ForumIAS AWG 2019 Entrance Exam will be held on 8th June | 9 AM.   CLICK HERE to know more and apply.
Ethics+ Batch 2 for CSE 2019
Starts 12th June, 2019Register Here
ForumIAS CGP 2020 Program commences from May 15th, 2019. CLICK HERE to know more and apply. Or email us on to know more
We are hiring!

Beginner's Adda

Let this be the permanent thread for the beginners who have recently joined online civil services examination preparation community. Aspirants who have just begin their preparation and also those who are planning to start their preparation in near future are welcome at this thread. Place your doubts and queries here and find the solution.

Lets Begin!!!
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥


  • i started 4 months before and i want to take coaching in delhi but some are saying its doesn't worth...
    guide me
  • i started it 2 months back and decided geography as my optional
    help me for which coaching i should go for
  • shabbir sir cant be an option coz admission to his batch closed
  • BeTTor said:

    shabbir sir cant be an option coz admission to his batch closed

    Try for neetu Singh for march batch. Visit her website for details.
  • I can do a post for 2016 preparation albeit the fact that I am not a topper but have been a senior player. But I am sorry I would do a detailed post for GS and sources, notes making, discipline to study and political science optional.

    Further doubts might not be entertained because I am not a regular member of the forum. I am free today.
  • @Atom Sir please post it.. for GS (P+M)
    Can't Decide from where to start

  • OK but kindly stop calling me Sir.
  • @Atom Sir , Can't help it.. force of habbit
  • Some habits should be changed for pleasing people in this case who is me.
  • edited December 2015
    Hahah .. Okay bro :P @Atom
  • @Atom which one will be a better idea to join neetu singh march batch or shabbir sir june btach
  • BeTTor said:

    @Atom which one will be a better idea to join neetu singh march batch or shabbir sir june btach

    Didn't attend any of them so cant comment.
  • The detailed post for Beginners is ready and shall be ensuing and incoming in the following threads.

    I request the moderators to make it as an announcement and also request all the beginners who shall be appearing in 2016 and beyond who want a generalistic strategy for Prelims+Mains to gather here and discuss.

    Kindly close all redundant such threads which are currently of no use.
  • 1) A Timetable

    A defined timetable is very important. Pehle pehle ye lagta hai, ki we will do this and we will do that, but it doesn't happen that way after a few months have elapsed. So first of all, make a comfortable timetable/study routine for yourself. Also keep space for some things other than cse preparation. It can be your hobbies and exercise is a must because aspirants study for long hours and they get tired due to lack of exercise and thereafter it takes a toll on their health. So exercise every day without fail whether you give this exam or not is a must. It can be anything say yoga/jogging/pushups/gymming and working out/gymnastics/even sports like football,cricket,basketball etc..

    Now apart from your physical routine you must see to it that apart from your graduation and your study related to cse and your exercise you do not waste time hours after hours on trivial and meaningless things because you know time is not a luxury when it comes for this exam and consider this a serious thing, as you begin your preparation. I am attaching you a sample routine for considering, you can make yours as you wish to study. Also an added advice: Try not to to do too late night studies like say till 2/3/4am in the morning and wake up @ 8/9/10am. This wont be good and might be detrimental both to your mental and physical constitution. I am not against studying at night but usually it doesnt help when exams are near because as you know for the exam and for the training period after selection you will have to be an early bird, so why not try being from now?

    Sample daily routine:-

    6-7am= brush+meditation(10mins minimum)+jogging(depends on you)
    7am-8am= yoga(half an hour-45minutes)+bath
    8am-9am= tea/breakfast
    9am-10am/11am= hindu newspaper+ current affairs(includes notesmaking)
    11.30-1.30pm= GS studying
    1.30-2.30pm= lunch
    2.30-4.30/5.30pm= Optional studying
    5.30pm-7pm=brisk walking+meditation(10mins minimum)+ chatting with people+music/tv+forum
    7pm-9pm=GS studying
    9pm-10pm=Dinner+TV(RSTV or a good news channel)
    10pm-11.30pm= Revision of the day/some answer writing/ CSAT practice. whichever you like!

    On Sundays, timetable will be same except the fact that apart from Newspaper studying, all the slots of study will be just allotted to revising the content read and studied during the week and also the notes prepared during the week.

    The above timetable can be moulded to your preferences and it is not a crime to include time for movies or some time for relatives or friends, but care should be taken that one must not indulge much but balance time well as this exam is about time management as well. Plus whatever you do, your targets should be done according to what you have planned. Say, Culture mein Indian Architecture in 5-6 days then it should be totally by 7 days or max 8days. Keeping it pending till 10 days is not good. Hope you understand my point.

    2) Syllabus

    Both for GS and Optionals, UPSC has given a syllabus and within there are certain topics and within topics, there are sub-topics. Now, we dont read or prepare books in UPSC. What we try to be thorough is the syllabus and therefore the topics and the subtopics come in the picture. So if someone advises cover 3 books for History or 4 books for Geography, kindly do yourself a favor and just move out of that place/room. What you need to do and where is gathering the sources topic-wise. So a good advice will be cover this book for Indian Ancient History, this book for Medieval History and this book for Modern History.

