How to Prepare for UPSC ? (With Strategies)

How can I prepare for UPSC?

How can I prepare for UPSC?

Union Public Service Commission Civil Service Examination (UPSC-CSE) is a three staged Exam conducted by Union Public Service Commission every year in the month of May or June. This exam is considered as the most difficult exam in the country. The process of the exam makes it difficult. At stage one UPSC conducts Prelims exam which has two parts, part one contains general studies part in which history of India, Indian Polity, Constitution, geography and Current Events of national importance etc. are included and as a part two CSAT exam is there which contains comprehension, maths and reasoning etc.

At stage two, those who clear the prelims exam appears in the mains exam. This stage of Examination contains 9 descriptive papers out of which two are only qualifying papers and only marks obtained in 7 papers are considered in the final result.

At stage three, a personality test is conducted by UPSC at the Union Public Service Commission office at Dholpur House in Delhi. Interview is taken by the panel chaired by the chairman of the Union Public Service Commission.

As this exam is divided into three stages we will divide our Strategy for UPSC into three stages also and discuss how to prepare for UPSC at all three stages.

Strategy for UPSC stage one

At stage one UPSC conducts the prelims exam with below steps one can get an answer to How to Prepare for UPSC?


  • As a Strategy for UPSC the syllabus for Stage one that is prelims, contains the entire major subject that can help to understand ou r country.
  • The main purpose of this examination is to bring out the people who can work for the country as an administrator.
  • Syllabus for the prelims exam contains two parts one is for General studies Paper-I and other is for General Studies Paper-II (CSAT).
  •  Here is a brief account of the syllabus as provided by UPSC.

UPSC Syllabus for GS Paper (Prelims Paper I)

  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Try to introduce yoIndian 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
  • 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.


  • Previous Year Questions are an important part of Strategy for UPSC.
  • Previous Year Questions give an account of important topics for the Prelims Exam.
  • Analysis of Previous Year Questions can help candidates to understand the trend of the examination and Prepare for UPSC.
  • This not only helps in analyses but can help in understanding what the demand of the examination is.
  • As the syllabus is too vast for the UPSC CSE, Previous Year Questions can help in identifying the most asked topics and make Strategy for UPSC more effective.

Focus on major topics

  • Most of the aspirants makes this mistake of reading too much content during their preparation of UPSC, as a part of your Strategy for UPSC remember you don’t need to read much for this examination you only have to read the important topics.
  • Now to find out the important topics go through the syllabus and previous year questions.
  • This list of major topics will make your work easy and give confidence to you for preparation of UPSC.
  • Most of the topics are same in prelims as well as mains examination.
  • Try to identify the common topics between prelims and mains.

Current Affairs

  • To Prepare for the IAS exam, it is an important part.
  • UPSC has mentioned this in the syllabus already; do keep in mind while preparing for UPSC.
  • Current events of national importance with its static part in the syllabus makes a good combination for the questions asked in the UPSC prelims exam, therefore aspirants must ensure that they learn how to connect current affairs to the  static part of the syllabus.
  • Make sure that you follow newspapers and magazines that are useful in the UPSC CSE preparation.
  • Some of the Newspapers that you can add in your Strategy for UPSC are: The Hindu, Indian Express etc. and Some Magazines are Yojana, Kurukshetra, Down to Earth etc.


  • In Stage One of the Examination there is a CSAT exam which is a qualifying paper.
  • But as per past years records don’t take this subject too lightly, prepare for it side by side and add it in your Strategy for UPSC.
  • CSAT contains: Comprehension, Basic Maths, Reasoning, etc.
  • This part of the examination demands practice, speed and accuracy, so it is better that you start working on it as soon as possible.
  • Minimum of 33% marks are needed to qualify CSAT exam. If a candidates gets marks Less than 33% in the CSAT exam, he/she will fail in Prelims Exam.

Practice tests

  • Only reading and studying can’t help one to get through this, practicing is also an important part of Strategy for UPSC.
  • Practice as much as you can.
  • Take weekly tests by yourself or join a test series, it helps a lot.
  • Before 25 days of Prelims do Practice daily tests for the prelims Exam.
  • As practice helps in identifying the strengths and weaknesses, therefore one can improve after every test and get ready for the day of the UPSC CSE prelims Exam.

Strategy for UPSC stage two

UPSC CSE Mains Exam is at the Stage two of the examination. Candidates who pass the Prelims Exam get a chance to write in the mains Exam. With the right strategy candidates can also pass this stage of examination and get confirmation of Stage Three. Here below is the Strategy for UPSC Mains exam that you can follow to get into stage Three.


  • Syllabus is a must thing to do for any Exam. It is the first step toward the examination.
  • Syllabus helps in identifying the important topics and what to study for the examination. In UPSC CSE mains Exam General Studies section plays a major role to get good marks in the mains examination.
  • In UPSC Exam Preparation one must keep in mind all the points mentioned in the syllabus by UPSC.
  • Try to make your notes based on the syllabus of the exam and use keywords of the syllabus as headings of your notes. This will boost your UPSC Exam Preparation and will make your revision easy. By doing this you can easily identify the topics and separate them according to the subjects.


