Civil Services Mains 2017 and 2018: Subject wise preparation strategy, sources and booklist

The Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination is more of factual in nature, while on the other hand, the main examination requires deep analysis and comprehensive evaluation of questions, as answers written by a candidate in the examination represents the overall personality of a candidate.
In the recent years, Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has made comprehensive changes in the pattern of the mains. In light of these changes, a robust strategy is required to score high in mains.
Every year, a large number of candidates fail to clear mains due to poor preparation or lack of right strategy. As there are 20-25 questions in each of four papers of GS, a student has to answer within a time limit, and therefore, answer writing practice is important along with coverage of the syllabus of each subject of CSE Mains.
For candidates, who are going to appear in Mains 2017, the focus should be entirely on revision, solving previous years’ question papers and answer writing practice at this moment.
Students, who are planning to appear in CSE Mains 2018, will get ample amount of time to reconcile and recollect information relevant to the UPSC, to utilise the existing skills and acquire relevant knowledge, in-depth understanding of each subject along with clarity of thoughts and expressions.
Strategy to crack CSE Mains
* Stay updated with current issues (read the news in last one year with a focus on current major issues). One can buy Hindu news compilation which is released every third month
* Practice answer writing with coherency of ideas which are connected with dynamic issues
* Prepare well for your optional subject. Go through the previous years’ question papers and cross-check the issues which are still in news
* Essay writing practice (write one essay weekly). Essay topics are generally related to poverty, unemployment, crony capitalism, health and such other issues
* Identify your mistakes in previous year’s attempt and rectify them in the next
* Try to cover your mains optional subject while preparing for GS
Lastly, if you are targeting UPSC 2017, revision is the key to success in mains examination.
Paper wise GS Mains books and sources for civil services preparation
GS Paper-1
Indian heritage and culture, history and geography of the world and society
India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra
Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum
Modern Indian History by BL Grover
India since Independence by Bipin Chandra
Certificate Physical and Human Geography by GC Leong
Class 11 and 12 NCERT books
GS Paper-2
Major topics
Federal structure of union and state, separation of power between centre and state
Comparison between Indian constitutions with other various constitutions of other countries
Non-Government Organisation (NGO) and Self Help Group (SHG) basic functions. Question mostly asked from current affairs
Note: In GS paper 2, questions are from current affairs, majorly covering issues which were in the news in past year
Laxmikant for basics
Any standard magazine for dynamic issues
For government policies, read India yearbook, Yojana of last one year and Kurukshetra. Also, focus on Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) report on government schemes.
GS paper-3
Major topics
Agricultural issues related to minimum support price, subsidies, irrigation facilities
Macroeconomic issues that are in the news which included issues like infrastructure like ports, railway and waterways
Issues relating to RBI monetary policy, RBI’s role in economy, 25 years of LPG subsidy, civil aviation policy
Read Budget and Economic survey (Twin Balance sheet problem and bad bank loan) to cover the above topics
Other sources
For science and tech, read The Hindu (science portion)
For environment, read climate part of Economic Survey and India year book on environment
For disaster management, read Tata Mcgraw Hill
For internal security, read Tata Mcgraw Hill along with any standard magazine
GS Paper-4
Major topics
Case studies: Go through the previous year questions and analyse the mindset of question framers and see what kind of topics are generally asked for case studies part. Try to solve as much case studies as possible
Ethics: Questions are mostly asked from corporate governance, civil service, ethical issues, private and public affairs of the civil servants
Sources for Ethics: lexicon for ethics, second ARC recommendation
Once you are done with basic of polity, geography, history and economy with the help of NCERT books and above recommendations, try to spend most of your time analysing the previous years’ question papers and start solving them. It will help you assess yourself and then improvise on the areas lacking.
Before a month of the examination, try to remain calm and do not fret about any topics you have not covered. For better memorisation of facts, you must go through UNESCO websites, Ramsar sites, national parks and government websites and keep enrolling yourself in mock test papers which are helpful for gaining a sense of the exam.


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