To join Civil Services is a dream of millions of students. This is indicated by ever increasing number of aspirants, year after year. There was a time when civil service exam (CSE) preparation was concomitant with post-graduate students. The trend then shifted to students who had completed Bachelor’s degree. But today, awareness level of students is much more and there is no ambiguity in their minds about what they want to do.
Therefore, those who have civil services as their goal of life start preparing for CSE immediately on completion of 12th class, alongside bachelor’s degree studies.
However, many students get overwhelmed by the syllabus and lose sight of their goal midway. This blog is to help students understand the requirement of CSE, what is expected of them and how they should prepare.
CSE preparations after Class 12
There are two broad models for a student to prepare for IAS after Class 12:
- Do regular graduation from any university and join weekend course for preparing for CSE.
- Do graduation through distant learning program (many acclaimed universities are now offering very good options) and join a regular course for CSE having classes on weekdays.
Both the choices are equally good and both the models have produced candidates who have excelled.
Take the case of Tina Dabi, AIR 1 in CSE 2015. She was pursuing her graduation from LSR college in Delhi and preparing for the UPSC CSE simultaneously. She prepared for general Studies through Rau’s GSI course Weekend Batch.
In our education system, duration of graduation varies from three years to five years depending upon the type of course. Most of the professional courses like Engineering, medicine etc. are between four to five years whereas most of the graduation programs offered by Universities are for three years. Since the minimum educational qualification for CSE is bachelor’s degree and most of the aspirants are from three-year graduation programs, we will discuss the issue from the perspective of a three-year undergraduate student.
For smart aspirants, college is the best place to start preparing for IAS exam. Three years of college will give enough time to prepare well and one can reap the benefit of starting early.
The first decision which an aspirant has to take is to decide in which stream he/ she has to do graduation. Since Humanities subjects form the core of CSE syllabus, those who do graduation with humanities subjects will certainly have a slight advantage, especially in optional subject. Humanities subject such as Geography, History, Political Science, Sociology are popular optional subjects. But by no means this should discourage any non-humanities background student. Optional subject choices offered by UPSC cater for students of all streams.
An aspirant who has started graduation will have 3+ years’ time to prepare. The plan for an under-graduate student should be to prepare for GS subjects in the first two years of graduation and to prepare for Optional Subject in the final, third year. Those who are pursuing a professional course of four/ five years will have additional advantage of time availability.
It is important to understand that in addition to academic component of CSE preparation, there are few more important things which an aspirant must focus on. These aspects need lot of time, persistent effort and devotion. These are: –
Guidelines to prepare for CSE after school
Inculcate Reading Habit
Current Affairs is the most important component of CSE syllabus. Having a good grasp of current affairs is obligatory for any aspirant.
One must develop a habit to read a newspaper, magazines on a daily basis. However, reading everything from first page to the last page will not be a prudent way to read. An aspirant must know what to read in newspaper.
Learn to make opinion
Your skill of forming an opinion on issues will be tested in Essay paper and specifically in Personality test. And this is something which can’t be developed overnight. It needs to be cultivated slowly and diligently. An aspirant must think of how and why of things.
\We all have opinions on the issues. Our opinion could be at divergence from the majority however it is important that opinion is based on sound logic and rationale. It is also important that one should be able to articulate opinion well on paper and also while speaking.
Develop art of multidimensional thinking
Pick up any issue that is currently in the news and try to objectively analyse it from all dimensions. Every issue has a social dimension, political dimension, institutional dimension, cultural dimension, environmental dimension and economic dimension (SPICEE).
One must be able to analyse an issue from all these dimensions. This will help broaden your horizon. So, next time you read a question, your mind will automatically start creating multiple threads around it. (SPICEE is Rau’s approach for mains Answer Writing)
Develop Writing Skill
The second stage of CSE i.e. the Mains exam is subjective in nature where one has to write subjective answers. At the face of it looks easy cause all of us have been doing this all through our academic life however it needs more skills. In fact, one has to unlearn lot of things to learn the art of answer writing in Mains. And the unlearning of past 15 yrs of answer writing verbosity is not easy!
