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How to crack UPSC

Preliminary Examination (Usually takes place in May or June)

Stage I

Paper IPaper II (Qualifying only, Marks will not be added for cutoff calculations)
General Studies Apptitude
1. History of India and Indian national movement 1. Comprehension
2. Indian and World Geography- Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the world 2. Interpersonal skills including communication skills
3. Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political system, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights issues, etc. 3. Logical reasoning and analytical ability
4. Economic and Social development – sustainable development, poverty, inclusion, demographics, social sector initiatives etc. 4. Decision making and problem solving
5. General issues on environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate change-that donot require subject specialization 5. General mental ability
6. General science 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)
7. English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level)
8. Questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level. (No Hindi Translation will be given for this part only)
Duration – 2 Hours Morning Slot – 9:30 am to 11:30 am
Total Marks – 100 Questions X 2 = 200 Marks
1/3rd Negative for wrong Answers
Duration – 2 Hours Evening Slot – 2:30 pm to 04:30 pm
Total Marks – 80 Questions X 2.5 = 200 Marks
1/3rd Negative for wrong Answers

Strategy and Suggestive Booklist

Stage I - Preliminary Examination

  • The Basic purpose of the preliminary examination is to screen out the non-serious and naïve candidates. UPSC asks questions from the concepts of basic understanding along with the current awareness to judge the analytical and awareness capability of the candidate. The paper I is being called as GENERAL STUDIES and the UPSC is stating it as GENERAL, thus it is being literal in the nature of the examination. So, aspirants have to take it as in general sense only without doing graduation and PhD on the concepts.
  • Just STUDY ( not learn or cram ) the subjects thoroughly and do the same activity atleast 5 times ( so that it will retain in your brain without cramming it. You cannot cram all of the curriculum. You are not a computer) before appearing in the examination. Do not, we repeat, DONOT appear in the examination or any test series without preparing for that. Either you’ll depress yourself or loose the motivation for that.
  • Just do not, again we repeat DONOT gather the study material just because you have been told by your Uncle’s friend’s son who is preparing or prepared. Just read the material you already have 5 times and then move to other material. The list given here is already very exhaustive and more than enough if you can study them 5 times prior to your prelims.

(Download Comprehensive study Material from the Institute, compiled from all the standard books and NCERTs along with the notes of the faculty and selected candidates and also get the one to one Strategy)


  • Ancient History – Old NCERTs ( Approx. 5-7 questions )
  • Medieval History – Old NCERTs ( Approx. 1 or None )
  • Modern History – Old NCERTs, Bipin Chandra/R.C. Guha/Spectrum by Rajiv Ahir ( Approx. 10-12 questions )
  • Majority of the Questions in the prelims will be from Modern India and also it will cover a major portion in the Mains, so, detailed understanding and analysis is required with this part.


  • Physical Geography – NCERTs from 6th to 12th Class ( Approx. 6-7 questions )
  • Indian Geography - NCERTs from 6th to 12th Class ( Approx. 5-6 questions )
  • World Geography – Majid Hussain ( Approx. 2 questions )
  • Human Geography – NCERTs 12th Class ( Approx. 2 questions )

Indian Economy

  • NCERTs – 11th and 12th
  • Ramesh Singh – Selective Chapters
  • Economic Survey ( Approx. 12-15 questions )

Indian Polity

  • M Laxmikanth ( Approx. 15-20 questions)

General Science

  • NCERTs – 6th to 10th Class
  • Physics – Selina Publications 9th and 10th Class (Without doing numericals and formulae(Approx. 6-8 question))
  • Chemistry – Selina Publications 9th and 10th Class (Without doing numericals and formulae(Approx. 6-8 question))
  • Biology - Selina Publications 9th and 10th Class (Without doing numericals and formulae(Approx. 6-8 question))
  • Questions will be of basic kind specifically from GENERAL science. So, in that case, you do not have to do PhD on the subjects. Just general understanding of your surrounding is required.

Science and Technology

  • The Hindu Sci. and Tech.
  • Questions in this sections will be current affairs specifically.


  • Shankar IAS Book
  • Ministry of Environment and Forests (Approx. 15-20 questions)

Art and Culture

  • NCERTs 11th and 12th
  • CCRT Website
  • Nitin Singhania (too much info though) (Approx. 5-8 questions)

Current Awareness

  • Online various sources
  • The Hindu OR Indian Express (Approx. 8-10 questions)

Stage 2 - Mains Examination

  • General Studies 1, 2, 3 and 4 – 250 marks each – 1000 Marks
  • Optional Paper 1 and 2 – 250 Marks Each – 500 Marks

  • 1. Essay paper – 250 Marks
  • 2. Language paper ( English and Hindi ) 250 Marks each ( qualifying only ) – 500 marks
  • Total – 1750 marks

UPSC assesses the comprehension capacity of the aspirant by the stage of examination. Once, you have cleared prelims, clearly, you are enough capable to learn the things. Now is the stage where your capability to comprehend the learnt part will be judged. UPSC will be asking questions from the current awareness only and your diverse understanding of the concept will be judged along with the proficiency of yours to comprehend that part into given word limit (150 or 250 words questions). You will have to cover the questions within the stipulated time and the word limit only. You have to prioritise between most important, important and least important into your answer sheets and pen them down as being asked.

No ornamental language is required in the Mains examination. People have this myth in their minds that UPSC requires bombastic English like The Hindu, since you have been following it( the newspaper) and it is obvious that you might develop the vocab of the newspaper and will be putting it down into you answer sheets as well. It will be a disaster. You have to write your answers in a layman language (English of 12 standard) which anyone shall understand even without the basic understanding of the concept you’re writing about. Since, you have covered so much books during the preparation of prelims (70%) , for mains, you just have to put little extra efforts to cover 30% of the new portion of the syllabus you’ll encounter in mains.

Stage 3 – Personal Interview– 275 Marks

  • Grand Total – 2025
  • All the best ….!
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