    Same goes for the optional subject as well. Kindly do not debate with me whether the optional will stay or it will go. That is something in which aspirants donot have a say in except the fact that you are doing a dharna or protest in Mukherjee Nagar, Delhi. So wasting time speculating about things in UPSC is a big NO. The ideal thing is preparing the syllabus and all its topics by giving the due and balanced attention and not at the expense of one topic over other and continuously revising them and doing answer writing practice.

    So in short, keep the syllabus by your side and also get the past question papers. You will need it!

    This is what I am following, as I have explained in my earlier posts, you can like any other book and be comfortable. There is no hard and fast rule. Also, I would advice you to do integrated study. I mean study for Mains+Prelims and not just Prelims/Mains.

    GS Paper 1

    Ancient and Medieval History :NCERTS shall suffice.

    Culture: Vague topic but try doing CCRT material and there is a compendium of GKToday which you will get if you search for or ask in the forum. These two are not enough but shall help. Also try to keep a look of new cultural developments in the Newspaper. The return on Investment for this specific topic is not high, so wont suggest much. Also an ex-topper AIR 51 Nitin Singhania had prepared handwritten notes which are available in Delhi as well as in the forum here, so you can also check that. So, these 3 but not more than that.

    Modern History: NCERT Modern India+ Spectrum's Rajiv Ahir. Short and concise book. Helpful for Prelims+ Mains.

    Post-Independence Indian History: Bipan Chandra's book is there but it is long and boring. Of course, you have time and you might make notes+read. But a greater idea will be doing VISIONIAS notes for this specific topic as I have read and seen they are comprehensive.

    World History: VISIONIAS has good material. It is comprehensive. Apart from that, you can also do NCERT(I cant remember the name) and if you feel then you can read history.

    Geography: As you know there are many parts, basically Indian Geography+Physical World Geography+ World Geography. So I am trying to cover what to read under one heading and also keeping the list short. Do NCERTS 11th and 12th thoroughly. After that do G C Leong. After that read Geography. And also Mrunal Patel has videos in Youtube where Rajtanil Solanki ex topper has explained in videos. You can watch them and understand them. Doing this much will give you a thorough understanding. But you will have to revise again and again. You can also if you feel do Majid Hussain for just Indian Geography part but even for that selected notes have been prepared by a person named Rajesh Nayak who himself made notes for Majid Hussain and all the NCERTS in all the subjects which goes by the name of "NCERT compilation". You can download and just keep that revision material after doing the basic texts. I dont want the lists to be huge so I have advised just minimal per topic, basically 2-3. Not more than that and even in many case it will be 1.

    Indian Society:

    This one has specific things like Women Empowerment,Urbanisation,Poverty,Regionalism,Communalism. Now source will be 1st of all since it is current based you will have to be thorough with the newspaper and current affairs. Apart from that, you can study for this part from InsightsonIndia articles which you have to search after going at their website. VISION IAS has some material for this which is good enough. Okay, that shall suffice and complement it with current affairs.

    GS PAPER 2

    Polity & Governance: 1st of all do Laxmikanth's Indian Polity. This will be the base book which you will have to do thoroughly. After doing Laxmikant, you will be able to understand the current affairs. Apart from this, you will have to 12th FYP(you will get summarized versions) or if you wish you can just read the Approach Paper if you wish to cut the time, 2nd ARC Reports( AIR 65 Raju Mishra has shared his own notes, so search in the net and you will get his blog), Punncchi Commission(this one is huge, I wont recommend going through the whole document so you can read the recommendations), VISIONIAS material for this topic. All these are fine but rest will have to be complemented by Current Affairs. Arey Haan, I forgot, India Year Book! My bad, but if you dont like to read the whole book which is generally released by the Government of India, Information and Broadcasting Ministry before prelims, then you can have summary of it which is brought out by New Vishal publication.

    India and the World: Now, I would advice you to read this book(Does the Elephant Dance by David M Malone) for getting a static knowledge by which I mean background knowledge of Indian diplomatic past. If you dont think this is worth your shot, you can read Pax Indica by Shashi Tharoor. Whichever shall be fine but the former is better than the latter. Another thing, this topic is totally current-oriented so newspapers and current affairs sources which will be dealt in another post. Apart from that, 2 more things: Indian Diaspora and International Institutions topic is mentioned explicitly so these are covered in VISIONIAS GS material. If not, IGNOU material has the Diaspora topic, but again a general reading and a lil bit notes will be enough. No need of spending much time. MEA Website is also a good source.
  • edited December 2015
    GS PAPER 3

    Economy: NCERTS 11th and 12th. Then Ramesh Singh is a book can be read. Some say it is enough and suggest SRIRAM material and some say other sources. It depends what you want, you can check each of the sources and the language which you feel is good, you can take. But caution: dont read too many sources. Take only 1 out of them. Next, head straight towards, he also has done Youtube lectures which if you browse, you will get the requisite links.

