[Strategy] UPSC Civil Service Exam (Part 3 of 5): General Studies for CSAT prelims and Mains

Studyplan260 Comments

LaxmikanthEthics

update: this article was written in Dec 2012. But in March 2013, UPSC introduced some new reforms, While majority of the strategy remains one and same as given in this article. But a few modifications (especially for mains exam) are added. I’ve written a separate article on it click me

  1. Act III: Waging the War
  2. Loading Doze and Maintenance Doze
  3. Statistics
  4. Economy
    1. Economy : Prelims/ MCQs
    2. Economy : Mains
    3. International relations
  5. Polity
  6. History (GS/CSAT)
  7. Geography
    1. How to Approach Geography for CSAT-Prelims?
    2. World geography
    3. Indian geography
    4. Geography for GS-Mains
  8. Environment and biodiversity
  9. Yearbook: prelims and mains
    1. What is India Yearbook (2013)?
    2. Why is India Yearbook important?
    3. How to read India yearbook efficiently?
  10. Science-Tech
    1. Science for Prelims
    2. How to efficiently use THM GS Manual for Science segment?
    3. Physics Chapter on Science
    4. Biology
    5. Science-Tech for prelims and Mains
  11. Public health and first aid
  12. First Aid
  13. Good governance, law and order
  14. Preparation Timetable
  15. Interview
  16. What should you do next?
  17. Your City-District-State
  18. Stress Interview

Act III: Waging the War

Loading Doze and Maintenance Doze

  • You fall sick and doctor gives you medicine.
  • The initial doze is high : 2 tablets a day. (this is loading doze)
  • Take tablets, they kill some bactaria and get eliminated through urine. = symptoms are decreased.
  • But if you stop taking drug, then ultimately bacteria population will rise again.
  • So doctor doesn’t completely stop the medicine but reduces the doze, e.g. just 1 tablet a day. (this is maintenance doze)

Ya but how is ^this relevant for UPSC exam?

If you’re already finished with the loading doze phase (e.g. core syllabus) then all you need is maintenance doze (revision). It leads to many positive effects

  1. Now your ‘vision’ expands. You can clearly see connections between topics and how they’re important for exam or not.
  2. Now you can allot more time for upgrading your notes with current affairs.
  3. Now you can digup Government sites and internet for follow up action on various topics.
  4. Now you can practice mock MCQs (prelims) or answer writing (mains)

Besides, finishing the core syllabus is also important for another reason:=  career backup plan.

  • In case you fail in the IAS exam and If you’re not a CA, Doctor or IITian, what will you do? Well, the backup plans would usually involve Bank PO, State PSC, SSC type jobs or doing PG/MBA.
  • Such exams are conducted throughout the year. Whatever you prepare general studies, will directly or indirectly help you in those exams.
  • But Here is the problem: most of them require some specific side preparation as well for example Bank, SSC, CAT would require Aptitude. Similarly for State PSC, you’d have to learn the history and geography of Punjab, Maharashtra etc.
  • So, If your core syllabus of UPSC is not complete, then you will always be under stress on how to manage time between preparation of these exam and it will be like choosing between devil and the deep sea.

Therefore, sooner you finish loading doze, better it’ll be for you. First of all complete the core/basic syllabus of following topics

TopicWhy?
  1. Economy
Otherwise, you will not be able to fully digest the newspaper columns.
  1. International relations
  1. Polity
  1. Statistics
You will have to spend less time before the mains on this topic. So that many days or weeks could be utilized for preparing other topics of general studies/opt subjects (if opt.subjects are kept)

Statistics

  • UPDATE (March-08-2013): statistics no longer relevent as UPSC removed it from 2013.

Economy

update Feb 2014: How to approach Economy, has been explained in a separate article- click me

–following is old information–

The core syllabus of economy consists of the following things

Theoretical economy

Basic Concepts and terminologies, GDP,GNP,PPP,IIP, inflation etc.

Indian economy (static portion)

  • LPG reforms.
  • Budget making process.
  • RBI monetary policy: Repo, Reverse Repo, CRR, SLR etc.

Source: Static portion of the economy

 

E $
1k
  1. NCERT Class 10, 11, 12 (links @bottom of this article)
  2. NOS Study material for Economy (links @bottom of this article)
  3. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh (Tata Macgrawill Publication)

You have to move to the next level = current affairs related to Indian and world  economy.

  1. DTC, GST,WTO, IMF, World bank etc.
  2. Various for committees formed by government and their recommendations: Kelkar, shunglu, Parekh etc.
  3. Economic Survey and Budget 2013.
  4. Eurozone crisis, American recession, dollar-rupee exchange etc.

Source: Current affairs on economy

  1. Newspaper (The Hindu / Indianexpress / Economic Times)
  2. Anyone competitive magazine.
  3. Investopedia, Wikipedia, internet
  4. Mrunal.org/economy

What is Economic Survey? And why is it important?

  • It is a report published on the official website of Finance Ministry (before General budget is announced).
  • This report contains information on the present situation of Indian economy, various schemes of Government and future approach required for the next year.
  • It has lot of boring and unimportant data tables but also contains good fodder material and exam-worthy information.
  • If you’re subscribed to any competitive Magazine, you would usually find the highlights of economic survey in the subsequent issues of the magazine. Yet I would recommend you to go through the original economic survey report because magazines or newspapers only tend to cover the dramatic items.
  • Whatever important details you find, make a note out of it.

Economy : Prelims/ MCQs

  1. You are given a term and 4 explanations for that term. You have to identify the correct definition
  2. You are given a problem (inflation or low IIP or currency depreciation) and 2-4 possible solutions,  you have identify the correct solution to fix the problem. (This can also be framed as assertion –reasoning type question)
  3. You are given name of a committee and 2-4 recommendations. You to tick the correct recommendations.
  4. Match the following:  you are given name of some organizations on one side and functions performed by organizations on the other side. You have to match them
  5. Your given name of an organization SEBI/NABARD/CCI/RBI etc and four statements associated with them you have to find  correct statements.
  6. You are given name of some government scheme or policy or act related to economy and four statements associated with them. You have to find the correct statements
  7. The trivial GK based questions e.g. names of businessmen/company, repo rate in particular month, establishment of particular organization etc. BUT they’re are generally not appearing under “back breakingTM move”

In short, whenever you are preparing anything related to economy, think on those lines and try to frame the questions by yourself. Also solve the mock questions given in your GS Manual.

