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Magazine For IAS/UPSC Civil Services Exam Preparation : Civil Services Synopsis

A very common query of civil services examination aspirants is which magazine should be read for comprehensive preparation. The answer to ...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Public Administration for UPSC Prelims

Public Administration remains the 'optional of choice' for UPSC/IAS prelims.The reasons are not far too seek.For one, Public Administration(PA) has a short and precise syllabus (relatively speaking)and reputation as an optional which can be prepared in comparatively lesser time.This post which contains information derived from experience has been contributed by my very good friend Anoop,who is in IPS and posted in Orissa.He has taken time out from his busy schedule to share his thoughts on preparing GS and PA for prelims .I am sure the information and tips provided by Anoop would be helpful to all IAS aspirants.So here it is in Anoop Krishna's(I.P.S.) own words ....

First let me start with some general tips

The first and foremost thing in life is taking care of ones health even if you are preparing for the mother of all exams ,i.e. UPSC civil services exam. Have enough sleep everyday, do some regular exercises and take nutritious food. Civil Services Exam does not require a ‘24 X 365’ type of approach. Study for 5-6 hrs daily and regularly. This will help in preventing early burnouts which is a common syndrome among the C.S. aspirants.

Don’t go for lot of books unnecessarily. You are preparing just to clear an exam, not to get a PhD or masters in the subject chosen by you. Do keep it in mind. You just need to make your basics very strong.

Don’t read/study continuously for more than 45min/1hr. Our brain cannot concentrate for more than this time. Take a break of 20-30 minutes after every one hour, listen to music that you like, or read some periodicals or entertainment news in the news papers which relaxes your mind and then go for the next session.

Don’t read when you don’t feel like studying or are not able to concentrate. Be honest to yourself. Burning hours does not fetch results, what really matters is how much time you spent effectively. So, it is much better to spend 2-3 hours productively than merely sitting in front of book for 12 hours to prove to yourself and others that you are working hard.

Find sometime for your friends, talk with them regularly, gossip and relax……

.Do find some time to take a walk outside in the evenings or play some game which will keep you both physically and mentally fit.

Public Administration

Basic books(only aimed for prelims)

  1. Administrative Thinkers( Prasad and Prasad)
  2. Indian Administration ( Ramesh Arora and Rajni Goyal)
  3. Public Administration( any basic book which tells things in a simple way)
  4. Indian Constitution( Subash Kashyap)
  5. Indian Constitution (guide book-lakshmikanth)
  6. Coaching material from any good institute/teacher
  7. Question banks (eg..braintree)

Don’t try to read many foreign authors and waste your time. With the above mentioned books, one can easily pass the prelims.

First of all, read the basic text books and get an overview of the subject. Then keep the prelims syllabus near you and read chapter-wise from materials in your hand ( ie. text book, coaching material etc). Then attempt a mock /model Question paper of that particular chapter and try to complete with in the UPSC time-limits. Evaluate your performance and rectify your mistakes. Then only go to the next chapter and so on. Once you are finished with the individual chapters, then start attempting model Question papers, previous years prelims papers etc, that too with a time limit. Evaluate and repeat the exercise. The more number of sample questions you can practice, the better will be your confidence level to face the exams.( There is no need to go for mock tests conducted by coaching centres, do it yourself).If you do this you can surely cross the prelims hurdle with flying colors.

Remember what matters in the ultimate analysis is doing things differently and not just doing different things.

The strategy for mains preparations is an entirely different game which can be discussed later. Best of luck !!!

Anoop Krishna,IPS

(98th Rank ,2005)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

General Knowledge for UPSC Prelims -1

GK is a tough nut to crack for UPSC prelims because there is no beginning and no end.One should therefore try and prioritize areas from where questions are most likely to be asked. I am sharing with you what all I prepared for GK in these four years and I hope that it would at least give you a fair idea as to what one must read as part of GK preparation for prelims.I would be covering GK portion in several posts over a period of time and this is the first one in the series.

