IAS 2020 Preparation Tips, Important Books and Exam Pattern

Updated On -

Apr 28, 2020

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Nikkil Visha

Exams Prep Master

It is never bad to follow certain IAS Preparation Tips to prepare for UPSC Examination. IAS is conducted in two successive stages – UPSC Prelims which is Objective type in nature and UPSC Main Exam which is both subjective and objective in nature. IAS 2020 prelim and main will be conducted on May 31 and Sept 18, 2020 respectively. 

UPSC sets a certain syllabus for Civil Services Main examination. A candidate can prepare properly by following IAS Preparation Tips related to the exam. A candidate can study the important topics mentioned in IAS Exam Syllabus and continue his/her preparation in the direction. There are 9 sets of papers in the Main exam out of which two are qualifying language papers. Check IAS Exam Pattern

Prepp Test Series

UPSC Prelims is the basis for the selection of candidates for IAS Main that is a written descriptive exam followed by Interview, the final stage of IAS Selection Process.​ After reading the IAS preparation tips, candidates must take a look at some of the recommended books to prepare for IAS 2020 Exam. 

IAS Sample Papers, IAS Practice Papers

IAS Preparation Tips

IAS 2020 Exam Preparation Tips

IAS Exam is believed to be the toughest government examination in India. But, if a candidate is serious enough, embraces the right strategies, guidance, and study material then even self-study is enough to get through the IAS exam. Given below are some major IAS Preparation Tips which a candidate can follow to score high in the exam:

  1. Mock Test Papers or IAS Question Papers

Mock Papers are an essential part of regular preparations for successful candidates. By reviewing the attempted tests you get a chance to identify your mistakes and the area where you lack knowledge. Writing mock tests not only helps you to revise your IAS Syllabus but also helps to increase your speed to solve the exam in time. There is always a crunch of time in IAS Exam, one has to be very fast in writing questions. Mock test papers help in increasing the speed of mind to make calculations. 

  1. Right Choice of IAS Preparatory Books

It is of utmost importance to pick up only recommended books and the right study material for IAS Preparation. NCERT books are always highly suggested and are considered as a must-read by experts as well as successful candidates, as they clear up doubts at a fundamental level and help candidates in scoring higher scores at IAS Main level. Although there are a number of books available for IAS in the market one needs to select only the best out of them and should prepare for only a few best ones.

  1. GS Paper 1 is the key: Deep study of every subject

Till 2014, scoring high in GS Paper 2 was the easiest way to clear UPSC Main. Putting less effort as compared to GS Paper I, aspirants used to score high and clear prelims. But, with changes in the IAS Exam Pattern from 2016 onwards, this strategy does not work anymore. On the basic level, covering every subject of the IAS Main Exam is the best approach to clear the Prelims test. It's not recommended to give priority to any particular book or area thinking that questions will come from that source. Likewise, one must not miss the easy questions from traditional subjects like Polity, History, Geography, History, and Economics. Current affairs are also important to prepare as they are definitely asked, other than that latest schemes and bills launched by the government are also valuable.

  1. IAS Prelims cum IAS Main Approach

Even though the type of questions asked in UPSC Prelims and Main are different, but there are also many areas where one can find some kind of similarity in the questions. For GS Paper I, an ideal strategy suggests covering GS Main and Prelims syllabus in detail first that gives the concept clarity about all major topics. Good knowledge of overlapping and non-overlapping areas in the IAS Syllabus of General Studies for Prelims and Mains certainly fetches you more score than others.

  1. Mental Peace is the key

All your efforts and hard work go in vain if you lose your cool on the doom day. It's very much important to read IAS questions carefully and make sure that you do not make silly mistakes. And that can only happen if you are in a relaxed state of mind, otherwise, you get confused and selects the wrong answer and even takes more time in solving a question then what is actually needed. So, all you need is to keep your calm and stay confident.

  1. Time Management

All you need to do is to manage your time in a way that you can easily cover your decided syllabus and gets proper rest and sleep at the same time. Distribute available time according to the sections you have to cover. One must note that you do not need books or notes on bulk to completely go through but only a limited no. of good books and a deep study of that study material. It is very must important for a student to get proper rest and sleep. Your mind needs to break and rest to work on full force again.

IAS Reference Books

Important Books for IAS 2020 Exam

It is very much important for a candidate who appears for IAS 2020 to choose the right and useful IAS Preparation books. It is not important to study a large number of useless books but to read a few but actually useful books that cover all the topics effectively of IAS Syllabus.