    Apart from that, Agriculture, Food processing, Land Reforms etc already explained nicely by, another source will be InsightsonIndia who also had written some articles on this segment. Apart from that VISIONIAS material can be read. This will be enough followed by Newspaper and Current Affairs.

    Environment: NCERTS and after that only do Shankar IAS material. Nothing else. Do this again and again. Apart from that, Current Affairs! here also.

    Science-Tech: another less return type topic. NCERTS are mandatory. Newspaper after this. You can follow n number of sources or books but there is no guarantee of questions from there. Current affairs will be helpful. This part also covers a bit of public health which you will understand from current is also there to help.

    Security: There is an IDSA monograph from Namrata Goswamy which you can read. SEarch it in the forum or google it up and you will get it. Apart from it, you can read articles specifically written by InsightsonIndia on Internal security challenges and cyber security challenges available on their websites. Current affairs again are crucial.

    This finishes this paper as well.

    GS Paper 4

    This paper since it has been newly introduced has many types of opinions about what to do and what not to do in it.
    It basically boils down to read few quality material and trying to be pragmatic in your approach while solving case studies and writing answers for most of the part. So here, you can read LEXICON material for Ethics,Integrity and Aptitude which is given by Chronicle Publications. A second source can be VISION IAS material. The material doesnt matter as much as expressive and problem-solving capacity.
  • edited December 2015

    First, let's deal with Current affairs which is what is ruling the Civil service exam at the moment. What to study? Which newspaper and how many? How many magazines to study or how many apps to study?

    1st of all, no topper or no one can cover whole current affairs and also no one can claim that xyz source covers it totally so we need to cram and vomit it. What is needed here is understanding that Current Affairs is needed in the exam to apply the dynamic elements in answer writing and later performing while being a part of the bureaucracy. So, static+dynamic both should be balanced and since we all know there are only 24 hours in a day in which an aspirant has to balance out his time to cover each and everything be it GS, his/her Optional, Answer writing and Current Affairs.

    Newspaper: No beginner can start doing 2 or 3 newspapers all of a sudden and nobody should try to do current affairs from fixed coaching modules. That would be a disaster to your learning capacity. Since UPSC is far away and takes its own time, events also take their own time to develop. As AIR 1 Gaurav Aggarwal has rightfully said, we should follow issues and not news. A news becomes a story after sometime as they say at Civilsdaily too. So, what you need to do is read 1 Standard Newspaper which can be either The Hindu and the editorial of another standard newspaper The Indian Express. Why? You need to balance out your issue with valid points from all angles which you can get by reading the editorials of these 2 dailies. Don't try to make notes all of a sudden. For the 1st 10-15 days try to make your reading as a novel, understanding the issues. Also skip Sport, Political and all the masala news and totally skip Regional news. Any law, committee, bill, development, policies, schemes and these kinds of stuff should be your issue. Try to relate the UPSC syllabus with the events in the newspaper. That would help.

    Magazine: There are many magazines circulating in the market but that would have been an ideal case if you were giving UPSC 1995. But truth be told the single most important magazine needed is Yojana. It is from th Government and lots of scholarly people write articles in it which will be helpful for essay, gs and even your optional right up to the Interview. Need, I mention the advantages more? Also, Kurukshetra,EPW,Frontline nowadays are not needed anymore. The 2 newspapers and Yojana are more than sufficient. Also, Yojana should be read for each month from November till November of the year you are appearing. Suppose, you are appearing in 2017, then start reading Yojana and make notes out of important articles from November 2016. Of course, if you have read before issues, it doesn't matter and is a boon. Apart from that if you can Rajya Sabha TV, there are some good debates which can be helpful and since it is visual media, it won't feel boring. Try to know the schedules of the programs and fine tune yourself in. InsightsonIndia provides RSTV summaries of important debates and you can follow that too.

    Websites:-, InsightsonIndia,MEA Website(IR), IDSA website(IR and Internal Security), PRS Legislative(for Bills and Committee Reports) and another good current affairs website can be There they curate the news from The Hindu, BBC, Business Standard, Indian Express, Live Mint, Hindustan Times, Economic Times,Pib,etc. Since they curate that for you and do half of your work, you can read the 2 newspapers and Yojana and also keep referring to them daily. They are also in plans to launch an offline magazine which will be released shortly. Download their app and they send newscards everyday according to the topic at hand and that later on becomes a different topic within itself.

    Coaching Material: VISION IAS Current affairs month wise compilations is undoubtedly which aspirants follow and you can also. Apart from that, instead of attending those huge expensive INR 1 Lakh types Coaching, one can take the materials as I have given topic wise and read from as they give their material for whole of GS. You can search for shops in Delhi or here in the Forum somebody can lend you. Before Prelims and Mains, they give you some material in case you haven't been regular with current affairs. Try following them for the GS part and supplementary part and also have those monthly current affairs compilations. That will do the job.

