Civil Services Exam: Daily Doubt Solving Sessions

Mt. Sinai Academy (1)

I’ve received a lot of questions in the past  across social media pertaining to different aspects of the Civil Services Exam. I’ve tried my best to answer them on social media as well on the email ids given by many of you. But my blog seemed the best medium to address them collectively so that more and more aspirants can benefit. Feel free to post your doubts in the comments section below and I will answer them one by one within 24 hours.

If your questions are not visible in the comments section immediately, do not worry. It only means that they are pending for my approval.

Looking forward to guide you a little better. After all our country needs dedicated bureaucrats. 

Make this year’s exam your greatest attempt. I wish each one of you my very best 🙂

ALSO READ >> Civil Services Mains: Mastering Answer Writing




Being free is being me !!

411 thoughts on “Civil Services Exam: Daily Doubt Solving Sessions

  1. Good morning.

    Here i come again,and here comes my question
    👉 Can’t we opt for english in the second qualifying paper ?

    And and thanks a ton for every answer.


      1. Is there any paper in which we have to opt. Any of the prescribed indian languages ?
        Can we take english in that or taking hindi is compulsory ?


          1. Sorry if my question was ambiguous to you.
            I know that there are two papers,(but thought english as the 1st paper).
            Both are of qualifying nature.As i am not soo good in hindi and dont know any other indian language ,
            My question is about Indian language.
            Can we choose english in this paper of indian language or i’ll have to go for hindi.
            (The question may sound childish but someone told me,English can be chosen and it is avaliable as an indian language and many more things)
            Some people impregnate our mind with doubts,we should be thankful to people like you who are there free our mind.


          2. No you cannot choose English in the Indian language.

            UPSC has prescribed a list of Indian languages (including Hindi) . You can choose from the list.

            I hope your doubts are cleared now.

            Best wishes.


  2. I hv done masters in eng lit. I dnt knw abt the kind of marks we get in upsc for literature. so kindly tell the highest or approx marks which we can get by choosing this sub seeing the previous record. I also want to know abt the types of questions the panel puts during interview for candidates with eng literature.


    1. See marks will depend totally on your performance. Having given the Mains with English Literature , I can assure you that its a scoring optional. As for the type of questions asked in the interview, they will vary from literatures across the globe as well as cultural studies.


  3. Hi mam,as the next years prelims is in june ,when should we start preparing exclusively for prelims?
    2)The topics which are only for mains ,should I cover them now or after prelims?


    1. Start preparing from this moment itself Praful. Also prepare for Mains along with Prelims. At least 80% of the syllabus. You won’t get the time later.

      All the very best.


  4. Hello mam.
    I am in my last year of graduation(BA Eng Lit.) and planning to appear cse in 2018.
    Can you suggest me study materials for English Literature as an optional?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Purvi

      English Literature was my optional too 🙂

      I am going to suggest to you exactly the same resources that I recommend other aspirants who take up literature.

      So here is what I need you to do –

      Start with the prescribed texts (available on the UPSC website). Else, I’ll let you know.

      Start with the History of English Literature and choose one prescribed text at a time and try to read it within a week.

      Make sure that you read each and every book prescribed in the syllabus cover to cover. No selective study recommended.

      Be sure of the fact that reading original texts is just the initial stage of preparation. You are expected to know the entire History of Literature right from the origin of literature up till the contemporary times i.e from the time of Geoffrey Chaucer to Post Modernism.

      Once you have a strong foundation, you will have to study Literary Theory as mentioned in the syllabus. For example – Cultural Studies, Feminism, Deconstruction etc.

      Once you’re done with Literary Theory, learn to apply various theories to the texts that have been prescribed.

      Do not follow any cheap guides available in the market. Follow standard explanations only (you’ll need them because to understand concepts).

      Be a member of any nearest library (preferably a college or a university library) because you will be needing the help of something called as the ‘Case Book Series’.’ You are expected to use them as references. Buying them is not possible . They’re hugely expensive and not available largely in India.

      Understand the fact that english literature and english grammar are not the same things. A literature student is expected to have strong grammar, sure. But literature is way expansive.

      Lastly, have a good command on different elements of literature – symbolism, figures of speech, imagery etc because you’ll need this knowledge in the compulsory question on Unseen passage where you’re expected to critically analyse it completely. You’ll do it well once you have practice. I insist buy a good glossary. I’ll suggest you to buy – A Glossary of English Literature by M.H.Abrahams.


  5. I’m 2nd year civil Engg student .. UPSE CSE aspirant…. Little confused to choose optional sub for mains ….. should I take my Engg subject as a optional or any other subject
    Plz tell me what is the best choice for me

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bikram. See choosing an optional is extremely crucial for one’s overall score. If you’re damn good at Civil Engineering , go for it. If not, pick up any other optional.

