General Tips for the Preparation of CIVILS



The importance of good health should be understood very clearly. This exam is of very long duration, under severe psychological stress. If suppose you become sick at any stage, you will have to write the exam again and lose out on another year and half. Say, you are not well on the day of the interview, then you cannot put your best and fall back in final ranking. The UPSC will not shift the date of the interview. It is you who will be at loss finally. And, who knows what will happen in the next attempt. So, it is very important to take care of the health throughout the exam preparation period.Remember - Healthy mind in a healthy body.
Please note the following points:


-          Get up early in the morning. It is the best time to make the body vibrations in tune with that of the nature's.


-          spend the first few hours in fitness activities. This is not a waste of time, but an investment. It ensures that the whole day is active and focused.


-          take care of the water and the food that you eat. Do not eat junk food which will not help in anyway.


-          practise jogging everyday


-          learn and practise yoga, pranayama and meditation. They will develop the mental fitness, which is most essential in studying for long with concentration, to excel in the exam.
An important dimension in life which is grossly ignored is the breath. A person can live for a few days without food or water, but cannot exist for a few minutes without air. We take unnecessary care about food and water, but ignore the breath. The more oxygen we take the better will be the burning efficiency of carbohydrates in the cells. With more energy, the cells perform to their maximum capacity and the body becomes very active. This is also important to have good focus on whatever we do. However, we use only 25% of the lung capacity. That is the reason why we do not function to our potential. In India, there were ancient techniques which have been developed to increase the capacity of the lungs and to use them to their full potential. They are called the Pranayama techniques.


In fact, the breath can be used to control the emotions in the mind, like using a thread to control the kite. There is a direct relation between the breath and the emotions in the mind. Observe the breath as the emotions change. If you are angry or depressed, the breath is shallow, short and rapid. If you are in a cool and happy serene mood, then observe that the breath is deep and of long duration. Normally, the breath is involuntary and its rhythm depends on the emotions. But through some techniques, you can reverse the process. That is by controlling the rhythm of breath, you can control the emotions in the mind. It is important to learn these techniques since they help a lot in preparation for the exam. You will have to sit and study for long durations throughout the year. Above that there will be lot of pressures both social and psychological. To face them all, it is important to manage the emotions in the mind.


 In this context, the 'Sudarshan Kriya' taught by the Art of Living Foundation assumes significance. There is a basic course organised in various centres under which the kriya and the pranayama techniques are taught. This is highly recommended for the civil services aspirants. There are also many advanced yoga courses under the foundation. They are also useful for stress management and personality development. There will also be a remarkable improvement in the health. You will become very active and the efficiency and productivity increases.


Address: 5th Floor, RK Plaza, near Punjagutta Cross Roads, on left side in the route from Punjagutta towards Begumpet, Hyderabad.


Ph.No.23400782, 55218418


There are many similarities between the civils exam and the marathon running. Both require lot of patience, determination, hard work, mental strength and physical stamina. This marathon is a practical way of developing the required capabilities to become successful in the exam. It will help a lot if the aspirant can go to a ground every morning and practice this technique. It will not only keep him physically fit, but also make him mentally tough and prepare him for the psychological stresses during the exam.


 Diary Writing
The candidate will be going through a lot of emotionally fragile moments due to the pressure of the exam. These are the real turning points since they determine whether he can handle that pressure or succumb to it. So, in order to manage the stress at that time diary writing is an effective technique. Normally, such moments can be managed well if you can talk to some one with whom you can talk freely without any inhibitions. But since the preparation would be mostly done in isolation, this may not be possible. So, the diary can come to rescue during that period. This is nothing but ventilation therapy which will help you reduce the emotional burden. Another advantage of diary writing is that every day you will have some time for introspection. It can be  analysed  how best you utilised that day for your studies and in case it has not been productive, then find out the reasons and eliminate them. In this manner, every day you can be very focussed on the exam and tackle effectively all distracting tendencies.


