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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 ...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Questions Concerning IAS / UPSC Civil Services Prelims Preparation

When I started my preparation for IAS / UPSC Civil Services Examination in October 2004, confusion reigned supreme. And believe me I was not a case in isolation, all my friends were equally confused and apprehensive about this mother of all exams. Coaching institutes, howsoever good their intentions may have been, also added to this panic situation. Everyone whom I met spoke of the three lakh odd aspirants who appear in prelims but only a few thousands make it to the mains and so on. What all this negative information does is to create a fear psychosis among aspirants and many of them lose the battle before it has even begun.The point is instead of seeing the glass as half-empty ,why not see it as half-full and with intelligent hard-work the glass can be filled to its capacity.

Yes, clearing IAS / UPSC Civil Services Examination is not easy but it is by no means an impossible task. What is needed is sound preparation backed by sincerity in approach and a positive attitude towards life in general and this exam in particular. One has to add to one's strength and minimize one's weaknesses. There is no such thing as a perfect preparation, many aspirants keep preparing for years thinking that one fine day their preparation would be perfect. But perfection is something which cannot be realized in practice, the point is to strive for perfection but not get too much sucked into doing everything in a copybook fashion. With my experience of writing and clearing prelims all four times, I can only say that if a person starts even right now in earnest clearing prelims should not be an unsurmountable hurdle.

I look forward to answering the queries of aspirants related to IAS / UPSC Civil Services Examination preparation from General Studies point of view and also for Psychology and Public Administration optionals. You can post your queries in comments and i will be replying to them at the earliest. All the very best !!!

Is Coaching Really Needed For Clearing UPSC Prelims

I remember that when i had joined coaching for UPSC Prelims-Cum-Mains in October 2004for General Studies and Psychology,i was always running against the time and for a long time thee was no sense of direction as to what to read and from where to read.Many aspirants ask that which is the best coaching institute and when should we take coaching etc etc.Well, there are no easy answers, when i took coaching Vajiram & Ravi used to be the final word in GS coaching and it still continues to attract students in droves.Though in the past three-four years others like ALS-Interactions and Shriram have also come up alongwith the usual suspects Chanakya and Rau's.
But remember that any coaching institute by itself is no guarantee that you will clear prelims,but yes it will give you a sense of direction and make you aware of the competition that is out there.So,whether you take coaching or no coaching is entirely your decision, my advice would be to go for coaching if u really lack a sense of direction and have money and time to invest.Otherwise self-studies under right kind of guidance can be as effective if not more so.
This blog is written by me(Abhishek; www.upsc-prelims.blogspot.com) and i am adding this line in middle because some people have taken my articles without permission and have posted it elsewhere.And when readers comment or ask questions ,i receive no intimation,so please confirm whether this is the same blog that i have mentioned,otherwise follow my link by typing www.upsc-prelims.blogspot.com on the address bar, and i will answer ur querises personally!
Some suggestions :
1.Don't go by the tall claims made by institutes, many of these claims are fake.
2.Do your own survey,take help from aspirants who have already taken coaching in deciding on a particular institute.
3.Don't take a hasty decision by just attending one or two sample classes,ask people who have done the entire course and how they felt about the coaching quality.
4.Coaching like any other instrument can do you good as well as harm depending on how you make use of it.All 300 odd students would be taught the same thing in the same manner, so it would be upto you to make the difference and come up trumps.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Important Books For Psychology Optional in IAS / UPSC Civil Services Examination

Here is a list of books that are useful for Psychology especially from IAS / UPSC Civil Services Examination point of view :

1.Psychology - by Robert A.Baron
ISBN-81-7808 623-9 (Pearson Education)

2.Introduction to Psychology - Morgan & King
ISBN-0-07-462250-1 (Tata Mc graw Hill)

3. NCERT Psychology Text Books For Classes XI and XII

4. Kaplan's GRE for Psychology ( Required only for getting more clarity on fundamental concepts)

5.Penguin's Dictionary of Psychology
(just to look up terms and definitions quickly)

For starters this is all that you need for getting on track for Psychology Optional preparation as far as UPSC Civil Services Examination is concerned. Start with Baron and then read Morgan&King. After getting some familiarity with terms and names in psychology read GRE book. Also one should get the Xerox notes of Mukul Pathak (Vajiram & Ravi) for comprehensive preparation. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

How to prepare Psychology for UPSC Prelims ?

