Civil Services Exam: Daily Doubt Solving Sessions

Civil Services Prelims was held on August 7,2016. As expected the paper was challenging and definitely more difficult than last year. Now that the prelims is over and the result has also been declared, it’s time to start working hard for Mains without losing your peace of mind. Even if you didn’t make it this time, give your best shot for next year🙂

Mt. Sinai Academy (1)

I’ve received a lot of questions in the past few days across social media pertaining to different aspects of the Civil Services Exam. I’ve tried my best to answer them on social media as well on the email ids given by many of you. But my blog seemed the best medium to address them collectively so that more and more aspirants can benefit. Feel free to post your doubts in the comments section below and I will answer them one by one within 24 hours.

If your questions are not visible in the comments section immediately, do not worry. It only means that they are pending for my approval.

Looking forward to guide you a little better. After all our country needs dedicated bureaucrats. 

Make this year’s exam your greatest attempt. I wish each one of you my very best🙂

Civil Services Preparation



  The Gist of NCERT Books Combo (Set of 5 Books)


INDIAN POLITY by Laxmikanth




107 thoughts on “Civil Services Exam: Daily Doubt Solving Sessions

  1. I read ur answer regarding reading the hindu on quora. I will appear for civil services exam next year. Can you pls tell me more newspapers and magazines to follow for current affairs ?


    • See Hindu is THE most important newspaper when it comes to CSE preparation. Having said that , you can also follow any of the other national dailies like The Indian Express and Hindustan Times. As far as magazines are concerned, here are the MUST READ magazines –

      Science Reporter
      Down to Earth
      Civil Services Times


  2. Hello Akriti ji. I need help regarding public admn as optional. People say its scoring. Shoud I take it ?


    • Public Administration is a good optional but the criteria for selecting an optional should be the popularity of an optional. You should opt an optional based on your background in the subject, resources available and the fact that it will hold your attention till the very end. What subject have you graduated in ?


      • Sunil, if you don’t wish to take your own subject as your optional, consider the following points –

        Go through the syllabus of the optional you plan to take and check whether it has any familiarity with subjects you studies in graduation or familiarity in general.

        Go through its previous year papers and find out the level of difficulty or simplicity.

        Make sure you have guidance , both in the form of books and mentors/online forums so that you have an option of clearing your doubts.

        Lastly, do not allow popular opinion to take or reject an optional.


  3. Hi Akriti. I read many answers of yours on Quora and found them extremely useful so first of all thanks for that. Secondly, I want to ask you 2 things – Should I take up literature as an optional and what is the strategy to prepare current affairs ? Thanks once again

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad my answers proved useful to you Neha.

      Have you done your Hons. in literature (I’m guessing you’re asking about English Literature) ?

      See Current Affairs is an extremely significant component of General Studies. Let me point out that UPSC will never isolate current affairs and ask you questions. Instead, you will be tested on your ability to apply the events around to the syllabus in General Studies. For example, if a phenomena like El Nino was in news, you’ll be tested on that. Now that will be a component of both current affairs as well as geography. Get my point ?

      I suggest you read the Hindu daily.
      Read Yojana and Kurukshetra.
      Read the India Year Book
      Make Notes
      Watch national debates on TV


    • Hello Keval.

      This is what I suggest you to do –

      Read the Hindu religiously and make notes on a daily basis. This will help you immensely in remembering important information and will prove handy when the exam approaches.

      Read Yojana and Kurukshetra. Highlight the important points while reading and then make notes.

      Read the India Year Book from the first page to the last. UPSC picks up questions based on the information contained in the India Year Book .

      Watch national debates and news on TV so that you know what’s happening around the world. For instance , Hillary Clinton addressing the democratic convention was in news today so you have got to know about US Presidential campaign and the entire process.

      Follow InsightsonIndia. It’ll prove useful.

      All the best.


  4. My Goal is For IFS.
    I am familar with the syllabus and the process the only thing that is bothering me its a service that even high rankers wont get if they dont have that aptitude for it that is checked during the Interview process. Can you help me out on what kind of preparation should i do in my interviews and for further ahead to become a Good diplomat who can serve his nation.


    • IFS does not have a different preparation strategy. If you qualify the exam and secure a decent rank, your chances are good.

