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Civil Services Exam: Daily Doubt Solving Sessions

Cerebration

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

 

Akriti Mattu

  • Nihit

    Mam is laxmikanth a good book for polity ?

    • Akriti

      Laxmikanth is one of the best books for Indian polity. I highly recommend it.

  • Munish Diwedi

    I read ur answer regarding reading the hindu on quora. I will appear for civil services exam next year. Can you pls tell me more newspapers and magazines to follow for current affairs ?

    • See Hindu is THE most important newspaper when it comes to CSE preparation. Having said that , you can also follow any of the other national dailies like The Indian Express and Hindustan Times. As far as magazines are concerned, here are the MUST READ magazines –

      Yojana
      Kurukshetra
      Science Reporter
      Down to Earth
      Civil Services Times

  • Vinit

    I am not prepared well .Shud i give exam this year

    • I won’t suggest that you waste an attempt. One’s first attempt should be is best attempt. Prepare well and then give the exam.

  • Sunil Yadav

    Hello Akriti ji. I need help regarding public admn as optional. People say its scoring. Shoud I take it ?

    • Akriti

      Public Administration is a good optional but the criteria for selecting an optional should be the popularity of an optional. You should opt an optional based on your background in the subject, resources available and the fact that it will hold your attention till the very end. What subject have you graduated in ?

      • Sunil Yadav

        I think ur right mam. My subject of graduation was Civil Engineering

      • Akriti

        Sunil, if you don’t wish to take your own subject as your optional, consider the following points –

        Go through the syllabus of the optional you plan to take and check whether it has any familiarity with subjects you studies in graduation or familiarity in general.

        Go through its previous year papers and find out the level of difficulty or simplicity.

        Make sure you have guidance , both in the form of books and mentors/online forums so that you have an option of clearing your doubts.

        Lastly, do not allow popular opinion to take or reject an optional.

  • Neha Makkar

    Hi Akriti. I read many answers of yours on Quora and found them extremely useful so first of all thanks for that. Secondly, I want to ask you 2 things – Should I take up literature as an optional and what is the strategy to prepare current affairs ? Thanks once again

    • I’m glad my answers proved useful to you Neha.

      Have you done your Hons. in literature (I’m guessing you’re asking about English Literature) ?

      See Current Affairs is an extremely significant component of General Studies. Let me point out that UPSC will never isolate current affairs and ask you questions. Instead, you will be tested on your ability to apply the events around to the syllabus in General Studies. For example, if a phenomena like El Nino was in news, you’ll be tested on that. Now that will be a component of both current affairs as well as geography. Get my point ?

      I suggest you read the Hindu daily.
      Read Yojana and Kurukshetra.
      Read the India Year Book
      Make Notes
      Watch national debates on TV

      • Neha

        Yes i understood what you’re sayin. Thank you so much Akrit Mam:)

  • keval mehta

    Is there any link online at which I can get solutions of maths optional of UPSC CSE previous year question papers?

  • keval mehta

    Hello, akriti mem please guide on how to approach current affairs?

    • Hello Keval.

      This is what I suggest you to do –

      Read the Hindu religiously and make notes on a daily basis. This will help you immensely in remembering important information and will prove handy when the exam approaches.

      Read Yojana and Kurukshetra. Highlight the important points while reading and then make notes.

      Read the India Year Book from the first page to the last. UPSC picks up questions based on the information contained in the India Year Book .

      Watch national debates and news on TV so that you know what’s happening around the world. For instance , Hillary Clinton addressing the democratic convention was in news today so you have got to know about US Presidential campaign and the entire process.

      Follow InsightsonIndia. It’ll prove useful.

      All the best.

  • Divy

    My Goal is For IFS.
    I am familar with the syllabus and the process the only thing that is bothering me its a service that even high rankers wont get if they dont have that aptitude for it that is checked during the Interview process. Can you help me out on what kind of preparation should i do in my interviews and for further ahead to become a Good diplomat who can serve his nation.

    • IFS does not have a different preparation strategy. If you qualify the exam and secure a decent rank, your chances are good.

      In recent years people have started opting for IAS over IFS. Most of them don’t want to leave the country. Personally , I would have chosen IFS over IAS any day. Anyway to each their own.

      My point is that one can get IFS even at a lesser rank in recent times. Now this does not mean that you become casual in your preparation. But I’m just saying IFS is very much achievable.

      All the best.

  • sfsdfsf

    Hello mam, I am a working professional aged 29. Please, Give me tips on clearing the CSE2017 please.

    • Hi.

      Since you’re working, you’ll have to balance between your job and CSE preparation. But don’t worry it’s manageable with the right approach.

      Here’s what you need to do.
      Devote 3-4 hours daily for preparation, dividing them between morning and evenings or whatever suits you. On weekends and holidays, devote as much time you can.

      Let me share with you a 10 point strategy for working professionals –

      1. READ THE HINDU DAILY

      2.BEGIN YOUR PREPARATION WITH GENERAL STUDIES. IN CASE YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO BUILD A STRONG FOUNDATION FIRST, CONSULT ICSE BOOKS AND THEN MOVE ON THE STANDARD GS BOOKS FOR PREPARATION.

      3.OPT FOR THE MOST SUITED OPTIONAL AND BEGIN PREPARATION.

      4.PRIORITIZE GENERAL STUDIES OVER THE OPTIONAL BUT DO NOT IGNORE THE OPTIONAL ALTOGETHER.

      5. READ THE INDIA YEAR BOOK RELIGIOUSLY.

      6.REFER WEBSITES – Mrunal.org, InsightsOnIndia, Websites of different Ministries

      7. READ MAGAZINES LIKE YOJANA, KURUKSHETRA AND CIVIL SERVICES TIMES.

      8.PRACTICE PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTION PAPERS AS WELL AS MOCK TESTS.

      9. MAKE NOTES. THEY’LL HELP YOU ALOT.

      10. LASTLY, GET MORE DONE IN LESS TIME , OWING TO YOUR JOB.

      If you have any more doubts, you can always drop by my blog and I’ll reply within 24-48 hours.

      All the very best.

  • karthik kooge

    Hello ma’am, needed guidance in sociology as optional in terms of book,strategy and execution with optimal efficiency.

  • Saumya Samanth

    Hello.

    How to start preparing general studies ?

    • Start with reading the Hindu and build a strong foundation for current affairs. You’ll have to learn to connect the current affairs in Hindu to your syllabus.

      Then move on to NCERT books (subject wise) and clear all the basics.

      Finally move on to bigger recommended books and make sure to make notes and revise frequently.

      All the best.

  • Kiran Kumar

    Mam can you tell me some tips for my exam on 7th ?

    • Sure.

      In paper I, attempt questions you are absolutely sure of and if at all you have to guess, make an informed choice. No wild guessing recommended.

      In Paper II, Attempt comprehension last of all. Begin with GMA and Numeric ability.

      Stay confident.

      All the best.

  • Amit Negi

    Everybody keeps saying NCERT books should be read but I don’t find them useful. Can you please clear my confusion ?

    Are you from Himachal mam ?

    • See NCERTS are good for building a good foundation. I won’t say they are enough (especially the new ones). They should be supplemented with additional books but one should read them thoroughly , nevertheless.

      You might not be finding them useful owing to the fact that they are a compilation of various books and resources. So to study from the original resource is any day better. Having said that, UPSC picks up questions from them so reading them is a must.

      Yes, Himachal is my home state.

  • Hello ma’am,
    I’m graduating with an architecture degree next year and so selecting an optional subject is becoming a daunting task for me. I am passionate about English and writing, yes – but my grammar definitely needs tinkering. Also I have never really read Shakespeare.
    – 1. I just wanted to know if taking English will be the right thing and I wanted to know if its scoring or not.
    Also, my other obvious options would be sociology and public ad – but when I think about religiously studying a subject it would rather be English than anything else.
    – 2. Also, how to make notes while reading the newspaper?
    Thank you, very much.

    • Hi Shreya,

      I gave Civil Services with English Literature as an optional in 2014. It worked very well for me. Now there are 2 reasons for it.

      Firstly, my graduation as well as post graduation subject was English Literature i.e Hons. in English & Masters in English. So the syllabus prescribed for UPSC was mostly familiar to me.

      Secondly, I topped both in graduation as well as Masters so my grip on the subject was extremely good (not boosting here but stating a fact so that you understand my point).

      I was comfortable with my optional because I was passionate about it, had the resources (made notes through out my academics) and i was familiar with the subject matter.

      Now let’s analyse your situation for a bit. You’ve stated 2 things –

      First thing is that you don’t have a background in Literature as an academic subject. But you want to consider it because your subject of graduation (architecture is not mentioned in UPSC’s official list).

      Second thing – You’re passionate about literature.

      Seeing your situation objectively, here’s what I’ll suggest you –

      Go through the official syllabus prescribed by UPSC and find out your level of familiarity with it.

      Next go through the question papers to see what kind of questions are expected from an aspirant with English Literature.

      Assuming that you’ve done the things mentioned above, you decide to opt for literature, here’s what I need you to do –

      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.

      All the very best Shreya.
      If you need additional help, feel free to contact me.

      • Thank you, so much, Akriti for the detailed explanation. It is very helpful. I will look deeply into the syllabus and question papers again. And also the History of Literature.

        One of the reasons why I prefer English is that this is the subject I’ve loved the most and I wanted to take it up after school but I wasn’t allowed to, sadly. Now I’ve moved onto the next level and I believe I can spend time studying Literature , liking the process instead of looking at it as a burden which could be the case if I take something like Anthropology, etc.

        I will try to understand more and get back to you.
        Thank you, very much.

        • I’m so glad you’re following your passion now. Go get it girl.

  • Aakash

    Your Quora Status says -Ex CSE Aspirant? What does it mean?? Why did you left preparation ? What went wrong? Share your journey…!!

    • That’s correct Aakash, I left my preparation.

      See the thing is that I gave my 1st attempt in the year 2014. Qualified the Prelims as well as Mains Exam in my maiden attempt. Started preparing for the Interview but was offered an opportunity abroad. I had to make an informed decision and i chose the Corporate World over UPSC. That’s my story. Hence the ‘Ex CSE Aspirant’ status on Quora.

      Till the time I was an aspirant, I put my heart and soul in it but when something better came along, grabbed it. That’s all.

      Nevertheless, I do wish every dedicated aspirant of Civil Services my best and they’re always welcome to seek guidance.

  • I was in my last semester of my graduation, that’s why I am not applied for CSE 2016. Should I start preparation for CSE 2017 from now. As I just cleared all my exams. Please suggest me all required books for preliminary and mains.
    I am a physically challenged boy, am I eligible for CSE?

    • Hi Bishnu,

      You are eligible for CSE 2017.

      The books that I’ve mentioned above are all MUST READ books. You must start preparing from them and build a strong foundation.

      I insist , begin with General Studies for Paper 1 (Prelims).

      Here are the books I’ll suggest –
      POLITY – Laxmikanth
      GEOGRAPHY – Khullar+NCERTs
      ECONOMY- Ramesh Singh
      HISTORY- Bipin Chandra + NCERTs
      CURRENT AFFAIRS – The Hindu Newspaper (Read and make notes daily) , The India Year Book
      ENVIRONMENT – NCERT Books

      All these books are needed to begin your preparation. Once you’re through, then move on to the next round of books (You can contact me here in case you feel like)

      All the very best.

      • Thank you soo much mam.
        Should I buy McGrawHill’s UPSC practice paper and total study guide along with it ? for practice myself.

        • Sure why not. The more you practice the better it’ll prove for you.

      • Also, suggest me books on Geology, I would like to have it optional in mains.
        Can ou please tell me what is the probability opting this subject in mains ?

  • pratik

    now . im in last year of mechanical engineering . i am not getting proper time to prepare for upsc study due to assignments and study work …i dont t wont to opt mechanical subject as
    upsc optional …what should i do for this …..and what should i do for the preparation from now ..??

    • First of all, don’t panic. You just need to strategize. That is all.

      If you don’t want to opt for mechanical engineering, its absolutely ok. UPSC has a wide range of optionals. You can choose the optional best suited to your interest. I recently wrote an article for an exam preparation website. If you feel like, you can have a look.

