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Get Set Go IAS

Prepare for IAS the RIGHT Way!

By Lazylord © IAS Kracker 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Get Set Go IAS

While there are many IAS exam related sites and blogs out there this ebook provides you tips to get an edge in your civil services preparation over your competition. This e-book is not about the civil services syllabus or examination plan but goes much beyond this. For the syllabus and details of the IAS examination you can refer the UPSC website itself. So I have covered these only in passing. Which begs the question, what can you get from this e-book? You will  Begin your preparation without any false starts and thus save valuable time and effort  Know exactly which books to refer for IAS  Select the right optionals within a short time  Save time and money by reading the right books and notes  Decide whether you require coaching and if you do then which one  Learn how to read newspapers for current affairs and GK  Gain inspiration from success stories of previous IAS toppers

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Get Set Go IAS

How to read this e-Book? While the chapters are arranged logically and in sequence, articles that are relevant from this e-Book’s point of view but which have been published on IAS Kracker or some other site are not included here to avoid repetition. Instead I have included them as links or under the tag of ‘Additional Reading’ at the bottom of each page. I suggest you go through these articles included under Additional Reading and even the other links as they are there to provide you additional insight into your IAS preparation. No doubt you will benefit tremendously if you read this way. Also at the end of this e-Book some bonus links are provided to free study material, You Tube videos of past IAS toppers, interviews and the like. Be sure to check them out!

Note: This eBook contains affiliate links to sites where you can purchase IAS books online.

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Contents How to read this e-Book?........................................................................ 2 What is the IAS? ...................................................................................... 5 The Civil Services Exam ........................................................................... 7 No Need to Fear CSAT ............................................................................. 9 Common Myths about the IAS Exam .................................................... 10 Is there an Ideal Time to Start with IAS Preparation? ........................... 14 Do You Need Coaching? ........................................................................ 17 Books to Refer for Prelims/CSAT ........................................................... 19 Books for CSAT Paper 2 .................................................................. 20 GS Syllabus and Question Papers: Your Best Guide for Prelims Preparation ........................................................................................... 22 Getting started with Prelims Preparation: Routinize your day .............. 26 How to Read the Newspaper ................................................................ 32 Can I Prepare for Prelims in Just 4 Months? ......................................... 37 Prelims Quick Revision Tips ................................................................... 39 GK ...................................................................................................... 39 Geography ......................................................................................... 39 History ............................................................................................... 39 Science .............................................................................................. 39 Economy ............................................................................................ 39 How to score easy marks in IAS Prelims ................................................ 40 What score is enough to clear the Prelims? .......................................... 41 How to Select the Right Optionals for IAS ............................................. 42
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If They Could You Can Too – IAS Success Stories................................... 50 Bonus Stuff! .......................................................................................... 53

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Get Set Go IAS What is the IAS?

IAS or the Indian Administrative Service is arguably one of the most prestigious services in India and is part of the Indian Civil Service (ICS), which is often called the 'Steel Frame' of the country. The term 'steel frame' was first coined by Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, independent India's first Home Minister and father of the ICS as it stands today. But the IAS is not entirely a post-independence creation. Far from it. It is the forerunner to the Indian Civil Service (ICS) that was created by the British to govern this vast and diverse country. The British realized that unless some sort of uniformity in administration, laws, and rules was introduced it would be impossible to govern a country of this size and diversity. Thus the ICS was born in the late seventeenth century although the nomenclature came about only in the eighteenth century. But to understand the importance of the IAS we need to first take a look at the roles of an IAS officer or what an IAS officer does.

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The roles that any IAS officer has to play are both multi-dimensional and challenging. Consider this: As an IAS you are responsible for the smooth functioning of an entire district, you have to respond to any crisis situation that may arise unexpectedly; you have to ensure harmonious public order, have to liase with different stake holders, have to deal with drought and other adverse agricultural situations, and arrange for VIP visits and many more functions. How many people get to enact so many roles at the same time? Only those who choose to and have the mettle to realize their goal of cracking the civil services test. But the functions mentioned above are not the only one that you will execute as an IAS officer. Rather these responsibilities will be entrusted to you at the early stage of your career. As you progress in the civil services ladder you will take on more specialized roles that are much wider in scope. For instance, as the Secretary of a department in the Union government you will oversee that department in all the states from coordination and policy framework point of view. Finally did you know that the head of the bureaucracy in India is also one of the senior most and distinguished IAS officer? Yes, the Cabinet Secretary is the highest post that you as an IAS can aspire for and for the fortunate few, even experience it. Isn't this interesting? Additional Reading: Learn all about the IAS

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Get Set Go IAS The Civil Services Exam

Now that you are clear about the duties of an IAS officer let's start knowing how you can become one. The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is part of the Civil Services which also comprises of other high profile services like the Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Indian Railways Traffic Service (IRTS), Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS), and many more. The entrance test to these esteemed services is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), headquartered at Shahjahan Road, New Delhi. The civil services examination is conducted by the UPSC once every year and the entire exam cycle is approximately of one year duration. Within this one year a civil services aspirant has to qualify three stages of the examination to emerge successful: Preliminary, Mains, and Interview. To appear for the Civil Services Preliminary (CSP) exam (nowadays called the CSAT, unofficially) you have to fill and send the CSP form to UPSC within the stipulated date. The notification for the CSP exam usually comes in the second fortnight of December and the examination is conducted about five months later in May. On qualifying the preliminary examination you need to appear for the Mains examination held usually in the last week of October in the same year and the duration of this exam is about 20-25 days. The results of the Mains exam are declared in March and the personality test or interviews begin in the same month itself and last for 35-40 days. The final result which is based on your score in the Mains and the Interview
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test (the Preliminary test is only of qualifying nature and the marks scored are not taken into consideration in the later stages) is declared one or two weeks before the next Preliminary exam in May.

