UPSC Civil Services 2021: Here’s how to prepare for prelims

Postponement of the IAS Prelims 2021 has bought in some additional time for aspirants which must be used for extensive practice and a complete revision of the syllabus.

Joining the Civil Services of the Government of India is a prestigious opportunity for many. However, as easy as it might sound, cracking the UPSC Civil Service 2021 exam is one of the most difficult feats to achieve. 

Fortunately, this year, the turn of events have bought some additional preparation time for UPSC IAS 2021 aspirants. While the IAS 2021 registrations are already over, the Commission recently postponed the prelims exam to October 10 from the earlier scheduled date in June 2021. Thus, the focus of all Civil Service aspirants now must be on preparations for the exam. 

UPSC IAS prelims syllabus consists of two papers. While the indicative topics in Paper I are mostly based on History, Geography, Polity, Economics etc., Paper-II is centred around subjects like Communication, Interpersonal Skills, Aptitude, Decision Making etc. Nevertheless, cracking the Prelims is the first step to become Civil Services Rank 1 and it is by no means an easy feat. 

When targeting the top of the UPSC Civil Service merit list 2021, candidates must be willing to put in some extra efforts. For example, preparations must have already commenced and those who are still undecided, must leave all things and start studying for the exam now. Since only objective type questions are asked in the Prelims exam, it is easier to go through a diverse number of study materials before the exam. 

The candidates must have a well-devised study plan to cover the syllabus. One must divide each indicative topic viz. History, Polity, Geography throughout the study timetable and set milestones to complete preparation for each paper within a specified deadline. Candidates must sincerely stick to the plan and complete all study milestones to ensure that no part of the syllabus is left out before the exam. 

The simple superficial reading will not help candidates secure the extra marks and bag the first position in the Civil Services recruitment shortlists this year. Solving the prelims paper, with the risk of negative marking in a manner that candidates are able to complete the most number of questions correctly is crucial. For this, the extensive practice of aptitude, mental ability, analytical ability, basic numeracy, and data interpretation is required. In addition, candidates must also be well prepared to answer questions on general knowledge, awareness and studies. 

While sample papers, question banks and other guides are readily available for IAS preparations, candidates are encouraged to refer to the IAS question papers of the last few years. This will help to understand and identify a number of important information necessary for smart preparation. For example, candidates appearing in the exam for the first time this year will be able to check the type and pattern of questions asked in the exam. Similarly, one can also identify the specific topics that yield the highest marks in the question paper and therefore, redirect their preparation strategy to focus on these topics more. 

Another important strategy is to complete mock tests for the upcoming UPSC Civil Service Prelims exam. Solving IAS mock tests can improve the time management capabilities of aspirants. It will only help aspirants to improve the overall number of good attempts in the exam and therefore, the chances of scoring subsequently higher marks than the stipulated cut-offs.

There are a plethora of other study strategies that candidates can adopt for topping the exam on their own.  Extensive self-study, clear understanding of important concepts, memorization of important facts and figures, the extensive practice of aptitude tests & numerical questions, etc. are some other important strategies to take one’s IAS preparations to a whole new level. Candidates must identify their own study needs and accordingly devise a fitting strategy to emerge as the next Civil Services All India first rank holder.

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