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How to prepare for UPSC prelims?  

There are a number of misunderstandings that are associated with a candidate’s ability to clear the UPSC examination. It is falsely believed that only students who have excelled academically can get into it, and only students from engineering and science backgrounds find it easy while the rest don’t. Since a limited number of students are selected in this preliminary round, many candidates end up taking the exam several times. A good UPSC study material is a must have for the candidates for scoring better marks at the examination.

Also Know: UPSC Prelims Syllabus & Structure 2019

There are two papers in UPSC Prelims Examination. The questions are objective in nature.

  1. General Studies Paper 1 [which deals with subjects like History, Politics, Economics etc.]
  2. General Studies Paper 2 [which deals with subjects like Mental Ability, English Comprehension etc. This paper is popularly known as CSAT – Civil Services Aptitude Test)

The examination in General Studies Paper I is a two-hour test where students have to answer 100 questions. Each question carries two marks. While a correct answer gets a candidate two marks, an incorrect one means a loss of 0.66 marks. Questions asked in this examination can be grouped into three categories:

(i) Multiple Choice Questions – single response correct

(ii) Multiple Choice Questions – multiple responses correct

(iii) Multiple Choice Questions – Matching type


The UPSC prelims examination questions are based on basic principles and their application, factual information and current affairs and are designed to evaluate qualities like a sharp memory and basic retention power.

UPSC Study Material: Prelims Preparation Strategy

  • Before you start to find the cut-off marks for the UPSC prelims examination and chalk out a strategy that suits your learning style.
  • Candidates should ideally start with basic textbooks so as to develop a clear concept of a given subject. Following this, you can proceed on to more advanced books and other study materials for better understanding.
  • Read NCERT books of Class XI and XII to get conceptual clarity on Politics, Economics, Geography and Modern India.
  • Take several mock tests to understand the type of questions that would be asked to you and also to gauge Time management for D-day.
  • Solve question papers of the last 10 years of UPSC Prelims examination as it will help you identify the pattern and frequently asked topics. Also, it will make your preparation process easier and boost your confidence level.
  • Prepare for UPSC prelims and mains together. An integrated prelims-cum-mains approach is catching on among civil services aspirants who rely on clearing prelims and mains in a single attempt.
  • Prepare notes of your own. Shortlist the topics you think are relevant and important and also those you can easily remember and understand so when revising you would have a brief and precise amount of notes to go through.

UPSC Study Material: Prelims Preparation Tips

  • Read newspapers/magazines or log onto the internet and keep yourself on track with the economic, political and social issues and update yourself on current developments and policy changes.
  • Group studies and brainstorming sessions could help you in getting into a better analytical mode about all the day to day issues.
  • Develop the habit of writing concisely, precisely and timely-in all the areas of the syllabus.
  • Since UPSC has introduced negative marking, it is better to leave the completely unknown questions and mainly concentrate on the questions that you know thoroughly.

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