How to cover GS in one year?

Here I assume you are starting your preparation in June/July and prelims will be in May last week. Based on this assumptions I divided preparation in five parts.

  1. Base building stage (5 months)
  2. Revision Stage 1  (2 Months)
  3. Revision Stage 2  (2 Months)
  4. Prelims Stage (3 Months)
  5. Mains Stage (100 days)

Now lets discuss detail strategy.

Base Building Stage

In this stage you will read all sources of GS cover to cover. Don’t worry you may not understand many things. In fact you may not remember many facts. It is quite natural. Just keep reading. In this stage you should cover Optional and GS1, GS2 and GS3 once. This stage will take around 5 months (From June to October end).

  1. Ancient and Medieval India – Tamilnadu history book of 11th Standard
  2. Art and Culture – Nitin Singhania.
  3. Spectrum for Spectrum.
  4. Geography – 11 th 12 th NCERT and prelims oriented PMF IAS notes
  5. Map – Either Orient Black Swan or Oxford
  6. Polity – Laxmikant
  7. Economics – Mrunal Patel notes and lectures
  8. Environment – Shankar IAS
  9. Science Tech – Non science students should read NCERT other can go with PT 365
  10. Current Affairs – The Hindu daily and PT 365

Sequence of covering syllabus

Sequence of reading has some significance. It will make preparation easy for you.  In the bracket I am mentioning approximate days required to cover that source.

  1. Start with Laxmikant.  While covering polity you can spend 2 hours daily on Mrunal sir’s lecture on economy. Both subjects are important to understand news paper. (30 days)
  2. Now start with Mrunal sir’s booklet on economy. Side by side watch Pratik Nayak videos on Modern History. (20 days)
  3. Then start reading Spectrum. While covering modern history. Watch videos on geography by Rajtanil Mam. (20 Days)
  4. After Geography videos read 11th 12 th Geography NCERT. (15 Days)
  5. Now you should read to environment Shankar IAS. Please don’t read environment before geography. It will be counter productive. (15 days)
  6. Then read Tamilnadu history book for ancient medieval history. (5 days)
  7. If you are weak in science please selectively read 6-10 th NCERT (5 days)
  8. Then go to  Before reading Nitin Singhania please read Tamilnadu history book. (10 days).
  9. Governance section (10 days)
  10. Then read Challenges to Internal Security of India (5 days)
  11. Then read Disaster Section (5 days)
  12. Sociology NCERT that too if needed. I never read those. (5 days)
  13. And last to go is world history and post independence India (5 days)

While preparing this schedule I kept in mind that you are giving 50% time to optional and reading current affairs daily. In this schedule there is sufficient buffer zone. If you are able to cover something early don’t relax start with next source.

Note : This schedule might change from person to person. It is just template to cover syllabus in 5 months.

How to divide time between Optional, Static GS and current affairs

It should be in 50:35:15 ratio. That is if you are studying 10 hours then 5 hours to optional. 3.5 hours to GS and 1.5 hours to current affairs.

Should I start answer writing?

Answer writing requires strong content base. Answer writing at this might demotivate you. Answer writing is hype created by coaching mafias.

Should I start essay writing ?

Essay writing requires through knowledge of GS. Thus this is not right time to prepare it.

Should I read ethics?

Similar to essay writing ethics requires knowledge of GS. In fact some part of ethics will be covered by GS2. It should be noted that GS4 syllabus is very less and it can be covered between prelims and mains as well.

How much time I should give to current affairs?

Current affairs is also hype created by coaching mafias. They earn heavy money from it. It is seen that aspirants usually spends 50% time on current affairs. If you check past year UPSC papers current affairs asked is very basic and that too linked with static part.  Also without understanding of static part it is hard to understand current affairs. Thus spend more time on static part than current affairs.

How to prepare current affairs ?

  1. Read The Hindu daily
  2. In the beginning due to lack of static knowledge you might not understand editorials. Don’t worry. Watch editorial analysis of Only IAS.
  3. Please daily watch big picture show of RSTV (Except political topics)
  4. Give last Sunday of month to vision magazine of previous month. It will be revision for you.

