Successfully clearing Prelims, Mains and the Interview may help you join the Civil Services, but you aim at joining the IAS only! And that, of course, requires scoring higher. UPSC allows only the highest of the rank holders to join the Indian Administrative Services.
It is you who has to score higher and run ahead of the competition, in case you want to join IAS. Here are a few tips to do so:
- Do not ignore the qualifying exam: Though you have to score higher than others, do not ignore the Prelims at any cost. CSAT Paper is the qualifying exam. But it should be taken into account that not all the candidates who think of clearing the IAS exam, are able to face the Prelims successfully.
It should be kept in mind that in case a candidate does not qualify the CSAT Paper, the GS Paper I of the Prelims will not be evaluated. Thus, UPSC would not allow you to appear in the Mains exam.
Thus, all your ambition to score higher than others is going to be realized only when you qualify the Prelims. So, it is best not to ignore the preparation for the Prelims specifically when it is the qualifying exam. Besides, there is a provision for one third of the negative marking if you answer incorrectly.
- Solve the Mock Tests, besides the question papers of the past years: Facing the Mock Tests and the Past Years’ question papers is highly advisable. However, what counts more is that you do so in the same time frame only as UPSC allows. Besides, it would be good if negative marking is also carried out. It would give you feel of the exam test after test. Also, you would get to know where you lack in and where do you excel. Thus, you may prepare accordingly, not only for the Prelims, but also for Mains.
One more point – it has been observed that students ignore Essay preparation which contains 250 marks and is a game changer. To be sincere and alert you can join Essay Test Series, this will help you in better formatting and you will learn the art of presentation.
You will find that you would be better equipped to clear the qualifying prelims and score higher in the Mains than what had been the case initially when you had just begun to prepare for the IAS exam.
- Pay attention to the DIRECTIVE in the Mains: Rather than beginning to answer impulsively, it is best to read the entire question paper carefully at least once. Besides, when you begin to answer the question paper, pay thorough attention to the DIRECTIVE as well, apart from the main part of the question.
For instance, the question paper may present a statement etc. The directive may ask to DISCUSS or ANALYZE the same. You are required to answer accordingly. Thus, paying heed to the DIRECTIVE does count. It can, of course, help you score higher, if you answer the way UPSC has asked for in the question paper.
- Strike a balance in between your knowledge and answer writing skills: Remember that you want to join IAS. And UPSC is not looking for great scholars either, but for capable And how is it going to judge if you are a potential administrator? Of course, by what you are going to write on your answer sheet.
So, though you cannot avoid maintaining a good hold over the knowledge required, you are supposed to balance the knowledge thus gained with the answer writing skills.
Your answers should be analytical and represent a thorough awareness of whatever the subject and/or topic etc., the question talks about. Besides, it is best not to turn personal. Maintain a justifiable stand throughout your answers. Remember that a prejudiced individual does not make a good administrator.
Write in an analytical manner. Suggest a solution if some issue is being discussed in the answer. Co-relate the issues discussed with the historical background for the same, in case there is any at all.
It should always be remembered that analytical approach to various issues and an aware and unprejudiced mind is what that make a successful administrator. If you have these qualities, only then you would be able to act in a manner that is justifiable to all in case UPSC finally allows you to join IAS. And again, as said earlier, UPSC is going to judge these qualities by means of the answers you write. So, your answers should be written in an analytical, aware and unprejudiced manner.
- Revise as frequently as you can: Do not ignore the revisions. Revisions made frequently would help you recall the entire information that you have been studying at the quickest possible when you face the IAS exam. Besides, it is best to keep the time specifically for making revision apart from the preparation for IAS. Usually, candidates make the mistake of devoting a major chunk of the time for the preparation of the IAS exam, while not doing the same for the sake of the revisions. In that case, you are likely to find that you have forgotten most of the information that you had gained. So you may not be able to recall what you have been studying while facing the IAS exam. The only way to overcome this problem is to revise frequently.
Finally, the last, but not the least, apart from the knowledge and the answer writing skills, your essay writing skills, too, should be up to the mark if you want to leave the competition behind. Essay writing skills are not exactly the same as the answer writing skills that are going to help you score higher than your competitors concerning most of the Papers in the Mains. So, it is best to prepare accordingly.
Also, making a careful choice of the Optional subject would help you score higher. It is advisable to opt for an Optional subject that overlaps with some of the syllabus of the GS. For example, say Sociology Optional. You may choose as per your interest and convenience.