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Prologue There are lot of tips scattered in various articles, but for a new person it is sometimes hard to follow

low what is going on here. So this is my attempt to combine and consolidate everything onto five part series on prelims cum mains cum interview approach for General Studies for UPSC Civil Service Exam. If youre following this site for many months, you will find repetition of ideas and tips in this article, so apologies in advance for any boredom caused.

War on Terrorism UPSC, consists of three battles 1. Prelims (CSAT) 2. Mains 3. interview Multi choice questions (MCQs) Descriptive-essay type questions

This strategy is divided into five articles, click on the appropriate links: Topics discussed 1. In Act I, We shall try to understand the mindset of our Blood Enemy (UPSC) Article link Discussed in this article itself.


In Act II: The weapons required to defeat him. (Booklist, art of Note making, How to use Yojana,Kurukshetra etc) In Act III: We shall see how to effectively use those weapons and wage the war(Topicwise strategy for General Studies Prelims, Mains) In Act IV: How to conquer your own brain, before conquering UPSC (cleansing the doubts of coaching classes, working professionals, Hindi Medium etc) In Act V: We shall see how to retreat from the war, if victory is not achieved. (Career Backup plans) 6th PArt (updated on March 2013): This is latest update in the strategy, with respect to, new modification introduced in UPSC 2013.

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Act I: Mindset of the Enemy We can classify Bollywood movies into eras- tragedy ridden 50, musical 70s and so on. Similarly UPSC question papers too have gone through evolution.

To keep it simple, I would classify this into two phases 90s era Timeline Everything upto 2009 1. 2. 3. History Geography Current Affairs Older NCERTs Std.Ref Books Competitive Magazines History Geography Polity Diplomacy Standard Reference books Coaching class notes Back breakingTM era 2010, 2011, 2012continued 1. 2. 3. Environment Science History/Polity New NCERT Std.Ref Books Newspapers Diplomacy Yearbook Environment Sci-Tech


Main areas


1. 2.


Main areas


Mostly Newspapers, your own notes.

So how was the 90s era? Most people did not have internet or computer. Internet was prohibitively expensive. Even cybercafs were hard to find. There was hardly any information on internet, about how to prepare for this exam. And whether information/booklist was available was mostly jingoistic and impractical in nature. (will be discussed in Act II List of Not recommended Books) Those who could afford to goto Delhi for coaching, had distinct advantage over others. Because they knew what to prepare, from where to prepare and what to skip. (Nowadays situation has drastically changed).

in those days, Prelims had two papers a. b. General Studies (150 marks) Optional Subject (300 marks)

There existed a proportional representation system rule. Crudely speaking it means Suppose 2 lakh students appeared in prelims and 20,000 had History optional. (10%) And UPSC wanted only pass 10,000 students for next stage mains exam. In that case, UPSC would need to reserve 1000 seats for candidates with history optional. (10%) Prelims GS By and large the structure for prelims was like following 1. There would be about 20 questions on History. You had to Mugup old NCERT + any coaching notes regarding location of Harappa sites and other boring trivial things.

2. 3. 4.


There would be 30-40 questions on Geography (including places in news): so you had to prepare old NCERTs + competitive magazines + TheHindu accordingly. About 40 questions on science: NCERT + GS manual. Prelims GS questions used to be current affairs heavy : Almost 40 questions on persons/places in news, books-authors, sports, awards, science-tech etc. so competitive magazines (chronicle wizard etc) and coaching class material on current affairs compilation were precious. Remaining was filled up with polity, aptitude etc questions to make a paper with total 150 questions. Prelims Optional

Lets consider the case of Public Administration. The topicwise breakup was pretty much identical every year. Basically you had to mugup following books religiously and you would clear the prelims (even without coaching or great command over GS). a. b. c. d. M.Laxmikanths book on Public Administration Prasad and Prasad Mohit Bhattacharya Sharma n Sadana (or Avasthi or Fadia)

But in those years, if you lived in a small town, there was no internet and nobody to tell you those books were important. So you had to join a coaching class in Delhi, just to figure out the damn booklist (or worst- fail in first attempt and learn from mistakes). Overall, The nature of prelims questions was such that youd need to mugup lot of data on solar planets, PSLV missions, metal-alloys, location of Harappan sites, winners of lawn tennis, Shanti-Swaroop Bhatnagar awardees and other boring things like that. Same for your optional subjects. (for Public Administration you had to mugup quotes-who said what, books and authors, timelines etc. Because of the proportional representation rule, in the preliminary exam you were only competing with the people from your optional subject group. And thus Senior player had distinct advantage over first timers. Because optionals were worth 300 mark, and he had rock solid command over facts because of revision. The victory rule was straight arithmetic: If Someone revised above cited Public Administration books for 15-20 times (Im not kidding) then he was riding a Tata Sumo @90 kmph. If a newguy had barely read them 5 times, so he was riding a desi Atlas bicycle (used by postmen,). Now imagine what would happen if these two clashed? Same was the situation in General studies paper.

And as I told earlier, there was no internet or awareness outside Delhi. So most of the small-town, self-preparationno coaching and no relative in civil service type candidates would fail in their first attempt, because a. b. they did not have idea on what to prepare, what to skip. They could not memorize as much as a senior player did, because of timelimit.

So theyd fail in first attempt, learn from their mistakes, and clear prelims in second attempt (i.e. when they too become senior players). But then they might fail in mains exam for the same reason (lack of right direction), so theyd again rectify mistakes in third attempt and with God and goodluck willing, theyd get selected. Ofcourse there were exceptional cases, but by and large, this was the situation and hence there exists a perception in the society that 1. 2. You cannot clear IAS exam on first trial. You cannot clear IAS exam without going to Delhi for Coaching.

But that was the 90s. Things have changed now. Many toppers have defied above rules. Cleared the UPSC on first attempt: Shah Faisal, Karthik Iyer, Neeraj Singh, Mohd.Safi to name a few. Anyways let us continue discussion on 90s era- moving to the Mains Mains: 90s Era General studies (mains) of 90s Era Questions often rephrased and repeated, so if a coaching class sir dictated the answers for previous papers / or provided notes, then all you had to do was religiously mug it up and reproduce the same in your answer sheets. History a. b. 3 books of Spectrum: Modern History, Freedom fighters and Culture Bipin Chandra

In those years, UPSC would ask 2 markers on freedom fighters (total 10-12 marks) every year. So you had to mupup 150+freedom fighters from Spectrums book + coaching material if any. Again, senior player had distinct advantage because he would have gone through the same data atleast 5 times. He can easily recall freedom fighters compared to a new guy. Indian Geography Again questions were repeated and rephrased for example explain monsoon mechanism in India and why xyz part receives less monsoon etc. So a coaching class sir would just need to consolidate good stuff given in Spectrum book/Majid Hussain /Dr.Khullars book and provide question answers for old papers. Thatd be his coaching class readymade material and you did not even need a book, just mugup those class notes, and youd get full marks. Polity 1. 2. Sometimes directly lifted statements on DD Basu, other times merely rephrasing old question. Again same as above, coaching notes would save the time and effort. International affairs, Economy 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. You had to just mugup V******s material and whatever was dictated in the class. Statistics was also pretty easy and conventional. There were clichd questions on computers every year like write a note on RAM or email. Same for science-tech. And whatever Misc. current affairs was left, you could rely on Wizards special book on mains current affairs + Hindu. Optional papers: 90s era Ive already talked about that in the Public Administration strategy article. Anyways the success formula was Re-mugup the same books you used for prelims. Get some fodder material from Yojana Kurukshetra. (or Readymade notes of H******** S**** etc.) and use it elaborate or spice up the answers with so called case studies. Questions were static, direct from the SRBs, repeated, rephrased. coaching sir would dictate the answers, Class notes would save the day.

Similar things for History, geography, psychology etc. Literature optionals: 90s era

In the GS and Public Administration, UPSC atleast showed the decency to rephrase the question while repeating it next year. but for literature was so totally clichd, even Saas Bahu serials look genuine. If you just studied the last 10 years paper, you could set your own guess-paper for the fourth year and upscs actual paper would 90% similar to your guess paper! For Pali or Maithali litt. All you had to do was join a coaching class or get some Arts professor to dictate you the answers of last 10 years papers. Thats all, mug it up and youd get more that 300/600 marks (+ scaling system favored litt.optionals)

In short, first timer/no-coaching type player had almost 0% chance of getting decent marks in mains. And among the senior players, if Senior Player A and Senior player B. Both had revised notes for 20 times. Who would be successful? Well, questions like I said rephrased repeated every year. Mains Questions are of two types: analytical or direct. 1. For analytical questions (Critically analyse Indias policy towards Afghanistan), you had ready-made notes dictated by coaching class sir, you just needed to recall and write the points. And Suppose Mr.A solely relied on that note while Mr.B upgraded his note further with fodder material from library book or retired professor or newspapers, then Mr.B would get more marks. Therefore quality of notes =important. For direct questions (like powers of the Pres of India or explain the budget making process).in that case whoever could write more points (Mr.A or B) would get more marks. Therefore memorization skill=important. The Back-breakingTM era (2010 onwards) So far we saw that in 90s era, A small town candidate without coaching or tips from seniors/toppers/IAS relatives, could rarely succeed. And By small town I mean every place except Delhi. (Same way for IIT entrance exam, everyplace except Kota, Rajsthan, is a small town.) Anyways, suddenly UPSC wakes up and realizes the problems faced by first timers and small towners. So UPSC starts taking certain reformative measures in the exam process to prevent coaching classes and senior players for gaining much advantage. This is phenomenon is referred as BackbreakingTM move of UPSC. The exams conducted in 2010, 2011, and 2012 are examples of that move. Now lets try to understand what was changed during this era? BackbreakingTM era: Prelims 1. UPSC removed Optional subjects were from preliminary exam (2011 and onwards) it introduced a new thing called Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT). It had two papers GS+Aptitude. Both papers have same marks. So there goes the advantages associated with proportional representation, 300 marks of optional subject MCQ paper. Even in Aptitude, from 2012 It reduced questions from conventional Maths: to prevent Engineers/IIT/MBA types from gaining advantage. UPSC introduced new topics in the syllabus such as environment and biodiversity, rights issue. In GS prelims, it stopped asking trivial current affairs stuff (person/places in news, awards etc.) for example Im copy pasting certain questions from 90s era


2. 3. 4.

Which of the following organization won the CSIR award for S&T innovation for rural Development, 2006? a. b. c. d. CLRI NDDB IARI NDRI

Which city has been the venue of Asian Games for maximum number of times from 1951 to 2006? a. b. c. d. Delhi Tokyo Bangkok Beijing

Match the following 1. 2. 3. 4. Bhanu Bharti Mike Pandey Mohd.Zahur Khyyam Vinda Karandikar 1. 2. 3. 4. Music composer Poet Theatre director Wildlife film maker

To solve such questions you had to constantly follow current affairs magazines (or the readymade current affairs notes of coaching class). But Nowadays such questions dont appear much in prelims exam. 5. UPSC changed the nature of questions from History and Science. For example here are few from 1999s paper

Q1. Match Following 1. 2. 3. 4. 1775 1780 1824 1838 a. b. c. d. 1st Anglo-Burmese war 1st Anglo-Afghan war 1st Anglo-Maratha war 2nd Anglo-Mysore

Q2. Volcanic eruptions donot occur in a. b. c. d. Baltic Sea Black Sea Caspian Sea Caribbean Sea

Thankfully UPSC stopped asking such questions nowadays. So you dont have to mugup a lot of data like in the 90s. For Prelims, Nowadays most of the questions are 4 Statement True or False (4TF) type. So youre given one term/phenomenon and 2 or 3 or 4 statements. Your task is to identify the correct statements. Ofcourse it does require memorization, but they more aimed at checking your basic understanding of a topic rather than your mugup skills (like in above questions from the 90s) for example here are some questions from 2012s paper Q1. Mahatma Gandhi undertook fast unto death in 1932, mainly because :

a. b. c. d.

Round table conference failed to satisfy Indian political aspirations Congress and muslims league had differences of opinion Ramsay macdonald announced the communal award None of the statements (a), (b) and (c) given above is correct in this context.

Q2. Consider these factors 1. 2. 3. 4. Rotation of the earth Air pressure of wind Density of ocean water Revolution of the earth

Which of the above factors influence the ocean currents? 1. 2. 3. 4. 1 & 2 only 1, 2 & 3 1&4 2, 3 & 4

To get more idea on this, read following analysis of 2012s CSAT (preliminary) paper CLICK ME BackbreakingTM era: Mains (General Studies) For mains exan, UPSC stopped asking conventional direct stuff from History, Geography Instead emphasis was given to public health, environment, sci-tech, yearbook and current affairs from newspapers. To get more idea on this, read following analysis of 2012s General Studies (Mains) paper click ME Adaptation And while writing all ^this, I donot mean even an ounce of disrespect to any senior player or his success. No one becomes senior player by his conscious choice, everyone wants to clear UPSC in first attempt- But things dont turn out that way for many, So, he is a victim of circumstances created by the (supervillain) UPSC. And life and society is very cruel to him, as youll see in Act IV and V. Initially UPSC had the upper hand in this war. When UPSC significantly changed the question style in 2010s preliminary paper, most senior players were shocked and caught unguarded. But UPSC cant trick them everytime. Theyre fighting for their life and career. In 2011, 2012 they changed their preparation strategy accordingly and adapted to this uncertain environment. So question papers are not as shocker for them as UPSC expects. Similarly coaching classes have been trying to adapt. UPSC keeps an eye on all the study material released by prominent coaching classes of delhi, to make sure no questions are asked from such material. So coaching classes too have came up with new ideas, for example 1. 2. Nowadays good stuff/ ultra-important topics are not given in their printed study material but mostly dictated during the lecture. (Because printed material usually get pirated by Xerox centres of Delhi hahaha) They intentionally released their current affairs material very late (just 15-20 days before the exam) to prevent UPSC from changing the papers.