      Here – https://www.mockbank.com/bulletin/choosing-ias-mains-optional/

      Now let’s come to the problem of time. You need to give in a fixed number of hours for preparation daily. I insist you start with just 2 hours daily. But make sure these 2 hours are exclusively for CSE preparation. How about starting from the basics ? Start reading the Hindu daily and don’t forget to make notes. Along with the Hindu, pick up any one NCERT , let’s say Physical Geography and start reading it as well.

      Gradually move on from 2 hours to 4 hours to 6 hours so on and so forth. But remember that it is not the number of hours that matter. It is the output achieved in these hours that will make the difference. Also, try to give more sittings on weekends.

      It’ll all turn out just fine.
      All the best Pratik.

  • Hello Mam,
    I’ve done masters in Economics but I’m reluctant to take it as an optional because of the 2nd paper i.e. Indian Economy.I have scored poor marks in that paper both in graduation & masters.I can’t afford coaching & so have to depend on self preparation.So resource is obviously a constraint for me.Under this situation I have gone through the Anthropology optional syllabus & it seems somehow manageable .Am I going to face any difficulty in personality test for choosing Anthropology instead of Economics (inspite of completing masters)? Please guide.
    With Regards,
    Deyasini

    • Hey.

      You don’t need to worry so much. Seeing the fact that you’re not able to perform well in economics, it is recommended that you choose another optional ..So well done.

      Let me tell you that anthropology is a really good optional. Pretty interesting too. UPSC will not judge you on your optional, you can be sure of that so don’t freak out. Start preparing Anthropology well 🙂

      All the best.

      • Thanks a lot mam for your valuable suggestion.It will help me to boost my confidence.

        • No problem. Feel free to contact me here with any additional queries and all the best 🙂

  • sumit

    Akriti , I am puzzled over overload of current affairs and how to make coherent consolidated notes. What I did was pick 9 sheets – 1) polity related news 2) Environment/ecology related news 3) S&T news 4) Economic news 5) factfile/statistical data/rankings 6) Person,places,awards in news 7) Keynote/Punchlines/one liners 8) Summits/Conference/Foreign Visits 9) Laws/Rules in question. Apart from that I have thought to summarise editorials & opinions elsewhere but finding that difficult to do. Additionally , jotting down vocab and meaning too.
    This is a cumbersome exercise.What’s your review on it?

    Magazines to refer Yojana, Kurukshetra, Frontline, EPW, Economist, World Focus ( I bought them all but couldn’t do many ).

    Additionally there are sources like mrunal, insights, pib etc.

    Q1):- How to compile all these sources into 1 current affairs ?

    Q2):- Doing all this can be puzzling and kind of overdose.Do you insist these all to be done for perfection ?
    Q3):- How to reduce time used on this exercise. Its humungous.

    • Hi Sumit.

      I completely understand your situation. During me preparation I too struggled with multiple resources but realized eventually that I can neither cut down on the resources nor cut down on time. So I had to go with it. What i did do differently though, was that i put everything on a schedule with a deadline – something like a time table.

      I insist you try the same. It will help you to be a little more efficient. So lets’s say you can put resources to make notes for each day. For example –
      Monday- EPW 2 hours
      Tuesday- Yojana 2 hours
      Wednesday- Environment Notes
      Thursday – Pib
      ..so on and so forth.

      The Hindu should be read daily so make notes for each day (across topics) preferably in the evenings. Spend the rest of the day preparing other subjects.

      Mrunal keep studying as and when you reading a similar topic plus exclusively on Saturdays (I hour)

      For instance if you’re preparing for a topic like BASEL II Norms , refer to mrunal.

      Now to answer your 3 specific questions –

      Q1):- How to compile all these sources into 1 current affairs ?

      Current Affairs will never be 1 secluded topic. It will always be prepared with reference to something. So make notes subject wise –

      Current Affairs (Indian Polity)
      Current affairs(Economy)
      Current affairs(environment)
      Current affairs (geography)
      Current Affairs(International Relations)
      Current Affairs (General Knowledge) – Put all the miscellaneous things here.

      These notes will be extremely useful during Mains as well.

      Q2):- Doing all this can be puzzling and kind of overdose.Do you insist these all to be done for perfection ?

      Perfection NO, Excellence YES.
      Make notes but keep them concise (that’s the whole purpose). Remember you have to know the best and present the best in the exam out of the given material. Stick to the point. UPSC doesn’t expect you to be a be a perfectionist, it expects you to be well aware and resourceful.

      Q3):- How to reduce time used on this exercise. Its humongous.

      As mentioned earlier, stick to a time table and keep daily deadlines.
      No pains, no gains right ? CSE is the most challenging exam in the country , so time is something, you have got to invest. Once you’re done with notes, you just have to revise. Making good notes is one of the essential steps of CSE preparation. So don’t worry. Your notes will take you a long way 🙂

      All the very best and let me know how did the deadline strategy work out for you ?

      Take care.

      • sumit

        Thank you Akriti for your efforts !

        Well, I currently have RBI Grade B exam & Rajasthan Admn Services (pre) exam lined up in less than a month time. So , I am looking up for these exams although not very convinced about either’s preparation.Both are scheduled very closely making it difficult.

        As far as this exercise goes I will try to chalk out a schedule from Sep end when I get free from these.

        Do you have an idea about the utility of study material for RBI Grade B from some das academy or for that matter any other as due to paucity of time I wont be able to do standard material ?

      • Sumit for RBI Grade B I’ll have to do a look out for good sources. Will let you know

  • SACHIN KUMAR

    Hello mam,
    I am prepraring for cse 2017. I did my btech in cse. I am confused between sociology and polity as which optional will be better. Though both the subjects are new to me, how can one make a final choice. What would be the preparation strategy.

    Thanks

    • First of all, apologies for the late reply. Skipped your comment somehow.

      See as far as the optional goes, both polity and sociology are good optionals. But that’s not the point. Point is whether you will be comfortable pursuing them throughout your preparation. I insist, go through the syllabus for both subjects in details and then make a final choice.

      I’d written an article on a website regarding the choice of optionals.If you feel like, you can refer to it as well.

      Here – https://www.mockbank.com/bulletin/choosing-ias-mains-optional/

  • Hello Ma’am!
    I gave my prelims for the first time yesterday and i found the gs paper to be very easy but unfortunately, my score would be less than 33% in csat thus getting disqualified..i have attended coaching from june 2015 and now i am aware of the pattern of upsc far better than how i was , a year before..

    Now that , can you please help me as to how to go about for 2017 prelims?

    Thank You. 🙂

  • Prince Rajput

    1-Dear mam all i would like to know.i read the hindu regiously but dont make note out of it but i am considering vision ias current affairs notes and insight on india (daily) . Is it feasible idea since i just started prelaring for the cse2017(completed BBA this year).
    2- i had been gone through unacademy video of tina dabi for mains and prelim preparation and there i find out she used vajiram and vision notes enormously. Should i follow that too cause i find it smart idea along with coveri g standard books.
    thanks .please do reply.

    • Hi Prince,

      See , both Vision IAS and InsightsonIndia are good sources BUT do not leave making notes from the hindu. You must have them till the end. They will help you immensely. It is always better to read the original source than any other compilation.

      As for Tina Dabi or any other successful aspirant for that matter, you have to understand that each one has a unique strategy as per one’s requirements so i request you to not go blindly by what toppers say. Sure, follow their lead but not blindly.

      I hope you got my point. All the very best.

  • Thank you so much ma’am! Will go through the above links (Y)

    • You’re most welcome.

  • Gowtham charan

    Hello ma’am .

    As said earlier ,how do I get started with mains.
    This is my maiden attempt. Haven’t practiced any answer writing, only a few here and there.

    If possible ,plz mention a detailed strategy.
    Thanks in advance.:-)

    • Hello Gowtham,

      I should tell you right at the onset that you will have to practise answer writing in order to succeed. Also, for timing yourself to be able to finish the paper on time. So practise as much as possible.

      As for a detailed strategy, a few days ago I’ve written a detailed post on an exam preparation website. I’m sharing the link with you.

      Here – https://www.mockbank.com/bulletin/civil-services-mains-preparation-strategy/

      If you have any additional doubts, I’ll be happy to help.

  • Pragati

    Hello! Mam. I am in 3rd year of engineering and preparing for upsc 2018. I have started reading the Hindu newspaper and have targeted to complete the ncerts by the end of this year. Many times I get tensed as how would I be able to balance between my engineering final year studies and upsc preparation. Please kindly guide.

    • Hello Pragati,

      What you’re facing right now is the predicament for a lot of aspirants. But don’t worry. All you need is a time table or a disciplined schedule that you should follow. You have got to devote a few hours daily to CSE preparation. Consistency is what matters here. 3 hours daily and more hours on the weekends and holiday.

      You have 2 years to go for your 1st attempt so you have the advantage of giving more time to each topic. Chalk out a daily schedule where you alternate subjects. Try not to study the same subject daily.

      Best wishes.

  • Praful

    Hello mam,I graduated in computer science which is not available in UPSC optional subjects list.I am thinking to take up pol.science as a n optional as I found polity interesting. But people say that this subject requires flowry English and good command over English.I was suggested to take up pub.ad.,philosophy like subjects which are static as well as scoring. What should i do now mam?

    • Hi Praful,

      Before I go any further, let me offer you a suggestion – Opt for the optional YOU think is best for you and not anybody else (nobody).

      Now coming on selecting an optional, Polity is a damn good optional. It’ll help you with General Studies as well. As far as command over English goes, keep practising and tr reading more.

      Lastly, NO subject is scoring/non-scoring.

      Your preparation can make an apparently low scoring optional as high scoring.

      Best wishes 🙂

  • hii akriti mam , i just get started foe cse , i am in 3rd year , can u please tell me how to get started . tell me about how to prepare for mains exam . iam from engg background tell me about strategies to crack cse . also tellvabout the books like ncerts, hindu , etc on a detail , and most important thing that how to get prepared smartly than just only doing hardwork i have 2 years time for preparations so tell me how to lay a good foundation for the exams . i will wait for reply

  • tell me how to get started mam

  • Ma’am which book do i need to follow for world history? There are two versions of norman lowe. Which one is good ?

    • Hey Shobana

      Either will do actually. But I have to say here that even though Norman Lowe is a damn good book, it’s quite bulky. You don’t necessarily need to read the whole thing.

  • krishna

    Hello mam Please tell me about ps &ir optional??

    • Hi. Krishna,

      I didn’t really get your question .
      Ps & ir as in ?

      Kindly explain 🙂

  • Harshit

    Hi akriti madam, being a forestry graduate, i am desperate to get into the indian forest services. Both my mains subjects are well prepared, the only problem is regarding the gs paper of prelims. Please suggest me a strategy to somehow just qualify the prelims with flying colours, since the cut off for IFS is quite high. In my last attempt, i scored 80, without preparation. But after 2 years, when i have got a backup job, I want to put my heart and soul into it. Mains is not much matter of worry, since my concepts of optionals are good. Its just the high prelims cutoff that is bothering me. Please help. Regards.

    • The GS paper makes all the difference when it comes to qualifying Prelims. You’ll have to start from scratch. Don’t worry too much about the expansive syllabus. Start giving daily sittings and nobody can stop you from clearing the exam.

      I wrote an article on GS preparation.
      Sharing the link here –

      https://www.mockbank.com/bulletin/csat-preparation-strategy-ias-exam/

      It covers everything. But if you still have doubts, feel free to contact me.

      All the best 🙂

  • sagar meshram

    Hello Mam ! I am preparing for IAS 2017. What is the correct time to start preparation of optional? How much time required for optional preparation? My optional subject is Sociology .

    • Hello Sagar,

      Optional should be prepared along with the GS preparation. However until the time of the preliminary examination, GS should be the main focus. However Optional shouldn’t be left for the end. I insist you start understanding the syllabus and make notes for the optional as of now. Prioritize GS over the Optional. Nevertheless, invest 1.5 hours on the optional daily at least till March. After that keep revising.