Should I make notes in this stage?

In this stage just focus on understanding topics. No need to make notes.

Should I read all subjects daily?

It will not be productive exercise. Rather take one or two subject at a time and cover it.

Should I use telegram groups?

They are most unproductive and time consuming. Use telegram only to get access of material.

Should I join discussion groups?

They are not helpful in this stage. Discussions are required either at interview stage or to discuss essays & answer writing review. In that stage too it should be limited to 3-4 people.

Should I join mains/prelims test series which helps to cover syllabus?

It is both time wasting and money wasting. It is technique of coaching mafia to earn money. Without basic knowledge any test series will be frustrating experience.

Should I join coaching?

I joined Shubra Ranjan IAS for GS and left within 2 months. Cost benefit ratio is high for coaching. Coaching is advisable when you are in second year of graduation.

Revision Stage 1

In this stage you should read whole syllabus again. As you have understanding it will take much less time.

This stage has important component that is mains oriented notes making. Notes should be made up of following subjects. Sample of notes is given here.

  1. Society
  2. Governance
  3. Disaster management
  4. Internal security

Another task you have to do is check ethics case studies of past 5 years. Solve them by watching videos of Swapnil Wankhede.

Revision Stage 2

This is your third reading. It will take much lesser time.

Now it is time for answer writing. But hold on should I join test series? Answer is no. Start with past year papers of last 2-3 years. Solve them to get idea of key words and structuring answer.

In this stage you should make prelims + Mains oriented notes of standard books (I will suggest to makes notes of even Laxmikant) so that it helps in next preparation. Sample is given here

Prelims Stage

This stage will start from 1st March and will continue till prelims.

In the UPSC preparation I feel that prelims requires most hardwork. It is most uncertain stage. Sometime even selected candidates fail to clear it. Here I will explain what one should do in three months so that chances to clear prelims increases. I assume that prelims is in May last week.

Now keep aside all sources and focus on following sources only

  1. Ancient and Medieval India – Tamilnadu history book of 11th Standard
  2. Art and Culture – Nitin Singhania.
  3. Spectrum for Spectrum.
  4. Geography – 11 th 12 th NCERT and prelims oriented PMF IAS notes
  5. Map – Either Orient Black Swan or Oxford
  6. Polity – Laxmikant
  7. Economics – Mrunal Patel notes and lectures
  8. Environment – Shankar IAS
  9. Science Tech – Non science students should read NCERT other can go with PT 365
  10. Current Affairs – The Hindu daily and PT 365

March Month

Read above sources like you are reading it for first time. As you have read them earlier it will take only one month to cover.

Along with that you will have to start test series. In March you should solve sectional tests. Given each sectional test daily is advisable.

Which test series to join?

I feel that Vision IAS test series is good. Their sectional tests are quite good.

Should I make notes of tests solved?

No need to make notes. Most of the content asked is available in standard book. Only those facts which are completely new to you should be noted separately.

Should I revise tests?

Rather than revising tests revise standard sources. Usually UPSC won’t ask questions from mock. Might be they have mechanism to find out questions asked in mocks.

How to approach test series?

Tip 1 : Before start reading book give few test.

For example before reading Laxmikant in March, give one or two tests on polity.

Why I am saying this? Because you have already read books 2/3 times. If test is given after reading book you might score very high marks. It might be motivating but it might not be useful because

  1. It does not prepare you for uncertainty. (Required most in prelims)
  2. It does not show your actual performance.
  3. It does not show gaps in your preparation.

After giving test you will realize portion where you are weak. So in your first reading (Prelims oriented) you should focus more on weak areas.

Tip 2 : Solve test in 1 – 1:30 hrs

Why I am saying this?

