What should I start reading if I want to attempt the UPSC exam after three years?
If you decide to take the UPSC Civil Services Exam after three years, you have sufficient time to prepare for it thoroughly. And this should start with cementing your basics. UPSC asks questions that test your basic understanding of a topic rather than memorizing facts. This is applicable for Prelims as well as Mains. Hence, understanding the basics instead of simply memorizing them is what an aspirant should hope for. One should start with the NCERTs to do this. These textbooks are used as standard reference textbooks in schools, and hence, they will be reasonably easy to read and understand. The subjects that are on the plate are Polity, Economics, Geography, Environment etc. Click here to download the NCERTs that are needed in your preparation. The basics of these subjects are well covered in these NCERTs. The general thumb rule is to refer to the textbooks from the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th std. If you find it difficult to understand texts from these classes, you can refer to the same subject from the lower classes, i.e. from 6th, 7th std onwards. Only after you finish these textbooks should you go to other reference textbooks like Laxmikant, Ramesh Singh etc. Before you take the next step, you can also try testing your knowledge in the NCERTs. Click here to understand how far you have come in understanding the basics of NCERTs.
Along with the NCERTs, you should start developing your reading habits. The best way to get a reading habit is to start with an excellent national daily, like The Hindu. But, make sure that you give importance to topics that are needed for the exam and avoid areas like sports, movie news, regional/national politics etc. Regular reading of The Hindu is required to clear Prelims, Mains and the Interview. UPSC often asks questions taken directly/indirectly from newspapers. Also, it is a good source for value addition and can improve your understanding and help you better analyze various topics.
After you are well versed in your basics, you can start with the other standard reference textbooks. Do not rush and read these books. Since you have sufficient time, please read slowly and understand each topic, rather than mugging it up. Some of the essential textbooks other than the NCERTs are India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra, Indian Polity by Laxmikanth, History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra, Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania etc.
While doing the regular studies, you should also refer to the previous years’ question papers to understand the questions’ nature. Hence, try to go through these, and after you analyze the paper, try to figure out the areas and pattern of questions that can be asked from the standard textbooks. Since you will attempt the exam only after three years, you can also keep track of the prelims/mains exams that are going to occur in the coming years. With this, you can understand the latest trend and at the same time ensure that whatever you have learnt is in accordance with the need of the exam. Click here to go through the previous years’ UPSC CSE papers to enhance your understanding and increase your chance of clearing it.
Once you are thorough with the basics and have started the full-scale preparation, you can try Answer Writing daily. In the beginning, try writing questions that are easier to answer and slowly progress over time, reaching the UPSC level difficulty. If you wish to test your answer writing skills, click here to take our Daily Answer Writing initiative that gives questions, answers and tips on structuring the answer.
Kindly keep in mind that perseverance and smart work are needed to crack this. Please don’t be disheartened if you face a few hiccups in your preparation. These are very much regular once you start your preparation. As each of you have your own unique preparation style, a single timetable may not fit all. Once you start studying, your strengths and weaknesses will present themselves to you and make a timetable that addresses it all to get the best results. I wish you the very best in all your future endeavours.