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How should I start my preparation for UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE)?

UPSC Civil Services Exam Preparation, Candidates must know it will require a lot of your attention. You need to learn time management.


The Indian Administrative Services (IAS) Exam is one of the most prestigious examination conducted by the UPSC. About a million aspirants prepare for this examination and only a fraction of people make it.

Before you try to understand the preparation journey, you must know that this examination will even require mental preparation.

You will have to set goals and plan your routine effectively, the UPSC civil services examination is divided into three stages.

  • Preliminary examination (MCQ test)
  • Mains (Written test)
  • Interview ( Personality test)

Do I need to join classes to clear the exam?

Often many students are all caught up in the dilemma whether they should go for full-time classes or home study? Well, even though coaching classes give an edge over advantage to the aspirants and eases up their preparation. It is not necessary to go for fulltime coaching.

Many online tutors can assist you. One can clear the examination by self-studying as well.

How to study for IAS at home?

Know the Syllabus- You cannot kick start studying without going through the syllabus thoroughly. The UPSC commission updates a revised version of the syllabus every year.

UPSC Preliminary Syllabus

General Studies (Paper I)

  • History ( Ancient, medieval and Modern History)
  • World and Indian Geography ( covering physical and socio-economic aspects)
  • Indian Polity
  • Economy and Social development
  • General Science ( covering Biology, physics and Climate change)
  • Current events of National & International importance.

General Studies (Paper II)

  • Interpersonal Skills and logical reasoning
  • Comprehension
  • Decision Making and analytical skills
  • Basic mathematical problems

UPSC Mains Syllabus (Total marks- 1750)

Qualifying papers (Only minimum marks are required)

  • Any Indian Language ( Pick any one from the 22 languages mentioned in the 8th schedule of Indian constitution, Like- Hindi, Odia and Sanskrit)
  • English Language paper

General Studies

Paper I- Essay

Paper II- Indian Heritage, Culture, History, World $ Indian Geography

Paper III-Indian Polity, Governance, Social Justice and International Relations

Paper IV- Ethics

Paper V- Optional Subject I

Paper VI- Optional Subject II

Interview Test

The Interview test has no particular portion, the aspirant has to brush through all the current affairs and basic concepts.

Make a Timetable- Now that you know that the vast syllabus of UPSC, you must know it will require a lot of your attention. You need to learn time management. Make your timetable and study accordingly.

UPSC examination requires both hard as well as smart study. There is no short cut to cover the lengthy portion of this competitive examination.

NCERT books- Every UPSC aspirant has to start their journey by going through the NCERT books of different subjects. These books cover basic questions and theories of different subjects from class 6TH to 12th.

And at times UPSC picks direct questions from here. So you have to be well versed with it.  Along with NCERT books, you also have to pick a few good books for additional preparation.

History – Bipan Chandra

Economy- Ramesh Singh

Indian Polity- M LakshmiKanth

Economy- Ramesh Singh

Be thorough with the news-Along with the different subjects that you have to cover as a UPSC aspirant. You will also have to keep an eye on current affairs.

One has to go through all the newspapers and make notes of all the important current affairs.

Mock tests- Only studying regularly will not help you to get through this tough examination. Make sure you enroll in different mock tests and quizzes.

This will help you better understand your mistakes in the preparation.

Past papers- Every year at least 2-3 questions are asked from the previous papers. Be thorough with your preparation.

You can get access to all the past papers for both prelims and mains from the official website of UPSC commission.

Pick an optional– The Optional Subject study is a part of UPSC mains syllabus. Many aspirants prepare for this while they are preparing for the preliminary exam. You can pick an optional subject of your own choice.

UPSC has 24 optional subjects, like economics, Indian Polity, Management and Mathematics. Many of the optional subjects overlap with the General Studies subjects.

Picking those subjects will make you cut down on extra studying for optional. Nevertheless, IAS Toppers suggest to pick an optional which matches your previous educational background.

Essay writing– Awaken the writer within you, because UPSC preparation needs it. The UPSC mains has essay writing as one of the papers.

You have to practice essay writing everyday as you cannot put 250 marks at stake.

General Studies Papers– Further UPSC mains also has GS 1, GS 2, GS 3 and GS 4. These papers are a combination of different subjects like history, culture, geography, economy, polity, and ethics.

These are full length written papers comprising of 250 marks each. To make it to the last/Interview stage of the UPSC IAS examination, one has to score the cut-off marks.

Interview test- Once you clear the cut-off marks of UPSC mains, you will have the interview test comprising of 275 marks. This will be a face to face interview with the UPSC panel. It is the final and the toughest stage of the examination.

The objective of this exam is to test the personality and ability of the candidate. Brush through all the concepts and your communication skills to clear the interview.

The Grand Total of both the UPSC main and interview is taken into consideration for the final merit list of the IAS candidature.

