How to Prepare for UPSC Prelims at Home?

Civil Services Examination is conducted by the UPSC every year to recruit officers for various reputed government posts. It is indeed one of the most challenging examinations in the country. There are three stages of this examination namely Prelims, Mains and IAS Interview. The UPSC Prelims 2019 will be conducted on 2nd June 2019.

The first stage,i.e. Prelims exam consists of two papers, both of them being objective type. This is perhaps the easiest of all the rounds but still takes a planned and dedicated approach on the part of the candidates to clear it. It is important to do guided IAS preparation otherwise you might end up in studying unnecessary things. There are candidates confident enough to do self preparation for IAS at home, and are frequently bothered with the question “How to prepare for IAS Prelims without coaching?”, this article can help you gather a few ideas and tips to help you sail through the process.

IAS Preparation Syllabus for Prelims and Exam Format

You can check out the complete IAS Prelims syllabus here. It is a good idea to download and save the syllabus for future reference. The subjects which Prelims exam covers are:

  • Current Affairs
  • History
  • Polity and Governance
  • Economy
  • Environmental Studies
  • General Science
  • Comprehension and Communication Skills
  • Reasoning and Decision Making
  • Basic Numeracy and Data Interpretation

UPSC IAS Prelims Format:

There are two objective type (MCQs) papers in the prelims exam.

General Studies Paper 1 (General Awareness)

General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT)

To read more on UPSC MCQS, check out:

The IAS Prelims exam details

Exam Total marks Duration No. of questions Negative Marking Nature Required marks to qualify
GS 1 200 2 hours 100 Yes Marks counted for ranking Cut-off prescribed by UPSC
GS 2 200 2 hours 80 Yes Qualifying only 33% (66/200)

The marks obtained in the CSAT or GS 2 paper will not be counted for the prelims ranking. Candidates need to score at least 33% in this paper to qualify for the UPSC mains exam. The marks obtained in the GS paper 1 will be counted in the ranking. The cut-off marks (minimum marks required) in this paper will be determined by the commission and declared to the public only after the final result of the UPSC civil services is out.

The UPSC also penalises candidates for incorrect answers to the tune of 1/3rd of the marks allotted to the question.

Next, we provide some tips to prepare on how to prepare for IAS Prelims at home:

  • Tip #1: Know when to start preparation
  • You need approximately a time span of one year to prepare for UPSC prelims. Initially, you should start with the subjects which overlap in both prelims and mains syllabus. Dedicated preparation for the prelims alone should start at least 3 months prior to the prelims.
  • Tip #2: Prepare a plan
  • You should remember that it is very important to go with a plan. Because you are preparing at home on your own. So you should follow a study plan sincerely. There would be distractions and temptations pulling you away from your preparation. Be sincere to yourself. Remember, there is no gain without a little pain!
  • Tip #3: CSAT preparation
  • CSAT has a syllabus which checks your aptitude and logical reasoning skills. Candidates strong in mathematics or with a science/engineering background generally find it easy and don’t necessarily spend a lot of time on it. They just practice a few mock papers or previous years’ UPSC CSAT question papers. But for candidates who find CSAT on the tougher side, it is important to prepare for it properly. They should focus on understanding the concepts and practicing more and more questions.
  • Tip #4: Not just facts and figures
  • A common misconception regarding the UPSC prelims is that it is just about remembering a lot of facts and figures.UPSC checks whether your concepts are clear or not.UPSC exam is also about checking your ability to analyse the topics properly. And yes, you will also be tested on your speed of thought since you have to answer 200 questions in 120 minutes (less than a minute per question).
  • Tip #5: Current affairs
  • Current affairs are the most important part of UPSC Civil Services exam. Every year, a lot of questions are based on current affairs directly or indirectly. So, you need to relate the news in current affairs to the related subjects. For example, if a certain topic is hitting headlines frequently, make sure you gather relevant information pertaining to it and also understand it properly by going back to the theory/concept in them. Go through BYJU’S Free IAS prep current affairs sections like ‘Daily News Analysis’, PIB, Rajya Sabha TV and Current Affairs Quiz daily to be a step ahead of your competition.
  • Tip #6: Practice mock IAS test papers
  • Prelims exam is about solving maximum questions correctly in less time. For this, you need to have a lot of practice. Only practice can help you familiarise with the question paper pattern, and also improve your speed. You should start taking mock tests as soon as possible. It helps you analyse your weak areas and you can improve those areas.

We hope that these tips will help you figure out how to prepare for IAS exam at home and sail through Prelims and Mains in the first try. Candidates can also gain inspiration from various IAS toppers story without coaching, like the story of Anudeep Durishetty, who has the highest score in the UPSC exam ever and has cleared the exam twice. Such stories would motivate aspirants to prepare well and crack UPSC 2019 and become an IAS officer in one go.

To read more about IAS preparation, please visit: