IAS officer Pradeep Singh from the 2019 batch holds an AIR 1 and has appeared for the UPSC CSE four times. He shares tips, strategies, and notes that will help aspirants.

Remain in sync with the news: Pradeep says that devoting more time to reading newspapers is an absolute must for current affairs. He would read The Hindu and The Indian Express.

“Try to develop a habit of forming opinions on various topics — both national and international relevance. This will help aspirants when they write essay answers in their main papers,” he says.

Learn from your mistakes: Given that Pradeep was able to clear the prelims exam only in the third attempt, he says, “Aspirants must learn from their mistakes. The cumulative journey brings about a sea-change in one’s personality.”

Effective method of picking optional paper: “Always pick a subject that you feel will keep you motivated to study and can hold your attention over a long period of time,” says Pradeep.

“Be well-informed when you decide on the topic for your optional paper. You could look at previous year’s question papers and make a decision thereafter,” he adds.

Utilising every hour of the day: For working professionals, Pradeep suggests finding ways to effectively use lunch breaks and commute time to either watch informational videos or catch up on revising.

Emphasise on revision: It is possible for aspirants to forget everything that has been studied if there is no revision. Consistent revision will prevent you from making small and silly errors.

Pick a language you are comfortable with: Despite aspirants having the option of appearing for the CSE in any one of the 22 different regional languages, the general misconception is that one can score well only in English.

Pradeep says, “Aspirants should pick a language that they feel most comfortable with. Just ensure that whatever medium you choose, there is enough resource material for you to prepare.”