Planned Studies, Hard Work And Inner Motivation Are The Keys To Success - Sorabh Babu Maheshwari, IAS Topper 2000. The path to the coveted Civil Services is full of ups and downs and is a highly uneven track to traverse. Before taking a decision about Civil Services as your career, it is expedient to check up oneself and remain determined after wards.

The first and foremost thing to decide while aspiring for Civil Services is the judicious choice subjects for the Prelims and the Mains. This is the most important and first step of your journey and should be accomplished most carefully as coming things hinge on it and a wrong decision may prove to be disastrous. Careful analysis of syllabus, previous years' papers, your calibre, requirement of subject (Visionary, Numerical, Theoretical), comfort level with the subject and past trends should be done. Advice from seniors and fellow candidates should also be sought. To avoid dithering in choice at later stage, initial deep thinking and consultations are a must. Having decided the subject, it is advisable to stick to your choice even if the perception of others about it is not favourable.

Preparation for General Studies can be done hand in hand while preparing for Optional papers. Good mix of study hours for General Studies and Optionals makes study enjoyable and it becomes easy to sustain for long hours without losing interest and enthusiasm. Before Prelims result, one Optional can be exhaustively prepared so as to have an edge during study for the Mains and also to ease out burden during these busy days. General Studies, though does not have any limits, yet syllabus as outlined by UPSC gives quite good understanding of the question paper. General tendency about General Studies paper is to devote much more time on unproductive readings which, in reality yields little returns. Concentrate on what is more probable, followed by probable, then less probable if time permits. Even if you do not cover less probable ones, you are not at much o floss. So, be secure and study systematically. Being a regular reader of newspapers n magazines gives good command and writing skill, hence, this should be made a habit. Trend now-a-days has shifted more towards current issues, hence a thorough awareness of recent happenings is mandatory. one you achieve the threshold in General Studies, more efforts should be put on Optionals (Especially in Prelims) as it is more scoring and is the hub of success.

For Mains, syllabus is quite beautifully elaborated and we know beforehand the study topics. Ready reference material as published in some magazines is of great help. I believe that the preamble of UPSC Question Paper are the instructions on the front page of the paper. Give some time in reading the instructions and follow them. By doing this, you are averting a possible source of error which could creep in if you do not read them.

Follow the world-limit as prescribed at the end of the question to the extent possible. Try to confine your answer within that limit, never exceed it. The art to express many contrasting views in a confined word space comes through practice, so practise some previous years' question papers. Be your own while writing, never try to imitate anybody. Your expression needs try to be limited yet comprehensive while writing General Studies paper. In Essay paper, your imagination can reach zenith but with a purpose, never divert from the main topic. To ensure, work out the sub-titles, rearrange them if necessary and once you are satisfied with the rough work, elaborate are satisfied with the rough work, elaborate on this outline after wards.

There is no standard word-limit yet. What one can effectively write in 3-hour duration is good enough length. My essay consisted of approx 2500 words. Conclusion should be drawn only at the end, take a balanced approach and write whatever good comes to your mind at the end, take a balanced approach and write what ever good comes to your mind at the moment. Devote initial 40-46 minutes on preparing rough outline. Next 2 hours for writing inflow and last 15-20 minuets for review and corrections.

In addition to Competition Success Review and standard books, I studied History Polity of Spectrum Series books, Economics, Science & Technology and Geography through MnM Series books which I found quite useful.

Approach to Optional paper is not universal and is individual specific, adopt such strategy which you are comfortable with and which fits into your constraints. Since, I am working with maruti Udyog, I did not have plenty of time as against my fellow candidates. I had to evolve and finetune my strategy to cover up such a huge Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics syllabi apart from General Studies & essay.

"How to write an answer" is equally vital for Mechanical Engineering/Mathematics paper as it is for General Studies & Essay. Students sometimes ignore basics and it costs much. Before proceeding, state all the assumptions involve and try to give minutes plausible details, adopt step0by-step approach, see that no vital step is left in between, as these steps are the links and missing or weak links can never ensure good strength of the answer, so be careful about it. All this sequential and systematic answering comes through a lot of practice and analysis of standard answers. Simulate the actual examination hours at home to judge your performance and to plug any loopholes.