Important Inventions/Discoveries ---------- Scientist

1.Oxygen ----------- Joseph Priestly
2.Positron ----------- Anderson
3.Dual nature of electron --------De Broglie
4.Photo-electric effect-----------Einstein
6.Tuberculosis causing bacteria-----Robert Koch
7.Atom Bomb------Oppenheimer
8.Atomic Numbers-------Moseley
9.Atomic Theory-------Dalton
11.Cloning------Ian Wilmut
12.DNA structure-------Watson & Crick
14.Fax machine---------Alexander Bain
15.Fountain Pen--------L.E.Waterman
19.Lightning Conductor-------Benjamin Franklin
22.Optical Fiber------Narinder Kapany
23.Periodic Table------Mendeleyev
24.Printing Press-------Gutenberg
26. Quantum Theory-----Planck
27.Radio Telegraphy-----Marconi
28.Telegraph Code------Morse
31.Uranium Fission------Fermi
32.X-ray ------Wilhelm Roentgen
34.Cholera,T.B germs-------Robert Koch
35.Circulation of blood -------William Harvey
36.Leprosy Bacillus--------Hansen
37.Penicillin-------Alexander Fleming
38.Rabies vaccine-----Louis Pasteur
39.Rh-factor--------Karl Landsteiner
40.Vaccination-------Edward Jenner

Now this list is by no means comprehensive,but the point in GS preparation for prelims is that if you will keep reading without discriminating important from less important,you will end up reading a lot but remembering very less.....which would be a recipe for disaster.One can look up the inventions and discoveries from Manorama Yearbook or any other source,but learn to discriminate.Happy studying !!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How to prepare Current Affairs for UPSC Prelims

If anyone aspires to clear UPSC Prelims , preparing current affairs becomes a critical necessity.At least 40-45 questions in prelims are invariably asked from this section and if one has prepared well ,one can answer around 40 questions correctly.This can very well mean the difference between success and failure in this stage.

Now the question arises as to what is the most efficient way to prepare current affairs.I will share my way of preparing current affairs which worked well for me and all four times i was able to answer most of the questions from this section correctly.

I had basically three sources for preparation of current affairs-

1. The Hindu - one should make very brief notes from daily reading of the newspaper.Anything one feels relevant and important from prelims point of view should be jotted down in a separate notebook.If you have not started doing it, you should start doing it right now.
For example - Names of CEOs/CMDs of PSUs or big corporations , new projects/programmes launched by GOI , international happenings (must see the location of places on atlas) etc.

2. Frontline Magazines - Go through frontline magazines from June 2008 onwards till Feb 2009 . You need not read all articles ,just see the areas covered and note down important points like where particular summits were held.,where civil war is going on etc etc.The aim should be to supplement your daily reading of newspaper and to cover any important area which you might have missed.I used to take two frontline magazines and devote 40-45 minutes to each and note down whatever i felt to be important from prelims points of view.One added advantage with Frontline is that with most of their articles,there is an accompanying map of the location which is very handy for prelims preparation as location based questions are frequently asked.

3.Spectrum current affairs which comes out in April should be read end to end to make sure that there is no loop hole.I used to write on the top of each page whatever i felt to be really important from that page and it also helped in quick revision.

I know many of the aspirants would still not be satisfied and would want to know about few more sources.India Year Book is very thick and in all these four years of appearing in prelims i did not go through the complete book.Many people do it ,so its your choice,but what i did was to refer New Vishal Publications summarised version of India Year Book which can be read from end to end and also revised quickly.Since the changes in India year book are very less ,so one can buy previous year's New Vishal India Year Book summarised version and read it now.Other than this
one should go through Manorama Year Book(latest) current affairs portion especially calendar of events ,both national and international and the section on India especially about the states.It will give maximum result within minimum time.
If one does at least this much ,current affairs should not be a problem .Please feel free to post your questions in comments .

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How to Prepare Polity for IAS / UPSC Civil Services Prelims Examination

Polity is very important not only from IAS/ UPSC Civil Services Prelims but also from Mains Examination point of view, so the aim should be to get a good grip over polity.

One can rely on Ravindran Sir's notes on polity (Vajiram and Ravi) which can be sourced from any xerox shop in Rajender Nagar, Delhi. In case you are residing outside Delhi, then the best book for polity is "Polity by Laxmikant", this book should be read from end to end preferably. I personally found Polity by Laxmikant to be the best book as it is written in simple language and points format. It is a must read for any serious civil services aspirant.
There are usually 9-10 questions from polity in UPSC prelims general studies paper and most of them are easily doable if one is thorough with the concepts in polity.

