Civil Services Exam: Daily Doubt Solving Sessions

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 🙂

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

  1. Good morning.

    Here i come again,and here comes my question
    👉 Can’t we opt for english in the second qualifying paper ?

    And and thanks a ton for every answer.


      • Is there any paper in which we have to opt. Any of the prescribed indian languages ?
        Can we take english in that or taking hindi is compulsory ?


      • You have 2 qualifying papers – One is for an Indian Language and the other is for English. Both are compulsory and of qualifying nature.


      • Sorry if my question was ambiguous to you.
        I know that there are two papers,(but thought english as the 1st paper).
        Both are of qualifying nature.As i am not soo good in hindi and dont know any other indian language ,
        My question is about Indian language.
        Can we choose english in this paper of indian language or i’ll have to go for hindi.
        (The question may sound childish but someone told me,English can be chosen and it is avaliable as an indian language and many more things)
        Some people impregnate our mind with doubts,we should be thankful to people like you who are there free our mind.


      • No you cannot choose English in the Indian language.

        UPSC has prescribed a list of Indian languages (including Hindi) . You can choose from the list.

        I hope your doubts are cleared now.

        Best wishes.


  2. I hv done masters in eng lit. I dnt knw abt the kind of marks we get in upsc for literature. so kindly tell the highest or approx marks which we can get by choosing this sub seeing the previous record. I also want to know abt the types of questions the panel puts during interview for candidates with eng literature.


    • See marks will depend totally on your performance. Having given the Mains with English Literature , I can assure you that its a scoring optional. As for the type of questions asked in the interview, they will vary from literatures across the globe as well as cultural studies.


  3. Hi mam,as the next years prelims is in june ,when should we start preparing exclusively for prelims?
    2)The topics which are only for mains ,should I cover them now or after prelims?


    • Start preparing from this moment itself Praful. Also prepare for Mains along with Prelims. At least 80% of the syllabus. You won’t get the time later.

      All the very best.


  4. Hello mam.
    I am in my last year of graduation(BA Eng Lit.) and planning to appear cse in 2018.
    Can you suggest me study materials for English Literature as an optional?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Purvi

      English Literature was my optional too 🙂

      I am going to suggest to you exactly the same resources that I recommend other aspirants who take up literature.

      So here is what I need you to do –

      Start with the prescribed texts (available on the UPSC website). Else, I’ll let you know.

      Start with the History of English Literature and choose one prescribed text at a time and try to read it within a week.

      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.


  5. I’m 2nd year civil Engg student .. UPSE CSE aspirant…. Little confused to choose optional sub for mains ….. should I take my Engg subject as a optional or any other subject
    Plz tell me what is the best choice for me

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bikram. See choosing an optional is extremely crucial for one’s overall score. If you’re damn good at Civil Engineering , go for it. If not, pick up any other optional.

      Let me know. We’ll figure something out.


  6. Good morning miss,
    Sorry for my late actually very late comment,Thanks for your answers .
    I have more questions waiting I’ll ask soon.
    Have a good day ☺


  7. Hello mam my question is that how one should make his base strong in eng-literature which basic books should one has to read first before graduation.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks a lot !
    I have to share something, which will describe both my situation and problem.
    I read in famous college (not going to name it) in B.A part 1,this college had produced many politicians and 1 of the famous actor turned politician.
    I have opted for english literature as hons. And geo and history as subsidiary but now the intresting part comes which is hard to belive,ProfessOrs here are party animals,(i think they wake up late so never take their classes);Students are Vampires(fear from light and day class).
    History is mystery (no one knoWS who is the actual diety),Geography department is like cemetery.
    (*few prof. are honest too)

    I have to do everthing at my own.

    Now tell me,what should i do ?

    Tell me some books for english,history and geo for all the three years which will serve beneficial for both graduation and UPSC.

    What should be my strategy for UPSC in this situation ?


    • If your professors aren’t working hard enough, you do. After all it is your exam 🙂

      A lot of aspirants study the entire syllabus on their own. It’s actually a good thing because you make the double the effort and have a better grip over things.


      • Ya,i am taking eng. Literature as an optional in UPSC;and in my Graduation along with eng. Literature as my hons.,and geo and history as subsidiary.


  9. Thanks..
    Which books should i prefer while doing graduation,which will be beneficial for both graduation and civil services ?
    My subjects in B.A are English literature as mains and geography and history as optionals.