    Since I mentioned websites, I forgot to add ForumIas as you can see above there is something named "Portal" where if you can enter, there are fascinating articles written on myriad of topics and their latest initiative covers the newspaper in detail. Plus if you have problem spotting which articles are important for reading, then enlist for their "Newspaper of the Day" thing, they will directly drop a mail in your Inbox. That way every day you will stay updated.

    Apart from this, if you don't wish to go to Delhi and suffer long distance travel(if you are not from Delhi considering),
    then have access to this website This website provides all types of material from GS, Current affairs, Coaching material and Optional too. They are also reputed for bringing in e-paper for Hindu and Indian express and sometimes other newspapers as well. You can always have an eye but exercise discretion that you don't 1 gb of material from here that's why I advised to follow the syllabus and prepare topic by topic.

    YouTube videos: Rajya Sabha TV, Mrunal, Unacademy are 3 things which you can keep a tab on during your preparation. For Ethics, videos of Michael Sandel from Harvard is also good. But avoid giving excessive time.Follow discretion here also.
  • edited December 2015

    Everyone knows how to make notes but in UPSC it has to be in accordance with the syllabus and with our Requirements which should give us whatever we want for periodic revision. There are 2 methods for Notesmaking which I shall elaborately deal with:

    a) Offline Method(Physical paper)

    This method is time-taking yet it is useful for those who connect well with paper. But there is a technique how to do it. Students usually take a notebook and make it for GS or for Polity or IR or Optional and then do it. But that is not the correct way. To make successful and editable notes , we need not resort to Physical notebooks but loose paper. But how to make notes in Loose paper and file it?

    1st, you should plan the whole division like this:-

    GS 1

    Indian Culture
    Ancient & Medieval Indian History
    Modern Indian History
    Post-Independence History
    World History
    Social Issues

    GS 2

    Polity & Governance
    International Relations

    GS 3

    Indian Economy and Agriculture
    Science and Technology

    GS 4

    Case Studies

    Now, how to make notes within it:-

    1) Suppose you start from Culture and you are reading GKToday stuff and in the newspaper something important comes in the paper you can instantly update that in a loose paper and keep it in the requisite place. These way you can also keep a tab which topic and also which sub-topic and thereby which GS Paper becomes completed when!

    2) Try to follow and order. Current Affairs can be followed and notes can be made everyday and placed in the requisite folders. Similarly suppose you are studying Post-Independence history and are able to complete it, then very brief synoptic notes can be made and placed. What are brief synoptic notes and how they are made on paper? Go and see this link:

    Here AIR 85 Ananya Mittal has shared his notes and how he made it during the course of preparation.

    3) Try to just make the use of key points and key phrases and nothing else.

    4) First read a topic/subtopic from all the sources in which case it has been listed above, then whatever you feel important mark it. Then, those marked lines and keywords should go into the notes and be extra cautious while doing so because later on how would you edit/erase it as you can not press the delete button, so chose few words and points and that too main points to amplify your notes.

    5) Once you complete suppose say World History, then put them at one place. Also keep in mind, Notes making for Current Affairs will continue so be diligent and consistent in in it. Loose papers would be good.

    Optional Paper:- Optional Paper is still there as I am typing this at 2.14 am in the morning on 16th December,2015. I dont know till when it will be there but you need to prepare for it atleast for 2016 exam(addressing the 2016 aspirants). How will you do so?

    1) Gather your resources and book. Dont mark more than 2 source per topic. As I have shown you above for GS, follow a similar approach in Optional while keeping the sources great yet short. Do it topic by topic by following the subject toppers.

    2) How will the structure be done?

    Here there are 2 Papers and 2 sections within it. So you can either do like say, I mean keep folders:



    PAPER 1
    PAPER 2

    I would advise you to follow the latter method, because during revision of optionals before Mains it will be very efficiet and psychologically great if you revise 1 paper as only 1 paper and not broken down into so many topics/sections. But choice is yours. Theory part should be finished by making notes but here you can keep synoptic notes but then you also need a lil more elaboration as you need mastery to score great marks in your optional.

    b) Online Method(Evernote)

    Evernote is great software which is available on all platforms in which you can get started by making an account and you can make notes in several Notes and those Notes can be clubbed within Notebooks and those Notebooks can in turn be clubbed within Stacks. To know what I am saying kindly visit this link by AIR 58 Bhavesh Mishra who understood the meaning and relevance of Notesmaking just at the fag end of preparation and lamented not using Evernote before for else there would have been an increasing in his low GS2 and GS3 scores:

    Although Bhavesh Sir has already explained but still let me add something how you can prepare Optional as well as GS and you can also even add Interview related preparation to it as you can see in the picture of my own Evernote account having its"Stacks" "Notebooks" and within them their numerous notes..

    Also with Evernote, you can just keep all note both dynamic+static for a particular topic. Say there is an issue on Land Reform going on in the Parliament and is in news and you have already covered Polity topic well, you can always add the dynamic topic wise synoptic notes everytime it appears in the newspaper. This is unlikely seen in Offline method.