Additional Reading: What is the IAS Exam?

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Get Set Go IAS No Need to Fear CSAT

As you know optionals are out from 2011 Prelims/CSAT and GS has been extended to paper 2 as well. But many IAS aspirants fear CSAT like death incarnate! Why is it so? Some of the reasons are: 1. IAS aspirants have usually paid less attention to General Studies paper of pre and relied heavily on optional paper to see them through 2. GS paper 2 has completely new topics like decision making, logical reasoning, and comprehension 3. Confusion about the safe score to qualify CSAT 4. Heavy focus on mental ability in CSAT paper 2 But are these fears well founded? No. If you follow the steps detailed in this e-Book to master the Prelims, CSAT will be fun to crack and not a nightmare as at present. I will show how paper 2 can be turned into a strength to score heavily instead of a being a bane. Additional Reading: The New CSAT Syllabus How will the new Prelims/CSAT syllabus impact you?

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Get Set Go IAS Common Myths about the IAS Exam

There are some myths associated with the Civil Services exam that need to be exposed, tackled, and demolished before proceeding further as these myths can become mental blocks for beginners and may even cause a loss in self-confidence. To clear the IAS you need to start preparing right from high school Good they didn’t tell you to start preparing from kinder garden! While the saying is true that “well begun is half done”, there is little truth in the saying that only early beginners can clear the IAS exam. And how early is another question. Even if you can start preparing right after your graduation or post-graduation that is early enough. And even if you can’t for some reasons, there are many success stories of those who managed to crack the civil services in spite of starting after crossing 28 Yrs. What matters is the will and commitment, rest all things will fall into place. Just try. Did you know Mona Pruthi (2006 IAS topper), Karthik Adapa (2008 IAS topper), and Shubhra Saxena (2009 topper) were all 30 yrs of age when they finally managed to crack the IAS? Only those who have been toppers throughout become IAS Pooh. XYZ obtained the golden score of 40 percent in his graduation and managed to appear for the civil services only because UPSC requires a simple graduate in any discipline. Guess what he is today? A 2004 batch IPS officer. And he isn’t the only one, there are many out there who have been quite average students in their school and college life yet they have scaled the IAS peak. You can too.

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Get Set Go IAS UPSC is biased against Literature or xyz subjects

Really? In reality all subjects are treated on an even keel by UPSC. Although it’s true that some subjects find more favour in Mains for some years before being replaced by some other optional, this is a cycle that is ongoing and all subjects are covered over a period of time. In fact, Literature Subjects like Pali, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, have become quite popular and have been fetching good marks recently. Mona Pruthi, 2006 topper took English Literature as one of her optionals so why can’t you? One should only select “scoring” subjects for Mains Frankly speaking what’s scoring and what’s not is quite relative to the person selecting an optional. People manage to score well with obscure subjects like Veterinary Science or Urdu Literature. What matters is your level of interest in a particular subject, some background in the subject, and your grasp of the optional. A simple test to know whether the subject is right for you or not is to ask yourself these questions: a) Do you often fall asleep while reading xyz subject’s books? b) Does it seem like too much hard work to study that subject? c) Do you consciously or unconsciously try to avoid studying that optional and instead do some other reading or work? d) In spite of reading the same thing multiple times are you still unable to comprehend it? If this is the pattern you observe then that optional may not be right for you even if it is generally considered “scoring”. Obviously the above indicators should occur frequently for you to leave the optional for some other. Once or twice or even occasionally is quite normal.

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Get Set Go IAS Coaching is a must for any subject

No it’s not a compulsion and many people I personally know have never taken any coaching and still managed to clear the civil services. Remember, coaching is only a tool to keep you on course but you yourself will have to sail through the waters. Yes, coaching can ease your hard work somewhat by providing study materials and simplifying concepts but in the end it’s what you make of the coaching you received that matters. Just because you enroll in the most popular coaching institute for a particular subject does not mean you have become an IAS. You will need to strive on your own for that. If I don’t clear in the first two attempts it will be too late Did you know most people clear the civil services exam in their third or fourth attempt? Most of the IAS toppers give their final attempt when they manage to come out trumps. Mona Pruthi, Karthik Adapa, Shubhra Saxena the list goes on. Civil services exam is like old wine. The number of times you attempt it the better you get. So don’t worry about attempts rather learn from your previous ones to do still better. Better means better preparation, better answer writing, better perspective and not just more hard work. You need to study 18 hours every day to clear the IAS Are you a machine? Can anyone realistically study that much every day with full concentration and still be able to comprehend what he or she has studied? I don’t think so. What matters is not the quantity but the quality of your preparation. Even if you somehow manage to study “18 hours” for two or three days your output will fall to three to four hours on subsequent days. So instead of such inconsistent ouput you should

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go for uniform study every day. Once your mind and body can take no more, stop. Refresh yourself and continue the battle the next day. I for one studied 10-12 hours daily and managed to clear the Prelims in 10 months’ time. Even you can.

