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(Getting Started) History Optional Strategy by AIR-51 Vikram Grewal

(Getting Started) History Optional Strategy by AIR-51 Vikram Grewal

Vikram Grewal is a topper in UPSC Civil Services Examination in the year 2018. He is one of the highest rank holders at an all-India rank of 51 as well as a very high scorer in the Essay paper which he claims is one of the larger contributors in his rank. He is a History graduate from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, and naturally, he picked History as his optional. Vikram has his eyes set on UPSC from when he was a teenager in school. In 2018, his dream finally came true.

Why Choose History As Your Optional?

To begin with, the very first stage i.e., Prelims requires a detailed understanding of History. Mastery over History helps you score well in prelims. In mains, for General Studies Paper-I History is extremely important. For General Studies Paper-II, political thoughts are a part of your History optional. For General Studies Paper-II, Economic History finds relevance. For General Studies Paper-IV also uses thoughts, views, as well as examples frequently. 

Similarly, it also helps you in your Essay paper. History gives you an objective frame of mind and helps you understand current events with the knowledge of their Historical causation.


What To Study For History Optional?


Study Notes for UPSC MAINS HISTORY Optional


How To Study History?

Study Map Thematically

According to Vikram, History is one of the easiest subjects to study because of the detailed syllabus which mentions all relevant topics one needs to cover. Start with the first topic/point and cover all subtopics. Cover sub-topics mentioned only. Do not go beyond what is mentioned in the syllabus. Follow the topics in the same chronology as mentioned. Take note of Historians and their different opinions and focus on the keywords while noting them. Consult previous years’ papers and you will see that UPSC never asks questions beyond the mentioned subtopics.

For the map section, pick up materials from any standard coaching center and practice according to the themes. Do not ignore maps as it is highly scoring, almost mathematical. Also, while reading a book take note of the sources mentioned. You can divide it accordingly and revise thematically.

Message To Aspirants

What worked for Vikram may not work for you. Modify his strategy according to your abilities and interests. History is indeed a great optional and with the right strategy, you too can score very well in it. All the best!


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(Getting Started) How to Score 161 Marks in UPSC Essay by AIR-51 Vikram Grewal

(Getting Started) How to Score 161 Marks in UPSC Essay by AIR-51 Vikram Grewal

Vikram Grewal is a topper in UPSC Civil Services Examination in the year 2018. He is one of the highest rank holders at an all-India rank of 51 as well as a very high scorer in the UPSC Mains Essay paper which he claims is one of the larger contributors in his rank. He is a History graduate from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. Vikram has his eyes set on UPSC from when he was a teenager in school. In 2018, his dream finally came true.

Vikram’s Strategy

Vikram divided his essays into 2 parts 

  • part 1 was content and 
  • part 2 was the presentation. 

He believes both are equally important. He paid more attention to presentation as he believed content is rich for most serious candidates already.


Whenever you come across a topic in your day to day studies, note it down and think for a few minutes what you may write if that were your essay topic. Originality is key. Consider your essay to be a conversation with the examiner and develop that perspective. He did not practice any essay a few weeks preceding the exam so that he could approach the topics with a fresh mindset. Vikram even suggests downloading a Chrome extension that suggests quotes by famous people every time you open a new window to use in your essays.


Vikram believes one of his weak points is his handwriting. Which is why he focused on spacing out his sentences. He wrote 2 paragraphs per page and a total of 20 paragraphs for each topic, which is roughly 1000 to 1200 words. Each paragraph should end on the same page. At least 2 keywords or references must be in each paragraph.

ESSAY STRATEGY BY ESSAY TOPPER: Chandra Mohan Garg, Rank 25, Essay Marks  149, CSE 2015 - INSIGHTSIAS

One Way To Structure Your Essay


The main part is planning in the first 15-20 minutes. He would read the topic, take 15 minutes to think up the content and break it up into 20 points, and then write for an hour to an hour and a half each. Each point was broken down into a paragraph and each paragraph talked of something new. 