    Another cheat/hack which can be applied for Current Affairs is: Read Hindu+Indian Express everyday. Everyday CivilsDaily comes out with point-wise notes on a topic say "ISRO's Mission". What you can do is read the newspaper, then quickly copy-paste this note in Evernote within GS 3 stack and within it in the Science and Tech notebook. If suppose, they miss something, you can also check VISION IAS monthly current affairs material and add the relevant points! They also do what is issue based current affairs as in Mains question comes from issues and not just from some news in The Hindu dated 22nd February 2016, does it?

    Enough said, try your hands in it and there are some last few points remaining in this segment which are:-

    1)Although Evernote supports info-graphics they eat up too much space. Try to keep them minimal asthey would eat up your smartphone/tablet memory when you use them for revision vua smartphone/tablet.

    2)Dont copy-paste the whole article or the whole pdf, try to read it in full and highlight, then type those highlighted words because typing also makes you remember it for longer as does writing even if lesser. We have this greed in UPSC preparation of copy-pasting which you wont need to do. Even if you copy-paste Evernote has 60mb space per month sp kindly be wise and address things in short paragraphs and points.

    3)A point about revision here: Revision is important and should not be kept for the last stage of the exam. It should be done periodically i.e. once during the week. Therefore, revise the notes made either in Evernote or loose paper and files on Sundays. These shall become ingrained in your memory and also Every Sunday try to edit and omit useless stuff which you don't want in your Notes. Trust me, this will help you before Mains because the shorter the Notes, the better the revision.

    4)Some books such as Spectrum History, Laxmikanth, G C Leong and such books shouldn't be notified but can be highlighted with pens and read again and again. But if you follow the above structure and make notes for at least GS Dynamic part i.e. current affairs and your optional then also it would be good enough.
    Screenshot (10).png
    1366 x 768 - 227K
  • edited December 2015
    6) Coaching and Test Series

    1st of all Coaching. Coaching mania has been eroded totally by UPSC as you can see from the results more and more first timers are clearing again and again. They follow the best practices like completion of syllabus well before coaching makes you do. I dont wish to write an Essay about this topic neither wish to go for a debate. But since I have never taken any coaching and wish to do self-study and emerge successful, I also would advise you the same, provided you don't have special difficulty in comprehending the material at hand. You can take coaching especially for your optional but take care of the fact that teachers are cordial and are ready to work hard to explain the concepts as you are trading your time and money and energy.And trust me, you would be better off saving your energy by not spending the whole day in coaching classes.

    But, I would advise you to buy some good coaching material. Like say the VISIONIAS material which I was talking about can be brought at Delhi shops and also at the Institute and some people can be ready to share or else check Read those material and if you still have doubts, discuss with your professors and seniors, google it and watch youtube videos. That shall do instead of wasting your time after innumerable coaching classes.

    Answer writing practice is very paramount to get a great rank in this exam, so it is imperative and absolute no matter what people say. But people dont know when to start answer writing practice and how much to do usually in the beginning! While insightsonindia and iasbaba are two such websites who have gone far ahead in making us write answers for their questions, you should also keep the time factor in mind. They usually unleash 8-10 questions per day with the source attached in the form of an article. But an aspirant if he is aware of even half the syllabus or has read the basic ncerts and has done newspaper reading for say 2 months can do justice to 4 such questions. But you can't expect that from an aspirant who starts today itself. So, how to solve this dilemma? Whether to leave all of it or attempt all of it? The answer is simple. 1st be consistent.Consistent in newspaper reading, consistent in reading gs, consistent in a proper schedule and following a timetable and then after 1-2 months after you start grasping the news after following the newspaper and other current affairs sources, you can start attempting questions in an hour. What does that mean? Set aside daily 1 hour. Dont do it from both IASbaba as well as InsightsonIndia, choose any one. Next, time yourself. Say 6-7pm. In this hour, try and attemping max questions and write answers. If you can do all, good. If not, atleast you tried. Mains is not about writing good analytical answers to only 8 such questions but it is about doing it within a stipulated time frame for 25 such questions. What will happen when you do this exercise? Your writing speed shall increase and since you will be under time pressure then you shall perform more well.You can read the articles but try not reading them. Now dont waste time waiting for someone to review and then comment and then the cycle continues. You can form a group of likeminded aspirants and thus continue reviewing yourselves via forum and email provide you dont banter and just do writig practice. This is where test series comes in.

    Why do test series help?
    1) They provide feedback unlike Insights and iasbaba.
    2) They create sort of a timetable after your prelims ends and just before mains which you can very well follow .
    3)They are flexible so you should exercise discipline here.
    4) The luxury of answering 5-10 questions reading a nice article is absent, you need to be prepared for 25 questions for 3 hours at a strectch as you have to do so in mains.

    So do enroll in a GS+Optional+Essay test series.

    Now which 1?
    Vision Ias and GS Score are good. Rest i dont have any idea but the scene is changing so there might be the emergence of many titans in future.

    So, this ends the whole write-up for "Beginneer's" and I think as I write this its 3.13 am. It has been a 2 hour writing practice for me insetad, but since I love helping people and spreading that Gyaan , it has been a good feeling.. I cant promise a reliable optional/essay/Answer writing/Interview preparation because I am yet to get a rank after which I shall definitely expand on those untouched horizons as well.. 2016 aspirants and beyond i.e. 2017, 2018 can follow this post!

