The advanced level of preparation for civil services is like army preparing for the war. It is not only important to procure new weapons, but also important to sharpen them and get trained on their usage. Similarly, advanced level preparation is about studying new things as well as ensuring that you can use both base and advanced level knowledge as and when it is needed.
Guide books give you information, but not knowledge
First of all, let us see what new knowledge that can be acquired, and what extra material you should go through, besides NCERT text books. There are many reference books and guide books in the market. Guide books can give you information, but not knowledge; you must not depend on them except for the purpose of quick revision. Always, primary reference materials should be authentic textbooks and reports from government.
Indian Polity – D. D. Basu can be substituted by the book of Subhash Kashyap
Indian Polity and Constitution is an important subject which requires some amount of additional study. An Introduction to the Constitution of India by D. D. Basu is the best book to get an insight into the subject. But its language is a bit complex; hence it can be substituted by Our Constitution by Subhash Kashyap. You may need to keep The Constitution of India by PM Bakshi on the table to refer whenever there is a confusion or conflict on subject matters.
Have thorough understanding of Physical Geography
Certificate Physical and Human Geography is a simple book with all the conceptual part needed for understanding of Geography. You should have proper understanding of Physical Geography, which will not only help you in solving questions related to general Geography, but also aid you in deducing answers of World and Indian Geography questions, which have some conceptual base.
Economy- Go through government schemes and programs from India Year Book
I won’t advise you to read big text books for grasping the Economics of India. Supplement what you have already read in NCERTs with Newspapers, and update the data from Economic Survey of India. You don’t have to read entire Economic Survey, but have to look into the pages related to information which is already there in NCERTs and update it.
It will be good if you can go through the important government schemes and programs from India Year Book. For this you can even follow summary of India Year Book published by any of the publishers, or read from annual reports of ministries available for download in ministry websites of central government.
Coming to History of Modern India, you can read India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra.
Science- Most questions are related to Human organism
Science is considered difficult by majority of aspirants and ignored, which is leading to peril in the examination. Most of the questions from Science are related to Human organism and reading through selected chapters of 11th class NCERT biology, which talks about how each of our organ systems functions is highly recommended.
Add one competition magazine to your reading list
You may be going thorough news paper thoroughly. I would like you to add one competition magazine to your reading list. It can either be Competition Wizard, or Civil Services Times or Civil Services Chronicle. As a serious note, all magazines have more or less same content and you can follow any of them; whichever you find comfortable to read.
After adding these many weapons, I may say that you are well equipped to face UPSC, however, you may not well-trained to face UPSC. If you are not a fast reader and you are sure that you cannot finish the advanced level, don’t try to do this exercise at all.
Because the most important aspect of advanced level preparation is not only acquiring new weapons, but also about polishing both old and new weapons and be ready to use them as war starts.
This means you should “train” yourself in tackling all the data and knowledge that you have possessed.
Practice tests- strongest approach to tackle the exam
About the training to face UPSC exam, the only best method to – take as good number of practice tests. Do a set of 100 model tests of good quality, and you will get through prelims without studying much.
Practice tests are the inevitable, strongest approach to tackle the exam and more tests you do, the better.
Do the tests honestly
Tests should be done by using OMR sheets. Download a sample OMR sheet, plenty of them are available online. Print sufficient number of copies and do the test by blackening the circles as prescribed for exam, with all the seriousness of the exam. Ensure that your parents or friends or siblings don’t disturb you for those 2 hours. Do the tests honestly. Then evaluate your papers with keys provided, read the discussions provided, if any.
Choosing the test-Judge the quality
Choosing the test papers is also important. There are hundreds of online and offline institutes out there selling tests series programs ranging from RS. 1500 to Rs. 15000 and some are even freely available. Some of them are very good; some of them are too bad.
Most of the online and offline exam providers offer you free samples and you have to examine them carefully so that you can rate the quality of the tests. You can also enquire with friends and acquaintances, who have subscribed to such exams or you can take help of internet forums where discussions related to civils exams take place.
How can you judge whether an exam paper is a quality one or not? The hallmark of a quality test is - each question in such tests will be having more than one facts included to test your knowledge while ensuring at least one concept or principle related to subject is embedded in it.
After doing sufficient number of practice tests, you will be able to understand the quality level of tests. If you can afford, you can also buy more than one test series programs from different institutes so that you can get to know which the best test series is. Or, or you can make this a group effort by involving your friends and all of us can make purchases and finalise one or two test series, which meet your requirements best.
CSAT Paper II-Practice making questions from all passages you read
Coming to CSAT paper II, for comprehension part, you should practice making questions from all passages that you read. Keep a white paper with you while you are doing your routine fast reading practice, and try to frame the questions which can be asked from that passage. This will give an insight into the thinking process of examiner.
You may even be able to predict the questions below the passage, without actually looking at them. Apart from comprehension, nothing in CSAT Paper II needs any advanced level of preparation. What is needed is continued practice, with full vigor.
Whatever I have said about test practice applies to both papers alike. So keep on practicing the questions papers on a regular basis.