Prelims Strategy and Book List

img_20170930_144002I believe there are several ways/ strategy for clearing CSE. I present here my way of clearing this. I am sure that this might not work for all the candidates. See to it how much u can use this.

Prelims : Perhaps this is the toughest part in this examination. Competition is high and margin for error is very low- in fact zero.  (About 5 lakh. people appear out of which about 12 to 13 thousand get selected for mains)

  • Start early: I have fears about prelims and so I started early. About 4 months before prelims. No problem if u start early, you don’t need to worry about mains. Take one by one …based on your convenience.
  • I think, there are 3 parts in clearing this prelims
    • Current affairs / News papers
    • Books for subjects
    • Prelims tests – Practice.
  • Current affairs: News-paper is a must. Over last few years there is greater shift to current affairs in the exam, so news-paper has become integral to exam.
  • News-paper along with monthly magazine/ compilation of current affairs by any institution will serve the purpose.
  • Never miss reading news-paper. For starters, don’t worry about spending 3 hrs on news-paper. U will get to know over time, which news to read and which to skip. Like u can skip political news and business news etc.. by about 6 -7 months into preparation u will be able to complete news-paper in about 1 ½ hrs.
  • In case you wanted to make notes from it, try to make notes of one A4 sheet paper. Try to jot down bullet points and side headings. By reading those bullets and side headings you should be able to understand the issue.
  • Books: other part of this is reading the subject books. I would suggest don’t run after the books, just pick quality books and do them repeated readings. Understand the books and do repeatedly.  (my book list is below)
  • In most cases many things read will be forgotten. This is quite normal. Don’t worry about that but do repeated readings, it will help you fix info in mind and get clarity over subject.
  • Practice tests: most important part of preparation. Since almost all the people will read the news-paper and same books, be it Laxmikanth or anything, So how do u differentiate and present yourself in that 2 hrs will matter. To do this practice tests will give u advantage.
  • Initially when u read a subject, try to solve sectional tests for that. U will identify your weak areas. U can focus more on those areas.
  • Post that in last 2-3 months focus more on solving more number of full length tests. Try to analyse…
    • How many questions u are able to attempt.
    • What is ur accuracy rate. If u can improve ur accuracy. Or increase no of attempts. Like I started with 65 questions with 70-75% accuracy,  I could not improve accuracy. So increased questions attempt to 90-95. This helped me overcome the accuracy problem. So try to understand what is ur strength and where u can improve.
    • Also analyse where u have gone wrong. Analyse even if u got correct, see if ur thought process and understanding of question is correct or not.
    • I used to spend about 3-4 hrs for analyzing each question paper.
    • Also see how many guess and 50-50 questions were correct.
    • Once u wanted to attempt more, but in reality u only know 60-65 questions. How to do remaining 20-25 questions? This comes with practice. Over time u will be able to eliminate through, etymology, extreme statements, and u will also develop intuition with practice about answers.
    • Even if u don’t know questions u will be able to solve and attempt correct answers over time. Develop this kind of ability
  • I attempted about 60-65 practice tests. This helped me guess my marks even before checking key. I got feel of my marks range.
  • Try to do different institute full length tests. This makes u ready for all the worst case scenarios.
  • Never miss a question from polity and modern history. Because these two subjects have questions straight-forward and gives u quick marks. I would suggest attempt all questions from this subjects.

This exam is more about practice and practice. So prepare yourself with repeated reading and by solving more number of papers.


My Book list

  • News-paper – THE HINDU
  • Polity – Laxmikanth + NCERT 11th and 12th basic reading + VISION IAS PT 365
  • Geography – NCERT ( 11th and 12th ) + GC Leong
  • Modern history – Spectrum by Rajiv Ahir
  • Art and culture – Vajiram and ravi class notes
    1. NCERT 11th class fine arts books.
    2. CCRT or Nithin singhania selectively
    3. VISION IAS PT 365
  • Ancient and medieval India – Tamil nadu 11th class history book
  • Economy – NCERT + Srirams material + Vajiram class notes + Budget + economic survey ( gist will do) + VISION IAS PT 365
  • India year book – VISION IAS test on India Year book is sufficient.
  • S&T – Current affairs – VISION IAS PT 365
  • Environment- Shankar IAS selectively + SHANKAR IAS PARLIAMENT/ VISION IAS PT 365
  • Government schemes- any institute compilation.
  • VISION Current affairs monthly compilation ( any institute will work) or PT 365 of VISION IAS
  • For Map based questions – Paste India map and a world map in-front of your study table. When ever you see some place in news, just try to point out in map and nearby locations. I would say be curious with maps…..



2 thoughts on “Prelims Strategy and Book List

  1. Sir, is it desirable to make notes (just pointers from the Hindu) if yes then is it from ONLY Editorial/opinion/comment page or Anywhere/all pages (except sports,lifestyle)in the newspaper ?


    1. Few points if you can make fine. otherwise read any current affairs magazine and follow rajya sabha tv

      Liked by 1 person

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