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									Get Set Go IAS

   Prepare for IAS the RIGHT Way!

     By Lazylord

     © IAS Kracker 2011. All Rights Reserved.
Get Set Go IAS                                 

While there are many IAS exam related sites and blogs out there this e-
book provides you tips to get an edge in your civil services preparation
over your competition. This e-book is not about the civil services
syllabus or examination plan but goes much beyond this. For the
syllabus and details of the IAS examination you can refer the UPSC
website itself. So I have covered these only in passing. Which begs the
question, what can you get from this e-book?

You will

   Begin your preparation without any false starts and thus save
    valuable time and effort
   Know exactly which books to refer for IAS
   Select the right optionals within a short time
   Save time and money by reading the right books and notes
   Decide whether you require coaching and if you do then which
   Learn how to read newspapers for current affairs and GK
   Gain inspiration from success stories of previous IAS toppers

                                 Page 1
Get Set Go IAS                                 

How to read this e-Book?
While the chapters are arranged logically and in sequence, articles that
are relevant from this e-Book’s point of view but which have been
published on IAS Kracker or some other site are not included here to
avoid repetition.

Instead I have included them as links or under the tag of ‘Additional
Reading’ at the bottom of each page. I suggest you go through these
articles included under Additional Reading and even the other links as
they are there to provide you additional insight into your IAS
preparation. No doubt you will benefit tremendously if you read this

Also at the end of this e-Book some bonus links are provided to free
study material, You Tube videos of past IAS toppers, interviews and the
like. Be sure to check them out!

Note: This eBook contains affiliate links to sites where you can purchase
IAS books online.

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Get Set Go IAS                                                               

How to read this e-Book?........................................................................ 2
What is the IAS? ...................................................................................... 5
The Civil Services Exam ........................................................................... 7
No Need to Fear CSAT ............................................................................. 9
Common Myths about the IAS Exam .................................................... 10
Is there an Ideal Time to Start with IAS Preparation? ........................... 14
Do You Need Coaching? ........................................................................ 17
Books to Refer for Prelims/CSAT ........................................................... 19
      Books for CSAT Paper 2 .................................................................. 20
GS Syllabus and Question Papers: Your Best Guide for Prelims
Preparation ........................................................................................... 22
Getting started with Prelims Preparation: Routinize your day .............. 26
How to Read the Newspaper ................................................................ 32
Can I Prepare for Prelims in Just 4 Months? ......................................... 37
Prelims Quick Revision Tips ................................................................... 39
   GK ...................................................................................................... 39
   Geography ......................................................................................... 39
   History ............................................................................................... 39
   Science .............................................................................................. 39
   Economy ............................................................................................ 39
How to score easy marks in IAS Prelims ................................................ 40
What score is enough to clear the Prelims? .......................................... 41
How to Select the Right Optionals for IAS ............................................. 42

                                                  Page 3
Get Set Go IAS                                                           

If They Could You Can Too – IAS Success Stories................................... 50
Bonus Stuff! .......................................................................................... 53

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Get Set Go IAS                                    

What is the IAS?

IAS or the Indian Administrative Service is arguably one of the most
prestigious services in India and is part of the Indian Civil Service (ICS),
which is often called the 'Steel Frame' of the country. The term 'steel
frame' was first coined by Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, independent India's
first Home Minister and father of the ICS as it stands today. But the IAS
is not entirely a post-independence creation. Far from it. It is the
forerunner to the Indian Civil Service (ICS) that was created by the
British to govern this vast and diverse country. The British realized that
unless some sort of uniformity in administration, laws, and rules was
introduced it would be impossible to govern a country of this size and
diversity. Thus the ICS was born in the late seventeenth century
although the nomenclature came about only in the eighteenth century.

But to understand the importance of the IAS we need to first take a
look at the roles of an IAS officer or what an IAS officer does.

                                   Page 5
Get Set Go IAS                                   

The roles that any IAS officer has to play are both multi-dimensional
and challenging. Consider this: As an IAS you are responsible for the
smooth functioning of an entire district, you have to respond to any
crisis situation that may arise unexpectedly; you have to ensure
harmonious public order, have to liase with different stake holders,
have to deal with drought and other adverse agricultural situations, and
arrange for VIP visits and many more functions. How many people get
to enact so many roles at the same time? Only those who choose to
and have the mettle to realize their goal of cracking the civil services

But the functions mentioned above are not the only one that you will
execute as an IAS officer. Rather these responsibilities will be entrusted
to you at the early stage of your career. As you progress in the civil
services ladder you will take on more specialized roles that are much
wider in scope. For instance, as the Secretary of a department in the
Union government you will oversee that department in all the states
from coordination and policy framework point of view.

Finally did you know that the head of the bureaucracy in India is also
one of the senior most and distinguished IAS officer? Yes, the Cabinet
Secretary is the highest post that you as an IAS can aspire for and for
the fortunate few, even experience it. Isn't this interesting?

Additional Reading:

Learn all about the IAS

                                  Page 6
Get Set Go IAS                                   

The Civil Services Exam

Now that you are clear about the duties of an IAS officer let's start
knowing how you can become one. The Indian Administrative Service
(IAS) is part of the Civil Services which also comprises of other high
profile services like the Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign
Service (IFS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Indian Railways Traffic
Service (IRTS), Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS), and many
more. The entrance test to these esteemed services is conducted by
the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), headquartered at
Shahjahan Road, New Delhi.

The civil services examination is conducted by the UPSC once every
year and the entire exam cycle is approximately of one year duration.
Within this one year a civil services aspirant has to qualify three stages
of the examination to emerge successful: Preliminary, Mains, and

To appear for the Civil Services Preliminary (CSP) exam (nowadays
called the CSAT, unofficially) you have to fill and send the CSP form to
UPSC within the stipulated date. The notification for the CSP exam
usually comes in the second fortnight of December and the
examination is conducted about five months later in May.