  • PYQ for mains exam is a must practice in Strategy for UPSC.
  • It will help in understanding what kind of questions are asked by UPSC.
  • Not only this, PYQs also help in identifying the important topics asked by the UPSC for the mains examination.
  • Try to make a list of topics subject wise so that you can easily go through that subject during your preparation for IAS Exam.

Focus on major topics

  • With PYQs you can easily identify the major topics and the topics which are frequently asked in the mains examination.
  • Focus on these topics as much as you can and make it part of your Strategy for UPSC.
  • As per the trend in the mains examination it can be observed that UPSC is asking questions from the combination of the current and the static part of the Syllabus.
  • Therefore it is important that candidates preparing for UPSC must keep in mind this thing and do their preparation considering the current and static portion.

Current affairs

  • It is as important as it is for the prelims exam.
  • UPSC is asking so many Questions from the Current in the mains Examination therefore going through current affairs daily is a must exercise as their part of Strategy for UPSC.
  • Make notes daily of the current affairs and try to collect value points, data, quotes etc. to write in your answers in the mains Exam.
  • Newspapers are full of these information, so write down these points whenever they appears in the newspapers. 

Answer writing

  • As Mains Exam is in the Descriptive form therefore do start writing answers on a daily basis, this will definitely make a plus point in your Strategy for UPSC.
  • At the initial stage write in any form you want to but with time try to improve.
  • To improve candidates can refer to the answers written by the toppers and model answers available on the internet.
  • For a good answer keep in mind the central idea of the question and frame your answer according to it.
  • Don’t forget to put data to support your facts and sub points to provide support to your pointers.
  • A good conclusion reflects your answer so make sure to write a good conclusion with a wide vision of the future.


  • Essay is the part where you can score high in the mains Examination.
  • If aspirants want to prepare for UPSC CSE Exam they must practice writing essays from the month they start preparing for mains.
  • Essay can help aspirants in improving final score in the selection list. Good essay marks are important for improvement in rank of candidates in UPSC CSE examination.
  • Try to identify social issues from the newspapers and write essays on it.
  • For more you can make a list of topics asked by UPSC in the essay examination and try to write essays on them.
  • Your essay should carry: Quotes; quote some famous personalities, reformers and institutions related to your topic, Facts: put some facts, data from authentic sources,  Arguments supported by some references, and incorporate value points in the essay too.
  • Try to complete writing your essay within word limit by UPSC.


  • Optional subject is the liberty provided by UPSC to score in the subject of your choice so it is very important to opt a scoring optional subject during preparation for UPSC CSE Exam.
  • Preparing for optional subjects is important because marks obtained in optional will improve your rank in the final Examination merit list.
  • Do practice writing answers related to your Optional subject during Preparation because by writing answers you can analyse your strengths and weaknesses related to your optional subject.

Compulsory paper

  • This part of the Examination consists of two language papers namely English and second language among : Assamese, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Bengali, Bodo, Malayalam, Sanskrit,Manipuri, Dogri, Konkani, Maithili, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu
  • Similar to CSAT, it is qualifying in nature. One has to score only 33% marks in this Exam.
  • During UPSC Exam Preparation keep in mind that it is important that one must practice about this part also because if you fail in this you will fail in the whole mains examination.
  • Allocate a particular slot for this section in your UPSC Exam Preparation Strategy plan so that it won’t trouble you later.


  • Take a full length test for the mains exam in an examination like environment.
  • Do SWOT after every test and try to improve. This is an important practice in the process of UPSC preparation strategy.
  • Generally people lag in mains exam because of their writing speed so work on your writing speed.
  • Candidates can also join some test series for examination like environment and analysis of their test paper.

Strategy for UPSC stage three

This stage of Examination consists of the personality test/ interview. Personality test is an important part of UPSC CSE and it is conducted by UPSC at the Union Public Service Commission office at Dholpur House in Delhi. Interview is taken by the panel chaired by the chairman of the Union Public Service Commission. It contains 275 marks and is very important for your overall rank. So as a preparation strategy for UPSC CSE Interview one can follow following:

Communication skills

  • Improve your communication skills and work on it.
  • Be more social and practice speaking words more clearly and precisely.
  • Listen to some good communication videos and work on your pronunciation.
  • Read newspapers, try to learn new words and also try to add these words in between sentences.


  • Go through your Detailed Application Form (DAF) in detail and be prepared for question related to your DAF. DAF is an important part of your UPSC Strategy.
  • Board can ask you questions related to your optional subject so prepare questions from it also.
  • Never leave your newspaper, from the day you start Preparation daily read newspapers till the day you see your name in the selection list. Thereafter it’s your choice to read or not.

Mock interviews

  • Do attempt some Mock Interviews, it will help you to do self-analysis and improve.
  • There are many platforms in the market that provide free mock interviews for the UPSC CSE interview. Try to take as many mocks as you can.

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