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How to Prepare for Civil Services Prelims Exam- Top Strategies By Experts

Read the Top Strategies for Civil Services Preliminary Examination Preparation


Civil Services Prelims 2019 is scheduled for 2nd of June 2019 – Sunday. With less than four months for the D-day its time you pick up the pace, burn the midnight oil, read-revise and repeat! About 10 lakh candidates register for the examination and only about 15 thousand make it to the Mains exam. Be that serious candidate who is determined and dedicated to crack this examination. Four months’ time is good enough for a dedicated person to ace the Preliminary examination. Formulating the right strategy reduces half the burden. Read on to find out what sort of strategy can sail you through Civil Services Prelims 2019.How to Prepare for Civil Services Prelims Exam Preparation- Top Strategies By Experts

Remember, Without clearing UPSC Prelims, there is no UPSC Mains. So instead of focusing more on Mains, candidates must have to focus on Prelims as Prelims is more difficult to crack compared to Mains. According to records, 3-4 out of 100 candidates clear the Prelims. Education Bhaskar recommends you to give at least 70% of preparation time to Prelims Topics. Here are the working strategies candidates should implement in their preparation schedule.

Top Strategies for Civil Services Preliminary Examination Preparation

  • Strategy 1– The Reverse Analysis
  • Strategy 2– Cover NCERT Books
  • Strategy 3 – Focus on Important Topics
  • Strategy 4 – Current Affairs Preparation
  • Strategy 5 –Don’t Ignore CSAT Preparation
  • Strategy 6 – Follow the Pareto 80-20 Principle
  • Strategy 7: Revise! Revise! Revise!

Now, we will each strategy in brief.

Strategy 1– The Reverse Analysis

Start by analysing the UPSC Prelims previous year question papers. Understand the structure, pattern, weightage and areas of questions. Download UPSC prelims question papers (PDF) from the official UPSC website:

Click the below links to download UPSC Prelims previous question papers from the year 2014 to 2016.

Civil Services (Preliminary) Exam 2016 Question Papers

Civil Services (Preliminary) Exam 2015 Question Papers

Civil Services (Preliminary) Exam 2014 Question Papers

  1. General Studies Paper I
  2. General Studies Paper II

Click Here to download Official UPSC UPSC Answer Keys for various exams conducted last year

General Studies Paper I (Sample Question Paper) – Syllabus Area vs Number of Questions

Topics Questions
Indian History and Culture: History of India and Indian National Movement. 16
Geography: Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World. 14
Indian Polity: Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc. 12
Economics: Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc. 15
Environment: General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change 18
General Science 10
Current Affairs 15
Total 100

(Marks 2×100= 200)

* This is just for understanding the basic exam pattern, style, weightage. It can be changed in the coming years.

Strategy 2– Cover NCERT Books

The best way to begin preparation for the IAS Exam is by reading the NCERT books. It is advisable to read class 6 to class 12 NCERT books and simultaneously make crisp notes from it. NCERTs provide a base for further reading and also a foundation for Current Affairs preparation. Since there is a time constraint; your aim should be to grasp everything possible in one single reading. The notes you make can be used only for final revision just before the examination. Excluding NCERT Textbooks, there are many other books and material available by which candidates can cover quick most important questions, fundamental topics.

Strategy 3 – Focus on Important Topics

After you have completed reading the NCERT books, your next objective is to cover the topics from Polity, Economy, Geography and History. These four subjects are considered – the four pillars of UPSC examination. Most of the questions in the prelims examination will be from these four subjects. There is no standard list for UPSC Books, you could pick and choose whichever book you are comfortable with, and will help you cover the syllabus. You can jump to Science and technology, Environment and ecology after you have covered the four important subjects.

Strategy 4 – Current Affairs Preparation

Current affairs preparation is most significant considering a shift in the type of questions asked in the past few years. The dominance of current affairs related questions in the Prelims questions paper is evident from the analysis of Prelims Question Papers of 2016, 2017 and 2018. Therefore, it is important to be thorough with the current affairs starting from May 2018 for Prelims 2019. In case you have not been regular with newspaper reading, you could refer to a monthly compilation of current affairs of a good institute. But what is most important is the revision. With so many concepts, facts and figures, one reading will not help you in any way.

Strategy 5 –Don’t ignore CSAT Preparation

Ignoring CSAT preparation is the biggest blunder you could make. More often than not, aspirants do not practice for the CSAT paper. Though CSAT is just a qualifying paper, you must practice at least a few previous year CSAT question papers and also revise the topics to ensure that you score at least 33% of the marks allocated for the Paper. Also, make sure, you try and solve the question paper within the time limit. This practice is absolutely essential to obtain the required cut-off.

Strategy 6 – Follow the Pareto 80-20 Principle

Pareto 80-20 Principle rule

So the story goes,

Don’t Work Hard, Work Smart!

Follow the ‘Pareto principle’, which is also known as the 80/20 rule. According to this rule or principle, by putting 20% of efforts, can gain 80% results. So, 80% of the output from a given situation is determined by 20% of the input. So set the priorities of your time, effort, and study matters.

  1. Strategy 7: Revise! Revise! Revise!

The importance of revision cannot be emphasised enough. Prelims exam is a test of knowledge and hence it is important to remember factual details as well. At least 2 revisions are a must before you appear for the examination. This is where the notes from NCERT, flashcards etc. will come handy. Solve a few Test Series papers from a good institute. This exercise will help you develop a sense of time management and decide on your strategy, the approach for the Prelims.

Prelims Exam is just a screening test to weed out the non-serious aspirants from the race. If you have worked hard enough and your strategy is right, Prelims will not be a hard nut to crack! For Monthly Current Affairs News Analysis, Daily News Analysis, Lectures on the Budget, Economic Survey etc.

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