CSE 2021: Plan / Strategy / Daily Routine - ForumIAS

CSE 2021: Plan / Strategy / Daily Routine

I gave the prelims this year. I don't hope to pass, I am out by a big margin. So, aiming for 2021 now.

Right now, I plan to devote time to optional preparation (Mathematics) till mid December atleast. Also, I am planning to write test series for optional. I am not focusing on essay, answer writing and other mains specific preparation as I hope that I will cover it in the gap between pre and mains. I will put in minimal time for answer writing and essay by simply looking at previous year solved mains paper and essays. Most of my daily study goes in optional preparation.

Apart from optional study, I devote roughly 2 hours to daily current affairs( Forum 9pm + factly + daily current affairs MCQ) + newspaper analysis by Shankar IAS.

After 15th December, I would start preparing for prelims so that I don't miss this time. This would include static + monthly current affairs + Forum full test series.

Can anybody comment on my strategy so that I could know what I should be doing if I am doing the wrong thing?

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Bhai, have you seen next year calendar? Hardly 75 days between prelims and Mains. Do as much mains as possible right now till Jan / Feb. And in my opinion you are spending too much time on daily news analysis.

@TwoFace Thank you for the suggestion. I will definitely try to accommodate answer writing in my preparation before prelims.  I ascribe my poor score in prelims 2020 due to lack of knowledge in current affairs and science and technology. I did my 2020 preparation for current affairs only by reading Vision monthly magazine multiple times. So, I am trying to expand my current affairs source by reading daily current affairs from forum and newspaper analysis along with preserving Vision monthly current affairs, and I do find them helpful. However, if you find it excessive/consuming too much time, please do suggest another way to cover current affairs. I shall be grateful for the help.


Hello@naviiin. I am also following a similar strategy of replacing monthly magazine with daily current affairs. My strategy for now is using the following sources: Forum IAS daily 9pm initiative, Forum IAS factly daily, and Shankar IAS daily newspaper analysis (about 30 mins. in length).

My view about the other sources: I have seen civilsdaily, it is pretty good but most of all is already covered in Forum (if you cover both the initiatives). Vision IAS monthly magazine is pretty good but daily current affairs is not so good (it is cluttered and short). I would recommend forum over IASBaba and insights as it contains more relevant topics and is more comprehensive.

@rishabh212Yes, the right to property which used to be the erstwhile Article 31 now stands repealed from the fundamental rights section. However, right to property still exists as a legal/constitutional right under Article 300A. Please read Laxmikant or any other suitable book (eg: D.D. Basu) on polity before starting current affairs. You will find it very helpful.

In general, it is better to complete static syllabus first; particularly in economics, polity, environment, history. Reading current affairs without completing static is an uphill task and you will spend much more time than required, because you won't understand much.


Hello@thistooshallpass, how many attempts have you given for prelims examination? Did you write the prelims this year? Just wanted to know.


@Gaurav It is not as if you consciously login to forum to check various threads. It seems to have become your unconscious habit. For breaking the habit chain, just try leaving your laptop or smartphone (whichever way you access internet) away for 1 week. Keep it out of your sight and out of your reach. Whenever you feel the need for a break, instead of fidgeting on the internet, talk to someone, get some fresh air outside, or try reading books (non-fiction, that are not addictive). That's it, you don't need to develop any higher self-discipline on that. You just need to break the cycle. This is something I have gone through and am speaking through experience, not by only reading books. It is something that works.

Habits consist of cue, routine and reward cycle. By repeatedly making the same conscious choices, you make the habit a part of your unconscious self (This is done by the brain to save energy). Habits never die, they only get replaced by newer habits. Unless you form a new habit that keeps the same cue but a different routine, eradicating habit is very difficult. Reference: The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg

@GauravIt will take effort, or what you call self-discipline for 2-3 days. Then, slowly your other habits will become dominant and you will stop missing your laptop. Substituting the procrastinating habit of browsing social media with another habit such as reading books definitely helps. Also, after seven-ten days, even if you have got rid of your habit, keep your laptop at a reach and check forum or any other preparation site only once or twice a day (for 5-10 mins), at pre-planned times. That much time is sufficient to extract useful information.

I am able to study on average around 7 hours in a day. However, I see from most toppers' claims and coaching websites references that atleast 8-10 hours of daily study is required to clear this exam. What is your opinion on this? Till what extent is this true? How many hours do each of you study in a day? Please post your hours, mentioning if you are preparing full time or doing it along with a job like Vinay12. I am preparing for this exam full time.

Today target

1) managerial functions

2) modern history 

3) art and culture

Do you complete all the targets everyday? Apart from that how much do you cover of a given topic in a day? For example, in modern india or culture, how many chapters do you cover of a given book? Please list it just for today, for reference so that I can estimate how much you study in a day.

@Mauraisles No, that's it. You seem to be doing pretty well. Keep it up, all the best. Meanwhile, I will try to increase my study hours to 9-10 hours like you.


This year the gap between the recently held prelims and the next prelims is much lesser than it used to be earlier. So, the time for preparation is significantly reduced for aspirants who have already given the prelims this year but were not selected.

So, some areas of the preparation will be impacted. Which area of preparation are you choosing to dilute in view of lack of time? It could be gs-mains/answer writing/ optional/ prelims gs-static/ prelims gs-current affairs. Or is it that you have chosen to devote the same fraction of time to all the areas, which would dilute all the areas a bit?

As for me, I have chosen to dilute mains answer writing in view of my bulky optional (Mathematics). Hence, I would like to know what are your own personal strategies as well as suggestions for me.



This year the gap between the recently held prelims and the next prelims is much lesser than it used to be earlier. So, the time for preparation is significantly reduced for aspirants who have already given the prelims this year but were not selected.