      All the very best.

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  • vishlesh

    hello Mam…i have opted for geography as optional…
    plz help me. which books and notes should i refer and plz also tell how to properly manage time as the syllabus is huge..plz help

    • Hi Vishlesh,

      Geography is a vast subject (one of my favourites though ).

      I’m not sure on which level of preparation you are currently but i’ll try to guide you from scratch.

      Begin your preparation with –
      ICSE Books (Classes 8th, 9th and 10th)
      NCERT Books ( Classes 9th, 10th, 11th 12th)

      Once you’re familiar with the syllabus and have understood most, if not all the topics, proceed to the following books –
      Physical Geography – Savindra Singh
      Geography of India – Majid Hussain
      Oxford School Atlas.

      Try enjoying geography as you proceed further in the syllabus because you’re getting to know the world better. Don’t ever get boggled down by the vastness of the syllabus.

      Read and understand Physical Geography and Indian Geography thoroughly and have the syllabus on your tips so that you know exactly how much you’ve covered.

      Besides books, try incorporating certain events (which you find around – be it in newspapers/magazines/journals/TV) i your notes by relating them to the topics in your syllabus.

      Since Geography is your optional, let me suggest you some books topic wise –
      Oceanography
      Oceanography by Sharma & Vatal, NCERT

      Geomorphology
      1.Physical Geography by Strahler & Strahler
      2.Geomorphology by Savindra Singh

      Climatology
      1.General Climatology by Critchfield
      2.Climatology by D.S.Lal

      Biogeography :
      1.Physical Geography – Made Simple, Rupa Publisher
      2.Physical Geography by Strahler & Strahler

      Environmental Geography
      1.Environmental Awareness by R.C.Chandna
      2. Environmental Geography by Saxena

      Population Geography
      1.Human Geography by Majid Husain
      2.Urbanization & Urban Systems in India by Ramachandran

      Agriculture
      1.Agriculture Geography by Majid Husain
      2. Hindu’s Annual Survey on Agriculture

      Industry
      1.Economical and Commercial Geography of India by C.B. Mamoria
      2.Economical and Commercial Geography by Sharma & Coutinho

      In addition to the mentioned books, refer to K Sidhartha’s Notes on Geography.

      Try making notes and revise them regularly.

      As for time management, you’ll have to balance your optional along with GS. The best way to do this is by making a time table and following it earnestly.

      All the very best:)

      Feel free to drop by for any additional concerns.

  • Saransh Jain

    Hello Ma’am, I am a beginner in UPSC preparation,and will appear for exams in 2020.I am very confused how to start preparation.And I am very confused that if we are studying history from works of notable writers like those of RS sharma,Satish chandra,and Bipin chandra what’s the need of reading ncerts ,which contains incomplete information and not even in detail.Same doubts are related with political science and Geography.
    Please help mam!!

    • Hi Saransh,

      NCERTS are for basics. So going through them is essential for having a basic grip over the syllabus. Reading them will do you no harm 🙂

      So go through them and then move on to the more popular writers. You know a lot of times the very popular writers also compile the content for their books from NCERTs . You have a lot of time for your first attempt so go through each and every topic religiously. It’ll prove a major advantage later on.

      As for Geography and Polity, sure drop by your queries. I’ll try to help you.

      All the very best 🙂

  • anshu

    I am an engineering first sem student and read the Hindu daily but don’t know how to read it so as to prepare for UPSC ? please guide me!!

    • Hindu will seem a little complicated at first but don’t worry. Not only is it one of the best newspapers for CSE preparation but also an essential requisite for having a grip over current affairs.

      Try to read Hindu during evenings and even if it takes a lot of time, hang in there. Mark the important news items with a coloured pen and jot them down so as to make short notes (Later search for those news items more on the internet and compile full length notes). Revise these notes daily, weekly and monthly. This way you’ll build a rock solid foundation.

      While reading the Hindu, don’t stress too much on each and every item. You can skip things that are not important. But do give a quick reading so as to not miss out anything. Once you develop a regular habit of reading the Hindu, it’ll be like a piece of cake.

      All the very best.
      P.S : Make sure you make notes from the Hindu no matter how much time it takes.

  • Arun

    Hi, please suggest me comprehensive strategy for preparing ETHICS ANS INTEGRITY (GS4 mains paper) .

    • GS Paper 4 has kept the aspirants perplexed ever since it was introduced in the new pattern. But don’t worry. All you need to do is divide the syllabus. Paper 4 is an amalgamation of philosophy, public administration, psychology in addition to case studies.

      Going through previous year GS 4 papers will help you familiarize yourself with the type of questions asked as well as the syllabus. See there will NEVER be any one source that covers this paper. You’ll have to refer to multiple sources.Let me suggest a few books/resources –

      1. Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by G Subba Rao and PN Roy Chowdhary
      2. Ethics study material from IGNOU
      3. Psychology Books (NCERT +ICSE Classes 11th, 12th)
      4. Introduction to Psychology – Morgan and King
      5.Ethical Concerns in Public Administration – IGNOU
      6. Corruption, Ethics and Accountability: Essays by an Administrator
      7. 2nd ARC Report on Ethics and Governance

      Besides the above sources, keep a tab on the ongoing events and try to fit yourself in the decision maker’s position. This will help you in the case study questions. But remember , in these questions don’t write in a way that makes you come across as fake. Genuinity and honesty is most important. So no over sermonizing morality. Not required 🙂

      For case studies refer to http://dornsife.usc.edu/

      Have an insight on things and this paper will be easy to crack.

  • Prathviraj Shetty

    Hi Akriti Ma’am. How would your 10 month preparation strategy look like?(This is the time I’ve got) Also is coaching necessary? I’m self confident that I can manage without coaching but I always feel people who take coaching have an upper hand. How do I keep my preparation focused and to the point? I don’t want to waste time learning unnecessary topics. Thank you.

    • Hi Prathviraj,

      Before i elucidate a ten month preparation strategy, let me tell you that – People who opt for coaching neither have an advantage nor a disadvantage. It depends on an individual entirely. Coaching has nothing , and i stress on the word NOTHING to do with one’s success. All it does it add a little direction in one’s course of preparation , that too for some people only. So you have absolutely nothing to fear my friend 🙂

      Now coming to a preparation strategy –
      Start with basics. Read concepts, understand them, marvel them and make notes.
      Revise regularly.
      Read the Hindu daily.
      Read magazines like Yojana, Kurukshetra every 2 days (in case they pile up).
      Start with the section of the GS you’re most comfortable with and hold agrip over it. Once you’ll be confident, move on to the weaker sections. Don’t ever postpone something you’re not interested in.

      First 2 months should be exclusively about GS. From the 3rd month, start studying from the point of view of Mains as well. 4th month start with the Optional along the GS preparation. 5th month onwards enroll in any online Mock test series for Prelims. 6th month start revising both Prelims as well as Mains. Also keep preparing all the left out syllabus (because you will have a lot left).
      7th month start practising answer writing. Will help you immensely. 8th month onwards start preparing for GS paper 2 (prelims) as well. It’s only qualifying but you still need to practice. Invest some time daily for it along GS .9th, 10th month should be devoted to Prelims revision exclusively.

      Pick up the Mains preparation a week after the Prelims is held.

      All the very best Prathviraj 🙂

  • Hi Jaskaran,

    I’m glad that you feel you should utilize as much time as possible for preparation.

    The advantage that you have is that you can religiously spend a lot o time on each and every topic. This will benefit you immensely.

    But do enroll yourself in any good test series just to have your preparation evaluated. But that can happen around 6-7 months later. Till then keep preparing and mastering the syllabus.

    All the very best 🙂

  • Pradeep

    Hello Akriti Mam , am English graduate from university of Delhi , currently pursuing masters from ignou in the same subject . I did a big blunder with my grad. score (52%), will it hamper my chances into getting selected to civil services ?

    • Hi Pradeep,

      First of all apologies for replying late. Somehow, your comment was spammed by wordpress. Anyhow, coming to your question –
      Oh no it won’t. Don’t stress out on your academic score.

      Just prepare for the exam earnestly.

      In case you want to opt for English Literature as an optional, the DU Syllabus will help you immensely. A lot of texts prescribed by UPSC are a part of DU’s curriculum.

      All the best.

      • PRADEEP

        I am opting English as my optional subject , am fully flummoxed about English literature UPSC syllabus , different sites are showing different syllabus .Can you help me out , what texts UPSC has prescribed for optional syllabus for English literature .
        Thanks for replying my formal message no need to apologize.

        • Here is the complete list of texts prescribed by UPSC for English Literature syllabus –

          For Paper I Section A

          1. William Shakespeare : King Lear and The Tempest.

          2. John Donne. The following poems :

          – Canonization;

          – Death be not proud;

          – The Good Morrow;

          – On his Mistress going to bed;

          – The Relic;

          3. John Milton : Paradise Lost, I, II, IV, IX

          4. Alexander Pope. The Rape of the Lock.

          5. William Wordsworth. The following poems:

          – Ode on Intimations of Immortality.

          – Tintern Abbey.

          – Three years she grew.

          – She dwelt among untrodden ways.

          – Michael.

          – Resolution and Independence.

          – The World is too much with us.

          – Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour.

          – Upon Westminster Bridge.

          6. Alfred Tennyson : In Memoriam.

          7. Henrik Ibsen : A Doll’s House.

          For Paper I Section B

          1. Jonathan Swift. Gulliver’s Travels.

          2. Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice.

          3. Henry Fielding. Tom Jones.

          4. Charles Dickens. Hard Times.

          5. George Eliot. The Mill on the Floss.

          6. Thomas Hardy. Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

          7. Mark Twain. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

          For Paper II, Section A

          1. William Butler Yeats. The following poems:

          – Easter 1916

          – The Second Coming

          – A Prayer for my daughter.

          – Sailing to Byzantium.

          – The Tower.

          – Among School Children.

          – Leda and the Swan.

          – Meru

          – Lapis Lazuli

          2. T.S. Eliot. The following poems :

          – The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock

          – Journey of the Magi.

          – Burnt Norton.

          3. W.H. Auden. The following poems :

          – Partition

          – Musee des Beaux Arts

          – in Memory of W.B. Yeats

          – Lay your sleeping head, my love

          – The Unknown Citizen

          – Consider

          – Mundus Et Infans

          – The Shield of Achilles

          – September 1, 1939

          – Petition.

          4. John Osborne : Look Back in Anger.

          5. Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot.

          6. Philip Larkin. The following poems :

          – Next

          – Please

          – Deceptions

          – Afternoons

          – Days

          – Mr. Bleaney

          7. A.K. Ramanujan. The following poems :

          – Looking for a Causim on a Swing

          – A River

          – Of Mothers, among other Things

          – Love Poem for a Wife 1

          – Samll-Scale Reflections on a Great House

          – Obituary

          For Paper II, Section B

          1. Joseph Conrad. Lord Jim

          2. James Joyce. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

          3. D.H. Lawrence. Sons and Lovers.

          4. E.M. Forster. A Passage to India.

          5. Virginia Woolf. Mrs Dalloway.

          6. Raja Rao. Kanthapura.

          7. V.S. Naipal. A House for Mr. Biswas.

  • PRADEEP

    Thank you so much

  • phani raj

    Hi mam, I am preparing for upsc 2017 and I haven’t started with preparation for optional and my optional is political science, don’t know how to start with it and for general studies I’ve started with basics mam, so could you please provide me strategy for both and how to improve answer writing skills since I’m poor in English answer writing.
    Thank you mam

    • Hi Phani,

      First of all, start your preparation and make the months count.

      For General Studies, start with NCERT’s and then move on to the more complex books.

      I’ve written a detailed article on the step by step approach for freshers. It’ll be useful for you.

      Here’s the link – https://www.mockbank.com/bulletin/csat-preparation-strategy-ias-exam/

      Now coming to writing skills, you have got to practice because you’ll be needing them in the Mains examination. As of now , if you’re not strong at it, do not worry. Just keep improvising.

      I insist, read – https://akritimattu.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/civil-services-mains-answer-writing/

      After going through the suggested links, if you still have any doubt, please feel free to drop a query.

