How to prepare yourself for IAS Mains in last 30 days

How to prepare for UPSC Mains in last 30 days

How to prepare for CSE Mains in a month

Howdy Aspirants! I assume that you all are in the awe of UPSC right now, panting and burning midnight oil to cover the syllabus of your optional along with GS papers. I also suppose that you have filled your DAF properly and must be dreaming of getting few best of the services one night or another. This is quite natural. You have earned this right. In order to convert your dreams into reality I’ll help you guys out with this article in which I’ll be discussing about all the important aspects as far as the question “How to prepare for CSE Mains in a month” is concerned.

Approach for IAS Mains in last 30 days

  1. Keep your nerves under control and work on your concentration 

First things first. Trust me this is the most critical aspect. More than your intelligence, this examination tests your psychological makeup. Let me elaborate it. UPSC is not looking for scholars who have mugged up thousands of books rather it is searching for those smart fellows who can deliver with a cool head under buckling pressure and unseen scenarios. That’s why UPSC is notorious for throwing difficult situations before aspirants to see how they react. In practical life IAS/IPS and other officers have to deal with the growing pressure and problems. So to have a firsthand experience with the aspirants UPSC comes out with the surprises now and then. Moral of the story is that don’t panic even if you have not read a single thing or you are not able to cope with the syllabus or have issues with revision and memorizing the stuffs you have already studied. Anxiety and nervousness will yield nothing but a weaker performance in the Main Examination.

  1. Imagination is more important than knowledge 

This quote by Elbert Einstein fits quite well when it comes to writing answers during the Main Examination. In other words it says that content is important but presentation is more important. To me this is the second most important aspect which should get your full attention. You must have witnessed that sometimes a particular less read guy has scored more vis a vis a well read guy in the Civil Services Examination. Many of you’ll say that he/she was lucky. I do admit the luck factor in this exam up to a certain extent but think it from a different angle. Might be presentation had made the difference. Now what all factors make your presentation better? Check out the ingredients below. 

  1. Handwriting
  2. Structure of the answer
  3. Answering according to the demand of the question without showing off your gyan unnecessarily
  4. Use of charts/diagrams at the appropriate places
  5. Art of expressing yourself in fewer words
  6. Simple and lucid sentences without grammatical errors

Becoming a master in the art of presentation is not an overnight game. The only way to improve your presentation is to do a lot of writing practice before you write the actual papers during examination. So for rest 28 days promise yourself that you’ll write at least four questions per day under time limit. If possible get it evaluated by your mentors or peer group. If you can’t find anyone just read your answers on your own assuming it has been written by someone else. Another way is to write test papers of the various institutes available on internet with model answers to see what was lacking in your answer. This is very very important and don’t ignore this aspect even if you are lagging in terms of covering your syllabus. In the examination (GS Papers) you’ll get 20 questions in each paper. So you’ll get 180/20 i.e. 9 minutes for each question on an average. I’ll suggest you to spend approx 2 minutes for understanding the question and making a rough structure of your answer. In rest 7 minutes you can write 200 words easily if you have done the writing practice before. Word of caution- UPSC may come up with 25 or even 15 questions. So don’t panic, divide your time accordingly. Adaptability and flexibility are the traits UPSC wants to see in you.

  1. Count your chickens before they hatch 

Each one of you must have planned your own way and schedule of study. This is the integral and very important aspect. In fact UPSC wants to see how good planner you are in your own capacity with your own strengths and weaknesses. Given the time constraint you must have devised plan A/B/C. So if you are feeling that your preparation is not up to the mark, time has come to move to plan B or C. To put it in different way by now you must have sensed that what topics must get more attention and what topics must be given less weightage. So you need to do a little analysis in terms of ROI (Return on Investment) here. Everyone’ll have a different status by now as far as covering syllabus is concerned. But here I provide a general approach on ROI for GS-I, GS-II and GS-III papers.

    2013 2014 2015
  Art & Culture 2 5 2
  World History 4 2 2
GS I Freedom Struggle 3 2 2
  India After Independence 5 1 1
  Social Science 4 5 6
  Geography 7 10 7
    —–       —–   —
      25  20                     20
  Indian Polity & Constitution 7 6 7
GS II Governance & Social Justice 10 9 9
  International Relation 8 5 4
      —        —    —
       25    20      20
  Environment 2 2 1
  Science & Technology 4 3 4
GS III Disaster Management 1 1 1
  Internal Security 5 5 4
  Economy & Social Development 13 9 10
    —–       —–   —
    25 20 20

            After analyzing the trend of questions coming from different sections for past three years, focus more on topics below (but don’t ignore others altogether, read selected topics of those sections from one or max two sources at least two times) 

GS I-     a) Geography

b) Social Issues

c) World History (selected)

d) Art & Culture (selected)

 This paper takes most of the time among all GS papers. So be practical and don’t end up reading everything. Here you can leave Freedom Struggle and India after Independence sections assuming you have read something from these sections during your prelims preparation.



