The IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims is the first stage of the Civil Services Exam. UPSC Prelims is the screening test for the Mains stage of the Civil Services Exam. The nature of questions in IAS Prelims is of objective type (MCQ). There are two papers in Prelims, namely, General Studies 1 and General Studies 2 (CSAT).
In this article, we will discuss the Prelims strategy as per the detailed UPSC Prelims Syllabus and provide links and resources for preparation. We will start with the exam pattern for the Prelims exam in UPSC CSE 2021 exam.
|Exam||Total Marks||No. of Questions||Duration||Negative Marks||Nature|
|GS I||200||100||2 hours||Yes||Merit ranking|
|GS II (CSAT)||200||80||2 hours||Yes||Qualifying|
Having a good strategy for Prelims is important as the UPSC selects for Mains only about 15000 candidates out of about 5-8 lakh people who appear for Prelims. Refer to the following links for detailed topic-wise strategy and preparation tips of IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims
While preparing for Civil Services, it is important to keep a regular track of current affairs. The Prelims paper may have questions linked to polity and economics. For example, any news of climate change can be asked from the perspective of Indian economics or Indian environment or both.
Therefore, it is crucial to relate current affairs to the fundamental knowledge of every subject of the UPSC syllabus. Make sure you read newspapers such asThe Hindu, Indian Express and some business publications like Business Standard and Hindu Business Line.
A significant portion of the General Studies Paper is related to the Indian History subject divided into-Ancient, Medieval and Modern History parts. Therefore, while preparing for your exam focus specifically on Modern India, Art and Culture.
Don't refer to too many books. History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra is one of the best books on Modern History.
Candidates have to study Indian Geography and World Geography as a part of the UPSC preparation. Indian Geography topics such as river systems, climate and physiography of India to mineral wealth, soil types and agriculture economy of India, etc. should be given the top priority.
While studying Geography for the UPSC exam, a recommendable approach would be to understand geography from the fundamentals. A perfect example here is to understand a region in totality. Study physical geography including topography characteristics, the region formation, its mineral wealth, climate and other basic details of the geographical location of the place in great detail.
While studying World Geography, two topics are of prime importance- physical geography and the environment. Along with this, study about the earth and the universe, wind systems, formation of landforms, clouds and precipitation and atmosphere. It is advised to keep Atlas with you while reading geography so that you can learn with the map by integrating it with the theory.
Study topics such as fundamental rights & duties, the Indian Constitution, the state government machinery or function of the central government in detail.
Indian Polity and Governance is about civil government and there is no limit to learning on the subject for an Indian Civil Service aspirant. It is important to know the fundamentals of the subject. Keep yourself updated with the latest policies and changes.
Civil matters are under continuous discussion and one should be aware of the present decision and be able to analyze it with regards to events that occurred in the past.
An IAS aspirant studying Economics must be able to have a perspective on the Indian economy and the state-of-affairs. It is essential to have clarity of the concepts to do so. Key topics to study are Principles of Macroeconomics & Microeconomics and Indian economic development. Refer to the class 12th books of the subjects.
Along with this, it is essential to read about the Indian Budget and follow an analytical approach, linking the vital finance decisions with the status quo.
In a continuously developing global environment, this subject is a bit difficult to manoeuvre and master. There are multiple perspectives and high pace developments in the environment and climate change. Also, there is no specific study material that aspirants can refer to. To understand the basics, refer to the NCERT books on geography, science, economy, biology, chemistry, Rajagopalan's Environmental Studies: From Crisis to Cure and class 10th-11th ICSE books. Subscribe to Down the Earth magazine and refer to the Environment Ministry's GOI website.
This section mostly contains analytical questions which make the Science and Technology paper section very scoring. A lot of questions are asked on issues related to what is happening around us.
The right approach would be strengthening the fundamentals first. The best way to do that is to refer to the 7th-10th standard ICSE books to understand the principles of science and its natural phenomenon.
Also Read: Best books for IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims Exam
It is also advisable to go through the question papers of the last few years and understand what topics are relevant and then build on the frequently asked topic questions. There are important websites such as the Ministry of Science & Technology, ISRO and DRDO which make the subject more contextually relevant to understand.
*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.