      Let me know. We’ll figure something out.


  6. Good morning miss,
    Sorry for my late actually very late comment,Thanks for your answers .
    I have more questions waiting I’ll ask soon.
    Have a good day ☺


      1. Mam actually after completed my 12th I started my college with English literature,Economics and polity but because of some reason I took TC in the very first month after admission. I also want to study economics and polity thats why am didn’t take hons program.


  7. Thanks a lot !
    I have to share something, which will describe both my situation and problem.
    I read in famous college (not going to name it) in B.A part 1,this college had produced many politicians and 1 of the famous actor turned politician.
    I have opted for english literature as hons. And geo and history as subsidiary but now the intresting part comes which is hard to belive,ProfessOrs here are party animals,(i think they wake up late so never take their classes);Students are Vampires(fear from light and day class).
    History is mystery (no one knoWS who is the actual diety),Geography department is like cemetery.
    (*few prof. are honest too)

    I have to do everthing at my own.

    Now tell me,what should i do ?

    Tell me some books for english,history and geo for all the three years which will serve beneficial for both graduation and UPSC.

    What should be my strategy for UPSC in this situation ?


    1. If your professors aren’t working hard enough, you do. After all it is your exam 🙂

      A lot of aspirants study the entire syllabus on their own. It’s actually a good thing because you make the double the effort and have a better grip over things.


      1. Ya,i am taking eng. Literature as an optional in UPSC;and in my Graduation along with eng. Literature as my hons.,and geo and history as subsidiary.


  8. Thanks..
    Which books should i prefer while doing graduation,which will be beneficial for both graduation and civil services ?
    My subjects in B.A are English literature as mains and geography and history as optionals.


    1. As far as your graduation is concerned, you must have a prescribed syllabus. So at least finish those first and not just superficially

      Also, I’d like to ask why are you not taking Literature as an optional ?.


  9. Hello Ma’am,

    I am a Chemical engineering undergraduate. I want to give UPSC Mains with English Literature as my optional. But honestly, I am not sure about this. At one side there is the excitement of reading all the amazing books and poems that are part of the UPSC syllabus. I will never get tired while preparing for this optional.

    The problem is that I don’t have a background. I did study literature in school. We studied As You Like It and Macbeth, and I loved both these works. But I clearly remember that the teachers always came up with some critical analysis they must have found somewhere during their research, the significance of a line or a word or a stanza, some biblical reference engraved within that I could never have dreamt of. We were supposed to learn those things.

    So, in short, my problem is that of resources, and if it is even practically possible to prepare for this optional and compete against those who are BA, MA and even M.Phil. in literature. Coaching guidance for this optional, as I found out, is practically non-existent, and all the toppers have had their graduation from English Literature. I don’t want to take this optional just by being a hopeless romantic and screw myself over in UPSC, even though I am ready to take a reasonable and calculated risk. Is there any sound reason for taking literature as my optional?
    Also, it would be very kind of you if you could tell me about anyone in your knowledge who had English Literature as optional but hadn’t studied it during her/his grad years.

    Thank You in Advance!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I insist you take English Literature as an optional. Firstly, because you seem to have quite some knowledge of it and secondly because you’re giving me the impression that you come from an ICSE background. Is that true ?

      I’ll be more than happy to help you in case you decide to opt for it. Speaking of the students who take literature as an optional even though they don’t have a background in it – Yes a lot of students actually.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear ma’am,

        I think this does it for me! Only the preparation remains now.*sigh*

        Thanks a lot for your answer. It really made my day.

        I’m in my second year, so there is some time. However, I am serious about my decision.

        As for your query, yes you guessed it accurately, I am from ICSE. I am often asked this in this context, is it significant?

        Thanks a ton, again!


        1. I’m glad it helped 🙂

          See being from an ICSE background is no big deal. I am an ICSE product myself. But I do feel that ICSE kids are better at understanding english literature than other school boards (though exceptions are always there ).

          So you wana go for it ?
          We can start step by step.


        1. Step 1 will be for you to get 100% acquainted with the syllabus for literature and start buying the prescribed texts. You will then be expected to start reading. You will not spend more than 1 week on a text and you will not read any text superficially.


      1. Take one genre at a time and then alternate it to avoid monotony. If you’re beginning with drama, pick up fiction next and then poetry. Also, start reading a good book on the History of English Literature.


  10. Dear Ma’am,
    I think you missed my earlier comment. Please reply to my previous query. I would be very grateful for any and every word of advise.