So, some areas of the preparation will be impacted. Which area of preparation are you choosing to dilute in view of lack of time? It could be gs-mains/answer writing/ optional/ prelims gs-static/ prelims gs-current affairs. Or is it that you have chosen to devote the same fraction of time to all the areas, which would dilute all the areas a bit?

As for me, I have chosen to dilute mains answer writing in view of my bulky optional (Mathematics). Hence, I would like to know what are your own personal strategies as well as suggestions for me.

Have not planned to this extent until now. As the time advances, automatically some subjects would start getting less attention than they otherwise would have got.

By the way, wish you and others on this thread a very happy and prosperous Deepawali. :) 

Happy Deepawali to you too. Happy Deepawali to everyone on this thread.

@CoronaForever I think you can follow that and use one book to cover whatever seems to be not covered. People generally use Spectrum for modern history as it is small compared to other books and cover most of the part. 

+1. Spectrum is the key. However, you might want to supplement that with random internet sources, since this time (2020) also UPSC asked many questions from outside. Earlier, reading Spectrum used to fetch 100% in modern history.

@naviiinSorry, I don't keep track of the test series offered by various institutes, and hence I am not the best guy for the job. I have started using internet for preparation only a month ago as I read only books/monthly magazine in my previous attempt. Hence, I wouldn't be well informed about this issue compared to other members on the site.

@Premsagar_MI am a student of MGP Cohort 4. I have sent you an email on your given ID. Please check.


Did someone else give the prelims mock test conducted by GsScore? If so, what is your score?

@Faith001Well, I am more inexperienced than you on the matter, as I have written the exam only once, that too with a prelims-centric preparation. But, I am preparing for next year mains this time and am also interested in the answer to your question.
Here is what I do currently:
I found Forum articles pretty useful for this purpose. (Not 9pm brief, they post issue based articles some times for example:https://blog.forumias.com/corporates-as-bankers-bane-or-boon-for-economy/). Apart from this, civilsdaily.com also posts occasional issue based articles apart from daily news. For example:https://www.civilsdaily.com/category/burning-issues/. Apart from this, the '250 Most Probable Topics with Questions for Mains 2020' initiative by civilsdaily seems to be pretty attractive (https://www.civilsdaily.com/course/250-most-probable-topics-with-questions-for-ias-mains-2020/). I will probably enroll in 2021 version of this initiative.

I request everyone on this thread to pool their knowledge about this issue. So that we can come up with a practical and optimal solution and do not search for the answer to this question after prelims 2021 in the short gap between prelims and mains.


A seperate discussion has been made for prelims test series list along with scores of respective members has been made as was demanded by some members of this discussion. Interested members may join the discussion at :https://forumias.com/post/detail/Prelims-Test-Series-List-along-with-Scores-1606476683

@Faith001Thanks for recommending Drishti. I checked out their daily current affairs. It seems better than forum 9pm daily brief which is directly cut paste from hindu newspaper and indian express.


The current affairs course by CD seems interesting. Could you please help me out with some information about CD course?

Is the weekly compilation notes given in the course different from the separate articles given daily? Or are they like the 'burning issues' compiled by CD sometimes? About how much pages is the weekly notes in length?

@indianhumanTry meditation. You may find it easy to sit for long and make your study hours more effective if you meditate daily. You will get more amount of work done in the same time. Start from 15-20 minutes daily, and if you are able to sit then gradually extend to 40-50 minutes.
By meditation, it is meant that you should sit in any comfortable position (crossed leg with back straight) and close your eyes. Then, maintain concentration on your breath leaving and entering your nostrils and observe the corresponding sensation in your nose. Observing the rhythmic expansion and contraction of the belly is another alternative. Do not get lost in any kind of thoughts and maintain contact with the breath, remaining in the present. That is all there is to it. Nothing more than that. For a more detailed procedure (if you find enough time), refer:
Another less spoken and often controversial topic is celibacy. Avoid all nefarious activities such as seeing/watching movies/songs/random videos that are even remotely obsene. Maintain your bodily integrity by avoiding immoral acts. It affects your concentration a lot. Also, you will also be able to meditate only if you follow this basic rule.
@Esperer Well, I follow the same strategy. 

I personally choose hindu news analysis + forum 9pm daily brief + factly. Insights + vision also have nearly same content. In addition, I found byju's 'this day in history' section helpful. It is 1-2 pages at max, and strengthens modern india apart from spectrum (may help to tackle 2-3 prelims questions).

I don't make notes as such apart from occasional scribbling just to help remember. I found Vision monthly magazine helpful for revision.

@mehuifs Where are you covering society from ?

@Esha2020 I am planning to do so too.

@Vinay12 Good to see you back. Please keep posting, else the forum will become inactive, which would

 not be good for non-coaching aspirants like me. Thanks for the effort.


December 19:

Current affairs daily backlog of 15,16,17,18

( Hindu News Analysis -Shankar + Forum Factly + selective articles from 9pm daily brief )

Art and culture - Nitin Singhania, start 1st chapter


Art and culture - Temple architecture, sculpture, pottery done.

Dec 21

Daily current affairs (19,20)

Art and culture- Chapter 1- medieval architecture + Chapter 2: Indian Paintings

@LeoMessiI am in MGP+ Cohort 5.


Slept the whole day at 22.

December 23 targets

Forum SFG Entrance Test

Art and Culture- Chapter 2- Paintings

Art and Culture- Chapter - Religion -->Start

Daily current affairs - 22,21

@adivasi No, this is the sole entrance test to SFG 1. SFG 2.0 covers detailed current affairs questions and dynamic reasoning based questions along with static based simple questions. SFG 1 has simple static based questions mostly along with recent current affairs questions (January to November). SFG 1 will be a 2 month program and will not be repeated in this year. However, SFG 2 has a separate entrance test and will be much longer and more like conventional test series with added competition. You can join SFG 2 as it is more useful for UPSC and UPSC rarely asks questions straight from the basic NCERTs.

Note: I have not registered for SFG before. Whatever I have said can be found out from the forum article on the blog website as well as the discussion forum on SFG held last year. 


Forum states that SFG has only one batch of 100 students, which undergoes to reshuffling based on weekend tests. I am not sure whether more batches will be launched, as they keep it fixed at 100 to uphold quality.

I am looking forward to join the regular forum test series as it offers a lot of flexibility, I wouldn't want to keep writing 1-hr. tests daily, that takes up a lot of time. I would suggest you to take your situation into account before taking a call. If you are a first timer not familiar with the various static topics and have not given prelims test series before, SFG sounds like a good option. Daily tests can keep you on track of the syllabus and the time required to be devoted to each topic. Otherwise, the regular test series option is pretty good, and you have the flexibility of writing tests anytime you want, without pressure of being kicked out of the batch, and the rankings/statistics are avalaible post anytime you write the test. They keep updating it daily.


Today: Finished Art & Culture- Dance forms, daily current affairs.

Target for tomorrow: Daily current affairs + Finish 50% of Linear Programming (LPP)


December 26 update:

Current affairs ->done

Linear Programming (Mathematics) ->about 35-40% completed

December 27 targets:

Current Affairs (DNA + Factly)

GS Score Prelims Exam (2 hours)

Linear Programming further 33% (look to finish by tomorrow)



December 27 update:

Daily current affairs -:white_check_mark:

GS Score mock test -:white_check_mark:

Finish LPP 30% more -:negative_squared_cross_mark:

December 28targets:

Finish Linear Programming (LPP)

Daily current affairs (Shankar DNA+ Weekly CA Revision)

It would be great if each of us can mention in a bit more detail what we cover everyday. That way, people like me having doubt in which sources to use can benefit.


Unproductive day (29.12.2020):

Daily Current Affairs : Shankar DNA + Factly :white_check_mark::white_check_mark:

Linear Programming : Not finished (2 topics remaining):negative_squared_cross_mark:

Target for 30 December:

Daily Current Affairs

Finish Linear Programming

@adivasiYes. The video is generally between 20 minutes and 30 mins. On Sundays, it may be slightly longer (35 mins). I find the video pretty useful.
Firstly, it helps in environment preparation as different Wildlife Santuaries/ National Parks are elucidated in detail. Also, the analysis focuses on species as well giving their IUCN status, CITES status, etc.
The different topics mentioned in the newspaper don't have any independent utility in UPSC. For example: news on RBI changing repo rate to contain inflation. But, in the Shankar video, they don't cover this particular issue. Instead, they explain the concepts of inflation targeting framework, monetary policy committee composition, etc. So, in this way topics from static are revised. They cover relevant editorials with additional material as well.
About your schedule, if you already cover newspaper, you can replace it with Shankar IAS dna. Newspaper, according to me is useless when read without internet. For another example: Some news might mention that SFAC has announced some changes in some scheme. But, you may skip this news if you read newspaper without supplement. Then, Shankar DNA will cover what is SFAC, which ministry is involved in this organization, etc.
@adivasi Yes, Some pointers. Usually, I pick out only those facts that may be helpful considering prelims exam. Sometimes, mains specific one or two data might be present. They roughly occupy a page. On Sundays, I have started revising the weekly collected notes. 
Apart from that, I would be reading monthly magazines too. Only collected newspaper material is not enough. Monthly magazines contain additional material, such as reports, sections on ethics, culture, social issues, etc. which may not be found in newspaper.

30.12.2020 Update:

Linear Programming - :white_check_mark: (finished topic)

Daily current affairs - :negative_squared_cross_mark: 

Spent around 4-5 hours reading "The Infidel Next Door" by Rajat Mitra = waste of time

31.12.2020 Targets:

Daily current affairs 

Start new topic - Vector Analysis ->Look to finish in 4-5 days


31.12.2020 Update:

29th+30th DNA + Daily current affairs: :white_check_mark: (couldn't cover 29 December DNA ->Left it)

Vector Analysis - Covered 2 chapters:white_check_mark:(Basic Properties of vectors + vector differential calculus introduction + differential geometry basics - Serret Frenet Formula) ->Slow speed at this rate VA might take longer.

01.01.2021 Targets:

DNA + Daily current affairs

Vector Analysis ->Look to speed up things (atleast cover 2 chapters)


02.01.2021 + 03.01.2021 Updates:

Vision September Monthly CA economy (2 hrs.) -> :white_check_mark: 

Shankar DNA + Factly -> :white_check_mark:  (03.01.2021)

Mathematics update ->Looks like progress is on-track (Vector Analysis)-> :white_check_mark:

Targets for 04.01.2021

Shankar DNA + Weekly CA Revision

Finish Vector Analysis in 1-2 days (this day + atmost another)


04.01.2021 Updates:

Weekly CA Revision (Shankar DNA Notes + Factly) -> :white_check_mark:

Finish Vector Analysis -> :negative_squared_cross_mark: (One section remains: Greene's theorem + Stroke's theorem)

05.01.2021 Target: 

Finish Vector Analysis

Shankar DNA + Factly (04.01.2020)

Start Linear Algebra


05.01.2021 Update: 

Not a good day. Didn't study much.

