Students aiming at CSE 2018 must be in a sticky situation with less than 7 months left to Preliminary exam. And this is the moment where all the serious candidates must be looking for a sure shot study plan to prepare well for all three stages. Preliminary exam, being the first stage; should be given maximum focus at the moment, while keeping an integrated approach for Prelims and Mains. If you have already started your preparation and have formed a base, this is the right time now to enroll in a Test Series and understand the Examination pattern, questions, get right assessment or answer evaluations from experts and give a right direction to your preparation.
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UPSC timetable for Civil Services Examination 2018-19:
|Sr. No||UPSC CSE Stage||UPSC CSE Nature||Exam Dates|
|1.||Prelims Examination||Objective (MCQ’s)||June 3rd 2018|
|2.||Mains Examination||Descriptive||October 1st – 5th 2018|
|3.||Personality Test||Interview||March – April 2019|
Month-wise Preparation Strategy
December 2017 – February 2018:
- Grab your copy of UPSC Syllabus: There is abundant study material available online and in market for UPSC Civil services preparation. Students often get confused with what to study and what not because every book or study material claims to be the best and sure shot solution for the UPSC exam. But it is practically impossible to study everything under the sun and especially when there so less time left for the examination. UPSC Syllabus plays a pivotal role in guiding aspirants with the pattern and type of questions asked along with relevant study material to be referred for preparation.
- Subscribe and read Newspapers ‘The Hindu’ and ‘Indian Express’: UPSC exams are constantly testing a candidate’s current affairs knowledge and understanding on issues of National and International importance. UPSC asks questions based on current events and issues, so you must follow newspapers regularly. For Prelims exam 2018 follow Issues and stories from June 2017 to June 2018. Newspapers like The Hindu and the Indian Express have an extensive coverage and follow up of important stories. ‘Dainik Jagran’ & ‘Dainik Bhaskar’ are apt newspapers for students who prefer reading Hindi or opting for Hindi language as their medium.
Focus on Editorials and don’t just read them. Try to develop your own views and understanding of the subject and frame your own arguments on the topic in discussion. Also develop a habit of making notes for future revision.
- Read Magazines like Yojana, Kurukshetra, India Year Book: Certain magazines like Yojana and Kurukshetra are specially focused for preparation of UPSC civil services examination. Keep your copies handy for a hand on expertise on current affairs.
Download Links for current affairs preparations:
- Build a knowledge base with NCERT’s of 6th – 12th standard with integrated study plan: While preparing for the different stages of the exam, students come across significant overlap in the prelims and mains syllabus and that’s where an integrated preparation comes handy. Target for an integrated preparation (Prelims + mains) with recommended books in UPSC syllabus. Switch to Prelims preparations only 2 months prior to the exam. NCERT’s from class 6th to 12th will help you form a knowledge base and deep understanding while covering all the aspects in and around the subjects.
Once suggested above, once you form a base, you are suggested to enroll for Prelims Test Series to assess yourself on the level of UPSC.
Subjects like History, polity, economics, geography, science and environment should be completed from the NCERT’s by the end of December so that you can shift your focus to other standard books to take your preparation to the next level. This will help you form a solid foundation for your General studies paper. Give sufficient weightage to your Optional subject as well and essay writing as they are equally important in the UPSC Mains exam.
Click here a list of Essay topics from UPSC Civil Services examinations for last 25 years (including that of 2017)
NCERT Book’s for reference:
History of India and Indian National Movement:
- NCERT (XI) Ancient India by RS Sharma
- NCERT (XI) Medieval India by Satish Chandra
- NCERT (XII) Modern India by Bipin Chandra
- Freedom Struggle by Bipin Chandra
- Modern India B.L. Grover
India and World Geography
- NCERT (XI)
- NCERT (XII)
- Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong
To download complete list of NCERT books, click here
- Make notes and Mind Maps: Civil services mains exam is descriptive examination in nature. To explain your understating better and excel in the exams, practice a habit of making mind maps and notes on important points. These notes and mind maps will also help you in your revision phase as well.
- Solve previous year question papers – for both Prelims and Mains: Previous year question papers act as a window to the UPSC CSE pattern and syllabus. Students get a fair idea about the pattern and questions asked and could accordingly plan their preparation strategy. Hence we will suggest solving previous year papers so that you will know what kind of questions are asked and how. This will just be your maiden encounter with previous year papers so do not judge yourself if you aren’t able to solve the questions or have queries regarding the same. With time and preparation, you will be able to solve them in a better way.
March – May 2018:
- Prelim-Centric preparation: Preliminary exams are the trickiest stage of the UPSC Civil Services exam; therefore, a candidate is expected to be attentive and at heels during both – the preparations and the real examination to bag their ticket for UPSC Mains examination. By now you should have completed your basic preparation. It’s time for you to shift your focus towards Prelims centric preparation and upgrade your knowledge base for the same.
- Keep updated with current affairs: UPSC CSE exam is all about your knowledge base. Keep yourself updated with current affairs and keep your facts handy while writing the examination.
- Re – Solve previous year question papers for Prelims: As we’ve already mentioned above, previous year question papers will act as a window to have a look and feel of the actual UPSC examination pattern. Therefore, in this phase solve as many Prelims question papers as you can.
Click here to download your copy of Previous Year Questions.
- Identify your weak sections and work on them: UPSC CSE is not the place to take risks. It’s always advisable to practice questions and take test series as much as you can before jumping in for the real examination. Having assessed your preparation through these tests, rectify your weaker sections to work upon, before sitting for the real quest.