  11. Hello mam,

    I want to ask how should i prepare current affairs for prelims as well as mains and how and when to start writing practice…?


    1. Hello Shivi,

      For Current Affairs , start reading the Hindu DAILY.

      Do it with all your sincerity.

      As for answer writing, how about making notes for current affairs itself .Sounds good ??


  12. Hello mam,
    I am a 1 st year 2nd sem student of btech. I want to start the preparation but i am confused to how to start and what to study 1st. Please guide.


    1. Hello Aman, since you’re in the first year of your graduation, you have a major advantage and that is time.

      Start with General Studies and by reading the Hindu daily. Start from ICSE books, then move on to NCERT and last to reference books.

      But even before that, get familiarized with the syllabus. It’s damn important.

      How about you make a time table and stick to it. If you want, I can help you with it.


    1. Sure why not. Use noise cancelling earphones. You know there are these sounds, called white noise. You can use them as well. Research shows they help you focus better.


    1. I read Laxmikanth first . But that was an individual choice. Laxmikanth is such a well written book with so much references from NCERTS that you can start your polity preparation with it.


  13. Should I make notes of Laxmikant’s polity books …..
    Is it important to remember all the topic article wise?
    I am Hindi medium student ,do I face more complication than English medium student in UPSC exam?


    1. Hi Rahul,

      From Laxmikanth, notes are not required. It’s a very self sufficient book.

      Don’t worry about the medium. You study from the Hindi editions . Best wishes 🙂


  14. Hello Mam, I am little weak in essay writing. I can think but vocabulary and making of sentences is becoming challang to me. 😦 I want to touch the hight of upsc cse level. How can I develop my writing skill?


    1. Hi Souma,

      You will have to start reading first and gradually develop your english writing skills.

      Practice is the key here plus lots of reading. Try to write a paragraph daily in your own words. Also , start reading some good books.

      All the best 🙂


  15. Hello mam,since I belong to engineering college.from mechanical backgrounds,should I try for cse taking my engineering paper as optional subject.and if I try will it be feasible since i have to prepare for it whole heartedly.leaving gate and ese preparation.but i wanted to do something for society if I able to clear if you guide me on this my state of confusion .i would be very thankful to you.thaank you,mam


    1. Hi Jayant,

      If you’re good at your own stream , surely go for it. It’ll help you. But if you need to switch to another subject, thoroughly go through the syllabus and then decide. Also, I insist do prepare for GATE as well. It’ll be good for you.


  16. Hi,
    could you solve my query about upsc ? which ncerts to read?is it old or new ? if old then it means which year ?is 2006 considered old or new? can i get a full list of old(if thats what we have to read) and new ncert (if suppose that we have to read)?can you tell me full list of all prelims /mains subjects ncerts we have to read ? also are these ncerts(old or new perhaps,i still dont know ,which they might be) to be used for mains exam also?
    Also could you give me a list of books(reference books/ books other than ncerts) we need to study for prelims general studies paper1 ,and mains general studies paper1-4 .can you suggest any special book for essay writing,where i can observe upsc model/previous years essay to improve my essay writing.Also for prelims can you suggest a good comprehension book for general studies paper-2.your help shall be appreciated.thanks


    1. Hello Inder,

      I’d recommend old NCERTS because they are more comprehensive. However if you want , you can refer to the new ones as well. See in the end what matters is the grip over subject matter. NCERTS are needed just for building a foundation.

      Here is the list, I’d like you to go through –


      History: NCERT Class VI – Our Past

      History: NCERT Class VII – Our Past -I

      History: NCERT Class VIII – Our Past II and III

      History: NCERT Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – I

      History: NCERT Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – II

      History: NCERT Class X – Themes In World History

      History: NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History – I

      History: NCERT Class XII – Themes in Indian History – II

      History: NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History – III


      Indian Society: NCERT Class VI – Social Science: Social & Political Life I

      Indian Society: NCERT Class VII – Social Science: Social & Political Life II

      Indian Society: NCERT Class VIII – Social Science: Social & Political Life III

      Indian Society: NCERT Class XI – Sociology: Understanding Society

      Indian Society: NCERT Class XII – Indian Society

      Indian Society: NCERT Class XII – Social Change and Development in India


      Art & Culture : NCERT Class XI – An Introduction to Indian Art

      Art & Culture : NCERT Class XI – Living Craft Traditions of India (Chapters 9 & 10)


