How to Prepare for UPSC Prelims?

by Vajiram & Ravi


05:54 AM

Preparing for the UPSC Preliminary Examination requires a lot of hard work, dedication and effort. The UPSC Prelims examination is the first step on the arduous journey to becoming a civil servant. This crucial phase tests your knowledge, analytical skills, and adaptability to diverse subjects. To navigate this challenge, a well-structured and strategic approach is essential. Let's explore a step-by-step guide on how to prepare for UPSC Prelims effectively.

Read: Last 1 Month Preparation for UPSC Prelims 2024

Step-By-Step Guide to Prepare for UPSC Prelims

The UPSC Prelims Examination is a long and demanding exam, so it is important to start preparing early. This will give you enough time to cover the entire syllabus and to practise your exam skills. The first step to prepare for UPSC Prelims is to make a blueprint that outlines what you will study and when you will study it. This will help you stay organised and on track.

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Understand the UPSC Prelims Syllabus and Exam Pattern

The Preliminary Examination is objective in nature, and the syllabus for preparing for UPSC Prelims is very vast.

Syllabus for UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper -1:

  • Current affairs of National and International Importance
  • Ancient, Medieval and Modern History
  • Indian Polity and Governance
  • Physical and Indian Geography
  • Environment and Ecology
  • Art & Culture
  • Science and Technology
  • Economics and Social Development
  • Social Issues

Syllabus for UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper-2:

  • Basic Numeracy
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Comprehension and decision-making
General Studies Paper-1100 Questions200 Marks
General Studies Paper-2 (CSAT)80 Questions200 Marks

Build a Strong Foundation

To prepare for the UPSC Preliminary examination, it is very important to begin your general studies preparation by studying the NCERT Books. They help you develop a strong base for GS before you move on to the standard books for UPSC Preparation. Dedicate your day to cover at least two subjects in a day, along with current affairs, to prepare for UPSC Prelims.

Integrate Current Affairs in your Preparation

When preparing for UPSC Prelims, current affairs preparation cannot be neglected. Read the newspaper daily, and you can also refer to a daily Newspaper Analysis video to cover the Newspaper properly. Read a current affairs monthly magazine at the end of the month that will help you compile your current affairs notes from various sources like The Hindu, Indian Express, PIB, Yojana and Kurukshetra magazine. Many students make the mistake of picking up current affairs booklets in the last few weeks, hoping to finish. The reality is that there will be an overload of information, and your memory may not be able to cope up with the sudden load. So spend a few hours every day from now on current affairs and make sure again to revise regularly.

Join a Prelims Test Series

Joining a Prelims Test Series will help you fill in the gaps in your preparation. The more Prelims Test papers that you practise, the more confident you become in your UPSC Prelims Preparation. Regularly taking mock tests will help you familiarise yourself with the exam environment, manage time efficiently, and gauge your progress. Analyse your performance to identify weak areas and work on them.

Practise the UPSC Prelims Previous Year Question Papers

In recent years, the UPSC Prelims exam has become more conceptual in nature, especially in the core subjects. This means that you need to have a good understanding of the concepts rather than just memorising facts and figures. To prepare for this, it is important to analyse the previous year's question papers. This will give you an idea of the kind of questions that are being asked and the level of difficulty.

Identify Facts vs. Concepts

For example, in the Polity section, you do not need to memorise the names of all the past Presidents and Election Commissioners. However, you should have a good understanding of the basic concepts of the Indian Constitution and the political system of India.

The Economy section is now highly conceptual and can be a high-scoring section if you prepare well. So, it is important to focus on understanding the basic economic concepts and theories.

It is also important to make an assessment of all the subjects that you are going to take. This will help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses and to focus your preparation on the areas where you need the most improvement.

If your preparation is not aligned with the exam pattern, then you will only be wasting your time. So, it is important to make sure that you are studying the right things and that you are using the right resources.

Revise, Revise and Revise

No matter what subject or topic you are studying, it is important to revise and remember it so that you do not lose marks in those areas. Without proper revision, you are likely to carry more confusion into the exam hall and end up with a higher negative score, which will negate all the hard work you have done.

FAQs on UPSC Prelims Preparation

How to start my preparation for UPSC Prelims? 

Start your UPSC Prelims preparation by understanding the syllabus thoroughly. Gather standard textbooks and study materials for each subject. Begin with a strong focus on basic concepts, gradually progressing to advanced topics. Consistently engage in practice tests, mock papers, and current affairs updates to build a well-rounded foundation for the exam.

How many papers are there in UPSC Prelims?

There are two papers in UPSC Prelims- General Studies Paper -1 and General Studies Paper-2 (CSAT Paper). Both papers are held for 2 hours each and carry 200 marks each.

What is the syllabus for the UPSC Prelims?

The UPSC Prelims syllabus encompasses two papers: General Studies Paper I and CSAT syllabus. GS Paper I covers diverse subjects like History, Geography, Polity, Economy, Science, and Current Affairs. CSAT Paper II evaluates candidates' comprehension, reasoning, and analytical abilities. Both papers assess candidates' grasp of fundamental concepts and their ability to apply knowledge effectively.

Do Prelims scores count as final scores?

No, UPSC Prelims scores are not counted in the final selection. Prelims serve as a qualifying stage to shortlist candidates for the Mains examination, which is followed by the Interview stage to determine the final rankings.

What will be the cutoff marks to qualify UPSC Prelims?

The UPSC Prelims cutoff marks vary each year based on factors like difficulty level and the number of vacancies. Generally, the cutoff ranges from 95 to 110 out of 200 marks for the General category, with proportional variations for other categories.

What is the structure of UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper 1?

The UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper I comprises 100 questions with a total of 200 marks. It covers diverse topics such as History, Geography, Polity, Economy, Science and technology, Environment, and Current Affairs. The questions are multiple-choice in nature, testing candidates' knowledge, analytical skills, and ability to apply concepts across a wide spectrum of subjects.

Do mock exams help to prepare for UPSC Prelims?

Yes, mock exams are invaluable for preparing UPSC Prelims. They replicate the exam environment, improve time management, and reveal weak areas for targeted improvement. Regular practice enhances familiarity with question patterns, builds confidence, and sharpens analytical skills, significantly enhancing your chances of success.