UPSC or Union Public Service Commission is the central agency that is responsible for conducting exams to various jobs in the Central government. Students get into preparation mode as early as they clear 12th boards. Further, the power to change society is the most attractive prospect of this job. So, students are motivated at a very young age to enter the Civil Services. The UPSC preparation journey requires a proper plan and we would like to share the preparation Strategy for UPSC Prelims so your IAS Exam Preparation for Prelims is smooth. The UPSC Prelims Preparation consists of hard work and determination until you achieve success. So, prepare for UPSC Prelims Exam with our tips![speaker-mute] [/speaker-mute]
What should be your Prelims Goal? Preparation Strategy for UPSC Prelims
The goal should be to understand the demand of the exam. UPSC seeks candidates who are not only intelligent but who are smart too. So, the goal should be to familiarize with the pattern of questions being asked – what the UPSC wants the candidate to answer and what information is important for this exam. This angle will assist aspirants whenever they are preparing for prelims. Moreover, it will help them overcome doubts regarding what the UPSC may or may not ask from any given topic.
Prelims Exam pattern
The UPSC preliminary exam consists of two papers –
|Paper||No. of questions||Marks||Duration||Negative marks|
|General Studies I||100||2*100 = 200||2 hours||Yes|
|General Studies II (CSAT)||80||2.5*80 = 200||2 hours||Yes|
For the GS paper I, 0.66 marks is deducted for every wrong answer. For GS paper II, 0.83 marks is deducted for every wrong answer.
Right time to start Prelims preparation
A lot of you must be having this thought. Well, there is no right time to start. We have seen many successful IAS/IPS officers who started way later than most and yet made it through the exam. So, you can sit back and relax. However, an early start gives you an edge over others because your preparation will be longer. That may lead to an increase in chances of success. But, there is no evident difference.
So, start preparing when you feel the time is right for you because once you do, you have to devote at least 1 year to it. So, think and reflect on what you want and when you want to be one of the IAS/IPS officers.
Things to keep in mind before UPSC Prelims Preparation
From an overall point of view, you should keep the following pointers in mind for UPSC Prelims Preparation. these are –
- Try to cover maximum portion of the syllabus
- Maintain a proper balance between understanding and memorizing because a proper mix of both is key to the preparation strategy for UPSC prelims.
- Quality over quantity – Read quality books and revise them again and again. Also, remember that good books and sources will result in a good score and even a rank.
The Preliminary exam is the first stage of the UPSC exam. It is considered one of the toughest stages to clear because of the dynamic nature of the question paper. Although the syllabus of the Prelims and Mains exam coincide, there are differences. So, one must follow different study methods for both. Further, we will guide you how to prepare for UPSC Prelims Exam.
Syllabus – IAS Exam Preparation for Prelims
The syllabus for Paper I and Paper II are as follows-
General studies I
- Current events of national and international importance.
- History of India and Indian National Movement.
- Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
- Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
- General Science.
- Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
- General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity, and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.
General studies II – CSAT
- Interpersonal skills including communication skills;
- Logical reasoning and analytical ability;
- Decision making and problem-solving;
- General mental ability;
- Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. — Class X level)
Booklist for IAS Exam Preparation for prelims
It is mandatory for the candidate to appear in both the Papers of Civil Services (Prelim) Examination for the purpose of evaluation. Therefore a candidate will be disqualified in case he/she does not appear in both the papers of Civil Services (Prelim) Examination
- Indian Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania
- NCERT-An Introduction to Indian Art for Class 11
- Brief History of Modern India-Spectrum by Rajiv Ahir
- NCERT – Our Pasts – (Part I, II and III) – Class 6, 7, 8
- NCERT – Themes in Indian History (Part I, II, III) – Class 12
- NCERT-The Earth Our Habitat – Geography – Class 6
- NCERT-Our Environment – Geography For Class 7
- NCERT-Resource & Development – Geography For Class 8
- NCERT-Fundamentals of Physical Geography For Class 11
- NCERT-Fundamentals of Human Geography For Class 12
- NCERT-India Physical Environment For Class 11
- NCERT-India People and Economy For Class 12
- Certificate Physical and Human Geography By Goh Cheng Leong
- Orient Blackswan School Atlas
- Current Affairs Sources
- Class Notes
- Social and Political Life – Class 6, 7, 8 NCERT
- NCERT – Indian Constitution At Work For Class 11
- Indian Polity By Laxmikant
- Economy by Ramesh Singh
- Economics For Class 9 – NCERT
- Understanding Economic Development – Economics for Class 10 – NCERT
- Indian Economic Development For Class 11 – NCERT
- Macroeconomics For Class 12 – NCERT
- Economic Survey
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
- Current Affairs Sources
Steps to prepare for UPSC Prelims Exam
There needs to be a step by step strategy for prelims exam. So, you have to follow certain steps to crack the prelims exam in the first attempt.
