How to prepare for UPSC – Understanding Prelims | Part-I


How to prepare for UPSC – Understanding Prelims | Part-I |

Welcome to This is the first part of our post on how to prepare for UPSC Prelims. Here we are going to discuss why our youth is eager to get selected for the civil services and try to understand the nature of the syllabus for UPSC prelims exam. Now Let us start.

How to prepare for UPSC - Understanding Prelims I Part-I

The Civil Service Examination is too much popular among the educated, hardworking and talented youth of India. Rather it is found to be the bitterly contested examination we find in our society. The Civil Services offer respect, prestige, and status as no other job can offer. This also provides job security and much more attractive perks to make lifestyle very comfortable. Apart from these factors, it’s the nature of the jobs civil services offers, which motivates youth to aspire for it. The civil services offer not only challenges and diversity in its job profile, but also provide us with socially relevant jobs which make meaning and the justification to life. In the corporate/private sector most of the time, we are to do socially irrelevant jobs or even sometimes socially harmful jobs, the civil services offer very satisfying job profiles in public sectors such as in police, education, health, the welfare of the state/country. Because of this reason, our youth is eager to be a Civil Servant by joining civil services, then making a career in the private/corporate sector.


How to prepare for UPSC – Understanding Prelims | In our country (India) the Civil Services Examination comprises of three stages i.e. The Prelims, mains, and Interview. At all the three stages of the examination, there are many challenges. But to the very first stage of the entire process is found to be the most challenging to the aspirants, though it’s qualifying in nature, to allow the aspirants to appear in the mains examination. Among the 4-5 Lakh candidates, who apply & appear for the prelims, only around 15,000 have a chance to appear for the next stage i.e. the Mains. We can also treat it as an elimination round than to be a qualifying stage of the selection process. Too, there is too much to study for this stage of the process ranging from the past, culture, geography, environment, ecology, society, S&T to current and the contemporary issues.

How to prepare for UPSC - Understanding Prelims | Part-I
How to prepare for UPSC – Understanding Prelims | Part-I

For the mains stage of the process we require conceptual knowledge about the issues, but for the prelims, we need to know about both conceptual understanding and the factual knowledge. The prelims preparation is a true test of aspirant’s persistence and perseverance.

Understanding the Prelims exam

  • The clarity of concepts along with the knowledge of facts:
    The mains exam tests aspirant’s conceptual understanding of the issues through writing skill, but prelims test both concepts and facts. So focus on both. Suppose you are studying about Buddhism & Jainism, in the prelims, a question can be asked about the other related concepts like soul, God, etc in respect to both religions or question about facts can also be asked such as various Buddhist councils and places they were held at. So it requires a detailed conceptual clarity along with the knowledge of factual details.
  • A Common Test:
    As you may all know, the prelims test is common for both the Indian Administrative Services(IAS) and IFS(Indian Forest Services). So to make it justice to both, the syllabus of prelims has been modified to adjust accordingly. Earlier, in the prelims, most of the questions were from History, Political Science and Economy. But nowadays’, more questions are asked on geography, environment, ecology & climate change, forestry so as to evaluate an Indian Forest Service(IFS) Candidate taking this common test. So, pay attention to this new feature while preparing.
  • Not only NCERT Books:
    We have been suggested by many that we have to master the NCERTs. This is true too to a large extent. But it won’t be wise to expect all the questions in the exam from NCERT books, which in fact are excellent on concepts, but lack factual details asked. Therefore we have to go beyond the coverage of NCERT Books.
  • Well Known facts are important but less known facts are also very important:
    It is not doubted that we have to know all well-known facts on various subjects of the exam, but at the same time, we also need to focus on less known facts, because the UPSC is known well for setting such questions. Less known facts we mean those that are not highlighted in the news or even in the books, e.g. if we have knowledge about the Money Laundering Act and its provisions, but we also need to know which agencies investigate and file cases under the law, who is enforcing this act. Similarly, we know about Earth Hour being observed each year, but we too have to know agency implementing it i.e. the WWF.How to prepare for UPSC - Syllabus | Strategy | Suggested Reading

How to prepare for UPSC – Understanding Prelims | Part-I

  • UPSC questions from Previous Papers | The Real Test Series:
    A well-proven fact for clearing the prelims is solving the previous year’s UPSC question papers(at least papers of the last 15 years). Having solved all the General Studies questions, except the current affairs related questions, we can easily get 15 to 20 questions. Questions from previous papers usually get repeated year after year. Questions are also asked from exam papers conducted by UPSC for other exams such as CAPF, CDS, NDA, etc., and also from SSC exam. So in spite of practicing question papers prepared by commercial institutes and websites, it’s wiser to do practice from previous year’s question papers, as these are authentic and have chances of getting repeated.
  • CSAT Strategy:
    The Civil Services Aptitude Test(CSAT) is qualifying in nature, requiring only 33% marks. It is not a wise decision to devote too much of your time span to prepare for this section of the Civil Services Examination. One best way to qualify the CSAT is identifying your strong areas in the syllabus and prepare/perform well in those areas to qualify, i.e. having good knowledge of quantitative aptitude and reasoning, prepare and practice well for these parts. Similarly, having knowledge of the comprehensive part, you can make it your strength to qualify.

This was the first part. In the next part, we will be discussing the Syllabus, strategy for preparation of each section and suggested reading.

How to prepare for UPSC – Strategy | Suggested Reading | Part-II

Official Website of Union Public Service Commission ->

Hope you like. Don’t forget to share…

Leave a Reply