      All the very best 🙂

      • phani raj

        Thanx mam

  • PRADEEP

    Mam, Which is the best book for history of English literature ?

    • I’ll recommend the following books –

      A Complete History of English Literature by Compton and Rickett

      History of English Literature by Dr. Bhimsen Dahiya

      A Critical History of English Literature by David Daiches

      • PRADEEP

        Thank you so much mam once again .

  • Hello Mam,
    Can you please guide me with strategy for Philosophy optional preparation, i have gone through last five years papers. Syllabus is short but it appears more context based.
    What things should i keep in mind while reading the standard books so that i can maximize score. I am starting this subject from scratch.
    Which test series can i take for Philosophy for answer writing practice.

    • Hi Ashish,

      I’ll be honest with you here. I don’t have much idea about Philosophy as an optional. So I will not misguide you. What I can do however is speak to some acquaintances who’ve given the exam with Philosophy as an optional. Give me 72 hours. I’ll do my research and get back to you.

      In the meanwhile, read http://www.insightsonindia.com/2016/06/11/strategy-philosophy-optional-ambarish-v-l-vemuri-rank-150-cse-2015/

      It’s the interview of a selected candidate with Philosophy as an optional.

      • Thanks Mam,
        Please let me know the proper strategy for this subject as its less chosen subject, i need proper guidance for answer writing in this subject.

  • After consulting a few successful aspirants with Philosophy as an optional, here are the most recommended books –

    Patanjali class+printed notes
    Masih-Western philosophy
    D Palmer -Western Philosophy
    Dutta-Indian philosophy
    Gauba-Socio-political philosophy
    Masih-Religious philosophy

    I’d like you to visit –

    https://thesupermanreturns.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/philosophy-optional/

    Very well explained points on Philosophy here.

  • Veer

    Hello mam… my name is veer.. i right from my school times was writing answers which were completly out of the box. Different from all from starting to examples… i even as a child gave example which some of my orthodox teachers prefered as vulgar and useless…. they told me if you will write this type of answers you will not get selected anywhere.

    But the same answers when i told to some of the renowned professors, were highly appreciated by them.

    Should i write those type of answers in my UPSC mains ?

    Ex – how is black money affecting the economy ?

    The starting of my answer was..

    Black money is like AIDS to the Indian economy which has been generated due illict relation of man and money.

    Will this types of answer will be rejected ?

    • Hi Veer,

      First of all, I’d like to apologize for not seeing your query earlier. Your comment somehow got into the spam folder. Anyway, coming to your question now –

      ALWAYS BE ‘YOU’ and being different from others both in personality as well as writing is good. Free Spirited folks lead the world with fresh ideas. So I insist you continue writing the way you want. The only thing to keep in mind is (as far as UPSC) is concerned : Facts should be correct. Your stance is your own but facts should not be disrupted. Also, be polite yet assertive via your language.

      I wish you my best 🙂

  • Thanks a ton. I really appreciate it. Keep rising and shining.

    Strictly follow the word limit. Prioritize content over the length. Quality is of utmost importance.

    Best wishes 🙂

  • Ram

    I belongs to engineering background.from childhood I have interest in story reading and I am good in Hindi writting.while choosing optional I am very confuse.please guide me can I opt Hindi as optional in UPSC

  • @Veer I never get annoyed with questions coming from sincere aspirants 🙂

  • Here’s a short introduction –

    Currently I am a Digital Marketing Specialist by profession. Previously I was a serious UPSC aspirant who gave the Civil Services Exam in 2014 & 2015. In 2014 I qualified the Prelims and Mains both but didn’t appear for the interview because I left for US to embark another opportunity. Came back to India , gave the exam in 2015 again and made it to the final merit list but realized that I don’t want to pursue UPSC anymore. The Corporate Sector attracted me more. That’s all. It took me 2 attempts to realize what i want to sign up for in life and what i don’t . I am doing now what I always wanted to do and hope that everyone else lives their dreams as well. I wish my best to each UPSC aspirant.

    Now coming to your queries on UPSC. I’ll try to answer them one by one.

    1.For preparation of the Prelims, you need to chalk out a good methodical plan. The syllabus is prescribed by UPSC. I’ve written in detail about both these two aspects on an exam preparation website. I insist you go through them.

    Here are the links –

    Pattern, Syllabus and Recommended Books for Prelims

    https://www.mockbank.com/bulletin/ias-syllabus-ias-preparation/

    Preparation Strategy – Paper I & II

    https://www.mockbank.com/bulletin/csat-preparation-strategy-ias-exam/

    https://www.mockbank.com/bulletin/csat-preparation-paper-ii/

    NCERT Books are concise and hence most aspirants begin their preparation by reading them. Before I suggest you which NCERT books to read for what subject, I’ll interject here and advise you to please read ICSE books for Classes 8, 9 and 10. They will not only help you build a strong foundation but will help you grasp the bigger books for preparation (which you will read later). Once you’re done with the ICSE books, NCERT books will be super easy to read 🙂

    Now coming to NCERTs that you should read. Here’s the complete list –

    HISTORY

    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

    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 AND CULTURE

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

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

    GEOGRAPHY

    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

    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).

    INDIAN ECONOMY

    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 AND TECHNOLOGY

    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

    ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

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

  • Second qualifying paper is English.

    • veer

      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 ?

      • You have 2 qualifying papers – One is for an Indian Language and the other is for English. Both are compulsory and of qualifying nature.

        • veer

          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.

          • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • Praful

    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?
    Thanks:)

    • 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.

  • Purvi

    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?

    • 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.

  • BIKRAM KUMAR SAHU

    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

    • 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.

  • veer

    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 ☺

  • Bunny

    Hello mam my question is that how one should make his base strong in eng-literature which basic books should one has to read first before graduation.

    • Before I answer your question Bunny, I’d like to ask you – Do you have a background in English Honours ?

      • Bunny

        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.

      • Bunny

        And also hons program is not available in affiliated colleges of Davv Indore, MP. and I don’t want to go for DLP.

      • Bunny

        So what to do how to start literature.

        • Start by reading the texts religiously. Don’t spend more than one week on a text. Also, start reading about the history of literature.

      • Bunny

        And what’s your opinion about ncert 5th to 12th for base making of literature.

        • A big NO. ICSE books are to be referred. NCERTS are pathetic when it comes to literature.

  • veer

    Which book,guide,material or website is best for CSAT preperation ?

    • A lot of them are available in the market. See for CSAT all you need to do is practice, so pick anyone. Doesn’t make much difference.

  • veer

    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 ?

    • 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.

  • wonderwoman

    i don’t now from where to start my answer writing?? i havent yet finished my gs syllabus to. help

    • Hey don’t worry. Tell me where are you in your preparation and how do you practice answer writing as of now ?

      • veer

        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.

  • veer

    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.

    • 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 ?.

  • 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!

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • 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.

      • Dear ma’am,
        Please tell me about step 1.
        I am glad for your help:)

        • 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.

    • I understand.
      I will try my hands on King Lear to begin with. Let’s see how it goes.

      • 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.

  • 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.

    • Hi Ayush, your comment was in the spam folder somehow. Just saw it.

  • Shivi

    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…?

    • 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 ??

  • Aman

    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.

    • 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.

  • Praful

    Hello mam,I cant study in day noises ,it disturbs me and i tend to loose my focus.should I start to wear earplugs while studying?or start to study at night?

    • 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.

  • Hello Mam,
    I had done masters in chemistry, i want to take public ad as my optional , so which book should I prefer for this subject. Please help me out.

    • Hi Jewis,

      If I may ask, why do you want to opt for Public Admin. and not your own subject ?

      Sure will help you out. Let’s start by being 100% clear 🙂

  • archana krishnan

    is it advisable to jump directly into laxmikanth without reading ncerts for polity preparation for upsc?

    • 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.

  • veer

    Good morning,
    Where can we find W.H Auden’s poem “consider” ?

  • Rahul Singh

    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?

    • 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 🙂

  • Souma

    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?

    • 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 🙂

  • Jayant Kumar

    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 it.so if you guide me on this my state of confusion .i would be very thankful to you.thaank you,mam

    • 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.

      • Jayant Kumar

        Thank you mam…..

  • inder

    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

    • 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

      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

      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 AND CULTURE

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

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

      GEOGRAPHY

      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

      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).

      INDIAN ECONOMY

      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 AND TECHNOLOGY

      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

      ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

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

      You can download NCERTS free of cost here >> https://www.mockbank.com/bulletin/download-ncert-books-for-free/

      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.

  • inder

    please help me asap maam.
    Thanks

  • inder

    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.

    • You’re most welcome.

  • Raj Kumar

    Hi.,
    Can we replace general NCERT’s with A Gist of NCERT books, for saving time?

    • No.

      I’d recommend you go through them in detail. See, it won’t take much of your time anyways because the new NCERT books are not bulky. But don’t skip.

      Best wishes.

  • srijan

    Which optional subject should be taken (easy and scoring)?

    • 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 ?

  • Shariq

    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 ?

    • 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.

  • 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 🙂 )

    • 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 🙂

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  • Akash

    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.

    • 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 🙂

      • Akash

        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.

        • 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.

      • Akash

        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 🙂

        • 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 🙂

    • Akash

      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..

      • 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 🙂

      • Akash

        Thanks a lot for all your wishes 🙂

        • You’re most welcome 🙂

      • Akash

        And yes, I have made an informed choice of continuing with my preparations. Hoping for the best 🙂

  • Shahnaz khan

    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 also.as 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 question..it will clear my all doubts..

    • 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.

      • Shahnaz khan

        From where I can get ICSE books online and which subject books to be referred?

        • History, Geography, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Environment.

          Easily available in the market.Also on Amazon.

          You have to buy for Classes 8-10.

          • Shahnaz khan

            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.

          • 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 🙂

      • Shahnaz khan

        Only for 8-10; not like NCERTs for class 6-12??

        • 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.

  • Manisha

    Hi Akriti!
    So I’m recently passed out of class 12th. From where do I start the preparation?

    • 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.

      • Manisha

        Thanks!

  • Nick

    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.

    • 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 🙂

  • Tissya

    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

    • Tissya

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

      • The subject which holds your interest the most. How about you going through the syllabus and then relating ?

    • 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.

      • Tissya

        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!!

        • Good decision. Now that you have made up your mind , I insist buy Mukul Pathak Notes for Psychology. Will be helpful.

          • Tissya

            Thank you Mam..

          • You are very welcome

  • VIKESH SHARMA

    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…

    • 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 🙂

      • VIKESH SHARMA

        Sure ma’am…i should not be worried rather i should apply my energy for the upcoming exams…thank u…

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  • Hello ,
    I have done my masters in commerce.
    Should I go for Commerce and Accountancy as my optional?
    Or is there some other choice of optional which is favorable a commerce graduate?

    • 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.

      • singlariya14

        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!

        • 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 🙂

          • singlariya14

            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.

          • You’re very welcome.

            Keep visiting here in case you feel like reading more 🙂

  • Jay Bardhan

    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.

    • Hi Jay.

      I strongly recommend that you choose an optional which makes you feel comfortable and confident. May I know your academic background ?

      • Jay Bardhan

        Ma’am I have done. B. Tech in electrical engg from NIT Warangal.

        But I’m not very comfortable with electrical.

        • 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.

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  • fazl

    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

    • 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.

      • fazl

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

        • 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.

  • Shyamsundar Parthasarathy

    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.

    • Insights
      Vajiram and Ravi

      Best wishes.

  • ajit

    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).

    • I’ll be writing a separate post on it this week. Do read.

  • Aiswarya

    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?

    • What is that you want to do ? Do you really feel coaching will help you ?

  • Surabhi

    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?

    • Hi Surabhi,

      Are you sure this line has been mentioned in the official notification ?? This criteria was done away with from the year 2014.

      • Surabhi

        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.

        • Surabhi

          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!

          • 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 🙂

        • No worries. See as per me the condition you’re referring to existed till 2014 only. It is not existent anymore.

          • Surabhi

            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?

          • 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 🙂

  • Saumya

    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!

