Civil Services Exam is one of the toughest competitive examinations in India. So, if you are aspiring for the Civil Services, you have to be persistent and hard working. There are two things, if you want to clear Civil Services Exam without coaching, you have to understand and follow clearly: the first one is Strategy and the other one is Knowledge. Coaching institutes provide you with guide and study materials. But it is you who do everything.
Coming to whether you should seek coaching or not; time and again, Civil Services aspirants have proved that it is an individual choice. Several Civil Services aspirants have cracked Civil Services Exam without coaching in a single attempt without taking any coaching. It was possible because of their confidence, self-motivation, determination, persistence and, of course, with some luck.
So, if you have a track record of achieving your goals without much external support, you may try taking Civil Services Exam without coaching for which all you need is a smart study in a proper direction since everything that is written in a book is not important. Hard work with active mind will lead you to a right path. In case you fail to clear it or realize that you cannot make it on your own, you can opt for coaching and reappear for the examination.
Familiarity with Syllabus
First of all, make a determined mindset that you strive for nothing but Civil Services Exam. Prepare full one year study plan before sitting for Civil Services Exam without coaching. You must be familiar and well informed about the content and the topic it covers and also keep yourself updated with changes that UPSC makes. This will help you understand the subjects better and reduce your mental burden. On the other hand, if you are preparing on your own, you have the privilege to study at a time convenient to you. You can schedule your preparation according to your priorities.
Read NCERT Books
Start reading NCERT books. These are basic textbooks which will give you the gist of the subject and then you can go deeper and deeper into that subject. For example, in History, you should start reading India’s Ancient Past, then Medieval India by Satish Chandra and then India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra. Then you can refer textbooks which go deeper in the subject.
Cultivate a habit of reading newspaper, try to finish it off in 2 hours. Start reading newspapers like The Hindu and The Indian Express. They are very good and read them religiously. Once you get comfortable reading newspapers start making notes out of important events. Make 8 divisions, namely, International Relations(Middle East and Asia), International Relations(Americas and remaining world), Government Policies and schemes, Personalities and Awards and Sports, International Organisations, Social Issues, Economic Policies, Defence and classify all news in these categories.
Read especially editorial sections and expert opinion articles, by reading these you can score well in the exams especially the questions which are related to current affairs.These will help as a ready- reckoner while you are revising for the general studies syllabus.
Solve Previous Years Question Papers
It has been truly said that you require smart hard work to crack Civil Services Exam without coaching. This is where the importance of your thorough insight of the question papers creeps in. You must go through the question papers of past 10 years as it will help you identify the pattern and frequently asked topics. Also, it will make your preparation process easier and boost your confidence level. Practising with model question papers will help you pick up speed.
Right Selection of books
To move in the right direction, you have to select a standard book for each topic or subject rather than referring to multiple books for each topic. Collect standard study materials and make your own study plan. This not only saves your time, but will help you get the right guidance.
Prefer you Own Notes
To make it easy for your own on the eve of examination, making notes of the topics is undoubtedly a wise move. This solves two purposes – one, it gives you an insight of the topics as you go through the syllabus and two, it saves goo amount of time during exam as you’ll not have to refer again and again to the same thing.
Make use of the Internet. Don’t restrict your reading to only books. They provide you with knowledge which can’t be gained by reading books. Watch documentaries like BBC’s Days that shook the World which will increase your knowledge base. Whenever any current issue comes up, look up all the details on the internet, including the history of the issue in question. Keep in mind that they tend to be a bit biased though. Visit the websites of government ministries whenever a new bill is introduced. It will help you see the government point of view on the bill.
Read at least 4 of the following magazines: Frontline, Civil Services Chronicle, Economic and Political Weekly, India Today, The Economist, Yojana, Kurukshetra. You should read magazines that can help you improve your knowledge and aptitude.
Decide your optional fast and then look online for the recommended reading list for that optional.
Whenever you are Free
When you find yourself free go for visiting different sites of current affairs, it will start bringing you on track. And to improve and increase your vocabulary mark new words, see them in dictionary, find their synonym and antonym side by side; it certainly is going to improve your mental skills to read more and understand which would be beneficial for time management during exam in paper II. By this your current affairs and English preparation for paper II would run simultaneously. Give it a try.