Strategy is most personalized & dynamic aspect of civil services exam preparations.
No single strategic plan is applicable to all the students and at all the time. However, It is possible to plan out certain steps (during preparations) which are strategically important. Smart decisions/mistakes at these steps decide destiny of the candidate.
1. Choosing Civil Services as a career goal:
Assess your potential, interests, circumstances, time resources & financial sustainability so that you can reach a firm, determined & practicable decision.
2. Selection of Optional Subjects:
This is door to selection. First shortlist the optionals on the basis of your academic background, syllabus, past your Question papers and marking Trend.
Then, use any self evaluation facility preferably section wise general studies tests (if applicable in case of optionals (shortlisted) or college level subject tests to know your general level of knowledge as well as inclination towards shortlisted optionals. Do not make a hurry. It's a vital decision.
3. Selection of medium of exam-Select the medium you can best express yourself with an eye on availability of standard books & study material.
4. Importance of General Studies-"No doubt, optinals decide your selection. But it is General studies that determines your Rank." G. S. with its contribution to Essay & Interview encompasses a spam of nearly 50% of total marks of mains examination.
5. Taking Your First Attempt-Do not hurry in taking your first attempt. Take it when you feel well prepared because once you are Trapped in vicious circle of examinations, little time remains available for improvisation.
6. Taking Your Further Attempts-If you have done well at Ist attempt, it is betterl to maintain the tempo. But, If you have not performed well or some sort of imbalance is diagnosed (though overall performance was good) then it is better to quit one or two attempts to buy time for improvisation.
7. There is nothing more powerful than an Idea whose time has come- Study, learn, think, write and speak with the ethos of the time.
It is very important to use advanced technology & thoughts to make a difference.
8. The biggest mistake was made by he who did nothing because he could do only little-
Don't quit when things go wrong, as they sometimes will. You can never tell how close you are to success. It may be near when it seems so far.
9. Mirror Yourself (Key for decision making)-Regular self evaluation is your best guide. Self evaluate yourself with some independent, free & standard platform.
Bigger the sample the lesses is the error." So choose the platform which provides you larger comparison sample (i.e. All India Rank/Comparison)
10. In the Real battlefield-This is where circumstances change every seconds : Any well knitted plan/strategy may be garbaged here within minutes.
Time management & appropriate selection of questions is key to success. This can be achieved by self evaluating yourself regularly in virtual examination conditions
The first and foremost thing to decide while aspiring for Civil Services is the judicious choice of subjects for the Preliminary and the Mains examinations. The selection of subjects should be done most carefully, if it goes wrong, everything will go wrong.
Normally students have the advantage of selecting one of the optionals, which they are familiar with, or have at least studied till graduate level. If you are not comfortable with the subject, you should not select the subject as an optional. Example: One who studied Medicine in his/her graduation may have to refer many books for one topic. On such occasions it is better to take a subject of one's interest.
The aspirants should opt for a subject of their interest - technical subjects like engineering, medicine, veterinary sciences. Students from science background may find it difficult to understanding economics and vice-versa. Agriculture or Veterinary Sciences will be opted by the students who have studied it at their college level. Hence, the competition is among the people who have opted for the same subject. One should top in his/her subject to succeed in the examination.
One should analyse the syllabus of previous years and the question papers. The comfort levels with the subject opted for and the past trends should be analysed. While going through the questions of previous years, one can judge himself/herself about the knowledge base and comfort level with the subject. After a detailed analysis one should decide the subject for the first optional. One can get some feedback/advice from seniors and fellow students who are well versed in the subject. To avoid confusion at advanced stages of the examination, one should have some consultation with experienced/senior colleagues. They can guide you better than any coaching class.
Preparation for General studies should be hand in hand, along with the preparation for optional papers. Good mix of study hours for General Studies and the Optional makes studies enjoyable and it becomes easy to sustain the momentum for longer hours, without boredom setting in and without losing interest and enthusiasm. The most important aspect for the preparation for GS (Prelims) is to identify the loopholes and plug them urgently. Because each question in optional carries 2.5 marks most would feel that input-output ratio in optional is much better than that in General Studies. However, never sacrifice the time of General Studies for optional, take a balanced approch.
Always go in for a planned and systematic study. Work out your own study schedules in a manner suited to your style and stick to it.
One should read a leading daily regularly and also a magazine that will give an insight into the writing skills and observe how facts are presented clearly and succinctly. Also watch news & current affairs programmes on a good TV channel. The latest trend has been a shift towards the current issues; hence a thorough awareness of recent happenings is mandatory. In-depth knowledge of such events is most important, as the questions will test the knowledge of details of any given event/happening.
First one should cover the entire syllabus and then one month preceding the Mains, practice with the help of question papers of previous years. Sometimes students may end up studying topics, which are connected to the syllabus, but are practically irrelevant from your preparation point of view. For this, one should always keep a copy of the syllabus handy and keep referring to it time and again to reassess the direction of the preparation. One should also keep question papers of the previous years. Compare them and see what types of questions are repeated every year.
Try to attempt question papers of previous years and General studies papers. This will expose your weaknesses and give you an idea about the extent of your preparation, your knowledge base, your speed and accuracy.
General preparation can be broadly classified as long-term or short-term depending on the available time for preparation. Preparation for Mains examination should begin soon after the Prelims are over, without waiting for the result, as it involves wastage of time.
The generally accepted strategy for CSE is that one must have studied the entire syllabus for the Mains before the Prelims or at least before the result is out. After the Prelims results are announced, all three subjects - two optionals and General Studies should be divided equally in three quarters to revise the subjects. One should read/study daily 10-12 hours per day. Some people say that used to read 18-20 hours. However, don't go by the claims of other persons who say that have studied for more than 18 hours a day. It is humanly impossible. Each person knows one's own capacity, so one should prepare the timetable accordingly and follow the same for the whole period of preparation. The execution of the timetable is of crucial importance.
During the entire period of the examination, take a light diet. One should maintain good health during the preparation and also maintain a hobby, which relaxes you during your preparation. Take adequate amount of sleep, as both - body and mind require it. It is always better to study when the body and mind are fresh. This helps in easy grasping of things as well as in retaining them.
To save time during revision, aspirants may mark/highlight important points during their first or second reading. The aim of the first reading is to reduce the study material to half by eliminating unnecessary points. The second reading is to make it more concise, so that you can revise the entire syllabus within two days before the examination. If the subject is not revised, it is as good as not read because preparation is a continuous process. One might have covered the syllabus long back, but memory detoriates with time.
Information from any source of relevance to your goal should be welcomed, as long as it is from a standard source. Discuss with your friends, talk to them and listen to their views. This will expand your knowledge base and also expose you to different views. (But while discussing be careful and don't waste time on unnecessary details). You should have a guided discussion. It is important to peak at the time of the examination. So, channelise your preparations in such a manner that you don't burn yourself out before the examination commences.
Once you decide that you wish to be a civil servant, as your career has to follow certain steps to be abreast with the latest trends and be ready in the first attempt itself.