Shankar DNA + Factly - :negative_squared_cross_mark:

Vector Analysis - :white_check_mark: (Not exactly, it was finished on 06.01.2021, took about 2-3 hours on that day)

06.01.2020 Updates:

Shankar DNA + Factly (for 05.01.2021, 06.01.2021) - :white_check_mark: 

Start Linear Algebra - :white_check_mark:

07.01.2020 Targets:

Shankar DNA + Factly

Continue with Linear Algebra (Look to finish in 8 days)


07.01.2021 Updates:

Shankar DNA + Factly - :white_check_mark:
Linear Algebra (Chapter 1 started) - :white_check_mark:

08.01.2021 Updates:(Unproductive day)

Shankar DNA + Factly - :white_check_mark:

Linear Algebra (Chapter 1 finished + Chapter 2 midway ~ 100 pages of LA in total) - :negative_squared_cross_mark:

Got lost online on twitter pages, youtube and random non-sense.

09.01.2021 Targets:

Shankar DNA + Factly

Finish Chapter 2 + Chapter 3 of LPP


09.01.2021 Updates:

Shankar DNA + Factly -> :white_check_mark:

Linear Algebra (Chapter 2 + Chapter 3) - :negative_squared_cross_mark: (Covered 50 pages, satisfied with study. Should have set lesser target)

10.01.2021 Targets:

Shankar DNA + Factly

Linear Algebra (Continue with Chapter 3 (Currently at page 150)) - finish atleast 50 more pages


10.01.2021 Updates:

DNA + Factly -> :white_check_mark:

50 pages of linear algebra -> :white_check_mark: (Chapter 3: Linear Transformations finished.)

11.01.2021 Targets:

DNA for 10.01.2021 + Weekly Shankar DNA Notes Revision + Weekly Factly revision

50 pages of Linear Algebra (Starting with Chapter 4: Matrices)


11.01.2021 Updates:

DNA for 10.01.2021 + Weekly Shankar DNA Notes Revision + Weekly Factly revision -> :white_check_mark:

50 pages of Linear Algebra (Starting with Chapter 4: Matrices) -> :negative_squared_cross_mark: (27 pages covered)

Math suffered on account of increased CA time.

12.01.2021 Targets:

Shankar DNA + Factly (11.01.2021)

50 pages of Linear Algebra (Continuing with Matrices)


12.01.2021 Updates: 

DNA + Factly - :negative_squared_cross_mark:

Linear Algebra - 50 pages - :white_check_mark:

13.01.2021 Updates:

DNA + Factly (11.01.2021) - :white_check_mark:

DNA + Factly (12.01.2021) - :white_check_mark:

Linear Algebra (50 pages) - :white_check_mark: (6 chapters finished in total; last chapter - similarity of matrices started)

14.01.2021 Targets:

DNA + Factly

Finish off Linear Algebra (21 pages remaining)

Vision CA Magazine - September month resume (from pg. 37 ) - finish ~20 pages


14.01.2021 Updates:

Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly -> :white_check_mark:
Finish Linear Algebra -> :white_check_mark:
Start Numerical Analysis - (28 pages):white_check_mark:
(CA magazine postponed to Feb onwards ->Full pre preparation)

15.01.2021 Updates:

Numerical Analysis: ~ 70 pages -> :white_check_mark:

Factly + This Day in History -> :white_check_mark:
No Shankar Video on 14.01.2021 due to Pongal, Makar Sakranti Festivities. BTW, Happy Belated Pongal to people from the south, Happy belated Makar Sakranti and Happy Belated Lohri to the rest.

16.01.2021 Targets: 

Numerical Analysis Further 70 pages

Factly + This Day in History

(Increased NA target in view of Shankar resuming videos only on 17.01.2021)


16.01.2021(Updates) :

Daily current affairs (Factly + This day in history) - :white_check_mark:

Made Linear programming notes - :white_check_mark: (~4hrs.)

Numerical Analysis - :negative_squared_cross_mark: (16 pages only)

17.01.2021 (Updates) : Not a great day. Didn't feel so well because of frequent routine change

Numerical Analysis (~30 pages) - :negative_squared_cross_mark: (< 50 pages daily target)

Solved Some questions from 2020 Mains Optional Paper 1

Daily current affairs - :negative_squared_cross_mark:

18.01.2021 Targets:

Shankar IAS Hindu DNA

Weekly current affairs revision

Numerical analysis 50 pages

@Hitman09 Sure, I will keep posting. Was just feeling a bit off yesterday due to lack of sleep and hence forgot.


18.01.2021 Update:

Shankar Hindu DNA (17.01.2021 + 18.01.2021) - :white_check_mark: 

Weekly Shankar DNA Notes Revision - :white_check_mark:

Weekly Factly revision - :white_check_mark:

Numerical Analysis - :negative_squared_cross_mark:(27 pages only)

Solved few problems from UPSC 2020 Math Optional Paper 2

19.01.2021 Targets:

Shankar Hindu DNA 

Factly Daily current affairs

Numerical Analysis - 50 pages


19.01.2021 Updates:

Shankar Hindu DNA - :white_check_mark:

This day in History + Factly for 19.01.2021 - :white_check_mark:

Numerical Analysis (50 Pages) - :white_check_mark:

20.01.2021 Targets:

Shankar Hindu DNA

Daily CA (Factly + History)

Numerical Analysis (50 pages)


20.01.2021 Updates : 

Shankar Hindu DNA for 20.01.2021 - :white_check_mark:
Factly for 19.01.2021 + 20.01.2021 - :white_check_mark:

Two personalities from 'this day in history' - :white_check_mark: 

Numerical Analysis (50 pages) - :white_check_mark:

21.01.2021 Updates :

Shankar Hindu DNA for 21.01.2021

Factly for 21.01.2021 + This day in history

Numerical Analysis (70 pages)


21.01.2021 Updates:

Shankar Hindu DNA - :white_check_mark: 

Factly + This day in history - :white_check_mark:

Numerical Analysis (Computer Programming and codes) - :white_check_mark: (80 pages)

22.01.2021 Targets:

Shankar Hindu DNA

Factly + This day in history

Finish Numerical Analysis (46 pages)

Start Ordinary Differential Equations (ODE)


22.01.2021 Updates: 

Shankar Hindu DNA - :negative_squared_cross_mark:

Factly + This day in history - :negative_squared_cross_mark:

Finish Numerical Analysis - :white_check_mark:

Start ODE - :negative_squared_cross_mark:

Numerical Analysis took too much time. Hadn't estimated so. At least it is finished. 