  1. Sentences given in test series are mostly copy pasted from standard books. Your mind can easily read and identify them. However in final exam each sentence is new for us. It takes time to read UPSC paper. I used to give mock test in one hour still I faced time constrained in final exam.
  2. It will prepare you for pressure situation.

Tip 3 : Give test when your brain is fully drain

Day before prelims no one actually gets sleep. Thus giving mock tests in fully drain situation prepares you for similar scenario.

Tip 4 : Learn about elimination techniques

I have explained them here.

Tip 5 : Solve few tests on OMR

It will help you keep accuracy while marking OMR

Tip 6 : Solve paper in three rounds

In first round mark questions where you know exact answer

In second round mark questions where you eliminated 2 options

In third round mark questions where you eliminated 1 option

Tip 7 : Learn efficient technique to mark OMR

There are different techniques to mark OMR.

  1. Few people mark on question by question basis. It is quite time consuming.
  2. Few people marks all answers at the end. It is quite risky strategy.
  3. Few marks on page wise basis. That is marking all answers on pages at once. It is quite good strategy. But it is seen that there can be one question which can be solved by hint given on next page. In that case you won’t get advantage.

Which method I used?

I used mixed strategy. I marked page wise basis only after solving first round. I marked 50-50 questions and sure questions by page wise basis. And at then end in third round I marked question by question basis.

Which method I should use?

You should try all methods in mocks. It will give you idea about optimal method for you.

Tip 8 : Find your optimal attempt.

But how to find it? Here trial and error method will work.

  1. In few mocks attempt 100 questions.
  2. In few mocks attempt only sure questions.
  3. In few mocks attempt sure + 50-50 questions
  4. And at the end use three round strategy.

In each mock keep track of number of questions attempted and accuracy. Depending on it calculate your own optimal attempt.

Especially in three round strategy check accuracy and number of attempts in each round. It will help you to find out your own optimal attempt which helps you to score at least 105 marks in prelims.

How to approach map?

Check broad world and global maps once. Then deal with places in news.

How to approach national park/ wild life sanctuaries / species ?

Remembering every wild life sanctuary, national park and species is next to impossible. Cost benefit ratio is very high. Just check list once and then focus on those who were in news.

What should be my current affairs approach?

Read PT 365 only. Basic approach is questions which are simple and known to everyone should not get wrong. Many will probably not aware of difficult facts so I should not worry. At the end it is competitive exam.

April

It is revision month. You first revision will take 20 days. In it read all books again. In next 20 days your second revision should start. It will also take around 20 days.

Layering your preparation for revision

According to your strengths and weaknesses structure your preparation in three layers. I will explain my layers

  1. First layer – Economics, Polity, Science& Tech, Current affairs
  2. Second layer – Geography, Environment, Modern history
  3. Third layer – Ancient Medieval India & Art and Culture

In second layer I put my strong subjects which have high number of questions in exam.

In second layer I put my weak subjects which have high number of questions in exam.

In third layer I put my weak subjects which have less number of questions in exam.

In revision and time distribution I will give following preference,

Layer 2 > Layer 1 > Layer 3

Test series

Simultaneously you should start solving full length prelims test. In solving full length prelims tests diversification needed. You should solve at least 30 full length tests.

Which full length test you can solve?

  1. Vision IAS
  2. Vision IAS open mocks and Abhyas
  3. Forum IAS open mock
  4. Next IAS open mock
  5. Insight on India
  6. GS Score and Vajiram (1/2 test each). They are very factual and difficult but still for practice you should give it.

May

Till first week of May your three revisions will be completed. Till that time you will be having PT 365 with you. Start reading and revising them. As you have already read vision monthly it will be just revision.

Till mid of May solve last years GS1 and CSAT paper. Buy Mrunal sir’s book on past year paper of prelims.

How to approach past year papers?

  1. Solve question.
  2. Check topic asked and read around it.
  3. Check options asked read around it.
  4. Ignore current affairs questions. Just take idea how current affairs can be asked

In may give 3-4 fast revisions of notes made or marking in the book. Give at least 3 fast revisions to Pt 365.