For the Personality Test one should better form a group of 3-4 people as the preparation for Interview cannot be done in isolation. All would agree that personality is a life-time asset and expecting miraculous alterations in personality in a span of a few days or weeks is not possible. Yet, efforts can be made to overcome major deficiency and polish p views and opinions. Remember, no one is omniscient and non-awareness of something should be admitted with politeness. Only those people learn who have urge to change are willing to accept new ideologies. If at any point of time, you could show that your approach is flexible an amenable the world is yours. It is better to say 'No' than to bluff around. Those interviewing are highly experienced persons and know much better than us, therefore one should be expressed only if asked so, never start giving history of an issue, unless asked to do so. Of the question put is not clear t you, politely ask for more information. It is not the factual knowledge but your views which are on test. Always observe interview etiquette and be honest, polite, convincing an modest. Arrogance, rigidity, flicking round the issue should be avoided.

A lot depends upon the Almighty, so pray often. Be self confident but not complacent, honest, motivated, have patience and be optimistic. Work hard as there is no short-cut to success and hard work never goes unrewarded. I would like to quote Swami Vivekanand (often my eldest brother reminds me of it): Arise awake and rest not till the goal is achieved. There are many ups and downs during the course. It is the 'downs' which need to be tackled more vigorously and skillfully, it is when a person's qualities are on test and they emerge as winners who have these qualities. To cite my example, I was often told that it is just impossible to think for IAS while working. I was advised sometimes even to quit the job. Yet, I managed to come out with flying colours despite all these hiccups' kudos to good planning, my faith in Almighty, parents' blessing, hard work and God's grace. I have read somewhere that winners are those who manage their hardships effectively and do learn from our mistakes makes us successful. Never feel depressed, self confidence and inner strength are the two basic requirements for anybody to appear in this examination. Believe in yourself. You are your own best judge and you know which areas are weak and nee reinforcement. General perception around the Civil Services aspirants regarding Mechanical Engineering is highly discourage yet I took it and got success. So never get carried away by others.

Profound Faith In God, Strong Will Power and Dogged Pursuit Do Bear Fruit -Ms. Manju Rajpal, IAS Topper Among Women 2000

"Winners don't do different things, but they do the things differently" - these lines appearing in the Preface of Shiv Khera's Book "You Can With" touch the very fathom of success or failure in life. There are no roses always strewn on the path of those moving towards their goal in life; instead the thorns in the way is the biggest truth of life. I never agree with those who think failure s synonymous with lick. Every sweat of your brow through hard work bears the splendour of your bright career and this ensures your Golden Tomorrow. Those who keep faith in their capabilities, shape their future with their own deeds. We have t take exam/test at every step f life. Therefore, whether it is a competitive exam or a sundry struggle in day-to-day life, till you have the high aim of standing first or coming out victorious therein, the pinnacle of success remains a distance dream.

The first step towards success is to choose your goal honestly and thereafter to make dedicated efforts backed by strong determination t achieve it. By honesty, I mean that incases you are selecting Civil Services s your career, the first quest ion that you should put to yourself is: Whether you want to become the same of which you are making efforts. It is very easy to inherit a dream, an aspiration or a goal but to muster courage to convert it into reality is surely a difficult task. Therefore, if father desires, mother has a dream or it is a pressure from your social circle or family that you have to be a shining star in the firmament of civil Services but you are planning, for your job satisfaction, quite a different a career for you, my advice to you would be to reconsider your decision for making Civil Services as your goal. If the decision to join Civil Services is your own, then assess your suitability in the context of your capabilities to see whether you passes the requisite self-confidence, dedicated efforts, strong determination and commitment; the reason being that the lack of constant and hardwork leading to initial setback or failure to achieve the desired success engulfs the whole personality into darkness. If your decision is backed by an honest assessment of positive aspect of your capacity or capability, then proceed towards your goal in right direction and, believe me no obstacle on the way can ever waver you from your path. By right direction; I mean that if you want to ensure your success in Civil Services, then it is desirable to make a right selection of study material. I have seen many candidates studying a lot which is hardly necessary. Therefore, don't waste your energy. Take a decision on the basis of the nature of your Optionals whether extensive or intensive study is required. Always use authentic and dependable study material brought out by standard publishers.

