The UPSC Prelims is the first stage of the Civil Services Examination. It comprises two papers – General Studies Paper I, and General Studies Paper-II (or CSAT). Questions in both papers are of the multiple-choice variety and each question carries a negative mark (1/3rd of the total marks assigned to that question).
The Preliminary stage of the Civil Services Exam filters candidates for the Mains Examination. Among the lakhs of candidates who appear for the Prelims, only thousands make the cut for Mains. This article will give you actionable information on how to tackle and ace the UPSC Prelims Exam.
Tips for UPSC Prelims
- CSAT – The marks in CSAT (Paper-II) are not counted towards the total marks in Prelims and aspirants need to get 33% to clear this paper. Solving previous years’ CSAT papers and checking the score to self-assess is a good starting point for aspirants and leaves more time to focus on General Studies Paper I
- Starting Preparation for GS Paper 1 – A thorough read of the NCERT textbooks (class 6-10 all subjects, 11-12th in few subjects) and then referring to the past years’ question papers will help aspiring students identify their strengths and weaknesses.
- Current Affairs Preparation – Aspirants need to focus on events of national and international importance in the 12-14 months period preceding the exam. Selecting a few sources to read daily and concise notes are crucial for easy revision later.
- Key Topics for UPSC Prelims – For dynamic/current affairs topics, it is useful to track any new scheme/initiative by the Prime Minister and recent addresses/releases from the President and Vice President of India. Current Affairs questions are increasingly coming mixed with static/historical/factual aspects.
Important topic clusters and tips for GS I are:
- Buddhism/Jainism – important literature and architecture, patron kings and dynasties, and core philosophy
- For History, after the NCERT textbooks, the Tamil Nadu Board books for class 11 and class 12th are a good source of crisp information.
- List of INC Sessions and Presidents
- List of Newspapers/Journals published during the Indian Freedom Struggle
- For the current exam year, any convention/personality/historical landmark/event celebrating the 50th,100th, or 125th year of existence/anniversary becomes an important topic.
- Purely political news and rumors can be ignored for the purpose of the exam. However, the underlying concept is relevant. For example, if defection of MPs or MLAs is in the news, going through the Anti-Defection Law and related concepts is needed.
- List of British Viceroys and Governors-General along with the significant events in their period.
- Delhi Sultanate, Vijaynagar Empire, Mauryan Empire
- Important festivals, folk dances, and tribal arts in India
- Budget and Economic Survey summary for that year
- International organizations reports and important environment conventions
- Making a Study Plan – The entire Civil Services Exam process, from the release of the UPSC Notification to the final list of selected candidates after the Interview, takes about one year to complete. It is important to make flexible study plans right from the start and adhere to them diligently. Enough time should be kept for revision and rest.
UPSC Prelims is not a tough exam to crack if approached in the right way!