- Keep a day for revision (weekly): Revision is very essential for the exam preparation. You would have read & studied a lot by now and recalling it all at the time of exam is not that easy. Revision helps you remember the studied portion better resulting in an efficacious performance at the examination hall.
Preparations for the UPSC Mains
June – August 2018 (Post Prelims)
- Mains-centric preparation: Mains stage of the UPSC Civil Services exam is a descriptive phase. Candidates are tested on their academic capability and ability to answer, as per their depth of understanding, in a clear and coherent manner. Aspirants must cover all the areas that were not covered until now. Switch your focus towards Mains centric preparation and upgrade your knowledge base with details of everything you know about the subjects.
- Enroll for Mains Test Series: In this phase it’s extremely crucial to enroll for the mains test series to check your preparation and rectify your weak areas to improve on them well in time. UPSC mains cannot be taken any lightly, so be prepared for anything and everything.
- Brush up your current affairs: Current affairs will help you in all your phases of the exam and hence you should keep abreast with all the matters of National or International importance. With knowledge of current happenings, any question can be framed in a better way backing it up with related factual updates.
- Practice Essay Writing: Paper 1 of UPSC Mains examination is Essay writing where candidates are expected to have linguistic skills, capacity to comprehend ideas, critical analysis about subject matter in discussion, integrated thinking, assimilation of ideas with clarity of expression and overall presentation of the thoughts.
To practice effective essay writing, develop a habit of making notes for every topic and keep some points in consideration for anything and everything that could be asked in the essay paper. Ensure having few statistics, comparative data and influential quotes to make your answer more attractive and backed up. Include multiple dimensions and aspects in and around the subject in discussion. This practice will help you write your essays effectively and with much clarity of the subject.
- Polish your writing skills: Mains exam are of descriptive and elaborative in nature. You must maximize your writing practice for this stage of the exam as you already have a good knowledge base by now. Master your presentation and writing skills during this phase by maintain a regular habit of writing.
- Revise your NCERT’s and reference books for GS(all the subjects) and optional: Revise all your NCERT’s again and do not forget to consult the reference books for general studies and optional subjects as there will be a lot of topics that need to be studied again only to keep a better memory of the facts and information.
- Re – Solve previous year question papers for Mains: As we’ve already discussed UPSC Mains is the descriptive phase of the exam and cannot be taken lightly. Therefore, you must re-solve previous year question papers to assess your preparation for the UPSC Mains exam.
- Identify your weak sections and work on them: At this point you will still have time to work on your weaker section or points you may have missed on, after having assessed your preparation for the exams. You could prepare a list of queries or areas that need re-look into your preparation. And take up that list in the revision phase.
- Keep a day for revision (weekly): We have been stressing over and over for revision before every single stage and that is so because it is practically not possible to remember every bit of what you’ve studied. Constant revision will ensure that your subconscious mind is keeping a track of things being revised and help you recall while answering questions related. Therefore we will suggest you to keep a day for revision weekly so that you can effectively keep the studied information when its fresh in your mind.
- Revise: As you just read, revision should be an ongoing activity to keep afresh the part of syllabus you have been studying already.
- Keep yourself well abreast with current Affairs: Current affairs is again an ongoing activity. Keep reading newspapers ‘the Hindu’ & ‘Indian Express’ and magazines like Yojana, Kurukshetra, India Year Book, Economic Survey for most relevant current affairs related information and stories.
- Re-solve tests and questions you weren’t able to solve until now: If you have any pending list of questions or test you were not able to solve until now or you wished to do better at, its time to take up those now. Solve such questions once a week and see where you stand preparation wise.
October 2018 – Until Interview – Quick Tips
- Involve yourself in intelligent discussions with people who have knowledge of related subject matters: Such discussions will help you enhance your knowledge base and sharpen concepts regarding relevant topic of National and International importance.
- Take Mock Interviews: Mocks aim at instilling right personality traits and confidence in candidates with the help of subject-matter experts. The Interview panel intends to bring out the best in you and hint at your major shortcomings that pull you down in the actual interview process. Hence, candidates must enroll into Mock interviews to improve on their performance in the actual personality test at UPSC exam center.
- Current affairs is still most important: UPSC Civil Services Examination’s current trends reflect the importance of Current affairs. It is crucial for all 3 stages of Civil Services exam as majority of questions are based on recently trending stories of National and International importance. Thus, an in-depth understanding of current affairs is the key to success. Hence, keep abreast with the same.
- Maintain Social involvement (with neatly inculcated administrative traits) to personalize these traits in your regular habit: Civil Services require candidates with neatly inculcated administrative traits which is not an inborn quality for everybody. Hence candidates aspiring for the Civil services must involve these traits in regular conversations so as to develop the habit in regular practice.
- Practice developing your own logical reasoning for important issues of National or international importance: Its always good to test your knowledge and concepts about everything and anything which is important. Administrators can be tested on any front at their duty and hence they must have hands on expertise over logical reasoning for important subject matters.
Read this article to get essential tips for Interview
- Prepare for Prelims 2019(Just in case your result says that your preparation needs a brush up): With these tips and dedicated efforts candidates can sure shot crack the exam in their maiden attempt. But as you know, UPSC CSE is unpredictable, there is no harm in re-preparing for the prelims 2019, just in case you might slip on the ranks to qualify the exam in this attempt.
Courses to your rescue:
- Prelims 2018 short term course
- Prelims Test Series
- Weekend Current Affairs Classes
- Upgrade Foundation Course