On qualifying the preliminary examination you need to appear for the
Mains examination held usually in the last week of October in the same
year and the duration of this exam is about 20-25 days. The results of
the Mains exam are declared in March and the personality test or
interviews begin in the same month itself and last for 35-40 days. The
final result which is based on your score in the Mains and the Interview

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Get Set Go IAS                                  

test (the Preliminary test is only of qualifying nature and the marks
scored are not taken into consideration in the later stages) is declared
one or two weeks before the next Preliminary exam in May.

Additional Reading:

What is the IAS Exam?

                                  Page 8
Get Set Go IAS                                  

No Need to Fear CSAT

As you know optionals are out from 2011 Prelims/CSAT and GS has
been extended to paper 2 as well. But many IAS aspirants fear CSAT like
death incarnate! Why is it so? Some of the reasons are:

1. IAS aspirants have usually paid less attention to General Studies
paper of pre and relied heavily on optional paper to see them through

2. GS paper 2 has completely new topics like decision making, logical
reasoning, and comprehension

3. Confusion about the safe score to qualify CSAT

4. Heavy focus on mental ability in CSAT paper 2

But are these fears well founded? No. If you follow the steps detailed in
this e-Book to master the Prelims, CSAT will be fun to crack and not a
nightmare as at present. I will show how paper 2 can be turned into a
strength to score heavily instead of a being a bane.

Additional Reading:

The New CSAT Syllabus

How will the new Prelims/CSAT syllabus impact you?

                                 Page 9
Get Set Go IAS                                    

Common Myths about the IAS Exam

There are some myths associated with the Civil Services exam that need
to be exposed, tackled, and demolished before proceeding further as
these myths can become mental blocks for beginners and may even
cause a loss in self-confidence.

To clear the IAS you need to start preparing right from high school

Good they didn’t tell you to start preparing from kinder garden! While
the saying is true that “well begun is half done”, there is little truth in
the saying that only early beginners can clear the IAS exam. And how
early is another question. Even if you can start preparing right after
your graduation or post-graduation that is early enough. And even if
you can’t for some reasons, there are many success stories of those
who managed to crack the civil services in spite of starting after
crossing 28 Yrs. What matters is the will and commitment, rest all
things will fall into place. Just try. Did you know Mona Pruthi (2006 IAS
topper), Karthik Adapa (2008 IAS topper), and Shubhra Saxena (2009
topper) were all 30 yrs of age when they finally managed to crack the

Only those who have been toppers throughout become IAS

Pooh. XYZ obtained the golden score of 40 percent in his graduation
and managed to appear for the civil services only because UPSC
requires a simple graduate in any discipline. Guess what he is today? A
2004 batch IPS officer. And he isn’t the only one, there are many out
there who have been quite average students in their school and college
life yet they have scaled the IAS peak. You can too.

Get Set Go IAS                                  

UPSC is biased against Literature or xyz subjects

Really? In reality all subjects are treated on an even keel by UPSC.
Although it’s true that some subjects find more favour in Mains for
some years before being replaced by some other optional, this is a cycle
that is ongoing and all subjects are covered over a period of time. In
fact, Literature Subjects like Pali, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, have become
quite popular and have been fetching good marks recently. Mona
Pruthi, 2006 topper took English Literature as one of her optionals so
why can’t you?

One should only select “scoring” subjects for Mains

Frankly speaking what’s scoring and what’s not is quite relative to the
person selecting an optional. People manage to score well with obscure
subjects like Veterinary Science or Urdu Literature. What matters is
your level of interest in a particular subject, some background in the
subject, and your grasp of the optional. A simple test to know whether
the subject is right for you or not is to ask yourself these questions:

  a) Do you often fall asleep while reading xyz subject’s books?
  b) Does it seem like too much hard work to study that subject?
  c) Do you consciously or unconsciously try to avoid studying that
     optional and instead do some other reading or work?
  d) In spite of reading the same thing multiple times are you still
     unable to comprehend it?

If this is the pattern you observe then that optional may not be right for
you even if it is generally considered “scoring”. Obviously the above
indicators should occur frequently for you to leave the optional for
some other. Once or twice or even occasionally is quite normal.

Get Set Go IAS                                         

Coaching is a must for any subject

No it’s not a compulsion and many people I personally know have never
taken any coaching and still managed to clear the civil services.
Remember, coaching is only a tool to keep you on course but you
yourself will have to sail through the waters. Yes, coaching can ease
your hard work somewhat by providing study materials and simplifying
concepts but in the end it’s what you make of the coaching you
received that matters. Just because you enroll in the most popular
coaching institute for a particular subject does not mean you have
become an IAS. You will need to strive on your own for that.

If I don’t clear in the first two attempts it will be too late

Did you know most people clear the civil services exam in their third or
fourth attempt? Most of the IAS toppers give their final attempt when
they manage to come out trumps. Mona Pruthi, Karthik Adapa, Shubhra
Saxena the list goes on. Civil services exam is like old wine. The number
of times you attempt it the better you get. So don’t worry about
attempts rather learn from your previous ones to do still better. Better
means better preparation, better answer writing, better perspective
and not just more hard work.

You need to study 18 hours every day to clear the IAS

Are you a machine? Can anyone realistically study that much every day
with full concentration and still be able to comprehend what he or she
has studied? I don’t think so. What matters is not the quantity but the
quality of your preparation. Even if you somehow manage to study “18
hours” for two or three days your output will fall to three to four hours
on subsequent days. So instead of such inconsistent ouput you should

Get Set Go IAS                                  

go for uniform study every day. Once your mind and body can take no
more, stop. Refresh yourself and continue the battle the next day. I for
one studied 10-12 hours daily and managed to clear the Prelims in 10
months’ time. Even you can.

Get Set Go IAS                                    

Is there an Ideal Time to Start with IAS Preparation?

This is a common question and a good start for our IAS journey. When
should you start your preparation? After high school, junior college,
graduation, post-graduation or after gaining some work experience?

Although there isn’t a single start time for all, the earlier you start the
smoother your path will become when you give your first civil services
attempt. In fact if you start preparing early you will be more confident
to attempt the IAS exam after a year of serious preparation. Otherwise
you might unnecessarily procrastinate for some years before finally
taking the plunge.

