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    CSS Forums > Beginner's Guide > Frequently Asked Questions > SubjectSelection

    Subject Selection and Preparation Strategy

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    Subject Selection and Preparation Strategy


    This is an attempt to awaken the beginners to the ideas which are crucial in the preparation for CivilServices Examination.

    In fact we intend to focus upon some practical realities of the preparation. Much has been written on howto prepare for the Civil Service Examination but little attention has been given to the fundamental facets ofpreparation in the beginning.

    The beginners have varied perceptions about the preparation and a good number of them are not aware ofthe realities of the same. They begin but on wrong lines, they go astray and meet failures in initial attempts.It takes them a year or years to be conscious of the realities and that too, at the cost of some attempts.

    Some take attempts without preparation just to gain some experiences because they do not have a good

    guide to suggest them that attempts are precious and must not be wasted this way. This article hasrelevance in the above-mentioned context.

    All the beginners have a great problem when they embark upon the preparation that is how tobegin. We provide you step-by-step guidelines as regards how to go in for the preparation for theCivil Services Examination.

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    1. Go through the syllabus of the optional subjects consider five things in selection of optional subjects. i. The Subject interests you ii. You have familiarity or background iii. Subjects (two optional subjects) have common areas iv. Subjects help you in General Studies v. You get proper guidance for them (the most important)

    2. Buy the booklets containing previous years' questions of those subjects, both compulsory and optional,and go through them. Proper idea of the questions will also help you decide optional subjects.

    3. After doing all these you come to know all about the examination, the subjects, the nature of questionsand of course what you have to study. This way you take the first step in the direction of preparation whichis very significant.

    4. Study on the basis of the syllabus and previous years' questions. Just do not finish topics, as this iseventually meaningless and make sure that study enables you to write good and standard answers. This isessence of preparation.

    5. Practice writing answers. Create answer formats of typical questions.


    New aspirants are usually in a dilemma in selecting the optional subjects. After embarking upon thepreparation, this state of dilemma is quite natural as well. Impact of mixed opinions like opinion on the part ofthe friends, seniors, teachers, coaching institute etc bewilder them and they are not in a position to take aright decision. Above-mentioned opinions are at times influenced by individual outlook, at times by wrongperception, at times by personal experiences, at times by prejudice or bias and at times by vested interests.

    We are presenting some of these opinions which new aspirants come across and which do not haveany rational basis. We are presenting the explanation and the rational basis related to such opinionsas well.

    1. Some subjects are very lengthy and their preparation takes a lot of time. The truth is that the syllabus ofalmost all subjects is equally vast and comprehensive. FPSC does not discriminate among subjects. Thecommission has determined a standard for each subject and has incorporated all important topics into thesyllabus of each subject. All popular subjects selected by the candidates like History, Sociology, Geography,Public Administration, Political Science etc. have comprehensive syllabus.

    2. Two such subjects (having lengthy syllabus) should not be chosen like History & Political Science,Geography & Psychology, History and Geography The rational view is that there are other criteria to selectthe optional subjects for the syllabus of almost all subjects are lengthy.

    3. Some subjects are more scoring like Sociology and Journalism or some are not like Sciences andLiteratures. The truth is that the Commission / Examiner does not discriminate among subjects in givingmarks. Fetching of good marks solely depends upon one's performance, not the subject. One can get goodmarks in any subject. The results of the Civil Services Examination every year too establish the same fact.The only rational criteria for the subjects being more scoring or less scoring are the stream they are

    associated with. Subjects associated with science may be more scoring than those of humanities because ofgreater objectivity. Likewise subjects from humanities may be more scoring than literature.

    4. One should not opt for subjects like Commerce & Accountancy, Economics, etc. because candidates donot get marks in these subjects or candidates do not qualify with these subjects. The truth is that one canopt for any subject, provided one fulfills certain criteria. Basis of selection is not subject rather performancein a particular subject.

    5. One should give a serious thought to the selection of the optional subjects. A wrong decision in thebeginning might prove an obstacle in one's success. There are a good number of candidates who werecapable of qualifying but only because of wrong selection of the optional subjects they eventually failed.Optional subjects play a decisive and crucial role in qualifying Examinations. Don't be in a hurry in selection,consider properly and give time to it.

    There are certain rational criteria for selecting the optional subjects. We are putting them forward in

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    There are certain rational criteria for selecting the optional subjects. We are putting them forward inpoint form.