Economy : Mains

In the 90s era, you could expect direct questions example

  1. Difference between the functions of IMF and World Bank =10 marks
  2. Explain the functions performed by RBI = 12 marks
  3. Explain the budget making process=20 marks.

Such direct questions are very unlikely to appear in future mains. At most they may ask such things on two markers or five marker question.

  • The 12, 15, 20 marker economy-questions seems to be reserved for “critically examine/ Analysis” this and that type of questions.
  • You have to keep gathering fodder material from newspaper columns. For example
  • “Critically examine the issues involved in implementation of goods and services tax or Direct Tax code.”
  • These topics will again gain momentum before and after the budget-2013.
  • Keep an eye on the newspaper columns, TV reports during that time and maintain notes.
  • Same advice for each and every topic. For example SEBI- e-IPO issue was in news few weeks back.
  • So if you prepare the notes when the issue is still hot= best.
  • Sometimes issues are very complicated and require you to do research on Internet. If you can’t do It immediately, then note down the title of topic in your “To-Do” list/diary.
  • Otherwise after two three weeks you’ll forget it and get busy with some new important topic.
  • Then same question would appear in Mains/ Prelims and you will curse yourself “damn I should have done that topic, when I had the time”.

You may also visit www.egyankosh.ac.in and download the relevant PDF files from Economics section for selective study and fodder material.

International relations

  • Prelims: not part of syllabus. (ofcourse one or two random questions can come on world geography, Summits, Current Affairs)
  • But for mains, international relations/ diplomacy =extremely important.

In Mains examination, The General Studies Paper II rests on four pillars

  1. International relations
  2. Economy
  3. science tech
  4. statistics

If any one pillar is weak, your building will collapse.

How to approach International Relations =Already explained in a separate article. Click ME

You also keep an eye on websites ministry of external affairs and ministry of overseas affairs.

Notes making = extremely important for international relations because usually you will not find direct answers in any single chapter or article. You’ve to keep following news for months.

For example

  1. In Xyz Month, suppose there is big protest / PIL regarding POSCO. Newspapers will cover it and you get say 3 fodder points. Note it down
  2. After a few months, either S.Korea President comes to India or Mohan makes a trip there (Mohan usually  makes  foreign trips when there a new scandal at home, because then he is saved from answering the media or lets the “high command” cover up the problem hehehe.)
  3. Anyways back to the topic…so when leaders make trip to each other’s nation, they release a joint press statement. You’ll usually find 5 fodder points in it. Note down.
  4. After some months, China and S.Korea start fighting over some sea/land/island. Again newspaper columns start covering it and you get 3 more points.

Total you’ve 3+5+3=11 points.

When they ask you about India-S.Korea relations, you can use those points to write a decent answer.

Polity

Just one book: “Laxmikanth”flipkart

Book-Cover-Polity LAXMIKANTH
The question is how to effectively use Laxmikanth? For that, don’t study the book in linear fashion (chapter 1,2,3,4…) Instead I suggest you move in following direction

  1. First you read the chapter on President, Vice President and immediately move to the chapter on governor. Then read on Emergency provisions.
  2. Read chapter on PM and cabinet, then move to CM and state council of Ministers.
  3. Chpater on “Parliamentary system” and then directly to parliament, but after budget topic is done pause this chapter and move to on CAG. Then come back and resume the chapter on parliament.
  4. Once parliament is finished, move to State legislative assembly.
  5. Same way Supreme Court and then High court, tribunals.
  6. Attorney Gen =>Advocate General
  7. UPSC  =>State PSC
  8. Finance Commission =>Planning Commission=>Nat.Development council
  9. Now Centre State and Interstate relations.
  10. Election Commission=> chapter on election, Anti-defection
  11. All the National Commissions on Women, SC, ST,OBC, CVC, Lokpal and so on.

Polity H
Once ^this is done. Move to

  1. Citizenship, Fundamental rights, DPSP, duties.
  2. Amendment of Constitution=> preamble
  3. Jammu Kashmir => Scheduled and Tribal Areas.
  4. UT, Panchayati Raj, municipalities

After ^this is done. Read whatever chapters are remaining.

Note: the short explanations given in appendix of every chapter= should be read.

Q. Should I make notes out of Laxmikanth?

  • M.Laxmikanth has the skill of writing book in a ‘note-format’.
  • So whether it is his book on polity or on Public Administration, there is no need to maintain a special note out of his books.
  • Just highlight/underline important lines. Note down keywords on the margin. And keep revising it as many times as you can.
  • When you’ve done enough revision, solve mock questions given at the end of his book (around 300). Then solve another 400 Mock Qs given in the GS manual. So total 700 questions practiced. Then UPSC  MCQs on polity will not give you much trouble.

Anyways ^this is only the static polity.

What about the current affairs on Polity?

  • Women’s reservation bill = explicitly polity topic.
  • But at times polity related current affairs and possible questions are subtly hidden in the current affairs.
  • So be vigilant. For example, Nuke power plant issue would superficially appear as ‘environment/yearbook’ but can be well asked from Centre-State relations point of view.
  • Supreme court’s order on Ganga/Yamuna clearing would appear as “environment” topic but can be asked under Centre-State’s responsibilities in water  Management also.
  • Same goes for 2G scam, mining scams and so on. (Judicial Activism, Seperation of power, CAG Activism and so on)

Sources for current affairs

  1. Newspaper
  2. Prsindia.org
  3. Mrunal.org/polity

–So far we have seen how to approach International affairs, Economy and Polity. You should finish their core syllabus first, in order to fully digest the newspaper items.

Now moving to the other topics of syllabus.

History (GS/CSAT)

update Feb 2014: for History/culture portion, use the Tamilnadu (TN) State education board books. They’re better than NCERTs. (Free download @bottom).

–following is old information–

For prelims (CSAT General Studies Paper I), History is subdivided into three segments

AncientHarappa, Vedic Age, Buddha, Mahavir, Gupta,Maurya Kingdoms etc.
MedievalDelhi Sultanate, Vijaynagar, Mughals etc.
ModernBritish Raj. 1857 Mutiny onwards. Freedom struggle.

