Friday, July 06, 2007

Civil Services Preparations: General Facts

I do not claim to be an authority on the subject. My only qualification to write this blog is that I could actually secure a good rank in the exam. This is going to be a general blog and I am writing answers to the questions which have been asked from me many times (without missing to add general gyan from my side too). I also plan a blog for something specific on mains but that shall be later.

1. Strange it may sound, but there is no ‘secret’ to succeed in civil services. It is only hard work, and more importantly done in the right direction. Do not go for many ‘strategies’ to succeed. Cover the entire syllabus, read standard books, give equal weightage to all the subjects and the chances of your succeeding will double.

2. Coaching is not necessary but it does give you an edge, provided you are at the right institute. But that is the case mainly with humanities . In technical subjects I really doubt if good help is available. Remember most of the teachers for civil services in Delhi are those who tried for civil services four times, failed and then started a coaching.

3. Do not take an attempt to see the paper. Your chance of succeeding at any stage without complete preparation is naught. Also it shall be a better idea to buy an unsolved; you may actually see more papers, than by sitting in the exam unprepared :)

4. Do not try to find statistics that chances of success in which attempt are maximum. I have met many candidates saying ‘third attempt is the best attempt’. The person who guided me, made me believe it is possible in the first attempt and I tell you the same.

5. There are no right optionals . It is seventy five percent interest and twenty five percent availability of resources. The only advantage of a popular subject is that resources shall be easily available . Also since the number of candidates appearing from a popular subject shall be more, good number of students will succeed from that subject hence popular subject remains popular.

6. For those from technical fields ( specifically my friends from IIT’s); you also can take humanities. It was not that you were bad at humanities so you took science after high school, but it was that you were good in science too and more opportunities were available there. Considering the education standards in India, you need not worry that an arts graduate will be having an advantage having studied them for years.

7. Another thing for IITians. Since you cracked JEE, you did not get the birthright to enter civil services by taking science subjects. Before opting for them, make sure that you are really interested in the subject. Times have changed and UPSC has revised their syllabus a lot, from what I hear somewhat on the difficult side. A good amount of hard work is required in them and getting marks in science subjects is linear, that is directly proportional to the effort involved.

8. When I say that I do not mean that getting marks in humanities require less effort. It is that writing style, language etc which play an important role in any humanities develop over the years, so it is your previous efforts in life which makes it appear, that humanities require less time for preparation.

9. Above all, the exam is really difficult and not completely predictable. Do not enter it if you are not very serious about it. It ruins the career of many youths. Remember only 474 guys selected out of nearly three lakh applicants. So if we compare the input and output, civil services is not a very attractive career option.

Ignore this if you find it irrelevant. There is no empirical evidence to all this and it is only what I feel. By the way, if you are preparing for the exam, best of luck :)


Karthik said...

Am not gonna appear for the exam ever probably, but hey, good guidance for aspirants Anurag.. Whether it is Civils or any other 'exam' in life, the recipe for success is simple, believe in yourself you can crack it, plan for it well and believe, believe, believe that if someone else can, you definitely can too!!

Shailesh said...

hey good consolidated gist..Anurag!!

yes its very true..with wht approach u take this exam.

U r surely to succeed if you try for the best with all positive efforts!

Rahul said...

nice post!!!

Will keep the things in mind..
keep focus!!


Anonymous said...

awesome , no second word!!
thank you very much

- anabhishikta

Saksham Katyal said...

HI anurag, thanx bro for such a nice piece of info..But it would have been much more valuable had u given a topic specific approach..I am still looking from you a guide map to prepare Pub Ad & General studies specifically. I am going to appear for CSE this year, but the time management part is really worrying me a lot..Can u plz guide me WRT to my time table..It really makes me feel discouraged when becoz of one or other reasons I failed to give require time. My brother i shall be very thankful to
you for providing me with a road map for my preparation of CSE this year..Rest after your reply..
Saksham Katyal

Anurag Srivastava said...

@Kartik,Shailesh,anabhishikta: Thanks a lot for the appreciation

@Rahul: Focus is an important thing, be it civil services or my blog, so I will take care of it :)

@Saksham: I am planning to write a subject specific blog, but I need inputs from some of my friends which is causing a little delay, but it shall come soon.

Rahul said...

@anurag.. keep focus was for me..

you can also keep it though :D


sir i have a few question to ask plz take the pain to reply to them as i really need ur help. good is a combination of maths and geography.
2.can u refer me a few books and teacher for maths. different is the preparation for mains and pre for geography.

Anurag Srivastava said...

@abhishek: Friend, I neither had geography, nor maths so I cannot comment. From what I have heard, maths has not done very well this time and is not thought to be a very good optional.

Again I have no asnwers for your question 2 and 3, please pardon me for that.

Anonymous said...

Dear anurag,
thank you for the blog.. i am currently working as research assistant at IIRS, Dehradun. i intend to resign my current position to appear for Prelims 2008. in this regard could my two questions,

1. with regards to your suggestion on mains preparation;
is the postal material of Vajiram (eg, general studies) same as the printed material they give in the class? i may not be able to source it from delhi, hence this question.

2. secondly, though cliched, how many hour did you study a day? i was wondering if i can keep my job , and pursue the preparation.

your reply, would help me greatly.
thanks you


Anurag Srivastava said...


1. It is the same

2. I can only give a cliched answer ; as long as one can :). I normally studied for eight hours if I had no other engagements, though it differs for all.

