Do You Have A Definite Plan To Clear UPSC Civil Services Exam?

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  • I tend to write something every-time someone brings up a question to me. I was having a discussion with one of our co-aspirants and he was naturally facing the standard question which we all have at one point of time in our preparation. "Will i make it?"

    And fortunately, I had one more similar conversation just an hour after, with another co-aspirant. The problem was similar and that's when it occurred to me that this thing needs to be addressed to a wider audience.

    I have started to believe that most of us do not have clear answers and a clear plan for this exam. Some of us take multiple attempts just to find answers to these questions. I feel that if people start to get clarity about the needs of this exam, they will be equipped in a much better way to handle all the stress associated with this process, especially the newcomers/freshers.

    I humbly apologize in advance because the write-up is going to be a bit longer.

    Now, the most important question. What exactly is a plan?

    Is It just following a certain schedule and chasing some targets? That's what most of us think.
    No, it's much more than that.

    A plan is something which has definite answers to all the questions that may arise during the execution of your objectives.

    By now, alarm bells must have started to ring in your minds. Do you have answers to all the questions that is related to the preparation for this exam? Be honest, do you have answers to all of them and can you clearly justify your answers?

    Before i begin to address the above question, I would like to say that I am going to post a standard set of questions with no answers. It's because everyone has different answers to these questions. I would want people to read these questions, introspect deeply and then arrive at solutions.

    Read the following questions, think about them, think logically and see if you can justify your line of thinking with facts. Once you arrive at an answer, note it down in your book. This note book will help you deal with most of the problems that you may face during the preparation for this exam.


    Do you have a definite plan to clear UPSC CS Prelims? Answer these and you shall know.

    1. What is your book-list?

    2. Is your book-list finite?

    3. What are the reasons behind choosing those books? Can you justify your decision with any data?

    4. How do you plan to study these books? In how many days? Do you have any tools to track your progress?

    5. How are you going to revise these books? Do you plan to make notes or highlight them?

    6. What will you highlight? What are the things that need to be in the notes and what are the things that need to be omitted from the notes?

    7. How many revisions do you require and How many revisions can you do?

    8. Do you plan to join any test series? If yes, what is the reason? How is it going to benefit you? Do you have a definite answer to this? What are the parameters that you look to improve through the test series? | If No, what is the reason to not join any test series? How is it going to benefit you? Do you have a definite answer to this?

    9. Do you plan to solve previous year papers of UPSC Prelims? If yes, what is the reason? How will it benefit you? What are your objectives when you do this? What are the parameters through which you will measure your improvement?

    10. Do you have a definite plan for current affairs?

    11. Do you need to read newspapers everyday? Should you just read the editorials or the entire newspaper? Should you read one or multiple newspapers?

    12. Which current affairs magazine should you read? Just one or multiple?

    13. When you see the previous year prelims papers, do you seen any trends in them?

    14. Do you know how MCQs are solved?

    15. What is this "Elimination technique/Intelligent guessing/Calculated risk" that everyone talks about? Do you have your own clear idea about this or is it just accumulated from different YouTube videos or popular blogs? Are there any pre-requisites to use these techniques?

    16. How many questions do you need to attempt in exam? How many do you need to attempt if the paper is of 2016 difficulty level and how many if the paper is of 2018 difficulty level?

    17. Can you apply the elimination technique in selected questions and leave out the rest? Any definite answer to this?

    18. How do i know that my preparation for prelims is up to the mark? How is measure it in tangible parameters? Is test series score a good enough parameter or are there more parameters?

    19. Irrespective of the difficulty level of the exam, How do I make sure that I pass the exam?


    Do you have a definite plan to pass UPSC CS Mains?

    1. When should I start preparing for mains?

    2. Should the preparation for prelims and mains be done in an integrated manner?
      How do I make sure I complete the preparation in time? Do i have a specific list of resources? Do i need to make notes? Should i read Yojana and Kurukshetra?

    3. Which optional should i choose?

    4. Should i change my optional if i am not scoring good?

    5. Is there any truth about some optionals being highly scoring?

    6. When should I begin answer writing?

    7. Should I write answers everyday?

    8. Why should i do answer writing? What are the parameters through which I am going to measure my improvement?

    9. Should I join a test series? How will it benefit? What are the parameters which will improve upon joining a test series?