In the 90s, questions used to be based on

  1. Timelines: wars, kings,
  2. Locations: of Harappa Sites where xyz type of pottery was found, or Asoka’s pillars
  3. Match the following
  4. Maps: they’d give you a blank map, you had to locate xyz state or kingdom.

In last three years, questions are mostly based on religion, culture, art and ‘features/cause/reason’ type.
Although UPSC hasnot asked ‘map based’ question lately but if you’ve time, it doesn’t hurt preparing the maps (because UPSC is the baddest thug in this part of South East Asia.) you’ll find the Ancient/Medieval maps in NCERTs and in GS Manual.

Essential Booklist for History (GS/CSAT)

  1. NCERT class 7 to 10 Social Science
  2. NCERT class 11, 12 on History
  3. NOS Studymaterial on Indian Culture and Heritage.

^all of these free, download links @bottom of this article

  1. Selective Study of History portion in Tata Macgrawill General Studies Manual (to fill up vacuum of whatever details are missing in the NCERTs). But again skip very tiny details such as “Middle Palaeolithic tools were found at Nevasa, Maharashtra by HD Sankalia”. Because it won’t go in long term memory. Your time and energy can be better utilized in other topics.

Once this is done, solve all the Mock MCQs given in the General Studies Manual.

In The NCERT Class 9 and 10, you’ll also find information on World History (WW1, WW2, French Revolution, Russian Revolution etc) While they’re not specifically mentioned in the syllabus, you should read it because indirectly important for Essay and interview.

History (Mains/GS)

In the 90s, the General Studies paper used to have following structure, in History section

  1. 3-5 descriptive question (60 marks)
  2. Freedom fighter 2 markers (10 marks)
  3. Culture related 2 markers (10 marks)

Ofcourse there would be fluctuation each year, but this was the usual makeup.

  • Success formula in 90s era= basically mugup Spectrum’s three books + Bipin Chandra.
  • That doesn’t hold true anymore, as we saw in GS Mains-2012 Analysis (click ME if you didn’t)
  • Nowadays weightage given to History in GS mains paper = declined and emphasis has been shifted to Culture.

So how to proceed in this new era?

  1. India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra
  2. Selective Study of IGNOU BA/MA History (only related to freedom Struggle) Click ME
  3. Selective Study of IGNOU Tourism Course (for culture) CLICK ME
  4. NOS material on Indian culture CLICK ME
  5. Spectrum Book on Indian Culture

Optional reference

Because of the backbreakingTM move of UPSC, following books have lost their former glory. So I’m putting them under Secondary. If you’ve time, read else don’t bother. There are many other areas where you can utilize your energy.

  1. Spectrum Book on Brief History of Modern India
  2. Spectrum Book on Freedom Fighters
However, for State PSC exams, who’re still in the 90s mood, these books would come handy. In that case, mug them up :)

Geography

Geography

classified into three parts

  1. Physical geography
  2. World geography
  3. Indian Geography

the first two topics come in prelims syllabus. but they are not included in the main syllabus.

for Mains syllabus of General Studies, you’ve to prepare Indian Geography only.

How to Approach Geography for CSAT-Prelims?

First of all complete

  1. NCERT class 7 to 10  social science
  2. NCERT class 11, 12: Geography (except that practical book on mapping and survey methods)
  3. NOS Studymaterial on Geography (if the time and eyes permit you!)
Free download links for above PDF files, have been given in previous Act II. Click ME

When this is done, move to general studies manual to fill up the missing gaps if any.

Now let’s check how to effectively utilise Tata McGraw-Hill General studies manual for Geography portion.

  1. branches of geography= important
  2. origin of Earth= important
  3. ignore the geological history of Earth
  4. ignore the facts about earth (weight, volumne and stuff like that)
  5. understand the concepts related to longitudes, latitudes, meridians, inclination of Earth’s axis and its effect,   standard time,  cycles of the moon, atmosphere, Aurora -magnetism,  insulation and heat budget,  templated,
  6. mecanism of winds, monsoon
  7. ignore table of Beufort Scale
  8. ignore types of clouds
  9. understand the difference between dew, frost, fog, smog, mist and haze.
  10. types of climate, water table = important, also from  environment and biodiversity Angle
  11. Understand the mechanism of cold and warm currents =  because they are also related with climate change
  12. From lakes, only important and famous ones :  Caspian Sea, Lake Superior, Superior, Victoria, Baikal, Aral Sea, Wulur, Vostock
  13. Same for rivers
  14. Marine resources= important for environment topic also
  15. Classification of rocks:  prepare a small note on features and example of each type
  16. Theories of Plate tectonics, continental drift etc –  just get overview
  17. Volcanos, Earthquakes important but no need to get in minute stuff. Just supplement NCERT
  18. Weathering, Erosion, landforms =  important from environment topic angle.
  19. ignore table on major water falls, except famous ones : Angel, Victoria, Niagara,
  20. Soil is important but from agriculture point of view only.
  21. ignore the table containing classification of soil
  22. ignore US Taxonomy classification

World geography

  1. Go through entire human geography but ignore trivial details like Lapps= people of Eurasian trunda. (But famous tribes are important e.g.Bushman=Kalahari Desert.)
  2. Migration,  resource classification, farming system,  types of cultivation,  agricultural typology= extremely important
  3. Chief agro products (tea, wheat etc) : the land/climate conditions required = important.
  4. Forest products=  important from environment and  biodiversity angle.
  5. Mineral producers= only the major ones (coal, iron ore, gold, nuclear, oil etc). Otherwies Mercury producers =  Spain and Italy= ignore.
  6. industrial products=  just get an overview
  7. important boundary lines=  as the name suggests, it is important
  8. important cities= not that important for UPSC , but may help you in GK based questions in SSC/Bank.
  9. old name and new name for  various countries and cities= indirectly important for the interviews.

Indian geography

In last two years, very few questions are coming from world geography.  but at the same time, it is not a good idea to completely ignore world geography especially when you have time.  because a something really straightforward asked Tropical Savannah climate, then you should not miss the opportunity.

  • In the 90s,  they would give you some map based questions. ( location of rivers, mountains, nations etc).  but they have not asked map-based questions in last two years.
  • but it does not hurt much preparing the Atlas because it indirectly helps you understand the international-relations and diplomacy topics in better manner.
  • More emphasis should be given on the Indian geography because it is common for both prelims and mains.
  • While Indian geography is important for prelims, the nature of question has changed.

earlier it used to be mapped based or location-based Indian geography but nowadays it is mostly related with agriculture, environment angles.

  1. first start with NCERTs and them move to TMH GS Manual.
  2. keep an Atlas Ready while reading everyline, otherwise things will not go long-term memory.
  3. for the lakes, rivers, waterfalls, irrigation projects,  wildlife parks and sanctuaries etc.  only prepare the famous ones and those related with odd animals such as Wild Ass.  and prepare the trivial ones only if they are from your home state (for profile based interview questions and for State PSC)
  4. India’s industrial towns/tourist places: famous ones + those from your home state and surrounding neighbour states. No need to go in trivial. These things are for indirectly understanding the issues of socio-economic Development and for profile based interview questions. Otherwise direct MCQs are very unlikely.
  5. seasons, soil types, wildlife= important.
  6. ignore places connected by national highways. 90s era is over.
  7. sex ratio, literacy rate :top 3, bottom 3, and your home state.
  8. Tribal groups = important from culture angle.
  9. India maps on  political, physical, wildlife and biosphere, seaports, soil-vegetation, = important for indirect MCQs.

Once this is done. (Physical, World and  Indian Geography.) Again restart process and then solve MCQs from GS Manual.

Geography for GS-Mains

The way things have started taking shape, the conventional and clichéd questions are unlikely to appear anymore (for example monsoon mechanism.)

But still prepare Indian Geography from Economic, sustainable Development, Disaster and Environment angles.

Books:

  1. NCERTs, NOS, GS Manual.
  2. India Yearbook (Wastelands, Drough  Management etc) and follow up on respective Government websites.
  3. 2nd ARC report on Disaster  Management. http://arc.gov.in/
  4. Traditional books on Indian Geography are not likely to help directly like they used to in 90s (for example Spectrum/ Majid Hussain/ Khullar) But still you may go through any one of them, if you’ve the time.

That concluded talk on Geography. Moving to next topic of syllabus.

Environment and biodiversity

  • When we talk of history or polity, there are already decent standard books available because those topics have been in syllabus since the beginning of UPSC exams.
  • But this Biodiversity is newly introduced syllabus topic since CSAT 2011. Most of the ready-made books (and magazine’s ‘special issues’) on this topic provide you too much data, above what is necessary.
  • For example in case of biodiversity, they’d give you a huge list of endangered species and their Latin names and how many animals are left.
  • The establishment year of every wildlife park and their surface area with accuracy upto two decimal points like 48.25 kms!
  • Environment biodiversity is not about becoming master of trivial GK, UPSC MCQs are not same like Kaun Bangegaa Crorepati.

Like every other topic in  UPSC (except History and Statistics), we can classify EnB under two heads

StaticCurrent Based
basic theoretical and static stuff such as biomes, bios, in-situ, ex-situ modes of wildlife conservation, keystone species, umbrella species, project tiger, elephant, biosphere reserves and things like that.Issues involving various protocols or world conventions. IPCC reports, Kyoto etc.Supreme court orders on xyz issue: Clearing of Yamuna, Ban on Mining, Tiger tourism etc.

Booklist/Preparation sources for Environment and Biodiversity

Static (theory)Current based
  1. NCERT Social science (7-10): because Geography, Forest etc given in it.
  2. NCERT Geography Class 11, 12
  3. NOS Study material on Biodiversity. Free download link @bottom
  4. India Yearbook, chapter on Environment
  1. Website of Ministry of Environment and Forest
  2. Yojana, Kurukshetra magazine issues involving those particular themes
  3. The Hindu: Energy and Environment segment http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/
  4. Climate Change section of IndianExpress: http://www.indianexpress.com/section/climate-change/912/
  5. Economic Times section on Environment http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/planetsos/2647163.cms
  6. http://mrunal.org/enb
  7. Magazine (just to make sure we did not miss anything!)
  8. Google: incase follow up action is necessary for a particular topic.
  • ^Prelims questions: mostly theory based= multiple revision must. (+ a few on current affairs)
  • ^Mains questions: mostly current based. You must maintain notes.
  • The source list may look intimidating but it is not!
  • Because “environment” news doesn’t happen everyday (unlike Economy), so every week there will be no more than 2-3 news items.

Moving to the next topic

Yearbook: prelims and mains

[Yearbook] is the collective term used to describe following

  1. Organization of various ministry and offices and their functions
  2. Various schemes and projects of Government
  3. Issues of socio-economic Development, five year plans
In a way, Yearbook is a mixture of Economy + Polity.

What is India Yearbook (2013)?

Yrbook

  • A book released by Publication division under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • In common parlance we refer this as “Yearbook” but otherwise technically name of the book is “India 2011”, “India 2012”, and “India 2013” and so on (according to year of publication).
  • Earlier, government used to provide free PDF file of this book. But they started doing it since 2012.
  • This book also helps in “rights issue”, “environment”, “public health” topics.
  • My advice: if you don’t have this book then wait and watch, buy the new edition 2013, when it comes in the market.
  • If you already have a India 2012, no need to buy new, just update any new Government schemes using Government websites/newspaper/magazines.
  • If you have a very old edition (something like India 2007) then dump it and buy the latest edition, because many schemes are consolidated / their salient features have been changed.

Why is India Yearbook important?

  • Many publication houses, provide their own version of yearbooks for example Chronicle, wizard.
  • They have the same content of India yearbook, but in bulleted form, some details are omitted, some side current affairs GK is added.
  • While superficially, they may feel more easier to read and prepare but my advice go directly to the original source because many times 4TF type MCQs are directly lifted from the statements and paragraphs given in India yearbook (i.e. India 2013)

From Yearbook topic, usually following type questions appear in the exam

Prelims (CSAT)Mains
  1. The give you two for four statements related to a particular scheme or Government organization (e.g. Haj Committee). You have to find out the correct/incorrect statements
  2. Name of some schemes are given, you’ve to match them with their objectives.
Basically Two types of questions can appear

  1. you are given name of a government scheme or project and you have to write its salient features (12-15 marks)
  2. you are given some socio-economic problem and you have to analyze it, list the steps taken by government, or suggest about the future steps that should be taken.

Therefore You should have strong command over the salient features of every scheme, otherwise you will get confused in the MCQs. Besides the same salient features will also help you in descriptive answers during the mains exam. So prepare the topic on that line without wasting energy in useless stuff.

