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How to prepare for UPSC Prelims Exam in 2024-2025

How to prepare for UPSC Prelims Exam in 2024-2025

How to Prepare for Civil Services Preliminary Exam 2021

Preliminary Examination is the first stage of Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. Although this stage is not very difficult but generally candidates do not take this stage seriously and that is why most of the candidates often fail in this examination due to their short-sightedness and conservative examination approach related to this examination. In this competitive era with overflow of information a holistic approach is required at this stage of the examination. A clear cut UPSC prelims strategy is required by the candidates to cover each and every aspect of the UPSC syllabus.

UPSC is an exam which can be cracked with hard work, dedication and determination. However the following things should be kept in mind while preparing for the exam:

1.  An integrated approach should be adopted for the examination where preparation for both preliminary and main examination should be clubbed together.

2. A separate study plan for preliminary and main exam will not suffice and will ultimately lead you to failure.

3.  A different approach may get you selected in the preliminary exam but you will not succeed in the later stages.

UPSC prelims strategy by toppers in this regard could be of immense help that will help candidates to identify grey areas in their preparation strategy and rectify their mistakes.

UPSC Prelims Syllabus:

Before starting preparation for any examination and making UPSC prelims strategy syllabus it is mandatory to understand the syllabus and pattern of the examination. Reading the UPSC syllabus thoroughly will not only help you understand the nature and structure of the exam but will also help you keep yourself focused. So it is always advisable to memorize the IAS syllabus first, for this you need to keep a copy of the syllabus with you. Every word of the syllabus should be read with utmost care. Therefore, the only way to be successful in the examination is to understand its syllabus well so that you do not deviate from your goal and can study in the right direction.


Previous Years Question Papers:

Previous year question papers of IAS exam could be of immense help in understanding the structure of questions of the exam and its level of difficulty. These question papers ensure whether your preparation is in the right direction or not. Through this, candidates can assess themselves and make necessary changes in their strategy. Any exam requires a holistic thought process. This thought process is developed by asking questions. UPSC has made it easier for the candidates by providing previous year question papers. Each question will give you an insight into how questions are structured in the UPSC exam.

Regular practice of questions from both known and unknown sources will help you develop your speed in handling questions and an insight into how to handle such questions. Practice makes a man perfect. Hence there is a need to be well aware of as many questions as possible from different viewpoints to strengthen the exam preparation.

Strategy for making notes:

The strategy of making notes is the most vital part of UPSC prelims preparation strategy. It helps you to read and revise multiple times without any hassle. Making smart notes also improves the efficiency of revision at the last minute of revision. There is a saying that fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 techniques but the man who has practiced 1 technique 10,000 times. Studying from too many sources at once can only lead to confusion for candidates and may put their success in question.

Basics should be given top priority in any exam and the importance of basics increases manifold in UPSC exam. NCERT books and other reference books play an important role to cover the basics.


CSAT Preparation Strategy:

Ever since CSAT's qualifying papers have been introduced in the preliminary exam, many candidates have almost stopped studying for CSAT and have put all their energy into preparing for General Studies. This method of preparation also cannot be called correct. Remember that CSAT has been made qualifying, it has not been removed from the examination. It is evident from the trends that students face more challenges to qualify CSAT paper in comparison to General Studies paper. It is not at all easy to score minimum 33% marks to qualify in CSAT question paper. Yes, its challenges are less than before, but that does not mean that it should be completely ignored.

The section covered in the UPSC CSAT Syllabus includes – Comprehension, Interpersonal skills, communication skills, Logical reasoning and analytical ability, Decision-making and problem-solving, General mental ability, and Basic numeracy.

All candidates cannot have the same approach to CSAT preparation. For some candidates who have a background in Mathematics and Science subjects, it is not a difficult task for them to solve 27 questions including Mathematics and Reasoning section in two hours, whereas for students from Humanities background, sometimes it may be difficult to cross this figure. It is noteworthy that a total of 80 questions are asked in CSAT question paper, in which each question carries 2.5 marks. Thus, to score 33% marks to qualify in CSAT, you must score 66 marks out of 200 marks. Keep in mind that negative marking is applicable in the preliminary examination. To make a proper strategy for this question paper, it is necessary to closely observe the questions asked from different topics in the preliminary examination in the last 6 years.

By attempting UPSC CSAT previous year question paper, get to know your strengths and weakness, which is crucial before beginning CSAT preparation for UPSC.

If you get a good score while solving last year’s paper, give less time to preparation, say the last 3-4 months. But, if your scores are average or below average, then give the appropriate amount of time on CSAT preparation to boost your performance. Mocks help in identifying the strong and weak areas, which will be fruitful in doing CSAT preparation for UPSC.

Time-to-time mocks help in reducing the time to solve the CSAT question and provides the exam-related environment beforehand.


Current Affairs:

It is very important to keep track of daily events and issues for current affairs. There are many resources available to prepare for current affairs. Daily newspapers like The Hindu or The Indian Express and monthly magazines like Yojana and Kurukshetra can be helpful in this regard. Online websites can provide you weekly, monthly and yearly compilations of current affairs which will reduce your burden of gathering resources and making heavy notes. 

No matter what subject or topic you are studying, it is important to revise and remember it so that you do not lose marks in those areas. Without proper revision, you are likely to carry more confusion into the exam hall and end up with a higher negative score, which will negate all the hard work you have done. Studying for the exam is one thing while learning to attempt the paper is another skill. The stress on the day you are taking the exam is immense. Hence, you should practice the art of answering questions in a time-bound environment to ensure peak performance. Regular revision will help you solidify your understanding. You can learn more information through practice tests as well. Hence, you need to have a balance between accumulating knowledge and testing yourself.

Once a student finishes his syllabus it is important to know how well is your preparation and hence mock tests help in refining your strategy to maximize your scoring. For some answering, only those  questions which they are sure will do the trick. Whereas for someone else maximizing the number ofattempts may help clear the cut-off. And there is only one way to find out the strategy that will work for you, do umpteen number of mock exams.

Join a test series and try to solve practice papers at home in a time-bound manner. You are suggested to test yourself at regular intervals. Additionally, you will realize areas in a particular subject where you need to work upon. Try and solve as many test papers as possible.

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