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How to get ready for UPSC civil services prelims examination 2017

Book Review

Book: Ancient and Medieval India

Author: Poonam Dalal Dahiya, IRS (Income Tax)

Publisher: by McGraw Hill Education India, First edition (25 January 2017)

ISBN: 978-93-5260-345-9

Paperback: 584 pages

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Poonam Dalal Dahiya

The UPSC has notified 980 vacancies for Civil Services 2017 (rated as one of the most toughest exam in the country).The Exam consists of three stages: Prelims (qualifying exam), Mains and Interview(Score of both Mains and Interview are taken for final selection).Prelims consists of two papers : General studies (GS) and CSAT(Aptitude) each of 200 marks though only marks obtained in General studies are accounted for the merit list while CSAT is a qualifying exam as one need to get only 33% passing marks. i.e. 66 passing marks in CSAT to clear prelims.

The qualified candidates then appear for Mains exam which consists of papers on English, Indian language paper (Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi etc. depending on one’s choice,300 Marks each although they are just qualifying exam as only 25% passing marks are required),Essay paper of 250 marks, GS (mains) Paper 1, 2, 3, 4 (250 Marks each),one Optional subject having two papers(250 Marks each) and out of this grand total of 1750,the merit list is prepared and the top ones are called for Interview(275 Marks) and the final recommended list of candidates is made out of the marks obtained in Mains and Interview(i.e. out of 2025 Marks).

The examination takes almost one year to complete and it is rather an interesting journey for the aspirants since each stage poses a different challenge and thus different strategy must be applied at each stage to attain success. This article attempts to provide some insight for the Civils Services Exam and specifically Prelims Preparation.

  1. Plan systematically and get yourself acquainted with the different aspects related to the Exam: Somebody has rightly said that “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” and this holds perfectly true for this examination too. It is crucial that one should do extensive planning for the exam right from the choice of optional to the careful scrutiny of UPSC Syllabus,previous year exam pattern, time available at one’s disposal, sources to be read etc. Draw up a monthly, weekly and daily plan based on well-defined targets and try to achieve the targets well on time.

  1. Cover your basics right and don’t juggle between books: The questions asked in UPSC Exam are mostly based on fundamentals and it is thus, very important to cover the basics properly. The choice of the sources to study such as standard books, e learning resources is very important as there is so much exhaustive reading material available in the market and without proper guidance one can get lost. The key is to go through last 10 years GS papers and interview of last year toppers and one can carefully delineate the common sources which are recommended by all, such as for Indian Polity almost all toppers recommend M. Laxmikanth. Once you have carefully chosen the source, then try to master it fully rather than getting anxious about covering the topic from n other sources.


  1. Prepare a time schedule and stick to it: Remember regularity and consistency matter more than anything. It is far better to invest 6-7 hours daily than studying one day for 18 hours and not studying for next day at all. Stick to your schedule according to the topics to be covered and also according to time available at your disposal and try to follow the schedule religiously and update it on daily basis. Every morning, set  a target about the syllabus you intend to cover in the day and then in the night, audit your output. This will keep you on track.

  1. Practice last year exam papers and as many mock tests as possible along with a detailed self-analysis: It is utmost important that one should practice as many mock tests and last year exam papers to attain clarity and comfort level for the Prelims but more than mere practicing the papers, one should focus a lot on analysis of each test. Try to view these tests as not mere evaluating tools but also learning tools and try to learn from the mistakes with focus on avoiding to repeat the same mistakes in the Prelims Exam. Also, try to take mock tests of institutes or websites whose questions you find on same toughness parameter with UPSC. There are certain mock tests available in the market which is nothing but encyclopedia of information. Don’t fall to their trap. Remember, you don’t have to be the storehouse of all the information so focus on mock tests which are relatively on same level as UPSC.

  1. Maintain a positive attitude all through the Preparation: Considering the longtime of one year for the entire exam, the preparation can be frustrating and depressing at times but one should not let negativity come in. Adopt a positive attitude and have perseverance along with patience to reap the fruits of hard work. Believe in yourself and your hard work, leaving the rest to Almighty.

Hope this article provides some insight and wish you all the very best.

Poonam Dalal Dahiya is IRS (Income Tax) and is the author of Ancient and Medieval India book published by McGraw Hill Education India for UPSC and State Civil Services Examinations. After serving as Assistant Commissioner of Police for around 6 years, she has now joined Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax).