Thursday, 3 September 2015

Strategy for English paper of IFS (Main) Examination

Unlike the Civil Services Exam, English marks COUNT here. While I started my preparation, in a short period I realized that it takes much less time to push 120 marks in English to 150 compared to scoring those 30 extra marks in hardcore science subjects like Mathematics or Physics. So I decided and put about 10 hours effort on the English paper.

I got a score of 154 (which is on higher side with many getting around 130), but what I want to say here is that I rate myself as not so good to average in English and yet I scored this "very good" marks.

Compared to Civils English paper, Letter writing and Report writing are two new things in the paper and the Grammar questions are also different. So these three need a completely novel approach.

For letter writing the templates in this site are good to memorise and use.

Do remember that the format may be different between UK, USA and Indian styles of Letter writing; So cross check with the format but the content in above site is good to use for majority of Letter writing questions that we get in the exam.

Similarly, search for report writing and there are few key words that you need to remember in report writing and those things should be mentioned along with the narration of the incident. I will give the links for those soon.

The most important part in english paper that brings huge difference in scores is Essay (which amounts to 100 marks). Here you should understand the difference between a General Essay and an Essay for evaluating English. Here in English Essay, the importance is not given to your innovative catchy thoughts, or how balanced you are in your opinions but to the way you use English sentences and how accurately you use various adjectives to describe a situation or opinion.

For this I read words from Norman Lewis

I read all the words at the back of the book and wrote various adjectives that are moderately difficult/frequent in use and that i felt i can use with variety of essays in my mind. The catch here is that these words should not be forcefully inserted in the essay but just use few good words from your decently large list so that they describe the situation more perfectly and accurately.

When I went to write the exam I observed few more things that are very important.

  • The grammar questions are relatively lengthy compared to Civils English Grammar (there were no one word or fill in the blank kind of questions, we had to write lots of sentences). It takes a lot of time but be patient and be accurate as they are essential for good scores.

  • Have ample time for precis and dont attempt it at the end. It needs a lot of analysis to cut short to a third and write in your words; So see to it that you have ample time, with a pleasant frame of mind and no hurry while doing. Ideally it can be done towards the middle of the paper.

  • Compared to Essay in Civils, English paper of IFS will require you to write 400 words extra to adhere to word limit. So even if you finish English paper of Civils in 2hr 30 min you may have tough time finishing IFS English paper in 3 hours. In fact I had to compromise on my Essay and while the given word limit is 800-1000 words I hardly wrote some 600 words. So don't be lazy like you are in Civils and try to be a little fast to finish the paper perfectly.

Finally, Do remember to solve the question papers that came in the preceding five years' IFS examination to get a hang of the paper.

Wishing you the very best

Aditya M, IFS

Post originally published in the blog 'Controversial Thinking' ( on 1st March, 2015

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Geology Strategy

Due to common preliminary of CSE and IFS, lot of people are considering IFS these days (of course it’s a very good choice and a great service). Unlike CSE which is now dependent more on GS, IFS examination depends to a greater measure on optional subjects. 

While choosing on of the optionals as Forestry or Agriculture (both can’t be taken together), Geology is the next most opted optional subject. This is due the fact that large number of candidates have CSE optional background in geography and a few others think its easy; which it certainly is not (one will realize when one starts preparation). 

Still other (like me) have no other option but Geology due to abject unfamiliarity with the remaining subjects in the list. 

So, I am writing my personal experience while preparing Geology for IFS exam. 

I am not an expert in Geology and blindly following the instructions may be disastrous. Having said that, I feel that some of my experiences could be helpful to other aspirants. These would provide an insight on how to start your prepration in Geology .

Problems :
  • No proper guidance as very few serious aspirants take it  (I found it very difficult to get any info about books and how to prepare).
  • No readymade material  (there is one in delhi market by brilliant).
  • No coaching (as very few write).
  • No test series.

Advantages :
  • Limited syllabus (but lengthy).
  • Lot of repeating questions.

Common Suggestion for Paper-1 and Paper-2

I started my preparation by first writing down all the questions from previous ten years of CSE and IFS examination question papers of all chapters (divided them chapter wise) and kept this as reference throughout my preparations. There may be some questions out of the topics in the syllabus, prepare for these new topics also  as these repeat regularly.

For Paper 1   
                    Sec A  - General geology
                                  Geomorphology and remote sensing
                                  Structural geology
                    Sec B - Paleontology
                                 Hydrogeology and engineering geology

As you maybe aware, the pattern of the question paper is that Three questions from one section and Two from the second has to be answered, with the first and fifth questions being compulsory.

With geography as my background in CSE, I decided to write three questions from section-A as first two chapters are almost covered by geography and structural is a bit easy to study. But one needs to cover the complete syllabus and be ready for every topic from these three chapters.

And with hydrogeology and engineering geology covering the eighth question, you are left with only compulsory question i.e, the fifth, which is covered by all three chapters of section-B

As Paleontology and Stratigraphy are little difficult and too lengthy to cover, I only studied last ten years questions from these chapters.

By this way one can almost cover 80-90% of syllabus and be sure of attending minimum of 180-190 marks.

For Paper 2

                 Sec A  -  Minerology
                 Sec B -   Economic geology
                               Mining geology
                               Geochemistry and environmental geology

Section-A is very vast, difficult and technically deep, it is very difficult and time consuming to study it in it's entirety; therefore I would recommend a selective approach.

Minerology is very important and also covers almost two questions (out of which one being compulsory) it is very important to study it .

Sedimentology is very small and easy out of the three, so do it completely. Study questions from last ten years question papers for petrography (as its too big, difficult and doesn’t recur as much as mineralogy in the exam)

Section-B is simple, limited and scoring. With economic and mining geology being compact and interlinked they are easy to study and will also give good dividends in exam (do study these topics at all costs). 

Economic geology (especially processes) may seem lengthy but these are the ones recur most often in exam.

And  finally, Geochemistry and Environmental geology is a mix of little theoretical Geochemistry and current affairs. One can feel that Geochemistry is little too tedious, but studing it is very helpful in exam. (Consider it as a backup if you don’t know some questions from Economic Geology in exam)

NOTE : Don’t just be prepared for Five questions, because as last year all questions were jumbled and there was no differentiation between Section-A and B.  So prepare for at least six of seven questions and don’t leave any chapter, if due to some reason you feel like skipping a chapter, do ensure that you go through the question papers of the last deacade and study the questions that have came from here .

Wishing Everyone the Very Best

Deepak M, IFS


NOTE: If someone needs to complete the syllabus in a month just read Bangar, Mukherjee and Brilliant material along with previous years questions.

For basic study 

1) General geology & Geomorphology & Remote sensing - Savindra Singh and also some topics can be studied from internet

3) Paleontology  - P K Mukerjee and some topics from internet

5) Hydrogeology

8) Sedimentology
11) Geochemistry and environmental geology – Internet and current affairs (environmental issues).