw out a plan to be competitive right from the preparation stage to the very performance in the exam hall.

It is to be understood that the Preliminary and Mains preparations cannot be undertaken separately.THEY HAVE TO BE DONE IN A HOLISTIC MANNER.

PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION

The first level in the Civil Services Examination is the prelims,It is more like a screening test and the sole purpose of this stage is to filter out the non eligible candidates.

Who are the eligible candidates?

They are those with comprehensive awareness on the basics of the subjects to get through. Given the fact that only around 3% of candidates appearing for the preliminary exam make it to the Mains list, this is the most competitive level in quantitative terms.

Examination Scheme

GS Paper – I (General Awareness) GS Paper – II (CSAT)
  • 100 MCQ’s of 2 marks = 200 Marks
  • EXAM Duration             – 2 hours
  • Negative marking for a wrong answer is ONE THIRD OF TOTAL MARKS(2 MARKS) FOR A QUESTION.
  • Marks not counted for final selection,but only CONSIDERED AS AN ELIGIBILITY FOR APPEARING IN  MAINS.
  • 80 MCQs of 2.5 marks = 200 Marks
  • EXAM Duration              –  2 hours
  • Negative marking for a wrong answer is ONE THIRD OF TOTAL MARKS(2.5 MARKS) FOR A QUESTION.
  • Qualifying in nature (Need 66 marks out of 200 to be eligible)

Syllabus and Study Materials

GS PAPER – I GENERAL STUDIES
1) Current events of national and international importance:
www.iasipstnpsc.com (We update current affairs related to prelims and mains regularly.)

Any one standard newspaper – The Hindu, The IE, etc –

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO READ A NEWSPAPER WHEN YOU CAN GET A CURRENT AFFAIRS COMPILATION?

  1. Reading a newspaper isn’t all about knowing about current events it is much more than that.
  2.  Regular reading of newspaper will help you in GAINING A PERSPECTIVE-Which is atmost necessity for a Civil servant.Thus UPSC conducts CSE in such a way that questions an aspirants perspective on various issues,functioning and policies of the administration.(particularly in MAINS and INTERVIEW phase
2) History of India and Indian National Movement
Ancient

NCERT – Class 11th “Ancient India” (OLD NCERT book) – R.S. Sharma (or) Class 11th History, Tamil Nadu edition

Medieval

NCERT – Class 11th “Medieval India” (OLD NCERT book) – Satish Chandra (or) Class 11th History, Tamil Nadu edition

Modern

NCERT – Class 12th “Modern India” (OLD NCERT book) (or) Class 12th History, Tamil Nadu Edition

Spectrum publications – “Modern India”.

In case of New NCERT books:can read books of class 6 to 12th standard.

OLD/NEW do not skip NCERTs-You can always find some direct question from NCERTs in the preliminary examination

Art and Culture

  • NCERT – Class 11th “Fine Art” (OLD NCERT book) (or) Class 11th and 12th History – Tamil Nadu Edition
  • Additional References: CCRT Website, NIOS material.
3) Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World
  • NCERT – Social Science – Class 6th to 10th books.
  • NCERT – Class 11th
    • Fundamentals of Physical Geography
    • Indian Physical Environment
  • NCERT – Class 12th
    • Fundamentals of Human Geography
    • India – People and Economy
  • Atlas – Oxford / Black swan
4) Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc
  • ‘Indian Polity’ book by Laxmikanth.
  • Additional Ref: ‘Introduction to Indian Constitution’ book byDD Basu.
5) Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc
  • NCERT – 6th to 12th Social science and Economy books.
  • Indian Economy by Ramesh singh(For Prelims).
  • Indian economy by Dutt & Sundaram(selective reading for Mains).
  • Latest Economic Survey.
6) General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialisation
7) General Science

 

GS PAPER – II CSAT
  1. Comprehension
  2. Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  3. Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  4. Decision-making and problem solving
  5. General mental ability
  6. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc – Class X level)

Be smart in your preparation

With increasing commercialisation and flooding of study materials in the market, it is extremely crucial that you do not fall prey to the information overload. Choosing the suitable material decides the worth of your time and your knowledge gain. It is highly recommended that you start your preparation with the NCERTs.

Complementing NCERTs with one standard recommended book is more than enough for Prelims. And needless to say that current affairs preparation has to go holistically with this(PREPARE YOUR OWN NOTES).

if necessary go for internet sources; but with caution.

Give attention to the syllabus

Given the unpredictability of UPSC, it is safe to be balanced in covering all areas of the syllabus. Also, in a holistic way (combined prelims and mains perspective) being choosy in subjects may at times work to your disadvantage. However, History, Polity, Geography and Economics are said to be the core subjects and require proper attention. And again Current Affairs recently has become the bedrock of Civils preparation.