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Is there an Ideal Time to Start with IAS Preparation? This is a common question and a good start for our IAS journey. When should you start your preparation? After high school, junior college, graduation, post-graduation or after gaining some work experience? Although there isn’t a single start time for all, the earlier you start the smoother your path will become when you give your first civil services attempt. In fact if you start preparing early you will be more confident to attempt the IAS exam after a year of serious preparation. Otherwise you might unnecessarily procrastinate for some years before finally taking the plunge. Obviously you don't have to select your optionals after high school. Not yet. Just start reading some general knowledge magazines like Frontline or Civil Services Chronicle or Pratiyogita Darpan and a good newspaper like The Hindu or Indian Express. If you are sure that you want to become a civil servant before beginning your graduation then you can opt for a subject that excites you and which you plan to take up for the IAS exam. If you can select both optionals right at the graduation stage it will be an added bonus but selecting even one optional will do. If you plan to pursue your masters before attempting the IAS exam then be sure you select a subject that you can opt for in the civil services. This way you will have only one subject to study from scratch for the IAS. But even if you graduated and/or did masters in some totally unrelated subject to the optionals you’ve selected or plan to take up in the IAS exam then fret not as you are in good company.

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Many IAS toppers did the same but still managed to master two completely new subjects in a short period. This is the beauty of the IAS exam. Even I selected Sociology and Public Administration (Pub Ad) while graduating in Electronics and Telecom.

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Assuming that you are completely new to IAS preparation, how do you start out, which magazines and books to read, for how many hours? These and others are the common questions asked by IAS freshers who are taken back by the complexity of this multi-layered but fascinating exam. The generally accepted civil services preparation calendar runs from June to May. That is, freshers and veterans start their preparation from the first week of June. But let's focus on the IAS freshers exclusively for the time being. If for example you’re planning to attempt the 2012 Prelims, I suggest you start preparation from January 2011 itself instead of waiting till June of 2011. This will enable you to cover the CSAT/Pre syllabus comprehensively as well as allow sufficient time to cover one mains optional before December end. Keep the following reference books and newspapers in hand while preparing for the IAS prelims:
 

Civil Services Syllabus covering the Pre and Mains syllabus entirely Subscribe to a good English newspaper like The Hindu or a good regional language newspaper The past 10 years Prelims section-wise question paper set from Arihant's or New Vishal

These three materials should become your best companions for the complete duration of your civils preparation.

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Get Set Go IAS Do You Need Coaching?

This is the most common question asked by IAS aspirants and quite important one too. Let me say this again. It depends. Depends on your knowledge of the subject, confidence, study material, and time available. Let’s take it one by one. Knowledge of the subject: If GS is completely new to you then you need some guidance to get started. But General Studies is quite vast and obviously you will know at least something, at least some knowledge of the current events. But something or the bare minimum is not enough to get going so you may opt for coaching if you feel you need to get on pace quickly. Availability of study materials: Sometimes it so happens that we don’t possess the required books and notes for Prelims preparation. For instance mental ability has been expanded in Paper 2 and many new topics like Quantitative Aptitude, Logical Reasoning, and Data Interpretation have been added. Now if you don’t have the required material for it like the Crack CSAT book by Disha or Cracking CSAT by Arihant then you won’t know how to tackle the paper 2 related questions. Or it could so happen that even books or notes on mental ability are insufficient as you have a non-science background. In that case some assistance to tackle the math-based questions may be required. Time: As they say time is the deciding factor in almost all aspects of IAS preparation or any examination for that matter. If you have only little time left before the Prelims, say 3 or 4 months, and you haven’t

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covered enough portion of the syllabus then you may need to enroll for a crash course to cover the scoring parts in quick time. Finally, let’s talk about confidence. This is a crucial factor in the IAS exam. So many people, in spite of possessing good knowledge of GS, keep postponing their first attempt year after year just because they lack confidence in their ability, preparation or both, while others genuinely feel less confident about the Prelims owing to lack of preparation. If you’re in the latter bracket you could consider coaching to boost your preparation but if you’re in the former then stop procrastinating and attempt the Prelims. It’s not that scary. Additional Reading: Which Coaching Class to Join?

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Get Set Go IAS Books to Refer for Prelims/CSAT

Obviously you will need books to read for Prelims. This is the most definitive list of CSAT/Prelims books you need to refer. Nothing more, nothing less.  Past 10 year’s Solved Papers and the IAS syllabus are a must. Refer to the chapter on preparing for Prelims using these two guide books to understand their relevance. Current Affairs:

 

Manorama Year Book, not just for current affairs but a very good source for general knowledge as well The Hindu newspaper and/or The Indian Express A good magazine like Civil Services Chronicle or Pratiyogita Darpan or Wizard in that order of preference

Indian Polity:
 

Our Constitution by Subhash Kashyap Bare constitution (containing just the Articles and Amendments) by P.M Bakshi

Indian History:
  

NCERT Books. Class VIII to X India's Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra Spectrum's Brief History of Modern India (useful if you are short of time)


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  

NCERT Books. Class XI and XII Oxford Student Atlas for Map based questions Certificate Course in Physical Geography by Goh Cheng Leong

Indian Economy:

Economic Survey that comes just before the annual budget. (Also very useful for Mains) Spectrum's Indian Economy or Vajiram Notes for fundamentals

General Science:

NCERT text books. Class IX and X

General Studies Manual:

A good manual for paper 1 of CSAT/Prelims. I recommend the highly popular GS Manual by Tata McGraw Hill (TMH). Another good choice is the CSAT Manual by Pearson covering both the papers.

Books for CSAT Paper 2 Fortunately IAS Prelims paper 2 requires far less books compared to Paper 1. Here I list all the popular books for CSAT Paper 2. Remember, you don’t need to refer all of them and different people will like different books so I have listed more than one book. Crack CSAT 2011 Crack CSAT by Disha is quite a useful book for IAS paper 2 as I have mentioned in this post. Not as popular as Unique Publication’s book for CSAT but equally effective, nonetheless.

