How to Prepare for UPSC Civil Services (IAS) Exam?

The UPSC conducts the civil service IAS Exam annually to recruit the candidates for different posts under the government of India. This is considered as the prestigious profession where they will be serving the country and people. The UPSC IAS exam is the toughest exam in the nation. But if approached wisely, one can crack this exam easily. In this article, you will read some golden tips and strategies on how to prepare for IAS exam.

UPSC has released the dates for 2019 UPSC IAS Exam. In this scenario, we are giving you the entire strategy for preparing for IAS exam. This includes the syllabus for IAS Exam, the complete details of NCERT book list, previous year question paper and tips to preparing for IAS exam.

How to prepare for civil services?/How to prepare for IAS Exam?

Right knowledge about exam

The primary footstep towards Civil Services IAS Exam is to make acquainted you with the pattern of the examination. The Civil Services IAS Exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission annually, in three stages. These stages are Prelim, Mains and interview

Preliminary Exam has two papers and this exam is objective in nature. The pattern of UPSC IAS Prelim exam is given below.

Papers Duration Questions Marks
Paper I – General Studies 2 Hours 100 200
Paper II – Aptitude 2 Hours 80 200

How to prepare for civil services?

Civil Services IAS mains exam is descriptive in nature. It consists of nine papers. It also includes an optional paper. The candidate those who are successful in Mains written exam will be called for interview, the third stage.

Knowing the Syllabus

The syllabus for IAS Prelims and Mains are not easy one. It is vast and wide. It includes various subjects. The syllabus for IAS Prelims and Syllabus for IAS mains are given below.

Syllabus for IAS Prelims:

General Studies Paper I Syllabus

  • Current Affairs: Events of national and international importance
  • Indian and World Geography – Social, Economic and Physical geography of world and India.
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Political System, Constitution, Public Policy, Panchayati Raj and the History of India including the Indian National Movement
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, climate Change, and Biodiversity
  • Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
  • General Science

General Studies Paper II Syllabus

  • Comprehension
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • Data Interpretation ( Class X level)
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy ( Class X level)
  • English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level)

Syllabus for IAS Mains:

1. Essay  
2. Any modern Indian language 3. English
4. General Studies- Paper-I

History and Geography of the World and Society

 Indian Heritage and Culture

5. General Studies- Paper-II

Governance and  Constitution


Social Justice

International relations

6. General Studies- Paper-III

Economic Development



Disaster Management




7. General Studies- Paper-IV


 Integrity and Aptitude

8. Optional Paper- I 9. Optional Paper- II

Right sources of books

IAS Exam General Studies include an enormous thing to study. The aspirants have to master in the general studies paper in order to crack both prelims and mains the Mains examination. For this aspirant should start from the scratch. The NCERT books will help one to build basic conceptual idea in different subjects. The aspirant should make notes along with reading NCERT book. These notes will further help you in revision.

 For mains, apart from NCERT, aspirant needs to read more detailed reference books. As it is descriptive in nature one should have enough amount of knowledge to tackle the general studies written paper in IAS Mains examination. So wide reading is recommended here. Here we are giving the complete list of important NCERT books for IAS exam. Click the link to know about the Complete List of NCERT Books Needed for UPSC Preparation

Knowledge of the right books is an important step in understanding how to prepare for UPSC exams.

Read right newspaper daily

The newspaper is considered the best friend of a UPSC aspirant.  Aspirants would be careful while choosing the newspaper. They have to choose one- two good newspapers which give the authentic information. Refer utmost two English newspapers daily not more than that. The mainly suggested newspapers are The Hindu, Indian express, Business standard and Economic times. Along with reading the newspaper one has to make a short note on current affairs.

Right guidance and strategies

To crack UPSC IAS Exam, one should need a right guidance. Without a proper guidance, no one can achieve anything. The success comes from proper guidance, strategies, and hard work.

For prelims on has to be thorough with the general studies and current affairs. But for UPSC mains exam, one has put more effort. The Mains paper is a written one. So, the aspirant should practice answer writing on daily basis for mains exam. This will enhance the speed and mold the aspirant to draft perfect answers for IAS Mains exam. Candidates have to choose one optional subject for UPSC mains exam. The optional paper has two papers.

For both prelims and mains exam, the syllabus has divided into subject wise. This will ease one’s preparation for IAS Exam. The aspirant has to adopt a different strategy for different subjects. This should be formulated according to the nature of the subject. Along with that aspirant need to understand their weak subject and should spend more time on it.

Previous year question paper

The previous year question papers are considered as the best source information. Analyzing the previous year question paper will help one candidate to understand the pattern and nature of questions UPSC asked. Solving previous year question paper is a way of self-assessment. By solving the previous year question paper one will get to know about their weak as well as strong areas. Candidates should analyze the previous year question paper in a detailed manner along with the answer key provided by UPSC to understand the pattern of question asked by UPSC.

 Mock test

Self-assessment is very important before you appearing for any exam. When we were in school they used to conduct the model test for us. But UPSC does not conduct any model test. So it is highly recommended to join a test series to boost your IAS exam preparation. Mock test will help you to assess yourself. These are an important instrument to know what is missing in your preparation and to understand the changes you need to make in your preparation.  The mock test will increase the accuracy and speed which are essential for both prelims and mains exam. Solving mock test papers will help you understand how to write IAS exam. The test series will help you to obtain a good score in Prelims and mains.

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