How Can I Start Preparing for UPSC Civil Services- Best Guide for Beginners


The UPSC Civil Services test is the entryway to energizing vocations. For instance, Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), and Indian Police Service (IPS). Lakhs of individuals endeavor this prestigious administration assessment. As just two or three hundred seats are regularly accessible, the competition is cut-throat. To beat the competition, it’s critical to plan altogether and give yourself the most extreme possibility of progress.

The UPSC Civil services Exam, being the hardest test in the nation, requires something other than preparation. An objective without appropriate groundwork stays a simple dream. This is additionally evident on account of UPSC. The UPSC test can’t be split by simply being a bibliophile. It requires what is called “technique in addition to planning”.

A decent methodology draws a slender line of division among hardworking and smart working applicants. The latter turns out to be more gainful with fewer sources of info. Although, the previous is less beneficial with more sources.

upsc civil services
January 14, 2022
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Table of Contents

When to Begin and How to Prepare for UPSC Civil services Exam?

How to Prepare for UPSC Civil services Exam

You have the conviction, you have the energy and a vocation in Civil Service is your objective. Presently, comes the way to your objective. A few hopefuls start planning for the UPSC Civil Services legitimately from secondary school and others begin concentrating just 7 months before the tests. The perfect opportunity to begin getting ready is over the most recent couple of long stretches of your graduation degree as you can endeavor the test just once you graduate. To begin with your preparation, start with NCERT books. You can start perusing NCERT book for Political Science, History, Economics, and Geography from Class 6-10 levels, considering the Civil Services official schedule.

Start altogether perusing newspapers consistently. For instance, contrast the recent developments and hypothetical information concentrated in Political Science, History, Geography, and Economics. Plan customized notes, concentrating on your feeble focuses and how you recollect things best. Take the help of the considerable number of assets in your capacity. Whether it’s a guide from previous educators, online recordings, manuals, and instructing focuses, you can consider either of them. Make certain to utilize your time astutely, concentrate with full dedication, and test yourself consistently.

We have prepared a guide for IAS and civil services exam as well

Understand the UPSC Civil Services Exam Syllabus and Create a Strategy

An exact comprehension of the nature, clearness, and extent of the schedule is vital for an acceptable arrangement. It causes in understanding what to peruse and what not to peruse. The questions posed in the test are consistently inside the schedule and henceforth watching out for the syllabus is basic.

Also, before you begin your preparation, a keen technique should be scripted remembering the subtleties of each progression that you need to experience. A legitimate system is a broad arrangement about what you are doing, how you are getting along it, and what assets you need.

Choosing the Optional Subject

There are an incredible 27 choices accessible for the 2 Optional Papers of the Mains assessment for UPSC Civil Services. Whichever subject you pick will be pertinent to the two papers, which are worth 250 denotes each. You need to go through an intensive thorough consideration of the upsides and downsides of the subjects you have as a main priority. Henceforth, you ought to pick an optional subject carefully. A portion of the components you must remember before choosing a subject area:

  • Enthusiasm for the subject
  • Earlier information in it/scholarly foundation
  • Cover with the GS papers
  • Accessibility of training
  • Accessibility of study material

Your score in the Mains test of the UPSC Civil Services Examination will demonstrate the alternatives you have in picking a field among the diverse Civil Services. Select a subject that you are agreeable in, and one that is scoring. Experience earlier year papers to show signs of improvement thought of what you will confront. Some well-known choices for the optional subject are Sociology, Public Administration, and Anthropology. By picking an optional subject that is likewise a piece of the Mains Examination General Papers, you can score better grades in the two segments.

Study the Pattern

Applicants must experience the earlier years’ question papers. It helps in deciding the sort of questions and helps in recognizing the best source of study material. An investigation of earlier years’ papers helps in understanding the prospectus from a superior point of view. Moreover, it helps distinguish the territories from which more questions have been posted. Practice tests prove to be useful for competitors. These tests assist all applicants in getting ready for the mains. Above all, they help in learning time on the board.