Essay Study Kit for UPSC IAS Mains Exam

UPSC Mains 2020 Public Administration Optional Categorized Analysis (Paper-1)

 UPSC Mains 2020 Public Administration Optional Categorized Analysis (Paper-1)

  • Exam Name: UPSC IAS Mains Public Administration (Paper-I)
  • Marks: 250
  • Time Allowed: 3 Hours


Q1. Answer the following in about 150 words each: 

(a) "The strength of Public Administration is in its exploration of the complexities and nuances of public policy making and implementation." Discuss. (Introduction)

(b) Principles of analysis and principles of action were not differentiated in Taylor's scientific management. Comment (Administrative Thought)

(c) "Arbitrariness in the application of rule of law is a primary cause of poor governance." Discuss. (Administrative Law)

(d) Departments, Boards and Commissions as forms of organization are dissimilar in the context of accountability and responsibility." Analyse. (Organizations)

(e)Administrative man bridges the psychological man and the rational man. Explain. (Administrative Thought)

Q2.(a) The movement towards governance as an organizing concept for public administration and management is because the focus of administration has been shifting from the bureaucratic state to the 'hollow state' and 'third-party government. Critically examine. (Introduction)

(b) "Organizations of the future will be organic-adaptive structures but temporary systems." Discuss how Warren Bennis characterizes the new form of organization. (Administrative Thought)

(c) "Productivity is not the result of working conditions but the result of emotional response of workers to work performed." Are Elton Mayo's findings relevant in contemporary organiza tions? (Administrative Thought)

Q3.(a) Performance information use is a form of organizational behaviour that is influenced by individual job, organizational and environmental factors." Critically analyse. (Administrative Behaviour)

(b) New Public Service emphasizes democracy and citizenship as the basis for public administration theory and practice. Elucidate. (Introduction)

(c)  "Accountability under New Public Management has undergone a radical change, although the focus has continued to remain on management." Comment (Introduction)

Q4.(a) "Developments in the field of Administrative Law reflect an increasingly blurred boundary between the state and society, and between justice and administration." Has administrative law become more constitutional than the Constitution itself? Argue (Administrative Law) 

(b) The content and process theories of motivation have the same focus but are different in approaches." Do you agree? Give reasons. (Administrative Behaviour)

(c) Thrust on the citizen centricity and Right based approaches, aim to empower the citizens. In the light of the above, has the administrative accountability improved ? Justify your argument (Accountability and Control)


Q5. Answer the following in about 150 words each:

(a) "Comparative Public Administration started with no paradigm of its own and developed nane" Comment (Comparative Public Administration)

(b) "Markets, hierarchies and networks represent modem governing structures in government." Explain. (Development Dynamics)

(c) Has policy analysis become a major source of legitimation of status quo in political and social order? Discuss. (Public Policy)

(d) "Fiscal policy should address the issues of inequity, intricacy and obscurantism." Explain. (Financial Administraion)

(e) "Prevention of misconduct requires institutionalization of ethical values at the political and administrative levels." Justify. (Personnel Administration)

Q6.(a) "Administrative ideas must be seen in the context of environment in which they develop." In the light of the above statement, examine the influence of New Public Management and Information and Communication Technologies on comparative study of Public Administration. (Comparative Public Administration)

(b) Affirmative action in socio-economic development has not altogether eliminated discrimination. Discuss it in the context of women empowerment. (Development Dynamics)

(c) Have political realities thwarted the move towards evidence based policy making ? Critically examine. (Public Policy)

Q7.(a) “Globalization is impacting the context of national policy making. The national policy agenda is becoming international.” Explain. (Public Policy)

(b) "Collaboration and its cognates for public service delivery need to be viewed from the governance lenses." Comment. |(Development Dynamics)

(c) Administrative reform is "an artificial inducement of administrative transformation against resistance." (Gerald Caiden). Identify the nature of resistance and inducements required to overcome it.(Techniques of Administrative Improvement)

Q8.(a)"Disruptive nature of developments in Information Technology has changed the contours of e-governance in the last one decade." Analyse. .(Techniques of Administrative Improvement)