    10. Do you need a mentor or peer to periodically give you inputs about your answer writing? What are your reasons for Yes or No?

    11. How do you make sure you score high in Essay? What is your approach? What is your strategy? What are the kind of essays that suit your style of writing? what are the different ways in which essays can be written?

    12. How do you make sure you score above average marks in GS 1,2 and 3 papers? Do you need to attempt all 20 questions? What matters the most? Content or quantity or both?

    13. Should i structure the answers differently for different type of questions or should i just have a standard structure for all the questions? Flowcharts, diagrams, point-wise answers, should i incorporate them? If yes, How do you justify it?

    14. How do i solve case studies in Ethics paper? Should I be Practical or Ideal? Should i have a standard way of solving or be creative in every case study? How do you plan to increase your score if you have scored low in your previous attempt?

    15. Which pen should i use for mains? What should i do if my handwriting is bad? What should i do if my writing speed is bad?


    Do you have a definite plan to pass the personality test?

    1. When should I start preparing for it? Should I wait till the mains result is published?

    2. How do i begin my preparation? What should i do first? Civil Services Syllabus or DAF? Should i make notes?

    3. Do i need to study the whole syllabus of civil services?

    4. Do i need to study my graduation or post graduation subjects?

    5. How i prepare for DAF? Are there any specific things to do?

    6. When should i start attending mock interviews? How many of them should i attend? Should I take the feedback seriously?

    7. What should I wear for the interview?

    8. Should i choose English or my mother tongue as the medium of communication?

    9. Should i give practical or ideal answers?

    10. How do i answer questions like "If you are the DM".

    11. Do i need to have a clear opinion on all current issues or can i be neutral?

    12. Is it okay if I don't answer questions? Should i guess answers even if i don't know anything about them?

    13. Should i smile or have a serious expression during the interview?

    14. How should i calm myself down if i start to panic during the interview?


    Do you have a definite plan to manage your preparation?

    1. How will i manage my routine if i am a full time aspirant? How will i avoid procrastination?

    2. How will i manage my routine if i am a working aspirant? How will i avoid fatigue?

    3. Do i need to join classroom coaching? How will it benefit me? Will i have time to study after classroom sessions?

    4. How do i manage my health and fitness?

    5. How do i make sure i stay motivated everyday? How do i get my best everyday? How do make sure i am working at my optimum efficiency?(Most important question)

    6. Can i take a break on weekends and hangout with friends?

    7. Should i just stay at home and not attend any social gatherings?

    8. Do i need to be in Delhi?

    9. How do i manage my finances during the preparation?

    10. How do i plan to overcome hurdles or failures?

    11. How do i not get affected by personal issues?

    12. Do i need to follow the strategies of toppers or make my own strategy?

    13. How do i make sure i don't get distracted or frustrated? is there a plan?

    14. Should i continue to prepare after a few attempts or take up a job and then continue to prepare along with the job?


    It may take a few days or even weeks to find proper answers to these questions but make sure you find the answer to each one of them. If possible, do share your answers in this thread so that others can get benefited from your thoughts.

    Also, you can always come back and look at this thread and compare your answers with other answers, so that you will know what works for the most and what does not.

    Thank you for reading. Wish you all a super productive day ahead!

  • Thank you for these questionnaires..
    I am taking it as self-analysis! I am right now a failure! I am heading for success and my way is

    What is your book-list?

    1. History : Spectrum + Nitin sangwan notes
    2. Social issues : Vision 365 + I made my own study guide
    3. Geography : 4NCERT of 11 & 12 + GC Leong + civil coursify videos + IASBABA geo Q bank (my geo is weak so)
    4. Polity : Laxmi + Insight Polity Q bank for PRE + for mains I created my own study guide from various sources
    5. IR : Vision 365
    6. Economy : SRIRAM + sankarganesan for PRE + for mains I created my own study guide
    7. Environment : Shankar IAS + I created my own study guide for PRE as well as mains (my env is weak so)
    8. SCI Tech :: Vision 365
    9. Security : Vision 365
    10. Ethics : I created my own study guide..