How to approach CSAT ?

Don’t ignore it. In 2019 many failed prelims due to CSAT.

  1. Solve past year papers
  2. Check topic asked in past
  3. Learn to solve them
  4. In exam take quant first and then only verbal.

Is all this possible in little time?

Most important is planning. What not to read is important in this stage. Always think about cost benefit ratio.

Can I use whitener?

Many have used whitener and still cleared exam. UPSC no where mentioned about ban on whitener. However hold on there is possible case. UPSC might reject your OMR on the ground of cheating / corrupt practices. Thus it is advisable to not use it.

What to do before few days of exam?

  1. Eat healthy
  2. Drink alot water
  3. Change your sleeping cycle according to UPSC exam schedule. Otherwise it might hamper you. Especially in CSAT paper you might feel sleepy
  4. Try redbull or any other energy drink. Check if it suits you or not.

On the day of prelims

  1. Before leaving home check ID and hall ticket.
  2. Keep extra pens with you.
  3. Keep antacid tablet with you.
  4. Stay calm it is exam of pressure handling and not knowledge.
  5. If there is mistake in putting roll number or set code inform invigilator immediately.
  6. If you don’t know a question, it is high probability that other might not be knowing as well.
  7. In the break take healthy food.
  8. Don’t check answers after GS1. It might impact CSAT performance

Disclaimer : This approach was followed by me. It helped me to clear prelims in first attempt. It may not work for everyone. I am posting here so that fresher can get broad idea of covering GS.

Mains Stage

This stage will start start after prelims and will continue till mains. Mains is most important stage in UPSC preparation. One has to cover many things in 100 days. I will simplify this process for you.

My prelims marks are around 95-100 what should I do?

Don’t wait for result start preparing for mains. Most of the answers in coaching keys will be wrong. You might clear prelims. Wasting time will cost a lot.

What is mains oriented reading ?

Mains is all about analysis. Forget about factual reading of prelims. Focus on concept behind topics.

For example

Conditions for cyclone origin is prelims oriented question. In mains they will ask

Why more cyclones in Bay of Bengal?

Disaster management in cyclone

Impact of cyclone

etc.

Seven point strategy

On every sub topic just remember seven points. It will help you in covering syllabus fast.  Most important aspect of this strategy is, it will help you to reproduce content fast.

How to divide time between GS and Optional?

For prelims you have already read GS. So give 40 % time to it. Remaining 60% time should go for optional. In optional cost benefit ratio is very high.

How to deal with Essay?

Essay requires critical analysis and knowledge of GS. In the first month you should read toppers essay. Learn from them and then write 3-5 tests of Essay. Get it checked from seniors who have scored high marks in essay.

For strategy of essay, check Anudeep sir’s blog.

How to deal with GS1?

Most of the part of GS1 is static. You have read most part for prelims. Now just revise it from mains perspective. It won’t take much time.

How to deal with GS2 ?

Polity

Earlier GS2 was dynamic. But since last few years UPSC also started asking static and factual questions.

For example

“The Attorney-General is the chief legal adviser and lawyer of the Government of India.” Discuss

So read Laxmikant at least once.

For current part read last two years mains 365.

Governance

It has good weightage in GS2. Infact UPSC is asking difficult questions on this sections. Thus it is game changing section in GS2.

For example

The need for cooperation among various service sectors has been an inherent component of development discourse. Partnership bridges the gap among the sectors. It also sets in motion a culture of ‘collaboration’ and ‘team spirit’. In the light of statements above examine India’s development process.

Earlier I have discussed sources governance.  Stick to them. Revise them properly and make topic wise notes.

International Relation

Mostly dynamic topic. Read last two years Mains 365.

How to deal with GS3 ?

