Some students ask us if they can prepare for Prelims in just 3 or 4 months time. Well, you can prepare for the Prelims in 3 or 4 months, if you have prior experience or gone through the Prelims before and covered the entire syllabus once. But, if you are a fresher in this entire civil services examination process, then you should start preparing for the Prelims ideally before 10 to 12 months in advance. In that, you should devote first 3 to 4 months in self study and after that you may join a coaching institute for Prelims cum Mains preparation. At “Career Plus”, we start with Mains cum Prelims preparation of GS along with Optional subject preparation and cover entire syllabus in seven to eight months. After Prelims exam, we focus only on revision part and practice sessions. We also provide special tips for General Hindi/Indian languages and General English papers including Essay.
Before joining a coaching institute, first step is to go through the entire Prelims Syllabus of General Studies Paper - 1 & Paper 2 and syllabus of Mains G.S., just to get the overview of whole Prelims syllabus. So, assess the syllabus and have a syllabus book in hand to readily refer it. You cannot login to your computer every time while preparing; that is a distraction in itself. So, handy books will always help you.
Next step is to know your comfort level with the exam. If you are a beginner to the entire IAS exam, then you might be wondering- Am I capable of clearing this exam? Of course, you are very much capable even if you don’t have any basic knowledge. But, having some basic knowledge will help you.
Another point in the planning process is to get the right books, magazines and newspapers for your Prelims preparation. As far as the newspaper is concerned, I always suggest any reputed English/Hindi national newspaper. And, for magazines, read one good current affairs magazine like ‘Civil Services Chronicle’; just one is enough. But, along with the current affairs magazine, also read any political magazine too, it will help in answering questions in Mains. You can skip the political and ideological part of it and concentrate on the Environment, Science & Technology part.
UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern
The UPSC Prelims comprises of two objective type papers (General Studies I and General Studies II or CSAT) for a total of 400 marks. Both papers are held on the same day in two sessions via offline mode (pen-paper).
The UPSC Prelims date for Admit Card is announced on the official website of UPSC 2-3 weeks before the date of the exam.
Implementation: It is the second part of Prelims preparation. Now you have got the syllabus, right books, subscribed to the newspaper and magazines. So, once you start preparing for the Prelims, how should you move further in the preparation? You should not try to cover entire syllabus at once or all the topics - like, trying to read History, Geography, Polity, General Mental Ability - everything at once. You know, this is not a right approach.
The right approach is to pick one topic in Paper - 1 and one topic from Paper - 2 and you can divide it accordingly or may study Paper - 1 in the morning and Paper - 2 by afternoon or in the evening. But, don’t go for more than 2 topics. Let’s say you pick Modern India History from Paper - 1 & General Mental Ability from Paper - 2 and prepare this simultaneously. Apart from these, you should develop a habit of reading newspapers for at least one hour a day.
- Focus on particular topics like:
- News articles of National interest
- Sports news
- Business news
- Science & Technology, etc.
Whenever you start with a topic, you should complete it before starting a new one. This will help you in the third step of preparation.
Test Yourself: Many people actually leave the testing part, which is basically like taking MOCK Test, attempting the previous year’s questions. If you start this later, you will have less time to rectify your weaknesses(if any).When you prepare for a new topic, after completing it refer the past ten years’ question papers on that topic.At “Career Plus” we always use this strategy. Joining a coaching will help you in this. And, if you find that you have left certain topics and have not covered very well, again you can go through that, so you can attempt Course Correction right at that time itself. This is a better approach instead of leaving it. Clearing the exam is very easy just by doing these basics in the right way. Obviously hard work is involved but that smart work is also important to crack this exam.