For instance a matching question can be asked of the form :

Column - A                     --------------           Column - B
1.Directive Principles       --------------         A.South Africa
2.Emergency Provision    --------------         B.USA
3.Amendment Procedure  -------------          C.Ireland
4.Fundamental Rights      --------------         D.Germany

where you have to match from which country the respective provisions of the Indian Constitution have been taken. The correct key to above question just for information is : 1-C ; 2-D ; 3-A ; 4-B  

Similar type of matching questions are asked for Constitutional Amendments and their domain, for example it can be asked that with what does 91st Amendment Act 2003 deals?(it has put a ceiling on number of ministers). So prepare all the important and latest amendments.

Looking up previous polity questions asked in GS prelims paper would give you a fair idea that having clarity of concepts in polity would ensure you will answer correctly almost all polity related questions.

Many times aspirants are worried that how they can remember all the articles of the Constitution.Well ,the truth is you need not remember all the articles but only the important articles. For instance you should know that President can seek advisory opinion of Supreme Court under Article-143. The idea is that those provisions of constitution which keep coming in news are important like Article 144(Uniform civil code), Article-356(President's Rule) etc.

I shall be giving a list of important articles in one of the subsequent posts for benefit of newcomers to this exam. Happy studying !!!

What Not To Study For UPSC Prelims Exam

For every IAS/UPSC aspirant the most critical decision is to decide what to study , what to memorise and what can be simply left.

General Studies has no beginning and no end ,but it does have a core area which must be covered and a fringe area which can be covered depending on the time and inclination of the individual.

Core area in GS would include - Current Affairs, Polity, Modern Indian History (since 1857),Geography(essentially map based ,locations are frequently asked) General Mental Ability.These are essentially areas from where questions are most likely to feature in prelims and hence should be first priority.

Fringe areas that should be covered (but in comparatively less time) are General Knowledge, General science(especially biology part), Ancient and medieval history(selective), Economics(very rarely questions are asked,focus on current issues) etc.These areas will figure in exam but the number of questions that would be asked are highly variable.So aspirants should be careful as to how much time they allot to fringe areas and it should be in no case more than the time alloted for core areas.

To illustrate my point, this year (2008 UPSC Prelims) contained lot of questions that are essentially General Knowledge.Now many people might be tempted to go through voluminous books to know everything and will end up remembering nothing .GK cannot be built overnight, it takes time. So those who are not comfortable with GK should not try to mug up each and everything. Rather a more realistic approach would be to target those areas of GK from where questions are most likely. For example knowing inventors of major inventions like plane,submarine,TV etc can be more fruitful than trying to mug up everything not remembering anything when it matters.

I would take the example of History to make my point clear about knowing what not to study. History for non-history background students is tough nut to crack but little bit of smart work can make history a strong area in prelims. I read only class-8 and class-9 NCERT text books for History in my first attempt and was able to answer almost all the history questions while many friends who relied solely on coaching notes were not able to do so. If you are running short of time and don’t have much idea about history then reading the class8-9 history would be much more fruitful than wading through a Bipin Chandra history book.

I would be taking all sections of GS in separate posts and suggesting suitable reading material as well as sharing my way of preparing those areas. And a little bit of information that may be handy for Prelims 2009 in each section. This is to help and guide you in your preparation and should not be the whole of your preparation.

Understanding The Nature of The UPSC Prelims Examination

1.The exam is of objective type , so the emphasis is more on being able to recognize the answer and not recalling it verbatim.

2.The key to clearing prelims is being really good with your Optional subject and an above average score in GS.For example, I had psychology as my optional and having no background in the subject I had to focus much more on psychology than GS to get comfortable with the subject.

3.Eliminating wrong choices is as important as knowing the correct answer.With every elimination of a wrong option your chance of hitting the right answer increases exponentially.

4.Testing yourself on UPSC question papers of previous years will build your confidence as well as allow you to revise the subject. This should be done once you are comfortable with the subject sometimes around March.

5.Keeping cool in pressure situation is critical to success. Everyone gets anxious before exam but good preparation will help you to keep your nerves under control.

6.You are not required to answer all the questions ,but you should not miss out on easy questions and should also be able to answer few difficult questions which a large majority would not answer correctly.This would give you the edge.

You might be thinking all this is common sense ,but believe me common sense is not so common and I have seen people making common mistakes and suffering. So be open to ideas and make use of experience of others and do not learn only by trial and error.