This is like a game of chess, you have to constantly keep moving your pawns and adapt to the moves made by the enemy, same way UPSC too keeps coming up with new ideas and new back breakingTM moves every year.

In the end, competition is tough and exam is not friendly to anyside, anymore, whether youre a coaching/no-coaching/first timer/senior playeryou too should adapt and study hard else youll get massacred like an innocent bystander in the action movies. Act II: Weapons of Mass Destruction

You need five set of weapons 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Standard Reference books (SRB) Newspaper (The Hindu/Indianexpress only) Magazines Internet Your own notes (assembled using the parts of above four weapons)

These weapons provide fire two types of ammunition 1. 2. Facts: features of Government scheme, powers of President, reasons for the spread of disease, some physics concept responsible for mechanism of xyz instrument. Fodder: if UPSC examiner was a buffalo, how would you please him? Ofcourse by throwing some grass fodder at him. Fodder is required mostly @Mains, Essay and interview. Pros and cons of a Government scheme / policy, reasons suggestions-analysis of xyz socio-economic-environmental problem= these are some examples of fodder.

Postal study material and readymade coaching notes = Desi country made weapons (katta and Tamanchaa), most of the time they misfire or dont fire when you pull the trigger. So you should not over-rely on such Desi-weapons. Now lets see how to effectively utilize these weapons. In reverse order Weapon#5: Your Own notes Q. Why notes making = important? Well the same reason why practicing math sums is important for CAT exam= To succeed. 1. 2. 3. Syllabus of UPSC exam is extremely large. Even if youre done with the core/static theory portion, the new current affairs keep piling every day. Today, if you understand a topic from xyz book, magazine, newspaper or website but cannot recall it in the exam hall after five months, then whole exercise is useless. If youre not processing and consolidating information in compact notes form, then on the night before exam youll have so many heaps of books, newspapers and magazines that could fill up a small loading rickshaw! Youll be under extreme stress and frustration on what to read and what to skip? Types of Notes #1: Notes on Margin Basically you highlight important lines in a book and then write some important summery/keywords/phrases on the margins of every book page. Works well for NCERTs, GS Manuals, M.Laxmikanth, Bipin Chandra and so on. doesnt work well, if youre supposed to prepare a topic after consolidating information from multiple sources. (Indo-US relations for example) Doesnt work well, if it is a secondary reference book. (i.e. some xyz book from library, wasnt written for IAS exam but got some good facts/fodder in one or two chapters). In that case, ideal way was to write a separate handwritten summery note.

#2: Handwritten Notes Made from Newspapers, standard reference books, magazines, websites. How to make notes out of newspapers, is already explained in a separate article CLICK ME 1. 2. 3. When you make notes, please be conscious that youre not doing it with a 90s mindset: i.e. too much dates, names and numbers. If you can remember something as such then no need to incorporate such data in your note. For example India got independence on 15th August 1947=dont write. You dont have to copy the sentences verbatim. Because that is identical to making a photocopy! Just write keywords and phrases, avoid writing full sentences. Write full sentence, only if it some extremely important quote / fodder statement. Notes need not be grammatically correct or pure chaste politically correct diplomatic language. You can mix up Hindi with English, proverbs, slangs, profanity, filmy dialogues even to the point of obscenity . whatever makes it easy to revise and recall the information. Keep in mind youre not making notes to impress someone, youre making notes for quick revision. #3: Computer Notes and Mindmaps If youre reading papercopy of a book, newspaper or magazine, it is easy to make handwritten notes simultaneously. But if youre reading something on internet or PDF file, it may not be convenient. Example softwares: To organize notes/data 1. 2. 3. Evernote Microsoft Onenote 2007/2010/2013 Traditional Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel. To create mindmaps 1. 2. Freemind Mindjet Mindmanager


There is no one size fits for all. In certain topics, Mindmapping would be useful, but in some topics a simple Excel datasheet would work just fine (for example list of persons in news or Science tech 2 markers.) I had created an Auto-notemaker computer script, basically it helps you copy phrases from pdf files and websites. CLICK ME (works perfect on WinXP, not so well on Win7) In the mains exam, question papers are quite lengthy. Handwriting speed matters. Therefore donot maintain only computer notes. Also make handwritten notes as and where required. Thatd indirectly help you improve writing speed. #4: Readymade Notes A) Notes of Toppers You can find notes of previous years toppers (Om Kasera, Neeraj Singh, Kshitij Tyagi) in the download section of Such notes give you inspiration and indirect hints on the Art of notes making. You will find some good facts and fodder in such notes. However, Notes of toppers should not be your first line of defense or primary weapons because, 1. 2. if he could memorize xyz thing without notes, he wouldnt have incorporated such data in his notes. In many places hed have written sentences, that would make limited sense to you (but theyd help him connect point x with y)after all he wrote the notes for his easy revision and not yours.


He may have skipped some topics or chapters because he did not find them exam-worthy. B) Readymade Coaching class notes and Material

It can be of two types 1. 2. Static = dealing with theoretical part of GS or optionals (History, Geography, literature etc.) Current affairs

As we saw in Act I, the Static notes of coaching classes, lost their significance under UPSCs BackbreakingTMMove. Regarding the current affairs notes= nowadays the famous classes intentionally delay the release of current affairs books/notes- to prevent UPSC spies from changing the question paper. So, in the coming years, youll find such material flooding in streets, just 15-20 days before the exam. Consider this situation 1. 2. Suppose Ajay Devgan exercised for 2 hours per day for 90 days continuously and transformed into a muscle man for his movie Singham. Therefore if you exercise 12 hours a day for 15 days, youll get the same muscular body. Is it possible?

Why not? 902=180 and 1215 is also 180! Even If you take steroids, this is not possible. Same goes with the short cuts and quick fix solutions. It doesnt require an Einstein to release readymade current affair notes. Just hire a retired player of UPSC, ask him to follow Hindu for year, copy paste data, produce a booklet and charge anything between Rs.3000 to Rs.10000 depending on your coaching classs name and reputation in the masses. If a sincere player is doing his own notes since many months, he may quickly scan through such notes to fillup any missing data to upgrade his own personal notes. But then again, sincere players would usually find their own notes more adequate and well organized than such garbage that floods the street 15 days before the exam. But if a candidate had not been preparing current affairs on his own, then hed end up spending last 15 days just reading, digesting and processing the data, There will be no time left to revise any other topics.

Therefore, 1. 2. 3. Maintain your current affairs notes, Dont look for shortcuts. If you get some good coaching note, use it to upgrade your own notes. If you donot have coaching notes- dont feel guilty or inferior. There are plenty of toppers who made it without using such material.

Now lets move to inspect the next weapon. Weapon #4: Internet Internet is required for Follow up Action on particular topic of current affairs. For example there is some climate change summit going on. Newspaper only mentions the highlight but not enough content to write 120 words answer then youd need to use google. Similarly, to find out the timeline/background of a topic, youll need to google. Youll need to visit official sites of various ministry Youll need to keep an eye on Youll need to download IGNOU pdfs from as per your requirements. Youll need it to access TheHindu. And so on

But as usual, you should digest, process and make note out of it. Otherwise merely saving 10 articles per day in your harddisk = wont help you. Over-reliance on internet= Bad You use internet for accessing Hindu/other newspapers and gather current affairs = well and good. But dont just keep random surfing internet for your preparation (especially prelims). Because likelihood of getting question from some random internet article of Wikipedia or newspaper in UPSC = very less. Why? Because UPSC has to keep in mind the candidates from small towns and villages, who may not have 24/7 internet access. So many questions come from static theory part- NCERTs, other Standard reference books, to give them level playing field- particularly @the preliminary level. Initially youll feel enthusiastic about doing google-research, but after 15-20 days, youll lose the tempo and start feeling nervous thinking I can never complete the syllabus Ofcourse you can search internet for further explanation of a topic. But UPSC exam is not made up of one particular topic alone. It is a mixture of everything. So dont overdo anything. for example digging SciTech, folk dances etc. day and night. Weapons #3: Magazines A) Yojana and Kurukshetra They are released by the Government. Yojana deals with socio-economic issues, poverty, water sanitation, women empowerment etc. Kurukshetra deals mainly with rural Development. Both are important for UPSC, because they provide fodder material. Every article in those two magazines, follows more or less the same structure that is 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Initially itll describe an issue or problem, give you some data. Itll list the Government scheme / project and their salient features Thant itll give you data and charts on State wise money allotment and achievements. Sometimes itll give reasons why targets are not achieved. Ultimately, some over-glorified success story of xyz NGO or Self Help group.

For us, point number 1,2 and 4 are important. If Yojana magazine issue has 75 pages, you can summarize the fodder material in less than 5 page note, just containing keywords and phrases. So do it, highly recommended, will help you particularly for descriptive question (mains and essay). It is said that Kurukshetra is important for candidates with Public Administration optional only. My opinion is Kurukshetra is important for everyone irrespective of optional subject given the current trend of UPSC asking yearbook, socio-economic Development type questions. How to subscribe to Yojana and Kurukshetra? Although you can download the free PDF files from their official website, here is the link but I would suggest subscribe for paper-copy. Reason: Each magazine cost Rs.100 subscription per year = not very expensive. + Reading on computer screen for long time= not good for eyes. Goto post office, buy following things 1. Buy two IPO (indian postal orders) worth Rs.100 each


One envelop worth Rs.5 (it already has postal stamp.)

On Each IPO, write Director, Publication Division, Ministry of Info. & Broadcasting, New Delhi Now prepare two paper chits/letters: One for Yojana and One for Kurukshetra. 1. 2. 3. 4. Your Name and Address: Subscription: Yojana/Kurukshetra for 1 year Language of magazine: English/Hindi/Gujarati/ whatever language. IPO number:

Now staple each letter with each IPO. Slip it into that Envelop. On the Envelop, write following address and mail it. Business Manager, Publication Division, East Block, Level-VII, RK Puram, New Delhi-110066 B) CST, PD, Chronicle, Wizard CST = Civil Service Times PD= Pratiyogita Darpan These magazines provide you information on current affairs, truckload of coaching class advertisements on every second page and useless clichd topper interviews. In the 90s era, magazines were important because preliminary exam used to be current affairs heavy (sports, awards, places and persons in news etc). Nowadays not so much. Besides, the level of current affairs questions in the mains examination, requires that you follow the newspapers rather these magazines. However magazines still have some utilities because 1. 2. Helps you fill up the gap in your notes. e.g. if some topic was not covered in newspaper, or in case you missed noticing some important development. Saves you the trouble of following sports related News everyday.

But keep in mind the magazine publishers cover the news-item is still from the 90s mindset. They throw just way too much names,dates and numbers at you. So itd be better if you just noted down keywords in separate diary (especially for science-tech part) e.g. We are not interested in knowing the exact height and weigh of satellite, we only need to know its function or use. Each magazine has following structure 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. National affairs International affairs Science-tech Economy Persons and Places in news Some filler articles for the sake of filling pages, because they couldnot find more coaching class ad sponsers.. Usually doctored and ghost written topper interviews

For you section 1 to 4 are important. Rest depending on your time and mood. Dont pay much attention on what topper is saying (or recommending) in the magazine interviews, because mostly theyre doctored and ghostwritten interviews. Read following blogs by IAS officers and youll understand what Im saying: 1. 2. Supreet Singh Gulati (IAS, AIR-2/CSE-2007, Punjab Cadre): click ME Gokul GR (IAS, AIR-19/CSE-2010, Kerala Cadre): Click ME

Marketing Propaganda From January to May= Diwali time for competitive magazines. They come up with issues with attractive covers for example 1. 2. 3. Complete geography in 15 days Entire coverage of Biodiversity 1000 questions on current affairs!

The new player would ditch his books and start mugging up data given in such magazines. Nothing really comes in the exam and he suffers. So dont make that mistake. Your Primary weapons = Standard Reference Books+newspapers+your own notes. All these readymade things are secondary. These are only the supplements, not the substitutes. Which competitive magazine to use? Use any one of following. Civil Service Times (CST): Recommended, if you sole aim is UPSC exam alone. Wizard, Chronicle= well I feel they lost the shine. Their target audience is only UPSC aspirants and in that genre, Civil Service Times is doing better job- coverage of International relations and Science-tech is good. It doesnt mean, Wizard and Chronicle are bad. Use whatever tools you can find / afford. Recommended, if youre simultaneously preparing for UPSC as well as Bank PO, SSC, State PSC type of jobs. Because PD also provides you with material and question papers of those exams. Pratiyogita Darpan can be read online for free, using their official website. Click ME

Pratiyogita Darpan

If money is the problem, then no need to buy, visit local Government library. Timeframe for current affairs? Question: From which month to which month, should I cover current affairs? If youre appearing in the year 2013, you should prepare current affairs from minimum Jan 2012. (it doesnt mean UPSC wont ask you some topic that happened in 2011 or from 2007, because UPSC is the baddest thug youll find in this part of South East Asia.) Anyways, the ideal and plausible current affairs time frame = start from one year i.e. Jan 2012. Finish upto that part, then worry about 2011. If youve started preparation from Nov 2012, then I hope from November onwards youd religiously follow newspapers and maintain notes (if you dont want to dig up your grave) but what about the stuff that already happened? i.e. what to do for the current affairs from Jan 2012 to Nov 2012? Go through the competitive magazine issues of those month Ya but Where to find the old magazines? A. local library B. For Pratiyogita Darpan their official website. Same advice for Yojana, Kurukshetra. Okay now assuming that you have covered up to January 2012. But about few years back? For Jan 2011 to Dec 2011 = For 2001 to Dec 2010 = Yes it 2001 and no I did not make typing mistake. Just give a cursory reading to (National and International) section

of that Hindu diary of events. Reason: there have been some landmark events for example Bt-Brinjal, Iraq and Afghanistan war, 9/11, 26/11, subprime crisis, Indo US nuclear deal, Tsunami, Right to education Act, women reservation bill, Law Commission, Justice Sacchar Committee, controversy regarding office of profit... And so on. Many such topics would continue haunting you indirectly and implicitly in the mains, essay and interview. So better have some idea about them. Do I need to follow more than one Competitive Magazine? Any One magazine is sufficient. More than one magazine = overlapping and overkill. Ofcourse there would be some xyz science-tech term which was given in PD but not in CST, then What to do? Well in war, there is always some casualty. If you start worrying so much, you cannot prepare. One competitive magazine (combined with one newspaper) should do the trick. If after youre done with core syllabus, notes making and everythingyou may visit local library to upgrade your notes. But now is not the right time. All those things are secondary. Frontline, EPW, The Economist, Outlook etc They provide fodder material for essay, interview. These are all secondary reference. Frontline can also be downloaded for free (goto Who should refer secondary reference? 1. 2. Player with decent command over core GS, Yearbook, Polity, current affairs and hes already done with the syllabus and notes on opt. subject (if optional subjects are kept in UPSC exam) Someone who has appeared in mains and right now waiting for the interview call. He should visit local library, go through as many issues as he can- to build up his knowledge for interviews.

