[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]To join Civil Services is a dream of millions of students. This is indicated by an ever-increasing number of aspirants, year after year. There was a time when Civil Service Examination (CSE) preparation was seen as suitable for post-graduate students. The trend then shifted to students who had completed Bachelor’s degrees.

But today, the 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. This blog is to help students understand the requirement of CSE, what is expected of them, and how they should prepare for IAS exam after the 12th.

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 programs (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.

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 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.

It is important to understand that in addition to the academic component of CSE preparation, there are a 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 12th

Develop 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 art of making 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.

Nurture 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. One must be able to analyse an issue from all these dimensions. This will help broaden your horizon.

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 because 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.

In Mains exam, one has to write an 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. 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 mid of second year or 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.


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