23.01.2021 Targets : 

Shankar Hindu DNA for 22.01.2021 + 23.01.2021

Factly + This day in history - 22.01.2021 + 23.01.2021

Ordinary Differential Equations - 50 pages


23 January Targets

  • 9 AM - 11 AM Geo Lecture - 1 :x:
  • 11:30 AM - 2 PM Eco Lecture - 1 :white_check_mark:
  • 4 PM to 6 PM Spectrum - 2 chapters :x:
  • 7 PM to 10 PM Backlogs :x:

January 24 Targets

Complete whatever was left yesterday. I am having a killer headache from the past 2 days and it has impacted my concentration. I still sit in front of the computer and try to do my level best but the output isn't there. Let me know if you have any tips.

Have you tried meditation, ever? I used to have really bad migraines in my childhood, but it went away when I learnt meditation. Its really helpful. Recently, my mother was having bad headaches consistently, and on my advice, she tried meditation and it went away slowly. 

Going by your name, thistooshallpass, which is a buddhist slogan (in the Theravada tradition), I'm sure you must be aware of their philosophy. Well, they have left mankind with a really nice meditation technique as well, mindfullness meditation. Try it sometime, it works wonders. Its really simple too, you just have to observe your breath continuously (you might want to start with a time of 20 mins. and gradually extend the time period).

Apart from healing your headaches, the meditation will increase your attention span and focus as well. I say this by experience. Hope it helps.


23.01.2021 Updates (Unproductive day):

Shankar Hindu DNA (22.01.2021 + 23.01.2021)- :white_check_mark:

Factly for 22.01.2021 + 23.01.2021 - :white_check_mark:

This day in History - 2 personalities/events (Swami Vivekananda + Vellore Mutiny) - :white_check_mark:

Ordinary Differential Equations - :negative_squared_cross_mark: (20 pages only) 

24.01.2021 Targets:

Shankar Hindu DNA (24.01.2021)

Weekly Shankar DNA Notes revision

Weekly Factly revision

ODE - 30 pages


Yeah, sure I'll share my technique. You don't need any app/ music/ guided meditation podcast to concentrate. They just distract you, and break your concentration. First of all, you need a comfortable posture in which you can sit still for a sufficiently long period of time with your spine erect, so that you don't fall asleep. Sitting cross-legged is fine, but it tends the back to slack. Padmasana/ardha padmasana is a good alternative. It can be a bit difficult at first, but try bending your legs daily and slowly you'll be able to sit in the posture for about half an hour in about a month (I also learnt it by practice recently, about six months ago).
Reference : 

Also note that you will be able to concentrate easily if you fix some time for meditation in your daily schedule. The best suitable times are Early morning and evening. You need to be empty stomach so that you don't fall asleep.

Now coming to the actual practice, sit in a comfortable posture, with lights switched off/dimmed. Set an alarm/timer on your phone, or any such device (I use my wristwatch), and don't get up till the timer rings (An initial time of 20 mins. is good enough, gradually you can extend it to an hour/50 mins. if you are able to maintain concentration and your mind doesn't wander). Now, close your eyes and sit still. Try to observe your breath. By observing the breath, I mean observe the sensations that accompany the breath. Two most commonly used spots by the Buddhist tradition are the nostrils and the stomach. The stomach is easier to observe in the begining, later as your concentration gets more powerful, you can carefully observe the subtle sensations that accompany each incoming and outgoing breath. If you are observing the stomach, feel the stomach expanding and contracting with each breath. No thoughts, no analysis just observation. Silently count 'one' when one inhalation/exhalation cycle is complete. Then count 'two'. Continue till ten, and then go back to one. If any thought comes in between, for example when you were counting 3, start again from the begining, i.e. 'one'. Try to sit still without distractions. If some distraction occurs for example some itching sensation or slight pain somewhere, ignore it if possible to the extent that it does not affect your meditation. Continue for some time and you will feel relaxed and happy. Reference : 

There's another method too. If you have some cyclically repeating/constant sound in your surroundings, you can focus on that and observe it fully, keeping your attention intact without digressing into thoughts. For example there's a wall clock in my room. The second hand on the clock makes a tick sound with every passing second. I focus on the ticking sound. With each tick, I count one, two and so on, starting again from one after reaching ten. The critical note here is that you must remain with the sound and try your best that you count with every tick sound and not independently of the constant sound. 

These were the buddhist techniques, which are also known as mindfullness meditation. There are yogic/ Hindu ways of meditation too that differ a bit. While I am not aware of the intricate yogic meditation techniques, which involve visualizations/ kriya, (If you are interested, try reading the book: A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya, its quite comprehensive) I have tried the mantra meditation. For this, choose a mantra of your choice, for example, Om namah shivay, or Om namo narayanaya or Hare Krishna mantra used by the ISCON devotees. Then, silently repeat the mantra rhythmically a fixed number of times. People find malas useful for this. Again, take care that your mind does not wander and remains strictly on the words/sounds of the mantras. If you have never heard the mantra before, repeating it loudly (just audible to you) initially for a few days might be helpful. 

People follow different techniques that are suited to their personal needs/ personalities. I initially used to follow mantra meditation, but later I switched to mindfullness meditation, as I find it easier for me as my mind wanders lesser during the later. You need to try one method for a sufficient time before switching to another (say a month). Also switch only if you don't find comfort in one method. Another thing to know is that as in all things in life, practice is the key. Initially, your mind may be in such tumult that you find it irritating/frustrating to sit still with your eyes closed for even 20 mins. But don't leave the practice, stick by it and slowly you will find peace and joy instead of frustration.


