How to approach Civil Services (Main) Examination 2018

Civil Services (Main) Examination 2018 begins on 28th September and you have only a few weeks in hand to prepare for it.

It is difficult call if you have to choose which among General Studies, Optional Subject or Essay Paper tends to become decider in Main Examination.

So, it’s time to have a strategy in place and prioritize the areas that need immediate attention. Utilize the remaining time in hand to work on areas that are strong and try to devote some time to cover the weaknesses (if you are able to spot) as far as possible.

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After cracking Preliminary Examination, those who came out successful and got ticket to next level Main Examination, your aim is to keep momentum going and give your best so that you emerge booming and come closer to dream destination.

The Prelims 2018 was difficult and as I pointed out in my earlier article, those who showed grit and resolve would have tasted the sweetness of success. I got many compliments and express approval for my views particularly about ignoring answer-keys from coaching institutes and their suggested cut-off guess and continuing with preparation.

I don’t know how many of you delayed your preparation for Main Examination till Prelims result due to assessment based on these answer-keys (not so accurate) and expected cut-off. But, it’s heartening to know that this time number of such candidates in touch with me was only in single digit and this number has gone down drastically comparing last year.

Main Examination 2018 begins on 28th September and you have only a few weeks in hand to prepare for it. The approach we are discussing here would be equally beneficial for lakhs of future aspirants who commence preparation for next year adopting integrated approach with Main Examination oriented study-plan.

What decides your fate in Main Examination?

It is time to leave your mark as Main Examination decides your fortune – prospects for final selection as well as the rank in the merit-list.

Let’s not forget that in Civil Services Examination, your fate is decided by 2025 marks; Mains (Written) 1750 Marks and Personality Test (Interview) 275 marks.

Right now when we are discussing about Main Examination strategy, it is prudent to look at all 7 papers that mark an aggregate of 1750.

It is difficult call if you have to choose which among General Studies, Optional Subject or Essay Paper tends to become decider in Main Examination.

Although, Durishetty Anudeep (Rank 1) did not get highest marks in any of the paper; his good score of 477 marks in General Studies, in Optional Subject (318 marks), Essay (155 marks) and Interview score of 176 marks collectively helped him in getting an aggregate that ensured top most rank.

First let’s talk about General Studies (4 Papers – 1000 marks)

When we talk about General Studies, for years people talked about not a very large variation in General Studies marks.

However, when I analyzed marks secured by some of the successful candidates in Civil Services Examination 2017; I witnessed sub 400 marks as well as 500 plus marks in General Studies. Mind it – I am talking about candidates selected in CSE 2017 only.

Is it in close band; answer is NO.

Actually, it is a huge variation and you need to understand it clearly if you are writing Main Examination next month. Even those planning for foray in to Civil Services Examination should also consider it seriously and plan your preparation strategies accordingly.

When new pattern came in effect from CSE 2013, we saw a complete new set-up for General Studies and initially, it was difficult to understand the role of General studies. More number of questions resulted in wider coverage of syllabus from where questions were framed and even some unpredictable one. Moreover, writing to the point, succinct answers became a big challenge for candidates. As a result, we saw low scores and less variation in General Studies scores.

But, with passage of time, better understanding developed and in last two years, we saw gradual improvement and with CSE 2017 result, the marks secured by candidates indicate that to survive, you have to be well prepared to counter serious threat from smart candidates who make extraordinary efforts and make their presence felt.

Look at scores of Ravi Anand (AIR 79) who amassed 504 marks in General Studies and Pratham Kaushik (AIR 5) got 501 marks to accomplish the task in style.

Even in first attempt, many candidates such as Saumya Sharma (AIR 9) secured 496 marks and Koya Sree Harsh (AIR 6) obtained 490 marks to register a scintillating achievement.

Optional Subject (500 Marks)

Solely his optional subject Mathematics (375 marks) did the heavy lifting and made fortunes for Anubhav Singh (AIR 8) despite average General Studies score (415 mark).

No doubt, it is exceptional show by Anubhav; but, he is not alone, Atul Prakash (AIR 4) is there to give him company with 368 marks with the same optional subject Mathematics.

It is not that high scoring Mathematics has such outstanding performers; many a candidates scored 300 plus marks in many other optional subjects and set the tone for their success.

