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How to approach the syllabus and book and other resources to refer to?

26th October, 2021 Mains

Part A. How to approach the preparation

 

SPECTACULAR ACHIEVEMENT IS ALWAYS PRECEDED BY UNSPECTACULAR PREPARATION– Robert Schuller

 

On 10th  October, UPSC CSE Prelims was conducted. Now, each of the serious aspirants must have entered Mains mode. Their minds will be clogged with the most crucial question that is how to prepare for the Mains exam?

 

Mains Notification says that, ‘The main Examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of candidates rather than merely the range of their information and memory. The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio-economic goals, objectives and demands’.

 

 ‘Mains’ assesses the quality of thoughts and  content of one’s mind. These will enter subconsciously into one’s answer sheets.

 

So the question arises what is the magical mantra to achieve this?

 

It is 'LEARN, REVISE & PRACTICE, TEST, IMPROVE, SUCCEED'.

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH LEARNING ASPECT?

 

The first most important step is to have the right study material.  If one thinks that they need to read 100s of books, browse 10s of websites and prepare notes from 5 newspapers and 10 magazines each day to clear the exam, this is wrong. What matters is not the quantity of materials one had gone through, but the quality of learning done.

 

The second step is to have a proper strategy in place. CSE Mains requires a SMART STRATERGY with the following key points kept in mind:

  • Learn in multiple ways
  • Read multiple subjects in one day
  • Take handwritten notes
  • Learn by association
  • Revise periodically
  • Simplify the information
  • Know what to filter
  • Read textbooks effectively
  • Don’t cram, understand
  • Cover all the topics in UPSC CSE MAINS syllabus and make sure you have static notes as well as a compilation of dynamic issues involving the topic.
  • Go through Previous years’ papers and make sure you write answers to all those questions.

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH REVISE & PRACTICE ASPECT?

 

Important aspects of answer writing

 

To begin with every aspirant should have clarity and have a plan in place regarding how much time they are going to contribute to each question (both in terms of thinking and writing down of the answer). It is always a good investment if, before starting to write an answer, one spends a minute or two to understand the required dimensions and framing the skeleton of the answer. Then one can write a logical and flowing answer in the remaining time. Few things that should be kept in mind are as follows:

  • The examiner should get bird’s eye clarity about how the answer is going to unfold.
  • There should be continuity and linkage between different parts.
  • Answering the ‘question’ rather than a ‘topic’
  • One common mistake often committed is that aspirant write too much about something or write too little.
  • Good Answer requiresneat hand writing, uncluttered presentation, underlining of key content (not to be overdone), heading of sub-parts, diagrams/ flow-charts.
  • Answer should consist ofinter-topic linkages, catchy terms, facts and figures, case studies/ illustrations/ anecdotes.
  • There should be a balance between one’s own view points on one hand and technical jargons, research studies, expert views on the other hand.
  • Answer should be written in such a way that it concise and consists of thoughtfully framed sentences and at the same time conveys a lot.
  • The specific requirement is indirectly indicated by aconcluding word. Eg: discuss, elucidate, critically examine. The meaning of each of these words is different and each of them has a different demand that needs to be addressed.

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH EVALUATION  ASPECT?

 

The answer is very simple: through MOCKS!!

 

There are a lot of benefits of taking mocks…

  • help in overcoming the fear psychosis.
  • help in making management strategy for the real exam.
  • help in knowing ones’ strengths and weaknesses, doing self-analytics.
  • help in preparing topics which have not been covered.
  • provide extra vital information.
  • help in developing speed, refining the thought process.
  • help one to face the tremendous competition by honing their skills .
  • help one to tackle uncertainties, boost exam preparedness and improve ones’ score and rank.

 

Part B. Books to refer to

 

Paper-I:  Essay Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

Paper-II General Studies 1: History, culture, society and geography

HISTORY:

  • Ancient History of India: Old NCERT by RS Sharma/ TN class 11th book
  • Medieval History of India: Old NCERT by Satish Chandra/ TN class 11th book
  • Modern History
  • NCERTs
  • Plassey to Partition Book
  • Spectrum
  • India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra (Selective Reading)
  • Indian Art and Culture
  • An Introduction to Indian Art – Class XI NCERT
  • Chapters related to culture in Ancient and Medieval India NCERTs
  • Centre for Cultural Resource and Training (CCRT) material
  • Heritage Crafts: Living Craft Traditions of India -NCERT
  • Nitin Singhania book (optional)

 

 

 

SOCIETY:

  • XI, XII Standard NCERT on Indian Society
  • Social Problems In India by Ram Ahuja

 

WORLD HISTORY:

  • The Story of Civilization, Part 2 by Arjun Dev, NCERT
  • Contemporary World History for class XII (Old NCERT Book)
  • Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe

 

GEOGRAPHY:

  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography XI NCERT
  • India: Physical Environment XI NCERT
  • Fundamentals of Human Geography XII NCERT
  • India: People and Economy XII NCERT
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography: GC Leong
  • OXFORD Atlas

 

Paper III GS paper 2:

Polity, Governance and Social Justice

CURRENT AFFAIRS:

  • Newspapers: Hindu, Business Line, Financial Times, Indian Express (any two)
  • Monthly current affairs: IAS Gazette
  • IAS GYAN website
  • Down to earth, science reporter

 

POLITY and GOVERNANCE:

  • NCERTs 9th, 10th (for basic understanding)
  • Acts/Bills, judgements-PRS website
  • Constitution of India at Work (Class XI) NCERT Publication
  • Indian Polity by Laxmikant
  • Introduction to Indian Constitution – D.D.Basu
  • From Government to Governance by Kuldeep Mathur
  • Ethics in Governance, ARC Report
  • NITI Aayog reports, Government reports
  • Governance in India by M.Karthikeyan

 

DEVELOPMENTAL ISSUES:

  • Human Development Report & World Development Report
  • Panchayati Raj in India by Kuldeep Mathur

 

IR: International Relations – by Pavneet Singh

 

Paper IV GS Paper 3:

Economy, Indian Agriculture, Land reforms, PDS, Food Processing, LPG, Infrastructure, Security, Disaster Management, Environment and Ecology, Science & Tech

ECONOMY AND AGRICULTURE:

  • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
  • Microeconomics, Macroeconomics – NCERT Class XI, XII
  • Indian Economic Development – NCERT Class XI
  • Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma
  • Economics Dictionary published by Collins & Penguin 

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY:

  • NCERT- Class 6th to 10th
  • NCERT - Biology - 11th (Unit IV & V only - read basic concepts not technical details)
  • NCERT Biology - 12th (Chapters 4, 5 and rest from 7 to 16)
  • NCERT - Biology - 12th (OLD) - Chapter 9 onwards
  • NCERT - Physics - 11th (Chap 1,5 & 8) and 12th (Chap 15 only)
  • NCERT - Chemistry - 11th (Chap 1 & 14 only) and 12th (Chap 14 & 16 only)

 

ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY:

  • Shankar IAS Book
  • Biology 12th NCERT last 4 chapters

 

SECURITY ISSUES: India’s Security in a Turbulent World by Jasjit Singh, published by National Book Trust of India

CURRENT AFFAIRS:

  • Newspapers: Hindu, Business Line, Financial Times, Indian Express (any two)
  • Monthly current affairs: IAS Gazette
  • IAS GYAN website
  • Down to earth, science reporter

 

Paper V GS Paper 4:

ETHICS:

  • Ethics in Governance, ARC Report 
  • Lexicon by Chronicle Publications 
  • The Book on Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude published by Access Publication