The Union Public Service Commission of India conducts the Civil Services Exam annually. Successful candidates are recruited into any one of the 2 All India Services, 18 Central Services (Group A), or 5 Group B services. About 500,000 candidates appear for the exam, and only about 1000 are finally selected.
Given the success rate of candidates, a focused preparation strategy is indispensable. And a test series is an integral part of any successful preparation strategy. However, there is a plethora of test series offered, and a question that naturally arises among beginners is “which test series for UPSC is the best?”
Here are some helpful criteria that can narrow down the search for you:
Are you preparing full-time, or are you engaged in work during the weekdays? Can you take a year-long course, or do you have a shorter time frame in mind?
Mode of offering
Do you prefer offline or online classes and examinations? Each has its own benefits – offline classes tend to be more interactive, and offer higher motivation to attend. Online classes have the advantage of being accessible anytime; you can also pause and rewind them to take notes. Some online courses even provide exclusive app-based support for doubt clarification.
While price is an important factor, it is important to view a test series as an investment. The returns on investing in a good test series outweigh its cost. Evaluate the quality of offered content from each series’ samples and determine if it is worth the price. If there are no samples available online, it is a good idea to approach the content providers to give you some.
Each student has a different style of learning. A good mentor recognizes this and will be able to guide you effectively. In the UPSC exam especially, an experienced mentor’s training will help you clear the final interview round.
Testimonials from successful candidates
Pay close attention to what past students have to say, especially regarding the following:
- How closely did the mock tests resemble the actual exam?
- What was their specific weakness that the test series helped to address? Is it helpful for your preparation?
- What lectures helped them the most?
Beginners and experienced test takers have different needs. Beginners benefit immensely from foundation courses that develop a candidate’s understanding of static content – including NCERT. Experienced test takers benefit more from courses that test their knowledge of current affairs and other dynamic content.
Your strengths and weaknesses
You can ask yourself some questions such as: Which stage of the exam do you need improvement in? Which subject do you feel you can study on your own? Introspection will direct you to the exact nature of the test series that can help you.
Armed with these filtering criteria, you can now sift through the available test series to determine which test series is best for UPSC. Keep in mind that you can expect at least some or more of the following benefits from a good test series:
- Good quality of questions
- Repeated exposure to test environment
- Personalized evaluation of your performance
- Focus on developing answer-writing skills for mains
- Competitive peer group
- Lively discussion of current affairs
The UPSC CSE is a tough exam, no doubt. However, with the right guidance, you can tackle it methodically. Let each step taken be a step closer to your goal!