How to prepare for upsc prelims

We explain the complete information about How to prepare for UPSC prelims. The UPSC prelims exam stage is the most important and the most difficult in the UPSC exam. Every year lakhs of students apply for upsc exam. Only a few thousand students qualify for mains. UPSC Prelims exam has a Negative Marking System. From a prelims point of view, we have given a syllabus, booklist, and strategy information. Enjoy the reading and understand the complete prelims strategy.

There are two papers in UPSC prelims 1. General Studies 1 (GS 1)  2. Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT).

Both the papers(GS paper and CSAT paper) have a negative marking system. During the paper checking of Prelims, your CSAT paper is checked first and if you qualify for CSAT paper then your general studies paper is allowed to be checked. For that, you need to focus on the CSAT paper also.

UPSC prelims general studies paper 1 Subjects – 1. Indian Polity 2.History (Ancient, medieval, modern) 3. Geography 4. Art and culture 5. Science and technology 6. Economics 7. Current affairs

UPSC prelims CSAT paper subjects- 1. Basic Numeracy (Maths) 2.Logical reasoning 3.English comprehension passage

UPSC prelims subject-wise preparation method-

1. Polity – Polity subjects should be started mainly with NCERT books. Read all ncert books from 6th to 12th. Only then you should read Polity book of M. Laxmikant book. Parliamentary reports from the Press Information Bureau (PIB) are also important. Polity is one such subject that is considered to be the most important and the highest-scoring subject in the UPSC exam.

If we analyze the general studies paper properly, most of the questions that are asked every year, one thing you will notice is that most questions are asked from Polity subject. Generally, 12 to 15 questions of Polity were asked in UPSC Pre Exam 2023. Every year 12 to 15 questions of Polity are asked. While preparing for UPSC first you should prepare a Polity subject and lastly, you should end the revision with a Polity subject.

UPSC Polity important topics- Indian Parliamentary System, Important Articles, Constitutional Amendment, Supreme Court and High Court Judgment, Indian constitution, directive principles of State Policy, Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties, Supreme Court, High Court, Cabinet Committee and its complete information, Center State Relations, Parliamentary Committees, Parliamentary Privileges, Citizenship, Emergency Provisions, Basic Budget Concept, Constitutional Bodies, Statutory bodies, Quasi-judicial bodies, etc. are important topics of politics.

  1. History – A total of 14 questions were asked in the history subject in the 2023 pre-examination. History is the most vast subject in UPSC preparation. But with the right direction, you can make this subject easy. History is a subject that is easy to understand but some students neglect this subject. While preparing for history first you start with ancient history followed by medieval history and lastly read modern history. While preparing history, you should keep in mind which most historically important events or which chronology of events happened in which period. While preparing for History, you automatically understand and prepare for Art and Culture. All NCRT history books should be read from 6th to 12th. If you don’t understand these books properly then you should read Tamil Nadu State Board 11th and 12th History books.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Many students do not study medieval history but they mainly study ancient history and modern history. Many questions from Medieval History are asked for Prelims and Mains. Buddhism and Jainism are important topics and many times questions were asked on this topic in the interview. Indus Valley Civilization is a topic of discussion every year and usually, one to two questions on this topic are asked in prelims and mains. You should know all about the important Kingdoms of North Indian, South Indian, East and West in India. Polity is not understood without reading history. You should study Art and Culture only after preparing for History. Before preparing for history subject you need to read past question papers of previous prelims and mains 8 to 10 year question papers of history subject.
  2. Geography – Every year UPSC increases the weightage of geography questions. 16 history questions were asked in UPSC Prelims 2023. Technically this is the easiest subject to understand. Because fewer books have to be read and quality study sources are available. While preparing for UPSC Geography the most important key you should be able to read is map reading. You need complete information about major rivers, hills, and mountains in India. Human geography and physical geography should be read thoroughly. The Western Ghats and Himalayan Mountain Range UPSC ask questions on this topic every year. Geography is divided into three main parts – social, physical, and economic geography.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One should have a detailed knowledge of major rivers in India. Types of rivers, river basins, east-flowing rivers, and west-flowing rivers. There are mainly three types of climate topics- 1. monsoons 2. seasons 3. cyclones. All this has to be studied. Get detailed information about the types of soil and crops and where they are found. For students whose optional subject is geography, the geography questions in prelims and mains are a bit easier. You can find the geography news and its information in the daily newspaper. Since geography and environment are interconnected subjects, you need good knowledge of geography maps. To prepare for Geography all NCERT books should be read from 6th to 12th. Similarly, this map-reading should be done on the geography map of India and the geography map of the world.
  3. Art and culture – Art and culture is a new subject for everyone. You may have studied art and culture to a small extent in history while in school. But in UPSC art and culture papers you have to study a bit advanced level. Art and Culture is a very easy subject. After preparing for History you should read about Indian art and culture. Because in history subject you often get the reference of art and culture. Many events related to art and culture are covered in history subjects. Nitin Singhania is an IAS. While he was preparing for the UPSC exam, he found the subject of art and culture difficult, but he studied well and wrote a book on the subject of art and culture himself. So you must understand that art and Culture an easy subjects. Every year usually two to four questions on Art and Culture are asked in the prelims and the main exam, and one to two questions are asked related to Art and Culture. Many questions are often asked on topics such as ancient culture and civilization, literature, architectural style, and sculpture types. Tamil Nadu State Board’s 11th and 12th books are considered to be the best for Art and Culture. According to UPSC toppers, there is no reason to read any other book after reading Tamil Nadu State Board books. All you need to know which are the major UNESCO heritage sites in India.
  4. Economy- Economics is considered to be the most difficult subject in UPSC preparation. But Economics is an easy subject if we understand the basic concepts. You should have detailed information about the Indian budget which is presented in the Parliament every year. Generally, two to four questions are asked on the Indian economic budget. 14 questions from Economics were asked in UPSC Prelims 2023. If you don’t have time to read Indian Economic Budget Survey then you can read the summary of the union budget. Because through this method economic concepts are cleared .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We should know all relevant information about the Indian economy. Questions on fiscal policy and monetary policy are asked in pre-mains and interviews, so while studying economics, fiscal policy and monetary policy should be studied first. The concept of Indian GDP, growth rate, per capita income, inclusion, statutory liquidity ratio, cash reserve ratio, repo rate, and reverse repo rate should be clear. Read the articles published in newspapers and magazines. Economics questions asked in upsc mains and prelims are generally practical in nature. Only one or two questions are static. The pattern of questions is Applied types of questions. For upsc prelims economy, you should mainly read 11th and 12th NCRT books, the Indian economy budget, and any economic newspaper.