(b) "Performance Management Framework enables a clear line of sight between planning, measuring and monitoring performance." Critically analyse.(Personnel Administration)

(c) "Objectives of performance budgeting include improving expenditure prioritization, effectiveness and efficiency." Has performance budgeting worked effectively in governmental system ? Argue.(Financial Administration)


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(Getting Started) UPSC Prelims Strategy by Chirag Jain AIR-160

(Getting Started) UPSC Prelims Strategy by Chirag Jain AIR-160

Chirag Jain is one of the toppers of the prestigious UPSC Civil Services Examination of 2019. He is a  native of Bharatpur, Rajasthan, and a Mechanical Engineer from the National Institute of Technology, Jaipur. 2019 was his 3rd attempt. To date, he has cleared all his prelims attempts, moving on to the interview stage twice. He has also worked in Tata Motors, Pune before finally achieving his long set dream of becoming a Civil Servant. Currently, he is training as an Indian Police Service officer with the U.P. cadre.

Study Sources

Like most toppers over the years, Chirag is a firm believer in the practice of “minimum sources, maximum revision”. He kept his sources simple and tried to revise them as many times as he could manage. Here is a list of his subject wise sources –


Other than Laxmikanth, Chirag prepared notes for all other subjects. For Laxmikanth he highlighted the important parts. Especially for Current Affairs, Chirag made notes specific to prelims requirements after his second round of revision. 

The trick to understanding what to write in your notes; it is important to solve Previous Years’ Papers. Once you get the hang of it, you will understand clearly what to include in your notes and what to leave behind. You DO NOT want to INCLUDE UNNECESSARY DETAILS in your notes.



Revision is key to success in UPSC Civil Services Exams, and even more so in the prelims stage. Chirag was devoted to multiple revisions. He ensured that he revised the static portion at least 4 times. This ensured that any question that was asked from material he has read, he was able to answer correctly. He kept revising the evolving current affairs along the way as well.

Test Series Practice

Chirag had solved 2 test series. For his first attempt, he had taken 60+ mocks, 30+ for his second attempt; however, in this attempt, he only had time for some 10 mock tests. But he strongly recommends solving as many as you can.

Hindi–Tips to Fill OMR Sheet| Engineering

While attempting the paper, keep in mind the job is not just checking scores. The more important part is analyzing your strengths and weaknesses. This way, you can improve on the topics you are unable to answer properly while revising the ones you are already good at. Mocks also allow you to judge your accuracy properly. This will allow you to decide your number of attempts.

Chirag used to analyze his mocks twice. The first time, he would identify the topics he answered correctly. In his second iteration, he would mark the topics he got wrong and go back to revising them. During the test, he would mark the topics he did not know about, and immediately afterward, he would ensure he read up on them. This also helped his revision.

Exam Attempts

The first thing Chirag suggests doing is going through the paper, answering all the questions you know accurate answers to. In all his 3 attempts, Chirag has never crossed the 55 question mark on this iteration. In the same iteration, he would also mark the ones he had half-knowledge of.

This was followed by another parsing of the paper, this time using elimination techniques. On those that he marked for the later attempt, he would eliminate 2 options, and in the remaining 2, use his intuition and make an informed guess.

Also, DO NOT LEAVE MARKING THE OMR SHEET FOR THE END. If you run out of time and cannot mark answers, you will lose out on the exam.

Message To IAS Aspirants

UPSC wants govt to remove mandatory aptitude test from civil service exam

Do not give up. Many have only cleared their prelims at the 5th and final attempt and made it through to the final list. 

Keep trying and you will succeed. Best of luck!


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(Article) UPSC Lateral Entry Into Central Administration

(Article) UPSC Lateral Entry Into Central Administration

An advertisement for 30 recruits to be appointed for posts at the Joint Secretary and Director level in the Central Administration has been published by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). These appointments are being made through lateral entry in the second round, instead of selecting mostly domain experts for various Departments and Ministries. Out of the 30 positions advertised by the UPSC, 27 are for the Director level and just 3 are for Joint Secretary.

