Time,Life and World are three most cruel creatures ever created. They do not give you many chances. They do not listen to explanations. They do not always understand you. But here I can always explain to myself. I can debate on my internal conflicts, put forth my thoughts for contemplation, give them as much time, take as many chances I want and express myself freely. Here I share the ideas erupting from my core and a few pages from my life.
A small note on Science subjects and strategy for Physics
Disclaimer: While aspirants might have come here reading the tag ‘Tips for Civil Services Examination’, I must candidly declare that there are actually no objective tips for this examination as such. I believe that every successful candidate has his/her own style of studying depending upon his/her background, strengths and weaknesses.However a proper guidance always helps and it is my endeavor in this blog to share my experiences and both what I did and what I think should be or should not be done. Science
optionals have been doing quite well for the past four to five years. While it
can be often heard that optionals like Public Administration and Geography etc.
are getting butchered, I think this may be more so because almost 50% of the
candidates appearing in mains opt for these two optionals and hence the
competition is immense. And UPSC is no longer accepting same clichéd answers
picked up from class notes of famous coaching institutions. They are asking
very innovative and currently relevant questions and expect expert answers.
Moreover, I think a candidate with engineering or commerce background doesn’t
have any edge when compared to someone who did graduation in Political Science
or Public Administration etc. (of course I am talking about the majority and
there may be exceptions). So if somebody is having really good foundation in
science then Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics are good bets. The best thing
about Science optionals is that once prepared well, one can be quite confident
about solving the questions in exam and also estimate marks with decent
precision. For example in the case of Physics, once whole syllabus is covered
nicely, one can easily answer at least 80% (conservatively) of the paper very
well and score minimum 50% (debatable) of the correct attempt.
word of caution
two things however that one must be cautious of before opting for Science
First. One may find the syllabus extremely simple to look at or find
some of the previous year questions very simple (of IIT-JEE or AIEEE level).
For example there may be a simple question involving matrix in Mathematics, or
one involving Young’s Double Slit in Physics. But one should rather not take
impulsive decision based on this first impression and rather make a very
Second. Since Science optional, especially Physics and
Mathematics, involve lots of derivations and formulae, it becomes very
difficult to permanently memorize these and hence periodic revision is the only
key to score well. If one is not able to revise Physics in the week before
final examination, he/she may do very badly despite best preparation. In the
current pattern mains examination is conducted in a period of five days in back
to back fashion. So one must see if he/she has the ability to do that last
moment revision swiftly (I will also be discussing how to manage it in this
I opted for
Physics as my first optional because of strong interest and base in Physics.
While I could also have opted for Electrical Engineering, but I found
Engineering syllabus to be relatively vast. I took coaching from Vajpeyi Sir of
DIAS in Delhi and was extremely satisfied. He covers the syllabus very nicely
and one can even attempt the paper by only preparing from his class lectures
(though I don’t suggest to limit oneself to class only). Only the topic of Electronics is not covered completely. Vajpeyi Sir’s style of
teaching may not suit everyone (as he is very fast), but I found him to be an expert
of Physics (for UPSC CSE) and his test series also helps in good evaluation
before final exam. If one is regular in and after his class, I must say there can't be any guide better than Vajpeyi Sir for Physics. For me, he was also my first formal guide when I started my preparation, and ever since he has been a constant source of courage and motivation. The best thing about him is his candid way of telling you your weak points, which can help cementing the preparation. Not only for Physics, but he can also be approached for guidance in other areas i.e. GS, Essay or Interview.
that must be borne in mind is that UPSC doesn’t want to test candidates’
proficiency in physics as it is not a recruitment exam for professor or
scientist. UPSC wants to test how good an administrator one can be from the way
he/she writes answers of Physics. So while being good in Physics is important,
it is not the whole part of the story. Equally important is performance during
those 3 hours for each paper in terms of quality, speed and choice of
questions. Also only arriving at numerical results may not fetch good marks as
in Physics writing all the relevant theory for each question asked is a must.
Paper 2 is more theory based than Paper 1. At the same time one must not write
unnecessary things to showcase knowledge as that may irritate the examiner.
Usually examiners are highly experienced professors of Physics from reputed
universities and they look for quality in answer as they know it and not some
creative short-cut method. For every topic one studies for Physics, one must
also prepare basic definitions (in own words) and while answering, use these
definitions either in words or in equation form. Also if some particular
phenomenon is being talked about, then explaining the underlying Physics in
words is important than just writing simple mathematical solution. Diagrams
where necessary must be neatly drawn.
can be imagined, is very scientific subject and has to be approached
scientifically. Currently each paper carries 250 marks with each question
carrying 50 marks. This means each question has to be attempted in 35 minutes
(7 minutes for 10 marks) whatsoever. This time limit is not at all difficult to
stick to as one has to trim the answer according to the marks it carries. For
example, a question may involve a slit diffraction numerical. Now if the
question is asked for 10 marks only, then one can simply use the final result
of diffraction pattern and apply formula after writing necessary theory. But if
the same question is asked for 20 marks then the split diffraction
pattern needs to be derived. Also the page length to be filled can be
accordingly gauged depending upon one’s handwriting (for me it was around one
page for 8 marks in 5 ½ minutes). Since space for answer is earmarked now, one
can also take cue from the space allocated. But there is no need to fill all
the space given as some write in very small font size.