As for UPSC is concerned,current affairs doesn’t mean static GK that are being asked in various examinations.

Though made a qualifying paper, GS Paper II (Civil Services Aptitude Test) should be given a proper attention and practice.

PREPARE YOUR OWN PLAN

Dedicated preparation is a must for cracking all the stages of this exam.

Given the vastness of the syllabus, it is vital that you employ your skills of ‘Planning’ and ‘Time Management’ in the best possible way. Prepare a plan keeping in mind the various areas of syllabus, the time in hand, and your individual ability and energy level.

Executing your plan require that you stay dedicated to your goals.

Self-motivation is better than many other alternatives to keep you committed through out this long drawn process.

BE CONSISTENT IN YOUR PREPARATION.

Revise and Revise…

The importance of revision cannot be over-emphasized when it comes to prelims.

Proper revision comes to your help in dilemmatic situation of choosing between the two finally arrived options in Multiple Choice Questions.

Thus, it is recommended that you increase the number of revisions of a particular book/material rather than increasing the number of books to get a strong hold over a subject.

GIVE TESTS REGULARLY

Preliminary exam is indeed a game of probability.

The task lies in knowing your accuracy level and balancing between the possible positive and negative marks, to your advantage.

Gaining proficiency in the art of solving MCQs increases your chances of making it to the Mains list.

And all these require taking up enough mock tests to figure out your strengths and weaknesses.

MAINS EXAMINATION

Having tested your KNOWLEDGE of information and factual foundation through the MCQs in the prelims level, UPSC aims at evaluating your analytical views and systematic approach to the issues that the country is witnessing, through descriptive answers in the Mains level. The questions are framed so as to bring out your depth of understanding. Given the bureaucrat has to face the challenge of handling conflicting situations and decision making in a civil services career, the Mains questions test your ability to take a definite standpoint in conflicting socio-economic goals, keeping in mind the objectives and demands that the country has before it.

In this context, it is fundamental that your preparation is aligned with the demands of both analytical understanding and appropriate presentation to convey it as intended to the examiner.

Exam pattern for MAINS:

Subject Marks
*Paper A (Indian Language) 300 marks
*Paper B (English) 300 marks
Essay 250 marks
General Studies – I 250 marks
General Studies – II 250 marks
General Studies – III 250 marks
General Studies – IV 250 marks
Optional Paper – I 250 marks
Optional Paper – II 250 marks

Syllabus and Study Materials (General Studies)

GENERAL STUDIES- PAPER I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society

INDIAN HERITAGE AND CULTURE
  • Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times
  • NCERT Class XI – An introduction to Indian Art
  • Class XI History Books Tamil Nadu edition
  • CCRT website
HISTORY
  • Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
  • The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country
  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country
  • Spectrum-Comprehensive History of Modern India
  • Additional Ref: Selective Readings from ‘India’s struggle for Independence’ by Bipan Chandra (or) ‘India After Gandhi’ by Ramachandra Guha
  • decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc – their forms and effect on the society
  • NCERT –
  • Mastering World History by Norman Lowe (or) History of the World from the late 19th century to the early 21st century
SOCIETY
  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India
  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies
  • Effects of globalization on Indian society
  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism
GEOGRAPHY OF THE WORLD
  • Salient features of world’s physical geography.
  • Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India)
  • Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism
  • NCERT – Class XI – Physical Geography
  • NCERT – Class XI – Indian Geography
  • NCERT Class XII – Human Geography
  • NCERT Class XII – People and Economy
  • Goh Cheng Leong – ‘Physical Geography’

GENERAL STUDIES- PAPER II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

POLITY
  • Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure
  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein
  • Separation of powers between various organs, dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions
  • Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
  • Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  • Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary – Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity
  • Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act
  • Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies
  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
  • NCERT – Class X – Democratic Politics
  • NCERT – Class XI – Indian Constitution at work
  • ‘Indian Polity’ by Laxmikanth
  • Current Affairs
  • Summary and Recommendations part in 2nd ARC Report (Selected Topics)
  • Additional Ref: ‘Our Parliament’ by Subash Kashyap
  • RPA
SOCIAL JUSTICE
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • Development processes and the development industry – the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger
  • Economic Survey
  • PIB
  • Newspapers
  • Ministry Websites
  • Schemes in Vikaspedia.in
  • Schemes in Vikaspedia.in
GOVERNANCE
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance – applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures
  • Role of civil services in a democracy
  • Current Affairs
  • 2nd ARC Reports
  • ‘Governance in India’ by Laxmikanth (selective reading)
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
  • India and its neighbourhood- relations
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

GENERAL STUDIES – PAPER III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)

