How to Crack UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE) 2016-17 : Preparation Tips

Civil Services Examination is one of the most prestigious examination in the country taken by Union Public Service Commission to select Civil Servants (Bureaucrats). This examination is as much test of your patience and perseverance as it is of your talent.


First let me break the entire examination into the three basic UPSC CSE stages and their markings respectively:

  • Preliminary Phase- This phase is screening phase and consists of 400 marks. 200 for CSAT which is qualifying in nature and GS in which you have to score around 110 marks as a General Category candidate to go through the next level.
  • MAINS Phase- This consists of 1750 marks and 9 papers in total.
  • Interview Phase- This has 225 marks wherein a panel from UPSC will take the interview of the candidate.

UPSC Civil Services 2016-17 Important Dates

  1. Notification- Last week of April
  2. Date of closure of application form- Last week of May
  3. Preliminary Examination- 1st Week of August
  4. MAINS Examination- 2nd -3rd Week of December
  5. Interview cum Personality Test- 1st Week of March

Can Civil Services be cracked without coaching?

It is a common myth in the masses that civil services can’t be cracked without coaching’s help. It is an accepted fact that Civil Service exams are tough but that does not mean  that the exam cannot be cracked without coaching. If a student goes by a set guide line, pursues the preparation in a planned manner then he/she can crack the civil service exam easily. It is the planning in which most of the people miss the trick and go in haphazard manner and in the end hamper their chances. This article will help break the myth of Civil Services without coaching classes. Read on to find out how you can crack Civil Service exam from home without coaching.

Important questions to know before starting your UPSC Civil Service Exam preparation.

What does the syllabus comprise of and what is the time line of the examination?

Ans. The timeline of the examination is around 1 year. The syllabus roughly is constituted of: History, Geography, Polity, Economics, Science and Technology, Ethics and General Awareness.

What is the format of UPSC Civil Service examination?

Ans. The examination checks in the candidate a number of things like Attitude, Aptitude, Decision Making ability, Problem solving attitude, Analytical skills apart from subject knowledge

Civil Service Exam, CSE, 2016-17 : Marks Breakdown

Now the entire game of the Civil Service is played in 1975 marks. Toppers generally score around 52-55% marks. So the aspirants should ideally concentrate to score around 1200-1400 marks out of this 1975 marks to sail through. The basic issue that most of the aspirants face in this examination is the vastness of the syllabus and time management.

Few things to keep in mind before one jump into UPSC Civil Service Exam preparation

  • Go through the NCERT books before any other material
  • Practice answer writing as much as possible
  • Keep an eye on General Awareness by reading newspaper (preferably The Hindu or The Indian Express)
  • Time management
  • Opinion Formation for things around you.

The aspirant should first go through the syllabus thoroughly to ensure that he/she gets a better idea of civil service examination. The weak and strong zones of the student should be honestly judged and the amount of effort according to that should be decided by the student himself.

The NCERT from class VI to XII should be read and re-read as it’ll help to prepare a base for things to come. Never ever make notes of NCERT books when you are going through them for the first time. Ideally you should look forward to make notes only when you are reading it for the third time.

Tips to crack UPSC Civil Service Exam without Coaching

Following points will come handy for your help while preparing without any coaching classes:

  • Make sure that you go through the NCERT books at least three times.
  • Don’t make notes of the books when you read it for the first time.
  • Try to make your notes as concise as possible. Ideally make note of an entire chapter on an A4 sheet and you should be able to get the entire chapter by just reading your notes.
  • Make sure that you revisit your notes regularly. No point of making them and storing them in your archive.

There is no point gathering all the knowledge if you don’t write and practice that. Civil Service Examination, conducted by UPSC, is also a test of writing in a crisp and concise manner. To put all your ideas within the word limits might sound easy but rest assured it is a difficult nut to crack if you don’t practice.

How to Prepare for the UPSC CSE 2016-17 : Do’s and Don’ts

Following quick tips can prove helpful to prepare for the UPSC Civil Service Exam

  • Be concise in your writing. Don’t show all your knowledge at one go. Only put the relevant points in context of the question.
  • Never jargonize your answers, use only simple language to convey your idea.
  • Use NCERT chapter’s end question to start practice and get them evaluated from someone within your knowledge who has a grip on that particular subject.
  • Make it a habit to write every day. Express your opinion on issues of General Knowledge that will help you build upon your habit of expression and writing.
  • Enroll yourself in a test series program and treat them as your final test. Work upon the feedbacks, shortcomings honestly.

To develop a better understanding of a topic already covered, go through videos (if possible) that are available online.

Tips for Optional Papers

  • Select an optional subject of your choice and comfort. Take into account the reference material available for them as Optional Subject can help or hamper your chances of qualifying immensely.
  • Never select an optional subject by judging the crowd behind that.
  • The writing practice for optional paper should be at par with other papers.

Most of the student find it difficult to manage their time primarily because of mismanagement rather than anything else.

6 Last Minute Tips on Efficient Time management for UPSC Civil Service 2016-17 aspirants

  1. Make routine of activities and make sure that you do self study for at least 6 hours a day.
  2. Adhere to the routine strictly.
  3. Always revisit whatever you read so that nothing is lost from memory
  4. Try to complete the NCERT books within a stipulated time. Mark the starting date and end date on the book to make sure it is completed within a set time.
  5. Make sure that you give your body enough time to relax.
  6. Do not make the mistake of cutting your sleep time as it’ll have adverse effects

Lastly have faith in your capabilities and be positive. Believe in yourself rather than on the hype created by the masses. All the best to all the aspirants, and if you have any questions related to UPSC Civil Services Exam 2016-17, feel free to comment below.

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