      In recent years people have started opting for IAS over IFS. Most of them don’t want to leave the country. Personally , I would have chosen IFS over IAS any day. Anyway to each their own.

      My point is that one can get IFS even at a lesser rank in recent times. Now this does not mean that you become casual in your preparation. But I’m just saying IFS is very much achievable.

      All the best.


    • Hi.

      Since you’re working, you’ll have to balance between your job and CSE preparation. But don’t worry it’s manageable with the right approach.

      Here’s what you need to do.
      Devote 3-4 hours daily for preparation, dividing them between morning and evenings or whatever suits you. On weekends and holidays, devote as much time you can.

      Let me share with you a 10 point strategy for working professionals –






      6.REFER WEBSITES –, InsightsOnIndia, Websites of different Ministries





      If you have any more doubts, you can always drop by my blog and I’ll reply within 24-48 hours.

      All the very best.


  5. Hello ma’am, needed guidance in sociology as optional in terms of book,strategy and execution with optimal efficiency.


    • Start with reading the Hindu and build a strong foundation for current affairs. You’ll have to learn to connect the current affairs in Hindu to your syllabus.

      Then move on to NCERT books (subject wise) and clear all the basics.

      Finally move on to bigger recommended books and make sure to make notes and revise frequently.

      All the best.


    • Sure.

      In paper I, attempt questions you are absolutely sure of and if at all you have to guess, make an informed choice. No wild guessing recommended.

      In Paper II, Attempt comprehension last of all. Begin with GMA and Numeric ability.

      Stay confident.

      All the best.


  6. Everybody keeps saying NCERT books should be read but I don’t find them useful. Can you please clear my confusion ?

    Are you from Himachal mam ?


    • See NCERTS are good for building a good foundation. I won’t say they are enough (especially the new ones). They should be supplemented with additional books but one should read them thoroughly , nevertheless.

      You might not be finding them useful owing to the fact that they are a compilation of various books and resources. So to study from the original resource is any day better. Having said that, UPSC picks up questions from them so reading them is a must.

      Yes, Himachal is my home state.


  7. Hello ma’am,
    I’m graduating with an architecture degree next year and so selecting an optional subject is becoming a daunting task for me. I am passionate about English and writing, yes – but my grammar definitely needs tinkering. Also I have never really read Shakespeare.
    – 1. I just wanted to know if taking English will be the right thing and I wanted to know if its scoring or not.
    Also, my other obvious options would be sociology and public ad – but when I think about religiously studying a subject it would rather be English than anything else.
    – 2. Also, how to make notes while reading the newspaper?
    Thank you, very much.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Shreya,

      I gave Civil Services with English Literature as an optional in 2014. It worked very well for me. Now there are 2 reasons for it.

      Firstly, my graduation as well as post graduation subject was English Literature i.e Hons. in English & Masters in English. So the syllabus prescribed for UPSC was mostly familiar to me.

      Secondly, I topped both in graduation as well as Masters so my grip on the subject was extremely good (not boosting here but stating a fact so that you understand my point).

      I was comfortable with my optional because I was passionate about it, had the resources (made notes through out my academics) and i was familiar with the subject matter.

      Now let’s analyse your situation for a bit. You’ve stated 2 things –

      First thing is that you don’t have a background in Literature as an academic subject. But you want to consider it because your subject of graduation (architecture is not mentioned in UPSC’s official list).

      Second thing – You’re passionate about literature.

      Seeing your situation objectively, here’s what I’ll suggest you –

      Go through the official syllabus prescribed by UPSC and find out your level of familiarity with it.

      Next go through the question papers to see what kind of questions are expected from an aspirant with English Literature.

      Assuming that you’ve done the things mentioned above, you decide to opt for literature, here’s what I need you to do –

      Make sure that you read each and every book prescribed in the syllabus cover to cover. No selective study recommended.

      Be sure of the fact that reading original texts is just the initial stage of preparation. You are expected to know the entire History of Literature right from the origin of literature up till the contemporary times i.e from the time of Geoffrey Chaucer to Post Modernism.

      Once you have a strong foundation, you will have to study Literary Theory as mentioned in the syllabus. For example – Cultural Studies, Feminism, Deconstruction etc.

      Once you’re done with Literary Theory, learn to apply various theories to the texts that have been prescribed.

      Do not follow any cheap guides available in the market. Follow standard explanations only (you’ll need them because to understand concepts).