You must be quite serious in the selection of your subjects. Some subjects are considered scoring and that the chances of success therein are rated quite high. This is a wrong method of subject-selection. Subject-selection should be always based on your interest in the subject, availability of study material and your ability to understand the nature of the subject as a first reaction, better evaluate your deficiencies in the subject and try to remove them. In my opinion, keeping in view the moral disequilibrium and fall in performance level as a result of such frequent change of subjects, it is better to stick to your original after rectifying your drawbacks. Preparation for civil Services demands right time-management. If there is something more valuables than time, it is 'Time' only. Therefore, instead of wasting the interlude between completion of prelims exam and its results, prepare at least one Optional, assuming that you would be successful in the exam. Then at the time for General Studies and the other Optional. At the same time, one of the criteria for selection for Civil Service is that how for a candidate succeeds in expressing himself through originality of thoughts; excellence and analytical presentation via effective writing. An indepth study of the subject is desirable but there is a world of difference between "knowing all" and "effective presentation of requisite knowledge". Therefore, make constant efforts to develop your expressive power.

Keep your self-confidence intact while appearing for the Prelims and the Mains, then only you can attempt the Question Paper in a reasonably logical way. Select Questions after utmost thought and instead of making hurry in answering the questions, it is better to understand their true content.

In prelims, while it may be alright to answer objective questions on the basis of intelligent guesswork but in the Mains, logical and fact-based and to the point answer are desirable. In General Studies, if you do not know the answer to a particular question, it is risky to attempt it with guess work or on the basis of wrong information. While selection topics in the Essay Paper, always be careful that it should contain not only factual or informative data but there should also be analytical presentation. During interview, keep in view that no Training institute can improve your personality completely although some of these Institutes provide an avenue to be helpful through well-planned preparation and Group Discussions. During Interview, keep in mind that the members of the Board are more experienced than you; therefore, an attempt of focus your personality is to invite risk.

Whatever you are, keeping faith in yourself, have a balanced view of the questions put to you. Have faith in life and have positive outlook towards various developments; thereby you acquire the moral prop to face difficulties To sum up:- (No mater whether you take only a few steps, Go on your chosen pathwith positive state of mind, Your destination will reach you automatically: O grumbler with your forethought and planning, You can even change your destiny) you will find that a stone" thrown up with right intent could make a hole in the sky".

Hard Work, Focussed Approach And Faith In God Are Instrumental In Achieving Your Goal - Santosh Kumar Misra, IAS Topper 2000 (2nd Rank)

1. Focus on Mains : Always target the Mains Exam and make passing the Prelims a critical but incidental objective. If you always focus on Prelims result and don't think of Mains till the Prelims result are out, you will end up as a loser because there is hardly any time left for a thorough preparation. So always aim at the Mains.

2. Revision is a must : Always remember "anything you could not revise prior to the examination is as good as not having prepared at all" So always make sure that you're able to revise whatever you've prepared just prior to the examination.

3. Practice, Practice and Practice (Especially for maths) : Go through the unsolved papers of the previous years and solve them. Try to monitor you speed. Speed is of utmost importance in this examination

4. Have a Small Group : Preparing alone is extremely boring and at times frustrating. So form a small group with your friends, and have regular discussions, e.g. in History, Polity, etc. it helps to keep your tempo up.

5. 'Dare-to-Bare' Attitude for your Personality Test : Given the extremely short time (25-30 minutes) in which your personality is assessed, it is your responsibility to bring out your very best in front of the board. This should be done in a very modest way and it should not appear as if you are boasting. The risk in baring yourself in front of the board is that you will also be exhibiting your weakness. So do it in a pre-planned and well-planned way.

6. General Do's & Don'ts for the Interview: (i) Be utmost respectful to the board. They are usually very senior and learned people. (ii) Have no biases for any Board . Don't go by any stories doing rounds in your campus corridors. (iii) Never make any sweeping statement (iv) Accept your mistakes boldly.

7. Overall : Be patient and maintain your pace. This examination is all about tenacity and perseverance. Don't lose heart and work hard. Your efforts are bound to succeed.