      Geography: NCERT Class VI – The Earth Our Habitat

      Geography: NCERT Class VII – Our Environment

      Geography: NCERT Class VIII – Resource and Development

      Geography: NCERT Class IX – Contemporary India – I

      Geography: NCERT Class X – Contemporary India – II

      Geography: NCERT Class XI – Fundamentals of Physical Geography

      Geography: NCERT Class XI – India – Physical Environment

      Geography: NCERT Class XII – Fundamentals of Human Geography

      Geography: NCERT Class XII – India – People and Economy

      Additional Books for Reference: NCERT History Textbooks of old syllabus (1990s):

      Ancient India (class XI) by RS Sharma: This covers the ancient Indian history syllabus completely.Alternative Published version: India’s Ancient Past – RS Sharma: Covers all of the NCERT syllabus and is more detailed in all aspects. Should be a good substitute.
      Medieval India (class IX) by Satish Chandra: This should be enough for Medieval.Alternative Published version: History of Medieval India – Satish Chandra: More detailed than the NCERT but less easy to read. NCERT would be better.
      Modern India (class X) by Bipin Chandra:Alternative Published version:India Before Independence: Bipan Chandra’s published book is easily available is more comprehensive, but the NCERT is more objective and easier to read.
      World History (Class X): Should be enough for an intro to world history

      Polity: NCERT Class IX – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – I

      Polity: NCERT Class X – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – II

      Polity: NCERT Class XI – Political Science: Indian Constitution at Work

      Polity: NCERT Class XI – Political Science: Political Theory

      Polity: NCERT Class XII – Political Science I: Contemporary World Politics

      Polity: NCERT Class XII – Political Science II: Politics in India since Independence

      For Polity: Class 9 to 12 NCERT books should be read in detail, with focus on 11th and 12th (of which World Politics, only if time permits).


      Economy: NCERT Class IX – Economics: Economics

      Economy: NCERT Class X – Understanding Economic Development

      Economy: NCERT Class XI – Indian Economic Development

      Economy: NCERT Class XII – Introductory Microeconomics

      Economy: NCERT Class XII – Introductory Macroeconomics


      Science: NCERT Class VI

      Science: NCERT Class VII

      Science: NCERT Class VIII

      Science: NCERT Class IX

      Science: NCERT Class X

      Science Class XI – Chemistry: Unit 14 & Biology: Units 4 & 5

      Science Class XII – Chemistry: Unit 16 & Biology: Units 8, 9 & 10


      Science: Class XII – Biology: last four Chapters (13 to 16).

      You can download NCERTS free of cost here >>

      Reference Books –
      Polity – Laxmikanth
      Economy- Raman Singh
      Physical Geography – Khuller
      History- Bipin Chandra

      Start with the above mentioned books, then I’ll suggest more.

      Essay Writing – Never followed any books. Instead ,relied on the latest happenings and made notes in the form of potential essays. You can do the same.

      Comprehension – I insist go through any book for CAT/GMAT. Will help u immensely in solving RC Passages.

      Best wishes.


  17. Thanks a lot Madam for your valuable feedback.I’m really humbled with the qualitative details in response to my query . Thanks a lot again.


    1. See optional subject is not be chosen on this parameter. No subject will be easy if you don’t have a grip over it.

      So I insist, you go through the list of optionals, decide which one is closest to your graduation stream or interest, go through the syllabus and past year papers and then decide.

      What stream is your graduation in ?


  18. Good morning

    How many months of current affairs are required to be prepared, till 2016 we prepared uptil July now since Exam is scheduled in June , so uptil whuch month will upsc ask questions with respect to prelims ?


    1. Hi Shariq,

      See UPSC does not follow a set pattern so far as the dates are concerned. The chief reason being the unpredictable nature of current events.

      I insist you connect event of the last one year to previous years and then study. It’ll be extremely useful.

      Connecting events from the past to the previous year are of utmost importance.

      I need you to go through the events of the last one year thoroughly and then dig a little deeper further by compiling important events from previous years.


  19. Hi Ma’am,
    Firstly I am very happy to find a good guidance on questions regarding ‘taking English Literature as UPSC optional’.
    Secondly,I would like to thank you for taking out your precious time and responding to every single query posted here,individually.A BIG THANKS MA’AM.
    Third and most important, Madam please help me/us by suggesting standard source (names of specific books or sites etc) to prepare English Lit as UPSC optional.Also is there any fb group or something of that sort where we(English Lit optional aspirants) can get in touch with each other.The only disadvantage of that I can think of taking Lit as my optional is lack of availability of standard material source,but your help is really commendable.
    Thanks a ton.
    (Ignore grammatical errors in the ques,i m pathetic with English Grammar but i think i can improve that;any further remarks/advice on choosing Lit as my optional are most welcomed 🙂 )


    1. Hi Ravi,

      You’re being too kind here 🙂 I really appreciate your thoughts here.