      Be a member of any nearest library (preferably a college or a university library) because you will be needing the help of something called as the ‘Case Book Series’.’ You are expected to use them as references. Buying them is not possible . They’re hugely expensive and not available largely in India.

      Understand the fact that english literature and english grammar are not the same things. A literature student is expected to have strong grammar, sure. But literature is way expansive.

      Lastly, have a good command on different elements of literature – symbolism, figures of speech, imagery etc because you’ll need this knowledge in the compulsory question on Unseen passage where you’re expected to critically analyse it completely. You’ll do it well once you have practice. I insist buy a good glossary. I’ll suggest you to buy – A Glossary of English Literature by M.H.Abrahams.

      All the very best Shreya.
      If you need additional help, feel free to contact me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you, so much, Akriti for the detailed explanation. It is very helpful. I will look deeply into the syllabus and question papers again. And also the History of Literature.

        One of the reasons why I prefer English is that this is the subject I’ve loved the most and I wanted to take it up after school but I wasn’t allowed to, sadly. Now I’ve moved onto the next level and I believe I can spend time studying Literature , liking the process instead of looking at it as a burden which could be the case if I take something like Anthropology, etc.

        I will try to understand more and get back to you.
        Thank you, very much.


  8. Your Quora Status says -Ex CSE Aspirant? What does it mean?? Why did you left preparation ? What went wrong? Share your journey…!!


    • That’s correct Aakash, I left my preparation.

      See the thing is that I gave my 1st attempt in the year 2014. Qualified the Prelims as well as Mains Exam in my maiden attempt. Started preparing for the Interview but was offered an opportunity abroad. I had to make an informed decision and i chose the Corporate World over UPSC. That’s my story. Hence the ‘Ex CSE Aspirant’ status on Quora.

      Till the time I was an aspirant, I put my heart and soul in it but when something better came along, grabbed it. That’s all.

      Nevertheless, I do wish every dedicated aspirant of Civil Services my best and they’re always welcome to seek guidance.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I was in my last semester of my graduation, that’s why I am not applied for CSE 2016. Should I start preparation for CSE 2017 from now. As I just cleared all my exams. Please suggest me all required books for preliminary and mains.
    I am a physically challenged boy, am I eligible for CSE?


    • Hi Bishnu,

      You are eligible for CSE 2017.

      The books that I’ve mentioned above are all MUST READ books. You must start preparing from them and build a strong foundation.

      I insist , begin with General Studies for Paper 1 (Prelims).

      Here are the books I’ll suggest –
      POLITY – Laxmikanth
      GEOGRAPHY – Khullar+NCERTs
      ECONOMY- Ramesh Singh
      HISTORY- Bipin Chandra + NCERTs
      CURRENT AFFAIRS – The Hindu Newspaper (Read and make notes daily) , The India Year Book

      All these books are needed to begin your preparation. Once you’re through, then move on to the next round of books (You can contact me here in case you feel like)

      All the very best.


  10. now . im in last year of mechanical engineering . i am not getting proper time to prepare for upsc study due to assignments and study work …i dont t wont to opt mechanical subject as
    upsc optional …what should i do for this …..and what should i do for the preparation from now ..??


    • First of all, don’t panic. You just need to strategize. That is all.

      If you don’t want to opt for mechanical engineering, its absolutely ok. UPSC has a wide range of optionals. You can choose the optional best suited to your interest. I recently wrote an article for an exam preparation website. If you feel like, you can have a look.

      Here –

      Now let’s come to the problem of time. You need to give in a fixed number of hours for preparation daily. I insist you start with just 2 hours daily. But make sure these 2 hours are exclusively for CSE preparation. How about starting from the basics ? Start reading the Hindu daily and don’t forget to make notes. Along with the Hindu, pick up any one NCERT , let’s say Physical Geography and start reading it as well.

      Gradually move on from 2 hours to 4 hours to 6 hours so on and so forth. But remember that it is not the number of hours that matter. It is the output achieved in these hours that will make the difference. Also, try to give more sittings on weekends.

      It’ll all turn out just fine.
      All the best Pratik.