Example.

  1. Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme provides for setting up of residential upper primary schools for girls of SC, ST, OBC and Muslim communities. = important.
  2. In 11th five year plan, government of India allotted 8,000 crores under Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme= NOT IMPortant.

How to read India yearbook efficiently?

Already explained in previous article. Click ME

But this is only the static (theory/basic) part. What about the current affairs?

Because India yearbook 2013 is printed in Dec 2012, but many new events will take place between December 2012 to May 2013 (Prelims) and November 2013 (mains). How to prepare them?

Sources for Yearbook Current affairs:

  1. The Hindu
  2. Press releases from pib.nic.in (subscribe to them via Google reader)
  3. Economic Survey (will be uploaded on Finance Ministry’s website)
  4. Yojana and Kurukshetra
  5. Mrunal.org/yearbook
  6. Competitive Magazine (just to make sure we did not miss anything.)

Prepare a keywords note and revise it often else, you’ll mixup with salient features of various schemes and projects.

Moving to the next topic

Science-Tech

Science can be classified into following parts

Theory (Static)Current Affairs
  1. Physics
  2. Chemistry
  3. biology-subtopics:
  4. plant and animals
  5. humans
It is known as “science-tech”.

Science for Prelims

The static (theory based) science has declined in importance. In the 90s you could expect 10-10-10 questions on physics, chemistry, biology each (theory based).

Nowadays barely 8-10 question and that too mixture of both theory + current affairs.

But it doesn’t mean you should skip the static (theory based) science because

  1. competition is damn high
  2. UPSC =unpredictable.

Therefore certain minimum level preparation is necessary for every topic. Beside there is lot of time still left before the exam.

Start with NCERT Science  textbooks class 7 to 10.

  • Even if you’re already an M.Sc, engineer or Doctor, still you should read these textbooks. because even if you have  good command over your field,  still you would have forgotten many important basic concepts from the school. So always start with NCERTs.
  • And please dont read NCERTS lightly or just for namesake formality because UPSC will usually give you four statements and all of them would sound equally plausible. You should be thoroughly clear on principles/concepts.
  • Once you have finished reading these textbooks, it is time for selective study of GS manual.

How to efficiently use GS Manual for Science segment?

Physics Chapter on Science

  1. difference between scaler and vector quantity=important
  2. Newton’s laws and their practical application=important
  3. the working principles behind artificial satellites, geostationary satellites etc. =important, but  no need to mugup equations.
  4. The concept of densities important but you don’t need to mugup absolute density value of various  substances. Same goes for surface tension, viscosity etc.
  5. Concepts and principles behind  heat,  electronic thermometer,  refrigeration,  radiation, solar cooker, thermos flask, carengine radiator, air-conditioners,  pressure cookers, DTH TV,  nightvision goggles, radar, oven, CAT Scan etc.
  6. Optics:  convex and concave glasses:  differences applications,  refractions,
  7. Principle behind rainbow, LCD,  camera microscope, LASER,  compact disc etc. but no need to get bored with those complex diagrams.
  8. Sound: echo, resonsnace, doplar effect, sonic boom, dolby etc. : again you need to have idea on basics. No need for going into minute details.
  9. Same for Magnetism and electricity, Nuclear physics.
  10. In short, you should be aware of the concepts and principles but You don’t need to mugup equations of Velocity, acceleration, pendulum, sound etc.

Biology

  1. Branches of biology important
  2. difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells is important
  3. Parts of typical cell, and their functions= important
  4. Basics of  cell division mitosis and meiosis =important but no need to do Ph.D from GS Manual.
  5. Classification of living organism=  you should have overall idea but no need to go in minute details like the difference between Deuteromycetes and Basiondiomycetes.
  6. Tissue system : same as above
  7. Nutrition and digestion system important but no need to go in details like 8 hours of work = 972 calories.
  8. respiration and photosynthesis: no need for Ph.D or chemical reaction
  9. Heart, kidney:  just functions, no need to go diagram
  10. ignore diagram of conduction of nerve impulse
  11. Basic functions of Endocrine glands and diseases asscociated with them = important. But Cacitonin raises blood calcium level =not important.
  12. skeletal system: simply ignore. THM has given Ph.D on this.
  13. reproduction : concepts important. diagrams are not important.
  14. artificial methods of vegatative reproduction =extremely important.
  15. Plant hormor diagram= ignore
  16. sex determination in humans, birds and bees= important
  17. Table and Diagram on ABO blood group, Rh factor = very important.
  18. List of genetic disease = important but no need to mugup all, only big dieases like Sickle cell, Thalassemia.
  19. Basics of Gene Expression, m-RNA, t-RNA important else other topics stem cell, cancer, genetic engineering, cloning etc will be hard to understand.
  20. Tables for Disease, types, mode of transmission and symptoms= important (including for mains). But no need to mugup Latin names of those bactaria etc.
  21. Table on Vitamin function and disease = important
  22. monoclonal antibodies=important for mains also.
  23. Basics of antigen-antibody=important because vaccination works on that principle

^This is the basic biology. Now in the TMH GS Manual, they’ve given environment related stuff= important. We’ll discuss what to do with that, in separate topic “environment and Biodiversity: for the moment skip it move on to the topic of drug abuse and alcoholism. No need to mugup tables but you should have idea the ‘origin of various narcotic drugs’ .

e.g. LSD from fungi,

  • Marijuana from hemp,
  • Morphine, heroine = opium derivaties.
  • Cocaine from coca leaves.

+Basic idea on alcoholism e.g.

  • Hooch / Zehrili Sharaab is basically methanol and it causes blindness.
  • Alcohol is not stimulant but depressant.
  • Alcohol causes cirrhosis of liver

Animal Husbandry

  • Now comes the topic of Animal husbandary. Very brief overview,
  • no need to mugup Latin names,
  • Ignore animal disease table.
  • Artificial insemination important

Agriculture

  • You’d already have covered this topic through NCERTs, so use GS manual only to fill up any missing details such as ideal soil type, harvesting season, states
  • because usually 4TF MCQs are prepared from that.
  • No need to mugup every hybrid variety or latin name
  • Type of plants = important
  • Masticatory, medicinal plants and bio insecticides: only use/function.

Chemistry

From TMH GS manual.

  1. Symbols of elements= ignore.
  2. Chemical equations =ignore. because you’ve already ignored the symbols hahaha
  3. Use of chemical compound = important but their chemical formula is not important
  4. Ignore Thomson’s atomic model
  5. Ignore Rutherford’s Atomic model
  6. Ignore theories of chemical bonding
  7. Ignore periodic table
  8. Ignore molality, mole fraction  and their equations
  9. Concept of solubility =important
  10. Oxidation –reduction mechanism and examples = important
  11. Carbon, its compounds and allotropes, carbon cycle=important
  12. Ignore Acid-base, hydrocarbon. Whatever you prepared in NCERT is sufficient. THM is going into Ph.D mode
  13. Table on natural occurrence of selected metals=important for big elements only. E.g.Dolomite =Magnesium and Magnetite= iron.
  14. Location of mineral wealth= important. You should idea on overall which mineral is found in which state.
  15. Basics of metal extraction, petroleum, steel, rusting, cement, glass =important
  16. Colloids= only basic definition and table of “types of colloidal system”, emulsion and gels =important
  17. Ignore Micelles topic.
  18. Biotech Nanotech and their applications =important both for prelims and mains
  19. Polysaccharides = use and sources =important. But chem formula=ignore, same for proteins and glycosides
  20. Ignore the equations govering gases, liquids and solutions.
  21. Understand the three laws of thermodynamics
  22. Ignore themodynamic potentials.
  23. The readymade Question answers given on “important concents and topics”= important to understand principle.

Once you’re done (physics, chemistry and biology) from GS Manual.

Restart the whole process one more time (once again read NCERTs and once again read GS Manual) and then solve the Mock MCQs given at the end of each chapter.

This finishes the “theory” portion of Science. Now coming to the current affairs portion =“Sci-Tech”.

Science-Tech for prelims and Mains

Sources

  1. The Hindu (particularly Thursday edition)
  2. Mrunal.org/snt I’ve uploaded some ready revision notes from The Hindu’s article. That should give you the hints on how to approach a science related news articles from exam point of view, what to skip and what to note down.
  3. Magazine (any one CST or PD): just to make sure we did not miss anything from Hindu / current affairs.
  4. Internet, incase you need to do follow up question for a particular topic e.g. Human Genome project because such things can also come under 10 marks in Mains. But don’t do Ph.D on it. Like I said in previous Act- Application of Nanotechnology. This is meant for 12-15 marks, they’re not going to ask a 30 marks or 200 marks essay on it. So keep the size of notes accordingly.
  5. And don’t too much sci-tech. If you start digging google, there is so much Science-tech going on around the world throughout the year. But Beyond a level, this has diminishing rate of returns.

For the Science-Tech, Frequent revision is essential. Otherwise, it’d remain in your notes but you won’t be able to recall it in the exam hall.

Public health and first aid

  • This topic is gaining quite some importance since last two mains (2011 and 2012)
  • it is a mixture of Yearbook+Sci-Tech
  • For prelims, this topic is not directly mentioned in the CSAT (Preliminary) syllabus yet 4TF MCQ questions based on diseases can come under the General Science.
  • For Mains, the syllabus explicitly mentions Public Health.

Preparation sources/booklist for Public Health

  1. Basics of nutrition, disease, vaccination = NCERTs, GS Manual
  2. Government schemes and projects related to public health= India Yearbook Chapter on health and family welfare + and Government websites for new updates
  3. Newspaper
  4. Press release of pib.nic.in
  5. Mrunal.org/snt

First Aid

  • Since last two years they have been asking role-playing question on First Aid treatment in the mains examination.
  • Now that Doesn’t necessarily mean that they will definitely ask a question on first aid, in the next exam but you should be prepared. Go through the following PDF file (taken from IGNOU): Click ME.

Good governance, law and order

These are given in General Studies Mains syllabus

  1. Law enforcement, internal security and related issues such as the preservation of communal harmony.
  2. Issues relating to good governance and accountability to the citizens including the maintenance of human rights, and of pro-bity in public life

Best source:

  1. 2nd ARC reports. http://arc.gov.in/
  2. Yojana issues related to the themes
  3. Besides it’ll also help you in essay and interview.
  4. + any current affairs (Lokpal, Citizen carter, Whistleblower, SC judgements etc) but you’d be preparing that already under [Polity]

You can also dig egyankosh.ac.in for good governance and law and order, but if Public Administration is not your optional then then it’ll give you diminishing rate of returns.

I think ^this should be sufficient for General Studies.

Yes there are some small time topics left. For example prelims syllabus has

  1. Public Policy,
  2. Rights issue,
  3. Panchayati Raj

But given the way UPSC conducted last two prelims, whatever you prepare under yearbook, polity (static + current), will help you in these questions. There is no need to prepare them separately using a book/coaching material. At most go for Governance in India by M.Laxmikanth, if you’ve time- otherwise no need. You can also use the Sociology and Political Science textbooks of NCERT (Class 11,12).

Preparation Timetable

These are no rock-solid time frames. Just suggestions

Nov-DecemberFinish core syllabus of Economy, Polity and International relations. (to digest newspapers better)Prepare topics that are present in mains but absent in prelims viz

  1. Statistics
  2. First Aid
  3. Good governance, Accountability and Law n order (2nd ARC)

Go through the Yojana, Kurukshetra from Jan 2012 (incase you missed them)

Finish Bipin Chandra right here if you can.

Jan/Feb onwardsMarch
  1. Yearbook
  2. History  + Culture
  3. Geography
  4. Environment + Biodiversity
  5. Science and Science TechEconomy (current affairs)

+ lots of revision+ MCQ practice+ daily newspaper

+Aptitude paper.