Routine got upset since 2 days, hence couldn't post. 

25.01.2021 Updates:

Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly - :white_check_mark: (both previous days)

ODE Math Chapter 1 + 2(started) : ~30 pages :negative_squared_cross_mark: (couldn't do 50)

26.01.2021 Targets:

50 pages of ODE - Chapter 2+ Chapter 3

Happy belated Republic Day everyone! Shocked by the violence and vandalism in Red Fort. Thank goodness riots didn't break out like last year (anti CAA protests).


26.01.2021 Updates: 

ODE - 40 pages :negative_squared_cross_mark:

Completing 50 pages of ODE seems more difficult than the other topics. However, will increase study time from tomorrow and complete 50 pages without excuses.

27.01.2021 Targets:

Shankar Hindu DNA

Daily current affairs - Factly

Ordinary Differential Equations - 50 pages 


27.01.2020 Updates:

Shankar Hindu DNA - :negative_squared_cross_mark: (not uploaded on youtube punctually, hence couldn't finish)

Factly daily current affairs + this day in history - :white_check_mark:

Ordinary Differential Equations - 30 pages :negative_squared_cross_mark: 

Spent about 6-7 hrs on ODE still only 30 pages could be covered. Going to set suitable target that can be completed. Will increase slowly if target is completed. 

28.01.2020 Target:

Shankar Hindu DNA for 26.01.2021 + 27.01.2021 

Forum Factly daily current affairs + This day in history - 1 article 

Ordinary Differential Equations - 40 pages

@peelu Math optional or just CSAT practice?


I have created a group for math optional people for discussion on the various aspects relating to optional subject mathematics. Please join if interested.



28.01.2021 Updates:

Shankar Hindu DNA for 26.01.2021 + 27.01.2021  - :white_check_mark:

Forum Factly daily current affairs + This day in history - 1 article  - :white_check_mark:

Ordinary Differential Equations -  :negative_squared_cross_mark: (30 pages done instead of target=40)

29.01.2021 Targets:

Shankar Hindu DNA for 28.01.2021 

Factly daily ca + This day in history - 1 article

Ordinary differential Equations - 40 pages

Resolve is not broken. I will finish 40 pages today, and not reduce target.

Look to finish ODE in two days to start prelims preparation by Feb 1.

Should I read original economic survey or gist of economic survey released by vision? Is it helpful for prelims (data based questions)? I am not looking to do it for GS3 mains paper (Don't have that much time). I have never read Economic Survey before and hence any help regarding this would be much appreciated.

29.01.2021 Updates:

Shankar IAS Hindu DNA - :white_check_mark:

Forum Factly + This day in History - 1 article - :white_check_mark:

Ordinary Differential Equations - 30 pages :negative_squared_cross_mark: 

No luck today either. Stuck with 30 pages. 

30.01.2021 Targets: 

Shankar Hindu DNA 

Factly + This day in history - 1 article

Finish Ordinary Differential Equations - 34 pages 

Will start exclusively prelims preparation from 1st Feb. 


30 - 31/01/2021 Updates: 

Shankar Hindu DNA - :white_check_mark:

Daily current affairs (Factly) + This day in history - 1 article - :white_check_mark:

ODE - 34 pages (finish topic) - :white_check_mark:

Mathematics optional partially completed (revision - 7/12 topics finished). Starting prelims preparation from day.

Note: 30+31 were not really 2 days. I used to account for my day starting at 7:00-8:00 pm in the evening, when I woke up. However, I plan to wake in the morning from next day, going for a long sleep after days of sleeplessness. Hence, two days anomaly is more of an accounting adjustment. 

01.02.2021 Targets:

Shankar Hindu DNA for 30.01.2021

Factly for 01.02.2021

Weekly Current affairs revision 

  • Shankar Hindu DNA Notes
  • Factly revision for the week

Finish September Vision magazine (resuming from pg. 37 where I left off long time ago)


3.02.2021 Updates:

  • 31.01.2021 Shankar Hindu DNA
  • 31.01.2021 Factly daily current affairs 
  • Started Vision September mag. from page 37. Completed till pg. 50.

04.02.2021 Updates:

  • 01.02.2021 + 02.01.2021 + 03.01.2021 - Shankar Hindu DNA
  • 01.02.2021 + 02.01.2021 + 03.01.2021 - Factly daily current affairs
  • Vision mag. could do only 3 pages, as entire time went in doing the daily ca of the 3 lost days.

Sorry everyone, couldn't post for 2-3 days. Hear me out:

I attempted to change my routine at the end of the previous month. However, I couldn't sleep at night, though I tried. Later, in the day I did not want to sleep, because then I would be falling in the same old schedule. So, I kept awake somehow till the evening, after which I slept, only to wake up at about 10:00 pm again, due to habit. Same thing repeated the next day, because I hoped that this will fade out by 1-2 days. No such luck. Then, on the third day, finally, I slept in the day, and somehow studied something (frequent routine change left me a bit erratic + lot of procrastination on my part) to finally reach at the 4th. I have abandoned all plans of ever changing my schedule again in the near future. Possibly, I'll change it one month before Prelims.
What are your comments on this? Do you feel it is fine, if someone has an erratic routine like mine (I usually sleep at 11:00-12:00 pm; sometimes goes up to 3:00 - 4:00pm too)? Would it have any side effects in the long run during preparation? Also, is it possible to change the routine a month before the exam, and perform efficiently during exam, or should it be done before? Any helpful comments will be much appreciated.


