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Subject-wise Preparation Strategy for Civil Services Prelims Exam

Subject wise Preparation for IAS

The UPSC prelims exam is the first hurdle to leap over in your journey to bag the IAS tag. The competition in the first round is the most intense as only a fraction of the people who take the prelims will be eligible to take the IAS mains that will follow.

Here we bring subject-wise preparation strategy for civil services prelims exam which candidates can refer and if they feel that they have missed out it’s not too late and worthy enough to include in their preparation.

A well-organised preparation strategy combined with favourable time management would definitely give an edge to aspirants over the others. Below given are some subject-wise tips that will guide aspirants’ to strategize their civil services exam preparation.

UPSC Current Affairs

Now everyone must be aware that how important is current affairs for UPSC Exam and its significance in fetching more marks.

In the last three years, if one observes almost about 50-60 percent of questions asked in the UPSC Exam are current affairs based, which will fetch about 80-100 marks.

The preparation of current affairs is regarded to be tough by many of the aspirants as it doesn’t have a defined syllabus and candidates should prepare on their own or depend on the IAS coaching classes particularly for this section as currents affairs is not all about what and why was an issue in the news it is also about how to correlate the issue in the news with the UPSC Syllabus.

Candidates should make a habit to read newspaper religiously and makes notes out of it, it won’t be wrong if it is said one has to describe the syllabus for current affairs on their own.


Over a period of time, this subject has gained its own place in the UPSC Exam and has become important both for prelims and mains exam. Areas to focus on this subject would be architecture, dance forms, folk cultures, paintings, martial arts etc.

Books to refer

  • 11th standard NCERT- Introduction to Indian Arts
  • NIOS book on art and culture
  • CCRT website to prepare this subject thoroughly

Of course, not to forget the current affairs, make a note of the art and culture that were in the news and if possible make as many questions as possible compared with the previous year’s UPSC Questions Papers.

It is also advised to candidates not to spend too much time on this subject to get a fair idea about the questions asked in this subject it is advised to candidates to go through the previous year question papers.


History has not seen much change until now as the UPSC exam pattern as seen.

Focus should be on

Ancient and Medieval History

  • Indus Valley Civilization, Jainism, Buddhism, Mughals and southern kingdoms are important from ancient and medieval history

Modern History

  • Main Congress sessions with the year, president and important resolutions
  • Significant viceroys and their period with important decisions
  • The government of India acts 1909, 1919, 1935 and charter acts

Focus areas for prelims should be on

  • Indian geography
  • Map reading is more than enough under world geography
  • Focus should be on areas which were in news recently in map reading
    For example, Kaveri Dispute
    South China Sea due to Island issue
  • Map reading is also important in Indian Geography, as at least 1 question is asked in Geography paper based on the Indian map.

Sources to refer

  • NCERTs of 8th to 12th standard
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong

Special emphasis should be on the Constitution while preparing for polity

Under Indian Constitution areas to give importance is:

  • Fundamental Rights
  • Directive Principles on State Policy
  • Fundamental Duties
  • President and Parliament are the most important

Focus on

  • Issues in news and should relate them to the provisions in the constitution
  • Government schemes and policies

Books to refer

  • Laxmikant Indian Polity
  • Subhash Kashyap
  • PM Bakshi

Focus must be on basic concepts, international organization, current affairs etc.

The most effective way to cover the economics subject would be to links the recent issues in news with the basic concepts of economics.

Books to refer

  • 11th and 12th standard NCERTs
  • Major newspapers, RBI and Government initiatives

This subject became prominent since 2013, when Indian Forest Service prelims exam was merged with Civil Services Prelims Exam.

  • Must be aware of basic concepts related to ecology and environment
  • This section mostly covers the recent issues in the news

Focus should be on

  • location of national parks
  • wildlife
  • sanctuaries
  • endangered species in India and their habitat
  • various international conventions on climate change

Books to refer

  • Class 9th and 10th ICSE board books on Environmental Education
  • Major Newspaper for current events

Focus on basic concepts

current events – issues in news related to-

  • Space-related news
  • India’s achievements
  • Revolutionary innovations and Nobel prizes

Sources to refer

  • NCERT books of 11th and 12th standard of Physics, Chemistry and Biology
  • Major News papers

Also, See:

Best Way to Study Geography for UPSC
Techniques to Study Indian History for IAS Exam
7 simple ways to study current affairs

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