April-May
  1. Readymade garbage will start flooding the streets (from Delhi). Ignore it.
  2. Have faith in your books and notes – revise them as much as you can.
  3. Reduce/stop digging internet for “more current affairs!”
  4. Read newspaper till last day but If editorials are taking too much time, just cut and file them but finish them once the prelims are over.
June-July-August
  • Assuming that from 20th May to 1st June you’d be in ‘vacation/relief’ mood.
  • Don’t raise your blood pressure with cutoffs debate on orkut, better watch some movies or just go rob a bank.
  • Once your mind is clear, fresh and relaxed (and pockets are full-if you robbed a bank), Make a list of national and international events/topics that are important from mains point of view.
  • Review your notes, upgrade them in the light of above events via internet/ frontline whatever necessary.
Aug/Sept/OctPrelims result is announced.A) If you fail= Don’t become Devdas. Review your mistakes and fix them in next attempt. But daily newspaper reading = essential till you retire from this field. Use your energy as per this article Click ME.B) If you’ve passed, thank the almighty God and proceed ahead.After UPSC’s #epic BackbreakingTM Moves shown in Mains-2012, there are hardly any Standard Reference books left to revise for mains, but still do it!Otherwise Daily reading of newspaper- notes making. (+follow up action, google digging for whatever new events are taking place)

  • Yojana, Kurukshetra/ any Committee reports etc- notes making.
  • Most important: Take care of health. Don’t eat street-food.
NovGive mains.
DecVacation,Again don’t raise blood pressure in cut-offs debates, either watch some movies or rob a few more banks. (but do read newspapers daily and make notes out of it.)
Jan-Feb-March
  • Fill up form for next prelims.
  • Continue the ‘maintenance doze’ for next prelims.
  • Prepare for interview (profile based questions (location, graduation..), national and international events, including background, historic details, pros, cons etc.) More explained later
March-AprilResult of Mains + interviews starts.

  1. If you pass, thank the almighty God once again. (and return the money you had robbed from those banks)
  2. If you fail, don’t become Devdas just prepare for next prelims.
  3. If you fail and it was your last attempt still don’t become Devdas, don’t regret anything, don’t feel guilty about anything, don’t let anyone else make you feel guilty about anything. Execute backup plans and move on in your life and career- money, power and status will come, with time.

Interview

The interview preparation approach remains one and same for all Government and private sector jobs.

But the type and depth of questions differ.

Interviews usually start with “You” and end with “World”,

YouQuestions from your profile

  1. Your graduation
  2. Your hobbies
  3. Extra-curricular activities (if any)
  4. From Your work experience (if any)
  5. Your city and State: Socio-economic-political-cultural-geography
  6. Role playing questions (your Collector/Senior  Executive and xyz problem happens what will you do?)
  7. Why do you want to join IAS/MBA/Bank?
WorldEverything else that doesn’t involve you.National and international issues, your understanding and opinion on them.
  • Throughout the Year, you should maintain a note related to current affairs of your city, state, graduation and hobbies (wherever applicable). Because you can’t gather such information in a month- even with all google searching.
  • And you’re already preparing current affairs part of GS.
  • When mains examination is over, You may also consult books from library Kalam, Nilekani, Guha etc gain more understanding of socio-economic-developmental issues related with India. (and or truckload of IGNOU material on their website).

What should you do next?

  • Your semester/year end marksheets contain the list of subjects you studied in college.
  • When he browses through your file, suddenly asks “What is this subject xyz?”
  • You should have the answer ready.

Just the basics, you don’t have to prepare minute details as if it is a GATE or PMT exam.

In every interview (IAS and career backups-State PSC, Bank, MBA etc), you’ll have to prepare questions on graduation. But It is very tiresome to go through the same thick books over and over again every time for interviews.  So, Ideally make a very short note on the basics. Save you the trouble forever.

Then second portion is current affairs related to your graduation

Doctor, pharmaPublic health, AIDS,Cancer research etc. (already discussed under GS preparation)
EngineerIT: outsourcing, hacking, privacy and social networking, online shopping, IT act, amendments etc.EC :2G, 3G etc.
CommerceCompany act and amendments, DTC, GST etc.
Arts (litt.)Booker prize, any other famous books, litt and freedom of speech, controversies of Tasleema Nasrin / Salman Rushdie etc.

^list is not exhaustive. You can’t come up with this in one day or one week. So keep following newspaper and dig google.

Your City-District-State

  • After mains examination is over, dig up more about Your graduation, city and State: Socio-economic-political-cultural-geography.
  • Look beyond the obvious. E.g. You’re from Ahmedabad so you already know Sabarmati river flows through your city. And interviewer also knows that you know about this obvious fact. So instead, he’ll ask you “Where does Sabarmati originate from? or why is it dry during some months? And where does it meet the sea, is It gulf of Cambay or is it gulf of Kutch?”
  • Usually you’re not aware of places of cultural/historic/tourist importance in your own city while people elsewhere are. So dig all information. Ofcourse this also doesn’t mean digging up extremely trivial GK.
  • The name of MP, MLA of your Constituency, JNNURM projects in your city, BRTS  and so on..
  • Same for the district.
  • Then your State: for example Maharashtra you should be well versed in Leopard menace, nuclear powerplant, Vidarbha issues etc.
  • Every State has its issues (both good and bad) and it is not necessary they’ll be in current affairs : for example Cyclone of Orissa, happened long time ago but if you’re from that state you must have idea on it. Again doesn’t mean you do Ph.D on it from some library book.

Following can happen during interview

  1. You give good answer- He asks followup questions to probe you further. Then he leaves the topic and next board member asks you on a different topic.
  2. You give no answer e.g. “Sorry sir I’m not well versed in that topic.” Or you give wrong answer. He either corrects you or usually leaves topics, or ask a new question from same subject.
  3. You give bad answer- he throws a counter question /argument (that usually doesn’t have an answer) the more you debate, it increases the chances of getting low marks and the interview turning into a “Stress-interview”.

Some examples of bad answers

  1. Wrong Choice of words that hints arrogance/lack of humility. For example saying “I don’t agree with that” instead of saying “I beg to differ”.
  2. I donot know xyz topic because it was not in my graduation syllabus or because I was preparing for UPSC during college so I don’t know about that xyz topic.
  3. I want to do IAS because there is no opportunity in my graduation field or because I don’t like that field or because there is no career growth in my private sector job.
  4. For me IAS is not an end but a means for further personal growth in life or some other mumbo-jumbo. (Repeated 5 thousand times in topper interviews. So even if your intention is genuine, for them it is too phony and clichéd answer.)
  5. I know xyz thing, because it is given in Hindu/Laxmikanth/******’s notes. (never cite references unless specifically asked to.)
  6. Book should not be judged by its cover, therefore I’m not wearing a tie….or any answer which you think is ‘smart’ but he thinks is, ‘oversmart’.
  7. Lopsided diagnosis and solution of a problem/issue. (Public policymaking should be left in the hands of bureaucrats only……We must stop all trade relations with Pakistan until they shut down terror camps……Panchayati Raj serves no real purpose, instead recruit more Government staff to look into Development issues at Tehsil or village level.)

