Below is the strategy that Topper Avdesh Meena AIR 32 followed , Below content is directly written by Him on Quora – He has cleared the UPSC in his first Attempt.
First of all few basic points to be kept in mind before preparing and during preparation-
- There is no perfect or single strategy to succeed. I listened to various strategies by toppers and then choose the one which best suited me as per my skills and understanding.
- There is no alternative to hard work and dedication, which is the prime strategy of success.
- Preparation for civil services is a full time exercise. Please do not indulge yourself in other exams like SSC etc especially if you need to read anything extra for other exams. Do not prepare for multiple exams at once.
- Don’t treat studies as a burden. Prepare only if you enjoy the studies. Enjoy the process of learning new things.
- Be observant of your surroundings, The real world and studies are not mutually different, they are an extension of each other. Try to observe things around you, link them with your studies and vice versa.
- Try to keep social life to minimum. Keep the contact with social media to minimum.
- Choose a friend circle with those who are preparing seriously. Keep in contact with them as to how they are preparing and contact them if you feel depressed or are not able to study. But don’t excessively rely on their strategies too, follow your own way.
- Keeping in touch with family especially parents is the most important aspect to handle ups and lows during preparation. Share with them your feelings during preparation.
- Do not think excessively about results, just focus on your strategy. I never seriously thought whether i would qualify or not, I was just focused on my studies. “Karm karte jao, fal ki chinta mat karo, wo apne aap mil jayega”. I have seen people who are too much depressed and loose their study questioning themselves whether they will qualify or not.
- Do not involve yourself excessively in political debates as to this leader is good or that. There is no point in doing that and would drain you of energy. Focus only on specific steps taken by government which are needed in exams and analyse those with both positives and negative and then forming a balanced viewpoint and an optimistic solution for future.
- Read one newspaper daily for about 1.5 hours. I read the Hindu. Try to improve your understanding of different topics from the news. Read anything which is related to constitution, SC judgments, govt schemes, social issues, economic issues such as poverty, development etc, environmental issues like new species being discovered, major developments in science and technology.
- If you are a newcomer or are in college time your preparation in a way so that you start 2 years before the actual year of exam you will appear. 2 years is the optimum time for preparation.
- Role of coaching is important in various aspects – regular time table, concise study material for some subjects, understanding of basic concepts in some subjects. But Civil Services can be done even without coaching especially with growing availability of online material which is useful.
- Role of choosing the correct optional is immense. I owe my success mostly to optional. I would preferably suggest you to take your graduation subject as an optional especially if you are an engineer. So those in college i would like to suggest please do not neglect the studies in college especially if you want to take your graduation subject as an optional. But do not choose Engineering if not able to understand technical concepts or you have interest and expertise in other subjects. This assessment has to be made by you without any prejudices. Also in general it would take more time to study the Engineering subject. Please ask yourself do you have the required aptitude to choose Engineering as optional and if you feel you can do it go for it. There is no concept of scaling in marks, do not worry about that. Choosing technical subject as an optional lessens the arbitrariness present in other arts subjects.
Now coming to my strategy:
I prepared for total of 2 years before writing the prelims exam. I started preparing in my final year B tech. I took coaching from Vajiram and Ravi in 2014-15 batch with my college. In this year I got myself familiarized with basic concepts, basic books needed and attended Vajiram test series for prelims. Thus i was clear with my basics by the end of the year.
In the second year I started preparing for optional and answer writing for Mains. I joined Vision IAS Mains Test series for answer writing. I also wrote answers (preferably 1-2 answers) on Insights occasionally and then read other answers posted there and then analyse how i lacked in formulation of answers. Further the role of test series in improving my answer writing is enormous. I used to analyse my marks after each test as to what i was doing right or wrong and improve thereupon in the next test.
My optional was Civil Engineering. I had interest in Civil and also I was good in Civil in my college which helped me a lot to get 356 marks in mains exam. I purchased the hand written notes from market and took coaching booklets from my friend. I studied the hand written notes and referred to coaching books only if i was not able to understand something. I appeared for GATE and ESE examination to check my knowledge of Civil Engineering and got AIR 54 and AIR 9 respectively. Also the fact that there is an exam pushes you towards the preparation and helps in concluding the preparation fast.
I did not attend any coaching for Civil Engineering. I was not able to join test series because I joined the GS test series during the time and was not able to do both simultaneously.
Books to be read:
- Polity- Laxmikant (more imp for pre), Vajiram notes
- Modern Histroy – Spectrum (imp for both pre+mains), NCERT (not necessary to read it), Vajiram notes
- Ancient History and culture – NCERT, Vajiram Notes, Mrunal Videos on Art and culture
- Medieval History- NCERT (although I did not studied it but now UPSC is asking more about medieval nowadays)
- Environment- Shankar IAS
- Economics – Class notes, 11,12th NCERT
- Geography- 11,12th NCERT , Class Notes
- World History- Vision IAS add on material, Class notes
- International relations- Newspaper, Vision current affairs
- Science and Tech- Newspaper, Vision Current affairs
- Security – Newspaper, Vision Current affairs
- Social Issues- Newspaper, Vision Current affairs
- Disaster management- Class notes, vision value added material, Vision Current affairs
- Ethics- Class notes
- Civil Engineering- No books only coaching material.
For prelims practice- Vision tests and study them thoroughly.
I tried to keep the number of books to be studied at minimum. Only those book should be studied which can be revised in a month before exam. Instead focus should be more on revising at least 3-4 times, practicing test series for both prelims and mains, current affairs which should be studied thoroughly and practicing optional more. “