Read the syllabus from A to Z. Read it again and again so that it gets embedded in your memory. This will also help you understand the requirement of the exam. Also, the syllabus is like a guide to the prelims exam. You can also visit the official website of UPSC for the syllabus pdf.
Previous Year Question papers
The previous year’s questions allow for a deep analysis of the question pattern. Since there are no strict rules or subject distribution for setting the prelims paper, we cannot predict anything. But, going through previous years’ questions will keep you way ahead.
Newspaper reading will keep you updated about the current affairs – National as well as International. You must read ‘The Hindu’. You can also read ‘Indian Express’ if you have the time. Also, you can visit coaching websites for news and editorial analysis. For beginners, this will really save time and you will also learn how to read only the relevant news item.
You have to read NCERTs as they will frame the base to prepare for UPSC Prelims Exam. They are government-authorized books, so they are 100% correct. Also, These books have been written in simple English and explain topics in a simplified manner. So, to understand advanced books, read them first.
You will have to pick a few advanced books like Polity by M. Laxmikanth, Shankar IAS for Environment, etc. These books explain the topic in a further more detailed way.
Prepare notes after you finish reading one topic. Towards your prelims exam, you will not have the time to read every book or news. So, make simple and short notes for revision just before your prelims exam. Also, supplement your notes with govt website material and magazines like Yojana/Kurukshetra.
Enroll yourself in a Prelims test series to prepare for UPSC Prelims Exam. These tests help you analyze your progress and your exam plan. Also, the more mock tests you give, the better are your chances of selection.
Extra tip: Read one book four times rather than 4 books only once. Also, you can read about preparing for UPSC from home.
An example of a study routine – Preparation Strategy for UPSC Prelims
Everybody has different interests and lifestyles. Also, some people may be in college or engaged in a job. Therefore, there cannot be a single routine for all. However, we have curated a routine for someone who is starting out with their UPSC strategy. You can prepare for UPSC Prelims Exam with this routine.
- After you wake up, you can start your day with a glass of water. Exercise for a while and eat your breakfast. Next, you can sit for your first slot of studies (1-2 hours) – Newspaper reading.
- The second slot (3 hours) will comprise of a heavy subject like history, geography economics, etc. You can choose whatever subject you want to start with.
- Eat a balanced diet for lunch and take some rest. you can also indulge in music, TV, or a power nap.
- Further, move on to the second slot of studies (2 hours). Choose any of the subjects that you feel is a little lighter. For example, Ethics, Society, etc.
- Then, have your evening snack (15-20 mins)
- Next, move on to your final slot (3 hours) – Choose a heavy subject again.
- Then, have your dinner and spend some time after that to revise.
Remember to prepare notes for all that you read. If you want to prepare with the help of a coaching institute, read this article for tips to find the best.
Ask yourself these! – UPSC Preparation Strategy for Prelims
Some of the questions that you should ask yourself on a monthly basis:
- Are you able to concentrate 100% without a wandering mind?
- Are you giving time to your mind, body, and soul?
- Do you believe in yourself? If yes, do you trust that your strategy is best for this exam?
- Are you in control of your daily habits?
- Do you follow your prelims plan sincerely?
Once you are able to ask yourself thee questions, you will be able to work better on yourself and the exam plan.
You can also read about why IAS exam is considered the toughest in the country.
FAQs on Preparation Strategy for UPSC Prelims
The most important step in IAS Exam Preparation for prelims is newspaper reading followed by NCERTs. You have to read both side by side because then, you will be able to link both of them from a wide-angle. The prelims paper is dynamic in nature. Moreover, the objective nature of the question paper makes it more difficult to choose the correct answer. So, read the newspaper daily and prepare notes out of it. Later on, revise from these notes which will help to save lots of time.
As mentioned above, there is no ideal study routine. you have to give more time to the subject that you find tough and so on. Also, ensure that you study for at least 7-8 hours a day. It is only then you will be able to clear this exam. Study with full concentration, exercise daily, eat clean, and revise as much as you can. Your study routine must consist of a balance between all four. So go ahead and prepare a unique plan for yourself. Rest, we have provided a sample strategy for IAS Exam Preparation for prelims. you can follow that too!
There are definitely some tricks as part of the IAS Exam Preparation for prelims. But, these are not shortcuts. You have to be hardworking as well as smart. Here are the tips –
1. Prepare short and handy notes from the newspaper.
2. Read NCERTs. Even if someone asks you not to. UPSC often asks direct questions from these books.
3. Supplement your notes with facts and data from govt websites.
COVID-19 Update | UPSC Preparation Strategy for Prelims
The Covid-19 pandemic has reversed the entire fate of the world. Among these are the future of the candidates who were prepared to sit for the UPSC prelims. But, unfortunately the dates had to be postponed. However, some students took up online classes and some have given thought to start preparing for the same. So, we have brought about a strategy to prepare for the UPSC Prelims. You will also get some tips and tricks as you read along.