Books and cassettes:
You should make it a habit to read good books and listen to good talks or music. The exam preparation is all about how you make the mind calm so that you can study with full concentration. There will be occasions when you will feel frustrated and depressed. During that phase, you can gain motivation or inspiration from books or talks or music.
Some of the following can prove to be useful:


-          Talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living, especially the talk on" The Four Pillars of Knowledge"


-          The Mind and its control by Swami Buddhananda (Ramakrishna Math)


-          Books by Swami Vivekananda


-          Life stories of Gandhi, Patel, Nehru, Abdul Kalam, Marie Curie,


-          The Alchemist by Paoulo Coelho


-          Talks by Swami Ranganatha of Ramakrishna Math


-          Carnatic music


-          Music by Bismillah Khan, Hari Prasad Chaurasia, etc which are help in calming down a disturbed mind.


-          Books on meditation.


-          India after Independence by Bipan Chandra


 Book Shop:


Most of the books that are required can be obtained from the following shops


Book Square - near Kachiguda cross roads, Near Maheshwari-Parameshwari theatres.


Jawahar Book Depot - Ber Sarai, Near Old JNU, New Delhi. The exact address and phone no. can be obtained from the ads in competition magazines.




While filling up the mains application form, there is a column for the hobbies and other interests. It is better to cultivate some hobby rather than leaving it blank. So be prepared for this aspect from the initial stages itself. It helps a lot in the interview if the questions are asked from your interest areas. You can also think of some peculiar hobbies to attract the interviewer. But be careful that you have a genuine interest in that area and do gather good information so as to answer any question.


Some of the hobbies of candidates are:


-          reading books


-          listening to music, even some specific variety say telugu old songs.


-          reading short stories


-          Philately and numismatics


-          bird watching


-          cooking


-          conducting alcohol de-addiction camps


-          social work


-          teaching


-          -yoga and meditation


-          weapon systems


-          physical fitness


-          world war 2


Ideal Timetable:
Many candidates give their first attempt without even properly chosing the optionals or completing the syllabus. This is a wrong step which will have severe consequences later on. This exam can be cleared in the first attempt itself with focused preparation and Satisfycing approach. Mainly, the thought that the exam requires multiple attempts should be removed from the mind. With right information and proper material, and sustained hard work for an year, there is no reason why someone should not clear the exam.
The preparation with full momentum should start atleast one year before the prelims. Ideally, the preparation should be started in May and by December the mains syllabus should be completed to a large extent. Then from January, prelims preparation should be made, while consolidating the mains knowledge. After the prelims, the preparation should be continued with out any break. The next 5 months will be very crucial and the preparation should be at full momentum. The syllabus in any case should be completed by July. Atleast two months are required for the revisions.
After the mains exam, interview preparation should be started. Simultaneously, prelims preparation should also be made. This is important since the final result will be given only days before next prelims. In case of failure, you should be in a position to give next prelims. So, from the beginning it is better to be prepared for this possiblity.
After the mains result, more focus should be made on interview preparation.


Studying while doing a job:
The exam requires complete devotion for an year. So it will be difficult if some one wants to manage both the job and the exam. Also, it might be difficult to get leaves for various stages of the exam. It is better to make the preparation full-time.
However, if there are any financial problems, then please continue with a job. But be aware that you will have to work harder. So be prepared for tough time. Ensure that you do not waste time on any other activities. There are quite a few who cleared the exam while doing a job.
Whether doing a job or studying post graduation, the only requirement is to get sufficient time for preparing well for the exam. So take a wise decision based on the personal situation and requirements.


 How to Study?
The main requirement when you sit for studying is total concentration. Without 100% focus, whatever time you spent on study will only be a waste. You should not do things which will be distracting when studying. The room should also be neat as it has an impact on the mental conditions. So you should always ensure that the situation should be tuned to have a concentrated study. Even what you do when not studying is also quite important. Suppose you go for a movie because of boredom, then after coming back when you sit for studying then there is every possibility of not focusing completely as all the scenes from the movie starts flowing in your thoughts. Thats why its important to ensure that you don't do distracting things even when you are not studying. If you feel tired, you can go for a walk or listen to some lecture or calm music. So, first requirement for study is the context which you create for youself to have 100% concentration.
Then, you should go very slow while reading trying to understand the core concepts.The technique which can be applied is called SQ3R.

