Time and again, many civil servants have shared their success stories like how they started as an ordinary student than what inspired them to become an IAS aspirant and finally how they accomplished their journey from IAS Aspirant to IAS Officer.
Generally, most of the IAS aspirants start off with their journey during their college days. Studies and surveys show that around 25% of aspirants cracking the IAS Exam are engineers and each year more and more engineers are appearing the IAS Exam.
Although, every year at least one topper among the top 10 ranks is an engineer, but competition is furious among technical students. Hence, it is recommended to all the future IAS officers that are still in their engineering years to buck up and start studying for this exam during your graduation itself.
Now the question arises as to how to start with UPSC Preparation? How to balance graduation studies along with IAS Preparation? In this article, we have tried to deduce a stepwise clear cut strategy for all the budding engineers to manoeuvre their hard work towards success.
Firstly, you all can relate that if you are in an undergraduate engineering course, time is occupied in semesters, class tests, assignments, projects and what not, so a full-fledged study time table is not a long term solution for you. Moreover, being from a not social science background, it’s difficult to comprehend the deeply interlinked issues of political and economic prospects from the newspaper. So, via this article, we provide a 5- step process to initiate IAS Preparation from scratch.
1. Knowing about IAS Exam
Diving in water is brave when you know the depth of the ocean. To succeed at anything whatsoever in your life, the first step is to understand the context of your targets. In this case, answering the question what is IAS Exam? Why crack this Exam? The second step is to understand the Exam pattern, eligibility criteria, and all the know-hows related to this exam. To know the detailed IAS Syllabus, read the below link.
The most important ladder step in the first phase is to go through previous years question papers of IAS Prelims and IAS Mains exam to better understand the requirement from study material or to better comprehend the concepts from the viewpoint of the examination. Previous year question papers (past 5 years are advisable as the pattern has changed since 2010) act as a guiding light for your study plans, it shapes and moulds your raw material to know what to extract from the reading material. Read the below link for mains previous year question papers.
2. Tips from Toppers
As said above about 20 % of IAS Officers each year were engineering students at some point in their life, they have some unique tips for you. For example, IAS topper 2015 Ira Singhal is a Computer Engineer from NSIT, Rank 2 holder in IAS 2015 exam Raj Purohit is from IIT Delhi, Nidhi Gupta, who held Rank 3 in the IAS exam is from NSIT, 2014 IAS topper Gaurav Agarwal is an IIT Kanpur alumnus and lastly this year’s rank 3 Jasmeet Sandhu is also from IIT. Read about some inspiring words of IAS Toppers in the below link.
Go through their respective blogs and article to better understand how and when they started their journey and also why they wanted to become an IAS officer.
3. Target the fundamental
After knowing a basic framework of the exam, target the base first. As all the civil engineers reading this article must be knowing that laying a strong foundation is the most crucial part while designing a building. It is advisable to kick start your preparation with NCERTS especially social sciences from class 6 to class 12 if you were bad at SST in school and from class 9 to 12 if you have a fair idea of subjects.
Making crisp, efficient and precise notes is an art, learn it with practice or you can also go by some sample notes of toppers from their blogs. Once you are done with question papers and NCERTS, you will be able to draw a graphical map of what to needed and what not. It is essential that you track your study graph after each step to analyse how well you are progressing in your studies. After the basics, start with some standard books for Prelims as specified in the below link.
4. Start with newspaper
It is needless to quantify how important it is to read a newspaper for IAS Preparation. After reading the previous year papers, it must have been clear that there is no watertight boundary on questions that this question is from the static portion or this question is on current issues. The questions asked in UPSC are a blend of static, plus dynamic aspects of a topic and so should be your preparation.
As an engineer, it’s difficult to understand the deep political and economic issues in current events just by reading the NCERTS and newspaper so you can go about some basic books like Indian polity by Laxmikant, pax indica by Shashi Tharoor and Indian economy by Uma Kapilla as suggested for prelims in the following link.
Start reading the Hindu or the Indian express (whichever you find easy to comprehend) and make notes on issues not on news, for example, if there is a news segment on Cauvery river water dispute make notes on interstate water disputes. This ability to extract will come with time and practice. As per the Hindu newspaper, the most important portion is the editorial, open-editorial, and science and technology page in the Thursday edition, Indian economy segment in the Monday edition and Indian culture segment in the Friday edition. Make elaborative and timely notes from these segments to enhance in your answers. To know a detailed strategy to read the Hindu, read the link given below.
The most peculiar art of interlinking current events to static concepts of subjects and also to UPSC syllabus is the key to success in this exam. Keep all the three parameters filtered in your mind and remember it’s all about compiling and comprehending.
5. Master your optional
Choosing an optional is like choosing your soul mate, you need to accept it with all its faults and praises and with your heart. Hence, don’t choose your optional on the basis of which subject is more scoring in the exam or what many aspirants have inspired you to opt for and just because you are an engineer, do not limit your choices to technical subjects.
Choose the subject you like reading, the subject that interests you even when you don’t wish to study anything specifically because you might succeed while being a jack of all subjects in general studies but in optional you need to be the master of all arts related to it. Some of the most popular optional subjects are public administration, geography, history, political science, sociology and psychology, but you can go for engineering subjects too if you are good at core subjects like mechanical, electrical, electronics and civil engineering.
One of the advantages to start your preparation in college is that you can give enormous time for your optional subject and if it’s an engineering subject even greater. Command your optional as well as you can because it will act as your trump card when you enter the real race of the Examination, it will keep your preparation ahead of others and save time to concentrate more on current affairs.
6. Start writing answers
First, try to solve previous year questions and try to compel in the word limit given in the question. It will help you write precisely and to the point. One more trait you that can generate in this phase is anticipating the type the questions that can be asked in the exam or the type of current events important from the exam point of view. Make a habit of writing at least one model answer every day from the newspaper issues (especially issues appearing the Hindu editorial) or any study material that you are referring.
If you are not able to evaluate the range of your answers, go through some model answers by toppers available online. One detail answer on the Indus water treaty issue is given below.
7. Revise and re- revise
Persistence and experience have no substitute. If someone asks to describe in a nutshell, what is the key habit to succeed in IAS Preparation? It is “read, write and revise”. Manage the time, especially during the semester end to revise all the major notes made from Ncerts and Newspapers.
These seven points can be your driving forces. But the raw material for your preparation depends on where you stand, what’s the status of your optional and how well you can write the answers. Reading the editorial is not as important as being able to reproduce its content in time and in reasonable quality and in exam pressure. Understand what the exam wants from you.
So by the above explanation we need to persist that if you are in your 3rd year of engineering with a basic knowledge about UPSC i.e. Exam pattern, success ratio, syllabus and you read The Hindu intelligently and read and apply the tips of toppers, then you're in a pretty darn comfortable position to capitalize the base and build a palace.
Remember, it’s not a day affair to crack the exam; it’s a hard path journey of persistence, patience and will power. In a nutshell, build your basics with Ncerts, get in the habit of newspaper reading and master your optional during your college days itself so that the rest of the journey becomes a smooth ride.
The most important ladder step in the first phase is to go through previous years question papers of IAS Prelims and IAS Mains exam to better understand the requirement from study material or to better comprehend the concepts from the viewpoint of the examination. Previous year question papers (past 5 years are advisable as the pattern has changed from 2010) act as guiding light for your study plans, it shapes and moulds your raw material to know what to extract from the reading material. Read the below link for mains previous year question papers.
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