Civil services exam mentoring by civil servants


RAG (Red, Amber & Green)

RAG is a strategy to clear the Civil Services Exam (CSE). This is a simple strategy, made effective by crowd sourcing and hard work.

RAG involves the following three steps:
1. Breaking down the entire Prelims/Mains syllabus into around 1500 topics.
2. These topics are segregated into three categories, Red, Amber and Green.
3. Taking notes on all these 1500 topics.

Step 1: (Each student does this individually)

Here, the entire Prelims/Mains syllabus is broken down into smaller topics. It shall be done in such a way, that the topic is neither too small nor big. It will be an autonomous topic, from which an individual question can come in the exam. Example: ‘Quit India movement is a topic. Our experience shows that we would gather around 1500 topics. This basket of all topics will be reckoned as on a date, and we will be doing it on 1st February, 2017.

This will be done by individual students, but eventually, it will be aggregated for all 300 students, and cross-verified with the mentors. Thus, we will have a complete syllabus, that has been broken down into simpler pieces.

Step 2: (Collective work done by each Team of 20 students)

Here we segregate the 1500 topics into three categories, Red, Amber & Green, in the ratio of 5:3:2.

The segregation is done by following a process as explained in the illustration below:


Please see the picture carefully. It is about division of the topics which have been asked in the Prelims/Mains question papers in the last 10 years. So, you need to keep the last ten years GS Prelims/Mains question papers ready, and then use that to do the first level segregation. This is quite objective and easily done.

The second step has some subjectivity. Here the students have to apply their mind and decide, on a relative scale, which topic appears to be important and which doesn’t seem to be important for the Prelims/Mains exam 2017.
Example: Topic NJAC is more likely to be asked than the topic on Chapter 19 of the Constitution (Miscellaneous).

While segregating, ensure that the ratio is maintained. Each team of 20 students will do this. Then such categorisation of all teams are integrated and duplication removed. Thus we have three baskets now: The Red basket, having around 750 topics, the Amber basket having around 450 topics and the Green basket, having 300 topics.

This is the RAG basket! Needless to say, we will keep adding the new Current affairs topics, every month to these baskets, till we finalise the lists on 1st May, 2017.

Step 3: (Both individual and collective work by students)

Now, Notes are prepared for the topics mentioned above. While for RED, each student has to prepare notes in his/her own handwriting, the AMBER notes preparation is shared among all 300 students and uploaded in the common resource pool. A lot of time is saved this way. For Green, no notes are taken. One reading from the book is enough! This process ensures huge saving of time. The syllabus no more looks vast but manageable.

How to take Red and Amber notes? Before taking notes, the students have to think about each topic and raise possible questions from them. These questions are jotted down in the note book. Then the students refer to any source to get answer for that. If answers are not available, then mentors will provide them.

Now each student will have his/her own notes for 750 red topics. Each student will also have notes for all 450 Amber topics from the common pool. Thus all the Red and Amber topics are effectively covered. Green topics are to be read from any source once! No need for taking any notes. The returns on spending time on Green topics are quite less.

There will be detailed weekly schedules from February to May, covering all the topics. The class room discussions will be as per the schedules. By May end, all the 1500 topics plus the current affairs topics will be covered.

Apart from these Prelims paper 1 topics, we will also cover the Paper 2 topics like quantitative, logical ability etc. along-side.

Once the entire syllabus is covered, then we will move to the mock exam phase. Here, each of the 15 teams will prepare three mock prelims questions paper each, thus adding to a question bank of 45 prelims question papers.

From May onwards, each student will be administered these mock papers, till they complete 30 mock tests each.

Thus by June, when the Prelims exam approaches, the students are almost thorough and confident.

The same process is repeated for Mains exam too (for GS paper and optional). RAG has proved to be a much more effective strategy for Mains.

This is the RAG strategy in brief. If you have queries, please Contact us.