The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts various competitive exams for recruitment into the civil services for the Government of India. These include the IPS, IAS, IRS, and IFS, etc. All these exams are highly competitive, and the exams are conducted over one year for each of the categories.
Lakhs of candidates apply each year, and only a few hundred get finally selected. Candidates start preparations about a year ahead of the commencement of these exams. Below are a few tips the candidates could use as pointers or checklist for the preparatory phase.
- Ask yourself if this is really what you want to do, or are you being forced by a relative or friend? For this kind of fast preparation, one’s heart and head need to be working in the same direction. Find out if you are motivated enough to handle this long term preparatory work, followed by about a year’s examination schedule.
- Keep an eye on important dates like application, prelims, etc., This information can be got from – http://www.upsc.gov.in/exams/exams.htm#PageTop
- Understanding the curriculum. Do an in-dept reading on the curriculum. Understand what topics are included, where you could reach these topics, what books to refer, etc., A thorough background information needs to be collected. This can be done by talking to others who have given such exams in the past. Checking the topics and old question papers from past. You could also refer to this link – http://www.upsc.gov.in/exams/answerkeys/index.htm#PageTop
- Prepare a schedule or personal timetable. Of all the subjects mark out what you will prepare, when and in what duration. Of these which is your favourite and in which you need extra inputs, efforts, etc. Break the large curriculum into bite size, doable small parts. Keep ticking off the list as and when you finish the preparation. Ticking off items is a great confidence booster.
- Coaching: While there are many institutes or colleges that coach candidates for these exams; there aren’t any recognised by the government of India. Coaching is a personal choice some need it some may not. Find out for yourself if this will help you.
- Revision: One needs to be hardworking and smart in the preparation phase. Regular revision of concepts followed by solving previous years questions papers helps tremendously. This is a regular personal evaluation and gives scope and time for mid-course correction in approach. Previous year’s papers could be reached here – http://www.upsc.gov.in/questionpaper/2014.htm
- Mock test: Towards the end of your preparations it’s good practice to take mock tests. This gives you an understanding of your speed, your understanding of the subjects and insight into the question papers. It also tells you where you stand vs. expectations and gives you an indicator of how much more efforts to put in or next logical steps. Plenty of online mock tests are available which you can check out.
- Along with the written exams, it is imperative to prepare for the personality test or personal interview. Do some introspection as to what exactly you want from these exams. How do you see yourself as a fit for the role? What are your expectations etc.?
- In the process of preparation don’t get bogged down by the vastness of these exams. Take things easy. Follow a healthy food and fitness routine. These will not only boost your stamina but also ensure good health. It is important to enjoy what you do. Do not give up on friends and socialising in the preparation process. These things helps in lowering your stress. Take professional help in case it all gets a bit too much to handle.
- Last, but not the least, keep in mind that you have more than one attempt, so do not be discouraged. Don’t revolve yourself ONLY around this dream. Remember if Plan A doesn’t work try Plan B.
Trust and work on these tips. Wishing you all the very best.