    I wish you all from the bottom of my heart, All the best in Life and pray for your success!
  • @Atom awesome job!!
    Hard toil never goes in vain!!!!
    God bless!
  • I forgot to add one more thing that I might be unavailable within a few days so may you won't hear any reply for your queries. In that case kindly check with seniors here in forum and also there is a lookup thread where all the doubts have been beautifully gathered and collected under one roof.

    Also, for tablet and smartphone users who wish to make notes on evernote here is what I have with me are screenshots from my own evernote account on my tablet and that would apply to your smartphone also. Look how I have structured the entire syllabus into requisite stacks,notebooks and notes.
    800 x 1280 - 71K
    800 x 1280 - 282K
    800 x 1280 - 305K
    800 x 1280 - 368K
  • Thanq soo much for your wonderful article.
  • @Atom

    Please post strategy for Pol Sc also, as u mentioned that it is ur optional. It will be very helpful for PSIR ppl.
  • edited December 2015
    Toska said:


    Please post strategy for Pol Sc also, as u mentioned that it is ur optional. It will be very helpful for PSIR ppl.

    I will copy-paste some of my old posts here and I hope you will make your way about it!

    Political Science strategy

    This is my personal opinion about books on Political Science and International Relations and yes, I do know how tedious and yet confusing it is to keep on hearing about more and more books.

    1)Political theory- IGNOU 2 Booklets of MA(base material)+ O P Gauba. Do parallel study i.e. study suppose Justice from IGNOU then complement it with O P Gauba. If you are starting for 2015, then these 2 are enough or 2016 or later then after completing these 2, You can refer Andrew Heywood but first try to gain conceptual understanding then only make notes or do the fancy stuff as without understanding the significant portions you can't do all that.

    2)Western Political Thinkers- Susheela and Ramaswamy+ IGNOUMA( complementary reading/parallel study as in point) Here UPSC has given the list of all the thinkers and after doing those thinkers do Antonio Gramsci and Hannah Arendt from Internet or any coaching notes.

    3)Indian Political Thinkers- Himanshu Roy and M P Singh+IGNOU MA(complementary reading and parallel study)

    4)Indian Govt and Politics- Half of these is static and the other half dynamic. Reading LAXMIKANTH's Indian Polity would be beneficial as we have to do that for GS but then its all not so over. The rest we need to read newspapers and have to be affiliated with current happenings in accordance to bills, committee reports, laws,acts everything. You can also check out OXFORD's Companion to Student Politics available in a green cover having 38 essays written by scholars. Reading that would also enrich you. Or you can read B L Fadia latest edition but newspapers would be the bread and butter here. Some topics such as Dalit Movements and Women Movements as well as National Commissions on Minorities/SC/STs and issues pertaining to such areas have been expressed very evenly and beautiful in IGNOU MA booklets. You can check that too. I would say: Read everything and understand. Full scale length notes are not needed as its a huge subject with so many grounds to cover and if you dont understand and think of shortcuts or ways to compress it then I dont think that would be justifiable.

    5)Comparative Politics- IGNOU MA booklets. Period.

    6)IR theory part- This area is a vital area. IGNOU MA is good but you have to rely on scholarly books such as Global Politics by Heywood/ Globalization of World Politics by Bayliss & Smith. My take is if you are a hardcopy soul that is you like to read hard copies then, read those 2 IGNOU MA booklets and along with that if you can get any of these 2 books written by western authors then that can suffice. Another option is International Relations Theory by Vinay Kumar Malhotra which is also good as it covers many areas and covers historical aspects. That's why your individual choice in this arena matters the most.

    7)India and world- Current affairs is tandem here as we all know. Read the newspaper or any IR material. If you dont have any IR base book, then read the soft copy of Does the elephant dance by David M Malone(Canadian Diplomat), and if you dont get that just check IGNOU MA booklet. Yes, there is only a single 1 on this topic. But it only has historical perspectives and it has most of the things covered except the fact that you will need to cover the current happenings from 2000's era onwards. A lot of those things are shared by forum members here. Check and connect with that.

    Also Shubhra Ranjan's Notes alone cant help you if you dont read the particular topics as explicited in the syllabus. See the topics mentioned in the syllabus get the study material and pinpoint yourself to those topics and read and understand them first. After go through her notes and thus revision would be over.

    I have just told it subject wise and not Module wise! Also, I have suggested topic wise so if the topic is same there is no problem going through both of them u are beginning but if you are facing time crunch which we all think we face initially, then you must go with the MA books!

    Also, IGNOU alone wont do! So take a look of the books such as Susheela and Ramaswamy+Himanshu roy+Andrew Heywood Global Politics+David M Malone does the elephant dance etc which I have earlier said!

