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IAS RANK 8: Nitish K shares his 11 Tips For Success At Civil Services

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IAS RANK 8: Nitish K shares his 11 Tips For Success At Civil Services


Uncategorized UPSC Preparation Strategy

How to write a great essay for the IAS Mains?

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How to write a Great UPSC Essay for the IAS Mains?


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IAS AIR 299 : Parth Jaiswal – Mathematics Optional Preparation Strategy

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IAS AIR 299 : Parth Jaiswal – Mathematics Optional Preparation Strategy



TopperSpeak UPSC Preparation Strategy

Tackling Public Administration – Arpit Sagar, IAS, 163 Marks in Paper 1

ForumIAS Member Arpit Sagar has scored 163 Marks in Public Administration Paper 1 – among the highest marks in Public Administration this year. She shares her strategy below:

Hi Everyone, I am Arpit Sagar. I have cleared the Civil Services Examination Service this year. I would like to share my strategy of Public Administration Optional. I hope some of you find it useful.

The basic books/notes that I referred during my preparation:

  1. Mohit Bhattacharya
  2. Prasad and Prasad for Administrative thought
  3. Fadia and Fadia (only for some of the topics)
  4. Pawan sir’s notes,. Buy Here 
  5. Vajiram notes. Buy Here 
  6. Synopsis of ARC report, Puncchi commission report
  7. The Hindu

Please note that I did my coaching first, and later on supplemented it with the above mentioned books. For some of the chapters like financial administration and Management, Pavan Sir’s notes (Pavan Kumar IAS) were good in bringing about clarity in those topics. I had previously taken coaching from Vajiram & Ravi for earlier attempts. In this attempt, I read Pavan Sir’s notes in particular and revised them. Considering the type of questions being asked in the last few years, it has become essential to understand the questions properly and write the answers in a very simple language.

Suggestions to maximise your score in Public Administration (Paper I):

  1. More focus should be on understanding the topic in the simplest of manners. There is no point in reading myriad books as it would create unnecessary burden and result in a huge wastage of time. Basic book like Mohit Bhattacharya are good for revision. Focus more on the concept rather the content.
  2. Please note that most of the preparation for Pub Ad should be completed in the first attempt itself. In subsequent attempts, you only need to brush-up and revise.
  3. Answer-writing is the most important aspect of the preparation. I joined Pavan sir’s test series. Apart from the regular test series, I also wrote some answers from previous year question papers. (I would be discussing separately on the answer writing techniques)
  4. Chapters like Administrative thought, accountability and control and public policy should not be ignored but understood nicely as they are relatable and easy to score.
  5. You should not be too scared about the question paper. In fact you should treat it as any other test you write during your preparation. Too much anxiety creates pressure on you and it affects your performance during the examination. So, be really calm and cool about this so that you can handle all kinds of questions.
  6. Optional is a very important factor in Mains. It should not be ignored at the expense of GS preparation. Like, my marks in GS papers (81 + 94 + 79 + 100) were average but Pub Ad score increased the Mains tally tremendously.
  7. You should focus on paper 1 and paper 2 of Pub Ad equally and prepare every chapter thoroughly. Do not leave any topic unread.

Do’s and Don’ts for Answer Writing:

  1. I wrote my answers in a mixed format i.e. both paragraph form and point format. It should be decided as per the demand of the question.
  2. Answers should be to the point i.e. as per the requirement of the question, do not answer more than what the question is asking.
  3. I can’t stress enough – it is very important to understand the question. So, one should spend enough time in reading and understanding the question properly during the examination.
  4. Another mistake that I have made in my previous attempts was the use of many Pub Ad related jargons in my answers. In fact, a very simple language should be used to explain the concept which I strictly followed in all my answers this time.
  5. Also, the kinds of questions being asked these days are very general in nature and cover a wide arena. The best way to handle these questions is with utmost clarity. One should also acquire the ability to express himself/herself in a logical manner.
  6. Facts, name of thinkers, Articles from the Constitution etc can be used to substantiate your answer provided it is really fitting-in.
  7. You should take a fair stand on issues explaining it with appropriate arguments.
  8. Last but not the least; you should complete your question paper within the stipulated time.

