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HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM: GUIDELINES, TIPS & TRICKS

HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM, is the first question that comes to one’s mind who have the dream or aspiration to become an IAS , IFS, IPS and other Group ‘A’ and some Group ‘B’ services holder. Here, in this article, we will try to demystify the IAS exam and help you understand the right kind of exam pattern, syllabus and also the subject-wise preparation strategy to crack it.

In this article we will provide various step-by-step guide on HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM. Read the complete article and get all necessary guidelines to prepare for it.

The exam is held in three stages – preliminary, main and interview. Not surprisingly though, the prelims draw a horde of candidates.

The syllabus is vast. A student may be very good in the optional subjects he has chosen for the mains examination but the inability to clear the prelims will end his dream at this stage itself.

STEP 1: AWARENESS OF THE EXAM PATTERN | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

Conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) each year it is completed in 3 stages.

Stage 1 comprises of the Preliminary Examination (commonly known as CSAT)

Namely Paper i & Paper ii are needed to be appeared by the candidates in the preliminary exams.

Paper I consists of General Studies and Paper ii consists of Aptitude.

Paper I (General Studies)

200 Marks | Duration: Two Hours | Number of Questions: 100

Paper II (Aptitude)

200 Marks | Duration: Two Hours | Number of Questions: 80

 

Stage 2 consists of the Main Examination, also known as Mains Exam

The Main Examination will consist of written examination. The written examination will consist of 9 papers of conventional essay type i.e descriptive in nature.

 

Stage 3 is the final stage of qualifying UPSC exam known as the Personal Interview stage

After obtaining the qualifying marks in Mains Exam, the candidate is summoned for the final Personal Interview to test his/her personality.


 

STEP 2: FAMILIARITY WITH THE EXAM SYLLABUS | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

Paper I Syllabus (General Studies) | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

  1. Current Affairs: Events of national and international importance
  2. History of India and Indian National Movement
  3. Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic geography of India and the World.
  4. Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  5. Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
  6. General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change (no subject specialization required)
  7. General Science

Paper II Syllabus | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

  1. Comprehension
  2. Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  3. Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  4. Decision making and problem solving
  5. General mental ability
  6. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude etc.) (Class X level), Data Interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)
  7. English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level).
  8. Questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level. (will be tested through passages from English language only without providing Hindi translation)

 

Note 1: The CSAT aptitude test or Paper-II of the Civil Services (Preliminary) examination will be a qualifying paper only with a minimum of 33% to be secured to sit for the Civil Services (Mains) exam. Note 2: The questions in both Paper-I (current affairs) and Paper-II (aptitude test) will be of multiple choice, objective type for 200 marks each and the time allotted for each paper is two hours
Note 3: 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 or she does not appear in both the papers of the (Prelims) exam.


 

STEP 3: GENERAL STUDIES PREPARATION | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

There are 100 questions to be answered in two hours, each question carries two marks. It means there will be around 80 seconds to answer each question. So speed and accuracy is essential to tackle this examination. While the correct answer will fetch 2 marks, a wrong answer means a loss of 0.66 marks.

The 100 questions can be broadly divided into three categories:

  1. Multiple Choice Questions – single response correct
  2. Multiple Choice Questions – multiple response correct
  3. Multiple Choice Questions – Matching type

 

Subject Area Number of Questions
Indian Politics – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc. 27
Indian History – History of India and Indian National Movement. 20
Environment – General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization 20
General Science 12
Economics – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc. 11
Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World. 10
Total 100 Qns (Marks = 200)
* Current Events of national and international importance is counted as part of the mentioned subjects.

 


STEP 4: SOLVE PREVIOUS YEAR PAPERS | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

Solving last 5 year papers will help you familiarize with the pattern of questions that are asked in the exams. Understanding the scope of questions asked is the key to crack it which involves both hard work & smart work.

 


STEP 5: STRATEGY TO PREPARE SUBJECT-WISE | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

FOR COMPETITIVE EXAM STUDY MATERIALS CLICK HERE

In this step we will be providing them main topics subject-wise that you need to cover during your preparation.

INDIAN HISTORY/CULTURE | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

The syllabus for history can be divided in 3 parts – Ancient Indian History, Medieval Indian History and Modern Indian History. In this part questions mostly come from Modern India & Art and Culture. Medieval Indian History & Ancient Indian History don’t constitute a major part in terms of the number of questions asked. Prioritize the topics on Indian History, Modern India (struggle for independence part) along with Art & Culture. Also keep in mind never to leave out the low priority topics altogether.

GEOGRAPHY | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

Indian Geography and World Geography are the two parts that Geography is divided into. It is seen that in most of the exams the main weightage is given on Indian Geography in the Prelims Exam.

Main topics for Indian Geography can be summed up as:

  1. Physiography of India
  2. River Systems of India
  3. Climate
  4. Mineral Wealth of India
  5. Soil & Soil Types in India
  6. Agriculture
  7. Forests
  8. Wildlife & Conservation
  9. Human Geography

But before proceeding towards Indian Geography you need to clarify the basic concepts involving Geography itself.

The following are the main topics that you must cover for World Geography before the exam:

  1. The Earth & the Universe
  2. Land forms and their formation
  3. Atmosphere
  4. Wind System
  5. Clouds & Precipitation
  6. Hydrosphere
  7. Different Types of Climate & Climatic Regions of the World
  8. Physical Geography

POLITY | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

For this subject proceed with Fundamental Rights & Duties before reading the Process of the making of Indian Constitution. Current events related to new Bills, Acts, Policies and related provisions should be persistently followed and related topics looked up in your reference books.

