Self Preparation Strategy for UPSC CSE - Vajiram & Ravi
Being able to clear UPSC CSE without joining any coaching institute, depends on a person’s will to work hard. It is not an impossible feat but you need to be more focused and diligent in your approach than ever before. This is an age where information is available in plenty for free, but you need to make sure that you don’t get lost in the sea of information and instead are able to pick out the more important ones and follow them assiduously and in an organized manner.
Going through the exam syllabus will give you a broad idea about the kind of resources/study material you will need for your preparation. Additionally, go through previous year UPSC CSE Exam question papers (at least last 5 years) to analyse the nature of questions asked and the more important topics of the syllabus.
Keep your sources minimal and follow the best sources available. Start with NCERTs for basic foundation of subjects like Geography, History, Economics, etc. and then you can move on to standard textbooks.
Your main goal is to cover the syllabus comprehensively and for this you need to meticulously set sub-goals. Divide the syllabus into topics and assign time for each topic (treat these as your sub-goals), as per the time left for your preparation. Make sure the time table covers the entire syllabus. Plan it well to have sufficient time for at least 2-3 cycles of revision before every stage.
Stick to this plan and follow it religiously for the rest of your preparation period. This might prove to be your biggest challenge, but try your best not to deviate from the plan or lag behind.
Current affairs are a significant part of UPSC CSE. It’s highly important that you make a habit of reading a newspaper every day (preferably The Hindu or the Indian Express). Focus more on Government websites of various important ministries andPIB for authentic information. You can follow RSTV for news bulletins and debates (The Big Picture), etc.
Try to gradually make your own short notes on NCERT books and news articles. They will prove immensely helpful for quicker revision as well as retention purposes.
But it’s not enough to merely read newspapers and remember facts, it’s equally important to analyse the information and have an opinion about it. This is especially important for the Mains and Personality test stages. Thus, try to not just mug up facts but rather have an in-depth understanding of the topics.
You must test yourself through mock tests to determine your speed and accuracy and identify your weak areas.Don’t postpone mock tests till the very end. This entire practice is to timely identify your weak areas and work on them to improve your chances of clearing the exam. Mock Tests provide insightful feedback on your performance, thus give them adequate importance.
When you’re preparing for the exam on your own, there is a chance you will miss out on something important. To avoid this, it is important that you network with your peers at regular intervals. Networking will give you an opportunity to exchange ideas and preparation tips with your peers. It shall also help you to exchange your success, struggles and common problems and you will find encouraging words for motivation.
Anywhere, through your preparation, at any stage, if you feel you need guidance, don’t hesitate, as it might not be a risk worth taking. Ultimately, follow what seems to work best for you because each person has to chart their own journey.