Obviously you don't have to select your optionals after high school. Not
yet. Just start reading some general knowledge magazines like Frontline
or Civil Services Chronicle or Pratiyogita Darpan and a good newspaper
like The Hindu or Indian Express. If you are sure that you want to
become a civil servant before beginning your graduation then you can
opt for a subject that excites you and which you plan to take up for the
IAS exam.

If you can select both optionals right at the graduation stage it will be
an added bonus but selecting even one optional will do. If you plan to
pursue your masters before attempting the IAS exam then be sure you
select a subject that you can opt for in the civil services. This way you
will have only one subject to study from scratch for the IAS.

But even if you graduated and/or did masters in some totally unrelated
subject to the optionals you’ve selected or plan to take up in the IAS
exam then fret not as you are in good company.

Get Set Go IAS                                  

Many IAS toppers did the same but still managed to master two
completely new subjects in a short period. This is the beauty of the IAS
exam. Even I selected Sociology and Public Administration (Pub Ad)
while graduating in Electronics and Telecom.

Get Set Go IAS                                   

 Assuming that you are completely new to IAS preparation, how do you
start out, which magazines and books to read, for how many hours?
These and others are the common questions asked by IAS freshers who
are taken back by the complexity of this multi-layered but fascinating

The generally accepted civil services preparation calendar runs from
June to May. That is, freshers and veterans start their preparation from
the first week of June. But let's focus on the IAS freshers exclusively for
the time being. If for example you’re planning to attempt the 2012
Prelims, I suggest you start preparation from January 2011 itself instead
of waiting till June of 2011. This will enable you to cover the CSAT/Pre
syllabus comprehensively as well as allow sufficient time to cover one
mains optional before December end.

Keep the following reference books and newspapers in hand while
preparing for the IAS prelims:

     Civil Services Syllabus covering the Pre and Mains syllabus entirely
     Subscribe to a good English newspaper like The Hindu or a good
      regional language newspaper
     The past 10 years Prelims section-wise question paper set from
      Arihant's or New Vishal

These three materials should become your best companions for the
complete duration of your civils preparation.

Get Set Go IAS                                   

Do You Need Coaching?

This is the most common question asked by IAS aspirants and quite
important one too. Let me say this again. It depends. Depends on your
knowledge of the subject, confidence, study material, and time
available. Let’s take it one by one.

Knowledge of the subject: If GS is completely new to you then you
need some guidance to get started. But General Studies is quite vast
and obviously you will know at least something, at least some
knowledge of the current events. But something or the bare minimum
is not enough to get going so you may opt for coaching if you feel you
need to get on pace quickly.

Availability of study materials: Sometimes it so happens that we don’t
possess the required books and notes for Prelims preparation. For
instance mental ability has been expanded in Paper 2 and many new
topics like Quantitative Aptitude, Logical Reasoning, and Data
Interpretation have been added. Now if you don’t have the required
material for it like the Crack CSAT book by Disha or Cracking CSAT by
Arihant then you won’t know how to tackle the paper 2 related
questions. Or it could so happen that even books or notes on mental
ability are insufficient as you have a non-science background. In that
case some assistance to tackle the math-based questions may be

Time: As they say time is the deciding factor in almost all aspects of IAS
preparation or any examination for that matter. If you have only little
time left before the Prelims, say 3 or 4 months, and you haven’t

Get Set Go IAS                                  

covered enough portion of the syllabus then you may need to enroll for
a crash course to cover the scoring parts in quick time.

Finally, let’s talk about confidence. This is a crucial factor in the IAS
exam. So many people, in spite of possessing good knowledge of GS,
keep postponing their first attempt year after year just because they
lack confidence in their ability, preparation or both, while others
genuinely feel less confident about the Prelims owing to lack of
preparation. If you’re in the latter bracket you could consider coaching
to boost your preparation but if you’re in the former then stop
procrastinating and attempt the Prelims. It’s not that scary.

Additional Reading:

Which Coaching Class to Join?

Get Set Go IAS                                  

Books to Refer for Prelims/CSAT

Obviously you will need books to read for Prelims. This is the most
definitive list of CSAT/Prelims books you need to refer. Nothing more,
nothing less.

   Past 10 year’s Solved Papers and the IAS syllabus are a must.
    Refer to the chapter on preparing for Prelims using these two
    guide books to understand their relevance.

Current Affairs:

     Manorama Year Book, not just for current affairs but a very good
      source for general knowledge as well
     The Hindu newspaper and/or The Indian Express
     A good magazine like Civil Services Chronicle or Pratiyogita
      Darpan or Wizard in that order of preference

Indian Polity:

     Our Constitution by Subhash Kashyap
     Bare constitution (containing just the Articles and Amendments)
      by P.M Bakshi

Indian History:

     NCERT Books. Class VIII to X
     India's Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra
     Spectrum's Brief History of Modern India (useful if you are short
      of time)


Get Set Go IAS                                

     NCERT Books. Class XI and XII
     Oxford Student Atlas for Map based questions
     Certificate Course in Physical Geography by Goh Cheng Leong

Indian Economy:

     Economic Survey that comes just before the annual budget. (Also
      very useful for Mains)
     Spectrum's Indian Economy or Vajiram Notes for fundamentals

General Science:

     NCERT text books. Class IX and X

General Studies Manual:

     A good manual for paper 1 of CSAT/Prelims. I recommend the
      highly popular GS Manual by Tata McGraw Hill (TMH). Another
      good choice is the CSAT Manual by Pearson covering both the

Books for CSAT Paper 2

Fortunately IAS Prelims paper 2 requires far less books compared to
Paper 1. Here I list all the popular books for CSAT Paper 2. Remember,
you don’t need to refer all of them and different people will like
different books so I have listed more than one book.

Crack CSAT 2011
Crack CSAT by Disha is quite a useful book for IAS paper 2 as I have
mentioned in this post. Not as popular as Unique Publication’s book for
CSAT but equally effective, nonetheless.

Get Set Go IAS                                  

CSAT Paper 2 by Unique
By far the most popular book for CSAT, Unique Publication has come
out with a comprehensive book for Paper 2 covering all the topics in
the 2nd paper. Something about Unique Publications. Although it’s not
as popular as TMH but its books are trusted by many IAS aspirants for
the comprehensive and correct approach to any subject. And CSAT
Paper 2 is no exception to this.