Scan- first scan the material and try to get an awareness about what you are going to read.
Question- Then question the topic intensively in all possible dimensions. The questions should be logical, which will give you the clarity on the subject.



only after above steps, you should start reading the material slowly and with proper understanding. You should try to get the answers for all the logical questions that you raised. Simultaneously, you should prepare notes for the topic.


 You should try to remember the basic logical structure and the important facts. You can use mnemonics to improve memory. You should not try to remember the sentences, but should have a structure in the mind with the key terms. Based on this, you should be able to expand it into an essay. Note that you should be very careful while trying to memorise. You should spend more time in memorising them the first time itself. Do not postpone it, as you will be wasting more time lateron in understanding it again and remembering. While, memorising it ensure that it is memorised in such a way that it can be recollected in the exam hall. The memorising should be done as in a computer, with files and folders system. You should guide the information to be placed in various folders of your brain memory.

Revision- It is not possible for anyone to remember everything that they read. Lot of revision has to be made at regular intervals. In fact before exam, you should be able to do 3-4 revisions. You should try to improve the efficiency of the revision. So the notes should be prepared in such a manner that the revision becomes easy. How to improve efficiency of revision- should be always on your mind.
Using this technique, the study can be made very productive. The hard efforts made can be channelised in the right direction.


 How to prepare notes?
The notes has to be prepared for every topic in the syllabus. This aspect is the most crucial stage in the preparation. Finally what you write in the exam only matters. You write only what you remember. You remember only that which you revise just before the exam. Note that you will have to revise some thing like 2000 topics including all the sub-parts in GS and optionals. Therefore your efficiency in revision matters a lot for your performance in the exam. The revision efficiency depends on the notes that you prepare. So you should always be aware of this practical aspect while you prepare notes for the exam.
The notes should not be prepared as if writing a thesis paper. For any topic, you should have a brief synopsis. Do not even use sentences while writing notes. Note down the key terms and the logical structure with side headings. Also note down the figures and diagrams in a simple manner which can be reproduced in the exam within time limit.
For most topics, one or two pages of notes is sufficient. Write them down in a logical framework using different inks, so that your efficiency in revision increases. Finally, when revising just before the exam, you cannot spend more than 5-10 minutes for each topic. So keep that in mind always.
Do not spend days together on any topic. The exam only requires a basic clarity which can be obtained by studying one or two standard books and spending more time on thinking. Usually, 3-4 hrs sufficient for each topic. Just be cautious if you are spending more time on any topic inspite of availability of good material.




This a very important for the performance in the exam. The efficiency with which you do revision determines the grip on the subject matter. It should not be postponed till the last phase. As you keep preparing, some time should be spent in revising and consolidating what you read. Otherwise, when you start revision in the end, everything will appear new and lot of time has to be spent in deciphering the notes made. This will be very counter productive and all the hard work will be a waste.
So, revision should also become a part of your everyday schedule. Don't think it's a waste of time, since finally you will save a lot and the pressure will also reduce. Therefore, revise what you read next day. Then keep coming back to it at regular intervals.
Finally, before the exam you should keep two months for the revision. It has to be done again and again, as many times as possible.
Be very careful while preparing notes, keeping in view the requirements of the revision.


Where to prepare?
In any complex situation, the right information at the right time plays a very key role. Similarly, for this complex exam, information has a role. So, you should have the information channels throughout the exam preparation period. This will ensure that you are on the right track.
In this context, the place of preparation becomes important. It is better to be close to where many aspirants are preparing. The main places of exam preparation are Hyderabad and Delhi. There will lot of study material and information circulating in these areas. Also, psychologically it is better if you have co-aspirants with whom you can share your experiences and the mistakes.
In case you are not in a position to do so, do not worry. But ensure that you are getting the right information. So try to establish some contacts with persons in those areas.


How to write answers?
Your answer is the medium through which you are communicating with the examiner. Your final marks depend on how best you can convey to the examiner. Otherwise, all you study and hard work is irrelevant. So ensure that you perform the best while presenting the answer.
The important steps are:


-          the pen that you use. Please spent some time in identifying the right pen using which your             efficiency increases and the written matter looks like a print.


-          the hand writing can influence the marks by 5-10%. It is the first impression on the examiner         and   matters a lot. It not just sufficient to have a mere legible hand writing. This is a problem area for many and quite difficult to change it at this stage. But contact some hand writing experts and make suitable changes in your writing so that it looks better.