ECONOMY | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

Start your preparations on Economics from:

  • Principles of Macroeconomics – Std XII
  • Principles of Microeconomics – Std XII
  • Indian Economic Development – Std XI
  • March of the Indian Economy by I.C Dhingra- heed publications

Important concepts of Microeconomics such as Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility, Elasticity of Demands etc. needs to be given priority for this part which will help you build your basics. Never forget to read about the Budget & Economic Survey of India.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

In this section analytical questions shows up mostly which needs conceptual knowledge. So, current affairs across the world goes in-sync with your conceptual knowledge. All you need here is the right approach.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM | To strengthen your basics first we suggest you to:

  • Start reading from ICSE Books (Classes 7-10) and go through them. Focus on the science behind various natural phenomenon. This would make your learning more fun as well.
  • Go through previously asked questions from the Science & Technology section and understand which topics are more relevant and frequently asked.
  • While you are preparing, make sure you stick to the basics only. If you don’t understand concepts well enough from ICSE books, browse the internet.
  • But do not spend too much time understanding the concepts in great details. Remember, you don’t need to hold a doctorate before writing the exam. You have various other sections to cover as well. So, do NOT waste your time.

Focus on what is happening in India that is relevant to the field of Science and Technology. Follow ISRO, DRDO, Ministry of Science & Technology and what they do.

ENVIRONMENT | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

Climate change, Bio-diversity, Ecology & Environment are the main parts that aspirants need to focus in this part. To study for the Environment Section  the best sources are:–

  • NCERT Geography – Std VI to Std XI
  • NCERT Science – Std VII to Std X
  • NCERT Economy – Std XI
  • NCERT Biology – Std XII
  • NCERT Chemistry – Std XII
  • Shankar IAS – Environment
  • Notes from NIOS
  • ICSE Books- Std X & XI
  • India Year Book
  • Orient Blackswan School Atlas
  • Hindu Official website
  • Environmental Studies For Undergraduate Courses by Erach Bharucha
  • Ecology and environment by P. D. Sharma.
  • Down to Earth Magazine
  • Science Reporter
  • Economic Survey of India
  • Official Website of Environment Ministry: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Government of India

CURRENT AFFAIRS | HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

Never lose track of Current Affairs while preparing the other subject matters. A vital part of the questions comes from the Current Affairs in & around. Make it a routine to ready current affairs weekly if not daily.

Get weekly current affairs here HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

 

AT LAST WE ARE PROVIDING FEW REVISION TIPS THAT WILL DEFINITELY HELP YOU NOTCH UP SUCCESS: HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

  1. REVISING TWICE BEFORE EXAM IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
  2. YOU NEED TO HAVE TO BE STRONG ENOUGH IN YOUR BASICS PREPARATION
  3. SOLVE NUMEROUS MOCK TEST PAPERS FROM DIFFERENT SOURCES
  4. PREPARE HAND-WRITTEN NOTES FOR ALL TOPICS
  5. SYLLABUS NEEDS TO BE THOROUGHLY FAMILIARIZED WITH
  6. SELECT THE APPROPRIATE BOOKS
  7. MAKE THE PERFECT STRATEGY:
    General studies paper covers everything. It can be categorised as:
    Geography: Focus on physical geography and maps. Atlas is the best guide to help you with these topics
    General awareness: This embraces government schemes etc. Reading newspapers and guidebooks will help you a great deal
    History: Emphasise on Modern history, Freedom movement, Ancient India etc. A standard history guide covers all these topics
    Current Affairs: Going through at least two standard newspapers (one English and the other, a vernacular) will keep you abreast of the current events
    CSAT: It covers a vast portion. Comprehension, logical reasoning, basic numeracy are to be prepared from standard book
  1. NEVER READ NEW TOPICS PRIOR TO THE EXAMINATION
  2. A PROPER NAP/SLEEP IS VERY MUCH NECESSARY ON THE EVE OF THE EXAMINATION
  3. THE MAIN KEY TO SUCCESS IS POSITIVE CONFIDENCE IN YOURSELF

 

SELECTED TOPIC-WISE STUDY MATERIALS TO BE FOLLOWED: HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

*History Of Modern India – Bipan Chandra

*India’s Struggle For Independence – Bipan Chandra

*India’s Ancient Past – RS Sharma

*History Of Medieval India – Satish Chandra

*The Wonder That Was India – AL Bhasham

*Indian Art and Culture – Nitin Singhania

*Geography of India – Majid Husain

*Oxford School Atlas – Oxford

*Certificate Physical and Human Geography – Goh Cheng Leong

*Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations – M. Laxmikanth

*Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh

*Economic Survey

*Science and Technology in India – Ashok Singh

*Environmental Studies: From Crisis to Cure – Rajagopalan

*Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains – Khuller

*India Year Book (Current Affairs)

*Manorama Yearbook. (Current Affairs)

*CSAT Paper – 2 Manual by TMH

*CSAT-II – Arihant

*Analytical Reasoning – M. K. Pandey (CSAT – Paper 2: Analytical Reasoning)

*Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R. S.Aggarwal (CSAT Paper 2: Reasoning)

*IAS Prelims 22 Years General Studies Topic-Wise Solved Papers – Disha

*IAS (Pre.) Solved Papers General Studies with CSAT Papers – Arihant

You can also follow few magazines like Economic and Political Weekly, Yojana, Kurukshetra and Science Reporter, apart from these books.

 


CONCLUSION: HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

Hope you are benefited by the guidelines, tips & tricks on HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM in our article. If you have any doubts & queries regarding HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM,  please feel free to write to us. Thanks.

 


 

HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC PRELIMINARY EXAM

 

 

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