In short, these secondary things are made for Level 3 player. Who is this level 3 player? click ME for the answer But If youre yet to become master of level2, then there is no point in indulge in these things at the moment. First finish your core syllabus, revise it multiple times and get good grip over the conventional General Studies. Often the Ideal strategy is not the plausible strategy. Use your head, know your strengths, limits, time available to you and proceed accordingly. Besides in UPSC lot of questions come from standard reference books and newspapers so they should be your primary weapons.

So far we discussed weapon #5- notes, Weapon #4- internet, Weapon #3- magazines. Now time to examine Weapon #2: The Newspapers 1. 2. 3. Why newspapers are important, How to read them effectively without wasting 3-4 hours a day? How to make notes out of newspapers?

all that already explained in a previous article: click ME How to read The Hindu online, using Google Reader, already explained= Click ME Weapon #1: Standard reference books

What is NCERTs? In India we have three school boards 1. 2. 3. CBSE ICSE State Education boards

NCERT= the textbooks used by CBSE students. Theyre are available in both Hindi and English They can be downloaded for free, download links are given at the bottom of this article. But if you can afford, then go ahead and buy them from market. NCERTs are important because many questions in the preliminary exam, are directly or indirectly asked from them History, geography, science, economics. ICSE text-books are also good for preparation (particularly for Geography segment), but theyre expensive and not readily available in market. So just go for NCERTs. If youre appearing for State PSC exams, then use NCERTs and also Use State Education Board textbooks (History, Geography, Social Science) to get the GS/GK specific to that xyz State. What is this Older NCERTs? 1. They are old black-and-white editions, contain truckload of facts, names, dates and numbers on history, science and geography were important during 90s eraquestion on this alloy and that chemical, world geography, ancient history etc. But now The nature of questions has changed. Newer/Younger NCERTs The colourful new editions, theyre not bloated with names, dates, numbers and other boring stuff. They are designed with main objective of explaining the underlying concept/principle of topic without boring the hell out of a reader. So, they are quite good for preparing under the BackbreakingTM regime of UPSC. some topics were better covered in the older NCERTs for example World geography and Historyparticularly the Colonization and economic angles to it. For that reason- some coaching sirs and senior players advice older NCERT. Personally i feel, one is not going to suffer from any competitive disadvantage, if he has not read the older NCERT books. because the question style has changed. + whatever facts were present in older NCERTs and absent in New NCERT= theyre usually covered in GS Manual. Besides, UPSC too understands that older NCERTs are rarely available outside Delhi and some guy from small town or village cannot easily access them. (recall BackbreakingTM principle) So if you can get your hands on older NCERT, read them, else there is no need to lose your sleep or burn your blood over this issue.

In either case, if youre going to read NCERT just one or two times very lightly for namesake formality, then it wont help you. Revise often, and take NCERTs seriously. List of *NOT* recommended booklist Taking inspiration from Mrinalini Sarabhai (again), I give you a list of *Not recommended books*, Not recommended book Why?


Physical Geography by Goh Che Leong Anatomy & Physiology for Nurses Courses, Evelyn Pearce Know your body: Readers Digest General Principles of World Geography: Charles Farro

90s are over. Nature of question changed. NCERT+GS Manual =sufficient for physical geography.


3. 4.

NCERT+GS Manual = more than sufficient to cover human body/biology.For First Aid, there is better PDF on IGNOU. (click ME)

Lolz. Hardly any question on World geography, in last three years. NCERT+GS Manual will do the trick. No need for Ph.DMonsoon question is so clichd, 90s and repeated, unlikely to reappear even in mains under the BackbreakingTM era. Good read for time pass, if youve free time.Problem is- there is no free time. This is used for M.Sc courses.NCERT + Spectrums Book on Statistics =good enogh. Besides Spectrum also contains solved Stat sums from GS papers from 1979 upto 2011.


Monsoon Asia: Charles Farro


A Brief History of Nearly Everything: Bill Bryson


Fundamentals of Statistics by SC Gupta

8. 9.

Mishra Puri Dutt Sundaram These are meant for Economics (Optional subject) paper II.NCERT+NOS+Ramesh Singh (TMH)= less boring, less pages, more exam oriented.

10. Uma Kapila 11. DD Basu 12. MV Paylee 13. Subhash Kashyap Laxmikanth is better organized and exam oriented.

Yes youd find some fact/fodder from all ^such books, but time is a luxury you cannot afford, at best these all could come under Secondary, you may refer to them if and when youve the time, but now is not the right time- first get a decent grip over core GS, yearbook and current affairs. In case you wonder, if these books are not useful, then why would someone recommend them over internet? Ans. 1. 2. They may have had their (limited) utility in 90s era. So the old sites recommended them and theyre still on top of google search engine. Such huge list assures that a new player feels frustrated during self-study and decides to join coaching.

General Studies (GS) Manual When it comes to Science, Geography or History: your first choice of Weapon= NCERTs. But at times some important concepts and principles are not covered fully in NCERTs. GS Manual bridges that gap + provides you truckload of mock questions to practice at home. You can download the blank answersheets by clicking me, and use it to practice those mock questions. Yes you must practice mock question, because they train you against negative marking. (just like a Circus lion is trained by whipping). Negative marking is a huge factor for success and failure @CSAT prelims. General Studies Manuals also contain lot of useless stuff for example chemical equations of respiration/ATP cycles and truckload of breeds and species of cows and buffalos and names of States where theyre found. Therefore, Not everything given in GS manual, is important from exam point of view (+it wont go in memory anyways). Youll see tips on how to effectively utilize GS Manual, in Act III. There are many publications involved in General Studies Manual. Tatamacgrawhill, Unique, Spectrum,Pearson to name a few. If you already have one, then no need to purchase new GS Manual. But If you are yet to purchase a GS Manual, then I would suggest go for Tata Machgrawhill General Studies Manual, particularly for its good coverage of Geography and Science segment and truckload of Mock Questions. You can also buy a second hand/used GS Manual, there is no harm in it.

Other standard reference books will be discussed in appropriate sections of next Act III. So, These are your weapons, but what about weapons of your enemy? Weapons of UPSC It got 3 weapons 1. 2. 3. BackbreakingTM : already discussed. R.T.I stonewalling (i.e. not divulging information via R.T.I or doing It only after the whole exam is over=1 year late) Hopefully CIC will resolve it. Negative Marking (in prelims/CSAT) Negative marking Plays huge factor in preliminary stage. The answer choices are designed in such way that applying common sense or smart guessing or smart elimination= many a times you end up ticking wrong answer. Youve to train your mind not to fall in that trap. Thats why practice all questions from GS Manual using blank answersheets and then check answers =your mind will be trained like a circus lion not to touch doubtful questions. Every year nature and difficulty of questions are different so donot force yourself into ticking more answers merely to cross an imaginary cutoff based on previous RTIs. For example youve ticked 60 questions accurately and there are 10 questions where you feel 50:50 between two answer choices. But someone or something has brainwashed you into believing that one must tick 70 questions to clear prelims. So your mind starts playing tricks, makes you think that your smart guesses are correct and you get seduced into ticking those 10 questions. This usually leads into #Epicfail. Dont push your luck in prelims. Cutoffs are not decided by the eminent sirs of Delhi, cutoffs are not decided by internet forums, cutoffs are decided by UPSC. So once prelims or mains are over, dont raise your blood-pressure by what theyre predicting. Besides, your fate was already sealed the moment you submitted answersheet to the hall supervisor. Burning blood over cutoffs is not going to change your result.

Q. Should I join some (Expensive) mock test series of coaching class? If you can afford go ahead join, if you cant (or dont want to), then no need to lose sleep or burn your blood over

this issue. Following toppers cleared UPSC Civil Service exam without joining such mock tests. (list is not exhaustive.) All India Rank (2011) Harshika Singh Om Kasera 8 17 Appendix: Download Links These Zip files contain PDF files. All of them important for concept/fact based Multi choice questions on Science, History, Geography, Polity, Culture. NCERTs (English) Science Class 7 Our Pasts Part 2 Class 7 Social and Political Life Part 2 Class 7 Our Environment Class 7 Science Class 8 Our Pasts Part 3 Class 8 Resource and Development Class 8 Social and Political Life Class 8 Science Class 9 Contemporary India Social Science for Class 9 Economics for Class 9 India and Contemporary World 1 for Class 9 Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download

Science Class X India and the Contemporary World 2 Class X Social Science Democratic Politics Part 2 for Class X Social Science Contemporary India Part 2 for Class X Social Science Understanding Economic Development Class X Social Science Fundamentals of Physical Geography Class 11 India Physical Environment Geography Class 11 Indian Economic Development Economics Class 11 Themes in World History Class 11 India People and Economy Class 12 Introductory Microeconomics Class 12 Macroeconomics Class 12 Fundamentals of Human Geography Class 12 Themes in India History 1 Class 12 Themes in India History 2 Class 12 Themes in India History 3 Class 12

Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download Download

If it doesnt work visit (or you want Hindi version): Youll also find sociology and other ^subjects in this official NCERT link. NOS/NIOS: Economy, Polity etc. Description Download Link

NIOS study Material

Economy, Environment n Biodiversity, Polity etc. Many zip files on various subjects. Download as per your requirements. For practicing mock questions @home

click ME

Blank Answersheets

click ME

If it doesnt work visit (or for Hindi version) : Act III: Waging the War Loading Doze and Maintenance Doze You fall sick and doctor gives you medicine. The initial doze is high : 2 tablets a day. (this is loading doze) Take tablets, they kill some bactaria and get eliminated through urine. = symptoms are decreased. But if you stop taking drug, then ultimately bacteria population will rise again. So doctor doesnt completely stop the medicine but reduces the doze, e.g. just 1 tablet a day. (this is maintenance doze)

Ya but how is ^this relevant for UPSC exam? If youre already finished with the loading doze phase (e.g. core syllabus) then all you need is maintenance doze (revision). It leads to many positive effects 1. 2. 3. 4. Now your vision expands. You can clearly see connections between topics and how theyre important for exam or not. Now you can allot more time for upgrading your notes with current affairs. Now you can digup Government sites and internet for follow up action on various topics. Now you can practice mock MCQs (prelims) or answer writing (mains)

Besides, finishing the core syllabus is also important for another reason:= career backup plan. In case you fail in the IAS exam and If youre not a CA, Doctor or IITian, what will you do? Well, the backup plans would usually involve Bank PO, State PSC, SSC type jobs or doing PG/MBA. Such exams are conducted throughout the year. Whatever you prepare general studies, will directly or indirectly help you in those exams. But Here is the problem: most of them require some specific side preparation as well for example Bank, SSC, CAT would require Aptitude. Similarly for State PSC, youd have to learn the history and geography of Punjab, Maharashtra etc. So, If your core syllabus of UPSC is not complete, then you will always be under stress on how to manage time between preparation of these exam and it will be like choosing between devil and the deep sea.

Therefore, sooner you finish loading doze, better itll be for you. First of all complete the core/basic syllabus of following topics Topic 1. Economy Why? Otherwise, you will not be able to fully digest the

2. 3.

International relations Polity

newspaper columns.



You will have to spend less time before the mains on this topic. So that many days or weeks could be utilized for preparing other topics of general studies/opt subjects (if opt.subjects are kept) Statistics

UPDATE (March-08-2013): statistics no longer relevent as UPSC removed it from 2013. Economy

The core syllabus of economy consists of the following things Theoretical economy Basic Concepts and terminologies, GDP,GNP,PPP,IIP, inflation etc. Indian economy (static portion) LPG reforms. Budget making process. RBI monetary policy: Repo, Reverse Repo, CRR, SLR etc. Source: Static portion of the economy

1. 2. 3.

NCERT Class 10, 11, 12 (links @bottom of this article) NOS Study material for Economy (links @bottom of this article) Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh (Tata Macgrawill Publication)

You have to move to the next level = current affairs related to Indian and world economy. 1. 2. 3. 4. DTC, GST,WTO, IMF, World bank etc. Various for committees formed by government and their recommendations: Kelkar, shunglu, Parekh etc. Economic Survey and Budget 2013. Eurozone crisis, American recession, dollar-rupee exchange etc. Source: Current affairs on economy 1. 2. 3. Newspaper (The Hindu / Indianexpress / Economic Times) Anyone competitive magazine. Investopedia, Wikipedia, internet


What is Economic Survey? And why is it important? It is a report published on the official website of Finance Ministry (before General budget is announced). This report contains information on the present situation of Indian economy, various schemes of Government and future approach required for the next year. It has lot of boring and unimportant data tables but also contains good fodder material and exam-worthy information. If youre subscribed to any competitive Magazine, you would usually find the highlights of economic survey in the subsequent issues of the magazine. Yet I would recommend you to go through the original economic survey report because magazines or newspapers only tend to cover the dramatic items. Whatever important details you find, make a note out of it. Economy : Prelims/ MCQs 1. 2. You are given a term and 4 explanations for that term. You have to identify the correct definition You are given a problem (inflation or low IIP or currency depreciation) and 2-4 possible solutions, you have identify the correct solution to fix the problem. (This can also be framed as assertion reasoning type question) You are given name of a committee and 2-4 recommendations. You to tick the correct recommendations. Match the following: you are given name of some organizations on one side and functions performed by organizations on the other side. You have to match them Your given name of an organization SEBI/NABARD/CCI/RBI etc and four statements associated with them you have to find correct statements. You are given name of some government scheme or policy or act related to economy and four statements associated with them. You have to find the correct statements The trivial GK based questions e.g. names of businessmen/company, repo rate in particular month, establishment of particular organization etc. BUT theyre are generally not appearing under back breakingTM move

3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

In short, whenever you are preparing anything related to economy, think on those lines and try to frame the questions by yourself. Also solve the mock questions given in your GS Manual. Economy : Mains In the 90s era, you could expect direct questions example 1. 2. 3. Difference between the functions of IMF and World Bank =10 marks Explain the functions performed by RBI = 12 marks Explain the budget making process=20 marks.

Such direct questions are very unlikely to appear in future mains. At most they may ask such things on two markers or five marker question. The 12, 15, 20 marker economy-questions seems to be reserved for critically examine/ Analysis this and that type of questions. You have to keep gathering fodder material from newspaper columns. For example Critically examine the issues involved in implementation of goods and services tax or Direct Tax code. These topics will again gain momentum before and after the budget-2013. Keep an eye on the newspaper columns, TV reports during that time and maintain notes. Same advice for each and every topic. For example SEBI- e-IPO issue was in news few weeks back.

So if you prepare the notes when the issue is still hot= best. Sometimes issues are very complicated and require you to do research on Internet. If you cant do It immediately, then note down the title of topic in your To-Do To list/diary. Otherwise after two three weeks youll forget it and get busy with some new important topic. Then same question would appear in Mains/ Prelims and you will curse yourself damn I should have done that topic, when I had the time.

You may also visit and download the relevant PDF files from Economics section for selective study and fodder material. International relations Prelims: not part of syllabus. (ofcourse one or two random questions can come on world geography, Summits, Current Affairs) But for mains, international relations/ diplomacy =extremely important.

In Mains examination, ation, The General Studies Paper II rests on four pillars 1. 2. 3. 4. International relations Economy science tech statistics

If any one pillar is weak, your building will collapse. How to approach International Relations =Already explained in a separate article. Click ME You also keep an eye on websites ministry of external affairs and ministry of overseas affairs. Notes making = extremely important for international relations because usually you will not find direct answers in any single chapter or article. Youve to keep following news for months. For example 1. 2. In Xyz Month, suppose there is big protest / PIL regarding POSCO. Newspapers will cover it and you get say 3 fodder points. Note it down After fter a few months, either S.Korea President comes to India or Mohan makes a trip there (Mohan usually makes foreign trips when there a new scandal at home, because then he is saved from answering the media or lets the high command cover up the problem hehehe.) Anyways back to the topicso when leaders make trip to each others nation, they release a joint press statement. Youll usually find 5 fodder points in it. Note down. After some months, China and S.Korea start fighting over some sea/land/island. Again newspaper columns start covering it and you get 3 more points.

3. 4.

Total youve 3+5+3=11 points. When they ask you about India-S.Korea S.Korea relations, you can use those points to write a decent answer. Polity Just one word Laxmikanth

The question is how to effectively use Laxmikanth? For that, dont study the book in linear fashion (chapter 1,2,3,4) Instead I suggest you move in following direction 1. First you read the chapter on President, Vice President and immediately move to the chapter on governor. Then read on Emergency provisions. 2. Read chapter on PM and cabinet, then move to CM and state council of Ministers. 3. Chpater on Parliamentary system and then directly to parliament, but after budget topic is done pause this chapter and move to on CAG. Then come back and resume the chapter on parliament. 4. Once parliament is finished, move to State legislative assembly. 5. Same way Supreme Court and then High court, tribunals. 6. Attorney Gen =>Advocate General 7. UPSC =>State PSC 8. Finance Commission =>Planning Commission=>Nat.Development council 9. Now Centre State and Interstate relations. 10. Election Commission=> chapter on election, Anti-defection 11. All the National Commissions on Women, SC, ST,OBC, CVC, Lokpal and so on.

Once ^this is done. Move to 1. 2. 3. 4. Citizenship, Fundamental rights, DPSP, duties. Amendment of Constitution=> preamble Jammu Kashmir => Scheduled and Tribal Areas. UT, Panchayati Raj, municipalities

After ^this is done. Read whatever chapters are remaining. Note: the short explanations given in appendix of every chapter= should be read. Q. Should I make notes out of Laxmikanth? M.Laxmikanth has the skill of writing book in a note-format. So whether it is his book on polity or on Public Administration, there is no need to maintain a special note out of his books. Just highlight/underline important lines. Note down keywords on the margin. And keep revising it as many times as you can. When youve done enough revision, solve mock questions given at the end of his book (around 300). Then solve another 400 Mock Qs given in the GS manual. So total 700 questions practiced. Then UPSC MCQs on polity will not give you much trouble.

Anyways ^this is only the static polity. What about the current affairs on Polity? Womens reservation bill = explicitly polity topic. But at times polity related current affairs and possible questions are subtly hidden in the current affairs. So be vigilant. For example, Nuke power plant issue would superficially appear as environment/yearbook but can be well asked from Centre-State relations point of view. Supreme courts order on Ganga/Yamuna clearing would appear as environment topic but can be asked under Centre-States responsibilities in water Management also. Same goes for 2G scam, mining scams and so on. (Judicial Activism, Seperation of power, CAG Activism and so on) Sources for current affairs 1. 2. 3. Newspaper

So far we have seen how to approach International affairs, Economy and Polity. You should finish their core syllabus first, in order to fully digest the newspaper items. Now moving to the other topics of syllabus. History (GS/CSAT) For prelims (CSAT General Studies Paper I), History is subdivided into three segments Ancient Medieval Modern Harappa, Vedic Age, Buddha, Mahavir, Gupta,Maurya Kingdoms etc. Delhi Sultanate, Vijaynagar, Mughals etc. British Raj. 1857 Mutiny onwards. Freedom struggle.

In the 90s, questions used to be based on 1. 2. 3. 4. Timelines: wars, kings, Locations: of Harappa Sites where xyz type of pottery was found, or Asokas pillars Match the following Maps: theyd give you a blank map, you had to locate xyz state or kingdom.

In last three years, questions are mostly based on religion, culture, art and features/cause/reason type. Although UPSC hasnot asked map based question lately but if youve time, it doesnt hurt preparing the maps (because UPSC is the baddest thug in this part of South East Asia.) youll find the Ancient/Medieval maps in NCERTs and in GS Manual. Essential Booklist for History (GS/CSAT) 1. 2. NCERT class 7 to 10 Social Science NCERT class 11, 12 on History


NOS Studymaterial on Indian Culture and Heritage.

^all of these free, download links @bottom of this article 4. Selective Study of History portion in Tata Macgrawill General Studies Manual (to fill up vacuum of whatever details are missing in the NCERTs). But again skip very tiny details such as Middle Palaeolithic tools were found at Nevasa, Maharashtra by HD Sankalia. Because it wont go in long term memory. Your time and energy can be better utilized in other topics.

Once this is done, solve all the Mock MCQs given in the General Studies Manual. In The NCERT Class 9 and 10, youll also find information on World History (WW1, WW2, French Revolution, Russian Revolution etc) While theyre not specifically mentioned in the syllabus, you should read it because indirectly important for Essay and interview. History (Mains/GS) In the 90s, the General Studies paper used to have following structure, in History section 1. 2. 3. 3-5 descriptive question (60 marks) Freedom fighter 2 markers (10 marks) Culture related 2 markers (10 marks)

Ofcourse there would be fluctuation each year, but this was the usual makeup. Success formula in 90s era= basically mugup Spectrums three books + Bipin Chandra. That doesnt hold true anymore, as we saw in GS Mains-2012 Analysis (click ME if you didnt) Nowadays weightage given to History in GS mains paper = declined and emphasis has been shifted to Culture.

So how to proceed in this new era? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Indias Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra Selective Study of IGNOU BA/MA History (only related to freedom Struggle) Click ME Selective Study of IGNOU Tourism Course (for culture) CLICK ME NOS material on Indian culture CLICK ME Spectrum Book on Indian Culture Optional reference Because of the backbreakingTM move of UPSC, following books have lost their former glory. So Im putting them under Secondary. If youve time, read else dont bother. There are many other areas where you can utilize your energy. 1. 2. Spectrum Book on Brief History of Modern India Spectrum Book on Freedom Fighters

However, for State PSC exams, whore still in the 90s mood, these books would come handy. In that case, mug them up :) Geography Geography

classified into three parts 1. 2. 3. Physical geography World geography Indian Geography

the first two topics come in prelims syllabus. but they are not included in the main syllabus. for Mains syllabus of General Studies, youve to prepare Indian Geography only. How to Approach Geography for CSAT-Prelims? First of all complete 1. 2. 3. NCERT class 7 to 10 social science NCERT class 11, 12: Geography (except that practical book on mapping and survey methods) NOS Studymaterial on Geography (if the time and eyes permit you!)

Free download links for above PDF files, have been given in previous Act II. Click ME When this is done, move to general studies manual to fill up the missing gaps if any. Now lets check how to effectively utilise Tata McGraw-Hill General studies manual for Geography portion. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. branches of geography= important origin of Earth= important ignore the geological history of Earth ignore the facts about earth (weight, volumne and stuff like that) understand the concepts related to longitudes, latitudes, meridians, inclination of Earths axis and its effect, standard time, cycles of the moon, atmosphere, Aurora -magnetism, insulation and heat budget, templated, mecanism of winds, monsoon ignore table of Beufort Scale ignore types of clouds understand the difference between dew, frost, fog, smog, mist and haze. types of climate, water table = important, also from environment and biodiversity Angle Understand the mechanism of cold and warm currents = because they are also related with climate change From lakes, only important and famous ones : Caspian Sea, Lake Superior, Superior, Victoria, Baikal, Aral Sea, Wulur, Vostock Same for rivers Marine resources= important for environment topic also Classification of rocks: prepare a small note on features and example of each type Theories of Plate tectonics, continental drift etc - just get overview Volcanos, Earthquakes important but no need to get in minute stuff. Just supplement NCERT Weathering, Erosion, landforms = important from environment topic angle. ignore table on major water falls, except famous ones : Angel, Victoria, Niagara, Soil is important but from agriculture point of view only. ignore the table containing classification of soil ignore US Taxonomy classification World geography 1. Go through entire human geography but ignore trivial details like Lapps= people of Eurasian trunda. (But famous tribes are important e.g.Bushman=Kalahari Desert.)

6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22.

2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Migration, resource classification, farming system, types of cultivation, agricultural typology= extremely important Chief agro products (tea, wheat etc) : the land/climate conditions required = important. Forest products= important from environment and biodiversity angle. Mineral producers= only the major ones (coal, iron ore, gold, nuclear, oil etc). Otherwies Mercury producers = Spain and Italy= ignore. industrial products= just get an overview important boundary lines= as the name suggests, it is important important cities= not that important for UPSC , but may help you in GK based questions in SSC/Bank. old name and new name for various countries and cities= indirectly important for the interviews. Indian geography

In last two years, very few questions are coming from world geography. but at the same time, it is not a good idea to completely ignore world geography especially when you have time. because a something really straightforward asked Tropical Savannah climate, then you should not miss the opportunity. In the 90s, they would give you some map based questions. ( location of rivers, mountains, nations etc). but they have not asked map-based questions in last two years. but it does not hurt much preparing the Atlas because it indirectly helps you understand the internationalrelations and diplomacy topics in better manner. More emphasis should be given on the Indian geography because it is common for both prelims and mains. While Indian geography is important for prelims, the nature of question has changed.

earlier it used to be mapped based or location-based Indian geography but nowadays it is mostly related with agriculture, environment angles. 1. 2. 3. first start with NCERTs and them move to TMH GS Manual. keep an Atlas Ready while reading everyline, otherwise things will not go long-term memory. for the lakes, rivers, waterfalls, irrigation projects, wildlife parks and sanctuaries etc. only prepare the famous ones and those related with odd animals such as Wild Ass. and prepare the trivial ones only if they are from your home state (for profile based interview questions and for State PSC) Indias industrial towns/tourist places: famous ones + those from your home state and surrounding neighbour states. No need to go in trivial. These things are for indirectly understanding the issues of socioeconomic Development and for profile based interview questions. Otherwise direct MCQs are very unlikely. seasons, soil types, wildlife= important. ignore places connected by national highways. 90s era is over. sex ratio, literacy rate :top 3, bottom 3, and your home state. Tribal groups = important from culture angle. India maps on political, physical, wildlife and biosphere, seaports, soil-vegetation, = important for indirect MCQs.


5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Once this is done. (Physical, World and Indian Geography.) Again restart process and then solve MCQs from GS Manual. Geography for GS-Mains The way things have started taking shape, the conventional and clichd questions are unlikely to appear anymore (for example monsoon mechanism.) But still prepare Indian Geography from Economic, sustainable Development, Disaster and Environment angles. Books:

1. 2. 3. 4.

