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UPSC IAS Exam Preparation Strategy for beginners

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How to start UPSC (CSE) IAS Preparation from Zero Level?

Every year, lakhs of people apply for the UPSC IAS examination, and only a handful of them make it through. Whenever an aspirant desired to prepare for the UPSC IAS exam frequent questions come to his/her mind i.e, how to start preparation from zero?

The Civil service exam syllabus is diverse, and candidates from all streams, i.e., Science, Commerce, and Arts, who apply for the examination required a step-by-step method to prepare for the civil services exam from zero.

The preparation for the UPSC exam has four steps that are as follows:

  1. General Studies

  2. Current Affairs 

  3. Optional Subject

  4. Writing Skills

General Studies

This is almost everything that is challenging in this UPSC syllabus. It covers under the sky and requires understanding and appreciation of concepts as well. It is very different from GK, and can't be done by reading a variety of who's who sorts of books.

Commonly you should start with this part immediately as it is the part in which you need to invest maximum time and effort and will get the maximum yield as well this will help in your UPSC preparation.

Current Affairs

This might not be relevant for you right now because generally the news and events of one year before the exam are asked.  But still, it'll be advisable that you simply start spending a minimum of half an hour a day with The Hindu.

Just read it for fun now, with no agenda. This is one of the important parts of the UPSC preparation strategy when you are starting early.

Optional Subject 

Don't worry about retaking the optional subject for now. It's not worth the time or effort, both to prepare for it and to take it. Wait until you have a good idea of what subjects you're good at because that will help you make the right choices when making your college list.

Writing Skills

The ability to write clearly and logically in good English is often regarded as the most underrated skill when it comes to UPSC preparation. However, it is an extremely critical skill when it comes to essay writing and all subjective answers.

Starting Preparation

  • Start reading relevant NCERT books from 6 to 12th standard.
  • Start Reading some newspapers and brief notes to improve general awareness
  • Listen to News and analysis on TV channels. DD/BBC/CNN/RajyaSabha channels should be preferred.

Understanding pattern of examination

  • See the whole examination from an integrated approach ( pre cum Mains approach is best)
  • Do not say let me clear the pre-first then I will start preparing for the main.
  • Always remember the important date in the whole examination manner.
  • Do not waste time thinking " Still a lot of time is left".

There There are three stages of the UPSC IAS examination


The preliminary examination is said to be the most tricky one. Here you have to deal with MCQs. You will have to attempt two papers in Prelims.


In the Mains examination, there are nine papers which makes the examination lengthy. The main examination is conducted in the Explanatory Questions and Answers pattern.


In the third stage, you need to face an interview or personality test. You will be asked several questions related to current affairs, your background, home place, etc by board members.

The final result of UPSC is calculated as per the marks of the mains and personality test.

Selection of optional

  • take into consideration factors of your own academic background, Interest, Time available, and access to resources before selecting options.
  • There is nothing like good or bad optional, lengthy and small optional, these perceptions vary from person to person depending upon individual situation and capabilities.
  • Do not decide the optional on the basis of the success of others
  • Give sufficient time to yourself to finally decide on the optional ( normally it must take around 15 days to complete the whole process)
  • No optional is scoring or not scoring, it all depends upon how you have prepared it.
  • Do not decide on the optional on the basis of general studies.
  • Take responsibility for your decision and prepare religiously.

Time management plan for CSE Exam Preparation

  • Prepare the mains part before the pre-examination ie the optional subjects should be prepared before the pre-examination.
  • Fix time limits for every aspect of the preparation
  • Newspapers should not be given more than an hour before pre.
  • Select your study material carefully as the wrong material may waste your time

Selecting Study Material

  • Do not collect the material as it comes
  • Take a conscious decision to consult an expert while choosing it or refer to past year's papers.
  • There is no "the material"
  • Do not ignore studying standard textbooks , concentrating simply on notes never helps


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