Integrated approach to Civil Services Examination

Civil Services Examination (CSE) is considered to be mother of all exams. Though it is divided into three stages, it requires a holistic and integrated approach.

Generally, candidate commit mistake of start preparing first exclusively for prelims thinking that once they clear prelims then they will concentrate on preparing for mains. It’s a faulty approach as even if the candidate clears prelims the time period between mains and prelims is so short ie 3- 4 months that he is less likely to prepare well for mains within such short span of time as mains syllabus is quite exhaustive. So, one should prepare well for mains before writing prelims examination.

Moreover, one’s good hold over mains improves the candidate’s chances of clearing prelims in initial attempts itself, as person develop more analytical ability owing to his preparation of mains. If one goes through few of the previous question paper one would realise that question in prelims as well as in mains are more of analytical nature than straight forward.

How to prepare for CSE in an integrated manner:

If you go through the syllabus carefully 70% of the syllabus is overlapping for both prelims and mains:

Prelims Topics

Mains Topic

History of India and Indian National Movement

GS Paper 1

Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World

GS Paper 1

Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues etc.

GS 2

Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives Etc.

GS1, GS2, GS3

General Issues on Environmental ecology, biodiversity and climate change – that do not require subject specialization

GS1, GS3

Current Events of National and International Importance

GS1, GS2, GS3

General Science


These are the following areas which are explicitly mentioned in mains but not in prelims:

World History – In Mains GS Paper 1

Indian Society – In Mains GS Paper 1

International Relation– In Mains GS Paper 2

Internal Security– In Mains GS Paper 3

Disaster Management – In Mains GS Paper 3

Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude – In Mains GS Paper 4

There are certain areas  though seems to be exclusively dealt in mains but we have seen  sometimes questions on those areas has also been asked in prelims. So, if one has prepared well for mains can also handle such question, unlike the one who has just exclusively prepared for prelims. A good knowledge of international relation can help solving many questions in prelims. Same way good knowledge of society also can make the candidate answer many questions in prelims. Even,  the knowledge of your optional could be helpful sometime to solve prelims questions. Therefore, a good preparation of mains before prelims improves your chances of final selection in the initial attempts itself.

One-year integrated plan for CSE:

July – September 2020

Decide and start preparation, take an overview of the syllabus, know about the basics of exam, its pattern, optional subject, Previous year question papers etc.

Start Preparing for General Studies in an integrated manner.

First, go through the basic books NCERT and then to the  GRACE IAS Study material/ Advanced books. If you do not have a habit of reading newspaper, start it, in fact you need to study the newspaper and see how the information would be useful for the exam.

You need to choose an optional and start preparing along with General Studies. As General Studies is very Vast, you can take the help of Guidance. Join the Coaching Classes. In this endeavour our institute GRACE IAS is providing both Weekday & Weekend batch coaching Classes to ease your burden.

October 2020-February 2021

By October you should decide and start preparing for optional, practice answer writing along with your preparation, so that you get a good hold over it

Answer writing practice should be done for both GS and Optional, as well as Essay, from the very beginning along with solving Prelims questions. GRACE IAS is providing Test Series– you can join it to get maximum marks. 

February 2021

By February end your preparation for optional should end.

March 2021- Till Prelims Exam 2021

Now More concentration should be devoted to prelims preparation, revisions, solving prelims questions, can join some good test series to get exam like environment before the real exam, evaluating one’s performance and continue this exercise till Preliminary exam. You can join GRACE IAS prelims test series to optimise your prelims preparation.

June 2021-Till Mains 2021

 One week of break after prelims exam, one should resume their studies for mains. If one has followed the schedule properly and had prepared well for prelims, result would be positive. So, without wasting time should start full-fledged preparation for mains.

One should join good mains test series so that you can get proper feedback about your preparation and mains test series would provide simulated environment for mains exam. GRACE IAS MAINS TEST SERIES – to get personalised feedback.

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