Smart Strategy | Month Wise IAS Preparation Strategy for UPSC 2020 Exam

UPSC Civil Services exam preparation is one of the toughest journies in life. Every year lakhs of aspirants prepare for this exam to achieve their dream of becoming IAS officer. It takes a minimum of one year to prepare and another year to sit for the examination. The Civil Services aspirant's exam preparation includes Prelims and Mains.

Here is how a Civil Services aspirant can approach the UPSC exam and also understand the importance of expert assistance for their preparation.

UPSC IAS Exam comprises of three stages

S. N0 Stage of Exam Nature of Exam Exam Dates
1 Prelims Objective 31-05-2020
2 Mains Descriptive 18-09-2020
3 Personality Test Personal Interview March-April - 2021

The exam cycle tentatively starts in the month of June and it takes around a year to complete all the stages. What smart students realize is that there is significant overlap in the syllabus of prelims and mains exams. So, it makes sense to have an overall IAS preparation strategy as opposed to stage-specific strategy.

Foundation Courses for UPSC Preparation

What is a foundation course?

A foundation course is a comprehensive course that covers all aspects across the Prelims and Mains syllabus. Typically such a course would last for around 12 months and would involve multiple expert teachers.

What can I expect?

Good foundation courses are designed keeping in mind the candidates who have just started their UPSC IAS exam journey. These courses are comprehensive - covering the Prelims as well as Mains to give the candidate a holistic preparation. The course will give a solid foundation on the basic and advanced aspect of the General Studies paper - GS I - GS IV and Essay.

What do such courses cover?

The foundation courses have been curated in such a way that it will keep the candidate on their toes and will demand utmost dedication. The schedule of the topics covered has been designed smartly to give you the necessary boost at each stage of the exam.

These courses cover the Prelims test series as well as a periodic Mains answer writing practice so, it provides a complete solution to the General Studies aspect of the exam. These courses also provide rich content and tips to develop your Essay writing skills.

All in all, these courses are a one-stop solution for a complete General Studies preparation.

Significance of Foundation Course in IAS Preparation

1 To Avoid Duplication

Undertaking foundation courses help in avoid duplication of effort and prevent wastage of time, which is already a crucial commodity for a UPSC aspirant. There is considerable overlap between the Prelims and Mains syllabus.

UPSC Prelims Mains Syllabus Overlap

2 Holistic Preparation

While enrolling for a foundation course, aspirants will cover each and every topic from the Prelims as well as Mains perspective. By joining separate Prelims and Mains courses, it leads to a repetitive study of same topics resulting in half-hearted attention in the curriculum.

3 Economical

Taking up the foundation course is the most economical decision compared to signing up for individual courses for each paper.

4 Regular Study Schedule

Maintaining high motivation levels in spurts is easy, but maintaining it for over a year at a stretch is difficult. A foundation course allows aspirants to have a regular study schedule that would help in keeping the preparation on track.

5 Comprehensive Preparation

A good foundation course would start from the very basics and would cover all aspects required, preparing aspirants to excel in the Prelims and GS in mains. Test series are also a part of such courses, which help aspirants to be prepared for a real exam like scenario.

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IAS Preparation Strategy for 2020 Prelims cum Mains Exam

Phase 1: September/ October 2019 to February 2020 - Comprehensive Preparation

From September/October to February aspirants should devote their time to build the basic foundation for the exam. Aspirants should be finished with basic NCERT books by the end of December and a few Essential books by the end of February. This will give them a solid foundation for their General studies paper. All along this period, aspirants must also devote their time to the selected Optional subject.

UPSC asks questions based on current events and issues, so students must read the newspaper regularly. For the Prelims exam, aspirants must follow the current affairs from June 2018 to June 2019. While reading the newspaper, students must develop a habit of making notes for future revision.

In this phase, aspirants must try to understand the subject comprehensively and also focus on Mains. For better understanding, the exam question pattern refers to last 3-4 years Prelims and Mains question paper for better reading.

Students must never try to memorize the subject while reading. They must try to develop mnemonics, mind-maps and find their own way which works for them. Because most of the questions asked by UPSC are conceptual and analytical in Nature.

Phase 2: March 2020 to April 2020 - Prelims Consolidation

During this phase, students should devote their complete time of exam preparation to the Prelims exam and try to take as many mock tests from institutes or online test series. Test series will help aspirants to identify their strengths and weaknesses and focus on their improvement areas.

It is always better to make mistakes in Mock exams so that they aren't repeated in UPSC exams. In Prelims exam, UPSC asks most simple and tricky questions, in order to get qualified for the Mains exam. Students must apply their knowledge and use the methodologies like elimination, intelligent guesses to mark the correct answers.

Phase 3: April 2020 to IAS Prelims 2020 - UPSC Prelims Exam Revision

UPSC Preparation is a year-long process and aspirants may never feel satisfied with the amount they have studied.  But the success mantra every successful IAS aspirants followed was a comprehensive revision before the exam. Since students have been preparing for one year, they would have covered a vast number of topics which may not be possible to retain. In order to recall and perform well in the UPSC examination hall, students need a proper revision before the exam.

It is advised to students to revise all the subject at least 2 times before their examination. The more time students spend in revision, the better their performance can be.

Phase 4: Mid June to August 2020 - UPSC Mains Exam Preparation

After the Prelims, the Mains exam aspirants should maximize their writing practice as they already have a sufficient knowledge base. Aspirants must focus on mastering their answer writing and presentation skills. This will enhance their confidence and give them an edge other the other candidates who continue reading and procrastinate writing answers.

Phase 5: September 2020 to IAS Mains exam - UPSC Mains Exam Revision

Aspirants must revise all the subjects and topics two times before the Mains exam which will help them write better answers in the Mains exam.

Phase 6: IAS Interview Preparation

Once the Mains exam is done, aspirants have two months before the final stage of the UPSC examination, the Personality test/Interview. This time is very critical and students must utilize this time period prepare for their interview.

Timeline for IAS 2020 Exam Preparation for Beginners

The timeline explained below is the personal journey of some successful UPSC candidates: 

Plan for 2018 UPSC Exam Preparation

Many candidates even after being fully aware of the preparation, resulting in an unsuccessful attempt.

Foundation Courses offered at NeoStencil

General Studies Foundation Course & Test Series by [Lukmaan IAS]

Salamuddin Ansari is the Founding Director of the Institute and his subject expertise are Public Administration (Optional), GS Polity, Governance and Ethics. He also handles current affairs and editorial discussion classes.

Lukmaan IAS has a good reputation over the years. In the 2016 IAS Final results, more than 100 students qualified for Civil Services under their guidance including IAS Toppers Abhilash Mishra (AIR 5) and Manuj Jindal (AIR 53).

General Studies Foundation Course & Test Series by [Pavan Kumar IAS]

Pavan Kumar is the Director of Pavan Kumar IAS and is the subject matter expert in Public Administration (Optional) along with various GS Subjects.

Pavan Kumar IAS has brought good results in recent past. In the 2016 UPSC, the final recommended list has more than 130 students selected from Pavan Kumar IAS Institute including IAS toppers Suman Sourav Mohanty (AIR 9), Shivam Pratap Singh (AIR 52), Rohit Vyas (AIR 69) and Rajashri Raj (AIR 81).

All the Best!

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