  11. Hello Mam,
    I’ve done masters in Economics but I’m reluctant to take it as an optional because of the 2nd paper i.e. Indian Economy.I have scored poor marks in that paper both in graduation & masters.I can’t afford coaching & so have to depend on self preparation.So resource is obviously a constraint for me.Under this situation I have gone through the Anthropology optional syllabus & it seems somehow manageable .Am I going to face any difficulty in personality test for choosing Anthropology instead of Economics (inspite of completing masters)? Please guide.
    With Regards,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey.

      You don’t need to worry so much. Seeing the fact that you’re not able to perform well in economics, it is recommended that you choose another optional ..So well done.

      Let me tell you that anthropology is a really good optional. Pretty interesting too. UPSC will not judge you on your optional, you can be sure of that so don’t freak out. Start preparing Anthropology well🙂

      All the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Akriti , I am puzzled over overload of current affairs and how to make coherent consolidated notes. What I did was pick 9 sheets – 1) polity related news 2) Environment/ecology related news 3) S&T news 4) Economic news 5) factfile/statistical data/rankings 6) Person,places,awards in news 7) Keynote/Punchlines/one liners 8) Summits/Conference/Foreign Visits 9) Laws/Rules in question. Apart from that I have thought to summarise editorials & opinions elsewhere but finding that difficult to do. Additionally , jotting down vocab and meaning too.
    This is a cumbersome exercise.What’s your review on it?

    Magazines to refer Yojana, Kurukshetra, Frontline, EPW, Economist, World Focus ( I bought them all but couldn’t do many ).

    Additionally there are sources like mrunal, insights, pib etc.

    Q1):- How to compile all these sources into 1 current affairs ?

    Q2):- Doing all this can be puzzling and kind of overdose.Do you insist these all to be done for perfection ?
    Q3):- How to reduce time used on this exercise. Its humungous.


    • Hi Sumit.

      I completely understand your situation. During me preparation I too struggled with multiple resources but realized eventually that I can neither cut down on the resources nor cut down on time. So I had to go with it. What i did do differently though, was that i put everything on a schedule with a deadline – something like a time table.

      I insist you try the same. It will help you to be a little more efficient. So lets’s say you can put resources to make notes for each day. For example –
      Monday- EPW 2 hours
      Tuesday- Yojana 2 hours
      Wednesday- Environment Notes
      Thursday – Pib on and so forth.

      The Hindu should be read daily so make notes for each day (across topics) preferably in the evenings. Spend the rest of the day preparing other subjects.

      Mrunal keep studying as and when you reading a similar topic plus exclusively on Saturdays (I hour)

      For instance if you’re preparing for a topic like BASEL II Norms , refer to mrunal.

      Now to answer your 3 specific questions –

      Q1):- How to compile all these sources into 1 current affairs ?

      Current Affairs will never be 1 secluded topic. It will always be prepared with reference to something. So make notes subject wise –

      Current Affairs (Indian Polity)
      Current affairs(Economy)
      Current affairs(environment)
      Current affairs (geography)
      Current Affairs(International Relations)
      Current Affairs (General Knowledge) – Put all the miscellaneous things here.

      These notes will be extremely useful during Mains as well.

      Q2):- Doing all this can be puzzling and kind of overdose.Do you insist these all to be done for perfection ?

      Perfection NO, Excellence YES.
      Make notes but keep them concise (that’s the whole purpose). Remember you have to know the best and present the best in the exam out of the given material. Stick to the point. UPSC doesn’t expect you to be a be a perfectionist, it expects you to be well aware and resourceful.

      Q3):- How to reduce time used on this exercise. Its humongous.

      As mentioned earlier, stick to a time table and keep daily deadlines.
      No pains, no gains right ? CSE is the most challenging exam in the country , so time is something, you have got to invest. Once you’re done with notes, you just have to revise. Making good notes is one of the essential steps of CSE preparation. So don’t worry. Your notes will take you a long way🙂

      All the very best and let me know how did the deadline strategy work out for you ?

      Take care.


      • Thank you Akriti for your efforts !

        Well, I currently have RBI Grade B exam & Rajasthan Admn Services (pre) exam lined up in less than a month time. So , I am looking up for these exams although not very convinced about either’s preparation.Both are scheduled very closely making it difficult.

        As far as this exercise goes I will try to chalk out a schedule from Sep end when I get free from these.

        Do you have an idea about the utility of study material for RBI Grade B from some das academy or for that matter any other as due to paucity of time I wont be able to do standard material ?