UPSC CSE sets the exam in a very unpredictable way, you cannot assume and eliminate any part of the syllabus. Brush through all the concepts and information and stay positive.

Consistency and hard work will help you get through with this journey!

All the best.

How Discipline Timetable can help you crack UPSC Civil Services Exam?


We all might have heard that “patience is the key to success”, but UPSC has a mix of discipline as well. The UPSC conducts examination every year, and lakhs of students appear for it. But only a handful of students make the final cut.

The only difference between the successful candidates and others is their level of dedication and discipline they blended themselves in.

UPSC civil services examination requires immense dedication as well as planning.

The preparation of the UPSC examination trains a candidate to be a civil servant. As no aspirant can get away with the exam without studying for a certain number of hours. They have to study for at least a year to clear the examination with flying colours.

Here are a few ways to build discipline you need for UPSC preparation.

  • Start small– If you are a self-study student, maintaining discipline is difficult, you need to start small. Try to develop a study routine of 4-5 hours subdivided into different activities covering the length of UPSC portion.
  • Take breaks– In the beginning of your preparation period, developing a study routine without getting bored is difficult. Playful breaks or nap will help you to regain your productivity and improve your grasping power. Prepare a timetable that is flexible and will allow you to relax and yet maintain the required focus.
  • Reward and punishment– We all tend to work 10x harder on anything if we are going to get rewarded against it. Now since you are your own teacher, reward yourself on good days and punish on the days when you go off beat.
  • Redraw strategies– Often strategies fail, and you may lack focus cause of it. Time and again you will have to draw new strategies and approaches to cover the vast syllabus of UPSC.
  • Get yourself organized– Discipline also implies getting your immediate study environment organized. Have a neat and chic study table that gives you comfort while you are studying.
  • Self-care– You cannot stay disciplined with a weak body and mind, you need to focus on self-care to stay disciplined. Meditate, exercise, and eat healthy stuff to get the energy to work on your priorities.
  • Avoid temptations– Studying for long gone hours can become too boring. But you cannot allow yourself to be distracted with the temptations around. They will drive you away from your end goal. Keep reminding yourself that your vision and mission are different.
  • Talk it out– Too many study hours will make you feel isolated and eventually hate the preparation period. But if you have friends who are preparing for the same examination then the best way to redraw your focus is by talking to them. They can help you to stay focused and you can share your thoughts and doubts with them.

Final getaway!

We have always believed that smart studying is the key to success. However, in the case of UPSC, it is quite different. UPSC preparation requires both smart study and hard work. If you are not disciplined and take UPSC Civil Services preparation lightly then you will certainly face failure.

Persistence, discipline, and confident are key requirements for any aspirant to clear the examination. Your persistent and disciplined are a waste if you lack confidence.

Thank you.

How to formulate a study plan for UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE)? Tricks and Hacks?


UPSC civil services examination is one of the toughest competitive exams of all times. A UPSC aspirant has to spend several gone hours preparing for the examination.

UPSC preparation demands discipline, an aspirant has to be in thorough touch with studying every single day up until the examination.

Now many of the aspirants join coaching classes to prepare well for this examination. However, if you are a self-study student, you need to formulate a study plan to be consistent.

Start small- UPSC has a vast syllabus and it is obvious to feel lost during your preparation. Start with small but regular study sessions.

Initially, you can dedicate 4-5hours to NCERT books and then spend an hour on newspaper reading. In the beginning, it will be tough for you to grasp the important news, you can refer to the online portals to know better.

Set daily targets– To achieve your long term goal, you have to set daily targets. As time passes by, you have to increase your study hours with predetermined targets.

You have to set your daily timetable in such a way that you are able to finish the portion before time.

Mugging up- Do not mug up the facts and figures, you are bound to forget it. You need to study the concepts and understand the actual meaning.

Often aspirants have a misconception that UPSC CSE prelim preparation demands only facts and figures. A candidate is judged on his analytical skills as well. So while you are preparing re-read and understand the concepts thoroughly.

Practice mock test- Your daily preparation must include mock tests. To know that if your preparation is in the right direction keep giving mock test papers. UPSC examination has negative marking, and since no one can know all the answers.

You have to formulate an elimination technique to score sufficient marks with negative marking. At first mark only those answers that you are 100% sure of. Then go ahead with the second batch of questions that holds a 50-50% chance.

Make sure you take a wise decision as with every wrong answer you will be losing 0.66 marks extra. And finally, leave the questions that you are not at all sure about.

Interconnection – UPSC has a vast syllabus, however, if you notice, every subject is inter connected. It is more like connecting the dots.

Indian culture with Indian history which impacted the Indian constitution and so on our economy. If you plan well and study regularly, you can not only complete the portion on time but also memorize it easily.

Breaks are a must! – UPSC as vast as it is also has other effects on an aspirant. With every passing day, you may want to quit.