Confusion on Pub Ad as an optional:

Now let us talk about the people who are at the starting phase of their preparation and are still confused whether to take Public Administration or not, considering the kind of score obtained in Pub Ad these days. You should decide in accordance with the below mentioned steps:

  1. You should first go through the syllabus of Public Administration and try to read some topics from the basic books. Only if you find it interesting, you should go for it. According to me, no subject is easy or difficult. You have to put-in the same amount of effort in all the optionals. The optional that you find interesting keeps you motivated during the preparation.

I was initially inclined towards Public Administration as my sister cleared the exam with Pub Ad as the optional but that is not the right way of choosing your optional. Later on, I found it relatable which made me choose it.

  1. There is nothing to be scared of this optional as it is similar to all the arts based subjects.
  2. Regarding the kind of checking in Pub Ad. It has really fluctuated in the last few years. I have suffered too in my previous attempts because of the marking pattern. Just take the example of the kind of marks I scored in my previous attempts:

2010—350/600 (171+179)

2011—270/600 (Don’t exactly remember the distribution but definitely scored very less in Paper I)

2012—136/600 (55+81)

2013—181/500 (78+120)

2014—278/500 (163+115)

But the same thing happened in other subjects like Psychology (which was my second optional during the previous format), Geography and Philosophy etc. Therefore, I didn’t see any point in changing my optional as it would have required a lot for preparation again from the beginning.

Overall tips:

  1. Always be as calm and composed as possible while writing your examination.
  2. Do not try to guess questions that can be expected in the exam. It only leads to tension and anxiety.
  3. Believe in yourself and especially your preparation. You only need to write good answers and rest will be taken care of.
  4. You should simply try to write your exam with a clear mindset, coherence and comprehensively.

I hope that the above information would help the candidates in their preparation for Public Administration.

All the best!!!

UPSC Preparation Strategy

Prelims Tips : The Exam Day Dossier


It’s about time. Prelims 2015 is just about 48 hrs away. Here’s a walk-through about what you need to do and what to expect.

The Instructions:

Read the instruction set provided along with the admit card carefully. Make sure you have a copy with yourself (download and print a copy from here if you don’t.

Read the Appendix III of the exam notification (last page). It has important details about how to fill in the OMR, and other important instructions. You can download a copy of the notification here, and only the appendix here.

Things to Carry and Not:

To carry:

  1. Bring the e-Admit Card in each session (print here)
  2. A photo identity proof viz. Aadhar Card, Driving License, Passport,Voter ID card*
  3. Two passport size photographs one for each session *
  4. Black ball-point pens
  5. A watch
  6. Clip-board (strongly recommended), water, spectacles, hard candy, etc (as you need)

(*read instructions for details)

Not to carry:

  1. Calculators, IT Gadgets and any other Communication device such as Mobiles, Pagers, Bluetooth etc.
  2. Any valuables/costly items and bags (safe keeping of the same can not be assured)
  3. Books, notes, loose sheets, log tables, etc (check you pockets just in case)
  4. Test booklet of previous session

Night Before the Exam:

  • Arrange all your documents, including ID proof and pictures as per instructions.
  • Collect your essentials like money for travel and lunch, watch, pens, clipboard, etc.
  • No alcohol / tea / coffee / etc. beyond 6 pm.
  • Try some relaxation techniques to help you calm down.
  • Make sure you have a good night’s sleep.
  • Remember : it’s an exam; it’s not your life – just do your best.

