How to Ace the UPSC Prelims exam 2023

How to Ace the UPSC Prelims exam 2023

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How to Ace the UPSC Prelims: A Powerful Preparation Strategy

The UPSC prelims is one of the most competitive exams in India with over a lakh aspirants appearing for the exam every year. The success rate is abysmally low at around 3-4%. So, how can you increase your chances of clearing the prelims? The answer lies in following a powerful preparation strategy.
Start preparing early, get familiar with the exam format, make a study plan and take as many practice tests as possible. Stay motivated throughout your preparation and you will be able to crack the UPSC prelims!

Decide which exam you want to write

Choose the exam that best suits your interests and career goals.
The CSE is a highly competitive examination with a success rate of less than 1%. To improve your chances of clearing the examination, it is important to choose the right service based on your interests and career goals. The various services that you can opt for are:
  • Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
  • Indian Police Service (IPS)
  • Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
  • Indian Revenue Service (IRS)
Other central services like Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS), Indian Postal Service (IPoS), etc. are also available but these are not as popular as the four main services.

The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is the premier civil service of the Government of India and all-India civil service that offers a permanent career to eligible candidates. To become an IAS officer, you must clear the Civil Services Examination (CSE) conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

The CSE is a three-stage examination consisting of:
  1. Preliminary Examination (also known as Civil Services Aptitude Test or CSAT)
  2. Main Examination
  3. Interview

Know the eligibility criteria for the exam
To be eligible to take the Preliminary Examination, you must:
  • Be a citizen of India
  • Be at least 21 years old and not more than 32 years old on 1st August of the year you are taking the examination (i.e., age relaxation rules will apply)
  • Have completed a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university or equivalent qualification

UPSC Age Criteria – The age limit for the UPSC 2023 is given below:
Category Minimum Age for UPSC 2023 Maximum Age
For General Candidate 21 years 32 years
For OBC candidates 21 years 35 years
For SC/ST 21 years 37 years

UPSC PRELIMS 2023- Overview 

Particulars Prelims
Exam Date 28th May 2023
No. of Papers Two 
Types of Questions Objective Type
Duration of Exam 2 hours each
Total Marks 400
Medium of Exam English & Hindi
Negative Marking  (1/3rd of the maximum marks for the question)
Marks Counted in Merit No

Start preparing early

Figure out how much time you need to prepare.
The amount of time you need to prepare for the UPSC prelims depends on various factors such as your current level of understanding of the syllabus, your work schedule, etc. If you have a full-time job, you will need to allocate more time for self-study. It is advisable to start preparing at least 8-10 months before the exam date.

Set a study schedule and stick to it.
Once you have an idea about how much time you need to prepare, draw up a study schedule and try your best to stick to it. Make sure that your study schedule is realistic and gives you enough time to cover all the topics in the syllabus. Also, include some buffer time in case you face any unforeseen delays or roadblocks along the way.

Get familiar with the exam format

Understand the exam pattern.
The UPSC Prelims is a two-stage examination. The first stage is the Preliminary Examination (Prelims), which is a multiple choice question (MCQ) paper. The second stage is the Main Examination, which consists of nine papers of conventional essay type.
The Preliminary Examination has two objective-type papers of 200 marks each. Paper I is General Studies I and Paper II is General Studies II. Candidates must attempt compulsory questions in both the papers. Each question in Papers I and II will have four alternative answers, out of which the candidate will have to mark the correct answer in the OMR answer sheet provided along with the test booklet by blackening the appropriate circle corresponding to that letter (A, B, C or D). There will be negative marking for wrong answers: one third of the allotted marks for that question will be deducted for each wrong answer marked by a candidate. No deduction from total score will however be made if no response is indicated for an item in the answer sheet.
Paper III – Optional Paper – 200 Marks
Paper IV – Optional Paper – 200 Marks
Total Marks = 800 (200 marks each for 4 papers)

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern 2023
Paper Subjects Marks No. of Question Duration
I General Studies I(GS) 200 100 2 hours (9:30 AM to 11:30 AM)
II General Studies II OR CSAT 200 80 2 hours (2:30 PM to 4:30 PM)
Know the syllabus inside out.
The Preliminary Examination is meant to serve as a screening test only; the marks obtained in the Prelims are not counted for determining the final order of merit. However, candidates must obtain a minimum of 33% marks in Paper-I and Paper-II separately to qualify for the Main Examination. Candidates who have not qualified for Main Examination will not have their Paper-III and Paper-IV evaluated.
The UPSC Prelims Syllabus covers a wide range of topics from various subjects like History, Geography, Economics, Polity, Environment, etc.

In this section, we have provided the UPSC syllabus 2023 for the Prelims Exam.
UPSC Prelims Syllabus for General Studies (Paper I)
  1. Current affairs events of national and international
  2. History of India and Indian National Movement.
  3. Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, and Economic Geography of India and the World.
  4. Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  5. Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  6. General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change: that do not require subject specialization.
  7. General Science

UPSC IAS Prelims Syllabus for CSAT (Paper-II)
Candidates can check the IAS Prelims CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test) Syllabus given below.
  1. Comprehension
  2. Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  3. Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  4. Decision-making and problem solving
  5. General mental ability
  6. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level).

The detailed UPSC Prelims Syllabus can be found on the official website of UPSC.

Make a study plan

Decide which topics you need to focus on.
To make a study plan, you first need to figure out which topics you need to focus on. To do this, take a look at the syllabus and identify the areas that you are weak in. Then, make a list of the topics that you need to work on. Once you have your list, you can start looking for resources that will help you learn more about those topics.

Find the right study materials.
Once you know which topics you need to focus on, it's time to find the right study materials. There are a number of ways to do this. You can search online for resources, ask your friends or family for recommendations, or go to your local library and look for books on the subject. If possible, try to find materials that are specifically designed for the UPSC exam. This will ensure that you are getting the most relevant and up-to-date information possible.

Take practice tests

Take as many practice tests as possible.
The best way to prepare for the UPSC Prelims is to take as many practice tests as possible. This will help you get familiar with the exam format and question types, and also allow you to identify your weak areas. Try to find a variety of practice tests, from different sources, so that you can get a well-rounded preparation.

Analyze your performance and identify your weak areas.
After taking each practice test, be sure to analyze your performance carefully. Identify the topics on which you scored poorly, and make a note of them so that you can focus on them in your studies. Also, try to identify any patterns in your mistakes – for example, if you tend to make careless mistakes on certain types of questions, or if you have difficulty with certain topics. By identifying your weaknesses, you can tailor your studies more effectively and improve your chances of success on the UPSC Prelims.

Stay motivated

Set realistic goals.
When preparing for such a competitive exam, it is important to set achievable goals for yourself and strive to accomplish them. This will not only help you stay focused, but also give you a sense of accomplishment as you check items off your list. Try to break down your goals into smaller, more manageable pieces so that you can track your progress and feel a sense of achievement along the way.

Take breaks and reward yourself for your accomplishments.
Preparing for the UPSC Prelims can be daunting, so make sure to schedule in some time for yourself during your studies. This can be used as a chance to relax and recharge, so that you come back to your studies feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next task at hand. Additionally, don’t forget to reward yourself once in awhile for all the hard work you’re putting in – whether it’s treating yourself to a delicious meal or taking a well-deserved break from studying altogether.

Acing the UPSC Prelims is not an easy task, but it is definitely possible with the right preparation strategy. The key is to start early, get familiar with the exam format, make a study plan and take plenty of practice tests. Additionally, it is important to stay motivated throughout the preparation process by setting realistic goals and taking breaks when needed.