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In the Previous Article we had a detailed analysis of the Civil Services Prelims exam. We also comprehended various aspects of the exam and understood the broad division of the syllabus. We also saw how tricky the questions were and the Level which UPSC keeps while judging the suitability of candidates. If you haven’t gone through the article, click here. Going through the analysis is the first and the most important step to crack this exam.

Okay, so by now you must have gone through the analysis and are probably wondering what is the best and perhaps the easiest way to crack prelims. So lets dig into the strategy which I feel is the best (not the only though) way to crack the exam. I am Assuming that you have at least 6 months in hand when you are reading this article (the more time you have the better).


To do anything in life, you need to have the basics right. You need to make sure that you have the right kind of tools to do the job in hand. In case of UPSC prelims also you need to have the Right Approach and ‘Inventory’ in Hand. These basics include the Following.

1. A proper Daily schedule and Action Plan: Now it cannot be more emphasized that you need a proper Daily schedule and A good plan to make sure that your preparation remain in track and you don’t go haywire with it. Formulate your daily study routine having at least 8 hours of study divided into shifts. Include physical activities in your daily plan too. UPSC doesn’t mean that you have to cut off your life and your social circle. All you need to do is to make sure that you are doing 8 hours of study every day and having a proper sleep (min 7 hours). 2nd most important thing to do is to have an Action plan for short terms and long terms. Formulate goals and action plans for weekly, Monthly and Quarterly basis. That way you will be able to stay on track and also check your progress as far as covering syllabus is concerned. When you make a weekly plan have one day as an assessment day. For instance on Sundays you access what you achieved the whole week. That way you will be able to make the necessary corrections in your plan. For a month you can have the last 2 days of the month to assess what you have achieved the whole month and review your plan accordingly. Remember Even the Government makes quarterly and half yearly and yearly assessments of its projects. Learn from your future Employer the Importance of Formulating the Plans (and unlike your Future Employer You need to stick to the Targets.)

2. “Inventory collection and Management”: The other thing you would require when you are preparing for the exam is Your “Inventory”. By inventory I mean the right kind of Material for the preparation. You will require a good Cocktail of Basic books and Advanced study material for preparing for the exam. Now I would not go on detail that what kind of books is required for the exam. I have already given the details of the books in my previous Article. If you haven’t found it yet, please click here.

3.The right kind of reference and Updations: Now this part is tricky. Reference and Updations means you continuously have to update yourself with current affairs and other relevant study material which might come handy with your preparation at any stage of the exam. For that you can follow these simple steps.

     a. Learn the syllabus of the exam thoroughly
b. Follow some good online learning website or some offline coaching center notes for the
specific topics in the exam

4. The Mentor: Another basic that needs to be taken care of is the Guidance. I have observed that even candidates having vast knowledge and expertise tend to go astray in the preparation because of the lack of experience and right kind of Mentorship. Just as a Ship requires beacon of light to guide through the stormy waters you will also require the experience to take you through in these stormy days of preparation. For guidance I recommend to consult a good Mentor or your senior who has ample experience of the exam. Or what you can do is have a good peer group which can debate and discuss the aspects of exam and the preparation thereof.


Now since you have got all the basic stuff ready for your self i.e. you have the right inventory of books, right plan and right guidance, you need to move to the advanced step that is to process all the available knowledge and store it in a short and concise manner so that It can be retrieved with minimum effort. Yes I am talking about the “NOTE MAKING”. This is one art that is not only going to help you in your UPSC preparation but throughout your life. When ever you are taking up a particular subject for the read you have to make sure that you make notes of it. And by notes it doesn’t mean that you write every thing down from textbook to you notebook. It must follow the Golden rule of 10%. That is out of 10 pages you read your notes should reflect those pages in just 1 page. Now I am sure that you are confused that how that is possible? It is very much possible and rather easy once you know how to look for the relevant information. For that don’t start making notes in the first reading itself. You need to read a textbook at least twice before making Notes the Third time.
Let me explain with an example. For instance you are reading a textbook on Ancient India. It needs to be read three times.
1st time just like a Novel with no intention of cramming.
2nd time it needs to be read more carefully judging what is the information that can be stored.
3rd time reading is done for the note making purpose. By this time you will realize what information is relevant what is not.


Now comes is your strategy of how the learning will take place. Here you can adhere to a Golden Rule of 3:3:2. Now this rule sums up your daily study schedule i.e. you have to study a total of 8 hours (3+3+2) in three divisions i.e. 3hours, 3 hours and 2 hours. The first 3 hours you can take up any conventional subject mentioned in your syllabus for instance History, Geography, Polity etc. For the next phase of 3 hours you can take up Newspaper reading or Brushing through Current affairs of the day. Final 2 hours could be dedicated to revising what you have learned and solving some questions regarding what you have studied. For instance if you are studying Climatology in Geography, solve some MCQs relating to the particular topic. This is called as Active learning. It is proven to be far more effective than just reading (Passive learning). It will help you better memorize what you have learned through out the day. Here you can take the help of content providing websites or coaching institutes.

By following all these steps I am sure that by the end of a one or two quarters you will be very well equipped and confident related to your preparation. Your knowledge base would deepen and you will be well versed with the various topics asked in the exam. Continuing this approach till the last quarter (3 months before the Prelims) will reap you rich dividends and bring you closer to your exam goal.


For last 3 months need to be exclusively devoted for revision. You have made notes throughout the year, solved MCQs on current and conventional topics and if you have done it rightly you must be having a lot notes and material to revise. Here we have to change our gears to revision mode. The focus in this phase is to solidify what we have learned throughout the year. The revision is to be done in three phases again.
1st phase is about general revision of the whole year
2nd revision focuses on special topics and subjects which are weak.
3rd revision is just a glance over the topics and subjects (also called as Passing through the eye).
A solid way to cement your knowledge gains is through a comprehensive test series. It will help you to check your performance and make minor adjustments so that you can avoid mistakes in the exam.


Last week of the preparation is more a battle of Mind and Wit than of Knowledge. While you are in your last part of revision, your mind will create fear, you will doubt your preparation, and your mind will keep on thinking of the topics you haven’t covered or the test in which you scored poorly. This is the basic nature of human being and the last week is more about fighting these negative tendencies and stay positive.
For that what needs to be done is to relax. Reduce your hours of preparation and whatever time you are studying just glance through the topics. Too much pressure at the last moments in this exam is detrimental. You can have some recreational activities may be a good workout session every day or even a stroll in the park with your peers or family sharing lighter moments.

The biggest thing is that you have to repose faith in what you have done throughout the year and carry it to the exam Hall. You will realize that this positive energy will have great impact on your performance and you will come clear the exam with flying colors.

I hope this article was helpful for many of you who are in need of a right kind of strategy to crack UPSC prelims examination.

Kuldeep Singh
Civil service Mentor
O2 IAS Academy


If you are looking for best institutes for civil services exam / IAS exam check out the links below:

List of Best Institutes for Civil Service Exam in Chandigarh – Click Here
List of Best Institutes for Civil Service Exam in Delhi – Click Here
List of Best Institutes for Civil Service Exam in Jaipur – Click Here
List of Best Institutes For all other cities and categories – Click Here

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