Economics

Read Mrunal sir’s notes. Revise them and link with current affairs. For current affairs read

  1. Mains 365
  2. Budget of that year
  3. Economic Survey summary

Environment

  1. Read Shankar from mains perspective. Ignore facts and conventions. UPSC asks broad topics.
  2. Mains 365 for current topics

Science Tech

  1. Read topic wise from net
  2. Keep one page ready on each topic like nano tech, bio tech

Internal security

  1. For current read mains 365
  2. For static part revise Challenges to Internal Security of India .

Disaster management

Earlier you must have prepared notes. Revise them. If not take vision IAS notes and revise them.

How to deal with GS4 ?

In GS4 paper is divided between theory and case studies. My approach was to focus more on case studies. It is scoring topic.

Theory part

  1. For basic understanding read Lexicon.
  2. Make definition of each term in your language. Take help of internet for it.
  3. Find out real life examples where you used mentioned values. You can cite them in exam.
  4. Find out good work of administrators. Find out values they used.

Case studies part

Approach is most important in case studies. It should be practical as well as ethical. You should show your administrative and ethical side in answers. In fact UPSC is asking similar types of case studies. Kept a template ready for them.

For practice you can use Lukman booklet on case studies.

Test series

Reality of mock test series

  1. Its money making device for coaching mafias
  2. Papers are checked by aspirants like you. Their re-views might not be correct.
  3. Model answers are very lengthy. You can not reproduce them in exam.
  4. In final exam writing average answers and covering paper matters most.
  5. Marks given by coachingwalas are irrelevant. UPSC follows normalization so marks will be relative. Coachingwala gives absolute marks.

Then why to write mock test?

It will help you to cover paper on time. But don’t get demotivated by marks.

How to approach test series?

Rather than going for test series solve past 5 years GS papers. Then solve 4-8 mocks of any coaching. Get it checked by your seniors who have scored good marks in GS.

When to give mock?

You have already read a lot. So make sure that before mock you are not revising syllabus. It will help you to deal with uncertainties in exam.

Experiments in mock

  1. Try different pens. Finalize one which maximizes your speed.
  2. Try to cover paper on time. Please give mocks in exam mode..
  3. Give mocks when you are tired. It will prepare your mind to work under pressure.
  4. Try different approaches to solve paper. Find out optimal approach to solve paper. [Approach means 10 markers to write first or 15 markers or to use mix strategy]
  5. In the mock prepare plan of every hour. That means how many questions to attempt in each hour.

Role of revision

Mains is all about re-producing content. Thus revision plays important role. Give at least 3-4 revisions.

Compulsory Language Papers

Please don’t ignore them. Every year 10% fails in language papers. Failing in language papers means no use of clearing prelims. Before mains solve at least 4-5 past year papers. Try to find out areas which will help you to score at least 100 marks.

Some tips

  1. Eat healthy to remain healthy.
  2. Change your sleeping cycle.

What to do after mains?

Vicious cycle of UPSC

  1. Enjoy till mains result
  2. If you fail mains then only four months remain for prelims. So you would start preparing for prelims.
  3. If you pass mains, you will prepare for interview.
  4. If you fail to clear final list, then only 2 months remain for prelims. Start preparing for mains.

Thus if you waste time after mains, there is high chance of falling in this vicious cycle.

So what to do?

Take a break for month and start preparing for mains again. If you pass mains, it will help you in interview. If you fail mains, it will increase chances of clearing mains in next attempt.

Disclaimer : This approach was followed by me. It helped me to clear mains in first attempt. It may not work for everyone. I am posting here so that fresher can get broad idea of covering GS.

Answer Writing for GS

Answer writing is challenging task for aspirants. It is really hard to answer question in given time limit with given space. Here I will try to simplify it for you.

When to start answer writing?

Once you have done two readings of standard sources you should start answer writing.

Should I join test series / daily answer writing program ?

Most of them are not worthy. Many questions asked are useless. Rather solve past 5 years papers. Get it checked from seniors, friends or personal mentors.

Note : You can join full length test series. But that should be joined after clearing prelims.

Full length tests vs Writing 2-3 questions daily

In initial days of answer writings you can write 2-3 questions daily. But once you know the technique go for full length tests. It will help you to develop speed.