    Is your book-list finite?
    Yes.. I have only study guide to revise everyday.. not many things

    What are the reasons behind choosing those books? Can you justify your decision with any data?

    Some are famously recommended a book, I did not use SRIRAM & Shankar IAS in my previous attempt, hence my concepts were not that clear as they are now!

    How do you plan to study these books? In how many days? Do you have any tools to track your progress?

    I studies with pomodoro technique... As I make study guide in google docs, it was easy to track what was done or not

    How are you going to revise these books? Do you plan to make notes or highlight them?

    I daily revise! I daily consolidate!

    What will you highlight? What are the things that need to be in the notes and what are the things that need to be omitted from the notes?

    Things I know very well.. I omit! I only do bold letters.. not highlighting person! In books, as well I had highlighted in previous attempts. Highlighlighting is not good tool to me !

    How many revisions do you require and How many revisions can you do?
    I transfer my study guide in flashcards.. it take care of how many revisions I need!

    Do you plan to join any test series? If yes, what is the reason? How is it going to benefit you? Do you have a definite answer to this? What are the parameters that you look to improve through the test series? | If No, what is the reason to not join any test series? How is it going to benefit you? Do you have a definite answer to this?

    Yes I am going to give vision and insight test series from the march for pre.. I look for what I understood.. how I analyse.. how I use logics.. there is lot to learn.. !

    Do you plan to solve previous year papers of UPSC Prelims? If yes, what is the reason? How will it benefit you? What are your objectives when you do this? What are the parameters through which you will measure your improvement?

    Yes I have downloaded DIsha's book.. solving from it!! Because I never solved them in my previous attempt and paid the price ! My objective is to understand the trend!

    Do you have a definite plan for current affairs?

    Yes I follow
    -> vision monthly'
    -> Insight editorial compilation
    -> 10 pm quiz of forum ias compilation
    -> Prelims marathon compilation of forumias
    -> Yojana of study IQ
    -> TLP of iasbaba compilation
    What I read goes to my study guide!

    Do you need to read newspapers everyday? Should you just read the editorials or the entire newspaper? Should you read one or multiple newspapers?

    No only above

    Which current affairs magazine should you read? Just one or multiple?

    Above

    When you see the previous year prelims papers, do you seen any trends in them?

    Yes.. Neo IAS has analysed best trend and it taught me how to analyse the previous year paper.. all their videos are available on youtube..

    Do you know how MCQs are solved?

    Logically, If we have read less and revised alot.. our senses work in favor.. and mcqs become easy! I analyse what I read everytime!

    What is this "Elimination technique/Intelligent guessing/Calculated risk" that everyone talks about? Do you have your own clear idea about this or is it just accumulated from different YouTube videos or popular blogs? Are there any pre-requisites to use these techniques?

    These techniques don't work if you haven't gone thorough with fundamentals.. and syllabus needs to completed and revised.. last year I paid the price!

    How many questions do you need to attempt in exam? How many do you need to attempt if the paper is of 2016 difficulty level and how many if the paper is of 2018 difficulty level?

    This is stupid to assume! I feel!

    Can you apply the elimination technique in selected questions and leave out the rest? Any definite answer to this?

    Logic and good analysis during prep will work! No short cut will work! Last year all my shortcuts cut me short!

    How do i know that my preparation for prelims is up to the mark? How is measure it in tangible parameters? Is test series score a good enough parameter or are there more parameters?

    Complete mains syllabus atleast once=> It helps in pre!
    Revision of weak areas!
    Baki bhagwan jane!

    Irrespective of the difficulty level of the exam, How do I make sure that I pass the exam?

    I believe on my mind! that's it I can say! No philosophy work ! Emotions are stupid .. shut them off! Evrything else is crap! Only mind is powerful!

  • @pizzza Thanks!

  • Yes I do. However, the main idea at this point is to trust myself, analyse pitfalls, key areas, make peace with uncertainty and stick to decided sources.

  • @Urvashi Is Insights polity bitbank pdf avaialable somewhere online ? Or you bought the book ?

  • @MassiveSuccess bought book!

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