    • As far as your graduation is concerned, you must have a prescribed syllabus. So at least finish those first and not just superficially

      Also, I’d like to ask why are you not taking Literature as an optional ?.


  10. Hello Ma’am,

    I am a Chemical engineering undergraduate. I want to give UPSC Mains with English Literature as my optional. But honestly, I am not sure about this. At one side there is the excitement of reading all the amazing books and poems that are part of the UPSC syllabus. I will never get tired while preparing for this optional.

    The problem is that I don’t have a background. I did study literature in school. We studied As You Like It and Macbeth, and I loved both these works. But I clearly remember that the teachers always came up with some critical analysis they must have found somewhere during their research, the significance of a line or a word or a stanza, some biblical reference engraved within that I could never have dreamt of. We were supposed to learn those things.

    So, in short, my problem is that of resources, and if it is even practically possible to prepare for this optional and compete against those who are BA, MA and even M.Phil. in literature. Coaching guidance for this optional, as I found out, is practically non-existent, and all the toppers have had their graduation from English Literature. I don’t want to take this optional just by being a hopeless romantic and screw myself over in UPSC, even though I am ready to take a reasonable and calculated risk. Is there any sound reason for taking literature as my optional?
    Also, it would be very kind of you if you could tell me about anyone in your knowledge who had English Literature as optional but hadn’t studied it during her/his grad years.

    Thank You in Advance!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I insist you take English Literature as an optional. Firstly, because you seem to have quite some knowledge of it and secondly because you’re giving me the impression that you come from an ICSE background. Is that true ?

      I’ll be more than happy to help you in case you decide to opt for it. Speaking of the students who take literature as an optional even though they don’t have a background in it – Yes a lot of students actually.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear ma’am,

        I think this does it for me! Only the preparation remains now.*sigh*

        Thanks a lot for your answer. It really made my day.

        I’m in my second year, so there is some time. However, I am serious about my decision.

        As for your query, yes you guessed it accurately, I am from ICSE. I am often asked this in this context, is it significant?

        Thanks a ton, again!


      • I’m glad it helped 🙂

        See being from an ICSE background is no big deal. I am an ICSE product myself. But I do feel that ICSE kids are better at understanding english literature than other school boards (though exceptions are always there ).

        So you wana go for it ?
        We can start step by step.


      • Step 1 will be for you to get 100% acquainted with the syllabus for literature and start buying the prescribed texts. You will then be expected to start reading. You will not spend more than 1 week on a text and you will not read any text superficially.


      • Take one genre at a time and then alternate it to avoid monotony. If you’re beginning with drama, pick up fiction next and then poetry. Also, start reading a good book on the History of English Literature.


  11. Dear Ma’am,
    I think you missed my earlier comment. Please reply to my previous query. I would be very grateful for any and every word of advise.


  12. Hello mam,

    I want to ask how should i prepare current affairs for prelims as well as mains and how and when to start writing practice…?


    • Hello Shivi,

      For Current Affairs , start reading the Hindu DAILY.

      Do it with all your sincerity.

      As for answer writing, how about making notes for current affairs itself .Sounds good ??


  13. Hello mam,
    I am a 1 st year 2nd sem student of btech. I want to start the preparation but i am confused to how to start and what to study 1st. Please guide.


    • Hello Aman, since you’re in the first year of your graduation, you have a major advantage and that is time.

      Start with General Studies and by reading the Hindu daily. Start from ICSE books, then move on to NCERT and last to reference books.

      But even before that, get familiarized with the syllabus. It’s damn important.

      How about you make a time table and stick to it. If you want, I can help you with it.


  14. Hello mam,I cant study in day noises ,it disturbs me and i tend to loose my focus.should I start to wear earplugs while studying?or start to study at night?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sure why not. Use noise cancelling earphones. You know there are these sounds, called white noise. You can use them as well. Research shows they help you focus better.


  15. Hello Mam,
    I had done masters in chemistry, i want to take public ad as my optional , so which book should I prefer for this subject. Please help me out.


    • Hi Jewis,

      If I may ask, why do you want to opt for Public Admin. and not your own subject ?

      Sure will help you out. Let’s start by being 100% clear 🙂


    • I read Laxmikanth first . But that was an individual choice. Laxmikanth is such a well written book with so much references from NCERTS that you can start your polity preparation with it.


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