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CSAT Paper 2 by Unique By far the most popular book for CSAT, Unique Publication has come out with a comprehensive book for Paper 2 covering all the topics in the 2nd paper. Something about Unique Publications. Although it’s not as popular as TMH but its books are trusted by many IAS aspirants for the comprehensive and correct approach to any subject. And CSAT Paper 2 is no exception to this. Cracking CSAT by Arihant Publications This is another good book for Paper 2 by Arihant Publications. Although it has been released quite late in the market I feel it is no less useful than the books listed above. The plus points of this guide for CSAT paper 2 are: It claims to be the only book to cover the CSAT Paper 2 completely  There are many sample questions for understanding and many practice questions  Difficult concepts are explained quite well to a beginner with nonScience background  Decision making, interpersonal skills, comprehension are also covered Although there are minor grammatical errors in some sections I feel, overall, Cracking CSAT by Arihant will add value to your CSAT preparation.

Apart from these books keep your eyes open to news happenings around you as UPSC asks not just the latest current affairs events but even those two to three years back. Recommended Reading: Detailed Review of All Books for CSAT
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GS Syllabus and Question Papers: Your Best Guide for Prelims Preparation

Image source: Wikipedia

Prelims preparation requires smart hard work as you must be aware by now. One of the first steps in your CSAT preparation is to develop a daily routine. Once you start your Prelims preparation, keep the past five year’s General studies question papers and GS syllabus with you whenever you are preparing for the Prelims. After selecting a topic to study from the GS Syllabus, go through the past five year’s questions from that topic before you read the topic. Once you do this, then read or more correctly, study that topic. Now you will encounter answers to the questions you just went through and pronto, you know that this part is important and requires extra attention. But wait, there’s more.

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Whenever you finish a section, again refer to the past year’s questions to see how many can you answer correctly. If you found some questions that weren’t covered in your first reading go through the material again or even refer additional sources so that all questions are covered. Let me give you an example. Suppose you’re studying the Fundamental Rights part of Indian Polity (BTW get Subhash Kashyap’s Our Constitution and P.M Bakshi’s book for all the Articles as I mentioned in my post on IAS Books) for GS Paper 1, first go through the past five year’s questions on Fundamental Rights from a good section-wise handbook like Disha or Arihant (they have the most authentic answers); then go through the Fundamental Rights part. After you’ve gone through the relevant articles, you should test yourself against the previous five year’s papers on Indian Polity and see how you performed. If you could answer all the questions correctly, you’ve covered Fundamental Rights part quite thoroughly. But if you couldn’t, no need to fret. Just see which questions you had some idea about but weren’t sure about the answer and which ones were completely new to you and had not encountered while reading the articles on Fundamental Rights. Now go back to your source and read again covering the points that you may have skipped earlier. If the material doesn’t cover it, refer additional books or notes so that you’re comfortable in answering all the past five year’s questions on Fundamental Rights.

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Get Set Go IAS Benefits of this Approach

Continuous Tracking: These two reference books, the GS Syllabus and Question Papers, can lessen your workload considerably in the long run and enables you to track your Prelims preparation very effectively. Suppose you were preparing Physical Geography from the Oxford Student Atlas (Again the best one for reasons mentioned in Books for CSAT), you can track how well you have covered the map-based questions just after you started going through the Atlas instead of leaving it till the end of February or March which might be just too late for course correction. Test Yourself: Suppose you don’t have time left to enroll for Prelims or CSAT test series, because you have been solving the previous year’s section-wise questions all year through you won’t feel uncertain about your preparation level. Instead you will feel confident about attempting the IAS Prelims even without the help of any test series. So you save some money for other important stuff related to the civil services, right Anil? Save Precious Time: Let’s consider a scenario. You’re covering Modern India from Bipin Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence and adopt a ‘read all strategy’. What is this strategy? Well, simply reading a book from the first page to last without bothering to find out the more important topics or chapters from the lesser ones. Also not testing yourself mid-way is included within this. Suppose you take 20 days to cover the book and then after some months you decide to solve some questions related to Modern History but you realize that many of the questions are completely new, the matter for which you never encountered while reading the History material. You panic. It not only
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spoils your strategy but dents your confidence as well. On the other hand, adopting the above approach admittedly requires more effort but is far more useful for your Prelims preparation in the long run.

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Getting started with Prelims Preparation: Routinize your day

Yes I hate routine as much as you do but sometimes a little routine and regimen can do wonders to your Prelims preparation. As you must be aware the Prelims is a 10-12 months affair and long-term affairs need some amount of loyalty as well. Right? Well then let’s learn how we can schedule our day for maximal benefit in some simple steps. Step 1: Determine the average time you study daily To do this simple observe the time you studied in a week and divide that by 7. If you devote 5 or 6 days a week to IAS prep then divide by 5 or 6 as the case may be. You should have an exact or approximate figure like 10 hours or 10-12 hours every day.