  13. Hello mam,
    I am prepraring for cse 2017. I did my btech in cse. I am confused between sociology and polity as which optional will be better. Though both the subjects are new to me, how can one make a final choice. What would be the preparation strategy.



    • First of all, apologies for the late reply. Skipped your comment somehow.

      See as far as the optional goes, both polity and sociology are good optionals. But that’s not the point. Point is whether you will be comfortable pursuing them throughout your preparation. I insist, go through the syllabus for both subjects in details and then make a final choice.

      I’d written an article on a website regarding the choice of optionals.If you feel like, you can refer to it as well.

      Here –


  14. Hello Ma’am!
    I gave my prelims for the first time yesterday and i found the gs paper to be very easy but unfortunately, my score would be less than 33% in csat thus getting disqualified..i have attended coaching from june 2015 and now i am aware of the pattern of upsc far better than how i was , a year before..

    Now that , can you please help me as to how to go about for 2017 prelims?

    Thank You.🙂


  15. 1-Dear mam all i would like to know.i read the hindu regiously but dont make note out of it but i am considering vision ias current affairs notes and insight on india (daily) . Is it feasible idea since i just started prelaring for the cse2017(completed BBA this year).
    2- i had been gone through unacademy video of tina dabi for mains and prelim preparation and there i find out she used vajiram and vision notes enormously. Should i follow that too cause i find it smart idea along with coveri g standard books.
    thanks .please do reply.


    • Hi Prince,

      See , both Vision IAS and InsightsonIndia are good sources BUT do not leave making notes from the hindu. You must have them till the end. They will help you immensely. It is always better to read the original source than any other compilation.

      As for Tina Dabi or any other successful aspirant for that matter, you have to understand that each one has a unique strategy as per one’s requirements so i request you to not go blindly by what toppers say. Sure, follow their lead but not blindly.

      I hope you got my point. All the very best.


  16. Hello ma’am .

    As said earlier ,how do I get started with mains.
    This is my maiden attempt. Haven’t practiced any answer writing, only a few here and there.

    If possible ,plz mention a detailed strategy.
    Thanks in advance.:-)


  17. Hello! Mam. I am in 3rd year of engineering and preparing for upsc 2018. I have started reading the Hindu newspaper and have targeted to complete the ncerts by the end of this year. Many times I get tensed as how would I be able to balance between my engineering final year studies and upsc preparation. Please kindly guide.


    • Hello Pragati,

      What you’re facing right now is the predicament for a lot of aspirants. But don’t worry. All you need is a time table or a disciplined schedule that you should follow. You have got to devote a few hours daily to CSE preparation. Consistency is what matters here. 3 hours daily and more hours on the weekends and holiday.

      You have 2 years to go for your 1st attempt so you have the advantage of giving more time to each topic. Chalk out a daily schedule where you alternate subjects. Try not to study the same subject daily.

      Best wishes.


  18. Hello mam,I graduated in computer science which is not available in UPSC optional subjects list.I am thinking to take up as a n optional as I found polity interesting. But people say that this subject requires flowry English and good command over English.I was suggested to take up,philosophy like subjects which are static as well as scoring. What should i do now mam?


    • Hi Praful,

      Before I go any further, let me offer you a suggestion – Opt for the optional YOU think is best for you and not anybody else (nobody).

      Now coming on selecting an optional, Polity is a damn good optional. It’ll help you with General Studies as well. As far as command over English goes, keep practising and tr reading more.

      Lastly, NO subject is scoring/non-scoring.

      Your preparation can make an apparently low scoring optional as high scoring.

      Best wishes🙂


  19. hii akriti mam , i just get started foe cse , i am in 3rd year , can u please tell me how to get started . tell me about how to prepare for mains exam . iam from engg background tell me about strategies to crack cse . also tellvabout the books like ncerts, hindu , etc on a detail , and most important thing that how to get prepared smartly than just only doing hardwork i have 2 years time for preparations so tell me how to lay a good foundation for the exams . i will wait for reply


    • Hey Shobana

      Either will do actually. But I have to say here that even though Norman Lowe is a damn good book, it’s quite bulky. You don’t necessarily need to read the whole thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi akriti madam, being a forestry graduate, i am desperate to get into the indian forest services. Both my mains subjects are well prepared, the only problem is regarding the gs paper of prelims. Please suggest me a strategy to somehow just qualify the prelims with flying colours, since the cut off for IFS is quite high. In my last attempt, i scored 80, without preparation. But after 2 years, when i have got a backup job, I want to put my heart and soul into it. Mains is not much matter of worry, since my concepts of optionals are good. Its just the high prelims cutoff that is bothering me. Please help. Regards.


