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How to Crack UPSC Prelims 2024

UPSC CSE is considered as India’s most difficult examination. But with the right preparation one can easily get his/her name in the final selection list. UPSC conducts this exam every year and on an average 900 candidates get selected in this examination every year.

Stages of Exam


Preliminary Examination (Pre):
Objective-type multiple- choice questions (MCQs) covering General Studies and Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT).


Main Examination (Mains):
Subjective-type written examination covering various topics including Essay, General Studies I, II, III, IV, and optional subjects.


Personality Test (Interview):
Evaluation of candidates' personality traits, communication skills, and suitability for a career in the civil services.

CSE is conducted in three phases which are prelims, mains and personality test/ interview. UPSC Prelim is the first step towards this examination process. To get name in the selection list candidate must ensure that he/she has gone through all the below steps.

Step-1: Know your Exam

UPSC conducts UPSC Prelims Exam every year on the last Sunday of May or first Sunday of June but due to the Upcoming Lok Sabha elections it has been postponed from May 26 to June 16. Prelim exam has two papers which are General Studies Paper-I and General Studies Paper-II (CSAT).

UPSC Syllabus for GS Paper

UPSC Syllabus for GS Paper (Prelims Paper I)

  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development - Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity, and Climate Change - that do not require subject specialisation.
  • General Science

UPSC Syllabus for CSAT Paper (Prelims Paper-II)

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision-making and problem solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. - Class X level)

Step-2: have an overview of previous year Questions

  • To prepare for UPSC prelims make an understanding based on previous year questions
  • Identify the most asked topics.
  • Make a list of topics which you will carry during your whole preparation.
  • As there is not much time left toprepare for UPSC prelims exam, PYQs will help to identify the important topics which are most likely to be asked in Prelims 2024 and can prepare for UPSC prelims.
  • To prepare for UPSC prelims start studying all important marked topics with conceptual understanding

Step-3: Work on fundamental Topic.

  • As one can select topics of utmost importance by analysing PYQs.
  • To prepare for UPSC prelimshave a concept based understanding of topics.
  • Considering the trend of UPSC-CSE exam in past years, UPSC is asking questions from the field of Indian Polity, Geography of India and World, Science and Technology, Current Events related to Economy and Indian Freedom Struggle.
  • These topics can help score well and clear UPSC prelims examination.
  • As not much time is left to prepare for UPSC, try to read from books that are in sharp and precise forms for UPSC prelims.

Step- 4: focus on Revision

  • For the UPSC prelimsexam it doesn’t matter how much you read, the thing that matters is how powerful your revision technique is and how efficient you are with your revision technique. 
  • Before going to bed if candidates revise what they have learned all the day it will definitely improve grasping and increase efficiency.
  • Have a specific time schedule for revision in your time-table.
  • Remember revision is the key to success and door to UPSC prelims.

Step-5: Current Affairs

  • Current plays an important role in UPSC CSE, so to prepare for UPSC prelimshaving a good understanding of current events of national and international Importance is mandatory.
  • Till now newspapers are considered as most important source of current affairs to prepare for UPSC prelims examination.
  • For UPSC prelims preparation apart from Newspapers for Current Affairs One can consider: Yojana, Kurukshetra, down To earth, PIB and official websites of Ministries of Government of India etc.

Step-6: Practice Tests

  • As practice makes the man perfect, it is important that after reading and revision one should consider mock tests and practice tests for UPSC Prelims.
  • To review yourself it is important that one should keep practising tests.
  • Test will help in identifying strengths and weaknesses so that one can improve for UPSC prelims.
  • Do SWOT analysis after each test.

Step- 7: Prepare for CSAT side by side

  • Many people having a good hold in GS-I topics but couldn’t get name in list because they only focus on GS-I and ignores GS-II, which ultimately leads to failure in GS-II. So to prepare for UPSC Prelims one must practise CSAT side by side.
  • Going through the trend of past 11 years, UPSC prelims CSAT is becoming more complex day by day and resulting in failure of those taking this exam so casually.
  • CSAT requires a more analytical approach as it is a reasoning based exam.
  • One should work on reasoning skills for UPSC prelims, if doesn’t have a good hold on CSAT.

Step- 8: Stay Motivated

  • It’s a basic human tendency that humans need motivation to work so during preparation try to motivate yourself.
  • Keep positive thoughts in mind and stay healthy as health and motivation are wheels of a bicycle that will take you towards success.
  • Believe in yourself and be confident towards the preparation.
  • Read quotes if you want, like by Kalam Sir- "Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success." Quotes help to get positive thoughts and stay motivated.
  • To prepare for UPSC Prelims it is important that one must develop a positive thought towards it.

