In the era if internet and instant access to knowledge, the abundance of study materials rather than the scarcity is one of the challenges faced by the civil services aspirants. Reading a wrong material could cost you dearly by giving you incorrect information and wasting your time.
MATERIALS AND RESOURCES FOR PREPARATION
Given the general substance of the syllabus, there could be hundreds, of books that could be potentially claimed as preparatory material. This could possibly lead to a situation of too many books and too little time.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT MATERIALS
- Get the Basics Right : It is very important that you learn the basics of a subject before you diver into that subject. That it why it is always recommended that one should start with the relevant NCERT books of Class 6 to 12 before reading other standard reference books.
- Limit the Sources : Study materials should be limited but revised multiple times.
- Standard Text Books: Coaching institutes materials can be used as a supplement rather than a replacement for standard books. It is very important that source of information is authentic.
- Bulky books not a must: General Studies papers require only a general level of understanding. Barring the optional papers ,all others require you to have only a general level of understanding about the subjects. Also read books selectively.
LIST OF A FEW STANDARD REFERENCE BOOKS
INDIAN POLITY - Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations by M. Laxmikanth
ART AND CULTURE - Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
GEOGRAPHY - Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng
ECONOMY - Indian Economy by Sanjeev Verma, Indian Economy Key
Concepts by Shankar Ganesh Shankar Ganesh
MODERN INDIA - A Brief History Of Modern India Spectrum
SETTING THE TIMETABLE FOR PREPARATION
It is very important to have a study timetable when you have a lot of things to do in a limited period of time. The sheer quantity of learning you have to do in order to cover the UPSC syllabus mandates you to be disciplined and consistent in preparation.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER
- Make a plan that suits you: What worked for one aspirant might not necessarily work for you. Don’t blindly ape the toppers timetable
- Set realistic targets: Don’t be overambitious and set unattainable goals. If you set very high goals, it will be unlikely that you'll be able to achieve them. As a result you might end up feeling diappinted ans desperate. (desp)
- Set long term strategy: It is important to have a long-term strategy for the before you start planning a daily routine. Dividing long-term strategy into doable monthly, weekly and finally daily targets will aid in keeping track of progress.
- Give study Breaks : Periodically schedule breaks for short amounts of time in between your studying. Also, try to allocate yourself a set time each day for light physical exercise/ meditation.
- Break the monotony : You can break the monotony of studies by studying multiple subjects in a day, taking a break from long session of reading by writing answers/taking tests.
- Stick to the plan: Sticking to a study schedule is as important as creating it. Even if you miss the daily target make sure you hit the weekly targets. It is very important that you get back on track if you are loosing focus.
- Start your preparation in June of the previous year if you wishes to appear for the Prelim exam the next year.
- We can divide syllabus between Static and Dynamic. Static part includes subjects like History, Polity, Geography, Economic concepts etc
- In the first four-five months of preparation try to complete the static portions. The static parts will make give you a strong base. It will then be relatively easy to understand the dynamic portions of the syllabus.
- Allocate 2-3 hours for newspaper everyday.As time progresses, you should reduce your time for Newspaper.
- From mid August to January , You can prepare for the optional subject by attending classes and making notes alongside general studies preparation. The notes will make revision of optional subject easy after prelims.
- Three to four months before preliminary exam should be exclusively dedicated for preliminary stage preparation. Revise thoroughly the general studies subjects and also practice questions for CSAT
- The time gap of 3 to 4 months between the preliminary and main exam can be used to study those exclusive mains topics that have been left out and to revise the optional and general studies subjects.
- Allocate time for mock tests , both prelims and mains in the schedule.
READING NEWSPAPER AND INTERNET SURFING
Newspapers offers vital study material for current affairs, which is a decisive component of civil services exam. In today’s, digital world internet surfing has become indispensable for civil services exam preparation like newspaper reading. Internet offers an easy and instant reach to the vast amount of information in just a few seconds.
HOW TO READ NEWSPAPAPER - FACTORS TO CONSIDER
Reading newspapers is an elementary part of UPSC civil services preparation. But it is very important that you know the do’s an don’ts of newspaper reading to get maximum benefits. The Hindu is the most recommended newspaper for the aspirants.
- Know the Syllabus: Be thorough with the UPSC syllabus so that when you read the newspaper, you are able to discern what is related to the syllabus and what is not.
- Selective Reading: You can skip reading regional news, state news, political news, and sports news. These news are not important from the examination point of view.
- Editorial is a must: The most important portion of the newspaper is the editorial page. Reading editorials gives you perspectives and analyses of current issues. If you are short on time on a particular day, you may skip other sections of the newspaper but certainly not this.
- Categorize: Try to classify what you read into categories like geography, polity, economics, environment, ecology, science, and technology, etc. This will help you make notes and also ease your preparation.
- Make notes: Make notes as and when you read the newspaper. Your notes should be brief and crisp. Write it in your own words and keep it simple. When you read Editorials/Op-eds you must note down the pros and cons, positive and the negative sides to an issue. Understand the issue from multiple perspectives.
- Don’t overdo: You only have to understand the basic problem, the key figures and people involved, the policy/law related to it, and the implications of the same for the country and society. You don’t have to delve deep into each of the articles.
HOW TO SURF INTERNET- FACTORS TO CONSIDER
The internet helps on staying updated with whatever is happening around and is asource of vast information.However, the usability of the internet is one thing that aspirants should use for making useful value addition to their preparation.
- Quit Wasting Time: Don’t mindlessly browse the internet. The Internet can be distracting. Avoid straying on the net. The temptation to surf could cause you to dig deeper and deeper into the topic and you could go completely off-topic while collecting info.
- Streamline the internet search: The sheer volume of data on the internet is so large that most of it would be irrelevant for you. The syllabus and past papers help you to streamline the search.
- Check the Authenticity of Information: All the information in the internet is not authentic. Make sure that you follow authentic websites. Official websites of the Press Information bureau, central government ministries, United Nations, Niti Aayog’s, etc provide legitimate information.
- Make it engaging: Reading a physical book allows you to highlight important sentences, jot down points along the margin etc. To make e-reading more engaging you can use digital note-making tools like Evernote, One note, etc. This allows you to copy-paste the information from the internet and edits it later.