Planning to start UPSC Preparation By Self Study? Unsure about how its going to pan out?
Below is a ‘nutshell’ overview of how a UPSC CSE preparation looks like. This is meant as primary information for a new student who has no access to coaching guidance and plans to prepare for civil services by self-study
Let’s skim though the nuts and bolts of what’s crucial.
UPSC Preparation by Self Study : PLANNING AND STRATEGY:
Nothing is possible without proper planning, a daily timetable and short/long term goals setting. So plan and timetable is the first pillar.
THE REQUIRED DEPTH OF UNDERSTANDING
It is important to ensure whatever we read, we understand it thoroughly. UPSC questions are very much applied, they need analysis and that can come only when we are crystal clear with our concepts of subject matter. Remember they are in process of selecting IAS officers who needs to be analytical and good decision maker. in UPSC Preparation by self Study, the biggest challenge would be to gauge the necessary depth for topic.
REVISION: THE KEY TO SUCCESS
The syllabus is like a vast ocean, it is important to keep consolidating and revising it time and again. So make notes and continuously revise every now and then. If one thing, i must tell you that ‘Revision’ is the golden mantra to crack exam for IAS selection.
REGULAR EVALUATION OF PROGRESS
Where you are now in your UPSC IAS preparation and where you have to be to get selected for prestigious IAS are both fixed points. The whole preparation process is the gradual development from this point A to point B. if you take up UPSC Preparation by self Study, At every point of time you should know where your preparation stand, that is possible through self-evaluation and evaluation through tests. Joining a quality Test-Series is advisable.
Nothing happens without it. People who show consistency are sure shot to be rewarded, provided they work smartly. UPSC Preparation by self Study is already challenging enough.
DISCUSSION AND WRITING PRACTICE
Discussions are very important, they will help in clearing your doubts & better understanding of subject matter.
Remember: Team work require less effort. Better the people you study with, better are your chances.
Similarly Answer writing has a very important role, knowledge without ability to express and articulate is futile. It is important to develop the ability to deliver in 8 minutes. pay special attention to writing excercises in your UPSC Preparation by self Study.
This is the the most important one. UPSC CSE Preparation is a time taking process, full of obstacles and failures. How to cope up with them, keeping yourself motivated is the biggest key to success.
I will discuss each of the above point in detail sometime later. Also I shall take up discussion on soft aspects like right time to start UPSC Preparation by self Study, should job be left, need of a backup, how do I decide why civil services etc. Clarity on all this is must before giving a full-fledged effort for preparation.
Now let us discuss how to prepare for civil services when no guidance is available.
HOW IT’S GOING TO PAN OUT
when you start UPSC Preparation by self Study, the initial two-four months are very confusing. People are generally not able to understand what to read, how to make notes, which newspaper to refer and other plethora of questions coming to their minds. What most people end up doing is blindly start following some senior who himself is misdirected. This is a very crucial stage and I feel most of the people lose their momentum here because of a faulty start and they find very difficult to realign later.
So UPSC Preparation by self Study start has to be steady and sober. I think it is important to give at least two months to yourself to get yourself in UPSC mode. Start reading newspapers and noting them down, basic NCERT’s of economics, Polity & other basic ones, some good book etc. This will not only help in giving you a foundation but also help in taking informed decisions related to preparation (estimation of time you will need, need of coaching, should job be continued, optional choice etc.).
This will act as a trial and error time where you can learn how to make notes, how to read books, learn from others etc. So this will make things smooth in your preparation be it self or through coaching.
When you start your UPSC Preparation by self Study, have a clear cut idea about your study plan. Which books/material to read, which subjects to cover up, The order in which topics needs to be dealt with, how to divide time between (GS, current affairs and optional), what will be the daily targets, short and long term goals.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE
Since every one of us have different grasping power so please do not go by others set timeline. Take your own time for civil services preparation. Ideally 15-18 months is at least required for self-study preparation mode provided that a student has a right start, is motivated and consistent hard worker, reads from the right topics from right place in structured manner.
A very common practice among newbies is to try to learn via questions. They keep whatsapp forwards of MCQ questions and remember the answers. That’s not going to be useful in any way, that’s not how it’s supposed to be. There is no shortcut. Learn the topics and then test yourself with questions. Otherwise you are just wasting your time and efforts. Your preparation will only get longer.
Remember: Don’t teach yourself with questions, test yourself with questions
Book-List For UPSC Preparation by Self-Study [Prelims]
- Polity – Laxmikanth(starter)
- Modern History – Modern Spectrum , few chapters from Old NCERT class 12th (before 1857),
- Medieval History – OLD NCERT, SC, New NCERT
- Ancient History– TN Board 11th Textbook, OLD NCERT CLASS 11th, NEW NCERT(To make overview context)
- Culture– Nitin Singhania
- Environment – Shankar Ias, Old Biology Class 12 Ecology unit, R. Rajgopalan
- Economics– Macroeconomics Class 12 NCERT. NCERT Microeconomics. NCERT Indian Economic Development and hell lot of current affairs. Diving into Ramesh Singh is not advised at primary stage, but Ok as the understanding of the current practical economy scene evolves.
- Geography – Class 11th &12th NCERT, Class 6 to 10th NCERT selectively(as per topic needs), Biomes chapter from G C Leong.
- Science– NCERT 6th to 10th (Mainly 9th&10th), Some selective chapters from 11th & 12th . Vajiram Yellow books of PCB are also fine
- Current Affairs- Hindu + PIB+ Yojna
- Other stuff – Budget+ Eco survey selectively + Indian Year Book Selectively(only if time permits)
- Test Series – Join any reputed coaching classes’ test series.
- Continuous evaluation of progress is crucial to whole plan. We at CCS also open some of our test for Everybody. Watch out for when “Open Test” notifications are floated. Here is one Test conducted on 01/04/18
NCERT: What if the basics are very weak?
Read NCERTS 6th to 10th of subjects you feel you are very weak. Otherwise just start preparing by topics. Be selective. Its a myth that before any IAS preparation one has to read all NCERTs from 6 to 10. It has to be on need basis. Don’t waste your time if you don’t evaluate yourself to need it.
Best of luck in your UPSC Preparation and enjoy the journey!
P.S- This is written keeping in mind a confused new student just starting out on UPSC Preparation Journey. The Path will become clearer as one gets ahead.
For Guided Coaching, you can Apply for CCS Programs