NCERTs, NOS, GS Manual. India Yearbook (Wastelands, Drough Management etc) and follow up on respective Government websites. 2nd ARC report on Disaster Management. Traditional books on Indian Geography are not likely to help directly like they used to in 90s (for example Spectrum/ Majid Hussain/ Khullar) But still you may go through any one of them, if youve the time.

That concluded talk on Geography. Moving to next topic of syllabus. Environment and biodiversity When we talk of history or polity, there are already decent standard books available because those topics have been in syllabus since the beginning of UPSC exams. But this Biodiversity is newly introduced syllabus topic since CSAT 2011. Most of the ready-made books (and magazines special issues) on this topic provide you too much data, above what is necessary. For example in case of biodiversity, theyd give you a huge list of endangered species and their Latin names and how many animals are left. The establishment year of every wildlife park and their surface area with accuracy upto two decimal points like 48.25 kms! Environment biodiversity is not about becoming master of trivial GK, UPSC MCQs are not same like Kaun Bangegaa Crorepati.

Like every other topic in UPSC (except History and Statistics), we can classify EnB under two heads Static basic theoretical and static stuff such as biomes, bios, insitu, ex-situ modes of wildlife conservation, keystone species, umbrella species, project tiger, elephant, biosphere reserves and things like that. Current Based Issues involving various protocols or world conventions. IPCC reports, Kyoto etc.Supreme court orders on xyz issue: Clearing of Yamuna, Ban on Mining, Tiger tourism etc.

Booklist/Preparation sources for Environment and Biodiversity Static (theory) 1. NCERT Social science (7-10): because Geography, Forest etc given in it. NCERT Geography Class 11, 12 NOS Study material on Biodiversity. Free download link @bottom India Yearbook, chapter on Environment Current based

5. 6. 7.

2. 3.


Website of Ministry of Environment and Forest Yojana, Kurukshetra magazine issues involving those particular themes The Hindu: Energy and Environment segment 8. Climate Change section of IndianExpress: 9. Economic Times section on Environment 10. 11. Magazine (just to make sure we did not miss anything!) 12. Google: incase follow up action is necessary for a particular topic.

^Prelims questions: mostly theory based= multiple revision must. (+ a few on current affairs)

^Mains questions: mostly current based. You must maintain notes. The source list may look intimidating but it is not! Because environment news doesnt happen everyday (unlike Economy), so every week there will be no more than 2-3 news items.

Moving to the next topic Yearbook: prelims and mains [Yearbook] is the collective term used to describe following 1. 2. 3. Organization of various ministry and offices and their functions Various schemes and projects of Government Issues of socio-economic Development, five year plans

In a way, Yearbook is a mixture of Economy + Polity. What is India Yearbook (2013)?

A book released by Publication division under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. In common parlance we refer this as Yearbook but otherwise technically name of the book is India 2011, India 2012, and India 2013 and so on (according to year of publication). Earlier, government used to provide free PDF file of this book. But they started doing it since 2012. This book also helps in rights issue, environment, public health topics. My advice: if you dont have this book then wait and watch, buy the new edition 2013, when it comes in the market. If you already have a India 2012, no need to buy new, just update any new Government schemes using Government websites/newspaper/magazines. If you have a very old edition (something like India 2007) then dump it and buy the latest edition, because many schemes are consolidated / their salient features have been changed. Why is India Yearbook important?

Many publication houses, provide their own version of yearbooks for example Chronicle, wizard.

They have the same content of India yearbook, but in bulleted form, some details are omitted, some side current affairs GK is added. While superficially, they may feel more easier to read and prepare but my advice go directly to the original source because many times 4TF type MCQs are directly lifted from the statements and paragraphs given in India yearbook (i.e. India 2013)

From Yearbook topic, usually following type questions appear in the exam Prelims (CSAT) Mains Basically Two types of questions can appear 1. The give you two for four statements related to a particular scheme or Government organization (e.g. Haj Committee). You have to find out the correct/incorrect statements Name of some schemes are given, youve to match them with their objectives. 1. you are given name of a government scheme or project and you have to write its salient features (12-15 marks) you are given some socio-economic problem and you have to analyze it, list the steps taken by government, or suggest about the future steps that should be taken.



Therefore You should have strong command over the salient features of every scheme, otherwise you will get confused in the MCQs. Besides the same salient features will also help you in descriptive answers during the mains exam. So prepare the topic on that line without wasting energy in useless stuff. Example. 1. 2. Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme provides for setting up of residential upper primary schools for girls of SC, ST, OBC and Muslim communities. = important. In 11th five year plan, government of India allotted 8,000 crores under Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme= NOT IMPortant. How to read India yearbook efficiently? Already explained in previous article. Click ME But this is only the static (theory/basic) part. What about the current affairs? Because India yearbook 2013 is printed in Dec 2012, but many new events will take place between December 2012 to May 2013 (Prelims) and November 2013 (mains). How to prepare them? Sources for Yearbook Current affairs: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. The Hindu Press releases from (subscribe to them via Google reader) Economic Survey (will be uploaded on Finance Ministrys website) Yojana and Kurukshetra Competitive Magazine (just to make sure we did not miss anything.)

Prepare a keywords note and revise it often else, youll mixup with salient features of various schemes and projects.

Moving to the next topic Science-Tech Science can be classified into following parts Theory (Static) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Physics Chemistry biology-subtopics: plant and animals humans Current Affairs

It is known as science-tech.

Science for Prelims The static (theory based) science has declined in importance. In the 90s you could expect 10-10-10 questions on physics, chemistry, biology each (theory based). Nowadays barely 8-10 question and that too mixture of both theory + current affairs. But it doesnt mean you should skip the static (theory based) science because a. b. competition is damn high UPSC =unpredictable.

Therefore certain minimum level preparation is necessary for every topic. Beside there is lot of time still left before the exam. Start with NCERT Science textbooks class 7 to 10. Even if youre already an M.Sc, engineer or Doctor, still you should read these textbooks. because even if you have good command over your field, still you would have forgotten many important basic concepts from the school. So always start with NCERTs. And please dont read NCERTS lightly or just for namesake formality because UPSC will usually give you four statements and all of them would sound equally plausible. You should be thoroughly clear on principles/concepts. Once you have finished reading these textbooks, it is time for selective study of GS manual. How to efficiently use GS Manual for Science segment? Physics Chapter on Science 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. difference between scaler and vector quantity=important Newtons laws and their practical application=important the working principles behind artificial satellites, geostationary satellites etc. =important, but no need to mugup equations. The concept of densities important but you dont need to mugup absolute density value of various substances. Same goes for surface tension, viscosity etc. Concepts and principles behind heat, electronic thermometer, refrigeration, radiation, solar cooker, thermos flask, carengine radiator, air-conditioners, pressure cookers, DTH TV, nightvision goggles, radar, oven, CAT Scan etc.

6. 7.

Optics: convex and concave glasses: differences applications, refractions, Principle behind rainbow, LCD, camera microscope, LASER, compact disc etc. but no need to get bored with those complex diagrams. 8. Sound: echo, resonsnace, doplar effect, sonic boom, dolby etc. : again you need to have idea on basics. No need for going into minute details. 9. Same for Magnetism and electricity, Nuclear physics. 10. In short, you should be aware of the concepts and principles but You dont need to mugup equations of Velocity, acceleration, pendulum, sound etc. Biology

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

Branches of biology important difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells is important Parts of typical cell, and their functions= important Basics of cell division mitosis and meiosis =important but no need to do Ph.D from GS Manual. Classification of living organism= you should have overall idea but no need to go in minute details like the difference between Deuteromycetes and Basiondiomycetes. Tissue system : same as above Nutrition and digestion system important but no need to go in details like 8 hours of work = 972 calories. respiration and photosynthesis: no need for Ph.D or chemical reaction Heart, kidney: just functions, no need to go diagram ignore diagram of conduction of nerve impulse Basic functions of Endocrine glands and diseases asscociated with them = important. But Cacitonin raises blood calcium level =not important. skeletal system: simply ignore. THM has given Ph.D on this. reproduction : concepts important. diagrams are not important. artificial methods of vegatative reproduction =extremely important. Plant hormor diagram= ignore sex determination in humans, birds and bees= important Table and Diagram on ABO blood group, Rh factor = very important. List of genetic disease = important but no need to mugup all, only big dieases like Sickle cell, Thalassemia. Basics of Gene Expression, m-RNA, t-RNA important else other topics stem cell, cancer, genetic engineering, cloning etc will be hard to understand. Tables for Disease, types, mode of transmission and symptoms= important (including for mains). But no need to mugup Latin names of those bactaria etc. Table on Vitamin function and disease = important monoclonal antibodies=important for mains also. Basics of antigen-antibody=important because vaccination works on that principle

^This is the basic biology. Now in the TMH GS Manual, theyve given environment related stuff= important. Well discuss what to do with that, in separate topic environment and Biodiversity: for the moment skip it move on to the topic of drug abuse and alcoholism. No need to mugup tables but you should have idea the origin of various narcotic drugs . e.g. LSD from fungi, Marijuana from hemp, Morphine, heroine = opium derivaties. Cocaine from coca leaves.

+Basic idea on alcoholism e.g. Hooch / Zehrili Sharaab is basically methanol and it causes blindness. Alcohol is not stimulant but depressant.

Alcohol causes cirrhosis of liver Animal Husbandry

Now comes the topic of Animal husbandary. Very brief overview, no need to mugup Latin names, Ignore animal disease table. Artificial insemination important Agriculture

Youd already have covered this topic through NCERTs, so use GS manual only to fill up any missing details such as ideal soil type, harvesting season, states because usually 4TF MCQs are prepared from that. No need to mugup every hybrid variety or latin name Type of plants = important Masticatory, medicinal plants and bio insecticides: only use/function. Chemistry

From TMH GS manual. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. Symbols of elements= ignore. Chemical equations =ignore. because youve already ignored the symbols hahaha Use of chemical compound = important but their chemical formula is not important Ignore Thomsons atomic model Ignore Rutherfords Atomic model Ignore theories of chemical bonding Ignore periodic table Ignore molality, mole fraction and their equations Concept of solubility =important Oxidation reduction mechanism and examples = important Carbon, its compounds and allotropes, carbon cycle=important Ignore Acid-base, hydrocarbon. Whatever you prepared in NCERT is sufficient. THM is going into Ph.D mode Table on natural occurrence of selected metals=important for big elements only. E.g.Dolomite =Magnesium and Magnetite= iron. Location of mineral wealth= important. You should idea on overall which mineral is found in which state. Basics of metal extraction, petroleum, steel, rusting, cement, glass =important Colloids= only basic definition and table of types of colloidal system, emulsion and gels =important Ignore Micelles topic. Biotech Nanotech and their applications =important both for prelims and mains Polysaccharides = use and sources =important. But chem formula=ignore, same for proteins and glycosides Ignore the equations govering gases, liquids and solutions. Understand the three laws of thermodynamics Ignore themodynamic potentials. The readymade Question answers given on important concents and topics= important to understand principle.

Once youre done (physics, chemistry and biology) from GS Manual. Restart the whole process one more time (once again read NCERTs and once again read GS Manual) and then solve the Mock MCQs given at the end of each chapter.

This finishes the theory portion of Science. Now coming to the current affairs portion =Sci-Tech. Science-Tech for prelims and Mains Sources 1. 2. The Hindu (particularly Thursday edition) Ive uploaded some ready revision notes from The Hindus article. That should give you the hints on how to approach a science related news articles from exam point of view, what to skip and what to note down. Magazine (any one CST or PD): just to make sure we did not miss anything from Hindu / current affairs. Internet, incase you need to do follow up question for a particular topic e.g. Human Genome project because such things can also come under 10 marks in Mains. But dont do Ph.D on it. Like I said in previous Act- Application of Nanotechnology. This is meant for 12-15 marks, theyre not going to ask a 30 marks or 200 marks essay on it. So keep the size of notes accordingly. And dont too much sci-tech. If you start digging google, there is so much Science-tech going on around the world throughout the year. But Beyond a level, this has diminishing rate of returns.

3. 4.


For the Science-Tech, Frequent revision is essential. Otherwise, itd remain in your notes but you wont be able to recall it in the exam hall. Public health and first aid This topic is gaining quite some importance since last two mains (2011 and 2012) it is a mixture of Yearbook+Sci-Tech For prelims, this topic is not directly mentioned in the CSAT (Preliminary) syllabus yet 4TF MCQ questions based on diseases can come under the General Science. For Mains, the syllabus explicitly mentions Public Health. Preparation sources/booklist for Public Health 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Basics of nutrition, disease, vaccination = NCERTs, GS Manual Government schemes and projects related to public health= India Yearbook Chapter on health and family welfare + and Government websites for new updates Newspaper Press release of First Aid Since last two years they have been asking role-playing question on First Aid treatment in the mains examination. Now that Doesnt necessarily mean that they will definitely ask a question on first aid, in the next exam but you should be prepared. Go through the following PDF file (taken from IGNOU): Click ME. Good governance, law and order These are given in General Studies Mains syllabus 1. 2. Law enforcement, internal security and related issues such as the preservation of communal harmony. Issues relating to good governance and accountability to the citizens including the maintenance of human rights, and of pro-bity in public life

Best source: 1. 2. 3. 4. 2nd ARC reports. Yojana issues related to the themes Besides itll also help you in essay and interview. + any current affairs (Lokpal, Citizen carter, Whistleblower, SC judgements etc) but youd be preparing that already under [Polity]

You can also dig for good governance and law and order, but if Public Administration is not your optional then then itll give you diminishing rate of returns. I think ^this should be sufficient for General Studies. Yes there are some small time topics left. For example prelims syllabus has 1. 2. 3. Public Policy, Rights issue, Panchayati Raj

But given the way UPSC conducted last two prelims, whatever you prepare under yearbook, polity (static + current), will help you in these questions. There is no need to prepare them separately using a book/coaching material. At most go for Governance in India by M.Laxmikanth, if youve time- otherwise no need. You can also use the Sociology and Political Science textbooks of NCERT (Class 11,12). Preparation Timetable These are no rock-solid time frames. Just suggestions Finish core syllabus of Economy, Polity and International relations. (to digest newspapers better)Prepare topics that are present in mains but absent in prelims viz 1. 2. 3. Statistics First Aid Good governance, Accountability and Law n order (2nd ARC)


Go through the Yojana, Kurukshetra from Jan 2012 (incase you missed them) Finish Bipin Chandra right here if you can.