    • 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.

      • Saumya

        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?

        • 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.

          • Saumya

            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?

          • 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 🙂

          • Saumya

            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.

          • Sure.

            Classes 7, 8, 9, 10.
            Geography
            History (Polity will be included)
            Environment
            Economy

  • Aman

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

    • Hi Aman,

      May I know your academic background please ?

      • Aman

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

        • 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

          • Aman

            Thank you mam for your advice.

          • You are very welcome. For any additional questions, feel free to ask.

  • Sathi

    Hi madam
    I have completed my graduation in mechanical engineering…
    I came from telugu(one or the indian language) medium background…
    Now..
    I want to appear for CSE now..
    The problem is …though I have studied mechanical engineering i am not good at english … In b.tech it’s technical so I can write the subject that i know ….
    I think that ..my 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…

  • Sathi

    Hi madam
    I have completed my graduation in mechanical engineering…
    I came from telugu(one of the indian language) medium background…
    Now..
    I want to appear for CSE now..
    The problem is …though I have studied mechanical engineering i am not good at english … In b.tech it’s technical so I can write the subject that i know ….
    I think that ..my 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…

    • 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 ?

  • Narinder

    I am in 3rd year of engg.. How should i start preparing for upsc cse 2019

    • 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.

  • Biswambar Pradhan

    Hello mam ,I m very confused regarding the optional. whether I should choose psychology or Public administration ,i m in a dilemma .I have a lot of interest in psychology that Public administration I have read from different blogs that Psychology is not a scoring subject and very few materials available .Is that true? If I will take optional from where should I start ? and also i have an Engineering background .Sp please help me.Thank you

    • Hi Biswambar,

      First of all, don’t go by what others have to say because the performance in an optional depends on the individual alone. Nobody else should pass a judgement.

      Both psychology and public administration are good optionals. You should base your choice depending upon three factors –

      1.Your interest after seeing the subject matter
      2.Heftiness of the syllabus
      3. Available Guidance.

      I studied psychology in college along with Hons. and hence it came a little handy to me. For a fresher, some guidance will be required.

      So for starters, I’d like you to go through the complete syllabus for both and the past 3 year papers and then come to a logical conclusion.

      Once you do that, ping me here and we’ll proceed further.

  • Saumya

    I was working on a timeline. Hence wanted your view. Keeping in mind the 2018 exams, by when would you recommend one to finish all the NCERTs and start with the reference books?

    • There are 2 ways to proceed –

      1. Finish all the NCERTs and then switch on to reference books.

      2. Prepare from NCERTs and Reference books simultaneously, moving from NCERTs to reference books.

      I insist you go with 2.
      This way you’ll prepare well, understand all the facts and save time.

      But if you want to go with NCERTs alone, then you should try finishing them in the next 75 to 90 days.

      • Saumya

        Thank you so much, Akriti!
        I cannot begin to explain how helpful you’ve been. You come across as someone who genuinely wants to help the aspirants and that’s selfless and commendable.

        Since you’re suggesting to go with option 2, I might as well give it a try.
        Please let me know in case I’m missing on any reference books below:
        1. Polity- Laxmikanth
        2. History- Bipin Chandra
        3. Physical Geography- Khuller
        4. Economy- Raman Singh

        Thank you:)

        • Awww..thank you. That are some kind words 🙂

          All the books mentioned by you are good reference books. So please go ahead. I’ll just suggest you start reading Environment as well.

          Best wishes. Visit here for any doubts anytime.

  • Shahnaz khan

    Hello Ma’am, please guide me regarding my optional i.e. anthropology as it has very concise syllabus and related to human beings so I found it interesting. Is it ok to go for it being an engineer. How should I start my preparation for CSE 2018 from scratch now.

    • Shastri

      Please address one more thing ma’am, is too much mugging is required for anthropology ?

      • Hi Shastri,

        No. Understanding over rote learning any day 🙂

    • Hello Shahnaz, Let me get back to you on this in a few hours after careful consultation with one of my friends who opted for psychology.

      • Shahnaz Khan

        Sorry to interrupt ma’am..it’s anthropology..is it ok or i should go for some other options.

        • Anthropology is a good optional especially if you have a hold over it. So why go for something else. Go for it. I discussed it with a friend as well. So he told me the same that it is a scoring subject indeed. Best wishes.

  • Shastri

    Hi Ma’am,
    Read your many answers at quora & I appreciate your efforts to address queries in best way possible.
    I am an civil service aspirant & will be giving CSE2018 as my first attempt.
    I am in dilemma to select my optional, having done B.Pharm & MA in Pub Ad (with only basic understanding of subject) I prepared my mind to opt for pub ad but the recent trends of questions (gone through previous year papers) & marking pattern is creating hindrance to go for it. I given a look at the syllabus of psychology as well & found it OK. As I don’t have in depth knowledge the subject it would be of great help if you can guide me whether opting psychology can be a good choice to succeed in UPSC , how much comfortable it is for an beginner , efforts required to get hold on the subject, the difficulty level by UPSC for the subject, compatibility of the subject with a pharma graduate.

    Thanks in anticipation!!

    Regards,
    Somjeet Shastri

    • Hello Somajeet

      Thank you for that insight about yourself. Before I answer your query, I’d like you to answer the following questions , so that I guide you better-

      Q1) Do you find psychology interesting ?

      Q2) Have you ever studied psychology before ?

  • Sahithi

    Is it better to prepare the static portion and then start writing answers or just attempt them even just by reading an article from the newspaper and answering a question related to that article? Please guide 🙂

    • Hello Sahithi,

      Static and dynamic components should go hand in hand. As for writing answers, that’ll come later. First make notes and keep modifying.

      What is the approach that you’re currently following ?

  • Hi Sanjay,

    Don’t worry so much. It’ll hamper your productivity. A modest suggestion for you would be to apply for other government exams as well so as to keep a sound back up option.

    Now coming to Sociology, yes it is a good and a scoring optional so go for it. As for the interview, no prior qualifications are not the only criteria you’ll be judged on. Your personality will determine the success in the PI. All the very best 🙂

  • Hello mam,

    I read on quora that you had english literature as optional. I also want to take it as my optional. Is there any good coaching in Delhi. please tell me your detailed strategy for english literature.

    • Hello Leena,

      Before I answer your question, I’d like to know 2 things from you –

      1. Do you have a background in English Literature ?

      2. What board have you passed from in Class 10th ?

  • Madhusudhan

    Mam can u give daily one essay for writing..

  • Mam can u give daily one general
    essay for writing..

    • As in like an assignment ?

  • HI Akriti,
    My greetings to you. After deep thinking i have arrived at a conclusion about my optional.
    I have chose English literature. Your posts were really helpful for me to decide on this.
    Can you share the book list for it so that i can purchase them ASAP. I would appreciate if you can give it section wise. Thanks in advance and please carry on with the good work.

    • Hi Bharat.

      I appreciate your kind words. Also, good decision to take up literature.

      Now coming to the book list, I need you to proceed in a methodical manner here. I don’t insist on you buying all the books at once.

      Here’s what you need to do –

      Start with buying the texts first (You can also download them from the internet).

      Buy ‘A Glossary of English Literature’ by M.H. Abrams

      Lastly, buy ‘History of English Literature’ by Compton and Rickett.

      Do this much. Ping me for any further queries. Best wishes.

  • UKAMANIKANDAN

    Hi Akriti,
    Good day
    Am just a beginner and a working professional having max. 5 hours and weekends to prepare.
    By today’s date i have merely completed Polity and some economics NCRTS and i have many books to be covered.
    Please suggest me
    1.A good study plan for this 5 hours
    2.How to make answer writing everyday and how to frame questions for the answers?
    3.Will Mains questions be directly asked from Syllabus or from relating to current affairs?.
    4.Will Mains preparation also cover Prelims or must i prepare separately for mains?.
    Sorry if my questions are vast.
    But please help me am confused.

    • Hello Ukamanikandan

      Let me address your concerns one by one –
      1.A good study plan for this 5 hours
      A good plan will be to alternate subjects. Since you have only 5 hours, I would recommend you divide them between a subject from GS (2.5 hours), The Hindu (1 hour) and your optional (1.5 hours). Make sure that you revise the previous days work for the first 10 minutes of each hour , when you study different subjects the next day.

      2.How to make answer writing everyday and how to frame questions for the answers?

      Answer Writing will come later. You will first have to create notes. Make them while studying itself. Even if they take time, don’t worry. They will prove to be your most useful resource eventually.

      3.Will Mains questions be directly asked from Syllabus or from relating to current affairs?.

      They will be set in a way that they pertain from your syllabus but are related to the events that are in news over the past 1 year or even more.

      4.Will Mains preparation also cover Prelims or must i prepare separately for mains?.

      Mains Preparation covers the entire preparation for Mains. It is very wise of you to prepare for Mains first. A lot of aspirants don’t and then lose out finally.

      Lastly, don’t ever think, your questions are vast. I am here to help dedicated aspirants. You are always welcome here 🙂

      • UKAMANIKANDAN

        Wow thank you so much for your great response.

        If i take notes from Hindu it consumes around 3 hours
        So can i read hindu without taking notes and also follow any online material for monthly revision.

        • I won’t suggest that. Instead, prepare the optional only 2 days a week. This can be an alternative approach. DO NOT STOP making notes from the Hindu. Reading it orally will not be beneficial at all.

          Start with this schedule. Lets see how it works out.

          • UKAMANIKANDAN

            Oh ok
            Thank you very much i will follow that.
            Or shall i make it like this
            Weekdays fully GS and weekend fully for Optional??
            I have the complete weekends

          • Yes that approach can be implemented as well. But do revise GS even on weekends.

  • SUMIT KUMAR

    @ Akriti : Was confused over couple of things.
    1) OPTIONAL : PoL Science or Law. I am currently doing 3 yr graduate law (done after graduation),into the 2nd year this time.Law optional syllabus converges with first 2 years of curriculum but I read the first year more with a bent of clearing the academic exams.Basics are in place for both paper 1 and 2 sections in law optional for like 70-80% of the topics.But the issue here comes is there are not many good coachings of law in Delhi.Yes I may just be able to do it by myself but 2 likely hurdles appearing are how not to digress from the subject as it is vast and other one being evaluation part.Moreover, 2016 paper was very tough indeed and not many selections heard till now from Law optional.Even Ravindran Sir opined that law paper was tough and didnt see many students in mock interviews either.
    The advantage with Political Science seemingly is that the selected candidates have fetched even 325+ marks plus there is good coaching in the form Shubhra Ranjan Mam but I fear Nov may be late to start in terms of attending optional classes.
    2) I missed the newspapers of June.Should I read the old bundle first ,then switch over to July or read the new then the 30 old newspapers(it is some ask) . I started making notes but then it takes lot of time.I was confused over whether I should make notes in register(hard copy form) or on digital platform like Evernote.Things can be added or deleted easily in digital platform but then notebooks gives the better feel to read. How do I choose 1? Which monthly current affairs module would you suggest (Vision/Vajiram/IasBaba/Insight)?
    3) Should Indian Express be read alongside and how about the magazines EPW,World Focus,Down to Earth,Science Reporter?
    4) What would you suggest in terms of approach to GS as in I am versed with GS basics, attended classes too.Should I go to develop quality depth in each subject of GS(say level 3 or may be 4) or build onto say level 2 first in all subjects.This thing confuses me in GS as to should I merge say all the information / material regarding a topic like say Indian Monsoon(for this I assign myself a task to complete this from ncerts,+1,2 more refernce books + coaching notes) and get the final notes as the best quality notes from that topic or should I prepare notes like these are the notes from ncert class -11th geo ,12th and so on.In other words the debate is Quality or Quantity !!