Step 2: Determine the number of subjects to study daily

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I know there are only two papers in the Pre but within each of them there are so many to cover like History, Geography, and Mental Ability etc. Now I am sure you can’t study all of them in one day even if you devote only a small amount of time to each. Some people try this but I don’t think it’s a wise idea to go for ‘study all’ approach. Rather you should take up two or three subjects at most on a daily basis, finish it completely or at least a major portion of it and then switch to different ones. This is essential as finishing a subject in full will give you confidence in your preparation, will enable you to tackle all the questions in a particular section completely, and help you to keep track of your progress more effectively. Remember, reading newspapers or watching news programmes is not included within this. Step 3: Divide time between the different subjects Till last year when you had study one optional subject, I used to devote about 70-85% time to the optional and rest to some section of GS. Obviously I read newspapers on a daily basis and didn’t count it within this time split. But now that both papers are GS based you might pick up one subject each from Paper 1 and 2 or go with both subjects from the same paper or one from P1 or P2 and two from P2 or P1 respectively. After you’ve done this, divide the total time that you determined in Step 1 between the subjects you will be studying daily. How to do this? While there is no one best method of doing this a simple way is to devote more time to that subject or section that you find a) more difficult b) carries more weightage in terms of number of questions asked c) has many topics to cover, that is, is pretty vast d) quite new as you’ve just started with it.
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The exact time to devote to each of the topics will vary from person to person. Also you can be little flexible in this. For instance, if you have been devoting 3 hours to study Modern Indian History every day and have covered a major part of it you might reduce the time devoted to it by 30 mins or 1 hour and allocate this to some other subject that you study alongside Modern History, maybe Data Interpretation. Step 4: Stick to your routine Now that you have a daily schedule ready, stick to it like Bees stick to Honey. In any long term work program scheduling is important but even more important is sticking to the commitment you made to yourself. If you committed to clearing the IAS, stick to it. And for this you committed to devote certain amount of hours every day and then you committed to study one, two, or three subjects on a daily basis till you covered it in entirety. Stick to it. As I mentioned in Step 3 above some flexibility is essential and the odd day off is OK but don’t make it a habit otherwise you will see yourself lying to yourself and the commitments you made. Benefits of developing a routine

Track your progress easily: Instead of doing everything in bits and pieces and struggling to up the loose ends learn to cover the major distance before taking up a new path. This way you can test yourself against past papers to know which are your strong and weak areas and rectify the weak ones. If you cover only a small part of every subject, you’ll have to wait till Jan or Feb to test yourself and if for some reasons you deviated off course then course correction might be too late. Avoid this by finishing off a

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subject as quickly as possible and effective scheduling is a good way to do this. Build up stamina to devote long hours of study: If you thought only running and other physical activities required stamina, think again. Mental work is also included within the ambit of stamina. In fact if you’re mentally not up to the task of devoting 8-12 hours daily to your preparation, then other things are of no use. When you devote a consistent time and effort to a particular subject then you not only gain mastery in it but also develop immunity to boredom resulting from studying a topic for long hours. Prepare yourself for Mains more effectively: In the mains as you have to cover each optional thoroughly you’ll need to devote long hours and even days on end to just one subject. This will require prior practice as you could easily lose focus and indulge in time wasting tactics if you are bored of a particular topic or subject. But by devoting long hours to a single subject during your Prelims preparation itself, you’re indirectly preparing for the Mains as well. And the benefit of this approach will be quite visible during the Mains. Cover the scoring sections early: The Prelims is such that some sections like Indian Polity are easy to score off. And the right way to crack Prelims easily is to cover most or some subjects entirely than covering something of everything. When you consistently devote X number of hours to a topic over a period of time, you secure Y number of marks from it beforehand and this is invaluable.

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I am also aware that some people like to divide time in terms of days and not hours. For instance, you might study History for two days and Geography for one day. Even this approach is fine as long as you’re sticking to your schedule to reap the benefits discussed above.

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Get Set Go IAS How to Read the Newspaper

Many IAS aspirants stumble in this enjoyable activity of reading the newspaper. The best way to read the newspaper is to enjoy it just like you would enjoy reading a novel or magazine. Reading a newspaper for civil services preparation should never be a chore; a mundane task that has to be done just because everyone is doing it. If you read the newspaper with this outlook let me tell you will forget more than you grasp and waste valuable time to an activity that shouldn’t take more than one hour every day. For reference purpose I will consider The Hindu, the most recommended newspaper for English medium aspirants. The Hindu or any newspaper for that matter can help you achieve four things:     Update your current affairs knowledge Build up your GK Prepare for map-based questions Prepare for Prelims and Mains simultaneously

For current affairs Keep track of all major national and international events by reading the front page, national pages, editorial page, international events page, and sports page. You can skip the local news section as this is irrelevant from the IAS exam viewpoint.

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To keep track of the current events maintain a daily notebook divided either month wise and/or section-wise. Regularly list the important events in one or two sentences in this book. For instance, following the Tsunami in Japan there was damage to the Fukushima nuclear reactor. So make a note of not just the Tsunami, earthquake magnitude but even the reactor and its location for Map-based questions. Similarly when it comes to the sports sections try to follow all the major national and international events, major achievements of Indians in various sports and not just cricket, our national past time. It’s important to remember that in sports questions UPSC asks not just won but won against whom as well. For example it’s not uncommon to find questions about the finalists or runner’s up in major Tennis events. Keep this in mind. A trend noticed in the past few years is that questions on events that occurred in the last 15-18 months are also being asked. Previously it was enough to focus on the last 6 months happenings but not any longer. Now you should also know the major happenings of past 18 months to score well in the current affairs questions. UPSC is one step ahead of coaching institutes; learn to be in step. For GK Take a look at this article from Hindu. It’s important not just from current events viewpoint but from GK perspective as well. For GK you should maintain a separate notebook or diary.

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This article is about the nuclear scare in Japan following a massive earthquake and resultant tsunami. It’s important not just from current affairs view point but GK as well. The red line indicates that Chernobyl nuclear disaster was the worst followed by Fukushima. The blue line indicates the current interest in Wikileaks whereas IndoUS nuclear deal is important both from current affairs as well as GK perspective.