Role of presentation in answer writing

It is said that GS paper is checked within 20-25 minutes. Thus presentation will play important role. Your answer should show what examiner want to see.

Reading of question

Every question should be read twice. There can be something which you might miss in first reading.

Dividing Questions into sub part

Usually in 10 marker questions there are one or two parts while in 15 & 20 markers there are two to three parts.

For example

Enumerate the indirect taxes which have been subsumed in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India. Also, comment on the revenue implications of the GST introduced in India since July 2017.

Here first part asks about indirect taxes which have been subsumed in GST, second asks about revenue implications of the GST.

Each part might have 5 marks. Your answer should show that you have answered both the parts. For that headings will matter. Headings will show examiner that aspirant have understood question properly.

For example in above question you can structure like this

Taxes Subasumed under GST

  1. .
  2. .
  3. .

Revenue Implication of GST

  1. .
  2. .
  3. .

Understanding need of question

It is seen that candidates actually misinterprets question. They write what they know rather than writing what is asked.

For example

What do you mean by Minimum Support Price (MSP)? How will MSP rescue the farmers from the low income trap?

Shanta Kumar committee report said that MSP is not helping small farmers. On that libe many aspirants addressed second part. But is it asked in the question?

Understanding keywords

For understanding question, understanding of keyword is necessary. To read about keywords refer vision document.

Diversifying Answer  

It is important to diversify your points. Rather than focusing on one dimension focus on multiple dimensions.

For example

How can biotechnology help to improve the living standards of farmers?

Many aspirants wrote on only seed technology. But you can also write on  genetically engineered fertilizers, Tree, animals, bio processing, etc.  It will help you to generate points as well score high marks.

Should I draw diagrams in each question?

Absolutely no need. Draw diagram only when

  1. With diagram you can explain well
  2. You don’t have time thus you explained with diagram

If you start using diagram for every explanation then it might irritate examiner.  In fact many toppers won’t draw diagram.

Note : If you want to use it, then please practice a lot. Otherwise it might backfire you.

Should I write committee report and facts ?

Remember a The Hindu article where only facts are mentioned. Have you enjoyed it ? Now remember article with analytical points explaining those facts. You must have enjoyed it. Similar is here. I have seen people writing 4 -5 facts per answer. Rather write one or two facts that too to substantiate your point. Do not overload your answer with facts.

Should I write examples ?

Yes it is most important. Here there is linkage between what you read in current affairs and syllabus. It will help you to edge over others. But don’t waste time in collecting examples. Just one example per topic is enough.

Criticizing government

Excessive fact less criticism is always bad. Criticize only when you have strong facts. Also make sure that you are also giving alternate solution

My English is not good what should I do?

Good English is not at all necessary. What you are writing should be understandable. Even incorrect grammar is okay. In fact simple English is key to score more.

How to write more content in less word?

Keep you sentences simple. Not structuring proper sentence is key.

For example

According to Oxfam report inequality in India is showing continuous rising trend.

This statement can be re written as :

Inequality is rising in India (Oxfam report)

I put same information with less words.

Paragraph vs Points

It depends. When there is analytical discussion use paragraph. When you have to point out things use point format. But more focus should be on point format.

For example

“The long sustained image of India as a leader of the oppressed and marginalised nations has disappeared on account of its new found role in the emerging global order.’ Elaborate

In this question more analysis is required. So us paragraph format.

When you don’t know much

Use paragraph format

Importance of word limit

Given word limit is actually scientifically driven. It is given such that paper can be completed in three hours. If you start breaching word limit, you won’t be able to cover paper . Thus writing concise answer matters.

Remember it is maximum word limit. It is advisable to write 130-140 words in 10 markers and 230-240 words in  10/15 markers. In some questions you can breach limit no issues.

Underlining important part

Underline only those things which you want to highlight. In a single question there should not be more than 10 underlines. Excessive underling will consume time as well as loose significance of it.

Can I use multiple color pen/ pencil for diagrams or underlining?

