UPSC Prelims – All You Need To Know

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UPSC Prelims


The UPSC prelims is the first phase of a written examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for IAS recruitment. For 2021, the prelims are scheduled to be conducted on October 10, 2021, and candidates who have applied for the exam or are looking forward to applying in the coming years can know all required information about the examination further below in this article.

All aspiring candidates must first analyse the UPSC Age Limit and other eligibility criteria then fill in the application form. Being one of the toughest examinations conducted in the country, the syllabus is exhaustive and the preparation required is comprehensive. Thus, one must carefully go through the official UPSC notification for all the required knowledge regarding the recruitment process.

Syllabus and Exam Pattern for Prelims

To start the preparation, the first step is to familiarise with the syllabus and exam pattern:

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern General Studies I General Studies II or CSAT
Number of questions 100 80
Duration of exam 2 hours 2 hours
Language of exam English/Hindi English/Hindi
Maximum marks 200 200

 General Studies Paper-1 Syllabus:

  • Current events of national and international importance
  • History of India and Indian National Movement
  • Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc
  • Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change- that do not require subject specialization
  • General Science

General Studies Paper-2 (CSAT) Syllabus:

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level)
  • Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. – Class X level)
  • English language comprehension skills – Class X level

Tips for IAS Preliminary Exam Preparation

1. Set a scheduled timetable – Based on your analysis of the syllabus, set a systematic timetable and study plan to excel in the examination. This must ensure that sufficient time is devoted to each subject, separate time is allotted for revision and the timetable comprises sufficient breaks for relaxation

2.  Collect Relevant Study Material – Look for online and offline study material appropriate from the UPSC perspective. This may include books, notes or online video lectures. Ensure that only reliable and government sources are considered for correct factual information. Having ample study material is important for thorough preparation

3. Refer to Previous Year Question Papers – For a better understanding of the type of questions asked in the final examination, candidates can go through the previous year papers. This will also guide aspirants in apprehending how a topic must be prepared from the examination perspective

4. Solve Mock Tests – To get a hang of the exam pattern, solve mock tests. Practise papers are easily available online and are set in a similar manner as set by UPSC. The marks scored in these mock tests will help candidates judge their own performance and analyse which subjects require more practice

5. Make Reading Newspapers a Habit – Current Affairs play a very important part in the prelims paper. Questions formed are based on general awareness of the candidates as well. And to strengthen this part, reading the newspaper daily is extremely important. It is also recommended as it will not just increase your knowledge about the current events but also improve your reading and writing skills which are important for the mains descriptive test

6. Revise – Considering the length of the syllabus, revision is of extreme importance so that whatever has been studied in the past remains in one’s mind and is not erased off. Thus, while setting up your timetable allot separate time for revision

7. Have a Positive Outlook and Approach – Since the preparation for IAS Exam can get a bit overwhelming, it is advised that candidates must stay calm through the preparation period. Generally, stress and anxiety directly affect one;’s performance negatively and ultimately the final result is not in the candidate’s favour. Thus, instead of considering what the result may be, the focus must be on preparation entirely with a positive attitude

UPSC Preparation Sources

Aspirants can refer to a few of the important resources for prelims preparation as mentioned below:

  • Daily Newspaper (The Hindu/The Indian Express)
  • Press Information Bureau (PIB)
  • Economic and Political Weekly (EPW)
  • Yojana Magazine
  • Subject-wise NCERT Books (Class VI-XII)

For any further information regarding the first phase of the examination, aspirants can refer to the UPSC Prelims page.Aspirants are thus advised to start their preparation now for the upcoming recruitment in order to excel in the exam and qualify in this very attempt.