One year before the prelims is a decent preparation time for UPSC exams.
However, you need to understand that it is the quality of the preparation rather than the length of it that is important. Finally it will depend on the sincerity of your preparation, the guidance you get and the number of hours of focused study that you can put in each day.
Take care of the following to make your preparation effective and efficient.
Plan with enough time in hand: Make sure you have a plan in place to do all: complete the syllabus, revise the topics, and take tests and mocks. Leaving any one of these half done or undone means you are unprepared to face UPSC. So, right from day one create a study plan to reach your objective and a daily timetable to know when during the day you will action on which part of your study plan.
Know the Syllabus: Make sure you have the syllabus memorized so that you do not have to open any resource to check whether something is part of your syllabus or not. Keep the syllabus printed and displayed somewhere that you can see it frequently till such time that you know it inside out. This is to ensure that irrespective of what topic you come across in daily events or current affairs, you know whether it relates to your syllabus and how much time you need to spend on it. You will also be able to connect the dynamic events with the static syllabus if you know the syllabus well.
Create a Schedule: In order to make the most of your time, make a realistic schedule and follow through on it. Make a study plan and a timetable. It is extremely important that you keep yourself in a schedule and on a well planned path, in order to succeed. The timetable should be custom designed keeping your study habits and patterns in mind. Keep in mind your energy levels and your approach to different subjects when you draw up the timetable to make it most effective.
Study Smart: Always study smartly. There are a few aspects to it.
- Have a well researched list of limited resources. Don’t get lost in buying too many books. Select one or two books that you find easy to follow from the recommended ones and stick to them. Get your concepts right by going through them a few times rather than trying to remember everything from many books.
- Make smart notes. Your notes should be so concise that a one page note should be able to remind you of one chapter of a book. Also keep making your notes more and more concise as you revise them each time. This will be your revision and will greatly improve recall while making the final revision really easy.
- Revise often and thoroughly. You must revise your subjects as frequently as possible using your notes and improve your recall. Remember, revising is what will make you recall. So revising is more important than going deep into a subject.
- Practise writing answers and solve at least 200 mock tests. Make your answers clear, logical and structured. Make sure your answers reflect a clear and analytical thought process.
- Connect and correlate current affairs with your static content. As mentioned earlier, this is the crux of writing good answers. Make sure you can connect the every day events with your static syllabus in your answers. This will show your connection with the real world above and beyond just bookish knowledge.
Take help of a Mentor: Whether it is a friend or a teacher, assign yourself a mentor and take their help to keep yourself on track. Whether you have a relative or a friend or a teacher in this role is immaterial, but a mentor is indispensable in the cut throat competition that UPSC is, if you want to succeed.
Wish you all the best!