Posts Advertised

SL No.


No. Of Vacancies 


Joint Secretary in the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare



Joint Secretary in the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry



Joint Secretary in the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance



Director (Agriculture Marketing), Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare



Director (Aviation Management), Ministry of Civil Aviation



Director (Agriculture Trade Specialties), Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry



Director (Exports Marketing), Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry



Director (Foreign Trade Analyst), Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry



Director (Logistics), Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry



Director (Logistics), Department of Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution



Director (Warehouse Expertise), Department of Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution



Director (Edu Tech), Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education



Director (Edu Laws), Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education



Director (ICT Edu), Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education



Director (Media Management), Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education



Director (Banking), Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance



Director (Cyber Security in Financial Sector), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance



Director (Digital Economy and FinTech), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance



Director (Financial Market), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance



Director (Insurance), Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance



Director (Maternal Health Issues), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare



Director (Finance) NACO, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare



Director (Water Management), Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti



Director (Arbitration and Conciliation Laws), Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice



Director (Cyber Laws), Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice



Director (Finance Sector Laws), Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice



Director (International Laws), Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice



Director (Judicial Reforms), Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice



Director (New Technology for Highway Development), Ministry of Road Transport and Highways



Director (Innovation in Education

Entrepreneurship), Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship


 Qualification Requirement

For a Joint Secretary lateral entrant, the basic requirement is 15 years of work experience in a relevant field as mentioned in the upsc advertisement, and for Directors, it is the same but for 10 years.

Application Process

Candidates are required to apply online by March 22. The appointments are contractual and will initially be for 3 years, to be extended up to 5 years if required. The UPSC will conduct this whole process of recruitment. Candidates will be shortlisted based on their applications and selected candidates will be invited for interviews. Selected candidates will then be appointed for the post.

Why Is It Important?


Mains Question: Analyze the move by the government on starting lateral entry into civil services.

This move is not only important from a career information point of view but also from a syllabus point of view. This is a hot topic now and will most probably incur questions in upsc prelims and/or upsc mains. So, understanding the pros and cons of it is important. Looking at the mindmap you can tell that both sides have some weightage to their argument.

The way forward is clearly to figure out a balance. To begin with, one of the rising fears is lateral entry will lead to politicization; this needs to be prevented. Seeking expertise need not always lead to bringing in players from the private sector; serving officers can also be occasionally posted in the private sector to be trained for the job. 

The key to it is giving opportunities to those that are most capable which means having a more rigorous appraisal system in place along with absolute transparency. Only then will we see a lasting impact.



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(Getting Started) Essay Writing in UPSC - The Do's and Don'ts

(Getting Started) Essay Writing in UPSC - The Do's and Don'ts

“I write to find out what I think.”
– Stephen King, American Author

This quote is the first thing you need to keep in mind when preparing for your UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam Essay paper. Only by writing will you ever learn how to score well in this paper. In this article, we will discuss the basic steps you need to follow to write good essays.

Understanding What UPSC Wants From Your Essay

“Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay, to arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.”

This is directly picked from what UPSC mentions in its syllabus. The main difference between GS and Essay is in the fact that in GS, you are awarded marks on content alone. For essay, grammar, coherence, language, and presentation is key.

A good starting place is looking at previous years' question papers. They give you an idea of the kind of topics UPSC expects you to write about.


  1. Vocabulary and Grammar

Grammatically correct sentences, with correct spellings, along with better than average vocabulary will give you an edge over the competition. Work on developing these skills from day one.

  1. Subheadings

Subheadings not only make your answer more readable; it helps keep your essay fluid. Unlike in GS, your subheadings must not be titles of your segment, but try and be a little more creative. For example, using 'The Disadvantages Of Social Media' does the job in GS. But in essays, something like 'The Perils Of Social Media' will fetch you brownie points.

  1. Coherence

Keep a flow to your answer. One segment shouldn't appear random after another. Allow the last line of your last paragraph to be a link for the first line of your next paragraph, making the whole essay coherent.

