I am BCom from Allahabad University aspiring to be an IAS officer. Please give detailed explanation on the right way to prepare.
Once you have decided to appear for the UPSC exam, you should start preparations early. A look at past papers will get you an idea about the kind of questions that are asked. Over the years, The Competition Master has published solved papers, which can be referred to. It may be advisable to join a coaching institute so that one keeps in touch with other students and discuss issues with them. It is important, however, to select a good institute. Self-study also helps.
This general knowledge paper is very important. This paper has a maximum of 150. Most candidates do well in the optional paper since the subject chosen is of their interest and knowledge. As such the importance of this Paper is immense. As there is no choice of subject for Paper-I and all the candidates are required to solve the same questions, this paper assumes enormous importance, as anyone spoiling this paper cannot have any chance of qualifying the examination.
General Studies paper consists of questions on Indian Polity and Economy, History of India including Indian National Movement, Indian and World Geography, Current Affairs of National and International Importance, General and day-to-day Science, Mental Ability and Basics of Statistics etc. Questions on planning, budgeting, developmental programmes, latest issues of political and constitutional importance, panchayati raj, electoral reforms, natural resources, culture, growth of nationalism, Committees, Commission etc can be expected almost every year. Emphasis normally is placed on the general aspects of the subject which every educated person aspiring to join the Civil Services as an officer, is expected to know.
Strategy for General Studies
The fact that this paper needs special and thorough preparations need not be over-emphasised. You are expected to have keen interest in your surroundings and are supposed to have a good amount of interest in current affairs. Regular and detailed reading of a good national newspaper, a standard competition magazine and a basic book on general knowledge is the essential pre-requisite. Candidates who still have two to three years of time left for becoming eligible to go in for Civil Services Examination must begin preparations now.
In order to be able to do well in this test candidates need to update themselves on all subjects. For History, Economy, Polity, etc, it is advisable to read Class 11 and 12 books published by the NCERT. Some books on the freedom struggle are published by the National Book Trust. For general knowledge and objective-type questions, refer to General Knowledge Refresher by O.P. Khanna. To brush up your knowledge on current affairs read Competition Master regularly.
A good backgrounder on major national and international events assists the fresh starters to understand the background of any social, economic or political event, enabling them to understand the details and developments in a better way. In addition, the candidates who have recently taken the examination may also be consulted.
You need to consult more than one book on a given subject. Every book has its strong and weak parts. Therefore you need to consult as many books as possible, so that every aspect is studied in the required detail.
Choice of optional Subjects
This is a dilemma most students face. What subjects should you choose for the exam? Some subjects opt for the subjects, which are good for scoring. However you should always keep your aptitude and liking in mind while choosing a particular subject. If you have studied a subject since school and you are comfortable in it, chances of doing well in it are greater rather than taking up an unrelated subject which you may never have studied at the school or college level. On the whole do not make the mistake of choosing an entirely new subject wherein you will have to start fresh. If the optional is prepared well for the preliminary and the same subject is also planned to be opted as one of the optionals, it is very useful and saves a lot of labour.
A candidate doing well in the optional paper is expected to fare well in the examination. Moreover, the optional subject for the mains should usually be the subject in which the candidate has either attained proficiency/higher academic qualification or in which the candidate feels at home. Another consideration is your performance in the said subject in the recent past. Subjects like History, Psychology, Sociology, Public Administration etc could be opted even by students not having special or additional educational qualifications. However, subjects like Mathematics, Physics, and Engineering are considered to offer tougher questions and the candidates with exceptionally good preparation only may expect to do well.
Availability and access to good and prescribed books is yet another consideration. Books for preliminary examination are available in plenty in common subjects but in case of specialised optionals like Mathematics, Engineering, Agriculture etc, you have to look carefully for good books which cover all parts of the syllabus.
It is better to consult various books on different aspects, as it is very rare that one single book covers the entire syllabus with total efficiency. After going through all parts of the syllabus in detail and getting hold of the basic concepts, it is desirable to have sufficient practice in solving multiple choice objective type questions. A good book on objective type multiple-choice questions or a good question bank on the subject concerned may assist the candidates a great deal. Such practice, on the one hand, would perfect the art of answering the questions correctly and rapidly, and on the other would enable the candidates in understanding the questions asked in various forms. It is normally observed that at times even simple questions are asked in such a complex manner that it becomes difficult to understand the question correctly.
Efficient time planning is very crucial. The time available for preparations is limited and it has to be intelligently used. You must not waste time unnecessarily by going into lengthy details of one particular aspect, leaving other important aspects untouched. Moreover, it is better to draw up a formal time table so that no aspects of both the papers are left unprepared.
To conclude, proper selection of optional subject, availability and selection of proper books and magazines, meticulous time management, proper planning, hard work and will to succeed are some of the attributes, which play a vital role in successfully clearing the exam. One thing good about this examination is that the preparations made do not go waste and are properly utilised for the main examination.