Choose Your Resources

UPSC Civil services Exam

Finding good resources and study material is certifiably not a basic task and requires appropriate direction. It is consistently a smart thought to start readiness by getting subject essentials set up. The best source to get a hang on different subjects is the NCERT books (from class VI to class XII). The ease of use of the information that you get from books or papers is a significant advance in the UPSC arrangement. You should be savvy enough to fit a bit of fact or information in the most ideal manner. The Internet helps in staying refreshed with whatever is occurring near. Nonetheless, the use of the Internet helps the applicants make worthy increments to their planning.

When to Start UPSC Civil Services Coaching?

For applicants, coaching may appear the perfect method to get an edge and put you in front of the competition. With all the coaching institutes expanding across the country, when and where would it be advisable for you to start?

Firstly, start your preparations by yourself. This will try out your drive and ability for seeking after investigations for Civil Services. Prepare at any rate the first round of notes and start perusing papers consistently before you join coaching. Endeavor a couple of mock papers and get a thought of the Civil Services assessment generally. Secondly, you should join instructing. By and large, coaching is viewed as more important for the Mains assessment in contrast with the Prelims. This is because the Mains include subjective type answers. In case you don’t have much time left before the prelims, join instructing to accelerate the update procedure.  Utilize a coaching center to enhance your endeavors. Explore your options to locate the best training community.

Get acquainted with the UPSC exam syllabus

The first and foremost thing you need to do is jot down the crux of the syllabus. Get a clear understanding of the nature, scope, and depth knowledge of the way the examining body constructs the syllabus. This is the most crucial step because it clears the kind of books you need to refer to and the kind you needn’t. This will save up a huge chunk of your time and energy.

Filter out the important topics

It would be best to be very precise with the topics you will devote most of your time to. You need to be familiar with the pattern with the paper and jot down the difficult and repetitive segments of the syllabus. Hard work surely yields great results, but you need to be smart with your approach. You need to read the core and the crux of the syllabus wholeheartedly. The study material you will choose will also play a big role in helping you get prepared. So be wise and well aware of the material you choose. Revisions are a long way to go. The topics that trouble you and are at the same time equally important, you should revise them repeatedly.

Strategize: Create a time table

Now you are well aware of the syllabus and where to study from. The next important thing on the agenda is to develop a schedule that will help manage your time well. Since you are applying for a very high-rank officer job, it’s better to start preparing yourself beforehand with a well-organized routine. Start by setting small goals and achieving them. Build up a timetable that’s comfortable according to you and follow it strictly. Make deadlines for yourself. This gives you an ample amount of time to finish your syllabus and revise it well before the exam.

Notice the pattern

Candidates appearing before the UPSC exam must go through the past year question papers. This step helps decipher the pattern and the type of questions you can expect. This is one of the key steps in your preparation. Whenever you apply for an entrance exam, the basic thing any applicant does is solve the previous year’s papers that help decode how the examining body sets the exam. Analytical reading of past papers helps lay out the structure of the exam and better understand the syllabus. Moreover, it also depicts which areas cover the most questions and weigh more than the rest of the syllabus.

Make sure you go through the sample or the practice papers. This will prove how prepared you are and which areas you need to work more on. These papers will help you in your preparation for mains and will be a great aid for you to learn how to manage your time during those 3 hours.

You can also read our blog on the best optional subject for UPSC.

Be thorough with the current affairs

When you tell people that you are preparing for the UPSC exam, the one thing you must have heard is “Do read The Hindu newspaper daily.” Newspapers weigh almost the same as the syllabus regarding relevance and importance. Current affairs across the globe constitute a dynamic part of the exam. You can pick one national newspaper and read it daily till the day you give your exam. Cover all sections of the newspaper, including the pages incorporating international issues. Remember you need to allow around 25-30 minutes of newspaper reading in the timetable that you have set yourself during this preparation period. Apart from this, you can go for certain magazines like Reader’s Digest. Read them in your free time on weekends. These magazines can prove to be very informative.

Preparing for Prelims

The Preliminary test for the UPSC Civil Services comprises two papers. Paper I is General Studies worth 200 imprints with 100 numerous decision questions. Paper II is an Aptitude test worth 200 imprints with 80 different decision questions.