      Before I suggest you resources and preparation methodology for English as an optional, I’d like to know your academic background. It’ll make things more clear to me 🙂


  20. Hi,

    I am so glad to have found someone who is willing to genuinely reply the doubts of aspirants of this fiendishly diabolical examination!

    I started preparing for Civil Services from July, 2016 and am currently targeting Prelims 2017.

    I am a working professional and have already crossed 26 years of age. I had joined coaching for GS preparation in Hyderabad and the problem started from there.

    Whenever I come across someone who is a serious aspirant, he/she meets at least one of the following criteria:
    (1) Either he/she is preparing full time (without job)
    (2) Or he/she is below 25 years of age.

    In my case, none of the above two criteria are met and this makes me wonder whether I should even put any efforts in this direction.

    Anyways, as you might have understood, I do not any doubt as such but I have a concern whether whatever I am doing is correct or not. Whether all these efforts will be worth it or will they prove to be futile?

    There are reasons why I started so late, I’ll detail them here, if you require.


    1. Hi Akash,

      Thank you for finding this platform useful 🙂

      Right at the outset, I’d like to tell you that when I gave UPSC, I was neither preparing full time now was I less than 25 years of age. So I hope it makes you feel better.

      Not only was I working but that too in US. Also, I was 25 up. What matters in the end is not the hours of preparation you put in but how much output you derive from those hours.

      My suggestion to you would be to make a schedule and stick to it. Be consistent, love your preparation and most importantly, DO NOT LISTEN TO WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY.

      In the coming days, I will be writing a lot of content here on my blog pertaining to the even the most simplest query. I feel there is a lot of misguidance in the industry as far as Civil Services is concerned. I hope it helps.

      All the very best 🙂


      1. I am absolutely delighted (and in a way relieved) to find someone to be empathetic with!

        I hope that you will be patient with me as I may a few more queries now 😛

        Firstly, I am able to squeeze out 3 hours a day on weekdays and around 20 hours on both the weekends combined. Given that the Prelims are just a few months away, will this be enough?

        A little background on my level of preparation: I have read most of the reference materials at least once. Also, I have not been able to find out any time to read the newspapers (including the bible – Hindu) and so I have no choice but to rely on the Current Affairs compilations.


        1. Always patient with sincere aspirants 🙂

          See you’ll have to make the most of your time. Try making your hours resourceful. Start revising especially Current Affairs.

          Ideally speaking there is no shortcut for newspapers. An hour of Hindu daily goes a long way in helping aspirants with Current affairs. Since you have less time, refer to Mrunal.

          Make sure you don’t leave the environment section.


      2. Thanks a lot for your prompt guidance!
        I may trouble you again, if I am stuck somewhere. 😛 And really appreciate your efforts. 🙂

        I sense that you are also appearing this year and if that’s the case, then I wish you all the best 🙂


        1. Glad I could help. No I’m not an aspirant anymore. I gave the exam in 2014 and 2015. Cleared both the Prelims and Mains both times. In 2014 I didn’t appear for the interview coz’ I got an opportunity abroad. So came back in 2015 and appeared to see whether I wana still do it anymore or not. Cleared the exam again. Got a good rank but as as I anticipated, I didn’t wana do it anymore. So made an informed decision and switched to a new sector that suits my personality and vision. After all what matters is pursuing a career that keeps you happy 🙂

          But I do wish all the dedicated aspirants of UPSC my very best 🙂


    2. Wow!

      That makes me really wonder..

      I have more or less walked in your shoes. I am basically a software professional, have worked in US for 6 months or so; loved it; came back to India and then started IAS preparation dedicatedly thinking that a career as a civil servant will take me to new heights!

      But, I may need to ponder after listening to your story..


      1. No don’t ponder. If Civil Services is what you want to do, go for it. The fact that I chose something else over it doesn’t mean you got to do the same. I did it because I am way too creative and free spirited to be a part of the Government sector. Creating something of my own motivates me more. Thats all 🙂 Whatever you want to do, just make an informed choice because it’s your future that you’re shaping right now.

        I wish you my very best 🙂


  21. Hello ma’am
    I have done my engineering in electrical in 2012. Then I worked in Jaipur metro for 3 years. While doing job I cleared SSC CGL exam and got the post of inspector of Posts. Now I want to prepare for UPSC but I am not getting time as my work is so exhausting and it has been only one year so I can’t get any type of leaves. Please suggest me what should I do and how should it to be done like help me for making a time table and for my optional someone suggested me for anthropology please guide me in this context I am from engineering background how should I start my preparation from NCERTs or ICSEs and which books to be referred? Hope u will reply for each will clear my all doubts..