UPSC Mains Essay Papers Download 

  1. Interesting Introduction

You are used to writing either definitions or facts as introductions in GS papers. For essays, you need to make an extra effort. You can start with a relevant quote by a famous personality or either a real-life or fictitious story that adds to the arguments you are about to make.

  1. Substantial Arguments In Body

There should be valid facts and statistics backing your arguments. Remember your opinion does not hold any value till valid arguments are backing it. Use conclusions drawn in government reports or reports by qualified bodies and experts, draw statistics from reports published. They will elevate your answer.

  1. Futuristic and Optimistic Conclusion

And finally, leave the examiner hopeful with your conclusion. Present solutions. You can quote speeches by the prime minister or other government officials and plans and commissions in the process.


  • Focus on multiple dimensions. Do not go overboard on a single dimension or point. All points require similar attention.
  • Remember, what you feel is irrelevant. Only what you can argue with facts is important. Keep opinions that cannot be substantiated to yourself.
  • Do not select topics you were not comfortable writing when practicing. You will not get magically good at it during the exam.
  • Avoid extremes. Even if you have a good point, taking an extreme or unpopular opinion can do more harm than good.
  • Do not dedicate too long a time to one essay that you fall short on the other.

Follow these tips and surely with the right amount of practice, you'll score impressively well in your Essay paper. All the best!


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(Getting Started) Complete Guide To Approaching PSIR Optional

(Getting Started) Complete Guide To Approaching PSIR Optional

Each year lakhs of aspirants sit for the Civil Services Examination conducted by UPSC. Only a few make it to the final list. The mains stage is the stage that makes and breaks one's attempt and largely decides your rank. The total marks covered in the mains stage is 1750, and out of it, the optional paper alone covers 500 marks in its 2 papers, each of 250 marks. Whereas the average score of successful aspirants in general studies papers ranges between 40-50%, one can score up to 70% in their optionals. Therein lies the importance of your optional.

UPSC 2016 Mark sheets of IAS Toppers with Political Science as optional. -

PSIR can be very scoring

Why Choose Political Science and International Relations (PSIR) Optional?

Once you identify your interest in the subject, Political Science and International Relations is an excellent choice of optional for the following reasons –

  • The upsc syllabus covers a chunk of the prelims and mains general studies syllabus. Around 60% of the syllabus of this optional directly or indirectly overlaps with your general studies syllabus.
  • The syllabus is not vague and easy to follow.
  • It's a relatively straight forward subject and can be grasped by even those who don't have a humanities background.
  • It's an added advantage for a bureaucrat to be familiar with the concepts.

Basic Content

Booklist for PSIR



  1. Political Theory – Meaning and approaches – Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  2. Theories of State – OP Gauba Political Theory and Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  3. Justice – Andrew Heywood Political Theory and Shubhra Ranjan Notes and Yale's Youtube Channel (Rawl's Theory of Justice)
  4. Equality – OP Gauba, Boxes in Andrew Heywood, Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  5. Rights – Shubhra Ranjan Notes 
  6. Democracy - OP Gauba, Boxes in Andrew Heywood, Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  7. Concepts – POWER from Shubhra Ranjan Notes, HEGEMONY in GRAMSCI, IDEOLOGIES from Andrew Heywood, LEGITIMACY from Shubhra Ranjan Notes, and IGNOU Notes
  8. Political Ideologies – Andrew Heywood Political Ideologies
  9. Western and Indian Thinkers – Shubhra Ranjan Notes and IGNOU Notes


  1. Indian Nationalism – Spectrum Modern India
  2. Perspectives on Indian Nationalism – Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  3. Making of Indian Constitution – Laxmikanth
  4. Salient Features of the Indian Constitution – Laxmikanth
  5. Principle Organs – Internet
  6. Grassroots Democracy – Laxmikanth
  7. Statutory Institutions – Laxmikanth
  8. Federalism – Laxmikanth
  9. Planning and Economic Development – NCERT Indian Economic Development
  10. Caste, Religion, Ethnicity – Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  11. Party System – Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  12. Social Movements – Shubhra Ranjan Notes

Getting Started) PSIR Optional Strategy By Simi Karan AIR-31 | IAS EXAM  PORTAL - India's Largest Community for UPSC Exam Aspirants.



