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Strategy for UPSC Prelims Examination

Popularly known as the UPSC exam is the Civil Services Examination (CSE) conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to recruit people to work in Indian Bureaucracy. It is one of the most popular and toughest examinations in India, every year around 10 lakh people apply for less than 1000 vacancies. It is conducted in 3 stages-

This article will focus on the strategies for prelims because many aspirants have the misconception that the prelims syllabus will be covered under the Mains preparation, and they don’t prepare for prelims separately. While it is true that the syllabus is almost the same in both, the pattern of both exams is different and hence it requires a different approach. The UPSC Prelims syllabus can be divided into two parts-

Key points for Prelims Preparation are –

  1. How to prepare for Syllabus content- The Syllabus content of GS-1 can be divided into static and current affairs. For static we have to study from standard books like Laxmikant for polity, spectrum for modern history; and NCERTs. The list of standard books is available everywhere. For NCERTs it is prescribed to read from class 6-12, but it should be read very precisely, and you don’t need to give several months on NCERTs, they are just for clearing basic concepts. For Current affairs, you can read Newspapers like The Hindu and The Indian Express, subscribe to monthly magazines like Yojana and Kurukshetra, and many apps and websites provide current affairs for free. Also, for any decision of the Government, go to the respective ministry’s site and you can get all the info. Websites like PRS have policy trackers and policy analysis. The most important thing that many toppers have said is to try to connect what you study in static with current affairs. For instance, if you are studying the concept of the Welfare state then try to connect it with recent steps of government like the free food grains scheme. Lastly, there is no set formula for completing the syllabus, and don’t panic, take your time in completing subjects you find hard.

  2. How to make notes- The notes should be short and crisp, and this happens gradually with time as we realize what all points are important to study. As many toppers suggest just keep on revising your notes and make a shorter version and finally you will end up with very crisp and informative notes. Also, many suggest making notes either digitally or on loose paper, especially in current affairs. So, you add up any point later or update it because updating notes is crucial. There is no fixed pattern of writing notes but just keep in mind a few points while preparing notes it should have all the relevant facts, it should be clear and you have to revise your notes to perfect them.

  3. Solve a lot of papers- Solving PYQs and Sample papers is critical to clearing prelims that’s why the toppers solve around 70-80 sample papers before the examination. Solving papers will give an idea about the pattern of questions and which sections are important like a good number of questions come from Polity or Environment. Also, one of the most essential things that you will learn this time management.

  4. Maintain a score log- Along with solving papers another beneficial habit is to maintain a score log which contains subject-wise scores and also how many guessed answers were correct. This will help you in understanding your weak and strong areas and how to logically guess answers.

  5. Don’t ignore CSAT- Do not make the mistake of ignoring CSAT just because it is qualifying, many people don’t qualify for prelims because of it. Also, many especially Humanities background fear the CSAT a lot. The solution that many toppers suggest is twofold- first, solve the sample papers and PYQs to get an idea of your weak and strong areas and then apply this in the exam by solving the parts in which you are strong first because at the end you only need to score more than 33%.

  6. Focus on Mental well-being- This exam is very difficult and mentally straining, having a calm and confident mindset is very important. While preparing you to need to be patient and have a balance between study and breaks and while giving exams you need to be cool and confident. This exam is highly unpredictable and if you panic, all of your hard work will go in vain. What many toppers did was to have a day, a week, or once a month go to somewhere to relax and have a break or you can also watch a movie or a Web series.

  7. Use of various free websites, apps, and YouTube – Gone are those days when only books and Newspapers were enough for studying because many books lack updated information, and it is difficult to read every single article in the newspaper and remember them. Smart work is more important than just hard work, this is what today many websites and apps help you do. Some helpful websites are listed below-

There is no fixed way of clearing this exam and it is constantly evolving. But there are some basic points that one has to keep in mind that we have tried to touch on in this article.

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