How much time will it take to clear IAS prelims?

Every year when candidates decide to prepare for the IAS exam, the first question that strikes them is, how much time it will take to clear the exam? Will they be able to clear all the stages of the exam in one attempt? Should they concentrate only on prelims or both prelims and mains? Obviously, the answer to these questions cannot be generalized as it depends on individual efforts.


However, there is a purpose we are writing this article. The purpose is to throw some light on what effective steps could be followed to be a confident candidate in a limited time and be ready to take UPSC CSE prelims exam.


How much time will it take to clear ias prelims


The first step is to read the syllabus of the UPSC civil service prelims.


The syllabus mentions UPSC CSE prelims is an objective type exam with two papers (Paper I and Paper II). The syllabus of Paper I is divided into seven sections each requiring an understanding of different subjects. Broadly the subjects are Humanities (History, Geography, Polity etc.), Science& Technology and Current events.


UPSC Prelims Syllabus for GS Paper I

  1. Current events of national and international importance.
  2. History of India and Indian National Movement.
  3. Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, 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, Bio-diversity and Climate Change that do not require subject specialization.
  7. General Science.

The syllabus of paper II contains questions based on comprehension, reasoning and quantitative abilities. The paper test general aptitude of the students. From 2015 onward this paper is only qualifying which means you just need to get 33% marks in this paper. So, this paper does not require a lot of effort but it should not be neglected either. In 2017 the level of paper II was a bit higher than previous years and if the trend continues it may hurt your dream to qualify prelims.


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UPSC Prelims Syllabus for GS Paper II


  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 syllabus of Civil service prelims definitely looks small but when you go into details, you can easily understand in reality it is not. To clear prelims, you need to have a good understanding and knowledge of all the subjects in the syllabus. To be precise you need an understanding of 13 subjects.


How much time will it take to clear ias prelims


Having said that let us tell you that it is quite possible to prepare for the prelims in 6 8 months provided you do smart work rather hard work.


when you break the syllabus you will realize that some part of the syllabus has already been covered during your schooling.If you have been a science student, you will not require giving much time to science & tech and Paper II as these are your strong areas. Similarly, if you are a humanities student than many topics of paper I will be familiar to you and you can go through that part of syllabus quickly and can focus on your weak areas.


This is how you can minimize your effort and can prepare for the prelims in barely 6 8 months and can confidently tackle the prelims exam.


How much time will it take to clear ias prelims


The second step is that you need to follow some time-tested principals

# Consistency: A consistent approach towards the syllabus is essential as the syllabus is huge and you have limited time and so you cannot miss your daily target.

# Daily routine: A daily routine keeps you consistent and helps keep track of your progress.

# Notes making: To simplify the knowledge in quick to digest format. So that you do not need to refer to books every time.

# Revision: To minimize doubt and confusion in the exam you should be through with your knowledge and to achieve it revision is necessary.

# Mock Test: To test your preparedness for the exam, to see which areas are strong, which requires work, and to see how you perform under pressure, mock tests are important.

At last, we would like to mention that you should not treat the stages of the exam in silos as there is convergence in the syllabus of prelims and mains. You should start your preparation holistically keeping the mains stage of the exam in focus. Once you have studied with such an approach, clearing prelims stage will require only an aggressive strategy in the last 2 3 months.

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