Tips and Tricks to crack UPSC IAS exam

1. Listening to AIR spotlight news analysis will help you to get broad picture about the current issues. Its available for free on sound cloud
https://soundcloud.com/allindiaradionews

2.  Buy a world map chart and paste it in your study room. Frequently scan the map focusing on important geographical locations/features/resources which are in the news

3.  For social issues read Aarti Dhar articles in “The Hindu”. Her articles are very analytical and to the point
http://www.thehindu.com/profile/author/aarti-dhar/

4.  Art and Culture videos by Ms.Ishani Pandya are one the good resource for UPSC exams
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2kwblESn4I

5.  While reading newspaper, keep a track of important news pertaining to your home state or birth place. Many interview questions can come up regarding news items related to these areas

6.  When you write a practice answers in UPSC answer sheet, count on an average how many words you write in a page. This will help you to avoid violating the word limit prescribed by UPSC in mains exam.

7.  Don’t take prelims exam lightly. Because highest competition is in this exam only which makes it very unpredictable.

8.  Practice underlining important lines in your answers. This will make your answers more readable.

9.  In prelims exams, don’t get stuck in one question for long time. All questions carry equal marks. They deserve equal attention.

10.  Choose one pen which best suits you. Practice mock tests with the same pen

11.  Researchers now hypothesize that slow-wave sleep (SWS), which is deep, restorative sleep, also plays a significant role in declarative memory by processing and consolidating newly acquired information. Lack of adequate sleep affects mood, motivation, judgment, and our perception of events.

12.  One thing very important in Essay is to ensure it is always topical. That means everything we write should be related to the topic and we should never deviate from it. And it should have some logical flow otherwise it becomes a bunch of random ideas.

13.  In answers, make small figures/illustrations wherever possible. Because a well-illustrated picture is worth thousand words.

Like the above simple illustration of land degradation.

14.  Make complete use of time during your preparation. Like listen to AIR news during after dinner walk or watch mrunal videos during lunch time etc

15.  The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. Whatever you read, try to connect it to constitution. Like link the issues of freedom of expression to Fundamental Rights. Education/Health to DPSP. Police as state subject etc. Practice this when writing mains exam as well.

16.  Use Mnemonic to remember stuff easily. A Mnemonic is something which we can use to remember things much easier. As is often the case, it could be a phrase, a short song, or something that is quite easily remembered, that we use to remember something that would otherwise be difficult to remember.
Check out SDG goals menomonic
here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huPH5bExOKk&t=123s

17.  Follow PIB regularly to avoid missing important government schemes and analysis of government on various issues

18. All knowledge that we have, either of the external or internal world, is obtained through only one method — by the concentration of the mind. No knowledge can be had of any science unless we can concentrate our minds upon the subject.The difference in this world between mind and mind is simply the fact of concentration. One, more concentrated than the other, gets more knowledge. – Swami Vivekananda

19.  Practice marking on OMR sheets. Some people just mark a point using pencil and mark all them with black pen just 10 mins before the finish. First marking with pencil (just a dot) helps to erase it, if it was marked out of error. Test all your stratagies in mock tests before trying them in final exam.

20.  Do you think attempting more questions is the key to success in Prelims? Is there an ideal number of questions one should attempt? How did you decide to attempt those questions which you were not sure of?

Snehaja(AIR:103): There is no ideal no of questions. In the first round, I attempted all the questions that i was sure of. In the second round i tried tackling those questions where i could eliminate 2 options and in the remaining tried to use some logic and reasoning. I completely avoided guess work and didnt touch those questions for which i had no idea.

21.  Use case studies to justify your points in GS and Essay
Ex: Successful conservation startegy of Chilka lake: the poachers-turned-protectors
http://www.thebetterindia.com/76787/chilika-lake-bird-sanctuary-conservation/

22.  Start your answers with good statements like
“Natural resources are finite and mankind’s needs are boundless”
“Consumerism takes, makes and wastes”

23.  For GS3, Down to Earth has some good articles
http://www.downtoearth.org.in/

24.  Do not use short forms or acronyms in your answers unless you explicitly define that in your answer
Ex: In the beginning of answer write Fourteenth finance commission (FFC). Later you can you just FFC as full form is defined before

25.  Follow the formula of “Back to basics”. Whenever you read any newspaper article, go back to basics. Lets say you are reading some article on patents, refersh your basics about patents like difference between patent, copyright etc, patent policy in India, recent judgements, TRIPS etc.

26.  A critical analysis is subjective writing because it expresses the writer’s opinion or evaluation of a text. Analysis means to break down and study the parts.

27.  An essay is a written exposition on a given subject which allows the writer to organise her/
his thoughts intellectually, and present them in a logical and coherent manner.