Stress Interview

  • If he asks 90% of the questions from one subject only (for example International relations), Then from his side it is a normal interview, but from your side it may feel like a stress interview.
  • But stress interview, in its original form, means he intentionally counters your every answer or argument or asks uncomfortable questions.
  • This is done, not to humiliate you but to test how you perform under stress. (Or because you annoyed him and he wants to get even with you.)
  • By and large, UPSC interviews are not stress interviews but they’re not completely absent either (many cases on orkut.)

An interview may turn into Stress interview because of following reasons

  1. You’re plain unlucky.
  2. You’re underprepared and your Body language shows it.
  3. Giving Bad answer(s) or bad choice of words.
  • At home, in your head-run imaginary interviews. Ask your self questions, give yourself answers and from those answers, pickup keywords and ask follow up questions.
  • When you’ve run enough imaginary interviews in your head, you’ll realize that certain keywords or answers lead to followup questions from uncomfortable zone or underprepared areas where you end up giving bad answers. So consciously avoid them and rephrase or upgrade answers accordingly.
This concludes Act III. In next Act IV, We’ll see the doubts related to “should I join coaching or not?, “will UPSC remove optionals or not?”, “how to manage time and mood?” etc.

Remaining Part of the UPSC Strategy

  1. (Part 1 of 5): Exam Trends and Changes
  2. (Part 2 of 5): Notes, Newspapers and Books
  3. (Part 4 of 5): Time Management, Coaching etc.
  4. (Part 5 of 5): Career Backup Plans: How to prepare for State PSC etc

Appendix1: Download Links

  1. Foxit PDF reader (necessary prerequisite for using Mrunal’s autonotemaker) click me to download
  2. Almost all of these PDF files provides direct copying of text. => That means you can use Mrunal’s autonotemaker to quickly make notes and mindmaps out of it, just use mouse cursor to highlight a particular line /phrase and my software will copy its text in a separate file. for more instructions click me

NCERT and NIOS (Essential/Core)

TN State edu Books (for History) https://files.secureserver.net/0fnzZYT7SDNuC9
NIOS (for Culture) https://files.secureserver.net/0fdAWETp4sONW5
NCERT files: topicwise: https://files.secureserver.net/0fHCh0CLd6Az63

You’ll find the material organized in various folders. Click on individual folder and download zip files. Here is the description about the contents of individual folder:

FolderComment

History

  • Contains NCERT history chapters from class 7 to 12, in three zip files: ancient, medieval and Modern
  • +NIOS Culture material

Science

  • Contains class 7 to 10 NCERT Science in three zips: physics, chemistry, biology.
  • +NIOS Science material. (although there will be lot of overlapping)
  • Class 11, 12 Science books given in the peripheral section below.

EnB

  • Contains selective chapters from class 6 to 12 from science and geography textbooks that are relevant for Environment and biodiversity.
  • +NIOS material for environment and biodiversity EnB.

Economy

  • Contains NCERT class 11 + NCERT 12 Macro economics
  • +NIOS economy material.
  • Class 12 Micro-economics not included because not worth the time for CDS. although download link in the peripheral section below.

Geography

  • Contains NCERT class 6 to 12 in five zip folders: physical, India, World, Agro and glossary.
  • +NIOS material on geography (although lot of overlapping)

NCERT and NIOS (Peripheral)

read these if depending on your time and mood.

NIOSSingle folder contains many courses from NIOS: sociology, political science etc. download as per your time, mood and requirement.Download

NCERTs

Biology12BiologyDownload
Chemistry12Chemistry 1Download
Chemistry12Chemistry 2Download
Economics12Introductory MicroeconomicsDownload
Economics10Understanding Economic Development Class X Social ScienceDownload
Economics9Economics for Class 9Download
Physics12Physics 1Download
Physics12Physics 2Download
Political Science12Contemporary World Politics Political Science Class 12Download
Political Science12Political Science 2 for Class 12Download
Political Science11Political Theory Political Science Class 11Download
Political Science11Indian Constitution at Work Political Science Class 11Download
Political Science7Social and Political Life Part 2 – Class 7Download
Political Science8Social and Political Life – Class 8Download
Social sci.10Democratic Politics Part 2 for Class X Social ScienceDownload
Sociology12Sociology Indian SocietyDownload
Sociology12Sociology Social Change and Development in India forDownload
Sociology11Introducing Sociology Class 11Download
Sociology11Understanding Society Sociology Class 11Download
World history9India and Contemporary World 1 for Class 9Download
World history10India and the Contemporary World 2 Class X Social ScienceDownload

Blank Answersheets

For practicing mock questions @homeclick ME





So far 260 Comments posted

  1. Carrie

    I’m not sure why but this site is loading incredibly slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

  2. Hreeday Hitaisye Shriram

    Respected Sir,

    A problem is prevailing for quite some days regarding ignou study materials. Whenever i tried to open, it is displaying under construction. So, sir if you kindly refer some other site to download ignou study material it will be really humble steps not only for me for others too. Because this is going to help many.

    Avidly, looking forward to it.

  3. mukesh

    Hi mrunal,
    for history (modern/ ancient/ medival) for both PRE N MAIN should i go with old ncerts or new ones? I am aspirant preparing for 2015 CSE..
    please ping me back..
    what should be strategy? finish Ncerts of history first? n go for Bipin chandra incase of medival??

    Thanks,
    Mukesh

  4. Praveensingh Jaitawat

    Dear mrunalbhai,

    After cse mains 2013 you gave analysis of history, culture and geography portions of paper 1 mains, these articles helped me lot.

    What about remaining parts and papers? I tried a lot to search but not found. If it is there Plz send me link.

    Current affairs September series is great. If you get some time Plz write just on Gs paper 1 2 3 4 reading list. As you mentioned in history, culture and geography analysis.

    You have posted separate article on new changes in cse in 2013. But it is mainly on ignou, e – gyankosh but these all either not accessible or not as per direct requirement of cse or very scattered. This article was before mains 2013 so it requires some valuable inputs from our guru.

    If time permits, please consider this request.

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