Cracking CSAT by Arihant Publications
This is another good book for Paper 2 by Arihant Publications. Although
it has been released quite late in the market I feel it is no less useful
than the books listed above. The plus points of this guide for CSAT
paper 2 are:

  It claims to be the only book to cover the CSAT Paper 2 completely
 There are many sample questions for understanding and many
   practice questions
 Difficult concepts are explained quite well to a beginner with non-
   Science background
 Decision making, interpersonal skills, comprehension are also
 Although there are minor grammatical errors in some sections I feel,
 overall, Cracking CSAT by Arihant will add value to your CSAT

Apart from these books keep your eyes open to news happenings
around you as UPSC asks not just the latest current affairs events but
even those two to three years back.

Recommended Reading:

Detailed Review of All Books for CSAT

Get Set Go IAS                               

GS Syllabus and Question Papers: Your Best Guide for Prelims

                      Image source: Wikipedia

Prelims preparation requires smart hard work as you must be aware by
now. One of the first steps in your CSAT preparation is to develop a
daily routine. Once you start your Prelims preparation, keep the past
five year’s General studies question papers and GS syllabus with you
whenever you are preparing for the Prelims.

After selecting a topic to study from the GS Syllabus, go through the
past five year’s questions from that topic before you read the topic.
Once you do this, then read or more correctly, study that topic. Now
you will encounter answers to the questions you just went through and
pronto, you know that this part is important and requires extra
attention. But wait, there’s more.

Get Set Go IAS                                  

Whenever you finish a section, again refer to the past year’s questions
to see how many can you answer correctly. If you found some
questions that weren’t covered in your first reading go through the
material again or even refer additional sources so that all questions are

Let me give you an example.

Suppose you’re studying the Fundamental Rights part of Indian Polity
(BTW get Subhash Kashyap’s Our Constitution and P.M Bakshi’s
book for all the Articles as I mentioned in my post on IAS Books) for GS
Paper 1, first go through the past five year’s questions on Fundamental
Rights from a good section-wise handbook like Disha or Arihant (they
have the most authentic answers); then go through the Fundamental
Rights part.

After you’ve gone through the relevant articles, you should test
yourself against the previous five year’s papers on Indian Polity and see
how you performed. If you could answer all the questions correctly,
you’ve covered Fundamental Rights part quite thoroughly.

But if you couldn’t, no need to fret. Just see which questions you had
some idea about but weren’t sure about the answer and which ones
were completely new to you and had not encountered while reading
the articles on Fundamental Rights. Now go back to your source and
read again covering the points that you may have skipped earlier. If the
material doesn’t cover it, refer additional books or notes so that you’re
comfortable in answering all the past five year’s questions on
Fundamental Rights.

Get Set Go IAS                                  

Benefits of this Approach

Continuous Tracking: These two reference books, the GS Syllabus
and Question Papers, can lessen your workload considerably in the long
run and enables you to track your Prelims preparation very effectively.
Suppose you were preparing Physical Geography from the Oxford
Student Atlas (Again the best one for reasons mentioned in Books for
CSAT), you can track how well you have covered the map-based
questions just after you started going through the Atlas instead of
leaving it till the end of February or March which might be just too late
for course correction.

Test Yourself: Suppose you don’t have time left to enroll for Prelims or
CSAT test series, because you have been solving the previous year’s
section-wise questions all year through you won’t feel uncertain about
your preparation level. Instead you will feel confident about attempting
the IAS Prelims even without the help of any test series. So you save
some money for other important stuff related to the civil services, right

Save Precious Time: Let’s consider a scenario. You’re covering Modern
India from Bipin Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence and adopt
a ‘read all strategy’. What is this strategy? Well, simply reading a book
from the first page to last without bothering to find out the more
important topics or chapters from the lesser ones. Also not testing
yourself mid-way is included within this. Suppose you take 20 days to
cover the book and then after some months you decide to solve some
questions related to Modern History but you realize that many of the
questions are completely new, the matter for which you never
encountered while reading the History material. You panic. It not only

Get Set Go IAS                                

spoils your strategy but dents your confidence as well. On the other
hand, adopting the above approach admittedly requires more effort
but is far more useful for your Prelims preparation in the long run.

Get Set Go IAS                                  

Getting started with Prelims Preparation: Routinize your day

Yes I hate routine as much as you do but sometimes a little routine and
regimen can do wonders to your Prelims preparation. As you must be
aware the Prelims is a 10-12 months affair and long-term affairs need
some amount of loyalty as well. Right? Well then let’s learn how we can
schedule our day for maximal benefit in some simple steps.

Step 1: Determine the average time you study daily

To do this simple observe the time you studied in a week and divide
that by 7. If you devote 5 or 6 days a week to IAS prep then divide by 5
or 6 as the case may be. You should have an exact or approximate
figure like 10 hours or 10-12 hours every day.

Step 2: Determine the number of subjects to study daily

Get Set Go IAS                                   

I know there are only two papers in the Pre but within each of them
there are so many to cover like History, Geography, and Mental Ability
etc. Now I am sure you can’t study all of them in one day even if you
devote only a small amount of time to each. Some people try this but I
don’t think it’s a wise idea to go for ‘study all’ approach. Rather you
should take up two or three subjects at most on a daily basis, finish it
completely or at least a major portion of it and then switch to different
ones. This is essential as finishing a subject in full will give you
confidence in your preparation, will enable you to tackle all the
questions in a particular section completely, and help you to keep track
of your progress more effectively. Remember, reading newspapers or
watching news programmes is not included within this.

Step 3: Divide time between the different subjects

Till last year when you had study one optional subject, I used to devote
about 70-85% time to the optional and rest to some section of GS.
Obviously I read newspapers on a daily basis and didn’t count it within
this time split. But now that both papers are GS based you might pick
up one subject each from Paper 1 and 2 or go with both subjects from
the same paper or one from P1 or P2 and two from P2 or P1
respectively. After you’ve done this, divide the total time that you
determined in Step 1 between the subjects you will be studying daily.

How to do this?

While there is no one best method of doing this a simple way is to
devote more time to that subject or section that you find a) more
difficult b) carries more weightage in terms of number of questions
asked c) has many topics to cover, that is, is pretty vast d) quite new as
you’ve just started with it.

Get Set Go IAS                                   

The exact time to devote to each of the topics will vary from person to
person. Also you can be little flexible in this. For instance, if you have
been devoting 3 hours to study Modern Indian History every day and
have covered a major part of it you might reduce the time devoted to it
by 30 mins or 1 hour and allocate this to some other subject that you
study alongside Modern History, maybe Data Interpretation.

Step 4: Stick to your routine

Now that you have a daily schedule ready, stick to it like Bees stick to
Honey. In any long term work program scheduling is important but
even more important is sticking to the commitment you made to
yourself. If you committed to clearing the IAS, stick to it. And for this
you committed to devote certain amount of hours every day and then
you committed to study one, two, or three subjects on a daily basis till
you covered it in entirety. Stick to it. As I mentioned in Step 3 above
some flexibility is essential and the odd day off is OK but don’t make it a
habit otherwise you will see yourself lying to yourself and the
commitments you made.

Benefits of developing a routine

     Track your progress easily: Instead of doing everything in bits and
      pieces and struggling to up the loose ends learn to cover the
      major distance before taking up a new path. This way you can test
      yourself against past papers to know which are your strong and
      weak areas and rectify the weak ones. If you cover only a small
      part of every subject, you’ll have to wait till Jan or Feb to test
      yourself and if for some reasons you deviated off course then
      course correction might be too late. Avoid this by finishing off a

Get Set Go IAS                                   

      subject as quickly as possible and effective scheduling is a good
      way to do this.
     Build up stamina to devote long hours of study: If you thought
      only running and other physical activities required stamina, think
      again. Mental work is also included within the ambit of stamina.
      In fact if you’re mentally not up to the task of devoting 8-12 hours
      daily to your preparation, then other things are of no use. When
      you devote a consistent time and effort to a particular subject
      then you not only gain mastery in it but also develop immunity to
      boredom resulting from studying a topic for long hours.

     Prepare yourself for Mains more effectively: In the mains as you
      have to cover each optional thoroughly you’ll need to devote long
      hours and even days on end to just one subject. This will require
      prior practice as you could easily lose focus and indulge in time
      wasting tactics if you are bored of a particular topic or subject.
      But by devoting long hours to a single subject during your Prelims
      preparation itself, you’re indirectly preparing for the Mains as
      well. And the benefit of this approach will be quite visible during
      the Mains.

     Cover the scoring sections early: The Prelims is such that some
      sections like Indian Polity are easy to score off. And the right way
      to crack Prelims easily is to cover most or some subjects entirely
      than covering something of everything. When you consistently
      devote X number of hours to a topic over a period of time, you
      secure Y number of marks from it beforehand and this is

Get Set Go IAS                                

I am also aware that some people like to divide time in terms of days
and not hours. For instance, you might study History for two days and
Geography for one day. Even this approach is fine as long as you’re
sticking to your schedule to reap the benefits discussed above.

Get Set Go IAS

Get Set Go IAS                                   

How to Read the Newspaper

Many IAS aspirants stumble in this enjoyable activity of reading the
newspaper. The best way to read the newspaper is to enjoy it just like
you would enjoy reading a novel or magazine.

Reading a newspaper for civil services preparation should never be a
chore; a mundane task that has to be done just because everyone is
doing it. If you read the newspaper with this outlook let me tell you will
forget more than you grasp and waste valuable time to an activity that
shouldn’t take more than one hour every day.

For reference purpose I will consider The Hindu, the most
recommended newspaper for English medium aspirants.

The Hindu or any newspaper for that matter can help you achieve four

     Update your current affairs knowledge
     Build up your GK
     Prepare for map-based questions
     Prepare for Prelims and Mains simultaneously

For current affairs

Keep track of all major national and international events by reading the
front page, national pages, editorial page, international events page,
and sports page.

You can skip the local news section as this is irrelevant from the IAS
exam viewpoint.

Get Set Go IAS                                  

To keep track of the current events maintain a daily notebook divided
either month wise and/or section-wise. Regularly list the important
events in one or two sentences in this book. For instance, following the
Tsunami in Japan there was damage to the Fukushima nuclear reactor.
So make a note of not just the Tsunami, earthquake magnitude but
even the reactor and its location for Map-based questions.

Similarly when it comes to the sports sections try to follow all the major
national and international events, major achievements of Indians in
various sports and not just cricket, our national past time.

It’s important to remember that in sports questions UPSC asks not just
won but won against whom as well. For example it’s not uncommon to
find questions about the finalists or runner’s up in major Tennis events.
Keep this in mind.

A trend noticed in the past few years is that questions on events that
occurred in the last 15-18 months are also being asked. Previously it
was enough to focus on the last 6 months happenings but not any
longer. Now you should also know the major happenings of past 18
months to score well in the current affairs questions. UPSC is one step
ahead of coaching institutes; learn to be in step.

For GK

Take a look at this article from Hindu. It’s important not just from
current events viewpoint but from GK perspective as well. For GK you
should maintain a separate notebook or diary.

Get Set Go IAS                                  

This article is about the nuclear scare in Japan following a massive
earthquake and resultant tsunami. It’s important not just from current
affairs view point but GK as well. The red line indicates that Chernobyl
nuclear disaster was the worst followed by Fukushima.

The blue line indicates the current interest in Wikileaks whereas Indo-
US nuclear deal is important both from current affairs as well as GK

Get Set Go IAS                                  

Now take a look at this sports report. The highlighted parts are
important from current affairs as well as GK perspective.

Now you know to build up your knowledge base newspapers are as
important as Year Book’s and Encyclopedia’s.

Tackle map-based questions

Did you know that not all map-based questions are randomly asked?
Some are related to places in news. For instance some question on
Libya’s location or Japan’s island where Fukushima is located could be
asked. Whenever you prepare geography from Oxford atlas make sure
you prepare with this perspective in mind.

Prepare for mains as well

Get Set Go IAS                                  

Just because you’re preparing for Prelims doesn’t mean you can’t
prepare for mains at the same time. In fact doing precisely this will
prove quite beneficial during mains. This is where editorials come
handy. Editorials, especially those of The Hindu seem quite
overwhelming to grasp at first. This is understandable as editorial
articles are about events that have become popular now or in the past.
So if you don’t know about such events or the debate surrounding
them you will find editorials quite difficult to understand.

Let me tell the simplest way to understand an editorial is to just read it
without bothering about familiarity with the article theme. Once you’ve
developed the knack of reading editorials you’ll start to follow and
understand that is written in them.

Get Set Go IAS                                  

Can I Prepare for Prelims in Just 4 Months?
Let’s see just 4 months remaining for Prelims…Yes you can! But as with
all good things in life there are some conditions attached. Let’s see
what these are:

You’ve covered a major part of either Paper 1 or 2

As from 2011 Prelims both papers carry equal marks and we know that
to clear the IAS Prelims, average score of both papers are considered
you will need to score well in at least one of the two papers. Suppose
you are well prepared to score at least 130 marks in Paper 1 then even
50-60 marks in Paper 2 can see you through.

You have impressive general awareness, knowledge of current events,
good English language and mental ability skills

This much can also see you past the Prelims qualifying mark as general
knowledge + current affairs questions can fetch between 50-60 marks
and English language, passage + mental ability questions can fetch
another 100-130 marks. Obviously if you get just 50 in Prelims paper 1
and 60 in Paper 2 from these sections then you still require another 40-
50 marks from other sections.

You’ve appeared for MBA entrance tests and are comfortable with
paper 2 syllabus

One look at the new syllabus for Prelims and you’ll realize the similarity
between Paper 2 syllabus and syllabus for Common Entrance Tests
(CET) for MBA courses. If you’ve already prepared for mental ability,
logical reasoning, decision analysis, English language skills for MBA then
paper 2 should be your strength. I will suggest that with just four
months remaining you should focus on current affairs, polity, maps, and

Get Set Go IAS                                  

general awareness in paper 1 as these take less time and can be
prepared in 4 months’ time.

You’ve cleared the IAS Prelims before

This is again an important factor to know if you can prepare for the IAS
Prelims in just 4 months’ time. Why I say this is that having cleared the
Prelims earlier you know exactly how to prepare for Paper 1 in the
shortest period. Also you are relatively more confident than someone
giving his or her first attempt. You can then focus on the new areas in
paper 2.

If you think you fit into any one or more than one criteria listed above,
then surely preparing for the Prelims in just 4 or 3 months’ time will not
be an issue for you. Get going!

Get Set Go IAS                                    

Prelims Quick Revision Tips
Here’s a quick revision checklist for Prelims that will be very useful to

Current Affairs: The last 18 months current affairs. Do a quick scan of
India Year Book’s latest events section at the end. New Vishal’s Current
Affairs is recommended. It’s short and to the point.

GK: Manorama Year Book’s GK section at the end, especially,
Presidents, Speakers, PMs, etc. Also brush up the award winners.

Geography: Concentrate on the maps. India, neighbouring countries.
Focus on places that were in news recently. Brush up earthquake and
volcano facts too.

History: Focus on modern India. All Congress sessions and Presidents,
RTCs, different movements etc.

Science: Application based. More focus on common sense than
mugging up conventional stuff. Have a keen eye and observe the
appliances, happenings around. Do you know what’s a 5-star rating AC,
how is swine flu caused, difference between DC and AC motor?

Economy: Look up the tables in Economic Survey, particularly,
Agriculture production, principal crops, exports, imports, chief trading
partners, telecom density, GDP, agri growth of the last few years,
electricity generation. Also brush up inflation basics.

All important infrastructure projects in North East and India’s help in
Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. The Hindu’s annual supplement that
comes in January every year is useful for current affairs recap.

Get Set Go IAS                                 

How to score easy marks in IAS Prelims
To secure some easy marks in the CSAT exam you need to first identify
the scoring areas. This is even more important considering the fact that
the optional paper is no longer around to fetch you easy marks.

     Maps (10-15 questions)
     Polity (10-15 questions)
     Current events (15-20 questions)
     GK (15-30 questions)
     English comprehension (8-12 questions)
     Passage (5-10 questions)
     Statistical analysis (5-10 questions)

Simply by focusing on these sections you can secure around 80-90
marks. Cracking the prelims is so much easier then!

For polity refer a good book with the bare articles and amendments. I
recommend the crisp and to the point Constitution of India by P.M

Get Set Go IAS                                   

What score is enough to clear the Prelims?
Now that the optional paper is done away with, the cut-off will fall
drastically. A minimum score of 150-160, that is 40% marks, out of 400
should see you through.

Of course you need to obtain this minimum score after subtracting the
negative marks obtained. Aspirants with scores of 200+ will clear the
Prelims quite comfortably.

If you wanted to know whether individual marks of both papers are
considered or the average, let me state it’s the average marks even
though UPSC has never acknowledged this publicly. But this common
knowledge among IAS veterans and coaching institutes nevertheless.

Still you shouldn’t only rely on one paper to clear the prelims rather try
to get majority of the marks from either Paper1 or 2 and use the other
paper to supplement the first. Thus instead of getting 160 in Paper1
and just 20 in the second you would be much better off securing 100-
120 marks in Paper 1 or 2 and remaining 70-90 from the other paper.

Get Set Go IAS                                   

How to Select the Right Optionals for IAS

Strictly speaking, selection of optionals is out of the purview of this e-
Book but since many IAS aspirants prepare for the Mains along with the
Prelims, I thought I should include something valuable to help you to
select the right optionals for Mains.

But what does the Right Optional for IAS mean?

I am sure it means differently to different people but what does it mean
to you:

     A scoring optional?
     The most popular optional?
     Easy to understand or which you find interesting?
     Subject with easy availability of study materials like books and
     Optional for which one ‘best’ coaching is available?

Get Set Go IAS                                  

     Subject with some previous base in graduation or post-
     The optional with the best results in the IAS exam?

I hope I have covered all the points that majority of the IAS aspirants
consider before selecting the right optionals for Mains. Obviously, you
might consider only one of the above points as the basis for selecting
your Mains optional or consider multiple criteria. So let’s take them up
one by one.

A Scoring Optional

Most IAS beginners choose an optional simply because it is considered
‘scoring’. Some of the optionals that are considered scoring are Public
Administration and Geography. While Geography has returned marks
with 400+ in IAS Mains, many candidates have been scoring 340+ and
350+ in Public Administration in the past few years. In fact the average
marks scored by Mains candidates in Pub Ad in 2008 Mains was 266
which is quite high considering that it is the most preferred optional
among IAS aspirants.

But should score be the sole criteria for selecting the Mains optional or
are there other related basis for selecting your mains optional? This
gets us to the second point.

A Popular Optional

Optionals that come within this definition are Geography, Public Ad,
Sociology, History, and Psychology. These four IAS optionals alone
account for about 50 percent share of the Mains pie and the rest 22
optionals, taking Literature subjects as one, for the rest.

Get Set Go IAS                                   

This gives you some idea about the ‘popular optionals for IAS’. But why
are these optionals so popular while the rest aren’t so popular? Here
are some reasons:

     Subjects like Pub Ad and Geog have definite syllabus and Pub Ad
      has quite limited syllabus especially for P2 so you can cover it
      within 5 months or so.
     You require limited coaching for Pub Ad as most of the syllabus
      involves self-study.
     The History optional for IAS is quite popular simply because there
      are so many History post graduates and even graduates with
      history as a subject. Also we all studied History as part of our
      school curriculum and most of us found it interesting and some,
      even scoring.
     Geography is a semi-scientific subjects and a favourite among
      Engineers and Doctors for its laws, principles, and map-based
      questions. No wonder so many IAS aspirants opt for it.
     Sociology is easy to understand and very interesting as the topics
      covered concern the very society we are a part of.
     Psychology has pulled, I feel, simply because it is a combination of
      all the above attributes and also due to the fact that it is probably
      the only optional where only one name prevails for coaching:
      Mukul Pathak of Vajiram.

With this we come to another related question, are all popular
optionals scoring or to put it another way are the not-so-
popular optionals for IAS not scoring as well?

Get Set Go IAS                                   

Let me put it bluntly. Popularity has actually got nothing to do with the
scoring potential of an optional. If you want proof, read on. Shah Faesal
topped the 2010 IAS exam with Urdu Litt. as one of the optionals,
second being Pub Ad. Mona Pruthi, the 2006 IAS topper chose English
Litt. and Sociology. Mutyala Raju, the 2007 topper took Electrical
Engineering and Mathematics. Karthik Adapa aced the 2008 IAS exam
with Zoology and Psychology.

What’s common to all these IAS toppers? Except one, all opted for one
non-popular optional. And let me also mention that if you read their
interviews they chose the optionals based on their interest and
background and not because they were scoring or popular.

The fact that they have scored well in both the optionals (that’s why
they topped) and not just the popular ones proves that all subjects are
equally scoring.

So choosing an optional based only on the scoring criteria is incorrect.

So how about the coaching criteria?

Before deciding to select an optional on the basis of the coaching
available first determine whether you require coaching in the first
place? You must’ve realized this can only be determined after you’ve
selected an optional, not before it. So I feel selecting an optional simply
on the basis of the coaching available is like saying ” I can never clear
the Civil Services exam without coaching”. And once you become
completely dependent on coaching then good luck to you as I have
already written in my Mains 2010 GS analysis how unpredictable the
IAS exam is becoming not just for you but the most well-known
coaching classes as well.

Get Set Go IAS                                     

Of course, it does help if there is good coaching available for the IAS
optionals you’ve already selected.

Choosing an optional with some previous background

Many people who’ve graduated or done Masters in some subject opt
for it in the CSE. This is really helpful as you’re already familiar with the
subject and will need to study just one subject from scratch. This is
where graduation in humanities really helps as the most popular IAS
optionals listed above are included within the “Arts” subjects. So if
you’re pursuing graduation or masters in any of the Arts subjects and
plan to take it up in the IAS mains, make sure you pursue it seriously
and focus more on the syllabus common to your degree as well as the
IAS Mains.

This point again proves that previous base and interest are more
important factors in selecting the right optional for IAS than merely
popularity or scoring potential. People who have opted for the most
obscure subjects like Literature, Veterinary Science, and Mathematics
have scored heavily in the Mains simply because they were so much in
love with their optionals.

I had the good fortune of having a chat with the 2008 IAS topper
Karthik Adapa when we had enrolled for mock interview at Vajiram. He
was already in the IPS that time and I asked him about the reason for
choosing Psychology and he said he simply loved Psychology, that’s
why. Nothing about the score or popularity.

Some thumb rules for selecting the right optional for IAS

Get Set Go IAS                                   

The subject should

     Excite you
     Make you know more about it
     Should not put you to sleep
     Make you think out of the box
     Have books available easily

Don’t think about the score at this stage, just focus on selecting an
optional with the above qualities and remember this will differ for
different aspirants. Once you have mastered the syllabus and have
adequate writing practice the marks will follow.

Some common queries

I have chosen Public Administration but I find it quite boring, especially
Paper 1

Remember, Pub Ad usually seems boring to most people but many fall
in love with it once they have read and re-read the important books. If
you still find it going over your head ask yourself why did you choose
Pub Ad? Is it simply because of its popularity?

I love xyz optional but i cannot answer the questions correctly

The fact that you find the optional interesting is half the battle won. As
far answer writing is concerned you might consider joining some good
test series to hone your writing skills. Once you have enough writing
practice marks will not be an issue.

I don’t have any previous base in any of the optionals or I don’t want to
choose my graduation subjects, what should I do?

Get Set Go IAS                                  

Simply go through the above thumb rules again and try reading
something from the basic books of the optional you plan to take up. If
you feel you can cope up with the subject then go for it otherwise try
another one.

Which optional should I opt along with xyz?

Unfortunately UPSC disallows us from selecting similar subjects. Some
of the subject combinations that you cannot take up are:

     Pub Ad and Pol Sc
     Geography and Geology
     Pub Ad and Management
     Two Literature subjects
     Sociology and Anthropology

If you’ve already selected one of the two optionals for IAS, good. I am
sure there will be one more subject that will appeal to you. Go for that
one. Don’t worry about the complimentary aspect. The optionals need
not be complimentary for you to crack this exam.

Suggest some optionals that will be useful from GS Mains point of view

Again this is for reference purpose only. Actually every optional in some
way or the other contributes towards the GS or Essay preparation.

     Pol Sc. covers polity and India and the world part
     Pub Ad covers polity and governance part
     History covers the history part
     Mathematics covers Statistics. Ditto for Statistics optional
     Geography covers GS geography, climate change, environment
      and other related sections

Get Set Go IAS                                  

     Law also covers polity
     Economics covers the Economy part of GS mains
     Socio covers questions on social issues as well as one Essay option

Some popular combinations of IAS optionals

This is just for your knowledge. Nowhere am I suggesting you take up
the same otherwise what I said above would be idiotic.

     Sociology and Psychology
     History and geography
     Socio and Pub Ad
     Socio/History/Psycho/Geog and Pali Litt.
     Pub Ad and Psycho
     Pub Ad and Geography
     Pub Ad and History

To summarize, any optional that you find interesting, stimulating, fun to
learn is right for you. Don’t worry about popularity or scoring potential.
Both are just an indicator. Every optional is equally scoring provided
you have mastered the syllabus and the answer writing aspect. I hope
this section helped selecting the right optionals for IAS a much easier

Get Set Go IAS                                  

If They Could You Can Too – IAS Success Stories

If you thought your conditions were adverse, that you didn’t have
enough time, there were additional responsibilities, or lack of resources
that are an impediment in your IAS success, think again. I present here
different success stories of people just like you and me who despite all
odds managed to fulfill their cherished dream of becoming an IAS. Get

Hearing impaired, so what?

People like Maniram Sharma are used to disillusionments in life. After
all how could a deaf candidate whose parents were farm labourers in a
remote village in Alwar, Rajasthan dream of becoming an IAS? But he
did precisely this and fought for 15 long years to make his dream come

Since appearing for the civil services examination in 1995 and again in
2005, 2006, and 2009, he faced many nature gifted and man-made
hurdles. Since he was completely hearing impaired, he was told
couldn’t be allotted the IAS but only the Posts and Telegraph Service.

However, not to be outdone by adversity Maniram underwent a
cochlear implant costing Rs 7.5 lacs and gained enough hearing to
appear for the oral interview and scored the highest in the hearing-
impaired category.

His persistence finally bore fruit when he was allotted the IAS in 2009
after a 15-year battle for justice.

Get Set Go IAS                                    

From waiter to IAS – Never say never again

Till 2000, K Jayaganesh didn’t know what the civil services were. After
all, coming from a small village in Tamil Nadu where no one had studied
past 10th standard, becoming an Engineer was in itself a big

But the IAS bug did bite Jayaganesh slowly and surely. In spite of failing
to make it past the interview stage in his previous 6 attempts,
Jayaganesh was determined to give his best in his final 7th attempt.

This despite the fact that he couldn’t afford any coaching nor even
receive the right guidance from any mentor. He also didn’t let his
previous disappointments in the Prelims stage itself affect his morale.

To realize his cherished dream he worked odd jobs as a waiter and
billing clerk in Chennai just to stay focused on his goal of making it to
the list of successful candidates.

And in the summer of 2008 the IAS light did shine upon him when he
secured the 156th rank to make it to the IAS in the backward community
category. To his success then.

From rolling bidis to the IAS, what a journey!

Coming from the under-developed Wanjari community in Gondia
district of Maharashtra, Dhananjay Wanjari helped the only bread-
winner of his family, his mother, roll bidis to supplement the meager
family income.

But he was ambitious. And determined. So determined that he stood
first in his class and went on to become a lecturer in a Mumbai college.
But his ambitions didn’t stop there.

Get Set Go IAS                                  

He pursued his IAS dream and managed to achieve it at the young age
of 22 years to become the youngest IAS aspirant to clear the civil
services exam in .

Women power, they’re here to stay!

There was a time when women civil servants were rare to find. Not any
longer. According to The Hindu out of the total 4572 IAS officers all over
India (as on January 1, 2009), 604 are women (Just 13.72 per cent). Of
course this number is still on the lower side, however, this is no mean
achievement given the fact that they have to generally strive harder,
fight more battles, and need to prove their worth more than their male

In 2009 all the top three ranks in the civil services exam were secured
by women. Shubhra Saxena was the IAS topper followed by Sharandeep
Kaur Brar from Punjab and Kiran Kaushal came third. What’s more,
Kiran was the topper among Hindi medium candidates. This proves
language is not an obstacle in the IAS exam.

Get Set Go IAS                                     

Bonus Stuff!
That you’ve read this far implies you’re really passionate about cracking
the IAS. Just for this you deserve some bonus. And as they say, save the
best for the last. Here you’ll find links to free notes, videos of interviews
of past toppers, and other material that will add value to your Prelims

All NCERT Books from Class I to XII

Free Study Material

Another Site for Free IAS Materials

Video: Success in First Attempt

Video: Inspirational Speech by Shah Faezal, 2010 Topper

IPS Exam Eligibility

IAS Exams Interview Questions and Tips

Fun Quizzes for IAS Exam

Remember to follow IAS Kracker on Twitter and Facebook for regular
tips on IAS preparation. See you at the top!

If you found this eBook useful, share the word and remember to leave
your feedback on the blog. 

Get Set Go IAS

Get Set Go IAS                             

Salary of an IAS Officer

     Books for IAS
     IPS Exam Eligibility
     New IAS Syllabus from 2011 Prelims or CSAT
     Civil Services IAS 2011 Exam
     IAS Exams Interview Questions and Tips


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