  21. Hello Mam ! I am preparing for IAS 2017. What is the correct time to start preparation of optional? How much time required for optional preparation? My optional subject is Sociology .


    • Hello Sagar,

      Optional should be prepared along with the GS preparation. However until the time of the preliminary examination, GS should be the main focus. However Optional shouldn’t be left for the end. I insist you start understanding the syllabus and make notes for the optional as of now. Prioritize GS over the Optional. Nevertheless, invest 1.5 hours on the optional daily at least till March. After that keep revising.

      All the very best.


  22. hello Mam…i have opted for geography as optional…
    plz help me. which books and notes should i refer and plz also tell how to properly manage time as the syllabus is huge..plz help


    • Hi Vishlesh,

      Geography is a vast subject (one of my favourites though ).

      I’m not sure on which level of preparation you are currently but i’ll try to guide you from scratch.

      Begin your preparation with –
      ICSE Books (Classes 8th, 9th and 10th)
      NCERT Books ( Classes 9th, 10th, 11th 12th)

      Once you’re familiar with the syllabus and have understood most, if not all the topics, proceed to the following books –
      Physical Geography – Savindra Singh
      Geography of India – Majid Hussain
      Oxford School Atlas.

      Try enjoying geography as you proceed further in the syllabus because you’re getting to know the world better. Don’t ever get boggled down by the vastness of the syllabus.

      Read and understand Physical Geography and Indian Geography thoroughly and have the syllabus on your tips so that you know exactly how much you’ve covered.

      Besides books, try incorporating certain events (which you find around – be it in newspapers/magazines/journals/TV) i your notes by relating them to the topics in your syllabus.

      Since Geography is your optional, let me suggest you some books topic wise –
      Oceanography by Sharma & Vatal, NCERT

      1.Physical Geography by Strahler & Strahler
      2.Geomorphology by Savindra Singh

      1.General Climatology by Critchfield
      2.Climatology by D.S.Lal

      Biogeography :
      1.Physical Geography – Made Simple, Rupa Publisher
      2.Physical Geography by Strahler & Strahler

      Environmental Geography
      1.Environmental Awareness by R.C.Chandna
      2. Environmental Geography by Saxena

      Population Geography
      1.Human Geography by Majid Husain
      2.Urbanization & Urban Systems in India by Ramachandran

      1.Agriculture Geography by Majid Husain
      2. Hindu’s Annual Survey on Agriculture

      1.Economical and Commercial Geography of India by C.B. Mamoria
      2.Economical and Commercial Geography by Sharma & Coutinho

      In addition to the mentioned books, refer to K Sidhartha’s Notes on Geography.

      Try making notes and revise them regularly.

      As for time management, you’ll have to balance your optional along with GS. The best way to do this is by making a time table and following it earnestly.

      All the very best:)

      Feel free to drop by for any additional concerns.


  23. Hello Ma’am, I am a beginner in UPSC preparation,and will appear for exams in 2020.I am very confused how to start preparation.And I am very confused that if we are studying history from works of notable writers like those of RS sharma,Satish chandra,and Bipin chandra what’s the need of reading ncerts ,which contains incomplete information and not even in detail.Same doubts are related with political science and Geography.
    Please help mam!!


    • Hi Saransh,

      NCERTS are for basics. So going through them is essential for having a basic grip over the syllabus. Reading them will do you no harm🙂

      So go through them and then move on to the more popular writers. You know a lot of times the very popular writers also compile the content for their books from NCERTs . You have a lot of time for your first attempt so go through each and every topic religiously. It’ll prove a major advantage later on.

      As for Geography and Polity, sure drop by your queries. I’ll try to help you.

      All the very best🙂


  24. I am an engineering first sem student and read the Hindu daily but don’t know how to read it so as to prepare for UPSC ? please guide me!!


    • Hindu will seem a little complicated at first but don’t worry. Not only is it one of the best newspapers for CSE preparation but also an essential requisite for having a grip over current affairs.