28.  Mnemonic for writs

29.  Artika [AIR 4]: Personality Test is the most whimsical part of the entire process. Try not to depend on it at all. The Mains Exam is what gets you in the final list. Give it your best shot!!

30.  Purity, patience, and perseverance are the three essentials to success, and above all, love. -SV

31.  

32.  Follow Twitter updates of Indian diplomacy. Many useful information is posted by them, check out Indian Diplomacy (@IndianDiplomacy): https://twitter.com/IndianDiplomacy?s=09

33. UPSC civils exam wants you to be curious.Follow 5 Wives and 1 Husband technique.

Wondering, who the 5 Wives and 1 Husband are?
They are

What
When
Where
Who
Why
How

34.  Beware of people who spread FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Disinformation) factor among UPSC aspirants. These people scare freshers with lots of disinformation like one has to read so many magazines, its takes 3-4 years to clear this exam, daily 14 hours study is must etc.
Only Self-confidence and sincere effort opens the gate of Mussoorie.

35.  You must keep the mind fixed on one object, like an unbroken stream of oil. This is how one can gain and retain the knowledge.

36.  

37.  They say IAS is the mother of all exams, Is it?
Wrong!!! This is just another exam.
The mother of all exams is Life.
You can afford to fail in IAS, but not in Life.
So, take IAS preparation as a phase in Life, not as your Life.

38.  Read some motivational lines before you go to bed. The last impression on mind before sleep controls the thought process for the whole night. So ensure that you go to bed with good thoughts.

39.  Just reading is not enough. Make notes or at least underline important lines

40.  Use case studies to justify your point.
Ex:
http://m.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/bengal-govts-kanyashree-scheme-bags-un-award/article9736259.ece

41.  The functions of the administrative officer (I.A.S.) are undefined and unlimited. Prepare yourself for this “always ready” mentality.

42.  Think out of box solutions for various challenges in India. (This will help you to boost your marks)

43.  Never mind the struggles, the mistakes. I never heard a cow tell a lie, but it is only a cow — never a man. So never mind these failures, these little backsliding; hold the ideal thousand times, and if you fail a thousand times, make the attempt once more. – Swami Vivekananda

44.  Good book: Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy
http://civilmentor.in/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Challenge-and-Strategy-Rethinking-India_s-Foreign-Policy-Sikri-Rajiv.pdf

45.  Alankrita Pandey (AIR 85):
The life changing moment was not that day for me, when the results came out, but it was the day when I had stuck a paper on a wall in my room saying- “I want a 2-digit AIR in Civil Service Exam.”

46.  Divide essay into sub topics so that one does not get diverted while writing the essay

47.  Good analysis of Indian Constitution by Madhav Khosla:
https://goo.gl/images/e3Qx1r

48.  Sound sleep helps in retaining the information stored in mind for long time

49.  Do not miss the “Key issues and Analysis” section of prsindia w.r.t to bills pending in parliament.
www.prsindia.org

50.  Now that you have decided to take the exam, Give it your 100%. Every year serious aspirants refer almost the same sources and otherwise also the information about polity, economy, geography, history is same. The difference is how well you read these. How you use what you read in writing answers. Believe in yourself and work hard, there is no substitute for it. Namami Bansal (AIR 17)

51.  How to do better in your exams: Drinking a glass of water can boost your results by a grade

Read more:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2131276/How-better-exams-Drinking-glass-water-boost-results-grade.html#ixzz4lssk8K9L

52.  Practice drawing India map. Make use of map for resource allocation or similar questions

53.  Practice drawing India Maps using the grid lines. Thats a faster and easier method to draw maps
http://www.wikihow.com/Draw-the-Map-of-India

54.  http://www.thebetterindia.com/20821/exam-time-tips-tricks-ancient-indian-knowledge-mothers/

55.  Practice being straight forward and witty in your answers. Will help a lot during interview.
Example conversation:
Panel: Write something on this page so that when a happy person reads it, it should make him unhappy and when unhappy person reads it, it should make him happy.
Candidate (After thinking very hard): “This time will pass anyway”

56.  When you love this exam then fear disappears

57.  Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flower, not thunder

58.  Trick to remember Indus Water Treaty rivers.
According to the treaty, Beas, Ravi and Sutlej are to be governed by India, while, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum are to be taken care by Pakistan.
Rivers governed by India: SBR-> Shreshta Bharat Rashtra
Rivers governed by Pak: JIC -> Jihadist and islamic country

Feel free to share any other mnemonics to remember this easily.