        6. Science and technology – Every year in the upsc pre-exam there are 10 to 15 questions on science and technology subjects. Generally 12 questions related to science and technology were asked in this preliminary exam 2023. Many students ignore Science and Technology subjects. Science and Technology is considered to be one of the highest-scoring subjects. In science and technology mainly nanotechnology, robotics, biotechnology, and space technology are the main topics. Science and Technology questions in UPSC Prelims, Mains, and Interviews are realistic, basic applied in nature. Questions are asked regarding the progress and achievements of India in the field of science and technology. For the study of Science and Technology, the Science and Technology page of a daily newspaper is suitable for study. You should read the NCERT science book for the 6th to 12th class. No need to read any special book for science and technology. A non-science background student should study technology very well. One should study the happenings in the field of science and technology every day. Every year the importance of science and technology subjects in the UPSC exam is increasing. Therefore, science and technology should not be ignored.

        1. Environment and Ecology- A total of 14 questions were asked in the UPSC pre-2023 exam on environment and ecology. Out of 14 questions, 10 questions were easy and four questions were difficult. But environment and ecology importance is increasing every year. Environment and Ecology is a scoring subject for all. The subject of environment and ecology is closely related to geography. After studying geography you should study environment and ecology. Learn about climate change, environmental laws and regulations, environmental pollution, and biodiversity. A detailed study should be made of the environmental issues in daily newspapers. Read NCERT’s 11th and 12th Environment book. Although the syllabus of environment and ecology is not updated new questions are asked like the Smart Ganga City Scheme. Questions related to Mangroves, coral reefs, and wetlands are asked every year in the exam. There should be detailed information about the issues and questions raised at the World Environmental Conference. There should be knowledge about the types of major rivers in India and pollution issues in rivers. There should be information about which and how many Vulnerable species there are because every year two to four questions are asked about Vulnerable species.

        8.Current Affairs – According to experts more than 30 current affairs questions were asked in the UPSC 2023 prelim exam. Current Affairs is at the top position in the UPSC Exam. There is no need to do anything special to prepare for current affairs but daily newspapers should be read in detail. Current affairs questions are mainly asked in three ways – 1. Static 2. Dynamic 3. Applied. Notes should be prepared on the information about the current government schemes and policies. Don’t start current affairs preparation just before the exam but, you must start current affairs preparation from day one. For current affairs, you may prefer any good English newspaper but if you don’t have an English newspaper then you can read any good regional language newspaper. For brief current affairs knowledge, you can prefer weekly or monthly current affairs magazines Try to make notes on important news events. 

        From the UPSC prelims point of view, you can use 2 to 3 different upsc prelims strategy – 1.2 to 3 months upsc strategy 2. prelims and mains combined strategy. Customize your prelims strategy and booklist according to your comfort.