    1. Hi Shahnaz,

      Begin your preparation with ICSE books and then move to NCERTs. Once you read ICSE books, NCERTs will be cake walk.

      The fact that you’ve already cracked CGL exam, will help you immensely with CSE preparations as well.

      For starters, be consistent with your preparation. How about starting with 3 hours daily ?? Stick to those 3 hours and then gradually move on to more.

      Begin preparing GS – One topic per subject per day. This will save you the monotony of a bulky syllabus.

      Since you’re just starting, don’t think too much. Do the following 3 things –

      1.Read the Hindu Daily
      2. Start reading one topic per day from ICSE books
      3. Give 3 hours to the above 2 points daily.

      Begin with this and then after some days I can suggest you a more tight time table.

      Stay confident. There is nothing to worry 🙂

      All the very best.


          1. And one last question Ma’am for ICSE which publication and which writer books of said subjects should I Follow? There are so many in the market.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Actually any would do because those books are written keeping the detailed syllabus in mind. So every aspect will be covered anyways.

            Just make sure that you follow the same publication for all three years. For instance, if you’re following Longman for Geography, follow it for all three years.

            I wish you my very best. Work your hardest 🙂


        1. No. ICSE Books are of a way higher level than NCERTS and are written extremely well. NCERTS are a compilation of several good books (sadly done in a superficial way in recent editions; NCERTs prior to 2006 were damn good). ICSE books are written by well read individuals and are good books themselves.


    1. Hi Manisha,

      Begin with the basics.

      Starting today, start reading the Hindu newspaper daily. Read it extensively.

      Also, familiarize yourself with the complete pattern of the exam.

      You still have 3 years to go before you give your first attempt so you’re at an advantage of gaining a lot more knowledge and have all the time.

      Don’t take it for granted though. Make each moment count.


  22. Hello mam,
    I wanted to know which is the best optional subject in terms of syllabus and material availability ? I am about to start preparation for coming year but too confused as to what optional I should take? I am actually doing BHMS.
    Your help would be greatly beneficial.


    1. Hi Nick,

      Try not choosing an optional on this criteria. Here is what i need you to do –

      Find the optional closest to your academic stream or closest to your personal interest and go through the detailed syllabus. Then decide. It’ll prove useful 🙂


  23. Hello mam,
    i completed my engineering last year and planning to give cse2018 . I want to take psychology as optional. But im having second thoughts about this optional coz ill have to start from scratch and i heard its very low scoring. Wondering if this subject is worth the risk?? Pls help me

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Also i did my in computer science .So all the optional subjects will be new to me. Which subject do u recommend for a new comer like me?


    2. Hi Tissya,

      Since you are just starting preparation, here’s a modest suggestion –

      Never go by what others say, especially if they haven’t cleared the exam themselves.

      Now coming to your question. Psychology is a very good optional but it would have been better if you had a background in it.

      I recommend you to go through the syllabus and the previous 3 year question papers so as to get some clarity.

      Do that.Ping me here and then we’ll proceed further.

      Best wishes.


      1. Thank u for the suggestions mam.
        Actually i have no background in any of the optional subjects but i went through syllabus of some of the subjects like psychology, political science , pub ad and sociology . I even went through some of the previous year question papers and i found the syllabus and as well as the questions of psychology really interesting .
        i have decided to opt for psychology. Cant wait to start studying!!


  24. You know, I m gud in English…Reasoning is also…In online test i always prefer quant first bcoz it takes more time respective to other sections…Today, in Niacl exam I thought i should start wid Reasoning to score more but i stuck to one question n it took my all time…in starting of exam i was shivering…dont know what happend today…In 13 minutes slove 24 English question n in 16 minutes i solve 15 quant questions…left time r gone to reasoning…Its my 2nd term in Banking exams…n i m losing hope…next exam is sbi po n i dont know what to do now…actually paper was easy today n i should had solve atleast 75 questions…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry Vikesh because the more you worry, the more time you’ll waste that could have been invested preparing for SBI PO. Also, there are a lot more exams lined up this year. Apply for them as well. The mistakes you committed in this exam should be taken as a lesson for all your forthcoming exams. I wish you all the very best 🙂


    1. It depends entirely on your grip over the subject. Are you ok with it ? good with it ? or excellent with it ?

      Share your thoughts and then lets see what suits you best.


      1. Ya I think.
        I am good at the practical portion.
        I have heard that a one paper of this optional has a lot of practical questions on accountancy, financial management etc.
        The only question that keeps coming to my mind is that one thing it won’t help me with GS and second thing, as per syllabus, it almost covers 9-10 subjects of the Commerce stream, I mean it will just increase the burden.
        On the other hand, I have been dealing with these subjects from past 6-7 years, so the comfort level is great and I won’t have to start it from scratch.
        Not able to figure what should I do!


