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How to selecting an optional for UPSC civil service exam?
An optional subject is important from the Mains point of view. One subject is to be chosen from a list of 26 options (25 mainstream subject choices + 1 literature subject out of 24 literature subject choices). The optional subject has two papers of 250 marks each. Thus, it is important for the aspirant to make the right choice. Things to be kept in mind while selecting an optional:
- Interest - Select a subject which the aspirant finds interesting. While preparing for civil services, one ends up spending a lot of time on the optional. So, the subject should keep you interested. Don't choose a subject just to follow peers. An optional which one studied in graduation/post-graduation can also be a good choice.
- Strategic choice- An optional subject the syllabus of which overlaps with the syllabus to be covered under general studies could be very advantageous. History optional, for example, includes Ancient, Medieval, Modern Indian History and World History which also forms part of the General Studies syllabus of Preliminary and Mains exam. Subjects like Geography, Sociology, and Political Science also come under this group.
- Availability of resources- In terms of books and guidance, some subjects require more than just aptitude like Mathematics. So, choose wisely.
- Though important, the optional comes into play later. Starting point has to be General Studies. General Studies will help the aspirant make an informed choice.
CIVIL SERVICES (MAIN) EXAM 2015
QUICK-PRACTICAL TIPS FOR ASPIRANTS
The commencement of the Civil Services (Main) Examination 2015 will set off a mood of anxiety, tension and exhaustion among all candidates appearing for it and that will prevail throughout the examination period which will last over 5 days from the 18th till the 23rd December. The main examination is the penultimate step, however very crucial, in the civil services selection process which tests an aspirant's extensive preparation characterized by years of persistence and perseverance. However, at this moment, the truth is, "delivery is the manifestation of background preparation" and hence, this is the time to focus on a completely different approach - differing from that adopted during the preparation period. We, at Rau's IAS Study Circle are going to share with all aspirants some last minute practical tips that would ensure that they are able to optimally exercise all their cognitive faculties. First of all, remember, although Civil Services Exam is considered to be the mother of all exams in Asia, yet it is just another exam you are writing. Eliminating the fear psychosis regarding this exam from you is the first mandatory step towards optimizing your score.
1. Immediately before and during the examination, bring in use some light exercising, relaxing and focusing techniques. Maintain your calm and composure at all times. Also, ensure that you are emotionally stable - avoid engaging in sporadic or provocative activities or conversing with 'difficult people'.
2. The key here is not to 'PANIC'. Believe in yourself and that what you know is sufficient to tackle any question in the exam. Avoid checking with other aspirants about their preparation in order to safeguard your notion of self-efficacy and confidence - general or specific.
3. Pay adequate attention to things you have to carry along with to the examination hall. Ensure that you wear comfortable clothes to the examination hall (memory recall also depends on your comfort zone). Keep all such items ready a day ahead of the exam so that everything is easy going on the day of the exam.
4. Before every paper, give your body and mind good rest with at least 7- 8 hours of undisturbed sleep.
5. While answering a paper, time management is the key. From the first question itself, ration the time you spend on answering each question. Do not devote too much time on a single question, even if you know too much about it. Remember, it is always good to write five mediocre answers than only one excellent answer.
6. If you come across such questions you have no idea about (and believe us there would be some!), 'DO NOT PANIC'. It is very normal. Keep your cool and move to the next question without getting bothered that you have left one.
7. Leave such questions that you are unsure of in the beginning and move on to answering the ones you are confident of. In this manner, you will save time and can always come back at the end to think about and answer those questions which you skipped.
8. While writing the answers, read the question statement again and again so that you always stick to the point.
9. Vocabulary and style of writing could be used as assets, however, remember to stick to the point.
10. Diagrammatic representations could be incorporated in the write up.
11. The candidate can also underline key points to make them conspicuous, but different colours should be avoided.
12. There is always a chance that in rush you miss some entries that are to be made in the examination paper. Such situations could be avoided by keeping your cool and managing time well.
13. The examination will last for 5 days. A general tendency that is seen in the candidates is that after every paper they discuss it in great detail. This may lead to realization that something got missed or went wrong in the paper. This unsaid acknowledgement generates feelings of despair and sorrow which may lead to a decline in the performance in subsequent papers. So, do not cross check or discuss your answer with your peers. You can always do so after 23rd of December.
