IAS PREPARATION: The UPSC civil services test is considered one of India’s most prominent exams, with lakhs of students preparing for it each year. However, candidates who ace the exam have a conceptual and complete mastery of subjects, as well as a winning approach. When it comes to preparing for competitive examinations, having a winning preparation strategy is just as vital as studying for exams, and when clearing UPSC is the aim, the approach is crucial. Any aspirant’s UPSC journey can turn out to be a life-changing experience. 

If aspirants want to pass this famous exam, they should unsure about the approach or need a jumpstart on your UPSC study. Here we have given 11 Pillars that can help you pass the UPSC civil services prelims and main exams:

Pillar 1. Syllabus: IAS PREPARATION

IAS PREPARATION: UPSC has provided a thorough syllabus for the Main Exams, while merely a list of subjects with essential topics has been provided for the Preliminary Exams. UPSC asks questions based on the syllabus in both prelims and mains exams. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of UPSC’s questions are based on the syllabus. A thorough comprehension of the syllabus’s nature, breadth, and extent is required. The objective clarity that comes with studying the UPSC syllabus allows one to know what to read, what not to read, and what sources to consult. 

  • Students must adhere to the syllabus to the letter in order to achieve good results in the main exam. 
  • It is recommended that students keep a copy of the syllabus on their study table as a daily reference. 
  • Aspirants should also divide down each topic into subtopics and refer to particular references for each one.
  • Once this broad framework is in place, applicants will find it easier to traverse the huge UPSC syllabus for the Civil Services Exam.

Pillar 2. Previous Year Questions

IAS Previous Year Solved Question Papers are one of the most useful weapons in an IAS aspirant’s arsenal. Previous year’s solved question papers are one of the best tools for an IAS applicant. Previous year’s question papers are the most reliable source of information on the pattern of questions asked in the prelims and mains exams. This will aid in the comprehension of the conceptual aspect, which will aid in the answering of many similar questions. This is very significant for the mains exams. 

  • Solving prior year’s question papers will give you a sense of how well prepared you are. 
  • The solved IAS Paper sets feature answers, extensive explanations, and a brief synopsis, assisting students not only in receiving an informative response, but also in developing the conceptual understanding needed to answer numerous comparable problems.
  • Include solved paper sets with full explanations in your study regimen.


IAS PREPARATION: NCERTs serve as the foundation for the complete preparation because they are the most basic texts and are written in very simple language. They are also lucid and neutral. These books will cover the majority of one’s basic geography and history needs. On a shaky foundation, no magnificent structure can be built. You may select whatever option best suits your capabilities and planning. For example, one might begin with a section like history and study all of the history NCERTs.

  • To develop a super-strong infrastructure, you’ll need a sturdy foundation. 
  • This applies to applicants who are preparing for a career in the civil service. 
  • The NCERT books are considered the foundational reading materials for the Civil Services Examination. 
  • It covers all of the major issues and provides us with crystal clear intellectual clarity. 
  • When you go through them properly, it ensures that aspirants are no longer beginners.

NCERT’s Importance in the IAS Exam

  • UPSC continues to ask questions from NCERT textbooks.
  • NCERT is the finest for learning the fundamentals of all topics.
  • The information in NCERTs is accurate and trustworthy.
  • Written in basic, easy-to-understand language.

Prelims Questions from NCERT Books: –

Consider the following specific stage of demographic transition associated with economic development: (2012)

Low birthrate with low death rate

High birthrate with high death rate

High birthrate with low death rate

Select the correct order of the above stages using the codes given below:

(A) 2-1-3

(B) 2-3-1

(C) 3-2-1

(D) 1-2-3

The correct answer is B.

UPSC also asks questions about current events, which are derived from NCERT books in some way. For example, in 2011, a nuclear disaster occurred in Fukushima (Japan), prompting UPSC to put a simple scientific topic in the 2012 prelims question paper.

The function of heavy water in nuclear reactor is to

(a) slow down the speed of neutrons

(b) increase the speed of neutrons

(c) cool down the reactor

(d) stop the nuclear reaction

The correct answer is A

Pillar 4. Current Affairs 

Current Affairs has grown in relevance as a result of the numerous topics posed in UPSC exams. Current events are an important element of UPSC CSE preparation. It is covered under the heading “Issues of National and International Importance” in the Prelims syllabus. Descriptive questions on recent events are frequently asked in the UPSC CS (Main) Examination, despite the fact that they are not officially listed in the syllabus.

Furthermore, aspirants who enhance their detailed replies with fresh pointers tend to perform better than others. As a result, it is critical for Civil Services hopefuls to cultivate a daily habit of reading current events.