Exam Walk-through:

  • You should already be familiar with the location of your centre. Look it up before going there.
  • Arrive at least 45-60 mins before the start of the exam.
  • Once you’re there, look up your hall number from the board placed outside.
  • There will be a poster containing instructions displayed outside/inside the examination hall. Read it.
  • Enter the examination hall 20 minutes before the scheduled commencement of the examination. You will not be admitted to the examination if you report 10 minutes after the scheduled commencement of the examination.
  • Arrange you things and wait for the paper.
  • Once the paper and the OMR are provided, start carefully filling in the details. Read and do everything carefully. There is no replacement. Be very careful with your roll number, booklet series code, etc. Mistakes here will render the answer sheet liable for rejection.
  • Do not open the question booklet until the exam starts (bell / instructed).
  • Take 5 mins to scan through the question paper. There is no use panicking. If it’s tough, it’s tough for everyone and vice versa. Do what you can and don’t take too many risks.
  • Make sure your booklet has all its pages and contains all the questions. Ask for a replacement otherwise.
  • There will be penalty (Negative Marking) for wrong answers – 1/3 of the marks assigned. Marking more than one option would be automatically counted as wrong. There is no penalty for leaving out questions.
  • Rough work sheet would be present at the end of the question paper / would be provided on request.
  • Make sure you fill in the face sheet and other documents presented to you (including signatures and fingerprint taking).
  • It is not advisable to use whiteners / erasers on OMR sheets. The question might not be evaluated.
  • Fill in the circles well. It doesn’t have to be artistic. Just fill them in more or less avoiding too much white space. Answers other than those made by black ball-point pen would not be evaluated.
  • In case of any problem, ask the invigilators. They’re usually very cordial.
  • Remember to submit your OMR before going out of the hall at the end.
  • Read about time management in the exam at the end of this post.
  • Don’t forget to appear for Paper-II. It’s a qualifying paper, but you must appear  in it to qualify. (In case you were wondering).


  • After the exam, please avoid wasting your time checking you answers form every single ‘answer key’ that you can get your hands on.
  • Wait for a few hours for a a few top institutes to release their keys.
  • Finish this checking business within 23rd/24th August at most.
  • Look for posts already running before creating new threads. That would help in keeping everything on the topic together and the tidy.
  • Don’t waste hours debating on the forum. It won’t improve you prelims performance.
  • Move on to mains preparation and let bygones be bygones.
  • Remember, from the day of prelims, mains would be only 115 days away, starting on 18/12/2015 (2015 calendar).
  • Results are expected after about 6-7 weeks. Last year the exam was on 24/8/14 and results were out on 13/10/14 (proof), a gap of 50 days.
  • Don’t forget to preserve you admit card. Write down you roll number somewhere safe. We’ve seen many people freaking out when the results come out because they’ve lost their details.

Wish you all the very best…

Uncategorized UPSC Preparation Strategy

Booklist & Strategy for Preparing Electrical Engineering – by Rank 9 Ashish Kumar

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Art & Culture TopperSpeak UPSC Preparation Strategy


This article has been written by ForumIAS Member @doodlebean selected in the CSE 2014. This article is intended to be used by aspirants preparing for CSE 2015 Prelims to quickly brush up “Art & Culture” whose significance has only increased in Civil Services Prelims. However, aspirants who are preparing for 2016 may use this 20 day formula to quickly prepare Culture *forever* in twenty days.

Art and Culture is one area which I dreaded the most. UPSC is so much in love with this topic that the demon exists not only at the Preliminary stage but in Mains too.

So, let’s do something. Let’s give some days to this topic and live the rest of our UPSC years like a King. There will be no more anxiety in the preparation from Art n Culture side after this.

OK…. gather the ingredients first.

1) NCERT (should ideally take 7 days)
Do these in small classroom sessions. They should be fun, like beautiful pictures of temples and all the accompanying characteristic features like vimaana, shikaara, torana etc in one sitting. Read them like a 5th standard kid; curiosity in mind , eyes looking for itsy-bitsy tiny-winy details.
From 6th to 10th standard — read them twice. Cut the pictures and paste them in a notebook, and write notes on peculiar features of the same.

2) CCRT culture notes (should also take 7 days)
Do these like homework. Last year 95 percent of the culture questions were from these notes only. You have to reverse the procedure here. You will get notes here, and have to supplement them with pictures. Search for pics, and attach them to temples, dances, musical instruments etc, and notice each and every detail which is written in those notes in these pictures. The link to CCRT website is here.