ECONOMY
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it
  • Government Budgeting
  • Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth
  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc
  • Investment models
  • NCERT – Class XI and XII – Economics
  • Indian Economy by Dutt & Sundaram
  • Economic Survey
  • Current Affairs
  • Relevant Ministry Websites
  • Additional Ref: IYB – Chapter on Energy, Transport, Infrastructure Investment, Planning Commission
AGRICULTURE
  • Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers
  • Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing
  • Food processing and related industries in India – scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management
  • Land reforms in India
TECHNOLOGY
  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
  • Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology
  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights
  • The Hindu S&T Column
  • IYB Chapters on Science & Technological developments and Defence
ENVIRONMENT
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
DISASTER MANAGEMENT
  • Disaster and disaster management
  • Current Affairs
  • NCERT – Disaster Management sections
  • Yojana – Special Edition on Disaster Management
SECURITY
  • Linkages between development and spread of extremism
  • Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention
  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate
  • Current Affairs
  • IAS Parliament IDSA Magazine
  • 2nd ARC report – Capacity Building for conflict Resolution

GENERAL STUDIES-PAPER IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)

  • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships
  • Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values
  • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion
  • Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections
  • Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world
  • Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance
  • Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption
  • Case Studies on above issues
  • Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by G.SubbaRao and PN Roy Chowdhary (or) Lexicon
  • IGNOU ethics material
  • 12th NCERT Psychology Chapter 6 and 7
  • SubbaRao Book
  • Ramesh K Arora
  • IGNOU Chapter I and 3 for International Ethics and applied K. Arora
  • 2nd ARC report on Ethics in Governance.
  • 2nd ARC report on code of conduct
  • Justice Harvard Videos

HOW TO START THE MAINS PREPARATION?

Study the Syllabus –

Syllabus can be the best guide light for your Mains preparation.

A strong hold over the syllabus rationalises your time by directing you what to read and what not to. This is extremely important given the information overload scenario.

So, Syllabus —> Previous Year Question Papers —> Study Materials.

This would be the ideal way to start and proceed with your preparation; be it Prelims or Mains.

Decide your resources –

The suggested books/other sources are not to be read from cover to cover or in its entirety in all cases.

It is to be noted that the examiner does not look for the source of the content in your paper but rather only ‘your understanding and conceptual clarity’. These can be accumulated and grasped through any means.

So please do not force yourself to read any magazine or book or website just because it is popular in the market. Given the vastness of the syllabus and the time in hand, YOU should ultimately decide your resources that suit your requirements in cracking this exam.

Planning –

The aspects of planning as dealt in the Prelims Section applies to Mains as well. It is just that your planning has to be adapted to the Mains syllabus. And when it comes to Mains, the syllabus is lengthier and each subject has under it a range of subtopics and ideas. Though the number of questions under each subject for a particular year may range from 1 or 2 to max 6 or 7, you cannot afford to ignore any topic, given the high level of competition, as even a single mark can make changes in the rank list.

So it is essential that you craft your plans, giving due importance to all the papers in the syllabus and all aspects including studying, revising and practising answer writing.

Approach –

As mentioned in the introduction part, the Mains level is to test how best the administrator would respond to the issues and challenges that the administration is facing.

Besides some static topics, the syllabus and the questions are largely intended to evaluate your analytical and critical view-point. Your Mains preparation process has to incorporate this understanding in its fullest sense.

So approach your study material not just as facts and information, but instead as inputs for handling an ‘issue’.

This approach should significantly integrate into your Current Affairs preparation as well. Each and every issue that you read as part of your current affairs prep should logically sensitise you as an administrator, as a rights activist, as an economist, as an environmentalist, as a diplomat, and what not?

Practice makes aspirants competitive –

Mains answer writing is an art in itself. Limited time and limited space for writing. In this context, it is extremely important and indispensable that you tune your mind and hand to write about 5000 words on varied topics in a matter of three hours.

Consistently practising answer writing would give you an idea as to how to approach different types of questions and also to figure out your own style of presentation. It makes you aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Undoubtedly, it is as important to get your paper evaluated by a reliable guide as practising answer writing. Enrolling in a proper test series is more advisable as it channelises your preparation in terms of time and topics, trains you in an exam environment, helps manage time better as well as guide you in the right way of rendering answers.

FINAL WORD

Hope the ideas shared above had helped you in some way. This is just to give a brief idea to help you go about with the preparation smartly, and certainly, success in this highly competitive exam depends largely on the dedication, sincerity, and perseverance of ‘YOU’.

Civil Services Preparation, above all, makes you an educated person. It makes you more sensitive and responsive to the happenings of the society than before.

So,enjoy and cherish the examination process…