Psychology is very popular among the UPSC/IAS aspirants as a second optional in Mains, but in prelims very few people take it up. Psychology is primarily opted in prelims by those who have a background in the subject or by doctors. But then there are exceptions to every rule and this generalisation is hardly a rule. I opted for Psychology in prelims because of the curiosity and interest factor though i had considered history and public administration previously.I realised that Psychology was one subject which i could read again and again and yet not feel drained.In fact with every repeated reading one acquires newer insights into the subject. Many aspirants ask that which optional should they select and my answer (backed with some experience) invariably is that you chose any optional/subject depending on your interest in the subject, just don't have this herd mentality that since everyone else is opting for this particular optional i should also take it up.Because whatever subject you opt for in prelims, you will have to read it again and again to get clarity of concepts essential for this exam.And believe me you can clear the prelims with any optional provided you have the right preparation and attitude towards the exam.Don't be negative and listen to others but chart your own course.So i opted for psychology primarily because of interest in the subject.
I joined Vajiram & Ravi for GS and Psychology in the winter of 2004 and slowly i realised that in popular perception i had committed a suicidal error by taking up Psychology for prelims.Everyone warned me about the low success ratio of psychology students in prelims and how tough it is and so on.Thankfully, i got good support and guidance from my mentors,family and friends which helped in clearing prelims with psychology in my first attempt itself.

If you have psychology as your prelims optional then this is what you must do :

1.Baron and Morgan-King are two text books that ned to be read from end to end.Don't think that only few chapters are important,don't be selective just thank your stars that in psychology you have to read just two books .Moreover the subject matter is so interesting, but do make synoptic notes of what you study.

2.Get the class-notes of Mukul Pathak Sir (Vajiram & Ravi) which should be available in xerox shops.Even if you do not get it,no harm done but try getting it.

3.Get GRE book by KAPLAN for Psychology. This book is a sure shot winner all the way but much would depend on how you make use of it. It contains two test papers with detailed explanations and tips on how to arrive at a correct answer in MCQ's even when you are not sure about the answer.

4.Get the previous ten years question papers of UPSC for psychology.The problem is that these are unsolved.I can help those of you who are interested in this separately as i have solved the papers till 2008.Though in psychology sometimes the options are so close that the right answer would depend on the examiner's point of view in framing the question.But not to worry as this is the same for all the candidates.

5.Make it a point that you get familiarity with the names and their contributions in psychology.These are easy questions and you should not miss out on them.

6.Don't be over-cautious in exam because of negative marking,back your instincts if you have prepared well.

I will be covering psychology in much more detail in later posts,please feel free to ask anything relevant to prelims and UPSC preparation.Your comments and queries will be my motivation in continuing with this blog .All the very best !!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

UPSC Prelims 2009 Notification !!!

So on 6th December UPSC has come out with the notification for civil services prelims examination scheduled to be held on 17th May 2009.
Candidates must apply in the Common Application Form which can be purchased from the Designated Head Post Offices/Post Offices throughout the country against cash payment of Rs. 20/- (Rupees Twenty only).
All applications must reach the "Secretary, Union Public Service Commission, Dholpur House, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi - 110069" either by hand or by Post/Speed Post or by Courier, on or before the 5th January, 2009.

Candidates should note that their will be penalty (Negative Marking) answers marked by a candidate in the Objective Question Papers.

The Preliminary Examination will consist of two papers of Objective type (multiple choice questions) and carry a maximum of 450 marks(optional subject - 120 questions carrying 2.5 marks each ;general studies -150 questions of 1 mark each).Thus making for a total of 450 marks(300-optional ; 150-gs).
It is evident that one needs to focus more on the optional for two simple reasons :
1.The optional carries more weightage marks wise,twice that of general studies.
2.Secondly and more importantly GS is like a vast ocean ,unless one is able to prioritize areas one would always find it difficult to cover GS in its totality ,while the optional subject on the other hand has a well defined syllabus.
So,the idea is not to neglect GS but try and get very good grip over one's optional subject.

To get a more comprehensive idea of the optional subjects and plan of examination ,one can refer UPSC website www.upsc.gov.in