    I will really appreciate if you try to address all the issues as per the chronology in which i asked.
    Thank You

    • Hi Sumit,
      Thank you for the detailed list of queries. It will help other aspirants as well who struggle with similar doubts. Let me elaborate on the individual questions one by one –
      1. I generally don’t prioritize one optional over the other when most aspirants ask me about their choice of optional. However in your case, I will make an exception and outrightly ask you to go for Political Science. Now this doesn’t imply that Political Science is easy. It’s just that it will benefit you more in the long run. Also, you must have studied a chink of it while preparing for General Studies. So you shouldn’t really worry so much. As for attending coaching, why waste time attending formal classes when you can prepare the optional yourself. If at all, you want to attend, go for weekend classes only.
      2. Try not missing out on newspapers. Else, it becomes an irksome task reverting back and reading stale news. Don’t read June editions first. Read them along the latest editions. Pick up the newspaper for the latest date and tag 2 editions from June. This way you will not feel reading newspapers monotonous. Now coming to notes, they should be a mix of both although written notes should be a priority. Don’t stress too much on investing time in making written notes because they will be your most handy resource as the exam draws closer. As for monthly current affairs module, I’ll suggest Insights.
      3. No you don’t need to read the Indian Express. Hindu is more than sufficient. But magazines surely, you’ll have to read especially EPW and Down to Earth.
      4. GS is all about quality. There will be no point completing the syllabus without having an in depth of knowledge of concepts. The syllabus for GS, especially for Mains is really vast. Many times, aspirants are unable to complete it. But the right approach would be to marvel things as you read them. You will be a lot more confident this way. You do not require making notes from the NCERTs because they’re anyways a compilation from various books. If you feel that NCERTs have information that other resources don’t, just add it to your notes. That is all. Also, try to have less resources but of excellent quality rather than more resources with low grade material. More resources will slow you down. So go for Quality ALWAYS.
      All the very best. Make your attempt count and keep visiting here for any doubts.

  • singlariya14

    Hello ma’am,
    If I have Started my preparation from scratch from July 2017, from which month should I start my answer writing practice.

    • Hey

      Once you get a slight grip over the syllabus, you’re good to go. The earlier , the better.

      Best wishes.

      • singlariya14

        Okay, thank you so much.
        Just one more query, Should I start writing on the current affairs based questions like the ones given on Insights on India? Would that help?

  • Anjali

    Hi Akriti, I had contacted you via Quora.Like I had mentioned before I am in a dilemma over choosing an optional between ANTRHOPOLOGY and ENG LITERATURE.I understand it is best to choose a subject that is most interesting and less popular.
    As far as Eng Lit is concerned, I come from an engineering background and I have studied in a CBSE school upto 12th grade, and while in school i was interested in reading and interpreting poems.This might be the reason why I developed an interest in the Eng optional after reading the syllabus.However I understand the kind of interpretation required here is that of master’s level.So my question is will it be possible for an aspirant like me to complete the syllabus in 6 months?(bec i understand revision also plays a key role).Also did I mention I don’t have articulating skills when it comes to writing? 😉 (although I believe one can develop the skill with practice)

    Regarding Anthro, the syllabus is again okayish but I am not sure if its a scoring subject.Also considering where I live there is limitation to the personal guidance one can get unlike English Lit for which plenty of professors are available.

    • Anjali

      Also please let me know the pros of taking Eng.Out of curiosity is it a scoring subject and Does a lot of people opt for it?The questions will be mostly static right?Analysing past few years’ papers I didn’t find any question that seemed out of syllabus or related to current world scenarios(correct me if i am wrong)

      • Is it a scoring subject – Yes
        Do a lot of people opt for it – No
        Will questions be mostly static – No

        Pros –
        1. Extremely interesting subject that will hold your attention right till the end
        2. All resources available. Extra notes available. Online Guides available. Library material available.
        3. Coaching and Guidance available.
        4. Will help you write better answers in GS as well because you will learnt the art of making notes here.
        5. You can have your own perception of things.

        See current world scenarios can come in the compulsory passage question. So work on that because its challenging. Other than that, the syllabus is fixed but the more interpretative you can be , the better it’ll prove for you.

    • Hi Anjali,

      See, right at the outset, let me point out a flaw in the criteria you’re choosing for the optional and that is – “you’re looking for a scoring subject.”

      Every subject in the official list by UPSC is scoring. Point is whether you’re willing to work hard. Don’t go by numbers or popular opinion. That isn’t how its meant to be. Go by 3 factors –

      1. Your interest in the subject
      2. Resources Available
      3. Guidance Available

      If you want to go for English, sure. Start practice writing and read one text daily. If you have guidance accessible to you, I insist you take it because the optional is new for you.

      Don’t be scared. I am here to guide you for English. Begin by reading a text daily and history of English Literature. Start connecting texts to the eras of literature.

      Just start.

      All the best.

  • Hello ma’am Akriti,
    I’m a BA 1st year student doing my Honors in English Literature. I just wanted to know what would you suggest me for my CSE preparations as a student of Literature. What are the best steps I can take towards my preparation for the UPSC exams. I believe you can relate to me because you were a literature student yourself.

    • Hi Limayala

      If you’re interested to be a civil servant, sure I’ll suggest you. Literature is anyways one of the best optionals for CSE.

      If you really want to start, do the following 3 things for a good beginning –

      1. Know the exact pattern
      2. Go through the entire syllabus
      3. Start reading the Hindu and introductory books.

      Once you do the above 3 things, you’re good to proceed further. You can ping me here and I’ll help guide you.

      All the best.

      • Thank you so much ma’am.
        I really appreciate your much valued advice.
        I’d surely approach you even for future queries! ^^

  • Bharadwaj

    Hello I found you on quora this is a commendable initiative where one can get answers .
    My question is this time people who cleared UPSC all have scored very good in essay and the general studies the marks are exceptionally high like 160 and above in essay and especially in kannada literature more than 300 why is it so,is this because of liberal correction or did the candidates did better than the previous batches.So where does this leaves people who have taken optional like History and other arts subjects who have not scored better than the literature students, does the regional language optionals get more marks because of the evaluators jingoism towards his language.
    Thanking you in advance it’s a long question though waiting for your answer.

    • Hi.

      First of all thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you found my initiative useful.

      Now coming to your question –
      See UPSC evaluators don’t mark liberally or strictly as per their whims. They have a set of instructions to follow. If this year candidates have scored high, it is because of their own effort and hard work. Each year aspirants of a few optionals score better than others but that does not mean that optional B is less scoring than optional A. Afterall aspirants from Optional B have also cracked the exam, even if their number is less.

      Lastly, coming to regional languages. 1 factor works here –

      The aspirants are limited. But their knowledge is not. An aspirant choosing a regional language as an optional has got to know the subject extremely well. Hence the marks scored are usually good. Also , the candidates opting for regional languages is less so the competition is also less compared to other optionals. Jingosim isn’t really an issue. UPSC evaluators are smarter than that. If at all, an issue arises, UPSC will fix it from scratch.

      I hope you’re more convinced now. Best wishes.

  • Juilee

    hello mam,I am preparing for 2018 cse. I have not finished syllabus yet.when should i start answer writing and how do i go about it? and also can you help me in notes making of statics and also current affairs.I make notes on evernote.

    • Hey

      Start practicing writing answers right away. You won’t find a better time. Have you been making notes ?

      Sure I can help guide you make notes.

      Best wishes.

  • UKAMANIKANDAN

    Hi Mam
    Can you please suggest the complete list of books for geography optional?
    And Is it possible to have your mail Id mam if you dont mind?

    • Here:-

      Paper-I

      Physical Geography – Majid Hussain/ Savindra Singh
      Modern Physical Geography – Strahler and Strahler (Optional)
      Certificate Physical and Human Geography – Goh Cheng Leong
      Physical Geography Made Simple – Rupa Publication
      Dictionary of Physical Geography – Penguin
      Evolution of Geographical Thought – Majid Hussain
      Economic and Social Geography Made Simple – Rupa Publication
      Models in Geography – Majid Hussain
      Dictionary of Human Geography
      Oxford Student Atlas
      Paper-II

      India – A Comprehensive Geography – Khullar
      Regional Planning in India – Mahesh Chand
      India Year Book – Publication Division
      Yojana and Kurukshetra Magazine

      I address all the queries here itself so that no student loses out. Giving my mail id is not a problem but then the conversation will happen in private and a lot of curious and deserving aspirants will lose out on important information 🙂

      • UKAMANIKANDAN

        Oh ok mam
        That’s great
        But the reason for mail is that I started to take note.
        So I wanted to show you the notes and clarify whether they are ok

        • UKAMANIKANDAN

          Mam sorry for this,
          Am confused between Geography and maths optional.
          I look at Maths because am Somewhat good at my engineer level maths and quite interested in Solving problems but i went through syllabus of UPSC maths but only names and am not sure about the content.
          Is it possible for you to give me solution like
          1.Whether will i be able to compete with UPSC maths syllabus with my engineering maths skills
          2.can maths UPSC syllabus be completed in my study plan of “5 hours a day +weekends”.
          3.Finally is it better option to go with for working professional with short duration to prepare.

          • See if you’re not sure about the content, I will not recommend you to opt for it. However, I will insist you go through the previous year papers for maths, check for yourself and be 100% sure.

            Quitting your job will be a risky decision but worth it if you make it. If UPSC is what you want to pursue, give it your all.

        • In that case, sure –

          [email protected]

  • Prerna devgan

    Hello mam,

    I read on quora that you had english literature as optional. I also want to take it as my optional. Is there any good coaching in Delhi. please tell me your detailed strategy for english literature.Although I had done my bachelor’s in economics but I was pretty much interested in English &did freelancing in college time .I have done my schooling through CBSE board .Please help me solve my dilemma between economics & english & how can one judge if he/she is good at English for upsc

    • Hey replied on Facebook. Awaiting for your response there.

  • Avisha

    I read all your suggestions. Really helpful they are! 🙂
    My query is about the optional subject only. Much like you I’m also a graduate in English Literature (completed honours in english this year from University of Delhi). As I’ve gone through the syllabus of UPSC eng. literature optional subject, 70% to 75% of it has already been covered in my graduation. Plus, after completing a full fledged 3 year course, I’m not bored of it! I like the subject, I have a good grasp of it! So as you chose english literature as your optional, is there any suggestion or point which says that I should NOT go with it as my optional?

    • Thank you Avisha.

      The fact that you’ve studies Hons. in English from DU puts you at an advantage like you rightly pointed out. Familiarity will be a benefit for you.

      My only suggestion to you would be to work on the question that comes from an unseen passage. Put both your literature and language skills to use there. There you will not be familiar but your knowledge will help you out.

      Best wishes.

  • Suchita Jain

    Hello Mam,

    First of all thank you for all the suggestions. I have read few articles of yours and those are already helping me.

    I am targeting CSE 2018 and has started preparing few weeks back. My doubt lies in selection of English literature as optional subject. I am an engineering graduate(so have studied literature only till class 12). Will you please suggest if English literature can be opted and scored well by a person from non literature background?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Suchita.

      Glad to know that my articles are helping you out. I’ll be writing exclusively about English Literature as an optional as well.

      Now coming to your question –
      An aspirant without a background of English Literature can very well opt for it (just like other optionals). However, it is important to remember that English Literature as a subject is not only about reading stories. There is much more. Without understanding the complete history of literature and the contemporary theories, it is difficult to score well. So my suggestion to you would be to study the subject deeply. Also, refer as many books as possible for creating notes.

      Best wishes.

  • Sidharth Acharya

    Hello Mam. Namashkar.
    What should be the approach to start Mains answer writing practice ? I have started writing answers from INSIGHTS SECURE but to grasp the concept and to carry out background study consumes a lot of time. Should I make notes on the new topics and continue accumulating concepts or should I follow any other approach ?
    I am actually new to this blog. So I donot know whether this question has been asked by any other fellow candidate or not.
    Thanking you,
    Sidharth Acharya

  • Aishwarya Puri

    Hello, I am a graduate in English Literature from Delhi University. I am pursuing a Masters degree in same. I wanted to enquire regarding the feasibility of choosing EngLit as an optional for CSE. Is the syllabus doable; are there any coachings in Delhi; does its subjectivity factor pose a problem in scoring good; how can one prepare for it by oneself?

    • English Literature is an excellent optional if you have your heart in it. I’m not a propagandist of coaching for literature. Your syllabus at DU covers pretty much everything. Just preparing.

      Best wishes.