Unfortunately you can’t skip any section in this paper. What you can do is that you can be selective. Pay attention to recent bills/schemes/policies/programs of GOI. You can skip constitution part if you are aware of the main articles. But be ready for practical explanations of these in light of new developments.


GS III- a) Economy & Social Development

b) Internal Security

c) Science & Technology


  1. Your ingredients for cooking your preparation

 Here I shall be speaking of all the resources you may follow. If you have been a student of any good coaching class, you can rely chiefly on your own class notes and materials. Else you can follow the list suggested by me with your own innovation. In any case The Hindu is an inevitable resource for all of you apart from other materials.


  General Studies Paper I
Topic Source For last 30 days Additional or Optional Source/Comments
Culture Nitin Singhaniya, CCRT, NIOS(selected), TN 11th (major focus on architecture,religion & culture) Nitin Singhaniya (must have read during pre) 2 times,Wiki & google images for imp words Wiki and google images for the important


Indian History Bipan Chandra, Old NCERT (1st 4 chapters), Spectrum & or Md. Tariq  Skip this Focus on conceptual clarity
World History Arjun Dev 9-10th NCERT, Wiki for few important say 10 topics Wiki for imp topics, youtube videos Youtube videos:


Post Independence India Bipan Chandra’s India Since Independence, Political Science NCERT-Politics in India after Independence NCERT –Politics in India after independence quickly (one time) ABP TV- Pradhaanmantri Series


1.      Indian Society

2.      Role of women, poverty, urbanization

3.      Indian Society & diversity of India


Globalization, social empowerment, communalism, regionalism, secularism

NCERT Sociology class 11-12th , IGNOU Selected Sociology Material, The Hindu Editorials IGNOU selected sociology material, Social Issues of The Hndu Yojna, Wiki, Ram Ahuja
World Geography Physical G C Leong Part I G C Leong Part I or NCERT Wiki
Resource Distribution, Factors for Industrial Location Mrunal/geography + Atlas Mrunal, Atlas Wiki
Earthquake, Tsunami, GC Leong, You tube G C Leong Wiki
Impact on flora-fauna Internet, The Hindu The Hindu  


  General Studies Paper II
 Topic                               Resource      Last 30 days                              Additional Resource
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Laxmikant, The Hindu Laxmi quick (you read in pre) Insightsonindia
Comparing Constitution with world Ravindran Sir’s notes Ravindran sir’s note  
Parliament, state Legislatures Laxmikant, The Hindu Skip  
executive-judiciary Laxmikant, The Hindu, Crack IAS The Hindu  
Ministries departments Year Book, ARC Year Book  
Pressure Groups, Informal Association Sociology stuff, Vision IAS The Hindu  
Representation of people’s act Vision IAS, Internet Internet/Vision IAS  
Various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Laxmikant, Vision IAS Laxmi quick read  
NGO, SHG etc Sociology Stuff, The Hindu The Hindu  
Welfare schemes, bodies Year Book, PIB Year Book, PIB Go for range than depth
Social sector, health, edu, HRD Year Book, PIB DO Go for range than depth
Governance, transparency, accountability Laxmikant Governance Book The Hindu, Concerned ARC Report  
e-governance 2nd ARC report on e-governance Do On search “E-governance” to find out various projects by various ministries, How can it help implementing SEVOTTOMA etc.
Role of civil service Laxmikant Governance Book, 2nd ARC Do Vision IAS
India & neighbors Current issue from The Hindu, IDSA The Hindu, IDSA, insight’s India’s world Rajiv Sikri
Bilateral/global grouping Current issue from The Hindu See in the right column -> Use Wikipedia and also the Group’s own website for IBSA/SCO/BRICS/ASEAN/SAARC/G4/G8/G33 etc (basics only)
Effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Current issue from The Hindu, IDSA The Hindu, IDSA, insight’s India’s world Mrunal


