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DETAILED UPSC Preparation Strategy: Chandra Mohan Garg, Rank – 25, UPSC Civil Services Exam – 2015

UPSC Past papers by Exam Yatra - September 19, 2018

My UPSC Preparation Strategy

 Chandra Mohan Garg

Rank – 25,  CSE – 2015


I feel privileged today to share my two cents on civil services preparation. Before I begin let me clearly state that there is no magic wand to clear civil services. Also there is no correlation of intelligence and high aptitude with chances of selection in civil services. Most of the people who crack it are no indifferent (at one point of time even they were a part of the herd and felt the same uncertainty of clearing up this exam).But yes something worked for them, that made them successful.

I would like to list down some of the most important components which you will find common in preparation of all successful candidates. We can call them as Basic Pillars of UPSC Preparation

  1. A timetable and strategy: Nothing is possible without proper planning, a daily timetable and short/long term goals setting. So plan and timetable is the first pillar.
  2. A strong foundation and conceptual clarity: it is important to ensure whatever we read, we understand it thoroughly. UPSC questions are very much applied, they need analysis and that can come only when we are crystal clear with our concepts of subject matter.
  3. Consolidation and revision: The syllabus is like a vast ocean, it is important to keep consolidating and revising it time and again.So make notes and continuosly revise every now and then.
  4. Evaluation of Preparation: At every point of time you should know where your preparation stand, that is possible through self-evaluation and evaluation through tests.
  5. Consistency: Nothing happens without it. People who show consistency are sure shot to be rewarded, provided they work smartly
  6. Discussions and Answer writing: Discussions are very important, they will help in clearing your doubts & better understanding of subject matter. Similarly Answer writing has a very important role, knowledge without ability to express and articulate is futile. It is important to develop the ability to deliver in 8 minutes.
  7. Being Optimistic: This is the last but the most important one. UPSC is a time taking process, full of obstacles and failures. How to cope up with them, keeping yourself motivated is the biggest key to success.

I will discuss each of the above point in detail sometime later. Also I shall take up discussion on soft aspects like right time to start preparation, should job be left, need of a backup, how do I decide why civil services etc. Clarity on all this is must before giving a full-fledged effort for preparation.

Now let us discuss how to prepare for civil services.

Pre –Preparation Mode

The initial two-three months are very confusing. People are generally not able to understand what to read, how to make notes, which newspaper to refer and other plethora of questions coming to their minds. What most people end up doing is they join a coaching thinking it to be a solution to all problems , others blindly start following some senior who himself is misdirected. This is a very crucial stage and I feel most of the people lose their momentum here because of a faulty start and they find very difficult to realign later.

So starting has to be steady and sober. I think it is important to give at least two months to yourself to get yourself in UPSC mode. Start reading newspapers and noting them down, basic NCERT’s of economics, Polity & other basic ones, some good blogs/book etc. This will not only help in giving you a foundation but also help in taking informed decisions related to preparation (estimation of time you will need, need of coaching, should job be continued, optional choice etc.). This will act as a trial and error time where you can learn how to make notes, how to read books, learn from others etc. So this will make things smooth in your preparation be it self or through coaching.

I shall discuss in detail how to go about in pre-preparation mode

Preparation Mode

When you start your preparation, have a clear cut idea about your study plan. Which books/material to read, which subjects to cover up, how to divide time between (GS, current affairs and optional), what will be the daily targets, short and long term goals.

Time Required for Preparation: Since every one of us have different grasping power so please do not go by others set timeline. Take your own time for civil services preparation. Ideally 12-15 months is at least required for preparation mode.


                                                         Prelims Book List (My Prelims Book List)

Polity – Laxmikanth

Modern History – Modern Spectrum , few chapters from Old NCERT class 12th (before 1857)

Medieval History – OLD NCERT

Ancient History- OLD NCERT CLASS 11th

Culture- Nitin Singhania + CCRT/NIOS selectively , Mrunal Videos can also be seen

Environment – Shankar Ias, Old Biology Class 12 Ecology unit

Economics- Sriram Printed Notes + Macroeconomics Class 12 NCERT . Mrunal Videos are also good .

Geography – Class 11th &12th NCERT, Class 6 to 10th NCERT selectively, Biomes chapter from G C Leong. Mrunal Videos are also good.

Science- NCERT 6th to 10th (Mainly 9th&10th), Some selective chapters from 11th & 12th as mentioned by Mrunal. Vajiram Yellow books of PCB are also fine

First and Second Revision ( 35-40 days)

It is important to remember basic ideas in the examination hall. Rather than reading new things focus on strengthening what you have read. So two rounds of revision are much needed. It sounds idealistic when we are not even able to cover the syllabus. But my focus is on quality of coverage than quantity. And if you plan properly you can have quality along with quantity.

Note Making

Whatever you read in Static and Current part keep consolidating topic wise. Anything new add in your notes rather than reading again and again. Later these notes can be consolidated and used for revision purpose. If you will not make notes you will not be able to catch hold of entire syllabus, keep forgetting things. So start making notes from day 1. In course of time you will learn how to make, manage and revise them

What else is required?

I think three biggest facets of this preparation are Knowledge, articulation and positive attitude. Nobody talks about this third facet which is the most important and critical aspect of not just Upsc preparation but life in itself. I am focussing on this because I left my preparation once thinking I am not capable of clearing UPSC and here I am with rank 25. It happened only when I changed my outlook, had I not changed it, my capabilities would never had come out. I could not have achieved this feat.

I am sharing a small link to an article I wrote sometime back.

My Marks

chandra mohan ias marks,, ias topper chandra mohan garg ias marks


I know all of us are full of confusions and queries. So in case any one of you needs any help you can reach out to me on a fb page I created this page to upload articles and videos and answer all your queries. In case you need any help in answer review. You can post here only.

Link is :

Also you can poke me on quora.

I shall try to write a series of article or make some videos on each and every aspect related to UPSC preparation. Please give me some time.

                   Best wishes to all of you. Hope we all do our best in our lives.

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