In Mains exam, one has to write answer within the specified word limit. In case the word limit is exceeded, it will attract penalty in terms of negative marking. One has to structure the answer within the word limit and also within the specified time. For one question one gets about 8 to 9 minutes where one has to read the question, structure the answer and write it down. So, it is important that one must develop writing speed and also write on a diverse range of topic so as to develop your writing abilities on a variety of topics.
Improve Communication Skill
This skill set also needs time to build. Communication skill plays an important role during the personality test as it reflects confidence. Having knowledge but not having the skill to share or present that knowledge is not of much use.
Participate in extra-curricular activities
UPSC is looking for aspirants who have a well-rounded personality. Kind of Jack of all; Master of none. In addition to having a good intelligence quotient (IQ) the aspirant should also have a desirable Emotional Quotient (EQ), team spirit, leadership qualities, good communication skills, confidence, courage of conviction etc. To inculcate all these qualities, one has to take active participation in extracurricular activities such as sports events, debates, cultural activities etc.
IAS Preparation Strategy after Class 12
- Broadly, the first and second year of your college should be devoted to preparing for General Studies (GS) subjects of UPSC Prelims and Mains exam through a GS Integrated course.
- In the third year, one should start focusing on Optional subject as well. By that time, after having studied GS subjects, one would also get clarity on what Optional Subject one should take.
- This decision is very critical as Optional Subject has two papers in Mains and it plays a very important role in your overall merit position.
- Most of the Optional Subjects can be easily prepared in four/ five months’ time.
- Third year of graduation should also be devoted to revising, practising answer writing and taking Test Series to practice and to know about grey areas in your preparations.
Best course after Class 12 for IAS
Rau’s IAS General Studies Integrated course – Weekend Batch (available both in Offline -and Live-Online modes of teaching) has been specifically designed keeping in view the learning requirements of college students. College students prefer to study in weekend batches through Online classes to manage both college as well as IAS preparation. Online classes lend college students flexibility to attend all classes and complete all coursework comfortably.
Here are some important highlights of our GSI online course in Weekend batch:
- Weekend Live-Online Classes: Lectures will be telecast live on Sat for 04 hrs and on Sunday, for 08 hrs. Weekend classes will give you ample time to consolidate and revise what has been taught in the week after.
- Flexibility to catch up on classes: Although lectures will be streamed real time, these lectures will also be made available as recorded lectures which can be easily accessed by at any time of a students’ choosing.
- Duration of 2-3 years: This way, aspirants can learn at an easy pace while tending to the responsibilities of their jobs/studies alongside.
- Doubts Solving: Each lecture session will be for 120 mins, in which last about 20 mins will be devoted by the faculty to clear doubts of students. Doubs can be asked within the live class or even afterwards using the class discussion forum.
- Peer Learning: Interact with Rau’s experts and fellow UPSC aspirants to discuss your ideas and get your doubts cleared.
- Study material: The course includes soft copies and hard copies of IAS Compass study material – Foundation books, monthly current affairs and yearly current affairs compilations
- GSI Class Tests, UPSC Prelims Test Series, UPSC Mains Test Series are all part of the course and will be made available as per the course plan.
- Flexibility to take tests online or offline tests in the Rau’s exam hall (right now located at Delhi, Bengaluru and Jaipur campuses) in simulated test conditions (on opening of lock down), on any day of the week.
- UPSC Revision for Pre & Mains: Quality Improvement Program (QIP) videos will be made available before Prelims and Mains respectively for the purpose of revision.
Similar online course is also available for Optional Subjects. Preparation for this can commence at the end of second year of graduation or beginning of third year. Most of the optional courses are for 4/5 months.
We hope that the above information would have cleared many doubts about how to prepare for IAS exam after 12th.
In case you wish to know more about General Studies Integrated Hybrid/Online course for college students, click here
Lastly, one must understand that each person’s motivation and path taken to achieve the set goal is different. One must never compare himself/herself self to anyone else. Every aspirant would have some strengths and some weaknesses too. Don’t ever forget the uniqueness of your own journey. Have faith in that uniqueness!