 Note: Do LS & RS TV Summaries also for important issues


  General Studies  Paper III
Section                Resourse                                                              30 days   Additional
Indian Economy, resource mobilization, inclusive growth Mrunal, Ramesh Singh, Economic Survey <- Internet
Budgeting Financial Administration part of Public Administration <-  
Major crops, irrigation Year Book, NCERT 11-12th <- Shankar IAS Environment “Agriculture” chapter
Agro produce – storage, marketing Vision IAS, PIB <- The Hindu
e-technology for famers Vision IAS, PIB <- The Hindu, Internet
Farm subsidies, MSP, PDS, buffer, food security, technology mission Vision IAS, PIB <- The Hindu, Internet
Animal rearing economics Annual report of Department of Dairying, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries (Ministry of Agriculture)

Food processing Mrunal’s [food processing] article series under /economy (Ministry of Food Processing Industries)

Land reforms Mrunal, Bipan Chandra <- Internet
Liberalization NCERT <- Internet
Infrastructure, investment models Sanjeev Verma Class Notes <- Internet
Science-tech day to day life NCERT (bio ) 12th selective, Mrunal The Hindu, Mrunal  
Indian achievements in sci-tech Newspaper, Vision IAS Current Science Section Do Internet
Awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Newspaper, Youtube (Neha), Vision IAS Current Science Section <- Internet
Environmental impact assessment Shankar IAS Environment Book <- Internet
Disaster Management NDMA’s official site, Disaster part from 2nd ARC <-  
Non state actors, internal security, internal security – role of media, social networking site

border Management

organized crime, terrorism

PIB, Home ministry site, The Hindu, Social Work stuff for organized crime, Vajiram Security Issue booklet <- Internet
Cyber security ICERT Site, Vajiram Security Issue booklet <-  
Money laundering , Vajiram Security Issue booklet <-  
Security agencies- structure mandate Vajiram Security Issue booklet <- or-> just the main 5-7 bodies from Wikipedia.
  For economy and agriculture section Yojna may be referred too


  1. Make your own recipe

 This literally means keeping your originality intact. You refer one or few sources but your own essence must be there in your dish. The best way to do is to prepare very short notes of topics you study (almost a rough one with mind map charts or points written on a small page). I strongly suggest you to keep one main source for reading any topic and making a tiny note. Later while referring other sources for more clarity (if needed) on the same topic, add the new points on already existing tiny note sheet. This will come handy while revising the topics later. This will make your presentation different from the masses. Remember reading one topic from 10 sources is way inferior to reading that topic from same source 10 times.


How to prepare/read effectively GS-IV (Ethics) for IAS Main Examination

 There has been a lot of speculation regarding preparation of GS-IV (Ethics) paper among aspirants of Civil services examination. In my opinion no special preparation is needed for this paper. No one can learn principles of ethics and integrity by mugging up books or notes provided by various coaching institutes. Your character speaks itself about values you have inculcated over the years. Honestly speaking you can’t change your personality or character at once. Yet you can rectify bad elements and enhance good elements of your personality by practice. Following things must be done for preparing this paper


  1. Use any source eg. Internet or book to get acquainted with the terminologies mentioned in the syllabus
  2. Focus more on case studies and always try to give honest, appropriate but practical solutions
  3. Have a positive outlook in your approach while answering questions with due regards for weaker sections
  4. Search for case studies /real motivational moral stories and make a small note of them. Use them as reference as and when needed.
  5. Also read Civil Services Competency Dictionary
  6. Be fast in answering the questions as you may have paucity of time in the examination. Adequate writing practice is highly recommended.


What and how to prepare for IAS 2016 in coming 30 daysClick To Tweet


What and how to prepare for IAS Mains 2016 in coming 30 days


Day               Topics Covered Hrs
  GS I GS II GS III GS IV Optional  
1 Nitin Singhaniya ,Wiki & google images for imp words with 1 answer writing(4 hrs) Constitution +various bodies constitutional-statutory from Laxmikant with 1 answer writing(4 hrs)    Nothing 2 case study answer writing(1/2 hr) Answer writing(2 Qs)+ revision of syllabus(1/2+5 hrs) 14
2 Wiki for important topics + Youtube videos with 1 answer writing (4hrs) Comparing constitution with world (ravindran Sir’s notes)+Various Ministries-Department(Year Book)with 1 answer writing (4hrs) do Do do Do
3 do Representation of Peoples Act (vision/Internet)+Welfare Schemes ,bodies(Yearbook ,PIB)with 1 answer writing(4hrs) Do Do do Do 
4 NCERT –Politics in India after independence quickly with 1 answer writing (4hrs) Transparency ,e-governance, role of civil services (Laxmi-2nd ARC) with 1 answer writing (4hrs) Do Do Do  Do
5 IGNOU selected sociology material, Social Issues of The Hindu with 1 answer writing(4hrs) Bilateral/Global grouping- Use Wikipedia for IBSA/SCO/BRICS/ASEAN/SAARC/G4/G8/G33 etc (basics only)with 1 answer writing (4hrs) Do Do do Do 
6 do India & neighbors – The Hindu, IDSA, insight’s India’s world with 1 answer writing (4hrs) Do Do do Do 
7 do Do Do Do do Do 
8 World geography physical-Leong/NCERT with 1 answer writing (4hrs) Effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest-

