Students are often at a loss when faced with the extensive syllabus of Civil Services Mains examination. They often complain what to read, from where to read and how much to read. Normally students either end up having a very exhaustive reading of some portion and very superficial reading of other units of syllabus. This is not a good approach.
Before, we discuss how to read, lets first try to understand what has to be read. According to the current pattern there are NINE papers to be answered in the main examination. There are "FOUR" compulsory General Studies paper and "ONE" optional subject comprising of two papers plus Essay paper and the language and English papers as well.
It's a big plate and requires sufficient readings to prepare for writing the descriptive type answers. One should try to approach this by first focusing on the syllabus of each subject. Instead of being over ambitious and trying to cover the entire syllabus, the best strategy would be to find out the core areas of the syllabus. This can be done by going into the previous year's question papers and looking out for the main areas from where question frequently asked. The thumb rule is, first eliminate 30 percent of the syllabus that generally remains out of focus and concentrate on 70% of the syllabus that is always in focus.
The next thing is to resource the study material for the each unit of the syllabus that remains in focus. This is most difficult part of the exercise because there is huge amount of reading material available and one often complains what to read and how to read and how much to read. Reading from too many books can only confuse you and it is always wise to be selective on your reading material.
So first pick up a unit from the syllabus and resource reading material as per the content of the unit. It is a wise to refer one standard book on the given content and develop a deep understanding of the subject first.
After that you can resource the actual notes of that content from specialized books offered by coaching centers or any such book publishers. A considerable amount of time and energy has to be spent on resourcing the selective study material for reading purposes.
In order to maintain uniformity in the covering of the syllabus, you have to resource the best available reading material as well as be selective about it.
It is important to remember that studying for Civil Service exam involves 'purposeful reading.' This basically means reading with a certain focus on the given topic and aiming at preparing the possible questions from the topic. At the same time preparing bullet points for their possible answer.
While covering the syllabus the best way could be to concentrate on the syllabus topic, and be selective in reading material. Remember you are reading for writing answers to probable question and not doing research of the given topic. So, while reading, list out all the important points and the relevant information which can answer all probable question in a logical framework.
Before reading on any topic, it is a wise move to go through the questions asked in the past on the given topic and jot down them with some more probable additions. This will give you an idea about the kind of study material one need to be studies that will enable to help write answer of such frequently asked questions.
Once you develop such approach to reading, try to read logically and link all the points and see if you construct a probable answer to the questions by elaborating on those points.
You have to apply lot of thoughts to procure the right study mater and then spend time and energy how to read them purposefully.
Such a kind of reading alone will help you in preparing the short notes that you can revise periodically. Therefore a good strategy for reading has to be evolved first before you start preparing for the Civil Service Mains exams.
A good approach to reading alone can help you retain the salient points of the topic in your memory, improve your grip over the topic and make you more confident about the subject. All this will reflect on your performance of writing brilliant answers in the Mains exams.