With over 10 lakh applicants each year, and only 1000 selections – the UPSC exams
can seem like an insurmountable hurdle. But it can be crossed! In ‘UPSC Simplified’,
The Better India catches up with toppers to uncover the do’s and don’t for India’s
toughest exam. Follow the series for all the tips you need!
Rema Rajeshwari is an Indian Police Service officer serving in Telangana’s Mahbubnagar district. The first female IPS officer from Munnar, Kerala, Rema is a topper of the IPS batch of 2009.
She has been championing for child safety by educating rural children to break the silence around Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and writes on a variety of subjects.
In conversation with The Better India, Rema tells us how to be better prepared for the UPSC examination.
Smart time management
Emphasising how important it is to manage time well, Rema says, “Being aware of how much time you have will save you from wasting crucial time and have an undivided focus on what needs to be read.”
Making and sticking to a schedule will also help aspirants a great deal. And once the art of managing time is learnt, each paper becomes an easy nut to crack, says Rema.
When she was an aspirant, she spent three months dedicated to covering the syllabus and kept aside 45 days for revision. “My focus was always on intense revision and frequent writing practice,” she recalls.
Three must-read books for aspirants
Rema mentions that while she was preparing for the exam, she relied heavily on NCERT books as well as a few reference books. Her recommendations for aspirants are as follows:
1. Indian History and Culture
A book based on NCERT textbooks, this book provides the aspirant with a complete and concise coverage of Indian history and culture. It also covers every topic from the IAS Prelims from the past 20 years.
2. Indian Polity – Lakshmikanth
A consistent bestseller, this is a go-to book that many previous aspirants refer. A ready reckoner on Indian polity, this book explains all concepts such as fundamental rights and duties; budget; state, central and local government; judiciary; constitutional bodies etc. in a very simple manner.
3. NCERT book for geography and G C Leong for maps
Geography constitutes a major part of the General Studies Paper, and Rema recommends using the NCERT textbooks for it as well as Goh Cheng Leong’s book on maps. It deals with questions related to physical geography and also contains elementary details on climate change, types of natural vegetation, mountain chains, deserts, and other natural phenomena.
Besides these, Rema also suggests that aspirants read the newspaper each day, along with all accessible Government of India policy documents.
How to choose the optional paper:
“Aptitude. Aptitude. Aptitude. Don’t go by what the market predicts and the crowd follows,” says Rema emphatically. It is essential that aspirants understand their strengths and choose a subject that is best suited to them.
Three tips for before you attempt the paper:
While the strategy and methodology adopted may differ for each aspirant, it is important to keep in mind certain things that will always come in handy.
1. Smart hard work
Be smart about the way you go about attempting the paper. While it is very individualistic, be clear about your strengths and weaknesses. Do not pay much heed to market predictions.
This is perhaps the key to be successful in any competitive examination. While you will be spending a lot of time studying, it is equally important to set aside time for revision. It will not only help reiterate the concepts but will also help you feel confident.
Rema states, “There is no limit on how much you should be revising.”
3. Stay up-to-date
Make it your life’s mission to know something about everything and be updated with all the current affairs.
With these pointers, we wish you all the best for the examinations!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)