UPSC Exam Strategy

Success in the UPSC civil services exam, also known as the IAS exam in common parlance, is a combination of Right Knowledge and Right Strategy. No doubt, you have to prepare the topics in the UPSC syllabus thoroughly, but you should also acquire a few skills in order to fare well in the IAS exam. The particular demands of the IAS exam are such that only a planned and guided preparation with the right focus can help you sail through. Always remember when you are preparing for the IAS exam, your goal should only be to clear the IAS, and not to acquire knowledge in a subject.

When you study in the university, you should study for knowledge; but when you are studying for the IAS, you should study solely with the intention of clearing the UPSC exam. This attitude and focus will make a huge difference to your preparation and performance in the exam.

The first step in the IAS preparation process is to understand the IAS exam pattern.

IAS Exam Pattern

The UPSC exam is conducted in three stages. You have to clear one stage and then move on to the subsequent stage. And, at every stage, the number of candidates is drastically reduced. On average, about 5 lakhs candidates take the first stage and finally, at the end of the process, about 700 – 1000 candidates get selected into the civil services.

Therefore, to clear the exam, the candidates have to formulate their own UPSC strategy to crack the exam. 

Stage 1: Prelims

This stage consists of two objective type papers, General Studies I and General Studies II (CSAT). For more details on the these prelims papers, you can click on the link below:

UPSC Prelims 2022 – Notes, Books, Strategy & IAS Prelims Syllabus For Civil Services (Preliminary) Exam

Stage 2: Mains

This stage consists of nine descriptive papers.

Check UPSC mains exam pattern, papers, syllabus, dates in the linked article.

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern

Paper Subject Nature of the paper Duration of exam Marks
Paper A Compulsory Indian Language Qualifying 3 hours 300
Paper B Compulsory English Language Qualifying 3 hours 300
Paper I Essay Merit ranking 3 hours 250
Paper II General Studies I Merit ranking 3 hours 250
Paper III General Studies II Merit ranking 3 hours 250
Paper IV General Studies III Merit ranking 3 hours 250
Paper V General Studies IV Merit ranking 3 hours 250
Paper VI Optional Paper I Merit ranking 3 hours 250
Paper VII Optional Paper II Merit ranking 3 hours 250

Stage 3: Personality Test

This stage consists of an interview with the UPSC board.

The above three stages of the UPSC CSE Exam are very different from each other, and the aspirants can look into the UPSC Notification to know about the different posts of the CSE Exam and to download the official notification for a better understanding of the requirements of the exam. 

Tips to Improve UPSC Preparation Strategy

Here is a list of tips and insights on how an aspirant can improve the preparation strategy for the UPSC Exam. 

  1. Get to know the exam pattern better and understand the needs and expectations of the UPSC Exam at three different levels. The preparation strategy for the UPSC Exam would vary from level to level. For instance, the prelims level of the exam tests the knowledge as well as the analytical skills of the candidates. Whereas, in the mains level, descriptive knowledge about each topic of the syllabus is necessary, which might not be useful in the Preliminary level. 
  2. Reading the newspaper on a daily basis will give an edge to your UPSC strategy in comparison to those candidates who don’t regularly follow the news updates. 
  3. Develop the knowledge base from the basics. The sources for the basics are the NCERT Books. 
  4. Solve a lot of MCQ type of questions subject-wise and figure out the strengths and weaknesses. One of the important strategies of IAS preparation is to strengthen the strong areas and keep working on the weaker areas. 
  5. UPSC Notes Making is an Art because of the vastness of the syllabus. The notes ultimately become very unclear and unorganised because of the large volume of the notes made. Also, the candidates should not waste a lot of time in making notes for each and everything. It is a better UPSC strategy if the notes are well-organised, otherwise, the revision will again take a lot of time. To know about Making Notes For UPSC IAS Exam, check the linked article. 
  6. One last tip to improve your UPSC Strategy – Consistency is the key to Success – Treat every day as the same and prepare with the same dedication and level of commitment. 

How can BYJU’S Free IAS Prep help you with IAS preparation?

With all the tips provided below, aspirants can make use of various initiatives by BYJU’S and a few useful links are provided below:

Comprehensive daily news analysis The gist of Yojana
The gist of EPW Daily video analysis of The Hindu

UPSC Syllabus

The UPSC syllabus is the most important part of the preparation. You should go through the syllabus thoroughly before commencing your preparation.

Download the UPSC Syllabus.

IAS Books

After going through the syllabus, you should compile a list of the IAS study material. It is a good idea to start with the NCERT books as these contain content in a simple language. After that, you can move on the advanced UPSC Preparation Books.

To get the Complete List Of NCERT Books Needed For UPSC Preparation, visit the linked article.

For the entire list of books for UPSC preparation, you can download the PDF:

UPSC Booklist:-Download PDF Here

Important tips for IAS Preparation

  • Chart out a preparation plan and stick to it. Since the exam is a long-drawn process, you should be able to sustain your motivation and go along covering portions of the syllabus in a timely manner.
  • Revision is paramount. A huge syllabus and multiple subjects make it difficult for you to remember all that you learnt. To make sure that you are able to recall everything you learnt, you should revise repeatedly and regularly.
  • You should get adequate answer writing practice as the exam assess you on what you write and not what you know.
    • For this, you should enrol for a test series for both prelims and the mains. In the prelims exam, a test series can help you deftly avoid negative marking and also teach you how to make intelligent guess work.
    • For the mains exam, a test series is essential as candidates are generally not able to complete the paper. You have to write one answer in about 7 minutes and this requires sufficient practice.
  • Your IAS preparation should have an extra focus on current affairs, which is the whole crux of the UPSC civil services exam. This is no mean feat as you have to scan the newspapers daily to keep abreast of the latest national and international news. We make this task easier for you. Check out our offerings in the next section.

How BYJU’S Free IAS Prep can help you with IAS preparation?

You can go through the following list which features our free offerings for IAS preparation.

Related Links:

Top 10 Tips to Clear UPSC Mains Exam Few Thumb Rules to Choose the Right Optional Subject for IAS Exam Mains
What is the Success Rate of Different Optional Subjects in the UPSC Exam Mains? UPSC Exam Papers
IAS Questions & Answers for UPSC 2021-22 UPSC Mains Answer Writing Practice 2021-22
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