Civil Services Mains Preparation

Civil Services Mains Preparation should be methodical in order to score well in the exam.

Civil Services Mains Preparation

Weightage of Papers

Once an aspirant qualifies the Prelims, the next stage in line is the Mains exam.Civil services mains preparation freaks out  a lot of candidates. But I can vouch for the fact that with a dedicated approach , earnest efforts and a smart preparation plan , the Mains stage can be conquered.

As per the latest pattern of Civil Services Exam , it consists of  –

4 GS papers + 2 optional papers + 1 essay paper+2 Qualifying language papers.

Paper 1 – Essay (250 marks).

Paper 2 – General Studies – Paper 1 (250 marks).

Paper 3 – General Studies – Paper 2 (250 marks).

Paper 4 – General Studies – Paper 3 (250 marks).

Paper 5 – General Studies – Paper 4 (250 marks).

Paper 6 – Optional – Paper 1 (250 marks).

Paper 7 – Optional – Paper 2  (250 marks).

This signifies 2 things –

  • An aspirant must have an excellent command over General Studies , given the overall weightage.
  • An aspirant must know the optional subject inside out in order to score well. Also to compensate the lost marks in four general studies papers.

Writing Good Answers

No matter how much time, you devote in preparing well, it finally comes down to one answer sheet which has to be crafted in a span of three hours. I use the word craft because writing answers in the exam is a craft.


Aspirants who make hand written notes all along their preparation write extremely good answers in the exam. Also, they know how to stick to the word limit as well as the time limit.

If you’re one of the aspirants whose been making regular hand written notes and modifying them as and when required, your task is half done as far as civil services mains preparation is concerned.

If not , here’s what you need to do –

  • Make good hand written notes referring from various credible sources. This will not only help you in writing good quality answers but also expand your knowledge about the topics covered.
  • Refer from websites across the internet and keep saving them in folders but compile hand written notes from them. You may not remember everything you’ve stored in the digital medium but you will never forget what you wrote yourself.
  • Know exactly what to write. Never go off topic. The examiner doesn’t need anything extra. Stick to the main points and explain them well. Use examples wherever you can.
  • Highlight (by underlining) the important words or sentences wherever required. For example in a question about BREXIT, the words Britian and David Cameron have to be highlighted.
  • Refer to InsightsonIndia. It’ll prove useful.
  • Refer to Mrunal for making notes.
  • Practice time management (you’ll really need it) by appearing for mock tests or perhaps at home (remain honest). A lot of coaching Institutes will evaluate the answers for you.

A good piece and original piece of writing is always appreciated. Make your script stand out from all the others.

An aspirant is expected to understand and comprehend the General Studies syllabus and not indulge in rote learning. You have got to apply your knowledge in answering questions.

Here are five ‘Must Follow’ Tips for GS preparation –

  • Strengthen your basics. Refer to ICSE and NCERT books.
  • Prioritize quality over quantity. Do not move on to the next topic without excelling in the previous one.
  • Invest time in written practice. The more you practice , the better will be your results in the exam.
  • Revise daily, weekly, monthly. It will really help you in remembering things you’ve prepared.
  • Enroll for a test series (offline or online). Your preparation will not be deemed complete until you’re evaluated.

I will be writing about GS preparation in detail in the coming days. Do read.

Optional Subject Preparation

The preparation for the Optional subject should begin along with the preparation of the Prelims itself. Many aspirants wait for the prelims to get over and then begin Civil Services mains preparation for the optional. This can cost you a precious year.

Your optional subject will help you compensate marks that you might lose in the GS papers. This is why the optional subject should be taken seriously right from the onset. Whatever optional you select, you should master it well.

The never ending questions and queries like best optional for IAS, scoring optional, highest success ratio etc queues up every year, but these questions are relative. If you examine the background of toppers in the exam, you will be amazed to see wide representation from almost all optional papers listed by UPSC, and that itself tells half of the story.

Essay Preparation 

Things to Do

  • Read books by standard authors.
  • Remain aware of the events globally.
  • Read editorials of National dailies especially the Hindu.
  • Read Yojana and Kurukshetra Magazines regularly.
  • Watch debates on national/international news channels.

What to Avoid ?

  • Excessive appreciation or criticism of anything. Know both sides.
  • Provocative language.
  • Getting personal.
  • Changing quotes.

All the best. Put your heart and soul in your preparation.

Suggested Reading

Mistakes to Avoid in Civil Services Exam

Reading the Hindu for Civil Services Exam

 Civil Services Preparation Without Coaching






Comments are closed.