59.  Secret for success is to live in present. Can you do this? Try!!!

1. Listening to AIR spotlight news analysis will help you to get broad picture about the current issues. Its available for free on sound cloud
https://soundcloud.com/allindiaradionews

2.  Buy a world map chart and paste it in your study room. Frequently scan the map focusing on important geographical locations/features/resources which are in the news

3.  For social issues read Aarti Dhar articles in “The Hindu”. Her articles are very analytical and to the point
http://www.thehindu.com/profile/author/aarti-dhar/

4.  Art and Culture videos by Ms.Ishani Pandya are one the good resource for UPSC exams
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2kwblESn4I

5.  While reading newspaper, keep a track of important news pertaining to your home state or birth place. Many interview questions can come up regarding news items related to these areas

6.  When you write a practice answers in UPSC answer sheet, count on an average how many words you write in a page. This will help you to avoid violating the word limit prescribed by UPSC in mains exam.

7.  Don’t take prelims exam lightly. Because highest competition is in this exam only which makes it very unpredictable.

8.  Practice underlining important lines in your answers. This will make your answers more readable.

9.  In prelims exams, don’t get stuck in one question for long time. All questions carry equal marks. They deserve equal attention.

10.  Choose one pen which best suits you. Practice mock tests with the same pen

11.  Researchers now hypothesize that slow-wave sleep (SWS), which is deep, restorative sleep, also plays a significant role in declarative memory by processing and consolidating newly acquired information. Lack of adequate sleep affects mood, motivation, judgment, and our perception of events.

12.  One thing very important in Essay is to ensure it is always topical. That means everything we write should be related to the topic and we should never deviate from it. And it should have some logical flow otherwise it becomes a bunch of random ideas.

13.  In answers, make small figures/illustrations wherever possible. Because a well-illustrated picture is worth thousand words.

Like the above simple illustration of land degradation.

14.  Make complete use of time during your preparation. Like listen to AIR news during after dinner walk or watch mrunal videos during lunch time etc

15.  The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. Whatever you read, try to connect it to constitution. Like link the issues of freedom of expression to Fundamental Rights. Education/Health to DPSP. Police as state subject etc. Practice this when writing mains exam as well.

16.  Use Mnemonic to remember stuff easily. A Mnemonic is something which we can use to remember things much easier. As is often the case, it could be a phrase, a short song, or something that is quite easily remembered, that we use to remember something that would otherwise be difficult to remember.
Check out SDG goals menomonic
here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huPH5bExOKk&t=123s

17.  Follow PIB regularly to avoid missing important government schemes and analysis of government on various issues

18. All knowledge that we have, either of the external or internal world, is obtained through only one method — by the concentration of the mind. No knowledge can be had of any science unless we can concentrate our minds upon the subject.The difference in this world between mind and mind is simply the fact of concentration. One, more concentrated than the other, gets more knowledge. – Swami Vivekananda

19.  Practice marking on OMR sheets. Some people just mark a point using pencil and mark all them with black pen just 10 mins before the finish. First marking with pencil (just a dot) helps to erase it, if it was marked out of error. Test all your stratagies in mock tests before trying them in final exam.

20.  Do you think attempting more questions is the key to success in Prelims? Is there an ideal number of questions one should attempt? How did you decide to attempt those questions which you were not sure of?

Snehaja(AIR:103): There is no ideal no of questions. In the first round, I attempted all the questions that i was sure of. In the second round i tried tackling those questions where i could eliminate 2 options and in the remaining tried to use some logic and reasoning. I completely avoided guess work and didnt touch those questions for which i had no idea.

21.  Use case studies to justify your points in GS and Essay
Ex: Successful conservation startegy of Chilka lake: the poachers-turned-protectors
http://www.thebetterindia.com/76787/chilika-lake-bird-sanctuary-conservation/

22.  Start your answers with good statements like
“Natural resources are finite and mankind’s needs are boundless”
“Consumerism takes, makes and wastes”

23.  For GS3, Down to Earth has some good articles
http://www.downtoearth.org.in/

24.  Do not use short forms or acronyms in your answers unless you explicitly define that in your answer
Ex: In the beginning of answer write Fourteenth finance commission (FFC). Later you can you just FFC as full form is defined before

25.  Follow the formula of “Back to basics”. Whenever you read any newspaper article, go back to basics. Lets say you are reading some article on patents, refersh your basics about patents like difference between patent, copyright etc, patent policy in India, recent judgements, TRIPS etc.

26.  A critical analysis is subjective writing because it expresses the writer’s opinion or evaluation of a text. Analysis means to break down and study the parts.

27.  An essay is a written exposition on a given subject which allows the writer to organise her/
his thoughts intellectually, and present them in a logical and coherent manner.

28.  Mnemonic for writs

29.  Artika [AIR 4]: Personality Test is the most whimsical part of the entire process. Try not to depend on it at all. The Mains Exam is what gets you in the final list. Give it your best shot!!

30.  Purity, patience, and perseverance are the three essentials to success, and above all, love. -SV

31.  

