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How to Prepare for UPSC Mains 2023?

Jul 08, 2021

Prepare for UPSC Mains with PrepLadder

To all those who wish to serve the country as an IAS, IPS, IRS or IFS, there is one inevitable thing, ‘Bright Future Ahead’. Despite the surge in job opportunities in the private sector with high paychecks, the aura around the Civil Services especially Indian Administrative Services (IAS) and Indian Police Services (IPS) is intact and has only grown in recent years.

The reason is simple!  Prestige, Power, Charm, Glory - Civil Services has it all.  

The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is conducted by the Union Public Services Commission (UPSC) and is one of the most challenging exams in the country. It is conducted in three stages- Prelims, Mains and Interview.

While many crack the Prelims stage easily, passing the Mains round is a daunting task for many aspirants. UPSC Mains preparation is the most crucial phase of your preparation journey and hence you should devise an effective strategy for it.

UPSC Mains Pattern

Paper Subject Duration Total Marks
Paper A Compulsory Indian Language 3 Hours 300 (Qualifying)
Paper B English 3 Hours 300 (Qualifying)
Paper I Essay 3 Hours 250
Paper II General Studies I – Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society  3 Hours 250
Paper III General Studies II – Governance, Constitution, Welfare Initiatives, Social Justice & International Relations  3 Hours 250
Paper IV General Studies III – Technology, Economic Development, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Security & Disaster Management 3 Hours 250
Paper V General Studies IV – Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude 3 Hours 250
Paper VI Optional Subject – Paper I 3 Hours 250
Paper VII Optional Subject – Paper II  3 Hours 250

Now when you are aware of the UPSC Mains Exam Pattern, read further to understand how to prepare for the UPSC Mains efficiently and effectively with the help of below-mentioned tips:

UPSC Mains Preparation Tips

Tip 1: Be Consistent With Your Preparation

  • As a UPSC aspirant preparing for Mains, it is expected to have a proper understanding of the Mains exam pattern and syllabus.
  • Mains preparation should be characterized with consistent preparation.
  • Hence, all the days, weeks, and months should be scheduled properly with set targets.
  • Always remember, it’s not the quantity of the study hours you devote during the Mains preparation that matters, it is the quality study time that is vital for getting the desired results. 

Also read: Common Mistakes to Avoid in UPSC Preparation

Tip 2: Choose Your Optional Subject Wisely

  • UPSC Optional Subject plays a great role in impacting marks for UPSC aspirants.  
  • In the CSE Mains exam, out of the nine papers, two papers, Paper VI and Paper VII are from the UPSC Optional subjects, Optional Subject Paper 1 and Optional Subject Paper 2. Each of them carries 250 marks. 
  • The choice of optional subject should be as per your level of interest and degree of comfort in the subject.  
  • Once you have chosen the optional subject, make sure you master it with dedication and get expertise in it.

Tip 3: Focus on your Answer Writing Practice

  • It is important to give due time to writing answers during UPSC exam preparation since the Mains paper is descriptive in nature.
  • The Essay Paper in the UPSC Mains Exam consists of two sections A and B with four topics in each of 125 marks and a total of 250 (125×2) marks.
  • Hence, be pro in writing answers that create a good impression on the examiner.
  • During preparation, whatever you read, try to summarize it in your words and dedicate an hour every day to practice answer writing.

Tip 4: Be updated with the Current Affairs

  • Writing the Mains exam requires a multidimensional approach of dealing with different events, hence current affairs become vital.
  • Current affair helps to develop candidate’s capability of analytical and logical thinking on different topics like current social issues, election reforms, economic issues, national interest in international relations, etc.
  • Hence, candidates should always be updated with all the important national and international events. 
  • The indispensable part of the UPSC Mains preparation is to religiously follow the newspaper daily. You can consider reading The Hindu or The Indian Express for your daily dose of current affairs knowledge.

Also read: How to Prepare for UPSC Prelims 2021?

Tip 5: Attempt Mock Tests Regularly

  • Mock tests are a valuable tool to understand what is missing in your UPSC exam preparation.
  • It is extremely important to solve mock tests to get an optimum score in the UPSC exams.
  • Think of Mock Tests as an opportunity to understand the answer-writing process, and to write brief concise answers considering the demand of the questions.
  • Mock Tests will not only boost your confidence but will also help you with time management.

So, give your Mains preparation a fresh start with the aforementioned tips and get the desired results.

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All the best for your exams. Stay tuned for more updates.  

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Auther Details

Raminder Singh

Raminder is a Content Manager at PrepLadder. He has worked in several aspects of the education industry throughout his career and has assisted numerous candidates in cracking major competitive exams.


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