-    You can contact: Mallikarjun, National Handwriting Academy, 55579800,,


-          Next the matter that we write in the answer is important. It is about how logically we present the   answer.You will have to structure the answer in such a way that it becomes easy for the examiner to identify the various dimensions in the answer.


-          concentrate on the introduction and the conclusions.


-          underline the important terms that you use.


-          make innovations like diagrams etc to impress the examiner and to convey the concept better.


-          for analysis type use the paragraph form, while for the factual answers you can use point form.      But remember that the examiner is not interested in your memory, but in your analytical and intellectual abilities. So try to include them in your answer.


-          you can use different colours for the diagrams.


-          for long answers, you can make a brief structure in the end before writing the answer. This will     help you in ensuring that all the points are written.


 How to remember?
This is the common question before a civils aspirant. There is such a huge syllabus and so many facts to memorise that some times it seems impossible. Anyhow, remembering is some thing that has to be done well for good performance in the exam.
Information is to be stored as done in a computer. You will have to direct the information to store it in your brain system. Do not merely mug and memorise facts. You will have to develop inter linkages based on what you already know.
Do not try to remember unnecessary numerical facts.
Use mnemonics for remembering facts or some points. The popular mnemonic is the VIBGYOR to remember the colours sequence in a rainbow. Prepare similar mnemonics based on innovations. Your real intelligence depends on how efficient you become in this area.
Regular revision is essential to ensure that what you remember stays in your mind till the exam date. So keep a regular revision schedule.


 Stress Management:
The civils exam is highly stressful and pressurising. It is in fact testing the mental strength of the candidate. The administrator in the Indian context has to deal with very complex and testing situations. So the exam structure and the process is aimed at preparing the candidates for the real administration. Therefore, take the process as a learning experience.
The stress cannot be avoided, you will have to learn how to manage stress. There are no hard and fast rules for stress management. It is individual specific and has to be developed on your own based on observation.
Some of the following points may be helpful:


-      Stress means a disharmony between the mind and the body. The body is in the present moment while the mind keeps fluctuating. It is either regretting the past, anxious about future or dreaming an imaginary situation. This disharmony between the mind and the body is the main reason for the accumulation of stress. So, it is important to live in the present moment, i.e, concentrate 100% on what you do. In this context, the breath techniques, pranayama and Sudarshan Kriya will help a lot.


-          Take deep slow breaths whenever you feel stressed or tensed. Close your eyes and observe the  breath. Keep doing this till you feel light and focused.


-          Go out for a long walk .


-          if you feel agitated in the mind, don't do things which will aggravate the agitation. For e.g. don't   go to a movie. That will only worsen the situation. The idea is to calm down the mind, so do things which will reduce the agitation. In fact, these are the critical moments which have a major impact on your preparation. So, be very careful during these phases.


-          talk to some one with whom you can share your emotions without any inhibition.


-          Go out for a marathon running whenever you feel depressed or psychologically low. This a very   practical method of overcoming emotions. Put all your frustration in running harder and harder. At the end of it, you will feel great mental calmness.


-          Meet people who can give you inspiration and motivation.


-          listen to good music or lectures by great people.


-          Practise meditation. This is a very effective way of improving the energy flow.


 For aspirants in the long term:
There are many school and undergraduates who have the target of joining the civil service. At this stage there is not much to be done for the exam. However they can note the following points:


-          build a good academic record


-          chose such subjects which will be helpful for the exam later on.


-          if interested and if there are good reputed colleges then join the arts courses. However, even if you have to join the professional courses, do not worry. They will act as an alternative, since this exam has less vacancies and is often risky. But, do concentrate on your courses and excel in the field.


-          Read the newspapers and good magazines like the Frontline regularly. You should have a good awareness of whats going on around you.


-          Cultivate a habit of participating in extra-curricular activities especially those involving organising abilties, GK, quizzes, etc.


-          Develop some good hobbies


-          Improve your personality traits


-          learn to spend lots of time reading books and studying


-          you should read the life stories of great people as an inspiration. Also, meet the successful people in various fields.


-          listen to good programs on radio and TV.



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