32.  Follow Twitter updates of Indian diplomacy. Many useful information is posted by them, check out Indian Diplomacy (@IndianDiplomacy): https://twitter.com/IndianDiplomacy?s=09

33. UPSC civils exam wants you to be curious.Follow 5 Wives and 1 Husband technique.

Wondering, who the 5 Wives and 1 Husband are?
They are

What
When
Where
Who
Why
How

34.  Beware of people who spread FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Disinformation) factor among UPSC aspirants. These people scare freshers with lots of disinformation like one has to read so many magazines, its takes 3-4 years to clear this exam, daily 14 hours study is must etc.
Only Self-confidence and sincere effort opens the gate of Mussoorie.

35.  You must keep the mind fixed on one object, like an unbroken stream of oil. This is how one can gain and retain the knowledge.

36.  

37.  They say IAS is the mother of all exams, Is it?
Wrong!!! This is just another exam.
The mother of all exams is Life.
You can afford to fail in IAS, but not in Life.
So, take IAS preparation as a phase in Life, not as your Life.

38.  Read some motivational lines before you go to bed. The last impression on mind before sleep controls the thought process for the whole night. So ensure that you go to bed with good thoughts.

39.  Just reading is not enough. Make notes or at least underline important lines

40.  Use case studies to justify your point.
Ex:
http://m.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/bengal-govts-kanyashree-scheme-bags-un-award/article9736259.ece

41.  The functions of the administrative officer (I.A.S.) are undefined and unlimited. Prepare yourself for this “always ready” mentality.

42.  Think out of box solutions for various challenges in India. (This will help you to boost your marks)

43.  Never mind the struggles, the mistakes. I never heard a cow tell a lie, but it is only a cow — never a man. So never mind these failures, these little backsliding; hold the ideal thousand times, and if you fail a thousand times, make the attempt once more. – Swami Vivekananda

44.  Good book: Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy
http://civilmentor.in/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Challenge-and-Strategy-Rethinking-India_s-Foreign-Policy-Sikri-Rajiv.pdf

45.  Alankrita Pandey (AIR 85):
The life changing moment was not that day for me, when the results came out, but it was the day when I had stuck a paper on a wall in my room saying- “I want a 2-digit AIR in Civil Service Exam.”

46.  Divide essay into sub topics so that one does not get diverted while writing the essay

47.  Good analysis of Indian Constitution by Madhav Khosla:
https://goo.gl/images/e3Qx1r

48.  Sound sleep helps in retaining the information stored in mind for long time

49.  Do not miss the “Key issues and Analysis” section of prsindia w.r.t to bills pending in parliament.
www.prsindia.org

50.  Now that you have decided to take the exam, Give it your 100%. Every year serious aspirants refer almost the same sources and otherwise also the information about polity, economy, geography, history is same. The difference is how well you read these. How you use what you read in writing answers. Believe in yourself and work hard, there is no substitute for it. Namami Bansal (AIR 17)

51.  How to do better in your exams: Drinking a glass of water can boost your results by a grade

Read more:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2131276/How-better-exams-Drinking-glass-water-boost-results-grade.html#ixzz4lssk8K9L

52.  Practice drawing India map. Make use of map for resource allocation or similar questions

53.  Practice drawing India Maps using the grid lines. Thats a faster and easier method to draw maps
http://www.wikihow.com/Draw-the-Map-of-India

54.  http://www.thebetterindia.com/20821/exam-time-tips-tricks-ancient-indian-knowledge-mothers/

55.  Practice being straight forward and witty in your answers. Will help a lot during interview.
Example conversation:
Panel: Write something on this page so that when a happy person reads it, it should make him unhappy and when unhappy person reads it, it should make him happy.
Candidate (After thinking very hard): “This time will pass anyway”

56.  When you love this exam then fear disappears

57.  Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flower, not thunder

58.  Trick to remember Indus Water Treaty rivers.
According to the treaty, Beas, Ravi and Sutlej are to be governed by India, while, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum are to be taken care by Pakistan.
Rivers governed by India: SBR-> Shreshta Bharat Rashtra
Rivers governed by Pak: JIC -> Jihadist and islamic country

Feel free to share any other mnemonics to remember this easily.

59.  Secret for success is to live in present. Can you do this? Try!!!

60.


One figure is worth 100 words in mains exam. Take for example above diagram on “manual Scavenger’s” which explains this complex issue in simple terms. Such things shows to that you have clear understanding about the subject
Keep things as simple as possible. But Simplicity is very complicated these days. Keep your answers simple and clear so that even dumbest examiner can understand it and cleverest examiner appreciate your choice of words and points
Practice making figures on the spot from now onward so that it becomes dynamic in exam hall, otherwise 3 hours’ time is very less to conceptualise diagrams in exam hall itself.

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