IAS Master Preparation Plan - by Harikishore S. (IAS Topper 2008 14th Position). I started preparation for Civil Services Exam from January 2006. In 2005, while working as a lecturer, I made a casual attempt at the Prelims and did not clear it. In January 2006, I quit my job and joined a coaching institute in Thiruvananthapuram for the Prelims preparation.
When the Prelims results were declared in August 2006, my name was not there in the list of successful candidates. Though I was really upset, I knew that I failed twice because of lack of proper plan and commitment. After August 2006, I started serious and independent preparation.
My Optional at the Prelims for both the attempts was Mechanical Engineering. I did not change it. For the Mains, I opted for Geography and Malayalam literature. I made some long-term plans for the period from August 2006 to October 2007. These included
- Finishing Mechanical Engineering Optional and General Studies (GS) for the Prelims by March 2007.
- Reading newspaper from the Prelims as well as the mains point of view. (This helped covering 605-70% of the General Studies paper in the Mains).
- Covering some core areas of Geography (especially map questions) and Malayalam Literature before the Prelims 2007.
After covering the entire Prelims Optional syllabus, I revised it two-three times. Also went through last 10 years question papers. After my Prelim Examination, I was confident that I would pass this time. So, I started preparation for the Mains immediately after the Prelims. I attended a 15 day coaching class for Malayalam Literature. After that it was self-study till Mains. Before the Prelims results were declared, I made considerable progress in two Optional subjects. After the results, I focused on General Studies. Revision was given lots of importance. Also, I gave emphasis to writing practice. I also made some sample question papers (for Optional as well as General Studies) and wrote mock tests on my own. These tests helped a lot in time management.
To get a feel of UPSC Question papers and exam conditions, I had applied for Indian Forest Service (IFS) Exam. I wrote English and General Studies papers of IFS Exam in July 2007. This decision was extremely helpful. I got a feel of UPSC tests. Also, it gave me lots of confidence.
After the Mains, I relaxed for some time. I started interview preparation from December 2007. To get into IAS, one needs to get a position below 50 (in General category). So, if my position is beyond that, I may need to write the exam once again to get into IAS. This was my first Main Exam and my preparation was almost independent. So, I was not sure about the marks. Hence, along with interview preparation, I started revising mechanical Engineering for the next Prelims. After the declaration of the Mains result, I prepared exclusively for interview. I attended few mock interviews in Thiruvananthapuram. After my interview, I prepared for the Prelims GS paper. I could not sustain the momentum of studies after the month of April, as I was getting tensed about the result. Getting All India 14th Position was a big relief.