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Now take a look at this sports report. The highlighted parts are important from current affairs as well as GK perspective. Now you know to build up your knowledge base newspapers are as important as Year Book’s and Encyclopedia’s. Tackle map-based questions Did you know that not all map-based questions are randomly asked? Some are related to places in news. For instance some question on Libya’s location or Japan’s island where Fukushima is located could be asked. Whenever you prepare geography from Oxford atlas make sure you prepare with this perspective in mind. Prepare for mains as well
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Just because you’re preparing for Prelims doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for mains at the same time. In fact doing precisely this will prove quite beneficial during mains. This is where editorials come handy. Editorials, especially those of The Hindu seem quite overwhelming to grasp at first. This is understandable as editorial articles are about events that have become popular now or in the past. So if you don’t know about such events or the debate surrounding them you will find editorials quite difficult to understand. Let me tell the simplest way to understand an editorial is to just read it without bothering about familiarity with the article theme. Once you’ve developed the knack of reading editorials you’ll start to follow and understand that is written in them.

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Can I Prepare for Prelims in Just 4 Months? Let’s see just 4 months remaining for Prelims…Yes you can! But as with all good things in life there are some conditions attached. Let’s see what these are: You’ve covered a major part of either Paper 1 or 2 As from 2011 Prelims both papers carry equal marks and we know that to clear the IAS Prelims, average score of both papers are considered you will need to score well in at least one of the two papers. Suppose you are well prepared to score at least 130 marks in Paper 1 then even 50-60 marks in Paper 2 can see you through. You have impressive general awareness, knowledge of current events, good English language and mental ability skills This much can also see you past the Prelims qualifying mark as general knowledge + current affairs questions can fetch between 50-60 marks and English language, passage + mental ability questions can fetch another 100-130 marks. Obviously if you get just 50 in Prelims paper 1 and 60 in Paper 2 from these sections then you still require another 4050 marks from other sections. You’ve appeared for MBA entrance tests and are comfortable with paper 2 syllabus One look at the new syllabus for Prelims and you’ll realize the similarity between Paper 2 syllabus and syllabus for Common Entrance Tests (CET) for MBA courses. If you’ve already prepared for mental ability, logical reasoning, decision analysis, English language skills for MBA then paper 2 should be your strength. I will suggest that with just four months remaining you should focus on current affairs, polity, maps, and
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general awareness in paper 1 as these take less time and can be prepared in 4 months’ time. You’ve cleared the IAS Prelims before This is again an important factor to know if you can prepare for the IAS Prelims in just 4 months’ time. Why I say this is that having cleared the Prelims earlier you know exactly how to prepare for Paper 1 in the shortest period. Also you are relatively more confident than someone giving his or her first attempt. You can then focus on the new areas in paper 2. If you think you fit into any one or more than one criteria listed above, then surely preparing for the Prelims in just 4 or 3 months’ time will not be an issue for you. Get going!

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Prelims Quick Revision Tips Here’s a quick revision checklist for Prelims that will be very useful to you. Current Affairs: The last 18 months current affairs. Do a quick scan of India Year Book’s latest events section at the end. New Vishal’s Current Affairs is recommended. It’s short and to the point. GK: Manorama Year Book’s GK section at the end, especially, Presidents, Speakers, PMs, etc. Also brush up the award winners. Geography: Concentrate on the maps. India, neighbouring countries. Focus on places that were in news recently. Brush up earthquake and volcano facts too. History: Focus on modern India. All Congress sessions and Presidents, RTCs, different movements etc. Science: Application based. More focus on common sense than mugging up conventional stuff. Have a keen eye and observe the appliances, happenings around. Do you know what’s a 5-star rating AC, how is swine flu caused, difference between DC and AC motor? Economy: Look up the tables in Economic Survey, particularly, Agriculture production, principal crops, exports, imports, chief trading partners, telecom density, GDP, agri growth of the last few years, electricity generation. Also brush up inflation basics. All important infrastructure projects in North East and India’s help in Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. The Hindu’s annual supplement that comes in January every year is useful for current affairs recap.

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How to score easy marks in IAS Prelims To secure some easy marks in the CSAT exam you need to first identify the scoring areas. This is even more important considering the fact that the optional paper is no longer around to fetch you easy marks.        Maps (10-15 questions) Polity (10-15 questions) Current events (15-20 questions) GK (15-30 questions) English comprehension (8-12 questions) Passage (5-10 questions) Statistical analysis (5-10 questions)

Simply by focusing on these sections you can secure around 80-90 marks. Cracking the prelims is so much easier then! For polity refer a good book with the bare articles and amendments. I recommend the crisp and to the point Constitution of India by P.M Bakshi.

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What score is enough to clear the Prelims? Now that the optional paper is done away with, the cut-off will fall drastically. A minimum score of 150-160, that is 40% marks, out of 400 should see you through. Of course you need to obtain this minimum score after subtracting the negative marks obtained. Aspirants with scores of 200+ will clear the Prelims quite comfortably. If you wanted to know whether individual marks of both papers are considered or the average, let me state it’s the average marks even though UPSC has never acknowledged this publicly. But this common knowledge among IAS veterans and coaching institutes nevertheless. Still you shouldn’t only rely on one paper to clear the prelims rather try to get majority of the marks from either Paper1 or 2 and use the other paper to supplement the first. Thus instead of getting 160 in Paper1 and just 20 in the second you would be much better off securing 100120 marks in Paper 1 or 2 and remaining 70-90 from the other paper.

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Get Set Go IAS How to Select the Right Optionals for IAS

Strictly speaking, selection of optionals is out of the purview of this eBook but since many IAS aspirants prepare for the Mains along with the Prelims, I thought I should include something valuable to help you to select the right optionals for Mains. But what does the Right Optional for IAS mean? I am sure it means differently to different people but what does it mean to you:
   

A scoring optional? The most popular optional? Easy to understand or which you find interesting? Subject with easy availability of study materials like books and notes? Optional for which one ‘best’ coaching is available?

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Subject with some previous base in graduation or postgraduation? The optional with the best results in the IAS exam?

I hope I have covered all the points that majority of the IAS aspirants consider before selecting the right optionals for Mains. Obviously, you might consider only one of the above points as the basis for selecting your Mains optional or consider multiple criteria. So let’s take them up one by one. A Scoring Optional Most IAS beginners choose an optional simply because it is considered ‘scoring’. Some of the optionals that are considered scoring are Public Administration and Geography. While Geography has returned marks with 400+ in IAS Mains, many candidates have been scoring 340+ and 350+ in Public Administration in the past few years. In fact the average marks scored by Mains candidates in Pub Ad in 2008 Mains was 266 which is quite high considering that it is the most preferred optional among IAS aspirants. But should score be the sole criteria for selecting the Mains optional or are there other related basis for selecting your mains optional? This gets us to the second point. A Popular Optional Optionals that come within this definition are Geography, Public Ad, Sociology, History, and Psychology. These four IAS optionals alone account for about 50 percent share of the Mains pie and the rest 22 optionals, taking Literature subjects as one, for the rest.

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This gives you some idea about the ‘popular optionals for IAS’. But why are these optionals so popular while the rest aren’t so popular? Here are some reasons:

Subjects like Pub Ad and Geog have definite syllabus and Pub Ad has quite limited syllabus especially for P2 so you can cover it within 5 months or so. You require limited coaching for Pub Ad as most of the syllabus involves self-study. The History optional for IAS is quite popular simply because there are so many History post graduates and even graduates with history as a subject. Also we all studied History as part of our school curriculum and most of us found it interesting and some, even scoring. Geography is a semi-scientific subjects and a favourite among Engineers and Doctors for its laws, principles, and map-based questions. No wonder so many IAS aspirants opt for it. Sociology is easy to understand and very interesting as the topics covered concern the very society we are a part of. Psychology has pulled, I feel, simply because it is a combination of all the above attributes and also due to the fact that it is probably the only optional where only one name prevails for coaching: Mukul Pathak of Vajiram.

With this we come to another related question, are all popular optionals scoring or to put it another way are the not-sopopular optionals for IAS not scoring as well?

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Let me put it bluntly. Popularity has actually got nothing to do with the scoring potential of an optional. If you want proof, read on. Shah Faesal topped the 2010 IAS exam with Urdu Litt. as one of the optionals, second being Pub Ad. Mona Pruthi, the 2006 IAS topper chose English Litt. and Sociology. Mutyala Raju, the 2007 topper took Electrical Engineering and Mathematics. Karthik Adapa aced the 2008 IAS exam with Zoology and Psychology. What’s common to all these IAS toppers? Except one, all opted for one non-popular optional. And let me also mention that if you read their interviews they chose the optionals based on their interest and background and not because they were scoring or popular. The fact that they have scored well in both the optionals (that’s why they topped) and not just the popular ones proves that all subjects are equally scoring. So choosing an optional based only on the scoring criteria is incorrect. So how about the coaching criteria? Before deciding to select an optional on the basis of the coaching available first determine whether you require coaching in the first place? You must’ve realized this can only be determined after you’ve selected an optional, not before it. So I feel selecting an optional simply on the basis of the coaching available is like saying ” I can never clear the Civil Services exam without coaching”. And once you become completely dependent on coaching then good luck to you as I have already written in my Mains 2010 GS analysis how unpredictable the IAS exam is becoming not just for you but the most well-known coaching classes as well.
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Of course, it does help if there is good coaching available for the IAS optionals you’ve already selected. Choosing an optional with some previous background Many people who’ve graduated or done Masters in some subject opt for it in the CSE. This is really helpful as you’re already familiar with the subject and will need to study just one subject from scratch. This is where graduation in humanities really helps as the most popular IAS optionals listed above are included within the “Arts” subjects. So if you’re pursuing graduation or masters in any of the Arts subjects and plan to take it up in the IAS mains, make sure you pursue it seriously and focus more on the syllabus common to your degree as well as the IAS Mains. This point again proves that previous base and interest are more important factors in selecting the right optional for IAS than merely popularity or scoring potential. People who have opted for the most obscure subjects like Literature, Veterinary Science, and Mathematics have scored heavily in the Mains simply because they were so much in love with their optionals. I had the good fortune of having a chat with the 2008 IAS topper Karthik Adapa when we had enrolled for mock interview at Vajiram. He was already in the IPS that time and I asked him about the reason for choosing Psychology and he said he simply loved Psychology, that’s why. Nothing about the score or popularity.

Some thumb rules for selecting the right optional for IAS

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Get Set Go IAS The subject should
    

Excite you Make you know more about it Should not put you to sleep Make you think out of the box Have books available easily

Don’t think about the score at this stage, just focus on selecting an optional with the above qualities and remember this will differ for different aspirants. Once you have mastered the syllabus and have adequate writing practice the marks will follow. Some common queries I have chosen Public Administration but I find it quite boring, especially Paper 1 Remember, Pub Ad usually seems boring to most people but many fall in love with it once they have read and re-read the important books. If you still find it going over your head ask yourself why did you choose Pub Ad? Is it simply because of its popularity? I love xyz optional but i cannot answer the questions correctly The fact that you find the optional interesting is half the battle won. As far answer writing is concerned you might consider joining some good test series to hone your writing skills. Once you have enough writing practice marks will not be an issue. I don’t have any previous base in any of the optionals or I don’t want to choose my graduation subjects, what should I do?

