How to Prepare for IAS Prelims in Two Months

“There is nothing impossible to him who will try.” – Alexander the Great

 Many IAS hopefuls might be wondering if it is possible to crack the UPSC Prelims in just 60 days. The answer is a resounding YES. People have done it before, and you can do it too! You need to follow a plan and work really hard. Remember, nothing is impossible!

Also, Read | Power of Self-Belief Can Help You Crack UPSC Civil Services

Just follow the steps given below and see for yourself what magic you create!

# 1: Know The IAS Exam Pattern

First of all, you must be aware of the IAS exam pattern. There are three stages for the IAS exam:

  1. UPSC Prelims
  2. UPSC Mains
  3. Personality Test/UPSC Board Interview

You have to clear the prelims exam to be eligible to take the IAS Mains exam.

The Prelims consists of two papers – General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper-II (which is more commonly known as the CSAT)




Total Marks 200 200
Duration 2 Hours 2 Hours
No. of Questions 100 80
Objective Type Yes Yes
Negative Marks Yes Yes

There are three types of MCQs in the IAS Prelims. They are:

  • MCQ – single response correct
  • MCQ – many responses correct
  • MCQ – match the following

Read further details about the UPSC Exam Scheme here.

# 2: Know The IAS Prelims Syllabus

IAS Syllabus for GS Paper I:

  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialisation General Science.

IAS Syllabus for CSAT:

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills;
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy & Data Interpretation

# 3: Go Through Previous Year Question Papers

You must go through the previous year UPSC question papers so that even with the time crunch, you will get a fair idea of the kind of questions asked by the UPSC. Also, know that the USPC doesn’t repeat questions. This will help you prioritise your studies.

Get the previous years IAS question papers here.

# 4: Test Yourself

Always assess yourself through mock tests. This is especially important for the prelims since you have negative marks here. In the case of MCQs such as IAS prelims papers, you need to pace your answer writing to be able to finish off the papers. There are two key factors here:

  • You must complete your paper.
  • You must be careful while choosing an option as the answer since you will be penalised for wrong answers.

This is where mock tests can help. They help you in the following ways:

  • You can know precisely how much time you can spend on a question.
  • You can learn the art of intelligent guessing. Read more on avoiding negative marks.
  • Practising mock tests will surely increase your speed of answering the papers.
  • Finally, you will be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. You can know what topics need more focus, etc.

# 5: Subject-wise Strategies


For the IAS prelims, concentrate more on Modern History and Art & Culture.

Books for history prelims:


History of Modern India – Bipan Chandra

India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra

For Art & Culture – NCERT Books


In this subject, you have Indian Geography and World Geography. Indian Geography is given more weightage in the UPSC Prelims. Here, you must focus on:

  • Indian Physiography
  • Climate
  • Rivers of India
  • Soil and Types of Soil in India
  • India’s mineral wealth
  • Forests
  • Agriculture
  • Human Geography
  • Wildlife and conservation

In World Geography, you must focus on Earth, Universe, Land Forms and their Formation, Wind System, Atmosphere, Clouds and Precipitation, Hydrosphere, and Climate Types and Climatic regions of the world.

          Books for geography prelims:

          Certificate Physical and Human Geography – G.C. Leong

          Wizard Geography


Remember that in polity questions asked are both static and dynamic. So, give importance to any significant judgements delivered by the courts, any new bills and acts passed by the Parliament, etc. Always relate what you read to the UPSC Syllabus.

Books for polity prelims:

Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations – M. Laxmikanth

Introduction to the Constitution of India – Durga Das Basu


In the case of economics, which can be scary if you don’t have an economics background, make sure to get your basics right. For the basics, go through the NCERTs.

Principles of Macroeconomics – Std. XII

Principles of Microeconomics – Std. XII

Indian Economic Development – Std. XI

March of the Indian Economy – I.C. Dhingra

Go through the Budget and Economic Survey.


For basics on General Science, go through the NCERTs. For current affairs on technology, go through The Hindu’s Science & Technology section. Also, keep abreast of the latest happenings in the science and technology fields. Remember that the static portions are also asked keeping in mind current affairs.


For this section, go through the NCERTs of Geography (VI to XI), Science (VII to X), Economics (XI), Biology (XII) and chemistry (XII) subjects. Also, go through ‘Ecology and Environment’ by P.D. Sharma.


Always have current affairs at the back of your head while you prepare for the IAS Prelims. Try to relate what you read in the daily newspapers with the UPSC syllabus. This will help you channelise your IAS prelims preparation.

Check Current Affairs in the linked article.

  • CSAT

In the case of CSAT, you must score a minimum of 33% to qualify for the IAS Mains exam. Go through ‘CSAT Manual: General Studies for Civil Services Preliminary Examination (Paper – 2)’ by TMH for a good understanding of the topics covered in this paper. This book also includes practice test papers and solved previous year UPSC CSAT question papers.

Read the list of NCERT books to prepare for IAS Prelims.

Other Pointers to help you crack the IAS Prelims in 2 months:

  • Rise early for your IAS studies.
  • Develop discipline in your life.
  • Eat healthily and exercise to stay fit and avoid lethargy.
  • Beat stress through meditation and Yoga. Read more…
  • Stay positive.
  • Avoid negative thoughts and negative people.
  • Revise and practice daily.
  • Have short term goals and accomplish them.
  • Stay motivated and think about your IAS dream whenever you feel bogged down by the enormity of the situation.
  • Two days can change a lifetime. So what about two months? You can surely crack the first barricade to your destination at this time if you put in the right effort and have the right attitude. All the Best!

Also, Read | When to Start Preparing for IAS Exam?

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