Now that the J&K Public Service Commission has issued the notification for conduct of the Combined Services Examination, our young boys and girls who have filled in the application form or intend to do so have begun to look for advice about coaching and the method of preparation. I have also seen a number of advertisements in the press issued by the existing and the aspiring coaching centres luring the aspiring candidates to register for coaching.
Having myself taken the UPSC’s Civil Services examination in 1981, I do not claim any contemporary expertise but I do feel the urge to share with the candidates my experiences. So, here are some answers to general queries of the candidates:
● Question: How do I choose the optionals?
Answer: There is obvious advantage in choosing from your own subjects of graduation and post graduation. But in case you have graduated or post graduated many years ago and are not in touch, then there may be no such advantage. This applies particularly to science and engineering graduates and post graduates who have finished studies many years ago. So for them, it is advisable to choose one or both optional subjects from the Humanities side. It is also my belief that those science and engineering graduates and post graduates who never enjoyed their subjects or were not particularly good in their studies at graduate and post graduate levels, should not opt for their own subjects. They should, instead, opt for the Humanities.
● Question: How do I prepare for the optionals that I have decided to take?
Answer: There are no shortcuts. Topic-wise intensive study is absolutely necessary. Must prepare atleast 80% of the syllabus very intensively. 80% syllabus be chosen after having seen the question papers of last three examinations. In case of non-science and non-engineering subjects, it is advisable to prepare from the books used by the aspiring candidates in Delhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru Universities. You will find that many of these popular books used by the aspirants are topic specific rather than standard text books, although it is very important to read standard text books as well before moving on to topic specific books. Standard text books would mean prescribed text books at graduate and post graduate levels in prestigious universities like Kashmir University, Jammu University, Delhi University, Jawahar Lal Nehru University etc.
● Question: How do I prepare for the General Studies?
Answer: Please prepare General Studies from one or two standard General Studies Guides. In addition, please read atleast two reputed national english daily newspapers and two from the State everyday and keep the cuttings of articles written by eminent persons. You may even download from the internet, if you have such access. Then read atleast two popular english magazines regularly and preserve the selected articles. In the process try to improve your English language vocabulary and writing skills. Ability to write clearly and correctly and good handwriting are vital for securing higher marks.
● Question: How do I prepare for the Essay?
Answer: If you prepare for General Studies in the manner prescribed above, you would have automatically prepared for the Essay. However, you will need to consult a senior University professor to guide you on the style and method of essay writing. If you are already familiar with the style and method, you will only need the material which you will get from the newspapers and magazines of last two years.