      Try to read Hindu during evenings and even if it takes a lot of time, hang in there. Mark the important news items with a coloured pen and jot them down so as to make short notes (Later search for those news items more on the internet and compile full length notes). Revise these notes daily, weekly and monthly. This way you’ll build a rock solid foundation.

      While reading the Hindu, don’t stress too much on each and every item. You can skip things that are not important. But do give a quick reading so as to not miss out anything. Once you develop a regular habit of reading the Hindu, it’ll be like a piece of cake.

      All the very best.
      P.S : Make sure you make notes from the Hindu no matter how much time it takes.


    • GS Paper 4 has kept the aspirants perplexed ever since it was introduced in the new pattern. But don’t worry. All you need to do is divide the syllabus. Paper 4 is an amalgamation of philosophy, public administration, psychology in addition to case studies.

      Going through previous year GS 4 papers will help you familiarize yourself with the type of questions asked as well as the syllabus. See there will NEVER be any one source that covers this paper. You’ll have to refer to multiple sources.Let me suggest a few books/resources –

      1. Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by G Subba Rao and PN Roy Chowdhary
      2. Ethics study material from IGNOU
      3. Psychology Books (NCERT +ICSE Classes 11th, 12th)
      4. Introduction to Psychology – Morgan and King
      5.Ethical Concerns in Public Administration – IGNOU
      6. Corruption, Ethics and Accountability: Essays by an Administrator
      7. 2nd ARC Report on Ethics and Governance

      Besides the above sources, keep a tab on the ongoing events and try to fit yourself in the decision maker’s position. This will help you in the case study questions. But remember , in these questions don’t write in a way that makes you come across as fake. Genuinity and honesty is most important. So no over sermonizing morality. Not required🙂

      For case studies refer to

      Have an insight on things and this paper will be easy to crack.


  25. Hello,I am 1st year student of bcom ,recently started preperation for upsc few weeks back from chandigarh but I am getting confuse about my strategy to learn or to divide the work time . Everyone is just telling u have very time …very time .very time 😉
    But actually i want to use my this extra time as a benifit for me .


    • Hi Jaskaran,

      I’m glad that you feel you should utilize as much time as possible for preparation.

      The advantage that you have is that you can religiously spend a lot o time on each and every topic. This will benefit you immensely.

      But do enroll yourself in any good test series just to have your preparation evaluated. But that can happen around 6-7 months later. Till then keep preparing and mastering the syllabus.

      All the very best🙂


  26. Hi Akriti Ma’am. How would your 10 month preparation strategy look like?(This is the time I’ve got) Also is coaching necessary? I’m self confident that I can manage without coaching but I always feel people who take coaching have an upper hand. How do I keep my preparation focused and to the point? I don’t want to waste time learning unnecessary topics. Thank you.


    • Hi Prathviraj,

      Before i elucidate a ten month preparation strategy, let me tell you that – People who opt for coaching neither have an advantage nor a disadvantage. It depends on an individual entirely. Coaching has nothing , and i stress on the word NOTHING to do with one’s success. All it does it add a little direction in one’s course of preparation , that too for some people only. So you have absolutely nothing to fear my friend🙂

      Now coming to a preparation strategy –
      Start with basics. Read concepts, understand them, marvel them and make notes.
      Revise regularly.
      Read the Hindu daily.
      Read magazines like Yojana, Kurukshetra every 2 days (in case they pile up).
      Start with the section of the GS you’re most comfortable with and hold agrip over it. Once you’ll be confident, move on to the weaker sections. Don’t ever postpone something you’re not interested in.

      First 2 months should be exclusively about GS. From the 3rd month, start studying from the point of view of Mains as well. 4th month start with the Optional along the GS preparation. 5th month onwards enroll in any online Mock test series for Prelims. 6th month start revising both Prelims as well as Mains. Also keep preparing all the left out syllabus (because you will have a lot left).
      7th month start practising answer writing. Will help you immensely. 8th month onwards start preparing for GS paper 2 (prelims) as well. It’s only qualifying but you still need to practice. Invest some time daily for it along GS .9th, 10th month should be devoted to Prelims revision exclusively.

      Pick up the Mains preparation a week after the Prelims is held.

      All the very best Prathviraj🙂


  27. Hello Akriti Mam , am English graduate from university of Delhi , currently pursuing masters from ignou in the same subject . I did a big blunder with my grad. score (52%), will it hamper my chances into getting selected to civil services ?