    Those books per topic mapped with IGNOU MA(not BA) books will help you 1st of all understand totally the various parts of the Syllabus! Now if you feel you have time(if u are preparing for 2016), then you can make notes but if you are preparing for this year(i.e. 2015), then I would say give 1 reading of each and every topic of the syllabus from those books+IGNOU MA books and after that keep seeing previous year question papers as how and what types of questions are being asked in the Syllabus! Why I am advising this? Being a begineer, you need to know the structure of questions otherwise it difficult for you! If u feel u have time, u can even attempt some after reading, before reading dont even try!

    Now in your 2nd reading, narrow your visibility and focus on the important topics being asked and important aspects! Underline in the books itself whatever u feel is important and revise often so that after prelims when you sit to revise you dont have to search which is important and waste your time re-reading again! Even a better idea is that if you are a full time aspirant, after finishing the 2nd reading, you can underline and post-prelims when you will have given 2 readings minimum you will hae developed an idea pertinent to the topics and then would advice you to just copy-paste the underlined lines in a Notebook so that micro-notes can be formed! What are micro-Notes: they are brief notes which can be formed as in a structure of a Gist and after forming them when a person does revision, he/she can quickly recall that particular topic by just going through them!

    The books you have mentioned in the MA part above coupled with the earlier books I have mentioned in my previous comments are good! Dont lose patience! Read,understand,underline, make notes, revise, practise answer writing= this is the process! Hope your doubts are cleared!
  • This thread is goldmine.
    Just wait and watch...
  • @Atom Thanks a lot for the super awesome post :)
    You either get bitter or you get better.
    The choice does not belong to fate. It belongs to you!
  • A huge thanks to @atom for sharing these valuable suggestions.
  • Hi.. I am a first year student and I want to begin my preparations asap. Please suggest where to start from.
  • Atom said:

    I can do a post for 2016 preparation albeit the fact that I am not a topper but have been a senior player. But I am sorry I would do a detailed post for GS and sources, notes making, discipline to study and political science optional.

    Further doubts might not be entertained because I am not a regular member of the forum. I am free today.

    Hi.. I am a first year student and I want to begin my preparations asap. Please suggest where to start.
  • I am just copy pasting this thing.
    I feel it to be useful for beginners.

    Some Myths About UPSC IAS Exam
    Preparation – Truths

    1) They say IAS is the mother of all
    exams. Is it?
    Wrong. This is just another exam. The mother
    of all exams is Life. You can afford to fail in
    IAS, but not in Life. So, take IAS preparation
    as a phase in Life, not as your Life.

    2) They say IAS is not for faint-hearted.
    Is it?
    If you think you are faint-hearted, better start
    preparing for IAS soon – it makes you stone-

    3) One topper in an interview said that
    she studied 20 hours every day for 365
    days. Is this true?
    May be she suffered from insomnia. Even now
    she will be working 20 hours a day as an
    officer. On a serious note, good sleep is very
    necessary to prepare well for this exam. It
    keeps you in good health. Don’t study beyond
    14 hours unless you suffer from Insomnia.

    4) Now you are saying 14 Hours! Are you
    Calm down. If you have left your job, as a
    punishment you should devote these many
    hours. Didn’t you work 12 hours for your
    company? Anyway, every day at least 8 hours
    of planned study is required. If you can study
    more than that, it is well and good. But please
    ensure that you also get 6-8 hours of sound

    5) My English is very poor. They say I am
    out of the race. Am I?
    No. You are still part of the race. Now you
    have figured out the problem – that your
    English is poor. Work on it. All you need is
    basic English. Moreover, you can write this
    exam and give the interview in your mother-
    tongue. Buy a basic Grammar book – read it,
    listen to English news on TV and radio, try to
    write something in English, everyday (don’t
    worry if it is very bad, keep trying) Necessity
    should push you to learn. Push yourself. Win
    the race.

    6) I am worried. I can’t go to Delhi
    because of some personal reasons. They
    say it is Mecca for IAS aspirants.
    Can’t go to Delhi? Wow. That’s great. These
    days you can study from home itself. IAS
    preparation is neither religion nor life to seek
    enlightenment in a far away concrete desert.
    Do your duty sincerely, if pleased, almighty
    UPSC will call you to its shrine, if pleased with
    your personality, it will give you a pass to
    Heaven – the IAS. Why go there uninvited?

    7) So how can I study from my home?
    These days you can buy books from online .
    Every topper has studied the same set of
    books as lakhs of aspirants do every year. The
    difference is that toppers plan their studies
    and execute those plans well. They practice
    writing. They take tests. They are confident.
    And they also have some luck.

    8) Oh! So luck is needed for this exam.
    Ya, only if you think you are unlucky. Anyway,
    let me modify a famous quote for you –
    Success is one percent luck and ninety-nine
    percent perspiration. Don’t let that 99% thing
    slip from your hand. Toil sincerely, and you
    will be rewarded with that 1 percent luck.

    9) It was my last attempt. I failed in
    Prelims. Now I want to kill myself. Help
    To kill you? First, kill your ego, not yourself.
    You took a journey but couldn’t reach the
    destination. It doesn’t mean the end of your
    life or the end of the road – start a new phase
    in your Life from where you are now. What
    matters in the end is how well you lived your
    Life, not how many successes you achieved. If
    the King has painful piles in his anus, what is
    the use of diamond studded golden throne?

