Prelims Over! Here’s all you need to know to clear Civil Services Mains Exam

After coming out with flying colors in CSE prelims exam, students indeed do not have enough time to celebrate the triumph, as the bigger challenge stands out of the examination hall waiting for them, i.e., Main Exam. This Main exam is ultimately takes aspirants to the next level, nearer to their dream job. Where, the final stage; interview is unpredictable, mains exam is still predictable as students have fair idea about the syllabus and examination pattern.

Let’s make it little more predictable for you. Here is how you should move ahead

First of all, know what does UPSC intends to check in a candidate?

UPSC is looking for the leaders, the future officers of our nation. UPSC needs candidates with the following traits

  • The one who is empathetic and has love for the nation
  • The one who has the knowledge about the culture and society he/she is going to serve
  • The one who has the knowledge about the issues our country is facing currently and the relationship our nation has with other countries
  • The one who has a non-biased opinion in the society and knows how to put his/her opinion forward to bring a positive change
  • The one who knows how to manage emotions well, who has the problem solving ability and right decision making ability at different situations
  • The one who is honest, non-biased and most importantly has administrative traits
  • The one who has good command over the language
  • The one who can think rationally and practically within certain constraints

UPSC checks these traits majorly through Mains exam which carries total 1750 marks and is completely subjective in nature.

Now comes the real question, how to prepare for Mains?

First of all, this is for all the students who are going to appear in Mains 2017 or the aspirants who are going to appear for CSE 2018; preparation must follow an integrated approach, which means; while preparing for Prelims, students should also prepare for Mains. The syllabus for both is more or less similar; the difference is Mains is way more detailed than prelims due to its subjective nature. Those who have appeared in prelims must be well aware of the fact that, most of the GS papers are covered while preparing for prelims exam itself.

The preparation process must begin with through knowledge of the syllabus. Take a print out of the syllabus and paste on your room’s wall. Click here for syllabus.

Download previous year question papers and get familiar with the examination pattern and the questions.

Although the ones who have cleared Prelims must have read the NCERT books, but see if revision is required and start reading once again. Make a habit of reading Newspaper every day and most importantly make precise notes. See the syllabus and read only what is required in Newspaper. Read editorials most importantly, read atleast 5 editorials in a week and make pointers.

Your Reading List

Undoubtedly, NCERT is the first step and best source to study. Take up the text books for class 9th to 12th and start reading. Only NCERT books will not suffice the purpose though, hence standard books must be taken up after completion of NCERT books. Like I mentioned earlier, previous year question papers are another important factor. Click here to download NCERT books

Click here to download previous year question paper and begin your writing practice. Answer writing practice is very important to match up the level of time limit UPSC gives during the exam.

Many students make this common mistake of studying for hours but do not give enough time to answer writing practice, which further becomes a major cause of failure. Aspirants need to acquire the skills of presenting the answer in a coherent way.

Another important aspect which students must keep in mind is that UPSC do not ask merely for the information as an answer, but seek different perspective of the candidate over the topic. It is important for a candidate to read the question well before answering it, make a basic flow of the answer; followed by introduction and then the most important aspect to less important ones and then the final conclusion.  And this is why, solving previous years question paper and enrolling for Mains Test Series is significant. For GS paper 4, try to solve as many case studies as you can.

Optional Subjects

While preparing for optional subject, make sure you cover each and every topic thoroughly. It is important to remember that the level of questions asked for optional paper is from 10th class to graduation level. Hence, while selecting an optional subject, make sure you have the basic knowledge and academic background with the subject. Get previous year question paper and see the kind of questions asked and prepare accordingly

It is imperative to have a good hold over the 2 languages, both English and Hindi regardless of the medium you choose to write your exam in. To enhance this aptitude, get a general studies book and translate it into the language you are weak in. Also, try and reading as much as you can.

Studying for General Studies

Detailed description of the optional subject is not possible to give here, but here we have some suggested readings for the general studies paper. NCERT, National Book Trust (NBT), IGNOU booklets are quite helpful. Read Economic survey, Yojana, India year book to enhance your knowledge. Click here to see some book recommendations

In case we are missing on something, write in the comments, and we’ll get back to you with the answers by our experts.

To join our upcoming batch for Mains, click here


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