3) Our very own Nitin Singhania’s Culture notes (5 days)
I promise, it will not take more than 5 days to complete this. The PDFs are available here or here. (ForumIAS staff: The pages may take some time to load, so be patient).

Believe me. Just put a “poorna viraam” (full stop) on Art and Culture preparation after this. No bulky books, no extensive notes, no coaching to be attended. If you invest these 19 days wholeheartedly, it will take only 3 days to revise the Art and Culture part just before exams. A cake-walk in the literal sense of the term.

4) Over your preparation, strictly follow The Hindu and The Indian Express. You cannot afford to miss even a single topic related to Art n Culture. Whether it is an op-ed article on the GI tag for Kanjeevaram Sarees or ASI talking about restoring some ancient sites, nothing should go unnoticed. This is a steady and unending process, but will not take more than five minutes everyday.

Ek baar try to karo 😀

Best wishes
ForumIAS Moderator

ForumIAS Gyan Articles are written by experienced ForumIAS members and are aimed at guiding aspirants. They may be original articles or may be picked up from comments posted in on
UPSC Preparation Strategy

Strategy: 8 Rules to follow in your CS Mains Examination

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Strategy: 8 Rules to follow in your CS Mains Examination


Question Paper UPSC Preparation Strategy

IFS Mains 2014 GK Question Paper is out. What could be the pattern of CS Mains 2014 GS Paper?

If you have not yet seen the GK Paper of Indian Forest Service Mains 2014 conducted today, click below:

Now some insights that you must be looking forward to, given that ever since the IFS and CSE Prelims has been combined in 2013, the IFS Mains has been seen as the key to what pattern UPSC will follow for CSE Mains Examination – at least for GS Paper.

First, a brief comparison.

Unlike last years paper

2013 IFS Paper 2014 IFS Paper 2013 CSM Paper 2014 CSM Paper
Total No of Questions: 50 Total No of Questions: 20 Total No of Questions: 25 Total No of Questions: ?
Marks : Varied 8,4,2,1 Marks per Question Marks : Uniform 12.5 marks*20 Questions Marks : Uniform 10 Marks* 25 Questions Marks :Hopefully the same/similar


Essentially the paper wasn’t difficult prima facie, and candidates would not have had a tough time answering the questions.

What will matter though is how the examiner awards marks, for similar level of answers. So all it boils down, at least for now is that answer writing will be the key to scoring marks in Mains.

How the UPSC Mains 2014 Paper will be, based on an assessment of IFS Paper

Speculation about how UPSC will throw a surprise to UPSC CSM candidates have been rife, because that is what UPSC has done till now.

However, with the IFS Mains Paper, which should, hopefully throw a clue at what is in UPSC’s mind , one can hope that the Mains question pattern won’t change much. In fact the IFS Mains paper is more like UPSC paper of 2013 with the important difference that CSM Paper had 25 questions with 10 marks each = 250 marks while in IFS the number of questions has been reduced to 20 with higher marks of 12.5 / question.

20 questions in 3 hours. Not bad.

This must have made the paper less lengthy as compares to CSM paper where we had to answer 25 questions in 3 hours time.


 No change in strategy needed after looking at the IFS Paper. GS 1, 2 & 3 will see marks in the same range for most candidates as questions will be general that most people know or not know. Not many people can expect to have an extra advantage with harder work in the these papers. The differentiating factor in Mains Marks  will be due to Ethics, Essay and Optional Paper – as before.

What you need to do now

All of you having sleepless nights over what surprise UPSC will throw in Mains 2014 Paper – just relax, sit back and hope for the best. That is all we can do right now. The IFS Mains paper has no alarming signals for CSM Mains examination.

Keep your optional strong, work a bit on ethics (or make a list of keywords a suggested by Rajit Raj), where variation in marks has been very high. If you are not able to study, try solving / discussing question papers of various coaching institutes. Some of it is freely shared by ForumIAS members – all you need to do is look.

And if you are done reading this, go back and study. But, before that don’t forget to give us a kudos.


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