Jan/Feb onwardsMarch

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Yearbook History + Culture Geography Environment + Biodiversity Science and Science TechEconomy (current affairs)

+ lots of revision+ MCQ practice+ daily newspaper +Aptitude paper.


1. 2. 3. 4.

Readymade garbage will start flooding the streets (from Delhi). Ignore it. Have faith in your books and notes revise them as much as you can. Reduce/stop digging internet for more current affairs! Read newspaper till last day but If editorials are taking too much time, just cut and file them but finish them once the prelims are over. Assuming that from 20th May to 1st June youd be in vacation/relief mood. Dont raise your blood pressure with cutoffs debate on orkut, better watch some movies or just go rob a bank. Once your mind is clear, fresh and relaxed (and pockets are full-if you robbed a bank), Make a list of national and international events/topics that are important from mains point of view. Review your notes, upgrade them in the light of above events via internet/ frontline whatever necessary.



Prelims result is announced.A) If you fail= Dont become Devdas. Review your mistakes and fix them in next attempt. But daily newspaper reading = essential till you retire from this field. Use your energy as per this article Click ME.B) If youve passed, thank the almighty God and proceed ahead.After UPSCs #epic BackbreakingTM Moves shown in Mains-2012, there are hardly any Standard Reference books left to revise for mains, but still do it!Otherwise Daily reading of newspaper- notes making. (+follow up action, google digging for whatever new events are taking place) Yojana, Kurukshetra/ any Committee reports etc- notes making. Most important: Take care of health. Dont eat street-food.


Give mains. Vacation,Again dont raise blood pressure in cut-offs debates, either watch some movies or rob a few more banks. (but do read newspapers daily and make notes out of it.) Fill up form for next prelims. Continue the maintenance doze for next prelims. Prepare for interview (profile based questions (location, graduation..), national and international events, including background, historic details, pros, cons etc.) More explained later



Result of Mains + interviews starts. 1. March-April 2. 3. If you pass, thank the almighty God once again. (and return the money you had robbed from those banks) If you fail, dont become Devdas just prepare for next prelims. If you fail and it was your last attempt still dont become Devdas, dont regret anything, dont feel guilty about anything, dont let anyone else make you feel guilty about anything. Execute backup plans and move on in your life and career- money, power and status will come, with time.


The interview preparation approach remains one and same for all Government and private sector jobs. But the type and depth of questions differ. Interviews usually start with You and end with World, Questions from your profile 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Your graduation Your hobbies Extra-curricular activities (if any) From Your work experience (if any) Your city and State: Socio-economic-political-cultural-geography Role playing questions (your Collector/Senior Executive and xyz problem happens what will you do?) Why do you want to join IAS/MBA/Bank?



Everything else that doesnt involve you.National and international issues, your understanding and opinion on them.

Throughout the Year, you should maintain a note related to current affairs of your city, state, graduation and hobbies (wherever applicable). Because you cant gather such information in a month- even with all google searching. And youre already preparing current affairs part of GS. When mains examination is over, You may also consult books from library Kalam, Nilekani, Guha etc gain more understanding of socio-economic-developmental issues related with India. (and or truckload of IGNOU material on their website). What should you do next?

Your semester/year end marksheets contain the list of subjects you studied in college. When he browses through your file, suddenly asks What is this subject xyz? You should have the answer ready.

Just the basics, you dont have to prepare minute details as if it is a GATE or PMT exam. In every interview (IAS and career backups-State PSC, Bank, MBA etc), youll have to prepare questions on graduation. But It is very tiresome to go through the same thick books over and over again every time for interviews. So, Ideally make a very short note on the basics. Save you the trouble forever. Then second portion is current affairs related to your graduation Doctor, pharma

Public health, AIDS,Cancer research etc. (already discussed under GS preparation)


IT: outsourcing, hacking, privacy and social networking, online shopping, IT act, amendments etc.EC :2G, 3G etc.


Company act and amendments, DTC, GST etc. Booker prize, any other famous books, litt and freedom of speech, controversies of Tasleema Nasrin / Salman Rushdie etc.

Arts (litt.)

^list is not exhaustive. You cant come up with this in one day or one week. So keep following newspaper and dig google. Your City-District-State After mains examination is over, dig up more about Your graduation, city and State: Socio-economicpolitical-cultural-geography. Look beyond the obvious. E.g. Youre from Ahmedabad so you already know Sabarmati river flows through your city. And interviewer also knows that you know about this obvious fact. So instead, hell ask you Where does Sabarmati originate from? or why is it dry during some months? And where does it meet the sea, is It gulf of Cambay or is it gulf of Kutch? Usually youre not aware of places of cultural/historic/tourist importance in your own city while people elsewhere are. So dig all information. Ofcourse this also doesnt mean digging up extremely trivial GK. The name of MP, MLA of your Constituency, JNNURM projects in your city, BRTS and so on.. Same for the district. Then your State: for example Maharashtra you should be well versed in Leopard menace, nuclear powerplant, Vidarbha issues etc. Every State has its issues (both good and bad) and it is not necessary theyll be in current affairs : for example Cyclone of Orissa, happened long time ago but if youre from that state you must have idea on it. Again doesnt mean you do Ph.D on it from some library book.

Following can happen during interview 1. 2. 3. You give good answer- He asks followup questions to probe you further. Then he leaves the topic and next board member asks you on a different topic. You give no answer e.g. Sorry sir Im not well versed in that topic. Or you give wrong answer. He either corrects you or usually leaves topics, or ask a new question from same subject. You give bad answer- he throws a counter question /argument (that usually doesnt have an answer) the more you debate, it increases the chances of getting low marks and the interview turning into a Stressinterview.

Some examples of bad answers 1. 2. 3. 4. Wrong Choice of words that hints arrogance/lack of humility. For example saying I dont agree with that instead of saying I beg to differ. I donot know xyz topic because it was not in my graduation syllabus or because I was preparing for UPSC during college so I dont know about that xyz topic. I want to do IAS because there is no opportunity in my graduation field or because I dont like that field or because there is no career growth in my private sector job. For me IAS is not an end but a means for further personal growth in life or some other mumbo-jumbo. (Repeated 5 thousand times in topper interviews. So even if your intention is genuine, for them it is too phony and clichd answer.) I know xyz thing, because it is given in Hindu/Laxmikanth/******s notes. (never cite references unless specifically asked to.) Book should not be judged by its cover, therefore Im not wearing a tie.or any answer which you think is smart but he thinks is, oversmart.

5. 6.


Lopsided diagnosis and solution of a problem/issue. (Public policymaking should be left in the hands of bureaucrats onlyWe must stop all trade relations with Pakistan until they shut down terror campsPanchayati Raj serves no real purpose, instead recruit more Government staff to look into Development issues at Tehsil or village level.) Stress Interview

If he asks 90% of the questions from one subject only (for example International relations), Then from his side it is a normal interview, but from your side it may feel like a stress interview. But stress interview, in its original form, means he intentionally counters your every answer or argument or asks uncomfortable questions. This is done, not to humiliate you but to test how you perform under stress. (Or because you annoyed him and he wants to get even with you.) By and large, UPSC interviews are not stress interviews but theyre not completely absent either (many cases on orkut.)

An interview may turn into Stress interview because of following reasons 1. 2. 3. Youre plain unlucky. Youre underprepared and your Body language shows it. Giving Bad answer(s) or bad choice of words. At home, in your head-run imaginary interviews. Ask your self questions, give yourself answers and from those answers, pickup keywords and ask follow up questions. When youve run enough imaginary interviews in your head, youll realize that certain keywords or answers lead to followup questions from uncomfortable zone or underprepared areas where you end up giving bad answers. So consciously avoid them and rephrase or upgrade answers accordingly. Act IV: Conquering your own brain You already know the mindset of your enemy: Act I you already know the weapons required to defeat him: Act II you already know how to effectively utilize the weapons: Act III

but before you defeat him, you must conquer your own brain, cleanse it from all the doubts and weaknesses. Else you cannot concentrate in studies. The first and foremost doubt, faced by every new player: Doubt: Should I join coaching class or not? Answer is: If youve the time, money and mood, join them, else dont feel guilty or inferior about it. Im copy pasting the Cost comparision by Mr.Gokul G R (IAS, AIR 19, CSE-2010) Option one: You study back home without Coaching 1. General Studies 1. 2. 3. 4. Books : Rs. 3000 4000 Newspapers : Rs. 250 monthly ( Total : 6000 for 2 years; you will anyway subscribe, whether you are preparing or not) Periodicals : around 1500 Internet Net connection : 250 per month ( Total : 6000; you will anyway subscribe, whether you are preparing or not)

5. 6.

Total Cost : Around 17000 ( over 2 years ) Total Extra cost : Rs. 6000 maximum (minus newspaper and net )

2. Optionals: 1. 2. 3. Books: 4-5 books for humanities optionals ( Mostly Indian Authors). Total cost : Not more than Rs. 3000. 7-8 books for science optionals. Total cost: Not more than Rs. 5000 ( If you are not downloading pirated copies). Total Extra cost : Rs. 14000 ( Highly liberal estimate and spend over 2 years). Use library, old books and you can bring that down to a few thousand rupess. Option two : You go to Delhi to attend coaching. 1. Coaching fees : G.S : Rs, 50,000 Optionals : Rs. 30,000 each Total : Rs. 1,10,000 (spot payment)

2. Periodicals, newspapers, net for personal use : Rs. 13,000 over 2 years. 3. High rent and cost of living : Around 10k every month. Total extra Cost : Around 3 Lakhs ( Conservative estimate; multiply with no.of failed attempts, extra fee for extra coaching etc). And even after paying such huge, exorbitant costs, the quality of teaching ( as i get to know from fellow aspirants) may not always be up to the mark. End of copy paste. If You join a class Types of coaching class sirs Type of teacher Your action Keep noting down whatever he saysatleast in summery form. Even if it given in the books, note down because that will help you in quick revision.


He is awesome at teaching. Doesnt talk anything except teaching. From Day 1 to last day, his teaching quality remains the same.


Initially he teaches some topics over which he has good command (monsoon, fundamental rights etc) so students feel he is good. But once the fees are depositedHe comes late. During the lecture, He wastes too much time citing how awesome he is, how he knows everything about UPSC and all other personal side talk. (which is usually a sign that he doesnt have rock solid command over the subject, hence trying to brainwash you.) And when time is over but topic is incomplete, hed say read it in my printed material/books. Some retired Professor. He teaches stuff in way too much detail like

Curse yourself that you joined his class.Make friends with some serious players in his class and do group study/discussion.


Just note down any important

it is a college lecture. Too much details and Ph.D from academic point of view.

fact/fodder material, else Curse yourself that you joined his class.

In case you wonder why Type#2 teacher behaves in such bad way, Wont it hurt his long term business prospects? 1. 2. No it wont. Hed simply setup shop in a new city or change his brand name. Besides, people usually dont drag him to consumer court, so he never changes his ways. And hes good at marketing tricks, so hed keep getting new sacrificial lambs every year.

And never join a coaching class only because the ad says XYZ topper was from their class, such ads are usually false or half-truths! There are some State Government run coaching classes in various parts of India For example Gujarat has SPIPA, Ahmedabad Maharahstra has SIAC,Mumbai Tamil Nadu and UP too have it, I cant remember the name.

Apart from that, many Caste based coaching classes. While the teaching quality may not be very good in such classes, but fees are cheap, library and atmosphere, peer-group is good. So if youre not a working professional, and not going to Delhi mainly for financial reasons, then just go ahead get admission in such classes. (PS sometimes theyve entrance exam, but theyre usually similar to UPSC Prelims)

Anyways, once youve joined a class anywhere, what to do? #1 dont take mock tests lightly If there was a school-test, youd be worried because your parents or teachers would scold you for low marks. But in coaching class, there is no such pressure. So, many people take the mock tests very lightly. For e.g. there is mock test of ancient History topic, but youre preparing polity as per your own time table. So you appear in the mock test only for namesake, =you get low marks but you try to placate yourself and make excuse to yourself koi nai, I had not prepared so I did not get the marks this approach is wrong. Prepare seriously for every test. #2 Classmates are not your enemies In the mock tests, If someone is getting more marks than you. He is not your enemy. Try to learn what are you lacking that he has? And make amendments in your preparation accordingly. Make friends with people whore as serious or more serious than you in studies. Keep in touch with them even when classes are over. #3 clarify your doubts During class, many people have doubt in a topic, but they dont ask the teacher thinking I would look silly, or other people will also know the answer and theyre my enemies!.

Usually teachers immediately leave after the class, because theyve classes elsewhere (or because they dont want to be bogged down by all querries after class hehehe). So, whenever youve doubt, immediately ask it. #4 follow up action immediately

If your sir taught xyz topic today. Then go home, immediately read the relevant printed material / books/ internet at home. Prepare or upgrade notes if required. In this way, youll get better command over the topic. If you postpone this work for 15-20 days, then youre digging your own grave. #5 Never remain absent

Some distant relative/friends marriage is no excuse to remain absent in the class. In fact ignore all such marriage ceremonies whether youve coaching or not. Your main aim to clear UPSC exam, everything can and must wait. Even if the sirs teaching quality is bogus, still attend the class, youll come home learning two three more things (or revising them during his class) If you dont join a class

That is- youre doing self preparation. #1: dont feel guilty First of all, throw away any doubt, guilt or inferiority complex that you have e.g.Im not going to Delhi so my success chances are less. Dont think in that manner. please avoid company of people whore thinking in that manner. Because negative vibes are infectious. It creates demotivation and affects your studies. And once youve decided, then dont doubt your decision or caliber. Success is very much possible, without coaching. And Following people cracked the exam without coaching (list is not exhaustive):

All India Rank (2011) Harshika Singh Om Kasera Gokul G.R. Mohd.Safi 8 17 19 55 #2: Self control

Year 2011 2011 2010 2009

If you goto gym, you see other people are doing more exercise, and got better body than yours. It automatically motivates you to do exercise further.

