Hello Friends !
I will start with a brief background. I am Shivani Gupta, a Chartered Accountant by profession. I have cleared Civil Services Examination 2017 with Rank 121 in my first attempt without any dedicated coaching. I had only 8-9 months for my preparation as I was working in a company and was a late starter. Further, I was totally clueless as to how to go about my preparations. I chose Commerce and Accountancy as my optional subject.
I had so many myths and doubts about this examination . When I began, I was doubtful about whether should take coaching or not but then I decided against it. So, I will try to share my strategy for all those who feel they don’t have any idea about preparations and are not willing/able to go for coaching.
Certain ideas to be kept in mind during preparations:
- This exam can definitely be cracked in first attempt itself, so those who feel that they need to go for rigourous preparation for at least 2-3 years should re-devise their strategy.
- Mock tests are very important, so please take them very seriously.
- Don’t be misguided by people who suggest numerous sources for a single topic/subject. Pick one source for one topic and stick to it.
- Be confident about your strategy. Plan in advance.
- Give regular mock tests and assess your performance. Try to give mocks in most disciplined environment.Click here for Prelims 2020 Online Test Series
- Make the maximum use of online resources like Insightsonindia.com, mrunal videos etc.
- Revise, Revise and Revise !!
I dedicatedly prepared for prelims for 3 months (March-June 18). I did not make any notes from the standard books, rather underlined the important portions/areas.
I read The Hindu daily and tried to attempt maximum questions before the exam.
The major benefit of giving mock tests is to assess how many accurate answers/guesses you are making, which helps you during final examination. Revise the answer keys of the mocks. In my case, I used to make a notes on a word document after every mock test in bullet points. When I had given all the mocks, I had 10 pages notes with the summary of all the mock test of different institutes (Vision IAS, Insights etc) in it, which helped me a lot in the last week before the examination.
For CSAT paper, I did not prepare separately.I attempted past 2 year question paper and scored fine in them.
For certain topics, I referred google. Had made separate notes for these areas, among others.
- Mnemonics for constitutional articles (Important ones) (For mnemonics videos of polity )
- Committees formed for different purpose by Government
- World Heritage Sites
- National Parks/ Wildlife Sanctuaries, rivers flowing through them(National Parks Easy Trick)
- Various reports released by domestic/international institutions (e.g. World Happiness Report) (Important Reports Trick)
Revision and diligently following the time table was the most important key, I stressed upon.
I had started preparation for Mains only after prelims as I did not have much clue regarding how to prepare for mains. I used to divide my whole day into three parts:
- Newspaper and Answer Writing Practice- 4-5 Hours- A senior suggested me to follow answer writing practice on insightsonindia.com , which I used to do regularly. Initially , I used to take 20-25 minutes to write a single answer which was gradually reduced to 6-7 minutes with daily practice. Speedy writing and fast thinking is the essence of this examination, so my personal suggestion is to focus on this aspect, the most.
- Optional Subject- 4-5 Hours – I used to devote 2-2.5 hours for each part
- GS Subjects- 6-7 Hours daily
I took one mock test series and was very disciplined about it. I gave around 17-18 mocks before sitting in examination. I used to write the tests in a closed room environment within the duration of 3 hours. This really helped me to tackle the final exams pressure as I never felt that I was sitting in examination for the first time.
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Points regarding answer writing:
- Introduction-which should be of 30-40 words. It should explain the essence of questions asked. Statistics or recent happening can be included.e.g. A question asked on domestic violence may start with some statistic or some current legislation formed.
- Main Body- 130-150 words- Write in bullet points. Try to be as diverse as possible. Diversity in answer is appreciated. Make diagrams and factual information can be used.
- Include Examples,Facts,data, diagram, maps, wherever possible.
- Conclusion: Should be around 20-30 words. Should involve some innovative suggestion. Govt schemes can be mentioned. It must be positive and not critical
Optional-Commerce and Accountancy
Part I – Practical in nature. It has Accountancy, Cost Management, Financial Management, Taxation and Auditing. The syllabus is of CA-IPCC Level. So the key is practice as much as you can. The theory part in Paper 1 is generally repetitive in nature and one must go through the previous year exam papers to get an understanding on the types of questions asked.
I followed Rankers IAS notes and attempted mock tests. As I was devoting 2-2.5 hours everyday, I did fine in tests and final papers.
Part 2- Theoretical- The subjects are- Human Resource, Organisation Behaviour, Organisation Theory, Industrial Relations.
For these, I followed Ranker IAS notes and also followed the recent news article that were touching this subject. Some points to be considered for attempting theory papers are:
- Try to make you answers crisp and add as much content as you can precisely.
- Substantiate your answers with examples.
- Draw diagrams wherever possible.
- Give recent statistics or legislations related to questions asked.
- Underline the most important words in your answer.
I am herewith attaching my marksheet for your reference.
You can reach me out here:
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