        1. Let me share with you my learnings –

          My optional was English Literature and in no way helped me in GS. But that did not stop me from pursuing it as an optional because i knew I had a damn good grip over it. So leave the extra burden out. Starting a subject from scratch is not recommended just because an aspirant feels that it’ll reduce the burden. Fact is that no burden is reduced. on the contrary it adds up mastering a new subject. So even if you wish to take a new optional, try this mindset.

          Next coming to the paper. You’ve mentioned that you have “heard”that the paper has a lot of practical questions. I strongly recommend that you go through the last 10 year previous year papers and check for yourself. Never go by hearsay.

          Take some time off and make an informed decision yourself. Choosing the right optional will go a long way in deciding your final merit 🙂


          1. Thank you so much ma’am!
            I will definitely check the last 10 years papers.
            I will also look out for the material required for the same, that might help to decide.


  25. Ma’am I m planning to join VajiRam coaching for GS and optional this year (June’s Batch). For which I’m having reg on 21st of May. But I’m still struggling to decide my optional. I’ve shortlisted Sociology but afraid of being outshine in it as it is the most common sub people take as optional.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Alright Jay, since you’re not comfortable, I will not recommend that you go with Electrical Engg.

          Start going through the syllabus of other optionals. Find out your areas of interest. Feel free to ping me any time.


  26. Hi mam
    I am graduated in history . Now i would like to do PG in history in central university bfore writing CSE.Could you please share your good ideas to plan a comprehensive planning for two year which includes from prelims to personal interview. I think, as working professional or something more than them the students can do it. Along with this i have confusion whether coaching with PG will make easy our path to ias or not and what should we do and don’t during preparation with PG. I expect good ideas and thoughts as usual


    1. Hi Fazl

      Pursuing Masters is good. It expands the overall horizon of an individual. I attempted CSE after I completed my masters and it worked out fine for me.

      Since you’re just beginning, I insist you go through the entire syllabus , compile your resources and then proceed further. Also have access to at least past 5 year papers.

      Most people begin preparation with NCERTs but I recommend aspirants to start with ICSE Books. Along with all of this, start reading the Hindu daily.

      If you ever feel doubtful about anything, feel free to ping me here.

      The next course of action can be planned once you begin.


      1. Hi ma’m
        Thanks for your reply. Is there any advantage for reading religiously ICSE books in CS exam than NCERT text books?.


        1. Yes.

          ICSE books are extremely well written whereas NCERTs (especially the ones published after 2005) are a mere compilation of reference books. It saddens me to say that the quality of NCERTs has deteriorated over the last decade. If at all, you want to start with NCERTs, go for the old editions.


  27. What online test series would you recommend for prelims? I am using shankarias and would like to add 1 or 2 more to the list for practice.


  28. Suggest some topics for mains
    The glittering topics that are back bone of civil services exam.
    I already requested you to plz add to your blog the main topics for state civil service exams.(current affairs).


  29. I am beginner in UPSC Preperation.I just got graduated in this May and wishes to start my serious preperation next month onwards.But my confusion is that whether to attend a coaching class or not .I am a kind of person who requires ample amount of time for self study and in such cases whether coaching from 9 to 4 would affect my preperation?
    Am I simply wastn my time and money for coaching institutes?


  30. Hey! Im pursuing BE in Computer Engineering. I’m interested in taking English Literature as my optional subject. But the following note has put me in dilemma- “You can opt for the literature of a language as an optional subject, only if you have graduated in the literature of that particular language as the main subject.”

    Now if your major is not English Literature can you still take that as your optional? And what is the meaning of the above note published by upsc?


      1. Oh! I downloaded the latest syllabus, and there’s no such note in that. But can you please personally confirm it? I’m really sorry for the trouble, but I would really appreciate if you could remove my doubt, and I could move forward with my preparation.


        1. Please can you confirm the above? I really want to take English Literature as my optional. Im from ICSE board and am doing BE Comp engg. I’ve always loved English Literature during my school days, hence excited to study again! Could you help with a good booklist?
          Thank you so much for the help!


          1. Yes please go ahead with literature 🙂 I am an ICSE product too. I’ve replied in detail to one of the comments about English Literature. Do refer there .f you don’t find it then I’ll let you know the detailed list 🙂


          1. Thank you soooo much!!!!
            I went through the comments, so first I’ll start reading the prescribed texts.
            Can you tell me which books I should buy for the history of English Literature(and other books neccesary for starting…like glossary etc)? And, I want to start with Pride and Prejudice and then The Tempest. So which critical edition should I buy? Do critical editions have the original text too?