It can be time consuming. Use only after rigorous practice otherwise no need to use it.

Black pen vs Blue pen

It does not matter. Choose any pen.

Which pen is better?

It does not matter. Choose pen which is comfortable for you. I used pin point (black).

How to manage time in paper?

In the mocks find out your optimal way to attempt paper.

For example

In first hour I used to attempt four 15 markers & two 10 markers.

In second hour I will attempt five 15 markers and one 10 marker.

In last hour I will attempt one 15 markers and seven 10 marker.

How to deal with bouncers?

In every paper there will be 3 to 4 questions where you won’t have much data. Here you can write definition of keywords mentioned in questions or you can write relevant things around it or just write what you know about it.

For example

What is CyberDome Project? Explain how it can be useful in controlling internet crimes in India.

Here you might not be aware of CyberDome. Just mention that it is cyber security ptoject (Name suggest that). Then second part is general. So give more focus on it.

Importance of Covering paper

It is most important aspect. Candidate writing all average answers will get more marks than candidate writing good 15-16 answers.  In GS there won’t be much marks difference. Thus Leaving a question might cost you much.  

Creating templates for answer writing

Keep a ready templates of intro, body and conclusion on each topic.

For example

Bodies

Introduction

  1. Why question is asked?
  2. Constitutional provision

Body

  1. Spirit of ———
  2. — act as valuable guide for —
  3. —- is constitutional/statutory body — established by —

Introduction

  1. As per question
  2. Committees report, constitutional provisions important
  3. Appointment, removal, independence, function, role

Conclusion

  1. For the large democracy like India such —  are the need
  2. Though —- seems to be less effective, possible corrective measures need to be taken for their success

Personalities

Introduction

  1. —— were leaders of/during —-. Despite of same aim of —, their approach was different
  2. —- was critique/supporter/etc
  3. —- was great leader of —-
  4. Question based
  5. Why it is asked?

Body

  1. Approach
  2. Mean and end
  3. Government
  4. Militarism
  5. Economy
  6. Religion
  7. Caste
  8. Women
  9. Education
  10. Other  – Example, Movement, etc

Conclusion

  1. Though they have difference of opinion, they contributed immensely for —
  2. His thought/contribution/work is guiding light for present generation.
  3. Impact on modern society
  4. How his work is important in present time
  5. Question based

It will help you to think fast as well as to cover multiple dimensions.

GS1 specific suggestions

  1. In history dates and personalities are important. Quote them
  2. In Society part show compassion towards marginal section. Show your understand of Indian society.
  3. In geography draw maps. It is technical subject so please give definitions correctly.
  4. Quote government schemes

GS2 specific suggestions

  1. Quote articles
  2. Quote government schemes
  3. Quote Supreme court cases
  4. Show your respect towards constitution

GS3 specific suggestions

  1. It has technical subjects thus start with definitions.
  2. Give data to substantiate your arguments.
  3. Quote examples &  government schemes

G4 specific suggestions

  1. Quote examples. Relate it to your own life.
  2. Be practical as well as ethical.

Past year solutions

You can check Mains 2019 solutions here.

Now you know how to write answer. So why to wait start practicing to improve it further. Best of luck !

Notes Making

Why we need notes?

In GS you will have to attempt 20 questions in 3 hours. Time management is real issue. To reproduce content fast it should be by heart. To by heart content multiple revisions in short span are required. Thus notes play important role in UPSC preperation.

Toppers have already made notes should I read from it?

Notes are actually personalized affairs. What toppers have written may not be understandable to you. You should use toppers notes as guiding light.

How your own notes will help you?

  1. You can feel gaps in toppers notes.
  2. You can add current happenings that are missing in toppers notes.
  3. While preparing notes, you will read a paragraph, then you will convert it into notes. So it is like reading book twice.
  4. It is like answer writing practice for you.

When I should make notes?

Preferably after second reading of standard sources.

