How do you have to prepare in order to clear IAS in the first attempt? What difference in your attitude and outlook will make you stand apart? UPSC Pathshala presents an inside look.
We at UPSC Pathshala believe that clearing IAS isn’t about intelligence or knowledge, but about an attitude and an outlook. We will today discuss that attitude and how to prepare for IAS keeping that attitude in mind, in order to be able to clear the exam in the very first attempt.
How Can One Clear IAS in the First Attempt?
The UPSC Civil Services exam is divided into three stages by the Union Public Service Commission. Prelims is the first stage, which is objective in nature, Mains is the second stage, which is a written examination, and the interview is the third stage, which is a verbal evaluation process.
The prelims stage is distinct from the others. Every aspirant, regardless of his or her level of preparation, appears for this stage, and aspirants who fail any of the subsequent stages must begin their journey from here.
As a result of the immense competition that aspirants face from lakhs of aspirants, the preliminary exam necessitates a unique approach. This stage’s failure could jeopardise the entire preparation strategy.
Plan, Prepare and Think Like an Officer
What we train you for here at UPSC Pathshala is exactly that! To plan, prepare and think like an officer. You might ask why we need to think like an officer before we become one.
Well, for the simple reason that the UPSC tests for these same qualities in you. The fact is that the IAS exam is designed to test your knowledge and intelligence, but also things like your decision-making ability, forethought and planning and your ability to work hard and yet keep your head.
All these are qualities that are required of officers who are going to be a part of the administrative body of the government of India.
Now let’s look at the strategy to clear IAS in the first attempt.
Do You Have Enough Time?
The first thing you need to figure out is how much time you have at hand and whether that time is sufficient. Usually, aspirants take 1.5 to 2 years to prepare, though some people also manage to clear with a year’s preparation.
Plan – know the syllabus, know the resources, create a schedule
Once you have decided that you do have enough time, first understand that time is limited. You will have only 24 hours every day and not a second more. So, in order to maximise the effectiveness of your preparation, create and maintain a schedule and stick to it diligently.
Decide on the time brackets when your studies are most effective, and allot those times for your studies. You might also find that certain subjects work better at certain hours and schedule learning accordingly.
Of course, you need to know the syllabus and the available resources in order to create this schedule. Here’s a link from UPSC Pathshala on how to prepare from home for IAS.
Optimise Available Resources
You need to be able to optimise the resources that you have. Keep them at hand and know them well. Maximise their effectiveness, whether it is books, the internet or your coaching class or your mentor.
You Need More Than Hard Work – Passion and Curiosity
Only hard work will not take you through the IAS exams. You will need a hungry curiosity and a burning passion to learn and unravel the Indian democratic institution along with its unique economy, its constitution, its diverse population, and diverse geography. You need to explore and analyse your syllabus rather than just try to learn it by rote.
Learning by rote might work in other exams, but in a dynamic exam like IAS, this kind of preparation is bound to fall flat. You should actually enjoy exploring the syllabus and have fun doing it, only then will your preparation bear fruit.
Don’t forget to work smart. Make notes as you study. Your notes should be concise, for example, a single page note for a chapter. Revise these notes every day as you progress through your preparation.
Be Inclusive and Adaptable
As you prepare, adapt and constantly practice inclusion. Include what you didn’t know and perspectives you hadn’t thought of. You will notice your thoughts changing, the logic with which you think will become more lateral and balanced than linear and extreme.
Make Good Decisions
Every day is a decision to clear the IAS. Remember that every day and every hour. Stick to those decisions that will take you closer to success.
Be a Leader
Be a leader to yourself and others during your preparation. Lead to stay on course and lead in order to take responsibility. Don’t lose your sensitivity towards the world, don’t shut yourself in.
Be Responsible for Your Thoughts, Words and Actions
Train your mind to be responsible for your thoughts, words, and actions. It is very easy to go astray on this aspect especially with the access to a larger audience, who are mostly strangers, through social media and the internet. Understand the responsibility and repercussions of your thoughts, words, and actions.
Leave Arrogance Behind
In the quest for success don’t become arrogant. Don’t become overconfident with yourself or your preparation. Remain humble, as an officer should.