@TwoFace I don't read newspaper. Shankar Hindu DNA is substitute of newspaper. The 01.02.2021 video was a bit long, because of covering budget concepts and articles in detail, that's it. Generally, factly + shankar hindu dna takes like about 1.5 hours in total. There is much overlap, with many current affairs articles appearing in the newspaper and consequently, in the analysis video. 
Yes, I am preparing for 2021 Prelims. 

Do you suggest not to be intensive on the current affairs, and focus on static material instead?


06.02.2021 Updates:

Shankar Hindu DNA - :white_check_mark:

Forum Factly daily ca - :white_check_mark:

Vision septermber ca - :negative_squared_cross_mark: (reached till page 75 only)

Poor day again, much distractions. Hope to cover up in the next few days with doubling the study hours.

07.02.2021 Targets:

Shankar Hindu DNA 

Forum Factly daily ca

Finish Vision September magazine

Vision October magazine - 40 pag


@TwoFace I don't read newspaper. Shankar Hindu DNA is substitute of newspaper. The 01.02.2021 video was a bit long, because of covering budget concepts and articles in detail, that's it. Generally, factly + shankar hindu dna takes like about 1.5 hours in total. There is much overlap, with many current affairs articles appearing in the newspaper and consequently, in the analysis video. 
Yes, I am preparing for 2021 Prelims. 

Do you suggest not to be intensive on the current affairs, and focus on static material instead?

Do you make notes/compile screetshots of factly+dna ? Your CA strategy is bit unique, and MAY become overwhelming in last 2 months of prelims. 

you also read vision monthly after factly and dna. do you also plan to read pt365?

you can think about following one ecosystem like say if you believe in vision content then you may do daily CA of vision, then weekly issue of vision, monthly mag of vision, and yearly pt/main 365. same for any coaching of your liking. 

I do make notes of shankar hindu dna (mostly short facts relevant to prelims perspective) - daily 1-1.5 pages. I revise these notes along with the underlined portions of factly of each day in the week (I do so in the first reading), at the end of a week. 
As for the vision daily ca suggestion, I did try but found them lacking in quality content for daily ca. Their monthly ca is quite relevant, and is indeed treated as gold standard by most aspirants, but I find that their daily ca contains too much irrelevant/unimportant material, while not containing important events that occured during the day, contained in factly. Plus, the amount of content is almost same (maybe a little bit more in factly), but they cram it to look like it is only 2 pages, while forum gives 7-8 pages daily. So, visibility is another challenge. 

I do vision monthly magazine for revision, and don't revise the collected factly notes. Yes, I do plan to do vision pt-365, but I doubt it will contain anything new, as I plan to revise the monthly magazines 2-3 times before prelims. 

Last time, I didn't fare too well in current affairs, hence the additions. Last time, I didn't do newspaper nor daily current affairs, hence I look to benefit from the useful explanations given in the shankar dna videos about the various news, and misc. items like from environment (out of book material) and polity. Its working out fine for me till now and I think I have made useful additions in my memory.

Thank you for the advice. It is much appreciated. I think I have been comfortable with this strategy till now (following from about Nov - Dec onwards), so maybe I will continue this till prelims. But, please do point out any other fault if you see so, I am in need of advice, as I prepare isolated (no library + no coaching), so don't have any peer group to compare what others are doing. This is the primary reason I joined this platform.

@Sadhika I understand. Thank you for your feedback. Actually, I am proceeding in a sequential pattern. First all ca magazines upto january magazine, then I plan to start the static and stick with it till some time. 


07.02.2021 Updates:

Shankar Hindu DNA - :negative_squared_cross_mark:

Factly daily ca - :negative_squared_cross_mark:

September Vision magazine - :white_check_mark:

October Vision mag. - :negative_squared_cross_mark: (12 pages only :( ) 

08.02.2021 Targets:
Hindu DNA for 07.02.2021 + 06.02.2021

Factly (06.02.2021)

Weekly Hindu DNA Notes Revision

Weekly factly revision

October vision magazine (if time permits)


07.02.2021 Updates:

Shankar Hindu DNA - :negative_squared_cross_mark::negative_squared_cross_mark:

Factly daily ca - :negative_squared_cross_mark::negative_squared_cross_mark:

September Vision magazine - :white_check_mark:

October Vision mag. - :negative_squared_cross_mark: (12 pages only :( ) 

08.02.2021 Targets:

Hindu DNA for 07.02.2021 + 06.02.2021

Factly (06.02.2021)

Weekly Hindu DNA Notes Revision

Weekly factly revision

October vision magazine (if time permits)

(pressed delete by mistake on the previous comment, wanted to just edit it)


@peelu best of luck with the ghazals :D

08.02.2021 Updates:

Shankar Hindu DNA (06.02.2021)- :white_check_mark:

Shankar Hindu DNA (07.02.2021) - :negative_squared_cross_mark:

Forum factly (06.02.2021) - :white_check_mark:

Weekly Shankar Hindu DNA Notes Compilation Revision - :white_check_mark:

Weekly Factly revision - :white_check_mark:

October Mag. - (~ 2 pages :(  only)

09.02.2021 Targets:

Shankar Hindu DNA (07+08.02.2021)

Factly daily ca (08.02.2021) 

October Vision monthly magazine - 40 pages

Decreasing ambition from 50 pages to 40 pages (Vision). Hope to complete it.

@peelu No, I don't. It just seemed funny to me that you mentioned them as part of their your targets. 
When I was much younger(~6-7 years back), I did listen to some Altaf Raja songs like Tum to thehre pardesi. Of course, at that age, I didn't really understand them too much in depth, just understood the lyrics superficially. 
I find ghazals really gloomy, especially for someone at this young age preparing for UPSC. But, then, everyone has their choice, I respect yours. If you are suffering from a heartbreak of some sort, total support for you, boss.