For instance, Balachander S (AIR 129) scored 354 marks with Literature of Tamil Language; in Anthropology,  Ayush Sinha (AIR 7) scored 350 marks, Sachin Gupta (AIR 3) secured 339 marks and Koya Sree Harsh (AIR 6) got 338 marks, Pratham Kaushik (AIR 5) 327 with Geography, Abhishek Surana (AIR 10) secured 327 marks with Physics, Shivani Goyal (AIR 15) got hold of 320 marks while Siddharth Jain (AIR 11) got 308 with Commerce & Accountancy, Anu Kumari (AIR 2) scored 318 marks with Sociology, Ankit Jain (AIR 222) scored 309 and 89th rank Sanjeev Kumar Maurya got 303 marks with (out of flavor now-a-days) Public Administration; In Literature of Hindi Language, Arvind Pratap Singh (AIR 161) secured 313 marks while Chetan Kumar Meena (AIR 594) scored 308 marks, Sakshi Garg (AIR 350) got 301 marks in History and in optional subject like Law, Abhimanyu Rana (AIR 220) scored 298 marks.

The list is long and not in order. In many other optional subjects, many other candidates have scored high marks and thus, have enhanced their prospects.

This goes on to show that optional subject is strategic tool in your Success-Plan and if you are able to perform to your potential, it will prove to be shot in the arm.

Essay (250 Marks)

Support that chips in from Essay paper is huge. There are many instances where Essay helped candidates succeed and even boost up in overall rank.

Gaurav Kumar (AIR 34) secured 166 marks in Essay that gave a lift to his placement in the merit-list.

There are many candidates with more than 150 marks in Essay paper and all of them have been immensely benefitted with good show.

On contrary, I would like to bring in case of Rishi Raj (AIR 27); with mare 114 marks in Essay, it could have been disaster for him. What came to his rescue, 482 marks in General studies helped him get top rank. No doubt, contribution from his Optional Subject (296 marks) and Interview (184 marks) ensured overall built up.

Not everyone is lucky like Rishi Raj; you should be really serious about Essay paper and should devote the attention it deserves.

Personality Test (Interview) 275 Marks

Top scorer in Interview Ramit Chennithala (AIR 210) and Phurpa Tsering (AIR 561) were awarded with 206 marks each.

Abhijit Sinha (AIR 19) is the only one among top 20 to score 200 plus in Interview.

At the same time Mrigakhi Deka (AIR 126), G Madhuri (AIR 144), Mrithinjai S (AIR 299), Aakansha Kulshrestha (AIR 329), Devanshu Chaudhary (AIR 440), Hasan Safin Mustufaali (AIR 570), Gutte Rohit Manikrao (AIR 734) each of them ended up in getting 204 marks.

For Hasan Safin Mustufaali (AIR 570) marks in Interview helped him to secure his place in merit-list. Contribution from Essay (148 marks) also chipped in. Despite average show in General Studies (383 marks) and Optional Subject (Literature of Gujarati Language – 267 marks) he could manage to survive just because of excellent show in Personality Test.

Abhijit Sinha (AIR 19), Manish Kumar (AIR 61), Aditya Vikram Yadav, Abijith R Shankar (AIR 181), Utsav Prasar (AIR 367), Sonal (AIR 451), Sharad Chandra (AIR 697), Himanshu Sagar (AIR 716)  each got 201 marks.

Yashraj Nain (AIR 272) could find prop up in rank thanks to brilliant score of 198 marks in Interview. Similarly, Interview marks (198 marks) for Prem Prakash Meena (AIR 102) played a significant role in his selection.

Some of the other noticeable successes among top 100 are Gaurav Kumar (AIR 34) with 195 marks, 193 marks for Badole Girish Dilip (AIR 20), 190 marks by Shreshth Tayal (AIR 73).

Right now, aim to score as high as you can in Main Examination (Written)

Look at aggregate of Durishetty Anudeep (Rank 1) in Mains Written 950 mark; but, the highest grosser in Mains (Written) is Pratham Kaushik with 974 marks. Close to give him company are Ayush Sinha (AIR 7) with 964 marks and Koya Sree Harsh (AIR 6) with 962 marks.

Among successful candidates one of the most astonishing impact of marks in Mains (Written) is witnessed in the result of Ravi Anand (AIR 79) who’s Mains (Written) aggregate is 931 marks while he got the lower score in Interview 124. His Mains (Written) performance had been so strong that despite deficient score in Interview he found his place in among top 100 and ensured post of IAS.

So, it’s time to have a strategy in place and prioritize the areas that need immediate attention. Utilize the remaining time in hand to work on areas that are strong and try to devote some time to cover the weaknesses (if you are able to spot) as far as possible.

Answer-writing practice is going to be quite beneficial; it will help you in tackling Main Examination question papers effectively as well as in time management.

Continue preparation with a positive frame of mind and be ready to face coming Main Examination confidently.


Last Update Tuesday 7th August 2018     

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