Strategy and books for early birds to crack the IAS exam

AK Mishra, Inventor & Director of AK Mishra’s Art of Success

College students find themselves in a tight spot when it comes to preparing for civil services examinations, and career counsellors receive an avalanche of mails regarding the best preparation strategy to start early. We are all well-aware of the adage, ‘The early bird catches the worm’. Early birds are people who get started on their desired actions to achieve their target much earlier than others and indeed, early birds are winners in all walks of life and the same is true with regard to Civil Services Exam too. This article will shed light on all the possible strategies to get through the Civil Services examination at the earliest.

Start early to save precious youth-years!

As we all know, the syllabus of Civil Services Exam is vast and time is limited so it’s prudent to start preparations as early as possible. This does not imply that if a school student longs to become an IAS officer, he should commence his preparation with heavy-weight UPSC books right from Standard 4. But an approach in tune with UPSC requirements will certainly help. Adopting a long term approach has proven efficacy and saves previous youth-years of many candidates. As an early bird you will be better equipped and oriented when you actually wet your feet in UPSC waters.

But that doesn’t mean that those who start late can’t clear IAS exam!

This does not imply that those who start late are at fault and cannot clear the exam. All it requires is perseverance; fervent desire to get through the Civil Services Examination. With iron will and right approach, a junior can come up with flying colours. This article intends to convey that early starters can be at the advantageous position provided that they keep the same vigour till the end. Not only early starters but experienced candidates will also gain a better insight about the exam requirements after going through the article.

How much time is needed for IAS preparation?

We all know haste makes waste and perseverance is the key to success. This eternal principal also holds true when it comes to the preparation for Civil Services Examination. The analytical ability, knowledge and personality of the candidate developed over the span of 20 years are tested in this exam. For building a strong foundation, long-term effort is required; however the foundation can be polished to the tune of UPSC requirement in one year. So an aspirant should strive hard to build a strong foundation. If you have built a strong foundation, the job is half done.

A naked, but motivating truth: If you have a habit of reading newspapers regularly and a good grasp on the subjects in your school days (NCERT Books) then you are as good as most of the serous and senior players taking this exam. All successful candidates have a decent newspaper reading habit and exceptional command over subjects in their school days (NCERT books).

I have enough time; what should be my strategy to clear IAS in first attempt?

UPSC aspirants’ minds keep on bristling with numerous questions like:

How to manage UPSC preparation during my preparation?

How to begin IAS preparation?

As a beginner how should I start Civil Services exam preparation?

Answers to all the queries are five suggestions.

  • A good understanding of the UPSC exam structure is vital and without which your preparation will go in the wrong direction. Going through UPSC syllabus and previous year question papers of Mains as well as IAS Prelims will help you understand the areas from which questions are normally asked.
  • Needless to say, newspaper reading habit is vitally important. Experts advise reading ‘The Indian Express’ or ‘The Hindu’.
  • All Civil Services Examination aspirants are well attuned to the importance of reading NCERT books. Priority should be given to Geography, History, Economy and polity related NCERT textbooks. So what does that mean for school students? As a student, get the hang of school textbooks, it will lay the foundation for your success in UPSC examination. Think and chew over what is mentioned in your textbooks. Good writing skills are mandatory for UPSC aspirants, best of your efforts will fall through in dearth of enough writing practice.
  • College going students and pass outs should decide on the optional subject after analyzing previous year question papers and UPSC syllabus and start collecting relevant materials on the same. Aspirant should try to finish optional subject first, as this will definitely give you an edge.
  • During leisure time, go through the books related to India written by eminent authors. Reading these books will provide a clear picture of the past, present and future of India besides widening your horizon. A good understanding of the problems of India with their right solutions can immensely help you frame answers in Civil Services Mains, Essay paper and General Studies.