[Some of these suggestions are given by subrahmanyam, osmania university, IRS-IT, 2010 batch]
Some useful tips for civils mains : These are not hard and fast rules, pls feel free to modify them to suit your needs.
1. While preparing for mains, try to cover as many topics as possible. For this keep syllabus with you always, and underline what you have read. You can rely on any material – Delhi notes etc, but don't clutter your preparation with redundant material. Practice answer writing for previous question papers, starting with 2011 and working backwards.
2. Attempt as many questions as possible. If you are running out of time, try to answer partially, but attempt maximum as required.
Case 1:You write three Q's perfectly and you may get 35+35+35.
Case 2:You write 3 Q's normally 2 Q's better.
You may get 20+25+25+30+30.
3. Try to limit your answers in such a way that you'll write 1 page(one side of paper) for 10 marks. Generally, this amounts to 100 words. Don't spill one or 2 lines into next page. This will save lot of your time (you can attempt more questions), makes your answers precise and comforts the evaluator (and you score well!). Similarly, you should keep checking that you are able to finish around 60 marks in half an hour. Remaining half an hour is buffer time, which you will any way may be to go through question paper etc.
4. Give simple examples or your observations, to enrich your answers.
Eg: broadcasting of gram sabha meeting in cable tv.[good governance]
How e-seva made bill payment etc. easy .
'irctc' railway booking etc.
How RTI helped in transparency, fairness etc.
5. For optional, always apply subject concepts to general questions asked.
Write to the point. To understand what is asked in question, to get the tone of question, spend 1 minute.
6. Communication is complete only if it is understood by receiver. Hence use simple language to present your powerful ideas and analysis. Quality of analysis is important. Hi sounding words, flowery language doesn't help. Structure your points well so that – 1. There is logical flow; 2. Important and relevant points come first in the answer.
7. Choose 1-2 answers you can answer very well and start your exam paper with them.
8. Answer by touching all aspects asked in question.
Eg. Q) Evolution and relevance of parliamentary standing committees/ Election Commission/Judicial review?
[leisure reading- http://www.parliamentofindia.nic.in/ls/intro/p21.htm]
You have to touch on both evolution(history) and relevance(current impact).
Q)Is culture influenced by cinema, or cinema influenced by culture?
If you want to argue both ways, cover both aspects 50-50%.
9. In essay/long questions, try to include diverse points.
Eg. Q) Is india becoming global power?
You should not limit to political(democratic) leadership but include economic, cultural, strategic(military), socio etc. (No clue aa? Just think of contents in GS syllabus)
Q)Agriculture improvement? Dont limit your self to production and green revolution but think about complete supply chain. [Inputs – fertilizers(+subsidies), seeds, credit(bank loans) ; Production – sustainable agriculture, organic farming, high yield varieties; using outputs: transport to markets, market availablility(+Minimum Support Price), storage facilities etc.], import/export policy etc.
But this may be very time consuming, so try to do it quickly. Again, if question is small you can limit yourself.
10. For optional like telugu literature paper-II, try to read as much from original text as possible. This way you can answer a question asked from any angle and you can quote lines directly from book. This will save lot of time while revising.
Srujan Nakidi, IRS-CCE