    10) Lakhs of aspirants give this exam
    and only few get into IAS. I am scared.
    Though lakhs of aspirants apply and write this
    exam, the real competition is between only
    2000-3000 serious aspirants. Those who
    study systematically and consistently, get into
    service. If you do the same, you will be one
    among them. Don’t have fears even before you
    start. You must enter the race and work hard
    to win it.
    Remember this: “ I never did a day’s work in all
    my Life. It was all fun ” (Edison). Make the
    process fun, enjoy reading, love what you do
    and do everything to please your heart. Not
    the society.

    11) They say there is corruption in
    recruiting IAS officers. Is it true?
    This allegation is utterly false. The whole
    examination is so opaque that you have to
    trust it blindly (Oxymoron). There may be
    lacunae in the way examination is held, or
    there may be loopholes in how an UPSC
    member is appointed, but there is never
    corruption involved in the recruitment of civil
    service officers. The steel produced is pure.
    You can trust it. (it gets corroded later, that is
    a different story though)

    12) Those veterans laugh when I tell
    them I am preparing for IAS. Instead,
    they insist I should say that I am
    preparing for civil services. What is the
    When you say you are preparing for civil
    services, you are not sure about getting into
    IAS/IPS. When you say you are preparing for
    IAS, you are confident that you want only IAS
    and you know how to get it. Choose the one
    suits you best. Not the veterans’.

    13) I am getting headache while making
    notes. There are so many books to refer
    and I want my notes to be the best. What
    to do?
    Note this. Leo Tolstoy writes in Anna Karenina
    “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be
    content.” Also someone said, “ Perfection is the
    child of time“. When you scout too many
    sources to make that perfect notes, you end up
    both loosing invaluable time and
    discontented. Managing time during the
    preparation is the most important aspect of
    this examination. Read one or two books for a
    topic. Re-read the same book even if some
    coaching institution or a publication house
    releases new notes/book in the market that
    has become famous.

    14) They say IAS is the best job on Earth!
    Is it?
    Well, I thought becoming the President of US
    was the best thing on Earth. Anyway, the
    above statement is wrong. Ask Durga Shakti

    15) At least in India it is the best job.
    Yes. If you want to make a positive impact on
    the lives of thousands of poor, IAS is the best
    job. But you have to swim in the ocean
    infested by so many sharks. You should know
    how to swim, be fearless and armed with
    ammunition. There is a silver lining though.
    The ammunition is personal integrity and The
    People – if you do a good work, help the poor
    man on the streets and in the huts, people will
    love you. Sharks love votes. And the ocean
    will be safe for you.

    16) Some say this exam is like a vast
    ocean and questions are asked from
    outside the syllabus, even from
    extraterritorial sources. Is it?
    No. Again wrong. UPSC strictly adheres to the
    syllabus. Though sometimes it seems like
    questions are asked from outside of the
    syllabus, they are actually in some ways
    related to it. For example, if there is a
    question like this, ‘Opportunity on Mars ‘, one
    should not get bedazzled why UPSC is asking
    questions from ET source and start answering
    like, ‘If Nuclear war takes place and the Earth
    is destroyed, the opportunities on Mars are
    immense for the Humankind….. .’
    Opportunity is the name of a Robot that was
    sent to mars in 2003. Awareness on ‘Robotics‘
    and ‘Space‘ is part of the UPSC syllabus

    17) I have a disease. I keep buying all
    the magazines and coaching material. Is
    there any cure for this?
    If you are rich, donate some money to this
    site. Jokes apart, yes there is a cure. You
    know very well that you don’t read all the
    magazine and materials you buy. When you
    buy more and don’t use them, it only worsens
    your situation. The sight of those books
    frightens you. The cure is simple: first
    understand why you are buying so many
    You buy them to buy yourself momentary
    satisfaction, that you are doing right thing in
    your preparation. No, wrong. Always finish
    reading what you have now. If something is
    really missing from the book you have, then
    go for a new one.
    When you become aware that you are not
    going to read all the books you buy, you will
    stop buying them.
Sign In or Join to comment.
Success Stories from Our Toppers
Minal Karanwal(AIR-35)- CSE 2018
Naveen Reddy(AIR-1)- IFoS 2018
Arushi Mishra(AIR-2) - IFoS 2018
Chirag Jain(AIR-10) - IFoS 2018
Kshitij Saxena(AIR-22) - IFoS 2018
Sumit Rai (AIR-54) - CSE 2018
Anuraj Jain (AIR-24) - CSE 2018

Must Read Articles From Blog
Trend Analysis of UPSC CSE Prelims from 2011-18
How Yo_Yo_Choti_Singh Improved His Writing Speed
How to clear Civil Services with a TOP Rank and AVOID exhausting attempts


We are a secret self-moderated community for Civil Services preparation. Feel free to join, start a discussion, answer a question or just to say Thank you.

Just dont spread the word ;)

Sign in or join with Facebook or Google