  • Aishwarya S Nair

    Mam,I am preparing for UPSC 2020. Should I start making notes from Hindu and learn them from now onwards? What should be my strategy?

    • See, first start reading the Hindu thoroughly. Sure, then make notes. Make sure you understand the content first. All the very best 🙂

  • how much marks in english literatutre you got ?

    • Decent enough to help me get a PI call. I generally don’t share those details here. But if you feel its important to you, drop me an email.

  • Pranav

    Hi Ma’am, I am finding geography tough to visualize especially concepts. How do I go about it? Also when should we start answer writing?

  • Hi Ma’am, I am finding geography tough in terms of understanding concepts. How should I proceed with it? Also when should we start answer writing and from where do we get feedback?

    • Hi.

      Geography for GS or as an optional? Could you clarify please ?

      • For GS

        • Start with ICSE books (Classes 8, 9 and 10). ICSE books will help you crack the basics. They are very well written. Then move on to other books (Begin with Physical Geography by Khullar).

  • Also could u share on how to make notes from newspaper- topic or daywise?

    • Sure.

      Start relating items from news to your GS syllabus. Will be very helpful. I’ve written an article exclusively on reading the Hindu. Go through it and then revert back here.

      • Actually I am able to find the relevant news but because of lack of understanding of issue and subject knowledge, it takes lot of time. And there are so many keywords in newspaper. Also is it better to make notes from newspaper on prelims or mains perspective?

        • Here’s what you need to start pursuing –

          1. Invest more time on GS. Master the basic concepts. Once you lay a firm foundation, you’ll love reading the Hindu and relating it to your GS syllabus.

          2. Make notes from the Mains perspective ALWAYS. They’ll prove immensely useful.

          • I know I am disturbing you lot Ma’am, but would you mind sharing notes which you made from hindu? Also do you mind if I communicate by dropping mail?

          • Aspirants don’t disturb me. The intention here is to solve as many doubts of aspirants as possible. So keep asking until you have 100% clarity. I wouldn’t have mind sharing notes but I’m in Bangalore right now and the notes are back home.

            I don’t prefer communicating on mail because a lot of other aspirants tend to miss out on essential conversations. However, if you feel there is a dire need, sure.

  • Saumya

    Hello again!

    The last time I’d asked you for reference books on psychology you’d asked me to refer to NCERT and Baron/ Morgan.
    However, a lot of topics such as methods, developmental psychology etc are not be found.
    Could you please suggest me additional resources for psychology. Since you had psychology as an optional subject I’m hoping you’d be able to help:)

    • I’d asked you take them as your first reference books because building a strong foundation is extremely important.

      I insist you buy Mukul Pathak notes. They’ll really help you. A modest suggestion would be to understand all the topics mentioned in the aforesaid resources and then proceed towards other topics.

      I can suggest you a few more books but do finish the ones mentioned to you earlier –
      Ciccarelli- Paper 1
      Applied psychology by Smarak Swain for Paper 2

  • 1. Ma’am if you don’t mind can u write a detailed note for preparation w.r.t beginners like each stage of preparation with respect to prelims and mains. Like given a timeline what should be each phase of systematic preparation so that one could get thorough with the basics and also when one should begin about thinking about preparation of essays and ethics. Also if u don’t mind when should we think about interview preparation etc. I didn’t find much information in your blog regarding them.
    2.Also can u suggest what is the best way to study maps in geography and make interconnections. Especially physiography of India and all.

    • Sure. I plan to write specific articles on the same.

  • 3. Also please tell how we should use previous year question papers? Before studying or after reading the subject

    • Before and during preparation. Before – To understand the nature of exam. During – To evaluate your performance.

      • Ma’am what are the sources of current affairs which would be sufficient apart from Hindu from both PRELIMS and MAINS point of view especially for beginners? Like insights or current affairs booklet. Also what should be done to cover PIB?

        • Start following websites for more updates on current affairs especially the official ministries. Also, visit Mrunal frequently. Subscribe for Yojana and Civil Services Times. For PIB, subscribe for http://pib.nic.in/newsite/usr_sbr.aspx in order to receive latest updates. Make sure to keep compiling all of the above in one source for your convenience.

  • Is it wise to take a two year break for preparing for this exam?

    • No

      • Could u elaborate more on it?

      • Could u elaborate why not assuming that I do not have any commitments for 3-4 years?

        • 3-4 years is way too long a time to be invested for an exam. Your first attempt should be your best attempt. Wasting years will not only frustrate you but also make you lose out on excellent opportunities elsewhere. If you’re serious about UPSC, give it your best shot in 2018 itself. Lingering on attempt after attempt is not recommended. More attempts are still ok if an aspirant cracked the Mains exam but couldn’t beyond PI. But if at all an aspirant does not qualify even the prelims , more attempts will be time wastage. It’s always better to have security at the back of one’s head. Along with UPSC, give your state service exam as well as SSC CGL exam in order to gain confidence and a good back up.

          • Can u tell me which would be exhaustive book list for history ancient, medieval and modern? I mean are the old ncerts and spectrum enough or is it needed to refer bipi chandra and tamil nadu textbooks in addition to it?

          • Tamil Nadu textbooks not really.

            Bipin Chandra certainly yes.

            BOOK LIST

            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

            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

          • I wanted to know is insights secure synopsis a reliable source to verify the answer writing for both static and dynamic contents for mains exam? I mean is the structure of model answer there reliable?

          • Yes. It’s a credible source.

          • Please tell how often or when should we refer economic survey, india year book, yojana and kurukshetra. Also should we refer science reporter or any other magazines like that

          • It isn’t about ,”How often”.. It’s about the context and the necessity. I insist you refer to Mrunal videos/content on Economic Survey. It’ll help you understand concepts really well. As for India Year Book – Read it cover to cover. Yojana should be read on an issue wise basis.

            Science Reporter is a good resource. You don’t need more science magazines.

          • Can u tell me how many months of science reporter, yojana are needed?

          • At least 1 year.

          • While reading newspaper I don’t understand how much depth of factual details I need to understand regarding a topic with respect to prelims. For instance if there is a scheme or govt body or anything how much depth is required from prelims point of view?

          • Relate it to the closest GS subject and then study,

          • From where do we get model solutions to the previous year mains paper of upsc? If not, then how do we use them for preparation?

          • Actually a lot of books in the market come with solutions. If not, you know the questions, hence the potential topics and their applications to prepare.

          • Will u be able to send any of ur dynamic portion notes anytime later?

          • I’d love to but my notes lie in Shimla and I’m in Bangalore.

          • ok

          • Please write approach for ethics case studies

          • sure.

          • Hi Akriti Ma’am, Considering the fact that we don’t have luxury of words in mains, is it necessary to make notes from newspaper or is developing broader understanding enough?

          • Both.

          • Can u please give a detailed description about the various qualifiers in mains exam questions like “Examine”, “Critically Analyse”, “Discuss”? I m very much confused about them

  • Abhishek soni

    Hello ma’am , This is Abhishek I started my preparation for upsc 2018 with NCERT books , I hereby have doubt regarding the optional subject in between psychology and philosophy .
    I completed my graduation in Biomedical engineering this year.
    So can u please suggest me which optional subject will be related to my field and will be easy for a science background aspirant??

    Thank you so much for your guidance !

    • Hi Abhishek,

      See, choosing an optional should depend on your interest, resources available and your grip over the subject.

      Both psychology and philosophy are good optionals. I insist you go through the syllabus for both as well as the previous year papers. Once, you do that, make an informed decision. You can revert back and clarify any doubts here.

  • Saumya

    Thank you:)
    However, I have a small doubt. Since the subject matter of both Baron and Ciccarelli is overlapping, shouldn’t either of the two suffice?
    Also, how helpful are the NCERTs for psychology?

    • Sure you can go with one. But its always good to have access to more authors.

      As for NCERTs of Classes 11th and 12th – Very good books (Especially the older versions).

  • singlariya14

    Hello ma’am,
    What should be the way to approach NCERTs? Should the notes be made out of it or they should be just gone through once?
    And what about approach for other standard books like Laxmikant, GC leong etc.?

    • Hi.
      You don’t need to make notes out of NCERT because NCERTs are anyways a compilation of various books. However, if you feel a concept has been covered very well, include the extra information to your notes.

      Now coming to other books, you’ll need to make comprehensive notes except for Laxmikanth.

      Best wishes.

      • singlariya14

        Thanku ma’am.
        And if I am covering Hindu and making notes out of it, how should I use the current affair magazine for my prep ?

        • Which magazine have you subscribed for ?

          • singlariya14

            I am using Vision IAS’s magazine.

          • Ok. You can also subscribe Civil Services Times.

  • Saumya

    Hey!
    There’s a constant debate that goes on about using Old NCERTs vis a vis the new ones.
    Could you please help us with the name of the subjects for which one should essentially be reading the old NCERTS.

    • How about I provide you a list of all the NCERTs that you should read (irrespective of the editions) –
      HISTORY

      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

      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 AND CULTURE

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

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

      GEOGRAPHY

      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

      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).

      INDIAN ECONOMY

      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 AND TECHNOLOGY

      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

      ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

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

  • Sidharth Acharya

    MAM, can you help me out in evaluating answers of ethics, essay and few GS-2 & GS-3 questions on a weekly or even on a fortnightly basis? I hope your insights and valuable guidance can enrich my answers for the Mains examination.

  • You are most welcome.

  • Anu

    Mam, I’m a begginer for this UPSC preparation. I have four years of time to give my first attempt so now I’m starting with ncert and current affairs and simultaneously taking test pertaining to the topics I studied. Is this good or should I make any changes.

    • Hi Anu,

      I answered a different question asked by you first so you can ignore that reply (since I understand your academic status now).

      It’s good that you’re starting with NCERT books. My suggestion to you would be to add ICSE books to your list as well.

      Cover all the basics first and then move on to reference books.

      Best wishes.

      • Anu

        Sure I will read icse books too. Shall I take test prelims based on ncert level?? And can u suggest ideas on improving essay writing from now on.

  • Anu

    Can u give a detailed four years plan for UPSC exam .

    • 4 years is way too long a time for preparation Anu. What are you pursuing currently ?

      • Anu

        1st year of bds

        • Anu

          Should I start thinking of optional subject from now itself?

          • Yes absolutely

          • Anu

            Thank you mam

          • You are very welcome.

          • Anu

            Mam, I love to read poetry and short stories in English as I had in my school (icse) but I’m horrible in writing it. And I love geography too. But I fear about lot of map marking as my remembering skill is weak. What will u advise me mam

          • Start practicing Anu. You’ll improve writing only when you practice more. As for maps, again you’ll have to familiarize yourself with the markings. You will remember eventually. Don’t get disheartened.

  • Hello mam?
    What is ARC report ? Is it necessary to read ARC report ? If yes how to read it …and whats the relevance of ARC REPORT?

    • Hi Saagarmeshram,

      ARC Report is the Administrative Reforms Commission report.

      It is important for UPSC preparation. However, you can skip most parts (unless you’re optional is Public Administration). Good thing is that you can gets parts of the report in a few online resources and magazines. Also, if you are taking coaching, your study material will surely include it.

      Do prepare the following –

      Ethics in Governance (Report 4)
      Local Governance (Report 6)
      Capacity Building for Conflict Resolution (Report 7)
      Citizen Centric Administration (Report 12)

      Also, go through the 2nd ARC Report. I’m sharing a link here >> http://mrunal.org/2012/09/polity-2nd-arc-ethics.html

      Mrunal has explained it really well.

      • UKAMANIKANDAN

        Mam do Mrunal teaches in English I mean the video lectures

      • Thanks a lot mam !! My optional isn’t pub ad. Do I have to read all report page by page?? Report are very thick

        • No just the essential points. Let me know if you face any issues.

  • Hai Akriti
    Which pen do we use for Mains? Can we use ink pen?

  • nibeditaparidaNibedita

    Hi maam,
    I am confused about how to make a long term time table like monthly time table for the entire year. Please guide me for the same.

    • Hi.

      Keep daily, weekly and monthly targets. Create a time table on a weekly basis, including all the subjects. If you want, you can create a time table and forward it to me.