But hold on to that feeling, it is just anxiety before the examination. Take breaks, remember, all work and no play will make you dull! Small breaks during preparation will help you feel rejuvenated and improve your brain’s grasping power as well.

Last minute preparation – Often aspirants try to cover as much as they can before the final examination. However, this will not be beneficial.

UPSC demands constant revision. One has to avoid last minute studying of any new topic under anyone’s influence. Allocate time to revision and mock tests in the last 3 months of your preparation.

CSAT II– Often aspirants take the CSAT II examination lightly. You must know that it does require preparation even though it is a qualifying exam.

To clear the examination an aspirant has to score 66/200 marks. And let us tell you, often aspirants fail to score it. Spend one hour a day preparing for CSAT II, go through comprehension and passages and practice analytical mathematical problems.

Final getaway

UPSC preparation is a mixture of hard work and smart study. Every aspirant has to be consistent. Even if you are a working professional, you will have to dedicate a certain number of hours in your day.

Even an average student can clear UPSC with flying colours, if they were fairly regular during the preparation time.

Learn, Practice and Revise has been the mantra of every UPSC topper so far. You just need to buckle and stay positive.

Thank you.

How to choose the optional subject for UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE) Mains Exam?


The prestigious IAS examination has been conducted by UPSC has three stages. Prelims, Mains and Interview test.

UPSC preliminary examination has an MCQ pattern, whereas UPSC mains is a full-fledged written examination. Every year lakhs of aspirants attempt the UPSC examination but only a handful make it to the final cut off.

The final cut off is decided on the cumulative marks of UPSC mains and Interview test.

What is the syllabus for UPSC mains?

UPSC Mains Syllabus comprises of Total marks- 1750.

Qualifying papers (Only minimum marks are required)

  • Any Indian Language ( Pick any one from the 22 languages mentioned in the 8th schedule of Indian constitution, Like- Hindi, Odia, and Sanskrit)
  • English Language paper

General Studies                 

Paper I- Essay

Paper II- Indian Heritage, Culture, History, World $ Indian Geography

Paper III-Indian Polity, Governance, Social Justice and International Relations

Paper IV- Ethics

Paper V- Optional Subject I

Paper VI- Optional Subject II

Why is an optional subject so important?

An Optional subject that you choose is one of your strongest pursuits. This will help you score maximum marks in UPSC CSE mains examination.

Many a time, aspirants take this lightly, and do not weigh the pros and cons before making a choice.

One has to be familiar with the optional subject so that they can easily prepare for it within a short span of time. As the time gap between UPSC prelims and mains is very small, you have to buck up with the preparation.

Also, you must know that UPSC expects you to know your optional subject choice while you are filling forms for UPSC prelims.

Once you fill in your choice, you cannot back off. Hence it is a very crucial decision that you need to ponder on!

List of Optional subjects.

  • Agriculture
  • Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  • Anthropology
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • History law
  • Management
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medical Science
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Zoology
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Electrical engineering
  • Commerce and accounting

Tips on how to choose your optional subject?

  • Graduation Field- Every UPSC aspirant is a graduate in one of the either subjects. Veterans say that picking your graduation subject will help you a lot during preparation. As you have spent a significant amount of time learning the subject. So if you have confidence and liking towards the same, pick your graduation subject as optional paper.
  • GS Papers– If you notice, many of the optional subjects are a part of your GS syllabus as well. If you pick one of those as your optional paper, you will have one less to study overall. Picking an optional subject overlapping with mandatory subjects to study would be a smarter choice.
  • Confused between two? – Well, many a time aspirants are confused between two optional subjects. In this case, you can refer to the past papers and UPSC topper’s choices. These past records will help you understand the degree of toughness an optional has. Go through all the past papers and only then make a wise choice.
  • Popular choices– You may be confused as to what is a popular choice? Well, a popular optional subject is the one that is a scoring subject, easy to understand and a subject for which notes and books are easily available. According to the UPSC toppers and track record, many aspirants choose subject like history, geography and Political Science and Philosophy as their optional.
  • Easiest to manage– There are few subjects like phycology and philosophy which are easy to study and interesting. Studying such subjects can work like rejuvenation break from your GS preparation. You will be excited and pumped during your preparation. Scan the subject list properly, check their syllabus and if it is exciting as per you. You can choose the same as your optional.

Do you need coaching for Optional Subject?

There has been a myth that to prepare for your optional subject you would require coaching. Nevertheless, it is not true. You can prepare for your optional subject all by yourself, if you choose it wisely.

Do a little back ground study on every optional before you finally choose it.

Final getaway!

Covering UPSC mains syllabus in 3-4 months after preliminary exams could be tricky for every aspirant. Which is why it is advisable for them to make a smart choice with respect to UPSC optional subject.

Choose an optional subject that you are familiar with and interested in. Make sure you are somehow acquainted with it and the study material is easily available for it.

You can also scan the choices of previous UPSC toppers and know their views to make a smarter choice.