Given below is the list of some important IAS Preparation Books along with the names of their author or publication:

important books
Book Title Author/Publication
History Of Modern India (History) Bipan Chandra
India’s Struggle For Independence (History) Bipan Chandra
India’s Ancient Past (History) R.S. Sharma
History Of Medieval India (History) Satish Chandra
A New Look at Modern Indian History BL Grover
The Wonder That Was India (Culture) A.L. Bhasham
Indian Art and Culture (Culture) Nitin Singhania
Our Parliament Subash Kashyap
Geography of India (Geography) Majid Husain
Oxford School Atlas (Geography) Oxford
Science and Technology TMH
CSAT Book Cracking the CSAT Paper-2 Arihant
Certificate Physical and Human Geography (Geography) Goh Cheng Leong
Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations (Polity) M. Laxmikanth
Indian Economy (Economy) Ramesh Singh
Environmental Studies: From Crisis to Cure (Environment) Rajagopalan
A History of Modern World Ranjan Chakravarti
Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Main (Environment) Khuller
Facets of Indian Culture Spectrum
Indian Constitution PM Bakshi
Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning R. S. Aggarwal

IAS Exam Pattern

IAS 2020 Exam Pattern

The exam for both the phases of IAS is different. Candidates can get a clear idea of the same from the details provided below:

IAS 2020 Exam Pattern Prelims

  • In the UPSC Prelims exam there are 2 compulsory papers namely the General Ability Test (GAT) and the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT) to test the analytical skills of the candidates.
  • Each paper is of 200 marks and carries a total of 400 marks.
  • The papers are objective in nature with multiple-choice questions.
  • One-third of the marks is deducted for every wrong answer. 
  • The duration of each paper is 2 hours.
  • Blind candidates are allowed an extra time of 20 minutes for each paper.
  • IAS Question Papers are bilingual i.e. they are set in both Hindi and English language.

IAS 2020 Exam Pattern Mains

  • There is a total of 9 papers in the Main Exam as per IAS Exam Pattern
  • There are 7 merit papers of 250 marks each and 2 qualifying language papers of 300 marks each.
  • The

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.


sabira iram abdul samad nadkar
Meri ty ba complete nahi hui so Mai kaise upsc exam ka form bharo plz help me
shobhna chaturvedi

Hi Sabira, candidates who are waiting for the result of their graduation exam are eligible for IAS Prelims exam but they will have to present the degree at the time of appearing for IAS Main Exam. You can check other eligibility criteria in detail from here: IAS Eligibility Criteria

devika s
A student studying for BSc Agriculture (2nd Year). Desires to appear for IAS exam after graduation/ PG. How the preparation can be started from now?
shobhna chaturvedi

Hi Devika, given below are some of the tips to prepare for IAS while you are studying, we hope it helps:

  • Take the early advantage: It means, you must not leave any attempt for the exam.
  • Prioritize your time: You must be well aware of the syllabus of the exam so that you spend your time reading what is important for real.
  • Go for highly recommended books: Selection of books must be done wisely. Generally, Polity by Laxmikanth, Economics by Ramesh Singh and History by Bipan Chandra are most recommended books.
  • Go for mock tests as much as as possible and analyze your performance in various sections to know your strengths and weak subjects.
what we should do to pass the iit exam from 11th
akhil pasanth
Hi Akkineni, Firstly you have to clear the 12th examination, then you have to clear the entrance exam i.e. JEE Mains.
tejal patil
Kya ye Books sach mein full syllabus cover karenge
shobhna chaturvedi
Hi Tejal, the list of the books above is made after monitoring the needs of the students. Still, there are always more books that you may prefer.
madhavi tripathi
sarthak mahajan

Hi Madhavi, You may please check the eligibility criteria according to the age limit as given below:

  • The lower age limit for IAS Exam 2019 is 21 years as on August 1, 2019, while upper age limit is 32 years.
  • There is upper age relaxation for reserved category candidates, which is as follows:
    1. SC/ST- Upto 5 years
    2. OBC- Upto 3 years
    3. Defence Services Personnel disabled in operations during hostilities- Upto 3 years
    4. Ex-servicemen- Upto 5 years
    5. ECOs/SSCOs who have completed an initial period of assignment of five years of Military Service- Upto 5 years
    6. PwD candidates- Upto 10 years
    7. Domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir from January 1, 1980 to December 31, 1989- Upto 5 years. Check IAS 2019 Eligibility