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How to prepare for Civil Services Prelims Examination(CSE)

In last few years the number of candidates participating in Civil Services Examination has increased exponentially. This has resulted in increase in competition level making UPSC Prelims preparation more critical. The first question while preparing for Civil Services that comes in mind of an aspirant is how to prepare for Civil Service Examination (CSE) prelims because this indeed is the first step towards becoming a Civil Servant. But before making UPSC preparation strategy, one must know all about CSE.

What is Civil Services Examination (CSE)?

Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a national level examination which is conducted every year by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for recruitment of Civil Servants for the post of IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS and other Group A as well as group B services. The civil service is the backbone of Indian executive system. The responsibility of Indian Civil Servants is very critical so is the process of selecting them. UPSC conducts CSE in two tiers i.e., Prelims and Mains followed by a Personal Interview.

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Number of Candidates Participating

Every year approximately 8 lakhs students fill CSE application form out of which 3- 4 lakhs take up the prelim exam, from these 12,000 qualify for mains and around 1,000 finally get selected as Civil Servants. Here we shall be discussing how to prepare for CSE prelims and ace it.

Civil Services Exam Pattern

CSE prelims has two papers GS-I and GS-II for 200 marks each. GS-II also known as CSAT exam is the qualifying paper. This section is very important and the first step to crack CSE, as failure in this section will disqualify aspirants from prelims. This paper covers aptitude section to evaluate aspirants’ basic understanding. A general cut off for GS II is 33%.

To ace this section one must have understanding of following subjects:

  • Quantitative Ability
  • Verbal Ability and Reading comprehension
  • Reasoning
  • Data Interpretations

UPSC Prelims Preparation

upsc prelims preparation

Strategy to prepare for GS-II

  1. The first step to crack this section is to know one’s level of understanding of basic concepts. One can evaluate this by taking  mock tests purely based on GS II.
  2. According to the results of the tests, weak and strong areas must be analysed.
  3. The best way to prepare for Quantitative ability, Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretations is to understand the concepts and solve as many questions as possible. For Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehensions reading newspaper regularly and solving questions is must.

GS I plays significant role in qualifying prelims and taking aspirant to the next level. It usually has 100 questions and mainly covers the following syllabus:

  • Current events of  National and international of importance
  • Indian history and history of Indian National Movement
  • Geography-Indian and world
  • Indian Polity and Governance
  • Indian Economic and social development
  • Environmental and Ecology
  • General Science and Science & Technology

Strategy to prepare for GS-I

  1. One should know areas of strength and weakness.
  2. The knowledge of each subject should be slightly above high school and below college level,however, thorough knowledge is required.
  3. Current affairs require regular updates and hence reading newspaper, magazines and articles is must. One must also listen All India Radio News.

Overall strategy to prepare for CSE Prelims

To crack any exam with a good rank, there are two important things that should be kept in mind. Firstly one must know the exam thoroughly along with subjects included, marks allotted either subject wise or section wise. Secondly, the techniques to manage time to cover all the sections to get a decent qualifying score. UPSC Prelims Preparation also requires these two things but with little extra efforts.

Here are few more strategies for UPSC Prelims Preparation:

  1. One must be thorough with all the subjects and choose the best method of studying that can be either offline, online or classroom coaching.
  2. Aspirant must keep their notes updated. This shall help them during revision.
  3. Selection of the best books and authors is necessary. NCERT books are an important component of UPSC Prelims preparations.
  4. Time management is must, hence there must be proper study planner.
  5. One must seek guidance from a Mentor or a Teacher.
  6. Test must be taken regularly. If one makes a mistake in any of the questions the doubt must be cleared immediately.

UPSC Prelims preparation requires an adroit guidance and strict time management as the syllabus is very vast. With the advancement in methods of education, online learning technique has seen a boost.  With this, a lot of options have opened for e-learning where aspirants can have one on one interactions with faculties via video lectures, ample number of test material that are topic wise and subject wise, revision lectures and mock exams. This shall not only help in time management but shall also give a perfect schedule to plan studies and other activities.