Habits to Crack UPSC in First Attempt
Let’s look at the definition of Divide and Conquer for a moment: It essentially means that you divide the population (in this case, the subjects) into manageable chunks, making it impossible for them to band together (divided) and fight the sovereign authority (conquering them).
Let’s look at how to pass the IAS in the first attempt:
Papers on History, Economics, Politics, and Geography Optional subject (requires a significant amount of time!)
CSAT (requires a small amount of your time, but a lot of your intelligence!) Aptitude Test.
Make a Schedule and Stick To It
Make a schedule for yourself, and make sure it’s a realistic schedule. Make a schedule that allows you to devote no more than 8 -10 hours of your day to your IAS preparations. Once you’ve decided on how much time you’ll devote to it each day and what topics you’ll cover, make sure you stick to it.
Participate in Enlightening Debates
Maintain a habit of discussing all significant developments from the perspective of the UPSC Exam. This advice is given by all former IAS toppers who passed the exam on their first attempt. Good discussions will give you an advantage over your competitors not only in the Prelims and Mains but also in interviews.
Solve Mock Papers on a Regular Basis
Make sure you solve a sufficient number of mock papers for both the Prelims and Mains before taking the UPSC exam for the first time. Regular assessments will assist you in keeping track of your progress. You learn about your flaws and can work to overcome them. This will help you stay motivated.
Improve Your Ability to Write Answers
Studying the syllabus is not the most important thing to do in an exam like the civil service mains; how you write the exam is what matters the most. What separates one top performer from another is how well you write the answers in three hours, regardless of how much you study beforehand.
As a result, practising essay/answer writing on a regular basis is critical. Before the UPSC evaluates you, evaluate yourself and write proper analytical responses.
The Rule of Two Revisions
Make sure you have enough time on your schedule for at least two revisions when planning your studies. Both general studies and the CSAT syllabus should be reviewed twice in the week leading up to the exam. You will not pass this exam if you do not revise.
Never Ever Skip Newspapers
The Newspaper Readings’ act as an integral whole in your entire preparation process if there is a bible that can guide you to success. Many of the examination questions are taken directly from the newspapers.
As a result, it is prudent for you to understand ‘How to Read a Newspaper,’ as well as ‘What to Read and What Not to Read.’
Begin Framing Your Own Questions
Make it a habit to ask yourself questions and anticipate the types of questions that may be asked during exams. Maintain a separate notebook for your Current Affairs section, and keep it up to date with recent events in the fields of economics, art, politics, and social sector initiatives.
This notebook will serve as a reference for revising current events, which is now the most crucial aspect of your preparation.
Plan and Carry Out Your Strategy
Planning is always the first step toward success, followed by execution. It’s possible that you won’t stick to the plan you had in mind. However, it is necessary to develop the habit of periodically reviewing the plan and, if necessary, making mid-course corrections. You won’t be able to achieve your goal unless you have a solid plan in place.
Maintain a Healthy Diet and Sleep Schedule
Maintaining good health throughout the course is a must if you want to do well on these exams. Studying late at night can disrupt one’s circadian rhythm. However, late-night studying is unavoidable.
As a result, maintaining a healthy, consistent diet should be one of a CSE aspirant’s top priorities. If this is your first time, don’t let your nerves get the best of you.
Tips at a Glance
# Solve previous year’s question papers and take practice tests to see where your weaknesses and strengths lie.
# Examine the prelims papers from the previous ten years to determine the pattern and types of questions.
# An important part of your preparation should include reading newspapers and magazines.
# For each subject, study different NCERTs.
# Carefully examine the Syllabus. Every time you read it, you will come across new topics and information.
# Don’t overlook CSAT. To improve your problem-solving skills and speed, try a variety of reasoning and maths questions.
# Take detailed notes with pointers on each topic to support in revision.
# Take a variety of practice tests to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.
The UPSC CSE prelims examination is a crucial component of your UPSC CSE dream. You can easily pass your prelims paper if you prepare properly and use the right strategy.
Instead of studying everything, try to study intelligently. You have the option of enrolling in a coaching institute or taking online courses.
UPSC Pathshala offers a variety of courses to assist you in your preparation. We will teach you with the help of expert instructors and teachers. For your preparation, you can also find various question papers and mock tests.
Keep in mind that you are capable of completing this task. The UPSC examination is not far away. Best wishes!