Important topics and source


1. Current events of national and international importance

  • For current events for UPSC prelims newspapers are the most important source.
  • Monthly magazine
  • PIB {Press Information Bureau}
  • Official websites

2. History of India and Indian National Movement

3. Indian and World Geography

  • For UPSC prelims Basics of geography including physical geography (India and its neighbours, physical features like : Himalayas, the Great Indian northern plains, Indian deserts, coasts, islands, peninsular region and river system. etc.), climate, minerals, industries, agriculture, human geography, geomorphology, oceanology, oceanic currents, wind, wind system, major river basins, El Nino, La Nina, cyclones, clouds etc.
  • Mapping
  • Current Affairs
  • Books:
    1. Fundamental of Physical Geography (class 11th NCERT)
    2. Geography - India Physical Environment (class 11th NCERT)
    3. Geography - India People and Economy (class 12th NCERT)
    4. Fundamental of Human Geography Certificate (class 12th NCERT)
    5. Oxford student Atlas for mapping
    6. GC Leong’s Physical and Human Geography.

4. Indian Polity and Governance

  • For UPSC prelims important topics include Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, fundamental rights, Constitutional Bodies, Citizenship, DPSPs, Parliament, Judiciary, landmark cases and Judgements, Tribunals, specials provisions and most important the Current Affairs related to Indian polity.
  • Current events
  • Books:
    1. Political Science: Indian Constitution at Work  (class 11th NCERT)
    2. Political Science I: Contemporary World Politics (class 12th NCERT)
    3. Political Science II: Politics in India since Independence (class 12th NCERT)
    4. M. Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity
    5. Bare Act.

5. Economic and Social Development

6. Environment

  • For UPSC prelims General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change, species, conventions, environmental organisations and environmental challenges.
  • Pollution: its causes and mitigations to control it.
  • Organisations and treaties like Montreux Record, Ramsar Convention, The three Rio Conventions— United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Convention on Biological Diversity(CoB), and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
  • Laws, regulations and regulators at national and international level like Forest Right Act, Environment Protection Act, National Biodiversity Authority, Protocols and Summits like, Nagoya Protocol, Lima Conference and Cartagena Protocol etc.
  • Current affairs
  • Books
    1. Geography books from class 6th to 10th NCERT
    2. Our Environment class 7th NCERT
    3. chapter 14 of Class 11th NCERT Chemistry: Environmental Chemistry
    4. Unit 10 of Class 12th Biology NCERT
    5. Down to Earth magazine

7. Science and Technology


  • Reading newspapers can help strengthen your skills in comprehension. Try to focus on word sentences and most importantly the context of the passage. Try to read a variety of topics on a daily basis in the newspaper.
  • Initially it will take time to read, understand and analyse but try to minimize the time and improve your analytical skills.
  • Try to introduce yourself with new words for better understanding of passages.
Reasoning and Mathematics
  • First go through all basic concepts for For UPSC prelims CSAT.
  • Try to solve small problems initially and then to bigger ones.
  • Practise more and more to improve accuracy and speed.
  • Topics include: HCF and LCM, Probability, Number Series, Ratio Proportion, Percentage, Time, Speed and Distance, Permutation and Combination, Alphabet, Coding – Decoding, Venn Diagram, Syllogism, Clocks and Calendars etc.
  • Books:
    1. Qualitative aptitude and Quantitative Aptitude: R.S Aggarwal

Bonus Tips

For UPSC prelims preparation here is the list of the frequently asked topics in the UPSC prelims Examination.

How to go through Current affairs For UPSC prelims

Let’s understand this with an example:

From this news Published in the Hindu we can see that it is talking about elephants.

  • Try to find out in what context the article is published, thereafter
  • Now the first step is to identify from which topic it is related  for UPSC prelims to as in this it is from the environment.
  • Second we read about the elephants where they are found, habitat, activities, types and all other aspects.
  • Third step is to identify the places those are in news due to this event like in this case is Munnar
  • In the next step we will try to locate important things around it like national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, rivers, mountain ranges etc.
  • Also this article is talking about an expert panel so we will try to find out how these panels are established and under which process and what is the role of the judiciary in this process?

Do’s And Don’ts for UPSC prelims

  • Stay calm and focused on the day of UPSC prelims examination
  • Make sure to read all the instructions given on the admit card before leaving your home.
  • Make sure to reach the exam centre 50-55 min earlier.
  • Things to carry: Admit Card, minimum 2 black Ball pens, a valid Government Issued Photo Id card, passport size photographs, transparent water bottle and confidence.
  • Don’t write anything on a question paper except your roll no. 
  • Don’t mark any question if you don’t know because it carries a negative make of 1/3
  • Don’t do over attempts’
  • Read all the instructions on question paper and OMR sheet carefully before starting your exam.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Don’t have too much food before the examination.