It was legendary Malayalam poet Kunjunni mash’s couplet that good words, good ideas and good deeds would pave the way for success that inspired me when I began preparing for the civil service exams.
The General Studies paper would look like any topic under the sun would be asked in it. However, all you need is proper reading and extensive general knowledge to effortlessly crack this paper. There is no point in dwelling too deep into the individual topics. However, one should have a clear idea about the sources like personal notes, guides, textbooks or online study materials that they plan to rely on. Same source wouldn’t be suitable for all the subjects. Meanwhile, some subjects require multiple sources.
One can never write the civil service exam after covering all the topics. So you could divide the portions into three sections – need to know, good to know and great to know. You could depend on reliable sources based on these criteria. However, the aspirants should understand that newspapers are the most reliable and basic source for studying the general studies paper.
Studying all the topics is not just enough; you should also have the ability to express these ideas in a convincing way with clarity and precision. A candidate requires to exhibit three different types of skill sets during the three stages of the exam. The options for the objective type questions in the prelims stage may look similar. However, the candidate should be careful not to stumble on the confusing words and make careless mistakes. You should be able to present an idea in the most convincing and reasonable way for the mains. Meanwhile, you should engage in constructive and productive conversation with the interview board instead of arguing with them in the personality test.
It is important to make small notes while reading about a topic, as it would be helpful when you are revising the subjects. Besides, practise writing essays within time limits, take model tests using previous years’ question papers and most importantly take part in the model interview sessions with honesty and dedication.
Preparing for civil service is a long process that may take up a year or more than that. There would be days when you feel low and doubt your abilities. However, there is no need to panic if you are not feeling confident. It is important to realise that all the aspirants go through this stage and that it is just temporary.
Seek the support of your friends and family members when you are feeling depressed. You could even indulge in leisure activities that make you feel relaxed. Once you are back on track, you would be confident and optimistic again. Make sure that you are relaxed and calm during the days of the examination.
(The writer passed the civil service exam in 2012 and is currently the mission director of the National Employment Guarantee Scheme in Kerala.)