8. Suggested study Time-Table: Say you are appearing in Civil Services Examination, 2001. Here is how I recommend going about it:

(i)Start in December 2000
(ii) December 200-February 2001: Finish your Optional (i.e., the Optional other than the one you're taking in the Prelims.
(iii) March & April 2001) : Devote fully to the Preparation of Optional 1 (i.e., the subject you'll opt in the prelims) thoroughly.
(iv) May 2001 should be spent exclusively for Prelims. A selective and precise coverage of syllabus is required.
(v) For General Studies in Prelims, all you need is a collection of Competition Success Review issues from December to May. Just go through them and try to pick as many facts as you can. Also solve the previous years' General Studies Prelims and Model Papers published in competition Success Review.
(vi) Take a break after the Prelims for 10-15 days. Relax and re-energise yourself for the last four months of the year-long battle.
(vii) Complete the Optional-1 where you left it at the time of Prelims. This should be done by the middle of July.
(viii)Give second half of July and August to your Optional -2, once again.
(ix) Prepare all your General Studies including current events in September and leave October for Revision.
Time Table For The Preparation Of Civil Services Examination :
2001-2002 December- 2000 January - 2001 Optional February- 2001 March - 2001 Optional 0 1 from April - 2001 Mains point of view May 2001 Optional - 1 and General Studies from June- 20001 Prelims point of view July- 2001 Optional - 2 August- 2001 & September - 2001 General Studies October- 2001 Revisions During revision or otherwise in nay spare time you should go through al the issue of magazines like Competition Success Review (of that particular year) and it will be extremely rewarding, I can guarantee that.
(x) After your Mains are over, take a break for say a month or so. Just keep reading Newspaper/Magazines (Hindu & Frontline's international events are a good combination). You should be in touch with magazine like Competition Success Review.
(xi) From January 2002 you should start preparing for your round two. Prepare the topics you could not do in your lst attempt and try to cover any, new areas where you feel you were weak. By March 2002, you should be fully prepare to tackle the Mains once again (hopefully you won't need it, still it pays to be prepared).
(xii) In March the results come out and immediately afterwards you should start your interview preparation. Interview : Interview preparation does not require one to stuff oneself with facts, ability to analyse and to critically examine an issue is what actually counts. Facts you may not know and there is no harm in saying so to the Board but you must be able to think laterally and analyse all dimensions of the topic under consideration. Speak honestly, truthfully and with modesty. Understand the questions before answering them and clarify the points if you did not understand them. Many a time what happens is that your answer is misinterpreted, so do not hesitate in clarifying it. Framing your own questions and answering them (especially recording them on to a tape and listening them) is a very useful technique, if you don't feel confident. Otherwise also it is extremely helpful in making a correct choice of words while answering a question.

Hard Work, Good Planning, positive Approach and Faith In God Ensure Success - Vinod K.Jacob, IAS Topper 200 (5th Rank)

A civil servant is one of the most balanced and normal personalities in a country. He/she need not be an expert, a genius or a super-specialist, he/she has to be an average man/woman of pleasing nature and personality with a flair for leadership and administration. This dictum should guide every IAS aspirant throughout the 3 stages- Prelims, Mains and Interview. A 10 to 14 months programme is a must for this Exam. One should not attempt the first Prelims as a trial. T

He first attempt ought to be the best attempt. Preparation should be focussed on the Mains 3 months solely devoted to Prelims. Choice of Optional should be the first step the choice should rest solely on aptitude and bent of mind. The study should begin with understanding of the first principles and the basics. One should refer only to the standard text-books and noted classics in the concerned subjects. Preparation for Mains should not be on the basis of past years' Questions papers only. First, complete the syllabus and then one month preceding the Mains, practise with the help previous years' papers. I feel that it is the performance in General Studies paper that tilts the scales.

My observation has been that he candidates are extremely thorough with their Optionals and level of knowledge is improving s the years pass by. Hence General Studies alone makes or mars one's chances. Likewise, one has to practise writing good essays. Writing and presentation skills count for much. English paper and Language paper are no easy sailing affairs. I could not succeed in my first attempt (1998) because I failed in Hindi compulsory paper. So it is always advisable to brush up one's grammar and vocabulary. Making notes, keeping paper cuttings, regular map reading and group discussions are a must. Keeping focussed is often a tall exercise but with the help of our family and few reliable friends we can always recharge our betteries and stay on course.

Prelims: A three-month exclusive preparation for Prelims is a must. For the subject paper, the whole syllabus should be thoroughly studied, revise, re-revised and mastered. No part can be afforded to be overlooked. No part can be afforded to be overlooked. For General Studied, one has to go through NCERT books and the Hindu and Frontline. Many of the questions can be answered through intelligent guesses. Remember, first complete al mental ability questions and then go onto the rest.

Target : 95/120 to 115/120 (Subject); 90 to 100/150 (G.S).