    1. Every subject is good. 2. The syllabus of almost every subject is equally lengthy and demand equal amount of labour. 3. The syllabus of all popular subjects like History, Geography, Political Science etc. are equally vast. 4. One can get satisfactory level of marks (required to make one successful) in all subjects through properguidance and adequate labour. 5. One may take into consideration one's interests in the subject but this is not important. Success of manycandidates has proved it. 6. One might take into consideration one's background in the subject. 7. One might take into consideration the similarities of topics of subjects for example History and PoliticalScience, Commerce & Accountancy and Public Administration etc. This lessens the burden of the candidates.This is an important criterion. 8. Go through the syllabus and previous years' questions of the subjects, you are considering opting. 9. One might take into consideration the fact that to what extent the optional subjects help a candidate inGeneral Studies. Subjects like History, Public Administration, Political Science etc. play significant role in thiscontext. 10. The most important criteria is the guidance one gets in the subjects. Guidance makes subject / subjectseasy and enables candidates to write standard answers. Experiences of a large number of candidates haveestablished the truth that any subject is a good subject provided one gets a good guidance for that subject.A good guidance does not mean teaching of topics, rather teaching in such a way so that one comprehendsall the topics, one has adequate and quality content and more significantly one is in a position to write good& standard answers - which is the essence of the preparations.



    One has to perceive the meaning of real preparation. Real preparation does not mean attending classes,procuring study material packages and finishing the syllabus. Real preparation has an altogether differentconnotation - it has to be a meaningful preparation. One needs to understand finer aspects of preparation that is, to develop comprehension of questions, to develop approach to write answers, to practice answer-writing etc.

    Meaningful and effective preparation which makes one attain qualifying level subsumes variousfacets

    1. Planning preparation 2. Formulation of strategy 3. Guidance for preparation of compulsory subjects 4. Adequate & revised study material packages

    5. Analysis of questions 6. Expected topics / questions for forthcoming examinations 7. Answer - formats 8. Information related to strategy & approach 9. Information related to approach to answer-writing 10. Series of Questions 11. Examination and evaluation of answers.


    Success in Civil Services Examination calls for a holistic development. We want to put forward somesuggestions in this connection.

    1. Study all the relevant topics of various subjects, develop broader understanding. 2. Prepare topics on the basis of the trends & nature of the questions. 3. Create answer-formats in point form so that they prove handy in revising things. 4. Learn approach to writing. Think over ways & presentation of answers. Take the help of some guides. 5. Practice answer-writing and get them evaluated. 6. Develop a good language & expression so that you might write good answers.

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    Preparation of the optional subjects calls for somewhat different orientation. We are putting forwardcertain points below which are relevant in this context :

    1. First study the entire topics of the syllabus just to develop ideas about them. 2. Develop conception about the inter-connections and relation among the topics wherever required. 3. Pick up all relevant topics from examination standpoint on the basis of the number and type of questionsput in the examination. 4. Prepare the relevant topics taking into consideration the kinds of questions put or may be put in theexamination. 5. Take different kind of questions into account is important in the preparation; for only on this basis you willbe competent to write good answers which is key to getting good marks. 6. Prepare notes in brief or in point-form where topic or question is typical or intricate. 7. Try to learn approach to write various kind of questions. 8. Practice answer-writing and get them evaluated. For this purpose you may pick up questions fromprevious years.


    Without writing preparation becomes meaningless. Writing is in fact a part of the total preparation. InCompulsory subjects, optional subjects and Essay effective writing plays a vital role. We are giving belowcertain tips on good writing.

    Candidates should follow them and put them into practice.

    1. Read standard books collect standard information. 2. Express in you own language your answers should give impression that they are your creation. 3. Elements of bias or prejudice must be absent from your writing. 4. When you critically examine, you must examine a fact in the light of socio-economic-politicocircumstances this would give your answer a moderate tinge. 5. Use effective language but do not make it verbose.

    6. Write a simple answer do not use very long sentences and paragraphs. 7. Split your answers in various paragraphs change paragraph when you shift to a new subject-matter. 8. Do not quote views, opinions etc. frequently at times you can quote from original work. 9. Give major points of your answer in separate paragraphs and put all the minor points in one paragraph atthe end. try to give as many points as you can. 10. You need not write a lengthy introduction, you can even do without it write the main body of theanswer and a good and very effective conclusion in the answers where you analyze or critically examineyou must write a conclusion. 11. While writing, make sure your handwriting is legible do not be under the impression that whatever wayyou write the examiner would make all efforts to go through that help the examiners read your answerscomfortably. 12. Your answer must not lose coherence points should be in order so that the whole answer presents abalanced and integrated view. 13. Practice writing answers of model questions and get them evaluated.

    And finally a piece of advice, that is, hard and diligent work is a boon. Develop a habit of sustainedreading. Do study on a regular basis but be sure that you are doing this on right lines

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