Beginner’s Guide to Crack UPSC IAS Exam

UPSC IAS exam is said to be the toughest exam as lakhs of candidates take the exam to get into the top administrative positions of bureaucracy. The exam is surely a hard nut to crack but if you have the right strategy and good knowledge, then your path of preparation can be quite easy. Every year many of the new aspirants start their preparation and many of the UPSC aspirants who do not make it into the exam, prepare for the next attempt. 

Aspirants preparing for the IAS exam for the first time are like a plain canvas. If you’ll start good, you will definitely lead to a fine spot. So, If you are an early aspirant and looking for some best preparation strategy to crack the exam in the first attempt then go through the article thoroughly. 

Start your Preparation Early

There is no specific time when you start dreaming to become something. So, if you have dreamt to become an IAS Officer, start your preparation now. Early preparation will help you save your precious time and will make your basics strong. If you will start preparing for the exam from the initial school days, you will get many benefits. 

A variety of questions are asked from NCERT books. So, if you will be clear in your thoughts about becoming an IAS officer, you can study the topics attentively while being taught in the classroom. 

Start from the Scratch

Many of you must be thinking about what should be our approach to prepare for the exam? It is highly recommended to go through the detailed IAS exam pattern and Syllabus first. If you have a clear understanding of the exam pattern and syllabus, you’ll get to know which topic you can adopt first. 

To make it convenient for the aspirants we have provided you with an overview of the IAS exam pattern. The exam is conducted in various stages i.e. Prelims, Mains and Personality Test. Candidates qualifying Preliminary exam appear in Mains. The details exam structure for both prelims and mains are tabulated below: 




Number of Papers



Type of Papers 




General Studies - I


Indian Language (Compulsory)

English Language (Compulsory)


General Studies - I

General Studies - II

General Studies - III

General Studies - IV

Optional Paper - I

Optional Paper-II

Exam Duration

2 Hours Each

3 Hours Each

Total Marks



Negative Marking 



Getting into the details of the IAS Syllabus is equally important. This will help you in making a proper preparation plan for the exam. 

Make your Own Library

Books will be your good friend throughout the course of your preparation. There will be a lot of books available in the market but it is highly recommended to go through NCERT Books for IAS preparation on the initial day. Once you have gone through the same, opt for the reference books. 

UPSC aspirants must opt for the books suggested by the previous years’ toppers. Do not get confused with the bundles of books available in the market. There are different subjects and therefore, candidates have to opt for various books. Few of the important IAS books are: 



History and Culture

Modern Indian History: For Civil

Ancient Medieval India

Indian and World Geography

Certificate Physical and Human

Geography of India for Civil Services

Indian Polity

Important Judgements that transformed India

Indian Economy

Indian Economy for Civil Services

Science and Technology

Science and Technology for Civil Services

Current Affairs

India 2020


Cracking CSAT Paper 2


Selected Contemporary Essays

Include Newspaper in your Routine

Newspapers play an important role throughout the preparation of IAS exam. If you are not in a habit of reading the newspaper, make it now. A lot of questions are asked related to current affairs. So, you must know what is going on in the world. Two newspapers that will be a boon for IAS preparation are “The Hindu” and “The Indian Express”

If you have optimum time, you can also go through the magazines available online as well as offline and they are: Yojana and Kurukshetra. 

A Mentor is Necessary

It is never said that you cannot ace the exam through self-study but preparing for the exam under the guidance of a Mentor will be more effective. Aspirants can either opt for a classroom program or an online course to prepare for the exam. Preparing under the guidance of an experienced faculty will keep you on the right track of preparation. 

Previous Years’ Question Papers

Find and save the Previous Years’ IAS question paper. By going through the previous year's question paper, you will be able to get the trends of questions asked over the past few years. Solving the question paper will enable you to find whether any questions are being repeated or not. This will also help you in finding the topics from which a maximum number of questions are asked.

Take Mock Tests

Mock Tests are the replica of the original paper. It is highly recommended to take as many mock tests as possible. Aspirants must take the mock tests once they are done with preparing for the exam. Mock tests will help them get over the fear of taking the IAS exam, it will also improve their efficiency to solve the questions. 

Cracking the exam will change your life for good. So, if you have thought to take up a position in the bureaucracy, stay determined and work hard. “Rome was not built in a day”, so be patient. Make your goal clear, no one can help you if you don't help yourself. Set your goals and work for them. You will definitely succeed. All the best!

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