P.S. : The subject is more important than G.S. hence, spend more time on the subject. Mains : On an average atleast 6 to 8 hours of study a day is a must. I used to take off and Sundays but used to spend 2 hours reading the Hindu even Sundays. All papers should be prepared simultaneously. Equal importance should be given to all papers. One should always stick to the word limit. In case of long answers, do not write more than 500 words. Never take an aggressive stand while attempting your Essay papers. Explain all the differing and opposing schools of thought and with logical reasoning explain your viewpoint.

Target : 1150 to 1250/2000. General Studies, I believe, makes or mars your chances.

Interview : A civil servant is not born. But he is not made one overnight. Hence, one should aim at projection an optimistic outlook. Humility is a quality that has no peers. Our arguments should not resemble rhetoric but should be persuasive. Taking part in debates and extempores is a must. I even took classes in Law in my M.L. one should spend atleast 2 hours a day in reading the newspapers. One should be prepared for analysing any issue of current importance. But, we should never try to give ad.hoc or quick.fix solutions. Remember, stalling for time is a very good way of overcoming a problem. In Civil Services Examination, Emotional Quotient (E. Q.) is as important as I.Q. hence, you should stay focussed, calm, patient and in a proper frame of mind. Remember, he who rules the mind is greater than he who rules the city.

Dedication, Time Management & Hard Work : Secrets Of My Success - Ms. Bhawna Garg, IAS Topper 1999

It is indeed a pleasure to write this column which I remember to have been very particular in reading, once I decided to go for this Exam. By this column, Competition Success Review is indeed providing an appropriate guidance to student aspiring for the civil Services. I must candidly admit that this column has been greatly helpful in ensuring my success in this premiere exam.

For the Civil Services Exam, a very different kind of approach is required. There are three stages in this Exam Preparation -Though, work, then deed, and not anyone of them being less important than other.

With the number of vacancies dwindling each year an the competition getting tougher and at the same time, the number of aspirant increasing- this year around three lakh students has appeared, one must consider all the pros and cons of the situation, before jumping into th fray.

You have to be self-motivated. I would like to remind the aspirants the words of Swamy Vivekananda. "Stand up, be bold and take the whole responsibility on your shoulders and know that you are creator of your own density. All the strength and success that you want are within yourself." Once having decided about going in for the exam, it must be atleast a year before you ought to be appearing for the Prelims.

I decided sometimes in January 97 during my sixth Semester at IIT Kanpur. Then comes the stage as to what is required to be done. Start the practise of regular reading of a newspaper. I was regular with The Hindu and I found it fairly useful. Also the choice of the optional is very crucial. You can decide about it based on your own interests, aptitude, graduation study, consulting the previous years' question papers, etc. it need not necessarily be the popular choice. I had Maths and Chemistry as my optionals. The criteria to choose Chemistry as against Physics was entirely based on my self-analysis because I have more liking for the subject plus by better scoring abilities in it. So despite the fact that there was hardly any guidance available for chemistry as against Physics, I decided about it. Also because I was getting more number of days in between G.S. -Maths and then Math- Chemistry papers (atleast 10 days break in between), this also was favourable and encouraging which did later prove beneficial - for I got sufficient time for last-minute revision.

After the self-convincing choice of optional, the collection of the reading material becomes crucial. The study of the previous years' Test Papers together with solution is very useful to understand the trend and type of questions set and how to answer them. Here again Competition Success Review, by publishing answer to the latest such test papers in various Competitive exams including civil Services as a regular Feature, is way ahead of many such contemporary periodicals.

Apart from this, the university level books are consulted for they match the style of the Paper. By September '98, I started on with some optional subject study - taking one topic at a time but main emphasis was on General Studies especially Polity and Modern History. Due to the demanding B.Tech study, I was not able to give a lot of time exclusively for this Exam. But still, I was single-mindedly concentrating on my goal. At times I had to compromise with my B.Tech studies. I used to make a time schedule and a work schedule for the next day and also note down my time analysis and work progress if that particular day and introspect my shortcomings and possible improvements. This went on till April '98 When I gave my Final Semester exams. In between, I managed to devote the Whole one month just to study Indian Polity - the subject I feared the most in GS and its in-depth study instilled self-confidence in me for an otherwise tough subject for me. I started on for Prelims from mid-March. I just studied the Brilliant Notes on Maths and read the NCERT books on History, Geography and Spectrum Guide for Current Affairs. I got the previous years' solved Test of Mathematics to develop a good speed and maintain it as well.

