Top Ten Toppers’ Tips to Crack the UPSC Exams

How to top UPSC exam?

There is no sure shot formula to crack the civil services exams conducted by the UPSC – one of the toughest competitive exams in the country. Lakhs of contenders write the prelims and only a few hundred are finally appointed as civil servants. The numbers reveal that cracking the UPSC exam requires a specialised approach to preparation. This article compiles ten handy tips to clear the civil services exam as disclosed by previous IAS toppers themselves. This article gives you toppers’ tips on how to top in UPSC exam. So read on and get inspired!

Start a year in advance

Most toppers give themselves at least a year to prepare for the UPSC exams. The syllabus to be covered is mammoth and it requires time to acquire a comprehensive understanding of the topics involved.

Choose optional subjects wisely

You might be really motivated to study and put in extra-long hours when you start your IAS preparation, but would you be able to remain as motivated half-way through or until the very end? So, it is essential to choose subjects that you are genuinely interested in so that you are enthused about learning more about the topics.

Make notes

Most IAS toppers swear by this technique of studying. Writing reinforces what you have learned and also helps you organise your learning content. This makes recollection easier.

More diagrams, more marks

Wherever possible, include diagrams, flowcharts, etc. to enhance your answers. They reveal a clear understanding of the concept and would fetch you more marks.

NCERT books

There are multiple sources of study material for UPSC exams but your basic reading should ideally start with NCERT text books. The concepts are explained in simple language. It is recommended to read NCERT books from class VI to class XII for all the relevant subjects.


If you are an aspiring civil servant, you should know that reading newspapers are an indispensable part of your civil services exam preparation. Almost all toppers recommend reading The Hindu and The Indian Express to be included as part of your daily routine.

Test series

No preparation for the UPSC exams is complete without taking mock tests of the prelims and the mains. They serve the twin purposes of giving you a fair idea of what questions to expect and also helps you time your writing.

Stay healthy

A healthy body fuels an active mind. Apart from intense studying you should also eat right, sleep well, and get enough exercise that will keep you going to crack the civil services exams.

Hard work

This one goes without saying. To ace the UPSC civil services you need to go that extra mile. Have the determination and will power to work hard and struggle. In the words of the great Thomas Alva Edison, there is no substitute for hard work.

Never give up

Finally, have a never say die attitude. Never lose sight of your goal. A lot of successful IAS toppers got through in their third and fourth attempts. And it is worth waiting and trying again till you succeed. In the words of American civil rights champion Jesse Jackson, ‘If you fall behind, run faster. Never give up, never surrender, and rise up against the odds.’

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