Step by Step Guide for IAS Preparation

Every year lakhs of students appear for the UPSC exams but only a few thousands make it to the mains. Given the practically unending syllabus for the UPSC IAS mains exam. One needs a good strategy for the UPSC IAS exam at the start and needs to religiously follow it. Starting with a strategy is easy at the start but one needs tremendous perseverance and will power to maintain the momentum for months.

In this article we provides you a Step by Step guide for IAS preparation to avoid confusion at any step.

The right way to start

Write everyday

In the initial days of practice, do not set any limits on the time while you are practicing to write the answers. Just focus on the content and make sure that you stick to the point. Gradually, set a time limit and make sure that your handwriting remains eligible and neat.

Make notes

For a massive exam like UPSC, it is impractical to think that you can literally revisit each and every topic in detail just before the exam. Hence, the practice of writing notes becomes very important. And a great method of maintaining notes can help you revise and recall better before the exam.

Confidence level

The right level of confidence is quite tricky in an exam like UPSC. Too much or too little will surely meddle in your preparation. Having confidence in yourself is the key to a persistent effort. But low confidence can be devastating. If you are only preparing to check if you can at all crack the IAS prelims exam or not. Then you are truly undermining yourself and wasting time which you could have used to prepare for the mains in parallel with the prelims.

How to prepare for IAS prelims exam

The aptitude section

Unlike the IAS mains exam, the UPSC IAS prelims have an aptitude section apart from the general studies paper. Even though this would not be required for the mains. You need to devote quality time to the aptitude section to qualify for the IAS prelims exam.

All objective questions

As of 2017, the IAS prelims exams only has objective questions. Ability to guess the correct answer and to eliminate wrong option might be a useful technique to score marks

GS paper linked to mains

Even though the IAS prelims exam is fully based on objective questions, the General studies section is quite tough and vast. So prepare for it as if you are actually preparing for the UPSC IAS mains exam.

Read the question well

Never let your knowledge of a subject or a topic make you so certain that you do not see the nuances of the question posed to you while appearing for the exam. Read it word by word to search the real question inside and answer only that which is relevant in the objective section.

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Choosing the right optional papers

The optional paper is certainly a game changer provided you have chosen it with utmost care. Remember that it is not the time to learn and experiment with new subjects when you are going to sit for the UPSC exam. If you still need advice on the optional topic, seek counsel from experienced quarters. Finally, take your own decision as to which subject can serve as your optional paper based on your comfort.

  • GS I - This section is the largest of all and would need many hours of preparation for the student to come up to a comfortable level during the IAS mains exam. The sections like India's modern history and Arts, Architecture and Literature of India, Physical geography of India and the World need in-depth understanding before you can write good answers.
  • GS II - This paper s focus is on Polity and Governance and students find it relatively easier to handle questions from this subject. A lot of information is readily available in websites and newspapers which students can follow.
  • GS III - This paper deals with subjects like Technology, Economic Development and the Environment and the fundamentals of the subjects become necessary to score good marks. Students who are not very comfortable with the economics section might want to rethink before proceeding with it.
  • GS IV - Many students may seem to ignore this paper because it focuses largely on ethics and moral philosophies. Anyone who has a good interest in philosophy is likely to score good marks in the subject.

Overall strategy for UPSC IAS Exam

The personality test

In the UPSC exam, the Personality Test, an interview with the Commission is only for those who obtain the minimum qualifying marks for mains. One must understand that this test is an overall test of your personality. When you prepare well for the IAS prelims and IAS mains exams, the personality test is largely taken care of. Your knowledge and in-depth understanding of the subjects endow you with a lot of inner confidence during the personality test. Along with that, your verbal abilities also increase your chances to clear the test.

Having personal deadlines

Another important aspect of your strategy for the UPSC exam is your own personal deadline. Setting a personal timeline makes you aware of your speed and need to improve on subjects where preparation is not satisfactory.

Cover all areas well

It is advised that you devote the right amount of time for all the subjects and give due important to the subject at hand. Do not proceed to a new topic if you are not clear about what you are currently reading. This will ensure that you save precious time in the IAS mains exam preparation.

Strategy for writing answers

Once you have started to study, remember certain key elements. Some of those are

1. Never indulge in severe criticism in your answers.

2. Never answer a paper by guessing

3. Your answer should be to the point and do not write sentences which add no meaning to the overall answer/essay

Finally, being on track is important


Though easier said than done, once you set off on a goal, you need to constantly maintain your energy and efficiency which is the certainly the most difficult part. There are many channels which derail you from track. Perseverance is always the key element in the UPSC exam.

Revision methodology

There is no set method for revision. It varies with individual retention capacity. If you are someone who tends to forget topics which are not interesting to you. Devise a plan to tackle fresh subjects once in 24 hours. After a few iterations, revise material once a week, until you achieve proficiency.

Leisure Relaxation

Time for yourself is a very important part of your overall strategy for the IAS mains exam. If your brain is unable to relax, you can never train it to concentrate when you need to. Sleep for a minimum of 6-7 hours each day and take frequent breaks to rejuvenate yourself.

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