  1. Comparative Politics – Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  2. Globalization – Shubhra Ranjan Notes and Andrew Heywood
  3. Approaches to IR – World Politics by Owen and Smith, Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  4. Key IR Concepts – Andrew Heywood, Subhra Ranjan Notes
  5. Changing International Political Order – World Politics Class XII NCERT, Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  6. Evolutions of International Economic System – Andrew Heywood, Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  7. United Nations – Shubhra Ranjan Notes, Andrew Heywood
  8. Regionalization of World Politics – Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  9. Contemporary Global Concerns – Andrew Heywood, Subhra Ranjan Notes

Section B

  1. India's Foreign Policy – Subhra Ranjan Notes
  2. India's Contribution to NAM – Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  3. India and South Asia – Shubhra Ranjan Notes
  4. India and Global Centres of Power – Shubhra Ranjan Notes, David Malone's Does The Elephant Dance

Current Affairs

Keep an eye out for news covering India's relation to the world, global conferences, MoUs, etc. Read editorials by writers like Suhasini Haider, Hussain Haqqani, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, etc. 


Have all your initial studying and preparing notes completed by December. After prelims, concentrate on revision. Attempt one or two answers every day. Keep practicing, go through previous years' questions multiple times and you'll be all set. Don't get frustrated if it goes slower than expected; it's only normal. 

Keep trying and you'll score your best. All the best!


When diplomacy ends, War begins. Adolf Hitler


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(Getting Started) UPSC Prelims Strategy by IAS Shrestha Anupam AIR-19

(Getting Started) UPSC Prelims Strategy by IAS Shrestha Anupam AIR-19

Shreshtha Anupam of Bhagalpur, Bihar, ranked 19 in UPSC Civil Services 2019. He is a Chemical Engineer with a B.Tech degree from Delhi University. He had previously attempted the upsc exam as a college student but did not get far. This was his second attempt and he reached the very top.

Bhagalpur's Shrestha Anupam bags AIR 19 in UPSC exam, studied 10-15 hours  daily | Hindustan Times

Shreshtha Anupam, AIR-19, UPSC CSE 2019

6 Pillars Of UPSC Success

According to Shreshtha, there are 6 subjects that are the pillars of success in UPSC prelims. They are –

  1. Modern History
  2. Polity
  3. Economy
  4. Geography
  5. Environment
  6. Current Affairs

Conceptual clarity and in-depth knowledge in these subjects will ensure you can answer the prelims questions to the best of your abilities

UPSC Prelims Strategy

Solving Mock Tests

The key to success in prelims is practice. The recent trends in UPSC make it impossible for one to know all answers for sure. In the exam hall, at least 40-60 marks can be acquired by simply eliminating options to reach the correct answer. Solving test papers allow you to have enough practice of eliminating options that you can use in the exam hall. Shreshtha solved at least 50 papers for his prelims attempt.

Graduate Aptitude Psychometric Tests | Types of Testing

OMRs are non-replaceable. Practice helps.

Current Affairs

Reading newspapers is a must according to Shreshtha. Monthly magazines, daily blogs, and YouTube videos help you. However, there is no alternative to the perspective developed by reading newspapers on your own and forming your opinions. It helps you immensely with conceptual clarity which carries you through the prelims, mains, and even the interview stage. 