The schedule for Paper I comprises current affairs, history of India, Indian commonwealth, Indian and world topography, Indian administration. It also includes financial and social development, general science, and general issues on the natural environment, biodiversity, and environmental change. The prospectus for Paper-II incorporates perception, sensible thinking, fundamental numeracy, and dynamic and critical thinking.

The Prelims go about as a passing assessment to arrive at the Mains, thus scoring great imprints is significant. Since there are 100 inquiries to reply to in a short time, a normal 40 seconds ought to be spent per question. Aside from realities, the Prelims test your lucidity of ideas, the intensity of maintenance, and the capacity to distinguish the right decision. Study the schedule altogether and invest energy in clearing your essential ideas. Concentrate on training tests to pick up precision and speed to improve your odds of clearing the Prelims.

Preparing for Mains

The Mains assessment for the Civil Services comprises abstract answers. This helps in testing your insight, expository abilities, composing aptitudes, and deliberate focus. There is an aggregate of 9 papers in the Mains assessment. This includes 4 General Studies Papers, 1 Essay Paper, 2 Language Papers, and 2 Optional Subject Papers. Each of the 9 Papers is abstract sort and occurs over a span of 5 days.

To plan for the Mains test, prepare from NCERT textbooks, and online resources. For example, the National Institute of Open Schooling and IGNOU study material. Read notable national papers like The Hindu and The Indian Express and top magazines thoroughly. For example, The Economist and India Today. Focus on the publications, particularly the composing style utilized.  Work on composing consistently and work on composing answers for the different papers. Find your solutions checked by a mentor or coach to comprehend your powerless focuses and improve.

Preparing for Personal Interviews

The Personal Interview or character test is worth 275 marks of the all-out 2025 marks considered for granting positions. Past patterns have indicated that up-and-comers scoring better grades in PI show signs of improvement in rankings generally in the UPSC Civil Services test.  Significantly in the wake of clearing the Mains assessment, keep on being refreshed on current affairs, contemporary socio-political occasions, and general knowledge because such points are examined in the Personal Interview. By and large, the meeting looks at the character of competitors as far as mental readiness, diagnostic capacity, ways to deal with basic issues, uprightness, and authority characteristics.

To get ready for the individual meeting, practice open talking, and your conversational aptitudes. Talk before a mirror to examine your non-verbal communication and certainty. Join talks with training classes to get settled with talking in interviews. Also, to get constructive criticism on the best way to improve yourself. Upon the arrival of the meeting, be sure, dress flawlessly, and remain quiet in the discussion.

UPSC exam pattern 

The UPSC examination is formally divided into two levels, Preliminary and Mains Examination, but it is a three-stage exam in reality. 
According to the IAS exam pattern, candidates who pass the Prelims are qualifying for the Mains, and those who pass the Mains proceed to the interview round. 

For Preliminary Examination 

For the Preliminary level, the UPSC exam pattern consists of two papers conducted on the same day. The objective-type questions on both papers include multiple choice answers. The prelims test is a screening process that selects applicants for the mains exam. The marks obtained do not count against the final merit list, but applicants should work hard for this test because cut-offs change year to year and are based on the overall grade. 

For Mains Examination 

The UPSC Mains test consists of nine papers conducted over 5-7 days. Only those candidates who scored at least the specified cut-off in General Studies I and 33 percent in General Studies II in the Prelims Examination will be eligible to take the Mains Exam. According to the exam pattern, all of the UPSC Mains exam papers consist of descriptive response style questions. 

But for the language papers A and B, all of the mains papers are merit-based. Papers A and B are qualified papers, and applicants must score at least 25% in each to get their marks from Paper I to Paper VII weighted. Candidates from Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and candidates with hearing disabilities, are excluded from Paper A if they are not, they can show that they have been exempted from specific 2nd or 3rd language courses by their respective board or university. The Indian Language paper contains all of the languages mentioned in the Constitution’s 8th Schedule. 

