How to prepare for UPSC Prelims | Step-by-Step Prelims Strategy For UPSC Aspirants

UPSC Civil Services Examination is one of the most coveted exams in India. Its elaborate and comprehensive syllabus makes it even more challenging for most aspirants to crack it in the first attempt itself! But guess what, it is not that difficult as it is posited. With the right approach and strategy, even the freshers could ace this exam with ease.

How to prepare for UPSC Prelims - Step by Step Guide

Step One: Know the Syllabus and Exam Pattern

UPSC Civil Services Examination is conducted in three phases namely:

  • Preliminary Examination
  • Mains Examination
  • Interview

Here's the exam pattern for UPSC Prelims:

Name of the Paper No of Questions Marks Allotted Time Allotted Nature of Exam
Paper I: General Studies (Objective-type) 100 200 2 hours The score will be considered for Cut-off
Paper-II: General Studies-II (CSAT) (Objective-Type) 80 200 2 hours Qualifying Nature- Candidates will have to score 33% to qualify CSAT.

Since the syllabus is extremely vast and gets overwhelming at times, it is important to know the syllabus beforehand to stick to the syllabus while studying. Here is the syllabus of UPSC Prelims:

UPSC Prelims Syllabus of Paper-I (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.
  • 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 Science

UPSC Prelims Syllabus of Paper-II (CSAT)

  • Comprehension
  • 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)

You can check out the detailed syllabus for Prelims here.

Step Two: Build Your Foundation Strong

Next, you should focus on building a strong foundation for covering the UPSC syllabus. For that start with the NCERTs. Read the NCERTs of the core subjects from Class VI to XII to build your foundation. After that, glance through the previous years’ papers in order to apprise yourself with the kind of questions asked in the exam.

Step Three: Build On The Foundation

After covering the NCERTs thoroughly, it’s time to step-up your preparation game and read the standard books for all the subjects. Make sure you follow only one book per subject wherever possible and revise it repeatedly to cement the concepts in your mind. You can check out the booklist to be followed here.

Step Four: Revision

Revision and repeated revision is indeed the key to crack Prelims. Make sure you keep your weekends free for revision. During the weekends, revise all that you’ve studied in the week to retain the concepts for a long time! Hence, keep revising while studying. CSAT, although qualifying, is an important paper as it determines whether or not your GS paper will get evaluated or not. To gauge your efficiency in CSAT paper, attempt one paper, and check your score. You need 66+ marks in order to qualify for CSAT. If your score is above 120, then you can just give one CSAT mock every week in order to revise the concepts. Otherwise, you need to prepare for CSAT as well. Check out our course for CSAT here.

Step Five: Mock Test Based Learning

When it’s about 50-75 days left for the Prelims, adopt a mock-test based learning approach. Sit for the mock test daily, analyze your score. And revise all the concepts repeatedly for the questions that you miss in the mock test. At this time, start giving the mock tests for CSAT as well.

So, this was a brief overview on how to prepare for UPSC Prelims. Career Launcher brings comprehensive UPSC preparation courses wherein you will also get one to one mentorship and guidance for UPSC preparation. Join us on our telegram channel in order to keep yourself updated on the new courses. Get the information about all our course deliverables here. If you need more information, get in touch with our course counselors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Current Affairs analysis