Generally, my tendency during the Practise Test was to complete the paper 10 minutes earlier than the scheduled time (Duration: 2 hours) for in the Exam Hall, in the Hot Summers, one can never be sure of the comfortable conditions. Also signing the Attendance sheets and certain few announcements being made by the invigilators at intervals may be distracting and time-consuming. Prelim is just a qualifying Exam, so my eyes were always directed on the Mains. Still I devoted one full month of May exclusively for it to avoid any risk so that later I can prepare comfortably for the Mains without having any apprehensions about my clearing the first stage. The generally accepted strategy for this Exam is that one must have studied the whole syllabus for the Mains before the Prelims or at least before its result is out, i.e. by July end. But I must admit that it wasn't the case with me.

After my Prelims - taking a 3.4 days' rest break, I prepared a work plan for the next 5 months. I knew that revision is very important, still it was only by August end that I could finish off my syllabus once. With just two months before the Exam,. This was a bit demoralising and at times. I felt that I was out of the race. But keeping my expectations low, still I was determined not to let my spirits go down (Swami Vivekananda quotations and anecdotes never let me down), and sustained my consistency and without letting any negative thoughts overpower my mind, I worked mechanically till the last.

The next two months, I divided into three slots of 20days, each for the three subjects. At first, I revised Maths wholly followed by Chemistry and then GS till the General Studies paper on 30th October. I couldn't do any special study for the Essay paper. However, the high caliber essays for Civil Services published by CSR proved immensely useful in giving me an insight of the methodology to attempt the next 15 days for Math Paper exclusively and then the next 10 days for the Chemistry Paper. So a sufficient gap in between the Exam proved really beneficial to me.

During the crucial six months duration after the Prelims, I feel that you must have a very systematic approach, be disciplines and sincere, be consistent and work zealously. (Each day I would aim at attainable limits of 10-12 hours of study time, maintain a diary, go for some physical work-out for 30-40 minutes in the evening to refreshing myself.) be calm and positive. You should be so dedicated that no external coaxing should be needed to sit and study for long hours have faith in yourself and the Almighty and your concentrated sincere effort will never betray you.

The execution step is the last but the most cautious one. you must take light diet during the Exam days. Have good sleep. The night before the Exam for two papers during a day can be very exhausting and during the second exam, there may be a tendency of lethargy creeping in quite unwittingly. Be calm and positive. Dress comfortably. Reach the Exam centre well in time, so some deep breathing to maintain your cool and be charming during the interview. The work limit prescribes for the GS paper should be largely conformed with, for it helps in good time management as well. Work out the time plan for the Exam beforehand for the Exam pattern is very well known.

For the Essay paper about 45 minutes can be given for planning out, then two hours of writing (on 200 words) and later 15 minutes of overhauling. Interview preparation is not just a matter of a few days - your whole personality counts. Still you must acquaint yourself with your home State, district your college, your hobbies, general concepts of Public Administration, etc. also you can brush up the Mains GS material like Polity, Economy, History, etc.

Interview is more of a psychological test than just content based. But along with good communication skills and self-confidence, good knowledge base gives you an upper hand. Here again, reading certain articles like, "Facing the Interview Board" published by the Competition Success Review helps prepare oneself accordingly. I solely relied on this important feature in Competition Success Review. Group Discussions and Mock

Interviews are equally important. However, I myself could not make a group and go for any mock interview but I think this may prove helpful especially to those who feel less self-confident and have some difficulty in communication. I did not join any Academy either. On the whole, I feel that the first attempt should not be taken lightly for the enthusiasm and the dedication for the first time may be difficult t sustain on for the next time. Also one must keep his options open while going in for this exam - for with the decreasing number of the seats each year and increasing competition, an alternative job security can give one more self-confidence and thus a wholehearted effort is possible.

With good wishes and good luck to all future aspirants of this coveted service. Self-Confident, Planning And Systematic Study : Stepping Stones To Success - Amit Negi, IAS Topper 1999 (2nd Rank)

To achieve glorious success in the Civil Services Examination, proper approach and excellent guidelines are indispensable. Your Optionals are the things which can make all the difference. This single decision has the potential to alter your life. Choose your Optionals carefully and with due care. Try to choose subjects in which you have some background knowledge. Only choose those subjects which are scoring and also with which you are comfortable

. Remember you'll have to do both intensive and extensive study of Optionals. So it is imperative that you must have interest also in your Optionals. Always keep an open-mind. Information from any source relevant to your goal is always welcome. Discuss with your friends, talk to them and listen to their views. This will expand your knowledge base and also expose you to different views. This is important as this will enable you to view things in a balanced perspective and avoid taking extremes. Make it a habit to go through magazines (especially competition Success Review and General Knowledge Today) and newspapers regularly and read as many as possible.