Stage I: Preliminary Exam – Held every year in June. In August, the results will be announced. 
Stage 2: Mains Exam – Held every year in October. In January, the results will be announced. 
Every year in March, a personality test (interview) was held. In most cases, the final findings are announced in May. 
The preparation curriculum for the chosen applicants typically begins in September of the following year. 

You can also read How to start preparation for UPSC Civil Service Exams.

UPSC exam syllabus 

For services like the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Police Service, and Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), to name a few, there is a standard UPSC syllabus pattern. Different levels of the IAS test, however, have different syllabuses. The UPSC Prelims syllabus emphasizes general and societal understanding, assessed by multiple-choice (MCQ) questions. The UPSC Mains syllabus is even more detailed, as there are nine theory papers in this stage. 

The preliminary examination begins with the General Studies test. This exam is designed to assess a candidate’s general knowledge of various topics, including Indian politics, geography, history, Indian economy, science and technology, environment and ecology, international relations, and UPSC current events. 

You may also like to read Best Optional Subject for UPSC.

Apart from ‘Reading Comprehension and the frequently asked ‘Decision Making’ questions, this UPSC Prelims syllabus for CSAT aims to test the candidate’s aptitude in answering ‘Reasoning and Analytical’ questions. Negative marks are normally not provided to questions that are dependent on decision-making. The preliminary assessment is only used to screen candidates for the exam’s following levels. When calculating the final rank list, the marks earned in the Prelims will not be added separately. 

 UPSC Prelims Syllabus 

Important national and international activities are currently taking place. India’s history and the Indian National Movement. India’s and the World’s Geography- India’s and the World’s Physical, Social, and Economic Geography Indian Politics and Governance: Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, and Other Aspects Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Policies, and Other Aspects of Economic and Social Development Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity, and Climate Change are examples of broad topics that do not include subject specialization. General Science. 

Comprehensive question and answers, logical reasoning and analytical skills, general aptitude, mental ability, Number Theory, Data Interpretation and handling, cognitive ability, interpersonal skills, decision making, and problem-solving. 

UPSC Mains Syllabus 

The Civil Services Examination is divided into two phases. The first of which is the preliminary examination and the second of which is the main examination. Candidates would be allowed to write the IAS Mains exam only if they have passed the prelims exam. The Mains exam assesses a candidate’s academic performance and ability to present their interpretation according to the question’s specifications on time. 

Paper – I, which is an Essay part. 
Paper-II is General Studies – I contain subjects are Indian culture & Heritage, Geography of the world & society. 
Paper – III is General Studies – II contains subjects like Indian Constitution, polity, Social justice & International Relations. & Paper – IV in General Studies – III contains subjects like Technology, Disaster management, Biodiversity, Economic development, etc., 
Paper – V is General Studies – IV contains subjects like Ethics, Aptitude & Integrity. & Paper – VI is an Optional Subject – Paper I. 
Finally, Paper – VII is an Optional Subject – Paper-II. 

UPSC exam eligibility 

Candidates must satisfy the following conditions to be eligible for the UPSC exam: 

For the IAS Examination, you must be an Indian resident of Indian origin, or a subject of Nepal, Bhutan, or Tibet who settled in India before January 1, 1962. The candidate must have a graduate degree from a recognized board to appear for the IAS test. 
The candidate must be at least 21 years old and not more than 32 years old to sit the UPSC IAS exam.

Final Thoughts

To make your preparation worthwhile and enhance your resume, you can work as Chegg subject matter experts for the subjects you have chosen for specialization in your UPSC test. This has a two-fold advantage. Firstly, you will be earning while sitting at your home. Secondly, you will be learning more related to your area of preparation. Being a subject matter expert, you will enhance your managerial skills and earn while you learn. You can be subject matter experts of Chegg for subjects like Economics, Sciences, Computers, Mathematics, and Psychology depending upon your interest.

An occupation in the Civil Services isn’t simple, particularly when there are lakhs of individuals competing for a similar position. The job of the Civil Services workforce is basic for the country; and through the troublesome choice procedure, just the top remains. To be one of the chosen, it’s essential to try sincerely and study savvy. So, be calm and prepare with strict time management and most importantly, enjoy your preparation.

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