@peelu Good, I'll try someday. I used to listen to pure classical instrumental music like veena or carnatic performances, but gave up because of lack of time. Maybe, you should give it a try. It is the kind of music that really gets to the heart, without uttering a single word. 

09.02.2021 Updates:

Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly (08.02.2021) - 

Vision October - :negative_squared_cross_mark:(30 pages)

Couldn't finish 40 pages also. Now, at 42/87 pages. Will look to finish it tomorrow to make up for today's loss.

10.02.2021 Targets:

Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly 

Finish Vision October magazine - 45 pages

Maybe start November magazine too if time permits


10.02.2021 Updates:

  • DNA Video + Factly daily ca - :white_check_mark:
  • Finish Vision October Magazine (47 pages) - :white_check_mark:

11.02.2021 Targets:

  • DNA Video + Factly daily ca 
  • Vision November Magazine - 40 pages

Stepped up the pages a bit. Lets see if I can finish more than 40 with increased hours consistently, on a daily basis, if so will target up to 50 pages of Vision (December, January magazines are still waiting).

@peelu Thanks for the Gundecha brothers reference. Yesterday, I searched for them on youtube and listened a bit, really their work is from another planet. Reminded me of the good old days when, I used to enjoy music carefree.


11.02.2021 Updates:

  • Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly daily ca - :white_check_mark:
  •  Vision November monthly magazine(40 pages) - :white_check_mark:

12.02.2021 Targets:

  • Shankar DNA + Factly ca (11.02.2021)
  • Vision November monthly magazine (50 pages)

Increased target.

There's a famous quote I heard somewhere that's quite apt but I can't remember or find. It went something along these lines : If your dream can be achieved only by a little effort, it is not worth dreaming. My dream is to finish 1 monthly magazine in a day along with daily current affairs :)


12.02.2021 Updates:

  • Shankar DNA + Factly (11.02.2021) - :white_check_mark:
  • Vision November monthly magazine finished. (52 pages) - :white_check_mark:

13.02.2021 Targets:

  • Shankar DNA + Factly (12.02.2021)
  • Vision December monthly magazine (50 pages)

13.02.2021 Updates:

  • Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly - :negative_squared_cross_mark:
  • December Vision magazine (30 pages) - :negative_squared_cross_mark:

Slept for 9 hours instead of the usual 2-3 hour afternoon nap. Will compensate for the lost time in the next day (as approximately double time will be available).

14.02.2021 Targets:

  • Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly (12.02.2021 + 13.02.2021)
  • Finish December Vision magazine (62 pages)
  • Start Polity NCERT - class 6 to 10(if time permits)

14.02.2021 + 15.02.2021 Updates:

  • Shankar DNA + Factly backlogs
  • December Vision magazine (30 + 30 pages)

16.02.2021 Targets: 

  • Shankar DNA Weekly revision + Factly weekly
  • 2 NCERTs - Polity (6-7th, will cover more if time permits)

16.02.2021 Updates:

  • Shankar Hindu DNA
  • Weekly DNA notes revision
  • Weekly Factly revision
  • 6th Polity NCERT (finished)
  • 7th Polity NCERT (50/109)

17.02.2021 Updates:

  • 7th Polity NCERT Finished (page 51-109)
  • 8th Polity NCERT Finished (132 pages)
  • 9th Polity NCERT (50/110)

Missed Daily CA, will cover in next day.


18.02.2021 Updates:

  • Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly (Daily CA - 16th+17th)
  • 9th NCERT Polity finished
  • 10th NCERT page 22/110

19.02.2021 + 20.02.2021 Updates:

  • Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly (2 days ca)
  • 10th Polity NCERT finished (page 23-110)
  • 11th Polity NCERT (completed till page 150/242)

19th was not too good a day (< 6 hours). Need to stop wasting days. Prelims is coming.


21.02.2021 Updates:

  • Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly
  • Finished 11th Polity NCERT (Page 150-242)
  • Sriram's Economy Notes - 20/300

22.02.2021 Updates:

  • Weekly CA revision - Shankar Hindu DNA Notes + Factly articles
  • Sriram's Economy notes - page 40/300 (20 pages).

Looking forward to do 60 pages a day of Sriram from tomorrow.


23.02.2021 + 24.02.2021 Updates:

  • Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly (21+22+23 February)
  • Sriram's Economy notes - 75 pages (currently on page 115/300)

Couldn't do 60 pages per day of economy book. Average is more like 40 pages per day. Will try to aim for 50 pages/day next.


25.02.2021 Updates: 

  • Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly (24.02.2021)
  • Sriram's Economy 45 pages (page 160/300)

26.02.2021 + 27.02.2021 Updates:

  • Economy (page 172/300)
  • June Vision CA

Going to give forum prelims sectional test tomorrow. Maybe will give Vision sectional test #1 also.


28.02.2021 Updates:

  • Attempted Forum Sectional Test 1 (Polity + Economy + May, June, July CA) + Read solutions
  • Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly daily ca (25,26,27,28 February, 2021)

Next day broad targets: Weekly ca revision + Cover as much as possible of 6th + 7th History NCERT


01.03.2021 + 02.03.2021 Updates:

  • Weekly Hindu DNA Notes compilation + Weekly factly compilation revision
  • Shankar Hindu DNA + Factly daily DNA (both days)
  • 6th History NCERT

Target for this week: Cover as much as possible of

  1. NCERT 6+7+8 History
  2. Fine Arts NCERT
  3. August + September Vision CA Revision

And give sectional test #2 based on ancient + medieval + modern + culture of forum test series at end of week.


03.03.2021 + 04.03.2021 Updates:

  • 7th History NCERT Text finished (Medieval India)
  • Fine Arts (Part 1: class 11th Culture NCERT): Page 35/130.
@mehuifs I think you have to check your college website and follow the given guidelines or contact them. If no such guidelines exist, just multiply the CGPA by 10.