Static Subjects 

Some key points to note here –

  • Your aim is to score a 100% in Polity and Economy. If you have studied Laxmikanth for polity and Mrunal (online source) for Economics with multiple revisions, this is easily achievable because the questions asked on these subjects in UPSC prelims are conceptual and within the bound of these two sources.
  • Even though UPSC asks some very deep questions in Modern History from time to time, if you have covered your sources well, you should be able to score at least 70-80% on this portion. The more the merrier.
  • For Art and Culture, which is intrinsically tied to Ancient and Medieval History, refer to RS Sharma and Satish Chandra Old NCERTs. For Art and Culture, refer to the Fine Arts NCERT and read selectively from Nitin Singhania. The syllabus is huge for this portion, but the questions asked are few. So, use your better judgment when preparing.
  • For geography, maps are key. For the last 2 months before the prelims, please ensure you dedicate 10-15 minutes to map practice daily. The sources suggested by Shreshtha for this section is the NCERT books of classes 11 and 12.

How to practice maps for UPSC CSE - Quora

Map Practice Is Important

  • For the environment, refer to Shankar IAS. It is enough and supplements it with previous years' questions. Each year, at least 20-22 questions are asked from this section and you can easily answer them with a little effort.

Message To Aspirants

The preliminary exam is a deciding factor. Out of 7/8 lakh aspirants, only 10 thousand get selected. You want to ensure you are on the right side of this 1:10 ratio. Know your accuracy and attempt accordingly. 

Keep working hard; hard-workers never fail in their quests.

All the best!


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Salient features of the Indian society

Salient features of the Indian society

What is a society?

A society is an aggregation (sum) of all the human relations based on some common characteristics, tradition, norms and values. A society can be called homogeneous (e.g. Arab nation, Japan) or heterogeneous (e.g. India, US) based on the elements of diversity. Practically no well-developed society across the world can be called homogeneous as some form of difference do exist in all of them.


What is Indian society?

The question becomes difficult to answer as by the reason of Indian diversity. People of India do not have a common religion, race, language etc. The only thing that people in India share together is the identity of being Indian and the values prescribed under the constitution. However following feature can help define Indian society in broad terms.


Feature of Indian society:

Dynamic and Syncretic:

The present Indian society is the culmination of long drawn process involving both assimilation and accommodation. While many tribes have over the years lost their indigenous culture as a result of assimilation into the Hindu society, many new practices have emerged from contact of different cultures. It is also dynamic since it is ever changing. The recent example of it is the changes in the social values after globalization.

Example of assimilation:

  • About 197 languages/dialects are endangered in India (1)

  • Struggle of many tribes such as Naga for protecting their culture from outsiders

  • Increasing number of PVTG (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups)

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(Getting Started) Self Study Strategy by IAS Sanjita Mohapatra AIR-10

(Getting Started) Self Study Strategy by IAS Sanjita Mohapatra AIR-10

Sanjita Mohapatra is the 10th all-India rank holder in UPSC Civil Services Examination 2019. She is a native of Rourkela, Odisha. A mechanical engineer who has served as an assistant manager for Rourkela Steel Plant, she quit her job in 2018. In 2019 she has finally bagged her dream job of being an IAS officer. She attributes her success in this exam to self-studying, as well as to her choice of optional Sociology. This was Sanjita's 5th attempt. She has previously secured a state rank of 2 in Odisha Public Services Commission.

Sanjita's Booklist

To begin with, Sanjita shares the books she had picked up on her journey.

Mistakes She Learned From

Sanjita had qualified upsc prelims once before and was able to identify the problems in the first 3 times that she did not qualify. The key is multiple revisions and mock test practice. Without it, nobody can qualify for prelims.

Similarly, for upsc mains, crisp and short notes making is key. Too long notes are difficult to revise and hence useless. Sanjita learned from her mistakes and for the first time, she did not qualify mains, but ranked 10 among lakhs of aspirants.

UPSC Prelims

Sanjita insists revision is key to cracking prelims. For 2 months before the prelims exam, she quit answer writing and focused full-time on mocks. She reread the NCERT Books and other basic books repeatedly and took to writing online quizzes twice a week.

UPSC Mains

Sanjita made short notes from current affairs. She maintained separate notebooks for each GS paper and maintained bookmarks and clips from online sources as well. Her goal was to ensure that whenever she did sit to revise her notes, she should not have to struggle with resources.

She also took a 3 months crash course and last-minute current affairs revision classes before her mains. Study Notes from those classes greatly aided her preparation.

