Tips to Prepare for Civil Services Preliminary Examination

Tips to Prepare for Civil Services Preliminary Examination

How many of you wish to be a part of the civil services? While some of you might aspire to be a part of the IPS (Indian Police Service) or IAS (Indian Administrative Service), some others might be keen to be associated with IRS (Indian Revenue Service) and so on.However, you must pass the Civil Services Examination if you are determined to render your services to the government of India.

A Glance at the Civil Services Examination

Before we start knowing about the best tips for preparing for the Civil Services examination, let us take a quick look at the exam.The CSE, or Civil Services Examination is an important competitive exam that is held in India. It is conducted by the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) for selecting candidates for recruitment to IPS, IAS, IRS and IFS. It is believed that this examination is among the most challenging exams in India.Did you know that the exam is conducted in two different phases?

  • The Civil Services Preliminary Exam that is also known as the CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test – the test comprises objective-type questions.
  • Civil Services Main Exam – the test comprises nine essay-type questions.
  • Civil Services Personality Test that is conducted in the form of an interview.

The Civil Services Preliminary examination is generally conducted in the month of August every year and the results of the exam are declared in the middle of October. You would come across two objective-type question papers in the CSAT exam. Each paper carries two hundred marks and the time allotted for answering each paper is two hours.The two papers of CSAT are:

  • General Studies.
  • General Aptitude.

A-Glance-at-the-CSENow, let us discuss some of the tips to prepare for the Civil Services Preliminary Examination in the following paragraphs.

#1. Manage your Time Intelligently

First of all, you have to remember that your success in the CSAT exam is directly proportional to effective time management skills.You should plan your exam preparation in a way that it offers you plenty of time to cover your entire syllabus. I would advise you to start your preparations at least 10 or 12 months in advance if you desire to score good grades in your exam. Even if you do not get 12 months for your preparation, you should not have less than 10 months to groom yourself for the CSAT.Manage-your-Time-Intelligently


#2. Know your Syllabus Well

Next, you need to know your syllabus of the CSAT exam thoroughly.Get an overview of the entire CSAT syllabus. Do this by referring to the syllabus of General Studies as well as General Aptitude. Collect a book that contains the syllabus of both the papers so that it becomes easier for you to adhere to it. This is because you cannot always access the Internet for referring to the syllabus every now and then.Paper I of the CSAT focuses on General Studies. It involves various topics like:

  • Basic concepts of Economics
  • Geography
  • Indian Polity
  • Indian National Movement
  • General Knowledge
  • Current Affairs
  • Environmental Ecology and Climate change
  • General Science

Paper 2 of CSAT includes the following subjects:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Analytical expertise
  • Reasoning
  • Mathematics
  • Problem-solving and Decision-making
  • Comprehension skills in the English language based on Class-10 level
  • Basic numerical abilities
  • General mental ability

Paper 2 concentrates more on dynamic questions that examine the candidate’s intelligence and presence of mind.Marking System of CSAT: Since there are 80 questions in the Paper 2 of Civil Services Preliminary examination, every question carries 2.5 marks. Unfortunately for students, there exists a scheme of negative marking of 0.83 marks. However, you would not be negatively marked for your answers on decision-making.Marking-System-of-CSAT


#3. Read the Newspapers

Now, it is time for you to plan your exam preparation to the best of your ability. You are equipped with the complete syllabus for the Civil Services Preliminary exam and also possess the appropriate books.Your next step of action must be to collect reputable magazines, journals and newspapers to expand your knowledge.As you already know, acquiring knowledge is a continuous process. Therefore, you cannot just stop studying for your exams once you have completed the syllabus or read the books. You must make it a point to go through the newspaper regularly. It would enable you to get a detailed idea of the current affairs, recent political events and also the people who have been in the news of late.Apart from newspapers, you can also go through magazines and journals for the same purpose: that of increasing your general awareness.Make it a habit to read newspapers and magazines for at least one and a half hours during the day. And, do it religiously.

#4. Invest in a Proper Study Plan

Have you gone through the books, newspapers and magazines? If yes, you have done a brilliant job, dear students. You are now ready to answer all kinds of questions related to the General Knowledge section of Paper 1.But, what about implementing your study plan?Proper planning during your preparation would not only simplify your learning process but also make it more enjoyable for you. Firstly, never try to cover the entire syllabus of CSAT all at once. Trying to do so could be absolutely confusing on your part.To start with, take one subject at a time.For instance, you can easily select a particular topic belonging to Paper 1. And, you can choose a topic from Paper 2. Study the topic belonging to Paper I in the morning, and the other topic of Paper 2 in the evening. Do not make efforts to study more than two topics on a single day. If you do this, you would end up being really confused about the topics.Moreover, you would also fail to retain all the information in your brain.You should remember another thing. While reading newspapers, you have to emphasize upon certain portions, including:

  1. Business news
  2. Sports news
  3. Editorials
  4. News on Science and Technology
  5. News stories that are of national interest

#5. Test yourself continuously

Remember the old proverb, ‘Practice makes you perfect’?Why not strengthen your Civil Services preliminary exam preparation by solving mock test papers? Solving sample question papers would give you a fair amount of idea about the pattern of the question paper that you can expect in your examination hall.It would let you know about your knowledge gaps and also your strengths and weaknesses.You can collect the question papers of the previous years and start solving them while you are learning about the different topics of your syllabus. Here is a smart idea for you: whenever you finish studying a certain topic, refer to the previous years’ question papers or the mock test papers.If you stumble against certain questions, you would understand that you need to dedicate more time to those topics.Therefore, you can go back to your notes and study the topics once more. You can even consult your friends who would be appearing for this exam. Remember, you need to work really hard to achieve outstanding grades in this exam.Test-yourself-continuously


#6. Study in a Group

Civil Services Exam, as I have already mentioned, is one of the toughest exams in the entire nation. So obviously, it is natural to get tensed while studying and preparing for this examination.I have come across several candidates who end up devoting too much time to a subject while neglecting other subjects. Now, this is a completely wrong approach.You must ensure that you cover each and every topic of every subject that is included in your syllabus. If you dedicate a big chunk of time to a single subject, you would hardly have any time left for studying the remaining subjects and topics.This is one of the main reasons why it is a great idea to study in groups.Choose a study group which is as serious and intelligent as you are. Sit with the group and start studying the different topics. If you get stuck anywhere, consult the other members of the group. Studying in groups would help you keep track of the time you devote to every subject and also make your exam preparation interesting.Study-in-a-Group


These are some of the best tips that can aid you in preparing for the Civil Services Preliminary Examination. Wishing each one of you all the very best for your exams, dear students. If you are aware of any more ways that can guide candidates in grooming themselves for this exam, do please share them with us in the ‘comments’ section provided below.


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