The syllabus in the Civil Services is very hazy and vast with no clearly-defined boundaries. So, it might happen that you end up reading things which are connected with the syllabus but are practically irrelevant from your preparation point of view. So it is necessary that you get a feel of what the examiner expects from you. For this keep a copy of syllabus and side by side keep the previous year' papers. Compare them and see what types of questions are repeated every year. Try to have a feel as to what constitutes important portions of the syllabus and what is irrelevant. Try to from boundaries of the syllabus. This analysis will give you an in-depth insight into the paper and the examiner's mind. This will make you understand which topics need intensive study. This will also enable you to identify unnecessary portions, which are not important from the point of view of examination, so that you may avoid them and save your precious time and energy.

It is always useful to maintain a note-book to jot down all important developments happening in the National and the International scene. Also if possible one should make short notes for Optional Paper as well as General Studies. For example, in Mathematics and Physics one can make a formula note-book in which one should write all the important formulae and their derivations. Besides making it easier to remember, such notes are also very useful and handy during revision stages and save a lot of time.

Always do a planned and systematic study. Work out your study schedules in a planned and orderly manner. Maintain a daily routine of studying in a manner suited to you and stick to it; no matter what happens. Plan your whole preparation well. I think this whole preparation should last about 12-15 months. So plan your preparation in such a manner that before the prelims you should have completed your both Optionals and General Studies right up to the Mains level. This will ensure that you have sufficient time to revise. So planning at every stage of the examinations important. Also do a very systematic study.

Work out your syllabus and finish it in an ordered manner. Some time when you are free, try to write an essay on post topics covered in the Civil Services. This will expose you to your lacunae as well as make you understand the things involved: writing a good essay. Not only the easy you should also attempt previous years' Optionals Papers and General Studies Papers. This will expose your weaknesses and give you an idea about the extent of your preparation, your knowledge base, your speed and accuracy. Thus you can develop your writing skills and make sure that you can cover lengthy papers, especially GS Paper-1, in time.

Remember in the Civil Services, writing skills matter a lot. Most of the people appearing for Mains Examinations have a lot of knowledge, some of them have been preparing for the last three or four years, even then such candidates are not selected sometimes. One of the reasons for their failure is their writing skills. They are not able to present all the information present in their mind in a coherent and logical manner as expected by the examiner. So, you should develop your writing skills. The attitude that I will write directly in the Examination should be done away with

. Remembers hours do not count. Don't go by the claims of other persons who say that they study more than 18 hours a day. Do not get depressed if you are unable to achieve their targets. Remember, it is your preparation, you are the one who will appear in the examination, you know yourself better, so do your study according to your needs. Quality of hours put in is more important than quantity. You should use your energy an time in an efficient and effective manner.

Take due care of your health. You might go in for a walk in the evenings. also maintain a hobby which relaxes you during your preparation like listening to music etc. take sleep as required by your body and mind. It is always better to do study when one's mind and body are fresh, this helps in easy grasping of things a swell as in retaining them. Remember that without a good health, you will not be able to concentrate on your studies and your whole idea of the Civil services will go haywire.

It is always better to peak at the time of Examination. So channelise your preparation in such a manner that you don't burn yourself out before the Examination. Build up reserves of energy in yourself. You will need this energy at the time of your Examination. Do not worry much about the compulsory Hindi and English language papers. You will coolly pass them, and you don't need to waste your time preparing for them.

For Interview, from a group of friends who have offered the same Optionals. Remember, Interview is of a personality test. The Board will check certain traits in your personality such as your honesty and integrity, your mental alertness, your acumen, your response to some situations, your views on varied topics and also your knowledge base. So, for Interview read as many newspapers and as many magazine as possible. Discuss with your friends. Take mock-interviews. Try to find loop-holes in your arguments and plug them. Form your views on various subjects in a very logical and rational manner supported by data whenever necessary. Do not get nervous whenever necessary. Do not get nervous before the Interviews. Improve your communications skills by giving mock-interviews.