Answer Writing

She answered in bullet points and used two separate inks for headings and text. This helped her make her answers more readable. And the practice helped her with presentation skills.

Attempting All Answers

Out of the 80 odd questions asked in UPSC Mains General Studies papers, Sanjita had answered 78 which is big deal. She timed her practice so that even in the exam hall, she could finish the 10 10 markers in an hour and take the rest hour and a half to complete the remaining 15 markers. Then focus the next half an hour on ensuring you did it all write.

Message To IAS Aspirants

Patience, Perseverance, Consistency, and Hard Work – these are the 4 qualities that set a successful UPSC aspirant apart from the rest. 

Stay focused and do your best. May you be showered with success.

All the best!


Printed Study Material for UPSC IAS Exams

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(Getting Started) How to Crack UPSC In First Attempt - Mukund Kumar IAS (AIR-54)

(Getting Started) How to Crack UPSC In First Attempt - Mukund Kumar IAS (AIR-54)

Mukund Kumar has secured the coveted all-India rank of 54 in Civil Services Examination 2019 conducted by UPSC. He is a native of the Madhubani district of Bihar. He was a student of Sainik School, Goalpara, Assam, which he got admitted to by clearing an all-India examination. He graduated in English Literature from PGDAV college, Delhi university in 2018. 2019 was Mukund’s very first attempt and he made it to the top of the result sheet with his hard work and determination.

How To Begin IAS Preparation

  • Start with downloading the prelims and mains UPSC syllabus. Keep them in front of you always. Keep reading and rereading the syllabus. It’s the best way to familiarize yourself with UPSC.
  • Start with common parts with prelims and mains – integrated preparation is key. History, Geography, Economics, Polity, Environment – these are the main elements here. Preparing this well will take 12-14 months.
  • Next, start the potions exclusive to mains such as Ethics, World History, Internal Security and Disaster Management, etc. This would take another 3-4 months. 

UPSC Prelims

Devote 3-4 months before the prelims examination completely for the preliminary exam. Qualifying prelims alone can boost your confidence enough to push you through to the final list. Ensure you solve at least 30 mock tests and have a repository of 3000+ MCQ questions at hand. Take your CSAT paper seriously and solve previous years' questions. You do not want to be disqualified over it. Do not underestimate option elimination as that can fetch you up to 60 marks.

UPSC Mains Optionals

Your optional will make or break your result. The main reason is the marks for this paper can be as high as 60-70%. For G.S., your marks tend not to go above 50%. So this will push you to the front of the list with up to 100 more marks than the average aspirant. Mukund recommends taking 5-6 months to prepare your optional well.

Choose your optional based on your interest alone. Do not pick an optional based on toppers’ opinions or what has scored better in the recent past. You have to study your optional in much depth, so your interest must sustain. 

Book List

Mukund suggests the following books –

These are by no measure the best books, choose books as per your aptitude. And remember, it is better to read one book thrice than reading three books once. 

Current Affairs

Current affairs have become very important in recent times. It is integral to prelims, mains, and interviews. Read a newspaper such as Hindu or Indian Express, and read a monthly magazine to revise. Do not go for multiple sources.

Message To IAS Aspirants

Be happy. Stress never helped anyone. Try to focus on one subject at a time and don’t get distracted by the anxiety of studying another subject. 

Keep your head down and keep working hard. You will succeed. 

All the best!


Printed Study Material for UPSC IAS Exams

Online Coaching for IAS PRELIMS Exam

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(E-Book) Current Affairs GK for UPSC, IAS Exams- JAN 2021 PDF

General Awareness for UPSC Exams - JAN 2021

Current Affairs GK for UPSC, IAS Exams - JAN 2021 PDF

  • Medium: English
  • E-BOOK NAME : IAS Current Affairs GK PDF - JAN 2021
  • Total Pages: 85
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  • File Type: PDF File Download Link via Email

Covered Topics:

  • National
  • International
  • Business And Economy
  • Science and Technology
  • Environment
  • Sports
  • MCQ Questions

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