The above are some of the things which, if kept in mind, can definitely improve your performance and help you tackle the exam more efficiently. So, ALL THE BEST for your exams and we hope you come out of the exams with flying colours.
Civil Services Examination (CSE) conducted by UPSC is a journey of courage, and a journey of AWARENESS! Courage to explore the varied concepts and dimensions related to humanity and ecology, thus leading to gaining holistic awareness. And, this awareness is for a lifetime and getting selected into Civil Services is just an offshoot of this awareness.
But, before embarking on this journey, an aspirant should also know about- What UPSC actually wants and tests? UPSC as job fitness wants in a candidate a thinking and analytical mind; comprehensive yet logical approach; interdisciplinary outlook; effective communication skills; and problem-solving attitude.
And, UPSC tests all these in every stage of the process up till selection, right from decoding the syllabus itself, and then through an intelligently designed examination pattern:
Prelims- through objective papers UPSC checks the response of a candidate and his/her attention to detail on the basis of his/her logical analysis or deduction in choosing the right option from available options;
Mains- through descriptive papers, UPSC checks the personality of a candidate by analysing his/her capability of logical presentation, analysis and solution of an issue/ or ability to write a synopsis from piles of information.
Personality Test- through oral communication, UPSC checks the interpersonal skills, problem-solving approach of a candidate in real time, keenness and alertness of mind, job fitness, etc.
Citing above requirements, the task for an aspirant begins by- Unlearning old habits (like rot learning/mugging every line, relying on notes only, and preparing at last moment); and Learning new ways (aim at conceptual understanding over rote learning, developing keen interest in understanding the context of issues, focusing on minimum yet standard sources, practise writing daily and learning from it to improve logical skills and skills of time management). Because, this examination is not about intelligence but everything about awareness, those who succeed, only do things differently.
Considering the above, this journey of conceptual development can be undertaken by a candidate through:
- Reading basic NCERT books which are helpful in building the background for gaining clarity in handling the syllabus,
- Linking current affairs for understanding the present scenario (in totality) and also for decoding the components of the syllabus, and then
- Testing the concepts developed through regular writing practice for upgrading communication skills (required for logical analysis and summation).
Here, the faculty plays an important role. There has to be engagement in the classroom for the students to gain perspective. Teachers must have the ability of connecting the dots. The approach they should follow must also be interdisciplinary. They must have the knack to connect theory to the practicality and use such examples to broaden students understanding.
We, at Rau's IAS, ensure that the teachers are accountable for whatever they teach in class. There is a proper plan in place for the teachers to follow and it is explained to the students why a certain topic is important or is being taught in a particular way. Feedback is collected from students to gauge class progress, execution of teachers' deliverables and development of students' ability in tackling previous years' questions. This acts as a learning process for the teachers themselves.
Our focus is enabling students to think and perform themselves rather than spoon feed them which is meaningless. In a nutshell, for mastering this journey focus on understanding all the dimensions of an issue, question yourself if you have understood the implications of an issue in totality, revisit the issue to gain more perspective, write it down to logically bring out its context, read minimum number of but reliable sources and maximise them for maximum impact. Also, remember that UPSC wants generalists and not specialists.
Life throws up a lot of challenges at us - some we accept and others we ignore. Ignore, because we have a certain impression about our capabilities and when something seems to be out of our reach we safely ignore it.
So who decides what you are capable of - you or the world. The world doesn't have the time to analyze you. It only gives you a label depending on your achievements and failures. You have to decide what you can do.
The Civil Services or the Indian Administrative Services exam is one of the most formidable challenges a student can take. The odds look stacked against you. A bare 1000 finally make it out of lakhs of aspirants who vie to make it to the top. The syllabus covers almost everything under the sun about India as a country.
Having knowledge alone is not enough, you also need to prove your intelligence and express your knowledge in a certain UPSC determined acceptable way. To top it all, you have to convince the crème de la crème of recruiters of the country that you deserve to represent the central government in India and abroad. But what's a challenge if it's not formidable ?
Getting selected as the elite arm of the constitution, is not a challenge for winners, it is a way to let the world know your mettle. In every other achievement in your life, others have a major contribution. But when you get intimation from Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) Institute of Administration, it is your way of telling the world that you have arrived.
Remember, Don't limit your challenges Challenge your limits!