  • Aspirants should establish the habit of reading newspapers and make it a habit to set aside an hour each day to thoroughly study the newspaper. 
  • Another popular Current Affairs series is the Quarterly series, which publishes the most relevant subjects in the form of Mind Maps, SWOT Analysis, and Infographics, among other things, for each quarter. 
  • Aside from that, each issue has Essays and Articles on Current Topics.

Pillar 5. Newspapers and Magazines

Newspapers are an important element of UPSC Civil Services preparation since they keep candidates informed about latest events and activities in the country and around the world. However, there is a precise manner to read newspapers in order to avoid wasting time. The idea is to read the newspaper in such a way that it helps you prepare while not taking up too much of your time. Newspapers also assist readers of varied backgrounds in maintaining a balanced perspective on a variety of events and subjects, among other things.

The Hindu and The Indian Express are the two best and most recommended publications for UPSC preparation. Reading the newspaper every day is a good thing to do, as is preparing to learn more about a certain issue before it comes up in work-related talks or meetings.

  • Make digital notes while reading the newspaper every day: Furthermore, taking handwritten notes from the newspaper might be time consuming; therefore, you can preserve newspaper clippings using digital programmes such as Evernote, etc. 
  • Relevant newspaper clippings can also be found in our Telegram channel. Save them to your device for easy access.
  • Many readers have prejudices, and a competent newspaper will adapt information in such a way that the news articles are presented from all perspectives, allowing each reader to reach his or her own judgement. 
  • Having a general idea about the subject can assist you in forming own perceptions and approaching the problem without being influenced by others.
  • Read monthly compilations for speedy revision: It’s more vital to revise than it is to read piles upon piles of material. As a result, revise what you’ve written or saved from news articles on a weekly and monthly basis.
  • Allow extra time for reading editorials: Editorials are an excellent source of inspiration for UPSC Mains answer writing. As a result, give it the attention it needs, and write handwritten notes for editorials. And make sure to revise them on a regular basis to ensure that you retain the information you need.
  • Aspirants should be aware that reading the full newspaper in detail as part of their UPSC preparation is not essential because there are specific dos and don’ts that, when followed, provide the most advantage.

Newspapers, on the whole, provide in-depth and more than merely coverage of important news stories. They also provide information that allows readers from varied backgrounds to generate opinions on a variety of topics and sectors.

The Hindu is the newspaper that most professionals recommend for the IAS exam. Aspirants must also consult the following documents in addition to the papers:

  1. Yojana Magazine 
  2. Press Information Bureau (PIB) 
  3. PRS India 
  4. Websites of various ministries 

Pillar 6. Utilisation of Analytical Power

UPSC has shifted its focus from ‘static’ to ‘dynamic’ questions in recent years. This means you’ll be asked more indirect questions, forcing you to think more deeply and requiring better critical thinking skills. 

The UPSC CSE exam is designed to assess students’ in-depth understanding rather than their theoretical knowledge. Analytical knowledge, to put it another way, is a practical approach to solving problems. This strategy is essential for passing the UPSC Mains exam. The reason for this is that today’s aspirants will be tomorrow’s country administrators, and they must take a practical approach to serving the public. 

Knowing facts isn’t enough for the Mains exam; students must also be able to understand how these facts and information can be applied in a practical situation. This is referred to as “Analytical Skills.”

  • Every day, as an officer in the future, you will find yourself in the midst of bizarre situations. It will be your critical thinking skills that will assist you in correctly identifying and solving problems in those situations. 
  • To analyse the situation and write an analytical response, one must first master the fundamentals. 
  • You can’t evaluate it properly or write it properly unless you understand the fundamentals. As a result, it’s not a bad idea to start with the fundamentals.
  • You can only write about what you know, and knowing everything is pointless if you can’t put it down on paper analytically.
  • In fact, because the Mains stage is required to be written-oriented, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that your writing skills must exceed your knowledge.

Pillar 7. Interdisciplinary Approach

The interdisciplinary approach refers to the method of combining knowledge and information from various subjects under one umbrella and applying it collectively to answer questions in the IAS examination. The nature of the IAS examination, which covers topics from various walks of life, necessitates that aspirant know and understand all of the topics. The questions in civil service examinations are multifaceted and must be answered with all of the associated aspects in mind.

When it comes to passing the IAS examination, everyone has some advice for aspirants. It could be senior candidates, coaching class mentors, peers, or even friends who have no idea what the exam entails.  Many experts have suggested developing an interdisciplinary approach to tackling the IAS examination challenge, particularly in answering the questions asked in the main exam papers.

