The UPSC Civil Services Exams are indeed a high bar to cross. There is much competition and, often, an aspirant takes the exam more than once. Those who clear it in the first attempt have usually begun early, while still in college. While this is easier said than done, here are some tips to do so.

Understand your motivation: Many are influenced by their friends and seniors who are taking their exams. Before you start preparation, explore this option thoroughly and be convinced that this is the right path for you.

Smart start: Often aspirants start with course books and are unable to maintain consistency. College life also keeps them busy. For students in the first or second year, start by focusing on newspapers. Get into the habit of daily reading, develop an interest in what’s happening in the country, core issues, ideas, debate, solutions… Over a year, you will get a good drip on the current affairs. Now move to the static syllabus, options, essay and other components.

First attempt: While you have to clear the prelims, the main idea is to understand your gaps. Come out of the exam with a clear idea of what you need to focus on.

Understand constraints: Your study schedule must be realistic since you have to balance your college work with this. Even if you are able to put in 2-3 hours daily, it will help you build momentum.

Final year: Now the preparation strategy should be more aligned to the exam demands. Cover substantial portions to make your first attempt count. Focus on three subjects: Polity, Modern History and Economics. Move to the next subjects only when you are scoring well in these in your tests.

While these suggestions are straightforward, putting them into action and following them is another. If you find any difficulty in doing so, look for a mentor who can help.