          2. For history , please refer to –

            1. The Routledge History of Literature in English
            2. A History of English Literature by Dr. Bhimsen Dahiya

            Now coming to texts, buy original texts or download them from the internet.

            Not all critical editions contain the original text.

            I have a suggestion –

            Go by the genre and alternate it. For instance , start with a novel in fiction, then a drama and then a poem. One from each genre and then move on to the next. Don’t read randomly. Also, do read the origin of drama and the history. It’s very important.

            Best wishes 🙂


  31. Hey Akriti!

    I intend on writing the UPSC exam in 2018 with Psychology as my optional subject.
    I want be doubly sure, hence the question. Will psychology be a scoring subject? Also, can you please suggest a few books that I could refer to.

    Thanks for the help!


    1. Hi Saumya,

      I had psychology as an optional in my state service exam. May I know whether you’ve studied it before or not ? Then we’ll be able to formulate a strategy.


      1. Yes, I am a psychology honours graduate.
        Despite that I am slightly doubtful considering past (so-called) trends.
        Also, as I am just beginning my preparations could you please help me chalk out a schedule. You’ve often mentioned that ICSE books are better as compared to the NCeRT ones. Should class 8th to 10th ICSE books for the various GS subjects suffice?


        1. Don’t ever go by trends Saumya. Go by what suits you best and what your hold. See ICSE books are very good but only for the beginning – to understand basics. Once that is done, you’ll have to switch on to more books.


          1. Thank you for your prompt replies!
            I guess psychology it is then.
            Also, could you please help me with what I should begin with. I will be doing this full time in addition to attending a coaching institute.
            Also, reference books for the optional subject since you too had psychology as one?


          2. You are very welcome.

            Saumya start with the following 3 resources –
            Introduction to Psychology by Morgan and King
            Introduction to Psychology (NCERT) for Class 11 & 12
            Mukul Pathak Notes.

            Start with these and then we’ll proceed further 🙂


          3. Could you please suggest me which class ICSE books to refer to? Also, for which all subjects?
            I’d started with NCERT but following your advise and moving to ICSE first.


  32. I am a 2nd year btech student. I want to start the preparation for UPSC civil services exam. Please guide me how to start.


      1. I am a C.B.S.E board paas -out(2016) and currently pursuing BTECH( Power Engineering) from National Power Training Institute, Badarpur.


        1. You’re quite young. This means you got an advantage of time. Use it to the best of your potential.

          Here’s what I need you to do to kick start your preparation –
          1. Start reading the Hindu daily
          2. Get acquainted with the official pattern and syllabus of the exam
          3. Spend some time on choosing an optional


  33. Hi madam
    I have completed my graduation in mechanical engineering…
    I came from telugu(one or the indian language) medium background…
    I want to appear for CSE now..
    The problem is …though I have studied mechanical engineering i am not good at english … In it’s technical so I can write the subject that i know ….
    I think that english skills are not good enough to write essays…gs papers in CSE exams…to express my views….
    Is that english enough to write essays …gs papers in CSE ??????
    Or else …have i write in my mother tongue language (telugu)????
    Please suggest me the right path..!!!!
    I hope my question is understand by you..
    This is the only problem that i am facing to get into preparing for CSE…
    How can I overcome my problem..???? Plz suggest me…


  34. Hi madam
    I have completed my graduation in mechanical engineering…
    I came from telugu(one of the indian language) medium background…
    I want to appear for CSE now..
    The problem is …though I have studied mechanical engineering i am not good at english … In it’s technical so I can write the subject that i know ….
    I think that english skills are not good enough to write essays…gs papers in CSE exams…to express my views….
    Is that english enough to write essays …gs papers in CSE ??????
    Or else …have i write in my mother tongue language (telugu)????
    Please suggest me the right path..!!!!
    I hope my question is understand by you..
    This is the only problem that i am facing to get into preparing for CSE…
    How can I overcome my problem..???? Plz suggest me…


    1. Hi

      First of all, you do not need to worry at all about the medium. If your preparation is up to the mark, medium will not be a barrier. Before suggesting you anything, I’d like to ask you what medium are you comfortable with ? Telugu or English ?


    1. Hi Narinder,

      Start by making yourself 100% acquainted with the pattern and the syllabus. Then choose an optional after careful consideration. Once you do that start by reading the Hindu daily. Never miss out on an edition. Once you be on board on all the things, I’ve mentioned above, connect with me here and we’ll strategize your preparation further.


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