Are 6 Months Enough to Clear UPSC Prelims?

The Union Public Service Commission’s (UPSC) Civil Services Examination is widely recognised as one of the most challenging in the country. Everyone knows that preparing for the Civil Services is a demanding task that requires a range of strategies and a great deal of effort. Normally, an aspirant must dedicate at least 10 to 12 months of dedicated and consistent studies to pass the exam; nevertheless, this does not dismiss the possibility of cracking the exam in less time. Many applicants wonder if they can pass the prelims exam in 6 months once they realise it’s crunch time. To be honest, clearing the UPSC prelims exam in 6 months is quite difficult. It is still feasible to make it if one is willing to devote all of its time to studies.

UPSC 180 Days Strategy

If you have some pre-existing knowledge of the subject matter, the preparations will become a little less hectic for you, otherwise be prepared to put your mind and body both for some challenging times ahead. A 6 months long period is neither sufficient nor insufficient for UPSC prelims, it all depends upon the aspirant’s dedication and willingness to make it work. Reading the standard books for UPSC, making quick and concise notes, efficient revision and practising mock tests simultaneously would help you achieve the targets.

Your 6 months timetable would consist of following components:

  1. Priority
  2. Books and Resources
  3. Highly Effective Timetable

Prioritise Everything in Your Life

Literally! With only 6 months left in hand, you cannot afford to mismanage your daily routine. Prioritise studies, chores and other aspects of your life so as to make yourself available for studies as much as possible. Prioritisation will allow you to focus on the things that are most important for the IAS exam.

  • Study/revise the themes that will be questioned more in the preliminary exam. For instance, , the below mentioned subjects have the highest weightage in the pre exam, in descending order:
  1. History and Art & Culture
  2. Geography and Environment
  3. Polity
  4. Economics
  • Don’t stress about the CSAT; instead, set aside one or two full days per month to prepare for it. Remember that you only need to get a score of more than 33% and not the highest on the paper.
    • Determine which topics in the CSAT you are most competent with and devote more time to them. If your English language skills are good, fine-tune them along with studying Maths/Reasoning for sufficiently extra marks to achieve more than 66 marks.
  • Try not wasting a lot of time reading newspapers every day. Watch Daily Video Analysis of The Hindu Newspaper by BYJU’S, and then scan the newspaper for anything significant that has been overlooked. Only watch videos for the first five months.
    • Please do not follow any newspaper analysis or read the newspaper throughout the sixth month. This month should be entirely devoted to the Prelims.
  • If you believe that the video analysis takes too long and you can read quickly, consider checking out Daily Comprehensive News Analysis by BYJU’S and invest your time in something else.
  • Rather than turning to video analysis, CNA, or any other resources for current affairs earlier than these six months, read BYJU’S Free Monthly Current Affairs Magazine.

List of Current Affairs Articles for UPSC

Books and Study Materials

A six months long time duration is enough to cover all the standard books along with one or two revisions of them. Remember to not overburden yourself with any extra resources than the ones mentioned below. To save time you might want to underline the important stuffs in the books or PDF itself instead of making notes, it totally depends on your feasibility and personal choices. Below is a table of suggested booklets and resources to crack UPSC Prelims in 6 months:

Subject/Topic Books/ Resources
Modern Indian History A Brief History of Modern India by Spectrum Publication
Medieval Indian History Medieval History NCERT Notes by BYJU’S
Ancient Indian History Ancient History NCERT Notes by BYJU’S
Art and Culture Indian Art and Culture of Nitin Singhania by McGraw Hill Publications


  • Geography NCERT Books for Classes 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th
Environment and Ecology


  • Environment Notes PDF by Shankar IAS
Indian Polity and Governance Indian Polity of M. Laxmikanth by McGraw Hill Publications
Science and Technology
  • Science and Technology Notes by LA Excellence


Current Affairs of past 1 year Monthly Current Affairs Magazine by BYJU’S

6 Months Schedule

These six months, or 180 days, will require not only your commitment and determination, but also your regularity in preparation. The following is a 180 days study timetable; slight changes can be made according to your convenience and exact plan:

Subjects / Topics Number of Days for 1st Reading Number of Days for 1st Revision / 2nd Reading Number of Days for 2nd Revision / 3rd Reading
Modern History 12 Days 06 Days 04 Days
Medieval History 01 Day 02 Days 02 Days
Ancient History 02 Days
Art and Culture 04 Days 02 Days 02 Days
Geography 08 Days 04 Days 04 Days
Environment and Ecology 05 Days 04 Days 04 Days
Indian Polity and Governance 12 Days 04 Days 04 Days
Economics 10 Days 05 Days 03 Days
Science and Technology 02 Days 01 Day 01 Day
Current Affairs of past 1 year 14 Days 07 Days 07 Days
Total 70 Days 35 Days 33 Days

If you finish the reading and/or revision before the aforementioned timeframe, you may move on to the third revision of the same topics/subject or another subject in which you are less confident about. Only 35 days should be spent solving practice tests out of the remainder 42 days. Given that taking a mock exam takes 2 hours, plus another 2 hours for assessment and reading the solution/explanation, a total of 4 hours is required, and you may attempt 2 to 3 mock tests per day for the next 35 days, resulting in a total of 70 to 105 mock tests, which is a pretty good number.

Related Links:

UPSC Prelims Syllabus UPSC Mains Syllabus
UPSC Prelims NCERT Books Choosing the right Optional Subject
Download NCERT Books for UPSC UPSC Interview


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