In this subject
each paper has 4 bits. If one thoroughly prepares three out of four, one can
still comfortably attempt 90% of each paper, but that leaves you with no choice
of questions and hence I recommend trying to complete whole syllabus. Also last
bit on Solid state is in any case a bit difficult for not Electrical
Engineering students and remains weak. So rest of the topics should be rock
notes in one’s own handwriting is a very good way to learn Physics. During the
whole preparation of Physics on has to go through a number of sources like
coaching material, books, internet. These sources cannot be picked up every
time one sits for revision and hence the notes come handy. Notes must also
include some important difficult questions which can be quickly glanced at
whenever possible. These notes also become important in current scenario when
there may not be much gap during the mains exam for revision.
the questions of last 20 years Physics papers is the best and must way to
practice. One can try writing answers as in exam conditions. Apart from that
the last few years IFS (forest) exam papers can be solved if time allows.
the Vajpeyi Sir’s Class notes I used the following sources
most of the part Vajpeyi Sir’s notes are sufficient
book by JC Upadhayay can be kept as reference book in general. It is good to
give a thorough reading to this book (relevant topics) after reading class
notes of DIAS. Central Force Motion, Angular Momentum, Rutherford Scattering,
Rigid Body Mechanics and STR are covered well
to mechanics Kleppner -Kolenkow is another very good book
that explains the basics very lucidly. Those who find STR difficult must read
the chapters from this book
Mathur is good for solving practice questions and for mechanics of continuous
book on Optics by Ajoy Ghatak is the Bible for this topic. It is a large book
and one often may not find some topics (thanks to bizarre editing) very easily,
but it actually has something or the other on every topic of this bit.
optics is one topic where there is a lot of scope to write theory. Sometimes
only theory based questions may also be asked. These questions have been dealt
very nicely in a small book on Optics by BS Agarwal. I think it is a must to
compliment the preparation with BS Agarwal.
Electricity and Magnetism
is one of the difficult topics (in my view) of Paper 1. Also there are many
large derivations and lots of mathematics involved. But Introduction to
Electrodynamics by D. J. Griffiths is a wonderful book for understanding the
topics of Electrostatics and Magnetostatics. The book is one of the smoothest
one may come across.
Griffiths is a good book, but for this exam Electromagnetic Theory &
Electrodynamics by Satya Prakash is more relevant. It extensively covers almost
all topics of this chapter (except RLC circuits and Blackbody radiation) and
has very good solved problems that often are asked in exam.
Current electricity (RLC circuits) I did not do much (though I think I should
not have ignored it so much as many questions were asked this year) as I have
Electrical Engineering background.
of BB radiation overlap with Thermal Physics and hence can be covered in books
like Garg Bansal Ghosh or even HC Verma of Quantum Mechanics or Sears and
Thermal and Statistical Physics
covered this topic mostly from Vajpeyi Sir’s notes and then supplemented it
with book by PK Chakrabarty. But this book is usually not considered the best
source and I have heard that Garg Bansal Ghosh and Satya Prakash are better
statistical physics theory part I did Sears and Salinger.
Bose Einstein condensate derivation and Helium lambda curve, one can search
internet as I did not find it in any book.
Resnick Eisberg is a reference book for first 3 topics of this paper. This I believe
is a very scoring paper and is mostly theoretical in nature and hence making
notes for this paper is even more important. In this paper one should try to
write as much relevant theory as possible in every answer along with diagrams.
to HC Verma’s Quantum Physics (new edition) for this chapter and do it from
cover to cover including all the solved and unsolved problems.
book does not cover following topics very well: proof of Uncertainty principle
and proof that minimum uncertainty occurs in Gaussian packet; Hydrogen atom
full derivation, angular momentum derivation by solving differential equation.
Uncertainty principle part can be searched on net and H atom and angular
momentum are well covered in Resnick Eisberg
Atomic and Molecular Physics
Physics: Book by Raj Kumar
Physics: Book by Banwell McCash
bit contains many small but important topics and should be covered well as
almost all topics are asked with equal probability.
did this part from varied sources. SB Patel is a good book to start with. But
for theory part the book Resnick Eisberg has to be read (relevant chapters
only) word by word.
also referred to Brilliant Tutorial notes and Notes of Sh. Abhijeet Agarwal
(AIR 24, 2010) (which can be found on his blog) for a sense of completion.
Solid State and Electronics
candidates do not cover this topic well because it is very complex in nature
and not more than 30 marks compulsory will be asked from here.
atleast solid state should be covered as it is not very difficult
can refer to either SO Pillai (relevant chapter) or Raj Babbar (full book) for
topics like superconductivity, crystal lattice, band theory, magnetic and
thermal properties and specific heat of solids (which overlaps with Thermal
Physics) and basics about semiconductors and npn pnp transistors and opamps. I recommend
Raj Babbar because it is small and less frightening.
gates, Karnaugh maps, Boolean algebra is also a very easy topic and can be
covered from any good digital electronics book (Electrical/electronics students
should not leave this)
can skip the topic related to amplifiers and transistors as it may not be worth
spending the time on.