How can an engineering student strategically prepare for UPSC right through college?

Civil services are a dream opportunity for thousands of students and clearing that exam isn’t a cake walk. Keeping that in mind many students start preparing for the exam from their early college days itself which helps them cover around 70% of the syllabus before their graduation.

UPSC exams consist of three steps which include Prelims, Mains and then Interview. Before you begin preparing for the exam make yourself very clear about the steps, structure, and syllabus of the exam. Familiarizing yourself with the goal and paths to be taken are very important in achieving the goal. Gathering all the necessary information about the exam pattern, syllabus, solving previous year’s paper of the exam helps you familiarize with the pattern and also time management.

Prelims are a gateway to the main exam. CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test is the first phase of the preliminary examination of UPSC. This test is intended to assess the aptitude of examinees in solving the ‘Reasoning and Analytical’ questions. Prelims stage comprises of 2 papers of Objective type Questions. Paper 1 includes general studies, current events, history, politics, economy, general science and environmental studies. Second paper includes comprehension, interpersonal, skills, reasoning, decision making, mental ability and basic numeracy.

Once you’re familiar with the syllabus and structure, it is crucial in managing your time well by accommodating all the study topics in the timetable, syncing it with your graduation semesters so that you have enough time to spare for both. Give enough time for revision as well. Initial semesters are best for getting your basic concepts clear as they are less hectic.

The most important thing for prelims or even the mains is that you’ll have to be up to date with what’s happening across the world, for that you must read a newspaper every day. Noting down important points which are useful for current events, would be great while revising.

The phase 2 tests the candidate’s academic talent and comprehensive intellectual quality. Mains consist of 9 papers, of which 2 are qualifying papers that are English and any other Indian Language. Others are Essay writing (any language), General Studies- I (History and Geography), General studies II ( Governance, Polity), General Studies- III( Technology, environment, Economy), General Studies- IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude), Optional Subject - Paper 1 , Optional Subject - Paper 2

The optional Subjects include Civil, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering. This is where an engineering student can draw advantage by choosing and concentrating on that particular subject from the beginning itself. However, the candidate is free to choose any optional subject from the list, regardless of his graduation background.

Next, comes the interview phase. Students who qualify with the required marks in the mains are called for an interview. It is based on current affairs, educational background, and ability in administration will be tested.

Following governmental portals for regular updates like, Income Tax Dept, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry Of Home Affairs, Incredible India, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Survey of India, etc provides one with some extra information which probably books wouldn’t.

It is great to start early, but first, assess your strengths and weaknesses and mastery in engineering subjects otherwise there is no meaning in preparing for UPSC. Preparation for general aptitude is foremost important; most of the marks can be earned from there only.

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