So you have decided to appear for UPSC in 2019? That’s great since you now have ample time to study. However, the syllabus is so vast that time will fly very fast. Initially, you will start studying hard but as time passes you will lose steam. Or you would study a subject and like it so much that you keep studying it for months, ignoring the rest. The risk of going astray is high, if you study in a haphazard manner.
So in a marathon exam like UPSC, creating a foolproof study plan is very important. And more importantly, sticking to it, is very very important!
As Benjamin Franklin says,’ If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.’
So how do you start preparing for UPSC 2019 if you wish to do so from May?
If you start preparing from May, you will have approximately 12 months to prepare for the exam assuming the exam is in the first week of June. So how do you go about it? Before diving straight into the preparation the need of the hour is to first break up your studies in multiple sections.
Take a piece of paper and make your macro plan first. Write down the various months on a piece of paper. From May 2018 to June 2019 there are 12 Months that you have to not just finish the syllabus but also to revise. I have given an example of the same below.
Now you need to divide your studies into these various months. List down the subjects which are there for both Prelims and Mains. In all, there are 9 subjects in General Studies i.e. History, Geography, Polity, Economics, Environment, S&T, International Relations, Internal Security & Ethics. Now your plan is to complete studying these subjects and also to revise them.
Keeping this in mind let us now break up the syllabus in the various months that we have. Remember to keep the last 2 months for revision and practice.
1. June and July (60 days )
You can do a lot in 60 days. Imagine you study for 5 hours a day then you would have studied for 300 hours. That is more than enough time to complete two subjects. However, you have to follow discipline in this time.
During this time you should start your preparation from General Studies. Take up two subjects as studying one subject becomes monotonous. Take up one subject which you are familiar with and one which you are completely new to.
This will help you have comfort and also step out of your comfort zone. I would definitely opt for History which I am comfortable with and Polity which I am so afraid of. The idea is to first generate interest and discipline for you need to study for a long period of time. Understand and revise the various concepts in the two subjects that you have chosen.
2. August and September ( 60 days )
Now that you have studied for two months you will probably be in the mindset to study. Now the plan is to increase the hours that you study from 5 hours to 7 hours.
Along with that, I am expecting that you have cleared your earlier syllabus of History at least. Now the target for these two months is to finish the tough subject completely and also begin the other subject.
Here take a simpler subject to help you complete it faster. I would have chosen Geography. You can also choose a subject which you are completely new to. Maybe Economics which are also increasing in terms of the number of questions asked in UPSC Prelims and Mains.
3. October ( 30 days )
Now comes the most tedious subject of all i.e. Environment. Ensure that you dedicate an entire month to this subject. It is one of the trickiest subjects as the questions are current affairs related. While studying Environment keep your focus mainly on current affairs.
The weightage of Environment is increasing a lot in UPSC especially in Prelims. Also, in mains, it is about connecting to current affairs in this subject.
Read a static book on this subject and connect it to the current affairs provided by classes.
4. November To February ( 120 days )
Now that you are done with the majority of your syllabus of General Studies, we move to the optional subject. But do not dedicate your complete time to the optional subject.
Again choose the strategy of selecting to subjects to study at a time. Divide your study time into two parts. In the first part study optional and in the second part study the GS subject.
Remember to dedicate 70% of your time to the optional subject. In the four months, you can study the GS subjects like Economics and S&T. Now you are left only with International Relations, Ethics, and Internal Security. Except for Ethics, we will be finishing the entire syllabus before the exam.
Now let us come to the optional. Choose an optional subject that you are comfortable with. It can be your graduation subject or even something completely new. However, the key to choosing an optional is not just interest in the subject but also the ability to score high marks. Go through previous year papers, consult topper and then choose a subject wisely based on your liking, scoring potential and material available in the market.
After choosing the optional, go through it thoroughly in the four months. Study and make your own notes. Ensure that you solve question so that you get an idea of your strengths and weaknesses. The optional should be completed at least 2/3rds in this time period. The other 1/3rd you can complete post the mains exam
5. March ( 30 days )
In these 30 days your focus should be on completing the GS syllabus. Complete both Internal Security and International Relations in this month. By now I expect you have developed a habit of studying at least 7 hours a day. This is a crucial part for you as you can also finish the sections that you had left earlier.
After this you will not be studying any new book.
6. April and May ( 60 days )
With complete syllabus for Prelims done and 2/3rds of Optional done, now the time has come to fully focus on the prelims. Keep the optional subject aside and revise the notes for GS that you have made while studying the subject the first time. You should revise the entire syllabus at least 3 times.
Solve as many question papers as possible for both GS and CSAT. In these 2 months if you do not solve at least 100 -120 practice papers then you are not going to pass. You should at least solve 10000 questions in all.
Refer to papers from many sources so that your brain is conditioned to expect the unexpected. A warning to all aspirants, do not ignore CSAT as it can backfire in the exam.
7. Post Prelims ( 120 days )
Post prelims focus on completing syllabus for Ethics, Integrity, and Attitude and the remainder of the optional that is left. Here you should be running at full speed. I expect you to study a minimum of 10 hours. You will have 3 months before the mains. In this period complete the incomplete part in the first month itself. Later your complete focus should be on revision.
One thing that majority of the aspirants miss out on in these three months is answer writing. Do not procrastinate. Write as many answers as possible in these three months. Pay close attention to answer writing for both GS and optional. It is said that UPSC is a writer’s exam.
If you follow the tips, I am sure you can cover a lot during this time and will have a positive result in the exam.
During this preparation ensure that you read the newspaper daily or at least refer to some current affairs notes. Even if you give 5 hours daily for your preparation initially and increase it to 10 hours later, you can comfortably complete the syllabus and succeed in cracking the exam.
We at UPSC Pathshala have an Inception course for the same. Where we provide all the subject in the form of videos and provide a customized study plan to the student. To know more CLICK HERE
Author: Akshay Palande
Akshay Palande is a passionate teacher helping hundreds of students in their UPSC preparation. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering and double masters in Public Administration and Economics, he has experience of teaching UPSC aspirants for 5 years. His subject of expertise are Geography, Polity, Economics and Environment and Ecology.