Beginner’s guide to UPSC Civil Services Exam

guide to UPSC Civil Services

Approach and strategy to prepare for UPSC Civil Services Exam

It is a well-known fact that clearing Civil Services Exam is no easy task. After all, it is THE most difficult exam in our country, where average selection rate is less than 1 %.  It demands devotion, perseverance, knowledge & skill as well. 

Also, the UPSC Syllabus is so vast that aspirants are often confused about where to begin.

Therefore, a right study approach is essential for UPSC Civil Services Exam. 

Know the exam

Understand the structure of the UPSC Civil Services Exam. Learn about the different stages of the exam, exam timelines and eligibility criteria. 

Understand the syllabus

Once you’re through that, go through the syllabus of Prelims and syllabus of Mains examinations. You’ll notice the syllabus is overlapping and that the study methodology for UPSC Civil Services Exam must be Integrated.

That is, that the Prelims and Mains exams are not disjointed. One must study for both the Prelims and Mains together.

Go through Previous years’ questions

Once you have familiarized yourself with the detailed syllabus of Prelims and Mains, skim through Previous years Question papers to understand the nature of questions asked. It’ll give you an idea of what to study and how to study. 

Start Early

It is recommended to start your preparation at least a year before the exam date to have enough time to cover the syllabus and revise.

Strengthen your foundation 

No matter what your background is, you need to understand the basics of the core subjects of the UPSC syllabus – Polity, History, Geography, Economics, Society, etc. Start your preparation through an integrated (prelims and mains together) study in the above syllabus topics.

Remember, you cannot prepare for prelims and mains separately. The examination is one whole with more or less common syllabus in the prelims and mains both. 

Choose your optional subject

If you are not decided about your optional subject, study the various themes of the general studies syllabus to gauge your interest. Choose your optional subject basis your interest and overlap of that subject with compulsory syllabus of General Studies.

Your aim should be to complete your GS syllabus of Pre and Mains as well as that of your optional subject before you appear for Prelims.

Read: How to select Optional Subject

Choose your study material/resources and keep them limited

The next step is to make a booklist for the various subjects and themes of the exam. Ensure that you keep your sources limited. Read the same source multiple times rather than multiple sources one time. 

Make newspaper reading a habit

Besides the books list, also read one newspaper daily and refer to a monthly current affairs compilation which will help you cover all relevant current affairs for UPSC.

Make a timetable

Define a daily study schedule for yourself by setting timelines to cover different topics from the books. While covering the topics from the standard books, do keep the syllabus handy with you to keep your studied relevant.

Regular evaluation of your preparations

by taking Tests – solving MCQs for Prelims point of view and practice answer writing for Mains.

Once you have completed a subject from NCERT and standard reference books, then you can start solving MCQs and practicing answer-writing.

Before that it will be a futile exercise as you wouldn’t have enough content to practice test taking.

Develop Writing Skills

The Main Examination has a descriptive paper, and it is crucial to develop excellent writing skills. Practice writing essays, reports, and answers to mock test papers.

Revision and Practice through Test Series

As you study for the IAS exam, you must also revise periodically. Only proper revision ensures that you remember what you have studied. To revise systematically, you must subscribe to a Test Series and regularly solve tests from that in accordance with your revision goals.

Revise and practice solving Prelims and Mains tests from that syllabus topic.

Last but not the least, get the right guidance to save time and get a top rank 

Since time is at a premium, it will be prudent to take help from a professional coaching institute to help one prepare for this exam.

A good coaching institute will not only supplement and support your preparations through lecture classes taken by subject experts, provide you with curated study material, tests series etc. but will also show you the correct way of preparing and will ensure that an aspirant doesn’t lose focus. 

See: How to select best UPSC IAS coaching institute

UPSC preparation can be exhausting and time-consuming, but it’s essential to stay motivated and focused. Have a positive attitude and keep your end goal in mind.

Remember, UPSC Civil Services Exam is a marathon and not a sprint. It requires consistent effort, hard work, and dedication.

Free UPSC MasterClass
This is default text for notification bar