The Hindu, IDSA, insight’s India’s world with 1 answer writing (4hrs)

Do Do do  Do
9 do Do Do Do do  Do
10 do Pressure Group, Informal Association ,Executive-Judiciary with 1 answer writing(4hrs) Do Do do Do 
11 do Social sector, health, edu, HRD,NGO-SHG- The Hindu, Year Book, PIB with 1 answer writing (4hrs) Do Do do Do 
12 Resource distribution, factors for industrial location- Mrunal, Atlas with 1 answer writing(4hrs) do Do Do do Do 
13 do LS RS TV Summary, Do Do do Do 
14 Earthquake, Sunami, Impact on Flora Fauna- The Hindu, Leong with 1 answer writing(4hrs) Do Do Do do Do 
15 Left topics with 1 answer writing(4hrs) Do Do Do do Do 
16 do do Do Do do Do 
17 Revision of main & imp topics with 1 answer writing (2hrs) Revision of main & imp topics with 1 answer writing (2hrs) Indian Economy, resource mobilization, inclusive growth-Mrunal, Economic Survey with 1 answer writing (4hrs) Terminologies, Internet Search (1/2 hr) do Do 
18 Do Do Do Do do Do 
19 do do Do Case studies with 2 answers writing (1/2 hr) do Do 
20 Nothing

This time will be used for revision of main & imp topics of GS III


This time will be used for revision of main & imp topics of GS III

Agro produce – storage, marketing, Budgeting- vision, Laxmi with 1 answer writing (4hrs) Do do Do 
21 Do do Farm subsidies, MSP, PDS, buffer, food security, technology mission,e-technology for farmers-vision,The Hindu with 1 answer writing (4hrs) Do do Do 
22 Do do Animal rearing & Food processing- ministries site (link given above) with 1 answer writing (4hrs) Do do Do 
23 do do Internal Security, Money Laundering, Cyber Security-Vajiram’s security booklet, ICERT Site with 2 answers writing (8hrs) Do do Do 
24 Do Do Sci-Tech day to day, Indian achievement, Awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR, -Vision IAS Current Science Section, The Hindu with 2 answers writing Do do Do 
25 Do Do Do Do do Do 
26 Quick revision from tiny notes(rough notes) no answer writing (3 hrs) Quick revision from tiny notes(rough notes) no answer writing (3 hrs) Environmental impact assessment, Disaster Mgmt – Shankar IAS Book, NDMC Site with 2 answers writing (8hrs) Do nothing Do 
27 Quick revision from tiny notes(rough notes) no answer writing (3 hrs) Quick revision from tiny notes(rough notes) no answer writing (3 hrs) Land reforms, Infrastructure & Investment Model-Mrunal,

 Sanjeev Verma Sir’s notes with 2 answers writing (8hrs)

Do nothing Do 
28 Do Do Do Do do  
29 Nothing

This time will be used for writing essays


This time will be used for writing essays

Yojna 20-25 important articles (will be useful in essay also) nothing Do

This time will be used for writing essays

30 Essay Writing Practice All Day


In this way you can give your best shot at coming Civil Services Main Examination. Of course you can make small changes in the schedule according to your convenience but keep in mind that this shouldn’t delay the whole thing. Coming 1 month is quite crucial for you and you should use this period very effectively. Just remember the process from beginning. When you started off your preparation you read a lot, from many sources, randomly at times. In short you were diverging. But time has come now to converge. Your endeavors as well as your studies must be in resonance to achieve your ultimate goal. And yes don’t forget to attempt all the questions in the examination even if you don’t know anything about a particular question. Any connection, reference or anything you can make sense of the question, write down. Two lines, even a diagram and few words can fetch you some marks which may prove decisive in the final calculation.

 I wish you all the best for your upcoming examination!

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