But if youre at home, it is easy to lose track, and become complacent about preparation e.g. koi nai, thik hai, there are still many months left before the exam, Ill manage Sorry you cant manage. Weeks and months will pass like this and just 30 days before the exam, youll realize that you havent really prepared much throughout the year. Then you start looking for shortcuts i.e. readymade current affairs material etc. = #epicfail. Dont let your mood dictate your studies. Spend majority of your day with books, magazines and newspapers only. (if youre not a working professional). #3: Company

Make a few friends from the field, either in real life or on internet. Peer pressure helps in keeping the tempo and motivation for studies. More time Management tips are given separately in the later part of this article.

I hope the coaching doubt is clear. Now to the second doubt that is bothering every aspirant: Doubt: Optional subjects will be removed or not? Answer. 1. 2. Will UPSC remove Optional subject from mains?=Yes. When exactly will UPSC remove the optional subject from mains? Is it 2013 or 2014? =I dont know yet.

Few months back I had filled an R.T.I to UPSC regarding this question, they replied weve appointed Committee headed by Prof. Nigvenkar, to look into the matter. We cannot tell when optional will be removed (click me to see the whole R.T.I reply) At the moment, The aspirant community is divided into two viewpoints: both based on the timetable published on official site: Viewpoint: Change Optionals will be removed in 2013 because Fact: Usually UPSC gave notification in Dec/January. This time notification is going to come in February.Fact: usually UPSC started Mains exam in October, this time it has been shifted to November.All this suggest that UPSC is planning to remove optionals and change syllabus. Viewpoint: Status Quo Optionals will not be removed in 2013 because,

Agreed but, The same page of UPSC mentions that UPSC Mains starts from 08.11.2013 (FRIDAY) and duration 21 DAYS. So how can exam duration be 21 days if there are no optionals?

Last month I filed another R.T.I to seek the status update of this Prof. Nigvenkar Committee. Im yet to receive a reply from UPSC. Although Im not really sure UPSC will give clear cut answers, given its history of taking sadistic pleasure by keeping things in limbo, else UPSC can issue a Pressstatement right now to clear the air on this matter and save aspirants the agony and stress theyre going through.

Anyways for the moment- finish the syllabus of topics that are present in GS mains but absent in prelims i.e. first aid, statistics etc. and do the Yojana, Kurukshetra issues from Jan 2012 onwards. There is enough food in your platter, try to finish most of it.

And once this optional subject controversy is settled (most probably in February 2013 notification), there will be some new conspiracy theory -most probably regarding separation of IPS exam. So overall how to deal with rumor bombs? Click ME. So this doubt of optional subjects =remains unsettled (for now). Moving on to next doubt Doubt Hindi Medium aspirant Booklist and strategy remains the same. Only titles change. English NCERTs Hindi Available in Hindi, both in market as well as official site: Some are available in Hindi, some are not. Samanya Adhyayan Bharat 2013

NOS (National open school)

General Studies Manual India Yearbook (India 2013) Indian Polity by M.Laxmikanth Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh Yojana Kurukshetra, PD,CST Spectrum publication books (History, Culture, Statistics) Bipin Chandra 2nd ARC The Hindu

Bharat Ki Rajya Vyavashta by M.Laxmikanth

Bharat ki Artha-vyavastha by Ramesh Singh

Available in Hindi

Available in Hindi

He has books in Hindi,but Not really sure of about exact title. Available in Hindi on their official website No alternative. Must be read in English Available in Hindi. file are not uploaded. Have to purchase Hindi booklets from university. Instructions given here: click ME


Doubt Non-Hindi, Non-English Medium aspirant Starting with Gujarati aspirants. 1. 2. For prelims, consult the same books English / Hindi, because youve to only tick the MCQ answer. Gujarati books for IAS exam= useless and waste of time. (Amuk loko ujjad van maa erando pradhan thayi ne behelaa chhe.) But for mains, to write descriptive answers In need the Gujarati Vocabulary for Geography, Polity etc. buy any ^one of them or any GPSC material. If you think you can rely Gujarati books meant for GPSC and succeed in UPSC = mistake. Because there are always some senior players who keep reading English newspapers, magazines, reference books and convert them into their own handwritten notes in Gujarati so their answer quality will be better than yours. Therefore Always prefer to maintain your own notes from standard reference books of Hindi/English. If UPSC keeps optionals use the Hindi/English standard reference books and then consult Baba Saheb Amedkar Univ.s material for Gujarati BA/MA exam (where applicable) or books from University Granth Nirmaan Board to get the vocabulary and formal answer writing. The Hindu/Indianexpress =must. You may read Gujarati newspaper columns, only for getting Gujarati vocabulary for Essay. But your essay quality, content and depth should be higher than them.




Now Marathi,Tamil,Punjabi,Telugu etc. similar advice as above. 1. 2. For prelims use either English /Hindi books as such. For mains, you need to write descriptive answers, so you need the formal vocabulary for your language. So to get that vocabulary, buy any book or State PSC material written in your language. Using that vocabulary, maintain your notes from standard reference books / English newspapers. For more suggestions, consult some senior players in your area/ via internet.


So this Hindi/Gujarati/Marathi/Tamil language and material doubt is partially settled. Now moving to next problem. Doubt: Inferiority complex Some people have this feeling of insecurity, throughout preparation 1. 2. 3. 4. Im not from a reputed college. Ive very low score in graduation, I failed in some semester. I dont have work-experience or extra-curricular certificates. Im not from English mediumAnd so on.

^dont worry. Many People with such profile have cleared the civil service exam. When an examiner checks your mains answersheet he doesnt know about all those things. Even in interview, they dont really dwell into those topics (unlike IIM interviews hehehe), and even if they notice it, your interview score doesnt depend on a single variable or single question. So stop all those negative thoughts. And avoid company of any other person who is spreading such negative vibes. Besides you cant go back in History using a time-machine to fix all those things in your life. So just keep moving forward.

Having said this, Im must also precaution the Future Candidates Still in College Please donot ignore your college studies. You must strive to get atleast first class (60%) in college exam.

Why? Because usually your backup plans will require it. For example 1. 2. 3. A General category candidate cannot apply for CAT, if he has less than 50%. In certain specialized State PSC jobs*, Bank recruitments, they explicitly mention it that youll need minimum xyz score in your graduation or post graduation. Whenever you go for private company job interview, they look into your graduation score especially if youve zero or low work experiance. *In State PSC there are two type of recruitment one is general large scale recruitment e.g. Deputy collector, DySP, Range Forest officer, Sales Tax inspector etc. in such exams, college marks dont matter much. And other type is specialized small scale recruitment e.g. only one or two vacancies in Food and drug Department. Then they want to reduce number of applicants to save time. So they device high graduation marks e.g. only minimum 60% in Graduation or 55% in PG can apply Same goes for certain Banks. So dont ignore college studies.

In some colleges and universities, you can get first class with almost zero preparation. But it doesnt mean you should completely ignore studies. Again why? Because during interview @UPSC, State PSC, or any private companybasically at any interview, they usually ask a few questions on your graduation. And you cant make an excuse that sorry I dont know the answer because I was preparing for UPSC/CAT during college! That answer will ruin rest of your interview because then board will start asking uncomfortable questions and turn it into a stress interview. I hope this doubt is settled. Moving on to next doubt Doubt: Taking a job / PG Q. I just graduated from college. Should I take job, or pickup Post-Graduation course or directly start preparing for UPSC? Ans. Depends on your financial situation and family support. Job part: If Civil Service is your ultimate goal, you just want a job for pocketmoney and preparation, then look for a job that has minimum workload and travel time = then you can allot max energy for preparation. For example Computer Lab assistant, receptionist, temporary lecturer etc. Ofcourse there are no big salaries or quick promotions in such jobs but then you cant eat Laddu with both the hands.

PG part: Pros: atleast your backup is secured i.e. if you fail in IAS, you can go back private company at a decent job (compared to having single bachelor degree) Cons:


2. 3.

Doing PG from some half**** bogus college hardly has any market value. Youre way better off in bank clerks job than the amount of salary one gets through such overhyped PG courses. (more explained in backup plan, in Act V) To get admission in reputed college, one has to give some sort of entrance exam. In reputed college, You may not be left with sufficient time left for UPSC preparation due to assignments and semester exams. But still there is more time and energy than available to working professionals in some fields.

In the end depends on your taste for career backup. Consider all factors and then decide. Doubt: Working Professionals: Leave the job or not? Question: Im a working professional, find it hard to allot time for studies. Should I leave job or not? Answer: 1. 2. There are toppers who cleared civil service exam without leaving job (Om Kasera, Mohd.Safi to cite a few) On the hand there toppers who left the job for preparation because it had become impossible to manage studies with job.

So door swings both ways. Whether you should leave the job or not, depends on many factors 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Your age Marital status, support of the spouse. (if they superficially support but then they and their relatives indirectly keep nagging you all the time =problem.) Family support and family responsibilities (e.g. father is retired or not, sisters wedding etc.) Financial situation, outstanding loans and EMIs (do you have enough bank balance from your job to survive for next one or two years) Work load, travelling (if it is very low, then no point in leaving job.) Opportunity cost of leaving the job- in terms of promotion and seniority in the private sector (particularly for 27-35 age group candidates.) #A: you leave the job Then proceed according to the suggestions given for coaching/no-coaching case. #B: you cant leave the job Five rules for working professionals, already given CLICK ME. Here are some more #1: Rent a room close to office Travel-fatigue is the main cause of under-preparation. If youve to commute for 3-4 hours a day to and from home to office, then it becomes very difficult to wake up till late night. So ideally try to rent a room very close to office (but usually rooms near office, have higher rent- life is always cruel to UPSC aspirant.) #2: Burn the midnight lamp Irrespective of travel fatigue, try to wake up till 12pm to 1AM. Ya all the fancy medical talk and arguments of long term negative impacts on health. But 6 hours sleep Is sufficient.

a. b.

Lot of teenagers and college kids in metro cities, they usually wake up until midnight doing nothing but facebook, internet surfing and yahoo chat. On the other hand those Corporate barons, IIM grads etc. who mint lakhs of rupees per month. Yes once in while they can indulge in luxuries and fun but otherwise they too work until late night. They may not have travel fatigue but mental stress is even higher. So on both ends of the spectrum, if people can wake up until late night- why cant you? You dont want to leave job, you dont wake up till midnight, .well once again cant eat laddu with both the hands. Success requires sacrifice. Plus late night preparation would be necessary during loading doze period. Not much during maintenance doze. So consider this as a temporary problem. #3 Use pendrive

Prepare some notes/mindmaps on homePC or laptop. Transfer them to pendrive/mobile phone so that you can revise it in office PC or on your mobile phone (if it has windows or android system with all those funky softwares) tablet during free time. Or upload It on google docs for sync between office vs home PC. #4 Use mobile

If youve a mobile with Windows system, you can install following softwares a. b. c. d. e. Caligrapher (it lets you convert handwriting into textif phone comes with stylus). There are other programs as well. Evernote or Phatnotes (for arranging notes and data, maintaining diary) Freemind (mobile version) Or export mindmaps made in home/office PC into .jpeg or .png files, transfer it into your mobile/tablet and review them when free. Record notes in your own voice, listen to them when free (instead of listing to music)

These are just examples, there are many good softwares, just google (or try Softpedia.coms mobile section) And There will be similar apps for android phone/apple/blackberry/tablets. In the end use whatever technology or gadget you can afford or use, to help you in preparation. Now moving to the doubt/issue that affects everyone irrespective of his language medium, job and coaching situation. Time Management 1. 2. Donot try to quantify your study in terms of hours. dont consciously look at watch oh yes, Ive been studying for 1 hour 34 minutes, so let me watch TV now to get fresh. This is not a board exam. Some people start drinking tea/coffee or cigarette after every 2 hours. They think it helps them concentrate in studies. (a habit usually picked up during hostel days). Real men dont need external stimulants. Drinking tea only takes 5 minute, but theyd spend next 30-40 minutes chatting with their buddies at tea stall or doing nothing on mobile phone. This is not how your prepare for IAS exam. Grow up. Stop sending chain emails and chain SMS around. Avoid pseudo-IAS aspirants. Theyre looking at the finger rather than moon type. They spend more time in chit-chat, UPSC rumors, politics etc. Can be found on internet, and in coaching classes and library. Avoid Chipkoo people in life and on phone. All they care is timepass. Always Remain offline in gtalk/facebook messanger/yahoo messenger. Einstein said time is relative. You can easily waste 20 minutes surfing TV-channels even if there is no good program on TV. Previously there was orkut, now weve facebook. You can easily waste 45 minutes to two

3. 4. 5. 6. 7.


hours, doing nothing but clicking your mouse. There is no need to comment on every photo you get tagged in, there is no need to give birthday wishes. There is no need to add more friends to your profile. Fix your email checking time. E.g. only @2PM or 7PM. There is no need to reply to every mail. Use the Gmail filters to get rid of bogus people who send Chain email, jokes etc. Mood swings

1. 2. 3. 4.

5. 6.