Anonymous said...

thank you anurag for speedy reply. your blog is a good read. if you could, do also write a small column on Prelims . you are short of time, but i shall keep visiting to see whatever you would suggest for prelims


Reeja said...

Dear anurag,
Hello again,

With regards to your reply last time;

1. The number of hours of study you have mentioned, is it excluding your coaching class hours?
2. Secondly, is it too naïve/unrealistic of us to think that we could still be successful even though we have just started preparation for prelims 2008. Are we late?

Thank you,
Aditya, ankur, reeja
IIRS , Dehradun

Anurag Srivastava said...

@Aditya: It shall be difficult for me to write about prelims, not because I have paucity of time but because I gave it just once, and now a good amount of time has passed. So my information may not be very valuable.

The time I mentioned was excluding coaching hours but when coaching was not there. If I had coaching, I could study for say 5-6 hours.

I started in mid oct and could successfully compete. But then I had the direction given by the coaching. So time is not a big constraint but what matters is the direction in which you study, hence you have to decide for yourself if you can give the exam.

aditya said...

thank you anurag.

Reeja Johnson said...

Dear Anurag,
By this time, I guess, you must have become used to see a post almost everyday from folks at IIRS, Dehradun. But a few of us, especially me, could really benefit with your suggestion on Public administration for prelims. Could I post my questions here at the post, or could I send you an email? My questions pertain to the syllabus dealing with Public administration, and its completion. Also, a few one on GS. I assure you, my questions, won’ take much of your time, and a one-liner answer is more than enough for a head start

Would you please help?
Sorry for trouble anurag…
Reeja Johnson.
7:58 AM

reeja johnson said...

could i post you mail at your email id?

Anurag Srivastava said...

@Reena: Yes you can, I assume that you know my ID.

Do it fast, on friday we leave on Bharat darshan and then I may be off net fro next two months.

reeja said...

dear anurag,
have just sent you a mail...
goodluck for your tour...

reeja said...

dear anurag,
thanks a ton for the prompt reply. that would do....
..have a good tour...

reeja said...

Merry Xmas
hows is your tour progressing?

reeja said...

hey anurag...
are you back yet>???

aditya said...

hey congrats for the splendid success...I would be really thankful if you could take the pains to answer a few ques. I am appearing in CSE 2009 and have history as d 2nd optional . Can you refer any good books which you consulte and which coaching institute(if any) did you join for history. Also should I start preparing for history for the mains now or after the result of the prelims if I clear them.. Thnx a ton bro..

Anurag Srivastava said...

I joined Hemant Jha and studied his class notes and study material. Its always better to finish the course so one should not wait for any results. I studies few books, like NCERT, Jain and Mathur World History, Satish Chandra 2 volumes on Medeival History, Romila Thapar Ancient History.

aditya said...

Hi Anurag thanks a lot for your reply...Sorry to disturb you again but I have a few more questions...
First what was your other optional and which other coaching institutes did you join and for which subjects...
Also are you aware of any good coaching institutes for history in South Delhi as they would be easier for me.... Thanks again

Anurag Srivastava said...

@aditya: My first optional was Pub Ad and second was History. I joined Vajiram for it.

My knowledge of coachings in Delhi is very limited so I may not be able to tell you any good coaching in south delhi.

Aditya said...

Hi Anurag...hope you are doing very well. I know you must be fed up of my persistent questions by now and I am really sorry for the trouble. The fact is I am really confused about history coaching. I have already decided to join a coaching institute for my first optional(geography). But I am really confused as to when should I go for the coaching for my 2nd optional. Would it be better to take coaching for History around October this year or after the results of the prelims next year ?

Anurag Srivastava said...

@Aditya: Taking coaching after prelims is always risky. It is advisable that you finish it before. It may not be a bad idea to do both History and Geography till Oct and then do GS.

Ronia said...

Good words.

pks said...

Hi Anurag,

I am a final year student at IIT Kharagpur and will be appearing for CSE-2010 for the first time. My optionals will be same as yours. Now the problem is I will not be able to join any coaching as you have done, so I would be very grateful if you can plz tell me the books which you have gone through for both PubAd and History. If you can, plz mail me at

It would be really really helpful, as some of my friends are also preparing with the same optional and any help would be greatly appreciated.

Best of luck for your future endeavors and thank you in advance.

Piyush Sing.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

jatin said...

Hi Anurag!

I am btech from IITD currently working in NTPC Ltd
I read your blog and found it helpful.
As you said in General Facts and proved through your own actions (and success of many others), an engineer can take Humanities optional and succeed in the exam.

Specifically I know engineers clear the exam through optionals like Geography, Psychology, Pub Ad, History and Sociology. But from your batch sample in the Academy, I'd like to know do are their successful candidates with engineering background who took Philosophy as an optional.

Thank You

MPSV said...

Thanks ,
I try each day hard , I study each day hard but after some time when I see the vastness of the course material and what I have completed then I become somewhat a little deviated and nervous . But then the blogs like this help to get the inspiration ... After so much searching the net and from various sources I have finally got the right approach and path to follow .. but I simply read these blogs after 2-3 days , just because they were written by a success full candidate who has cleared the exams and it gives me a lot of happiness and motivation . With hard work I will also achieve my target ... right now I am 19 , doing BTech from good institute , job fixed , and the most promising part is that I have 11 years ahead of me to prepare and succeed ( although I don't want to waste so much time) , still thanks Sir for your good work ....