      • Monthly Target: Sept-paper2
        Oct-Paper1 Nov+Dec-Paper3
        Aug 29,30:FR,DPSP,FD
        31:Central govt
        Sept1: Emergency,state govt
        4,5:C-S Relation,federal issues
        6:panchayatiraj
        7,8:Judiciary
        11:constitutional and non constitutional bodies
        12:statutory , regulatory,quasijudicial bodies
        13:party system,pressure group,co-op society
        14,15:govt policies in development of various sectors
        18:NGO,SHG
        19:Welfare scheme
        22:issues relating to health and education,human resource
        26:Issues related to poverty and hunger
        27:governance
        29:role of civil services in democracy

        OCT-P1
        2:physical geo
        3:Natural hazards
        4:Industry
        5:Natural resources
        6:Climatology
        9-13:Indian geo
        16-31: History and social issues

        NOV -P3

        1-3: Revision
        6:PDS
        7:Food Processing
        8:Land Reforms
        9:Govt Budgeting
        10-19:state PSC exam
        20-21:major crop and cropping pattern,e-technology in aid of farmers
        22-24:Indian economy
        27-28:Inclusive growth
        29-30:Infrastructure

        DEC-1:investment models
        4-6:Disaster Management
        7-12:Internal Security
        13-15:Environment
        18-20:s&t

        Every SAT-Revision
        -1 ethics case study on SAT

        SUN-Class
        -1 essay on sunday

        Daily: 9-11: Newspaper
        11-2: Revision+chapters that require research
        3-6:Optional
        7-10:GS

        • Well done 🙂

          However where’s the schedule for your optional ?

          • Maam, I am yet to make the schedule for optional.
            Maam, I need some suggestion. Most of the times it so happens that GS and Newspaper take too much time and that leaves little time for optional or vice versa. How to deal with this situation?

          • GS and newspaper should take time. That is quite ok. That will form the major chunk of your syllabus. Optional need time but not as much as GS

  • Suyog Shinde

    Hello Ma’am,
    I am having engg background & just given last semester in june and joined coaching in Vajiram and Ravi in August batch:-

    1.)I wanted to know how should be my approach to this exam from here onwards mainly concerning on content building and answer writting?
    2.) Can you give me some rough idea of long term schedule to cover up the syllabus, I am confused about how much portion to be completed in upcoming months so that I don’t lag behind in covering portion. Could you just help me up in setting some kind of targets for the coming months.

    I would highly appreciate your response on this.

    Thanks in advance!!!
    Suyog

    • Hi Suyog,

      The fact that you’ve enrolled yourself for coaching should not make you dependent on it. Use it to your advantage but don’t miss out on your own study hours.

      Now about your questions –

      1)As far as content building and answer writing is concerned, start making hand written notes. They will take some time but will save a lot of time later. You’ll have comprehensive notes by the time you want to revise. You can then skip referring books over and over again. Once you know how to make proper notes, you will automatically learn how to craft answers. You can modify your notes to prepare answers.

      2) For answering this question, I’d like to know when will you give your first attempt and how far have you prepared till now ? Once you respond, I’ll be able to guide you better.

      • Suyog Shinde

        I am giving my first attempt in next year i.e 2018. By now I have just started with ncerts and Hindu. So I was wondering how much time should I devote for this ncerts and when should I start with reference books.

        • Pace up your preparation and finish NCERTs at the earliest. If you want, you can start reading the reference books along with the NCERTs. It’ll help.

  • Kamal kishor

    Ma’am I am preparing for cse 2020 with geography optional.I am a btech 3rd year student.Presently I am only studying polity and geography optional.I plan that as I have 30 months I will first complete GS 2(POLITY PAPER) IN 11 MONTHS AND THEN GS 3 IN 10 MONTHS AND THEN GS 1 IN 6 MONTHS.MY GEOGRAPHY PREPARATION WILL GO HAND IN HAND WITH THE PREPARATION OF GS 1,2,3.IS IT OKAY FOR ME AND WILL IT BENEFIT ME?WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES IN MY PLAN?

    • Hi

      I’d sincerely recommend you to create a new time table and study all the subjects under GS and not just polity and geography. You can minimize the time of preparation and then spend the rest of the time revising and practicing answers.

      • Kamal kishor

        But ma’m I get only 5 hours of time daily.How can I manage to study all the subjects everyday because a subject need much more time for its deep understanding(for me)?

        • You can’t. That is why you need to devise a wekly plan and stick to it.

  • Kamal kishor

    When should I start preparing or reading The HINDU,YOJANA,KURUKSHETRA,PRS,PIB,watching RSTV and other dynamic and current affairs sources?
    I think that first I have to complete my reference books on respective subjects and then to prepare from the dynamic and current affairs source I have mentioned above so that i will have a better understanding of the terminologies mentioned on the dynamic sources.Also I can better analyze the topic of the current affairs because after reading the reference books and static part I will have good background knowledge of that particular topic.
    Is it right approach?suggest me

    • You should keep a place for magazines weekly and the Hindu should be read and made notes from daily.

      You can surely keep reading and investing time in reference books. But don’t isolate current affairs. Else, the magazines and newspapers will pile up.

      • Kamal kishor

        Can u tell the maximum time in which even a novice can prepare well for GS PAPER 2.ALSO TELL FOR GS1 AND GS 3.From that I can allot each subject its time.

        • 3 months. Don’t study in isolation.

  • Kamal kishor

    Thanku ma’m

  • Akanksha

    Ma’am how can I get notes from vision IAS and Insight India

    • You’ll have to reach out to them Akanksha. Alternatively, you can buy second hand notes from Nai Sarak, New Delhi.

  • Suyog

    Hello Ma’am,

    This question is regarding notes making. I am making notes of the current affairs from Hindu and I am getting better at it day by day. Just a little query about the editorials is it necessary to make notes of editorials too, they are getting repeated and are time consuming. For e.g After the verdict on fundamental right to privacy, there are editorials almost daily around the same thing. So I was thinking that current affairs are sufficient for notes making. So can I or should I skip note making of the editorials?

    • Hi Suyog,

      No need of exclusive notes from editorials but keep the cuttings if necessary. You might want to need including some information in your answers for mains.

  • Sidharth Acharya

    Hello, Akriti Mam.
    First of all I would like to send my heartfelt thanks for being the guiding light for the student commumity. Your care and attention to each and every queries posed by the students is commendable and I feel you are not getting enough warmth and praise for the work that you are doing despite your busy schedule in your professional life.
    I regard you as an elder sister who keeps mentoring and motivating me in the right direction in my life. Actually, I had sent an e-mail regarding the evaluation of an essay that I had written as part of my essay writing practice program. Can you please evaluate my write-up if you find it suitable as I have no one to evaluate my answers.
    I thank you again for being gracious enough to answer my queries.

    • Hi Sidharth,

      Thank you so much for the kind words. I really appreciate it 🙂

      I haven’t received any email. You probably didn’t have the correct address. Resend it at [email protected]

      Best wishes.

  • Saumya

    I had a small query. In case we’re doing Lakshmikant really well, is there a need to do the polity NCERTs?
    Also, can you please let us know the names of all the magazines one needs to refer to other than the usual books that we are already doing?

    • Yes, you still should refer to NCERT so as to make sure not to miss out on anything.

      As for magazines,

      Civil Services Times
      Yojana
      Kurukshetra

      • Saumya

        Thank you:)

  • Anu

    Mam I’m doing graduation and still have 4 years to give my first attempt in UPSC so from now itself can I read monthly yojana and vision ias magazine’s along with Hindu paper and ncerts

    • Yes start reading. The earlier, the better. Best wishes.

  • Anu

    And before choosing optional u suggested to refer previous years paper but when I see previous years paper I can’t get the questions asked. My optional is geography

  • Anu

    Like the terms used in question and those questions are of high level. Some terms used in that I have never heard before

    • Then maybe the papers are not authentic. Try getting your hands on the authentic ones.

  • Hi Ma’am,
    DPSP ensure only economic, social democracy only right, not political democracy right?

  • Yash

    Mam can you please tell me which books I should refer for ancient and medieval history and also for culture. Is satish chandra and r s sharma are good for this portion or are they time waste.

    • Hi Yash,

      For Ancient India, follow –
      India’s Ancient Past by R.S. Sharma

      For Medieval India, follow –
      History of Medieval India – Satish Chandra

      Also, refer to NCERTs.

  • Hi Ma’am,
    Please tell me the standard books of economics nd how to approach it for gs.

  • Mansi

    Mam, I’m in Eng. Hons Ist yr. from Kurukshetra Uni. How should I start preparing for upsc from now onwards with eng. as my optional subject ?

  • Mansi

    Sorry mam,I didn’t understand it a bit. Of what should I make notes? Right now shall I focus on prelims or both prelims and mains? Shall I cover DU’s syllabus simultaneously? Mam please explain elaborately.Although I’ve read your prescribed lesson,still I have these doubts.

    • You have to understand Mansi that the preparation for prelims and mains go hand in hand so you should absolutely make notes for both. You need to be clear on the fact that a lot of the prelims syllabus will be covered by preparing for Mains. So strategize accordingly. As for DU, you don’t have to cover it. Its just that their syllabus for English honours is 80% the same like UPSC. So search for notes and resources that DU students follow. If you have further questions, feel free to ask.

  • Mansi

    Thank you so much mam. Nobody else is there to guide me on this topic so precisely. You are doing a great job mam. I’ll ask whenever I’ll need.

    • I’m glad I could help. Feel free to post more queries and all the best.

  • Hi Ma’am
    Can i get guidance on preparation of ‘Public Administration’. I am MBA and i feel I can do it. But want to have detailed guidelines related time distribution to each topic and selection of books.

    • Sure.

      Let me consult a few contacts and get back to you. Public Administration wasn’t my optional so it will be wrong on my part to provide counsel.

  • archie

    Hi, I am a Computer Science graduate. I am highly confused regarding optional as all the optionals are new to me. In order to decide, I started reading a little bit about geography, anthropology and psychology. I had developed equal interest in all the 3. NOw how should I decide what to go with?

    • Hi Archie,

      I highly recommend you to spend good amount of time before you pin down your optional. Go through the detailed syllabus, previous year question papers and the available resources. Lastly, try choosing an optional that might have held your interest in school.

      Best wishes

  • Ashwini

    Hello Ma’am,

    I keep reading your blog which I find immensely helpful. I’ve tried a lot to find a detailed guidance on the psychology optional. Part 1 of the paper is what I keep stumbling on as to what books to refer ( statistics part of it, etc). If you could write up a strategy or atleast let me know as to how I could approach this optional ( like the books and various sources) , I would be extremely grateful to you. Thank you in advance because I know you will provide a sure shot solution. 🙂

    Regards,
    Ashwini

    • Hi Ashwini,

      Psychology was my optional for my state service exam. I was planning to write a post about it next week. Do read and let me know if it proves helpful 🙂

  • Kamal kishor

    BEST WAY TO START PREPARING GS 3 FOR BEGINEERS?IS RAMESH SINGH ECONOMY USELESS and loss of time?

    • It isn’t useless. But it surely isn’t enough.

  • Kamal kishor

    Also list resources for GS 3 PREPARATION

    • I’ll be writing on this soon. I insist you read the blog. It’ll solve all your queries.

      • Kamal kishor

        Thanku akriti mam I will be waiting for that

  • Aman Patel

    I hope you will find some time to answer my query

    I am 2017 batch B.E passout , and i have have decided to go for upsc preparation along with my job . I will try to extract as much time as i can from my daily schedule. I was wondering if you could provide me with names of the books of all subjects which i should start with and also the books which i should refer after reading those 1st set of books to avoid wastage of time and at the same time maximize the efficiency of the topics covered.

    Thank You

  • Nithin Krishna Chowdary

    Can u help us in giving clarity about some current affairs? I couldnt find such place to discuss in the net..am preparing at home..so…

    • Sure, what is it that you are exactly struggling with ?

      • Nithin Krishna Chowdary

        Can u explain about issue going in supreme court about some medical college and the roaster method