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Simply go through the above thumb rules again and try reading something from the basic books of the optional you plan to take up. If you feel you can cope up with the subject then go for it otherwise try another one. Which optional should I opt along with xyz? Unfortunately UPSC disallows us from selecting similar subjects. Some of the subject combinations that you cannot take up are:
    

Pub Ad and Pol Sc Geography and Geology Pub Ad and Management Two Literature subjects Sociology and Anthropology

If you’ve already selected one of the two optionals for IAS, good. I am sure there will be one more subject that will appeal to you. Go for that one. Don’t worry about the complimentary aspect. The optionals need not be complimentary for you to crack this exam. Suggest some optionals that will be useful from GS Mains point of view Again this is for reference purpose only. Actually every optional in some way or the other contributes towards the GS or Essay preparation.
    

Pol Sc. covers polity and India and the world part Pub Ad covers polity and governance part History covers the history part Mathematics covers Statistics. Ditto for Statistics optional Geography covers GS geography, climate change, environment and other related sections

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  

Law also covers polity Economics covers the Economy part of GS mains Socio covers questions on social issues as well as one Essay option

Some popular combinations of IAS optionals This is just for your knowledge. Nowhere am I suggesting you take up the same otherwise what I said above would be idiotic.
      

Sociology and Psychology History and geography Socio and Pub Ad Socio/History/Psycho/Geog and Pali Litt. Pub Ad and Psycho Pub Ad and Geography Pub Ad and History

To summarize, any optional that you find interesting, stimulating, fun to learn is right for you. Don’t worry about popularity or scoring potential. Both are just an indicator. Every optional is equally scoring provided you have mastered the syllabus and the answer writing aspect. I hope this section helped selecting the right optionals for IAS a much easier task.

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Get Set Go IAS If They Could You Can Too – IAS Success Stories

If you thought your conditions were adverse, that you didn’t have enough time, there were additional responsibilities, or lack of resources that are an impediment in your IAS success, think again. I present here different success stories of people just like you and me who despite all odds managed to fulfill their cherished dream of becoming an IAS. Get inspired! Hearing impaired, so what? People like Maniram Sharma are used to disillusionments in life. After all how could a deaf candidate whose parents were farm labourers in a remote village in Alwar, Rajasthan dream of becoming an IAS? But he did precisely this and fought for 15 long years to make his dream come true. Since appearing for the civil services examination in 1995 and again in 2005, 2006, and 2009, he faced many nature gifted and man-made hurdles. Since he was completely hearing impaired, he was told couldn’t be allotted the IAS but only the Posts and Telegraph Service. However, not to be outdone by adversity Maniram underwent a cochlear implant costing Rs 7.5 lacs and gained enough hearing to appear for the oral interview and scored the highest in the hearingimpaired category. His persistence finally bore fruit when he was allotted the IAS in 2009 after a 15-year battle for justice.

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Get Set Go IAS From waiter to IAS – Never say never again

Till 2000, K Jayaganesh didn’t know what the civil services were. After all, coming from a small village in Tamil Nadu where no one had studied past 10th standard, becoming an Engineer was in itself a big achievement. But the IAS bug did bite Jayaganesh slowly and surely. In spite of failing to make it past the interview stage in his previous 6 attempts, Jayaganesh was determined to give his best in his final 7th attempt. This despite the fact that he couldn’t afford any coaching nor even receive the right guidance from any mentor. He also didn’t let his previous disappointments in the Prelims stage itself affect his morale. To realize his cherished dream he worked odd jobs as a waiter and billing clerk in Chennai just to stay focused on his goal of making it to the list of successful candidates. And in the summer of 2008 the IAS light did shine upon him when he secured the 156th rank to make it to the IAS in the backward community category. To his success then. From rolling bidis to the IAS, what a journey! Coming from the under-developed Wanjari community in Gondia district of Maharashtra, Dhananjay Wanjari helped the only breadwinner of his family, his mother, roll bidis to supplement the meager family income. But he was ambitious. And determined. So determined that he stood first in his class and went on to become a lecturer in a Mumbai college. But his ambitions didn’t stop there.
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He pursued his IAS dream and managed to achieve it at the young age of 22 years to become the youngest IAS aspirant to clear the civil services exam in . Women power, they’re here to stay! There was a time when women civil servants were rare to find. Not any longer. According to The Hindu out of the total 4572 IAS officers all over India (as on January 1, 2009), 604 are women (Just 13.72 per cent). Of course this number is still on the lower side, however, this is no mean achievement given the fact that they have to generally strive harder, fight more battles, and need to prove their worth more than their male counterparts. In 2009 all the top three ranks in the civil services exam were secured by women. Shubhra Saxena was the IAS topper followed by Sharandeep Kaur Brar from Punjab and Kiran Kaushal came third. What’s more, Kiran was the topper among Hindi medium candidates. This proves language is not an obstacle in the IAS exam.

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Bonus Stuff! That you’ve read this far implies you’re really passionate about cracking the IAS. Just for this you deserve some bonus. And as they say, save the best for the last. Here you’ll find links to free notes, videos of interviews of past toppers, and other material that will add value to your Prelims preparation. All NCERT Books from Class I to XII Free Study Material Another Site for Free IAS Materials Video: Success in First Attempt Video: Inspirational Speech by Shah Faezal, 2010 Topper IPS Exam Eligibility IAS Exams Interview Questions and Tips Fun Quizzes for IAS Exam

Remember to follow IAS Kracker on Twitter and Facebook for regular tips on IAS preparation. See you at the top! If you found this eBook useful, share the word and remember to leave your feedback on the blog. 

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Get Set Go IAS Salary of an IAS Officer
    

Books for IAS IPS Exam Eligibility New IAS Syllabus from 2011 Prelims or CSAT Civil Services IAS 2011 Exam IAS Exams Interview Questions and Tips

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