Digital vs Handwritten Notes

I used both the methods. My 80% notes were digital. I feel that digital notes are best. You can read them everywhere. You can edit them any time. Also there is less threat of loosing notes. And most important is digital notes have serachability. It will make revisions easy for you.

I don’t have good typing speed what should I do?

No issues. Prepare handwritten notes.

How to make handwritten notes searchable?

To make them searchable, make index where you will mention topic name and page number.

How to make handwritten notes editable?

  1. To make them editable leave some space in left or right side of page. Add additional points there.
  2. Rather than making notes in note book, prepare it on blank pages. Then according to need you can append pages.

Which app is good for digital notes making?

I earlier used ever note.  However it is quite unstable. Especially its web version has issue of duplication of notes. Formatting is also another issue. Later I shifted to one note. It is awesome app with great flexibility. I would suggest one note.

Should I make notes of current affairs?

Earlier I made current affairs notes. Later I realized it is repetitive task. Vision monthly magazines, PT 365, Mains 365 are already in notes format. Just highlight and revise them. However for day before exam revision you can have short notes of magazines.

How to make notes?

  1. Make comprehensive notes. It should be useful for prelims as well as mains. Sample is given here.
  2. Keep two notes. One comprehensive notes for regular revisions and one micro notes for day before exam revision.
  3. Use diagrams, short forms, symbols, flow charts to explain more in less space. For example you can use symbol © for constitution.
  4. Keep uniformity in use of symbol.Otherwise notes reading will be very difficult task.
  5. Lets say we are making notes of directive principles chapter of laxmikant. First read the chapter carefully. Now you should differentiate the chapter between facts and concepts. Facts are useful for prelims while concepts for mains.
  6. Cut short sentences. For example According to Oxfam report inequality in India is showing continuous rising trend. This statement can be re written as : Inequality is ^ in India (Oxfam report)

Notes making is really beautiful affair. I enjoyed it most. In the beginning it might feel as burdensome task, but over the time you will start enjoying it.

Enjoy the notes making. Best of luck !

Common Mistakes to Avoid

These are very common mistakes. In fact many take two to three years to  understand them. Lets discuss them.

  1. Preparing under parental or societal pressure. Please prepare only when you want to prepare. It will help you to sustain preparation over longer time.
  2. Starting preparation without understanding the exam. Please spend some time to know the exam. Before starting preparation do following things.
    • Understand syllabus.
    • Understand nature of exam.
    • Understand requirements of exam.
    • Understand pattern.
  3. Do not choose optional on the basis of success ratio or overlap with GS. Even in anthropology people score 220 marks. Thus optional should be subject of your comparative advantage and interest.
  4. Do not over rely on toppers strategy. Everyone’s social, economics. educational background is different. What worked for her may not work for you. Use their strategies as guiding light and modify it according to your needs.
  5. Do not start answer writing from day one. To know more about it watch Mrunal sir’s video.
  6. So not spend whole time on current affairs. It is just one part of exam. Spend at max two hours on current affairs.
  7. Do not start essay writing on day one. It requires knowledge of  GS.
  8. Do not ignore any part of syllabus. UPSC is very uncertain. They can give high weightage to any part. Thus cover syllabus thoroughly.
  9. Do not read multiple books for same topic. Rather read one book multiple times.
  10. Not solving mock testes might cost you. Here no need to join test series. UPSC past year papers are best.
  11. Please maintain consistency in preparation. Even a single day break can break your momentum. Thus study less but study regularly. It will help you to maintain momentum.
  12. Please stay calm. UPSC preparation might be frustrating experience. But that is what a job of an IAS demands. An IAS should stay calm in any situation.
  13. A sleepy mind can never concentrate. Thus please take at least 7 hours sleep daily.
  14. Your eating habits should be healthy. It will help you to sustain preparation over longer period of time.
  15. Do not over rely on UPSC. Success can not be guaranteed here. Please always keep back up plan. For me my good coding skills and knowledge of economics was back up plan.

All the best, hope you won’t repeat this mistakes.