    • Hi Pradeep,

      First of all apologies for replying late. Somehow, your comment was spammed by wordpress. Anyhow, coming to your question –
      Oh no it won’t. Don’t stress out on your academic score.

      Just prepare for the exam earnestly.

      In case you want to opt for English Literature as an optional, the DU Syllabus will help you immensely. A lot of texts prescribed by UPSC are a part of DU’s curriculum.

      All the best.


      • I am opting English as my optional subject , am fully flummoxed about English literature UPSC syllabus , different sites are showing different syllabus .Can you help me out , what texts UPSC has prescribed for optional syllabus for English literature .
        Thanks for replying my formal message no need to apologize.


      • Here is the complete list of texts prescribed by UPSC for English Literature syllabus –

        For Paper I Section A

        1. William Shakespeare : King Lear and The Tempest.

        2. John Donne. The following poems :

        – Canonization;

        – Death be not proud;

        – The Good Morrow;

        – On his Mistress going to bed;

        – The Relic;

        3. John Milton : Paradise Lost, I, II, IV, IX

        4. Alexander Pope. The Rape of the Lock.

        5. William Wordsworth. The following poems:

        – Ode on Intimations of Immortality.

        – Tintern Abbey.

        – Three years she grew.

        – She dwelt among untrodden ways.

        – Michael.

        – Resolution and Independence.

        – The World is too much with us.

        – Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour.

        – Upon Westminster Bridge.

        6. Alfred Tennyson : In Memoriam.

        7. Henrik Ibsen : A Doll’s House.

        For Paper I Section B

        1. Jonathan Swift. Gulliver’s Travels.

        2. Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice.

        3. Henry Fielding. Tom Jones.

        4. Charles Dickens. Hard Times.

        5. George Eliot. The Mill on the Floss.

        6. Thomas Hardy. Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

        7. Mark Twain. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

        For Paper II, Section A

        1. William Butler Yeats. The following poems:

        – Easter 1916

        – The Second Coming

        – A Prayer for my daughter.

        – Sailing to Byzantium.

        – The Tower.

        – Among School Children.

        – Leda and the Swan.

        – Meru

        – Lapis Lazuli

        2. T.S. Eliot. The following poems :

        – The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock

        – Journey of the Magi.

        – Burnt Norton.

        3. W.H. Auden. The following poems :

        – Partition

        – Musee des Beaux Arts

        – in Memory of W.B. Yeats

        – Lay your sleeping head, my love

        – The Unknown Citizen

        – Consider

        – Mundus Et Infans

        – The Shield of Achilles

        – September 1, 1939

        – Petition.

        4. John Osborne : Look Back in Anger.

        5. Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot.

        6. Philip Larkin. The following poems :

        – Next

        – Please

        – Deceptions

        – Afternoons

        – Days

        – Mr. Bleaney

        7. A.K. Ramanujan. The following poems :

        – Looking for a Causim on a Swing

        – A River

        – Of Mothers, among other Things

        – Love Poem for a Wife 1

        – Samll-Scale Reflections on a Great House

        – Obituary

        For Paper II, Section B

        1. Joseph Conrad. Lord Jim

        2. James Joyce. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

        3. D.H. Lawrence. Sons and Lovers.

        4. E.M. Forster. A Passage to India.

        5. Virginia Woolf. Mrs Dalloway.

        6. Raja Rao. Kanthapura.

        7. V.S. Naipal. A House for Mr. Biswas.


  28. Hi mam, I am preparing for upsc 2017 and I haven’t started with preparation for optional and my optional is political science, don’t know how to start with it and for general studies I’ve started with basics mam, so could you please provide me strategy for both and how to improve answer writing skills since I’m poor in English answer writing.
    Thank you mam


    • I’ll recommend the following books –

      A Complete History of English Literature by Compton and Rickett

      History of English Literature by Dr. Bhimsen Dahiya

      A Critical History of English Literature by David Daiches


  29. Hello Mam,
    Can you please guide me with strategy for Philosophy optional preparation, i have gone through last five years papers. Syllabus is short but it appears more context based.
    What things should i keep in mind while reading the standard books so that i can maximize score. I am starting this subject from scratch.
    Which test series can i take for Philosophy for answer writing practice.


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