There are somedays when youre in absolute good mood and read for 7-8-12-15 hours. There are somedays when youve no mood and you dont even touch the newspaper. Perseverance is necessary for success in any competitive exams. Donot let your ^mood to dictate your studies. (Although it is easier said than done.) The mindset haa thik hai, ho jaayegaa, abhi bahot der hai (ok, Itll be done, there is still lot of time left). With this attitude, youll digup your own grave. Peace of mind is most important. You fight, debate or argue with someone, then even after the argument is over, you still keep thinking about it, I should have said this or that. Saale ko thik kar doongaa (Ill teach him a lesson). No my friend, your primary target is UPSC, put your time and energy in studies. Everything else is secondary- dont waste your time or energy in them. So, Avoid arguments, debates, fights both online and offline. Therefore Avoid people that ruin your mood: both online and offline (except your boss or client!). Avoid Dukhi Aatmaa (cry-babies). Theyre just too worried about everything. My friend from Delhi said, UPSC is going to remove optionals and introduce paper on policy sciencewhat will be do!? Xyz sir said UPSC will reduce age limit! They spread their negative vibes on you. Girlfriend usually leaves after 2nd failed attempt in UPSC (cant blame, you cant and shouldnt expect her or her parents to wait for you that long.) Then it creates more heartburning, depression= not good for studies. Therefore UPSC and love affairs are usually not compatible. Pick only one at a time. Similarly avoid temptation or persuasion from parents to get married. Dont get married until youre selected in UPSC or youve fully executed your career backup plan.

Life of a UPSC aspirant is very cruel. Outsiders cannot understand it and they ruin mood with their questions and unwanted advices. For example A B A B He is a UPSC Aspirant. Minding his own damn business, busy eating daal-chawal @wedding reception. Kya kar rahe ho? (what are you doing?) Preparing for UPSC. Still preparing for that exam? You said the same thing last year! (In his head) because UPSC is three stage process, takes one year to complete.(on face) some diplomatic answer. Acchaa, my uncles son got selected. Why dont you take tips from him? (In his head) If UPSC is hellbent in scaling system and BackbreakingTM, there is nothing anybody can do.(on face) sure Ill contact him. Leaves


Resumes Minding his own damn business, busy eating daal-chawal. Makes entry. Repeats the question :Kya kar rahe ho? (what are you doing?) Same answer. (He has no interest in knowing what youre doing. He asked you question only to start conversation and show off how his son is better.)Acchaa.. My Son **** has done MBA from ****. Salary Package is * lakhs and he has ** number of people under his command. So, you Leave this IAS, Bi-AS, join that college! (in His head) Why the hell do I care how much he earns or how much staff he got! My definition of success is different. (on face) That is really good. Leaves Resumes Minding his own damn business. D is an old-college batchmate. Same question cycle. Do you know that our batchmate Mr.X has left company Y and joined company Z and now his salary package is 6 lakhs. He also bought a Honda city (car) and getting married next month. (in His head) Ya but he was a complete *Gangaajal adjective* so even if he earns 60 crores, buys a Ferrari and marries Katrina Kaif, he is not going to earn my respect or even jealousy. (on face) very good yaar. Do you remember that girl **** from our college, she and ***** got married/ she started affair with *****, recently I spotted her at *****. (in His head) because of my UPSC (mis)adventures, Ive grown up: mentally and emotionally. I dont care about those things like I used to, during the college years hahaha. (on face) some diplomatic answer. Ok then best of luck. EFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTsame things.


Throughout your journey, these conversations are going to repeat in one form or another. Very few people actually understand the pain and struggle involved, rest of them are just phony lip service and mood killers. Therefore: 1. Have tough skin of a salesman. Dont let their talks affect you. When you come back home, your head should be clear else you cannot concentrate in studies and will ponder more and more about the past. Sometimes you might even start thinking of quitting UPSC game to join their world- dont. Dont announce to everyone that youre preparing for UPSC. Keep it to yourself, and very few close friends.


3. 4.

Avoid social gatherings unless absolutely necessary. Never compare yourself with your batchmates, colleagues, kids of relatives and neighbors.

Now some other technical doubts Technical doubts Question Answer Service employees dont get age relaxation.But CRPF,BSF etc now comes under Ex-servicemen category hence get age relaxation.

Age and attempt limit

Physical requirements / Medical checkup disability related queries OBC Creamy layer Postal Graduation /Distance Education Degree and its validity for UPSC exam

Act V: Retreat Plan You must prepare with a positive attitude that Ill study hard and Ill get selected But at the same time, you should also be prepared for the worst case scenario. The reasons are following 1. Pass or fail, UPSC takes away one year of life. Then youd think since Ive invested so much time, energy and money, let me given another attempt. For a serious player, this cycle keeps repeating until he gets selected or he is out of the game because of age/attempt limit. If you reach mains/interview stage, youll earn respect of the fellow players but outside this UPSC game, it means nothing. Nobody will give you job (or hand of his daughter) just because you had cleared prelims or mains.


In short there are no consolation prizes for participating in UPSC. Career Backup plans usually involve following sectors 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Allied UPSC exams (IES, IFS, Geologist, SCRA, CDS,CPF etc.) State Government/ State PSC exams Bank /PSU/LIC/ONGC/SSC type jobs Professor type jobs (UGC NET/JRF) Doing PG/MBA/moving abroad Returning to private company job Starting your Business

If your backup plan is #1 to #3, then (free) subscribe to this blog :it will give you free email notification on any upcoming job exams, so you dont have to manually check every site. And it is all easier said than done. You might feel ya Ill become bank PO or State PSC, whats the big deal? Such pappu exams are no match for my caliber! The big deal is, no exam is a pappu exam as long as there are two people competing for one vacancy. And there are always existing serious players from those fields dedicated for a particular exam 24/7. The competition is intense everywhere. So dont take any competitive exam for granted. At the same time, you shouldnt be so extremely occupied with backup plans that you cant allot enough time for UPSC preparation,

The purpose of writing this article is 1. 2. Because Prevention is better than cure. There are good opportunities outside UPSC also. So failure in UPSC =not the end of life or career. Allied UPSC exam (IES,IFS,Geologist, SCRA, CDS,CPF etc.) First step: check age, educational eligibility in advance. E.g. To apply for Indian Economist/Statistical/Geologist/Forest service, one would need to have specialized degrees in certain science/commerce/engineering fields. Then check old papers:

GK/GS would remain more or less the same. (For CPF, GS MCQ paper is almost identical to IAS prelims) For whatever is different consult a serving officer or Government college Professor of that field and seek the booklist-strategy. E.g. Indian Forest Service, theyve separate set of optional subjects, and youre unlikely to find any tips on Google search. State PSC: Punjab, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh etc. Important notes about these exams 1. According to Government rules, 1/3rd of All India services vacancies are to be filled by State Service promotes.

That means, if Maharashtra state cadre has 300 posts for IAS, Then 200 posts will be manned up by Direct IAS officers recruited through UPSC Civil Service exam and 100 will be manned by giving promotion to Deputy Collectors (Maha.Administrative Service) who were recruited via Maharashtra State PSC. These are referred as Nominated/Promotee IAS.Similarly Dy SP (State PSC) => DSP (IPS) Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) (State Forest Service)=> Conservator of Forest (IFS)

Of course some states may have different nomenclatures and posts, but overall principle is this^. So being in State service is also good. But at the same time nomination depends on many variables, including your service record, Cadre strength, your own seniority in State Service Batch etc. 2. State PSC recruitment is usually not held at regular interval. E.g. If Punjab PSC is held in 2013, there is no guarantee theyll hold it again in 2014 or 2015. (Because it depends on Vacancies and retirements.) So whenever there is notification, go ahead and apply. Dont wait for your UPSC age/attempt to reach at the end level before executing backup plan. State PSC results often get tangled in court stay-orders because of irregularity/corruption allegations etc. So even if State PSC is your backup, also think of a tertiary backup, else you might cross the age limit for other exams. How to Prepare for State PSC? The exam structure would remain more or less the same as UPSC. (prelims, mains, interview) The difference is in depth and breadth of questions. First buy class 7 to 12 History, Social Science, Geography textbooks of particular State Education Board. Also buy guides and digests for Class 10 and 12. Thatll help you gather the GK/GS specific to that state. Also buy some (bogus) readymade book/ coaching material meant for giving you information of particular state, its history, geography, culture etc.


Second task is to get the old papers to check out the trend. a. b. c. If available on internet, download them If old paper sets are available in market then go ahead buy it. if not available then file R.T.I and ask them to provide it in CD/DVD format. (because paper copy cost will be high)

in paper sets youve to see following

a. b.

Topicwise breakup (usually, though not always, State PSC are mostly History-Geography-Trivial Current GK type MCQs) Question style. Is it like 90s stuff -dates, names and numbers or do they test your understanding and intelligence. Then prepare accordingly. Booklist remains more or less the same as you had for UPSC exam but what differs is how you look at the topics. For the mains, State PSC usually have direct static type of questions. So just mug up everything and practice answer-writing for static questions asked in previous State PSC/UPSC exams. For History etc. (optionals) consult the Government university papers of State. Also use newspaper for current affairs related to the State. (but I assume youd already be doing it part of your profile based interview questions for UPSC.) Bank/PSU/SSC type jobs

They usually have two phases: MCQs and interview MCQ test usually has four segments a. b. c. d. GK Maths Reasoning English

While GK will not give you much trouble, Aptitude part (Maths,Reasoning) will require heavy efforts and Data interpretation requires quick-calculation. RS Agarwals book on Verbal and Non-Verbal reasoning (+Sarvesh Kumar) should save the day. Professor type jobs (UGC NET/SLET/JRF etc.) These ones require Post Graduation (or 4 year BE/ MBBS type course). So first get the idea on age/educational requirements. Then youve to face MCQ questions on GS, comprehension, particular (optional) subject. If you dont have a Post graduation degree, what to do? Simple enroll to any IGNOU program and get distant education degree (MA/MBA/MCA/MSW whatever suits you.) But enroll as early as possible. Why? It takes two years to complete PG course from IGNOU (even if youve Public Administration/socio optional, and you have the brains to clear IGNOUs two years exam in one daystill youll need to wait for two years to get the final degree). They also have launched some on-demand exam thing. But the web portal wasnt properly working, the last time I tried. You might want to look into that part too. Doing PG Post graduation degrees are of following types 1. 2. 3. One that has not much value in market (IGNOU except for Professor type jobs) Specialized Professional Degrees (Government vs Self financed college) MBA Q1. Should I do PG or not?

In India weve a problem of academic inflation. Every tom, dick and harry has got a PG degree, so if you dont have a stupid paper certificate in your file, then it creates problem while looking for private co. jobs. In certain places, weightage is given to PG degree (CAT/IIM, UGC, specialized recruitment for certain jobs via UPSC and State PSC eg. Food Commissioner or Social welfare officer) Same goes for matrimonial ads hahaha.

My advice: there is no harm in going for first type of degree (IGNOU) Reasons are following 1. 2. 3. Fee is cheap (around 8000.) Their degree is legit for various Government jobs You can get first class without any effort. Atmost 15 days of preparation is sufficient (because they repeat questions from last five years papers) and they give booklets. Thus you can enroll for the program even while preparing for UPSC, Bank, CAT or State PSC or anything else. You dont need to attend college.


Ofcourse such degrees dont have much value in market but then, at this investment (Rs.8k and 15 days) we cant complaint! Good to add one more certificate in the file (because of the academic inflation). Infact this is highly recommended for CAT aspirants whore not getting interview call for IIMs, because their profile score is low. Coming to the second type of degrees Specialized Professional degrees Can be of two types: 1. 2. M.E., M.S., M.Tech etc. from a reputed college recognized by UGC/AICTE. Degree has vocational value but not recognized for Government jobs. (e.g. doing M.Sc Clinical research from self-financed college that doesnt have AICTE approval. )

Even if you cross age/attempt limit of UPSC or State PSC, there are always some specialized recruitment conducted for certain Government jobs later on, where youll be eligible. But then theyd ask for work experience and PG. So ideally one should go to a course recognized by UGC/AICTE because then it is automatically recognized for Government jobs. When it comes to second category (professional degree, not recognized by UGC/AICTE) be extremely careful in course selection. Many mushroom courses and institutes have popped up recently. For one or two years there is good demand (because new MNCs would have come and very few people had the degree in particular field), but then self financed institutes popup in every nook and corner=over saturation of labor force = you cant get decent placement. (e.g. M.Pharm and Airhostess in Gujarat.) Such courses drain away two years of your life, 2-8 lakhs out of your pocket +hardly upward career/salary movement +calculate the house-rent, electricity bill, LPG connection, child-education in big city.. Ofcourse glass is both half full and half empty. There will be some people with high caliber who rise on the top, in particular field, even when there is over-saturation of labour force. But do your own research on future career prospects, before investing time and money in such courses; dont blindly follow crowds and advertisements. MBA

How to prepare for CAT, explained here Click ME, same should also help for other exam SNAP, CMAT, MAT etc. with slight modifications. Problem: Although the courageous shall prevail, but journey is not easy. All your past follies start haunting you. Even if you get decent score in CAT, still your low score in 10-12-Graduation-PG, No extra curricular, low work xp, Everything Is given weightage before calling you for interview and giving final admission. (IIM Calcutta exception). And MBA is no panacea for every problem. It depends If the institute is highly reputed, then all well and good. But If youre already 28-30 years old (after UPSC adventures), there is not much point in getting admission in some half*** MBA college and wasting 2 more years + 10 lakh rupees. (donot go by average placement packages. they dont tell your the correct picture.)

And yes glass is both half full and half empty. Epilogue 1. 2. 3. Notesmaking + Revision = time tested formula for success in UPSC exam. With hard work (and good luck), Success = possible irrespective of coaching/no-coaching/job/no-job/firstattempt/last-attempt/English/Non-english BUT Never put all eggs in one basket.

This conclude the Five part series of War on UPSC. Here are the links to all articles, in case you missed any: