UPSE Preparation Planner

Hello Dear Aspirants, We (Team ASPIRE IAS) hope that if you are browsing through this UPSC Planner then you are serious enough for making a career in Civil Services. Our endeavour by means of this planner would be to act as a guide,friend as well as mentor in making your journey of Civil Services Preparation, a successfull and enriching one by providing the right approach, right material as well as the right guidance.

The whole planner would be designed by a deeper association of the DIRECTOR SIR (Shri Ankit k. Agarwal) in such a way that it covers the requirements of the Civil Services Examination(CSE) across its length and breadth and believes in an effective 'handholding approach' so that an Aspirant is not left alone for accomplishing the task of clearing this mother of all examinations.

What is the Civil Services Examination?

It is a pan Indian level examination which is conducted by an autonomous Institution named UPSC(Union Public Service Commission) which is not just the nation's most prestigious examination but even considered one of the toughest examination of the world too. The objective for conducting the examination is the recruitment to various Civil Services of the Government of India ,including the Indian Administrative Service(IAS), Indian Police Service(IPS), Indian Forest Service(IFoS), Indian Revenue Service(IRS) etc.

The Examination is conducted in three phases such as:

  • Preliminary Test (PT)Stage.
  • Mains Examination.
  • Personality Test(Interview).

In all of the above mentioned stages, General studies is an integral as well as most significant part which plays a crucial role in shaping an aspirant to reach his long cherished dream.

General Studies which comprises of the maximum volume of UPSC preparation, apparently, does not fathom deeper over a specific subject but majorly touches upon the broad dimensions of various subjects (as suggested by its name too).

As far as the Civil Services Examination(CSE) is concerned, the aforementioned information holds lesser currency because sometimes the General Studies questions seem to be so tough that even the subject experts are not in a position to answer them with utmost accuracy ( which ultimately opens a window for smart/calculated guesswork too at the preliminary stage of CSE).Hence, remember that General Studies is not so 'General' as far as UPSC preparation is concerned.

Different challenges viz-a-viz different stages of the Examination :

The syllabus of General Studies(GS), despite its general connotations, is so large that it atleast requires ONE years meticulous preparation for dealing with the nuances of GS preparation (in its entirety) for all the 3 stages of the process such as – Preliminary Test(PT) Stage, Mains and Personality Test(Interview) Stage. Here, our focus would be on the preliminary stage where we will discuss the syllabus,past trends as well as the strategy to clear this stage with ease.

Preliminary Test Stage :

Every year,around 9-10 lakh Candidates(famously known as 'Aspirants') fill the form for the UPSC's glorified CSE out of which around 4-5 lakh actually sit for writing the preliminary stage which acts as a filter for rejecting most of the candidates at the very first stage and allows only around 13000-14000 candidates(depending on the number of vacancies advertised) for the next stage(Mains). The mammoth amount of candidates rejection showcases the importance of this stage.

This stage comprises of 2 question papers namely – General Studies (GS Paper 1), Civil Services Aptitude Test/CSAT (GS Paper 2) comprising of 200 marks each. Both papers comprise of either Multiple Choice Questions(MCQs) or Single Choice Questions with 4 options each where the candidate has to choose the correct option.

There exists a provision for 'Negative marking' in the marking scheme where the candidate is penalised by '1/3rd negative marks' for the wrong choices made while concluding an answer.

The breakup of the papers and the respective marks per question is as follows:

Subject Questions Marks Marks/Question
General Studies 100 200 2
CSAT 80 200 2.5

It is mandatory for a candidate to appear in both the papers in order to be qualified for mains exam.

Note: The CSAT paper is of qualifying nature where a candidate is required to score minimum around 33 % of the total marks (i.e, around 27 questions/66 marks net correct). This fact strongly justifies the importance of GS Paper 1 as far as the preliminary stage is concerned.

Respective Cut offs of past few years (CSE Preliminary Stage):

CATEGORY 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
General/Open 209 241 205 107.34 116 105.34
OBC 190 222 204 106 110.66 102.66
SC 185 207 182 94 99.34 88.66
ST 181 201 174 91.34 96 86.66
PH-1 160 199 167 90.66 75.34 85.34
PH-2 164 184 113 76.66 72.66 61.34
PH-3 111 163 115 40 40 40

Note: The cut offs obtained till 2014 year were based on the cumulative total of both papers( GS Papers 1 and 2). From 2015, they were based on the marks scored by the candidate in GS Paper 1 only(due to qualifying nature of CSAT).

A discussion on the Syllabus of General Studies (Preliminary):

The Paper 1 of Preliminary deals with General Studies and its syllabus is indicative and not comprehensive and is as follows :

  1. Current events of National & International importance.
  2. India and world Geography - Physical, Social,Economic geography of India and the world.
  3. Indian Polity & Governance - Constitution, Political system, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues etc.
  4. History of India and Indian National movement.
  5. Economic & Social development ,Sustainable development, Poverty, inclusion,Demographics, Social sector initiatives,etc.
  6. General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change that do not reuire subject specialization.
  7. General Science.

A candidate here, is advised to stick to the syllabus for UPSC prelimns for clearing this examination with ease.Reference of previous years Question papers from time to time may also help.

Few Broad Suggestions for a better strategy:

Though the full strategy could not be put up in a few pages as it is an ongoing process and also it varies with respect to the background of an individual too.

For ex- if a candidate is a Graduate in subjects like History, Geography,Public Administration then those would be simpler for him to prepare viz-a-viz GS preparation but such candidates would find difficulty in areas such as Science & Technology and Economics.

Similarly, a candidate who is a Doctor/Engineer/ from Science background would be comfortable in Science & Technology but would have to work much hard in History, Geography, Polity etc.

Hence, the strategy varies based upon the educational as well as awareness background of an individual, his capacity to understand and also on how much he can follow religiously. Such a strategy could broadly be defined as:

  • A candidate, rather than putting equal effort on each section, must focus more on few selected topics by keeping in mind his level of understanding and knowledge in that section along with the weightage they hold in UPSC prelimns.
  • There are few specific sub topics within topics from where questions are often asked in one form or the other hence, a candidate must focus more on such topics after effectively analysing the previous year's question papers. For ex- in the History section/topic, there are 2 sub topics which are considered as favourites for UPSC prelimns such as – Indian Freedom movement, Art and Culture(while questions from Medieval India find feeble mention). If such topics are efficiently focussed then there is a higher possibility of getting more questions correct and ultimately succeeding in the first stage of CSE.
  • Also, a candidate should not treat topics in clear watertight compartment, rather he/she must learn to correlate such topics with their mains preparation too.This must also be kept in mind while putting your own weightage to a particular topic while preparing. For ex- Geography finds elaborated mention in Preliminary as well as Mains Examination hence, must be prepared properly.
  • It must be kept in mind that few topics of GS which are majorly important for Mains preparation(For ex- World History,Social justice, Internal security, Ethics etc) must not be studied 2-3 months before preliminary stage of CSE in order to sharpen the targeted topics for Prelimns and avoiding effort overlapping.

The break up of topicwise weightage in CSE Prelimns is as follow:

TOPIC 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Indian history & Freedom moveme-nt 20 16 19 16 16 18 22
Indian polity & Governance 21 17 10 18 6 22 18
India & World Geography 17 19 21 18 8 8 9
Environment & Biodiversity 14 14 19 12 16 17 10
Indian economy & social development 14 18 11 16 15 27 22
Science & Technology 10 16 12 10 8 8 14
National & International events 4 1 8 16 37 8 10

The candidate is advised to keep the breakup of weightage(mentioned above) of different topics in mind while preparing in order to save his time and energy and avoid overlapping of topics. Our UPSC Planner would help you keep track of your performance and also in analysing your weak areas too.

How the UPSC Planner would help you?

The planner's approach would be different for PT and Mains yet it would be comprehensive enough to imbibe the essential elements of both the stages. The Planner for Preliminary would be of 3 major types customized with respect to the needs and requirements of a candidate, divided as:

Duration: 90 Days.

Suitable for the aspirants who have appeared for IAS interview a couple of times but are unable to get their name in the final list or who wish to improve their CSE rank. The plan has produced several rankers in the past (including All India Rank 1- Nandini K.R.).

The advanced plan would touch upon the major topics on a cursory level to save time of the already experienced candidates and would focus upon the individual issues they are facing in clearing the exam. Apart from this other indicators of performance monitoring by means of regular Home Work , tests at regular intervals and analysis would also be part of the plan so that the candidates do not miss the fine details (sometimes due to overconfidence) and give there soul to the examination just like a beginner in order to get their optimum productivity level.

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Duration: 120 Days.

Beneficial for those candidates who are either not able to clear the Preliminary stage despite several attempts or those who have cleared the PT stage but are still struggling with the process.

The testimonial list of Aspire IAS is flooded with an array of such toppers who got stuck in a specific stage of the examination and were slowly lacking the motivation to go further.

The approach of mid-level preparatory plan would be similar to the advanced plan by touching upon the major topics with special focus upon the individual issues they are facing in clearing a certain stage of the exam. Here, the indicators of performance monitoring by means of regular Home Work, tests at regular intervals and analysis would anot just be part of the plan but would act as the guiding path in understanding the specific issue faced by a candidate so that his lack of motivation and fear of a stage(in certain cases) can be effectively targetted upon.

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Duration: 160 Days.

Must do for the aspirants who are new in the process of Civil Services Preparation(including Undergraduates, Graduates, Post Graduates etc) and lack the requisite guidance and resources viz-a-viz 'what to study' and 'what not to study' out of the hugely mammoth syllabus and resources.

The plan has been able to produce innumerable rankers in the past too who were able to clear the examination in their very first attempt. This plan would not just revolve around the nuances of effective UPSC preparation but would act as a freind and guide which would go along with your preparation in checking your performance by means of regular Home Work, test at regular intervals and suggest you new ways in order to enhance your productivity.

Here, the approach to follow each subject would be dealt in its entirety after breaking down the whole plan based upon the weightage of each topic in the examination.

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