These will also open you up. Ask your friends to grill you, so that you can face pressure from the Board easily. Always pause a bit before answering even if you know the answer. Do not give a hasty reply. Answer in an orderly and logical fashion an always look into the eyes of the interviewer while answering. Be polite and courteous. Don't be too much argumentative. Be consistent in your views, i.e. just don't change your views because of the fact that the Board is differing with you. Remember that they are only testing you and often even try to provoke you. Give balanced answers and avoid taking extremes.

Alongwith your preparation for the Civil services Examination, the following four elements are the pre-requisites for success in the examination:

(1) Hard Work - Remember that there is no substitute for hard work. No genie is coming to help you. You have to finish the whole course by yourself.

(2) Dedication - Dedication towards your duty always pays in life. Be totally dedicated towards your study. You will have to sacrifice something like movies, parties, etc. at this stage of your life to achieve bigger things. Just work day and night and go on and on.

(3) Patience - As the civil Services Emanation spans a whole one year right from Preliminary stage to the Interview stage, it requires a lot of patience to maintain your tempo. At times you may feel tired and sick of further studying during the course of your preparation, but don't throw the towel as yet. Maintain your cool and patience and go on. To take out your anger and frustration, talk to friends and parents. They'll provide you with the much-neede emotional support.

(4) Self- confidence- your self-confidence can make the whole difference. If you don't believe in yourself and your capacity to achieve then no matter how hard you try. You will end up in failure. So your self-confidence should be at a very high level. I don't intend to say that you should become over-confident, but a good self-esteem matters. So to pep up your confidence level say t yourself everyday in front of the mirror that you can do it and you will do it. You should be in the surroundings of the people who could constantly motivate you and inspire you. Keep a group of close friends with you who are as determined t make it to the Civil Services as you are. This will make sure that if you are facing some problems in any subject then you can approach some one. Also while talking and discussing with them you'll be exposed to different views. This will also ensure that you can vent out your frustration by talking to some one. Besides, good friends are always a source of inspiration and motivation.

Motivation And Confidence Secrets Of My Success - Deepak Tayal, IAS Topper 1993 (3rd Rank)

The first and the foremost step to achieve success in the Civil Services Examination is to aim high and have a belief in oneself. Once that is done, one is prepared to give it a go. The first step involves a suitable choice of the Optional subject for the Preliminary Examination and the Mains.

I think that the choice subject be based on interest and comfort level rather than how scoring they are. One should rather than how scoring they are. One should have a natural inclination and aptitude towards these subjects. It always helps if the choice of Optionals for the prelims is one of the subjects chosen for the Mains.

After this, it depends on the Particular individual as to what he feels about the method best suited to him and his instincts. But in general preparation can be broadly classified as long-term or short time depending on the available time for preparation.

For a long term, one should begin with one of the Optional for the Mains and try to finish as much as possible until about 15 days to 2 months depending on the comfort level for the Optional chosen for Prelims and whether one began with the same subject or not. This should be followed by preparation for the prelims. In the prelims, there is no need to give undue emphasis to the General Studies and to waste time in order to attempt to cover everything. A quick study of different areas of the General Studies is enough if one has prepared thoroughly for the Optional in which attempt should be made to score more than 225 marks.

Preparation for Mains should begin soon after the Prelims is over and one should not waste time waiting for the Interview. Here again the major thrust should be on preparing for optional subject more thoroughly and give them more time. The preparation for General Studies can be highly selective and one can easily see that there is a similar pattern in the questions asked in different years. Of course, there is no feels that there is a lot of available time. On the other hand, if one is following short-term preparation either because of lack of time available for studies or because he feels more comfortable with it, there are some suggestions for books from my side, based on what I did. For History & Indian Polity, selected portions of Unique's Guide and for Current Affairs, Economy & Science and Technology, Spectrum's current affairs are good enough to score more than 325 marks if one has the ability to grasp them quickly. It helps if one has read magazines and newspapers regularly but if he is unable to do so, there is no cause for panic and one can do without them.

A major part of the preparation should go towards the Optional. The most important thing to know about the Interview is that it is not a question-answer session and what they are looking out for is different aspects of one's personality. As far as possible, the answer given should reveal a particular aspect of one's personality and attempts should not be made to present a make-up appearance or politically correct answers. There is no harm in taking extreme views if one is able to justify them.

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