My score – 254/400
There are two papers of 200 marks each. It is possible to score unto 65% in this optional (as per this year marking)
Book list and resources
- I went through entire syllabus before prelims once. This helped me in saving precious time between Prelims and Mains as CSE mains was also lined up after IFoS’s
- I made few shorts notes for revision especially
- I solved the questions that are given at the end of each chapter in the book. Wikipedia and internet research helped
- Draw as many diagram as possible – colour them if you can
- Don’t take it lightly because it has same marks as other optional as well as more marks than GK
My score – 278/400
I joined DIAS for Physics classes and their test series. More than anything else, the motivation by Vajpayee Sir played an important role in me getting good marks in Physics.
- Solve all DIAS tutorials properly in UPSC like notebook – Gives you a feel of space, presentation etc
- Don’t leave any fringe topics especially those which are not in CSE syllabus- Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics, saha’s ionization, cornu’s spiral etc
- There’ll be invariably 1-2 questions from these and if you have prepared them well, they can give you an edge.
- Prepare revision notes (summary sheets – 3-4 pages for each units)
- Cant emphasize the importance of this. If you don’t have these, you’ll be overwhelmed just before the exam by the sheer size of the notes.
- For those who join DIAS
- Attend all classes
- Solve tutorials as per schedule
- Give all test on time
- Electricity and magentism
- Resnick and Eisberg
- Atomic and molecular
- Nuclear and Particle
- Solid state and digital electronics
Please remember that this is a test of your perseverance and balanced approach and not of your smartness.
IFoS and CSE have the same prelim examination. This explains the high focus on environment related topics in prelim examination.
Thus if you prepare environment part thoroughly you’ll have an edge. Moreover if you have decided to give IFoS seriously – and have taken Forestry as one of the optional – then you should go through the entire syllabus of it once before prelims. There is a chance that there’ll be 2-3 questions which a Forestry student can answer easily compared to a general candidate.
Also dont leave ancient and medieval history section. TN board class 11th book is a savior in this regard.
For current affairs – refer to at least two sources – Vision and Insight make for a good combo but you can rely on others too.
Next practice as many mock test as you can. They’ll help in incremental improvement. Join a test series and give test at test center if you can. Nothing matches the actual experience of giving the test.
IFoS prelims cutoff is usually 15-20 marks above the CSE cutoff. It was 132-133 for IFoS – 2016 while 116 for CSE 2016. Your aim should be to optimize your marks by increasing the accuracy. Attempting more could backfire in this uncertain era of UPSC.
Syllabus – Candidates will be required to write an essay in English. Other questions will be designed to test their understanding of English and workmanlike use of words. Passages will usually be set for summary or precis.
How to prepare? –
- Solve previous year question papers
- Get an idea of format for letter, notice, reports etc
During the exam
- Write the essay first. Highest component in the marking scheme
- Don’t use colloquial language – this is not a qualifying exam – marks will be counted towards your final score and that’ll determine your rank.
What does the syllabus say – General Knowledge including knowledge of current events and of such matters of every day observation and experience in their scientific aspects as may be expected of an educated person who has not made a special study of any scientific subject. The paper will also include questions on Indian Polity including the political system and the Constitution of India, History of India and Geography of a nature which the candidate should be able to answer without special study
- 3 hour exam
- 6 questions with 5-7 sub parts
How to prepare?
- Focus on S&T
- This year there were questions ranging from heliocentric orbit to genome editing to utility of friction
- Focus on Ancient and Medieval history – at least you should have a rough chronology in mind
- IFoS GK paper at times had questions related to Ashoka in past years
- CSE mains prep for GS will suffice for the rest
During the exam
- Leave the questions which you don’t know anything about -There will be definitely 2-3 questions like those
- Draw diagrams wherever possible especially in S&T question
As per current pattern one has to choose two optional for IFoS. Each of them have two paper of 200 marks each. This means both optionals together form a total of 800/1700 in your final score
From the notification, the options to choose optional are –
- (i) Agriculture
- (ii.) Agricultural Engineering
- (iii) Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science
- (iv) Botany
- (v) Chemistry
- (vi) Chemical Engineering
- (vii) Civil Engineering
- (viii) Forestry
- (ix) Geology
- (x) Mathematics
- (xi) Mechanical Engineering
- (xii) Physics
- (xiii) Statistics
- (xiv) Zoology
Provided that the candidates will not be allowed to offer the following combination of subjects :
- (a) Agriculture and Agricultural Engg.
- (b) Agriculture and Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science.
- (c) Agriculture and ·Forestry.
- (d) Chemistry and Chemical Engg.
- (e) Mathematics and Statistics.
- (f) Of the Engineering subjects viz. Agricultural Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering- not more than one subject;
My 2 cents – choose your optional wisely. As far as possible – Forestry should be one of the optional. This is because if you prepare it beforehand, it will help you in prelims (environment portion), CSE mains (allelopathy type question in GS3 – 2016 paper), IFoS interview (they are definitely going to ask something from forestry even if you dont have it as an optional)
I got below average marks in English which was bit surprising.