  • Interdisciplinary approach allows aspirants to understand preconceptions of “what is” and the framework by which we arrived at “what is.” 
  • It also fits with recent advances in learning science about how to foster learning when students bring powerful pre-existing ideas with them to the learning process.
  • Interdisciplinary approach helps aspirants develop their cognitive abilities – brain-based skills and mental processes that are needed to carry out tasks.

Pillar 8. Map Study

  • For UPSC aspirants, maps are undoubtedly a source of frustration. When it comes to learning through maps for UPSC, most students are often at a loss. At least 3-5 questions are asked in the UPSC Prelims exam every year. Although map work will not help you score well in the preliminary exams, being able to draw good maps and locate important places/features will come in handy, particularly in GS-1 Geography/History and GS-3 Economy. There are also map-based questions in the UPSC exam, as well as questions that you can only attempt if you have a good understanding of maps.
  • Studying maps does not add to your workload and can be done as a fun activity during your study breaks. 
  • Mind maps of India and the world will make studying current events, geography, world history, economics, and other topics much more intuitive, and they will greatly aid understanding.
  • It is sufficient to comprehend the significance of learning through maps in preparation for the UPSC Civil Services Examination. 
  • Furthermore, in the UPSC Mains, using Maps to detail your answers is a sure-fire way to get more marks.

Pillar 9. Revision and Practice 

As we all know, “practise makes a man perfect” and as hard as you practise, the more perfect you become. For IAS aspirants, this is absolutely true. The more you practise, the better you will understand the nature of the questions asked, and the more likely you will attempt more questions. As soon as you’ve completed your preparations, start working on these question papers. 

  • Examine your performance and focus on the areas that need improvement. Melding or rephrasing is used to repeat many questions.
  • Revision of topics is aided by solving previous year’s question papers.
  • If you read the questions carefully, you will be able to answer them in less time. It’s all about practise, practise, and more practise. 
  • The more questions you solve and the more familiar you are with the type and nature of the questions being asked, the more likely you are to be able to attempt a larger number of questions in the final IAS Exam. 
  • Solving previous question papers allows you to better manage your time during the exam while also improving your accuracy in CSE.

Pillar 10. Comprehensive Strategy 

The most difficult task for any aspirant is to maintain the right preparation momentum until the goal is achieved. Many aspirants may feel compelled to become an IAS Officer and serve the country, but they may be unsure where to begin their preparation or whether they have the tools and support they need to pass the world’s most difficult exam. You can improve your preparation strategy by solving previous year’s question papers. Aspirants can evaluate their progress and assess their preparation. Weak areas are highlighted, which can help you realise the changes that need to be made during the preparation process.

The only way to prepare for the Mains exam is to develop a well-thought-out strategy and manage your time effectively. As a result, it’s critical to develop your own strategy because being yourself pays off. However, for general guidance in approaching this examination, we are providing some pointers that may assist the aspirant in achieving success.

  • When formulating your strategy, you should first consider the broader methodology that is conducive to Civil Service examination preparation in general. 
  • After you’ve established that, you should turn your attention inward to determine your own strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Your educational background, interests, and hobbies could all be included in such a self-evaluation. 
  • Based on this knowledge, you should adapt the broader methodology to create your own strategy for preparing for the Civil Services examination in the shortest time possible.

Pillar 11. Self-Assessment

Self-assessment is a process in which a student evaluates his or her own preparation, as well as his or her weaknesses and strengths, and makes the necessary adjustments to his or her study methodology or pace. In most cases, a self-assessment can be completed after taking a practise test. You should grade yourself after comparing your answers to the answer key.

Self-evaluation is an essential part of the preparation process, and you should assess your grasp of the concepts you’re studying for the exam. Self-evaluation is an important part of UPSC preparation. When you make a mistake, you can learn from it. This aids you in determining the best strategy for continuing your preparation and identifying your strengths and weaknesses. You make errors and learn from them. Analyze your error and rethink your strategy. This will undoubtedly aid your exam performance.

Self-Assessment allows students to properly prepare study materials. It is a technique for assessing the level of preparation based on specific criteria in order to improve performance.

  • Self-monitoring is essential for identifying areas of weakness and strengths, as well as making preparations to improve one’s score. 
  • Taking mock tests to assess the score and measure the level of preparation is what self-assessment is all about. 
  • It essentially consists of students checking their scores on a multiple-choice test and grading themselves.
  • Another criterion for self-evaluation is self-judgment, which entails determining progress toward a goal.

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