Strategy for UPSC(PT) 2020

The Civil Services Preliminary examination conducted by the Union Public Services Examination is believed to be the toughest stage in the whole process of an IAS selection. Out of 100 candidates, who write the Prelims, 97 may not clear prelims owing to two main reasons:

Limited vacancies
Lack of right approach

The PT exam 2020 is scheduled to be held on 31st May, 2020. The total number of applicants would be about 10 lakhs out of which the number of candidates who qualify for second stage (mains) will be only around 15,000. Around a million applicants fight to find a place in the top 15000 positions which makes prelims stage certainly not a cake-walk.

But, if you are a serious candidate, embrace right strategies, guidance and study material, self-study is enough.

Out of the 10 lakh applicants, only half sit for Prelims!
Out of the 10 lakh candidates, who register for Civil Services Prelims Exam, usually, only half of them take the Preliminary exam on D-day. This is still a bigger number considering the number of vacancies. Around 15,000-16,000 candidates (12-13 times the number of vacancies) will be selected for next round, i.e. Civil services Mains exam. This means only the top 3 per cent of candidates will get through the exam.

How to Prepare for Civil Services Preliminary Examination?
So, it's important to map out a potent strategy so that you clear the IAS prelims and be in top 15000. Clearing prelims will turn out to be a cakewalk if the aspirant gets proper guidance and orientation.

1. GS Paper 1 is the key now: Revise every subject!
Till 2014, scoring high in GS Paper 2 (popularly known as CSAT) was the easiest and fastest way to crack Civil Services Prelims. Putting less effort as compared to GS Paper 1, aspirants used to score high in this paper and cleared prelims. But, with changes in the UPSC pattern in 2015 this strategy won't work in the future.

On the basic level, covering every subject of civil services preliminary exam is the best approach to clear prelims now. It's not recommended to give priority to any particular book or area thinking that questions will come from that source. Likewise, it's equally important not to miss easy questions from traditional subjects like Economics, Geography, History and Polity. At least, brushing up NCERT books and previous years' question papers would be a good idea if you are time-crunched. Keeping an eye on tight competition, areas like culture and environment should also be mugged up. Current affairs preparation should be done considering the latest schemes and bills launched by the government.

2. Take IAS prelims mock exams:
This is one area which tells apart successful candidates from those who fail to crack prelims. Mock tests are integral part of regular preparations of successful candidates. By revising the attempted tests you get a chance to identify your mistakes. Writing mock tests arm you with confidence which is the key to success in any examination.

3. Invest on the right books for UPSC Civil Service Preliminary Exam:
Picking up recommended books and right study material is of utmost importance. The NCERT books are thought to be must-read by experts as well as successful candidates, as they clear up doubts at fundamental level and help candidates in scoring higher marks at both stages of Civil Services Examination - Prelims and Mains.

4. Follow our Prelims cum Mains Approach:
For GS Paper 1, an ideal strategy would be to cover GS Mains and Prelims syllabus in detail first that would give the concept clarity about all major topics. The type of questions asked in Prelims and Mains are different, but there are many areas where there is overlap too. An integrated prelims-cum-mains approach is catching on among civil services aspirants which rely on clearing prelims and mains in a single attempt. Good knowledge of overlapping and non-overlapping areas in the UPSC GS syllabus for Prelims and Mains certainly gets you competitive mileage over your peers.

5. Go with a relaxed mind on the exam day:
All your efforts will go in vain if you lose your cool on the exam day. It's pertinent to read questions carefully and make sure that you do not make silly mistakes. In a relaxed state of mind, you will be able to answer questions accurately and in less time. Count on your abilities and be confident that you can clear civil services preliminary exam, and you will.