Dec 06, 2022
The Union Public Service Commission conducts the Civil Services Examination (CSE) every year to recruit eligible and qualified candidates for India’s Civil services (IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS, and many more). UPSC exam, also commonly known as the IAS exam, is one of the most prestigious exams in India.
Every year lakhs of aspirants across the country try their luck and attempt this challenging examination, but only a few make it through. Cracking the UPSC CSE exam is not everybody’s cup of tea. The vast syllabus is one reason. The UPSC syllabus is lengthy and demands unwavering discipline and commitment to IAS exam preparation.
The UPSC CSE examination is conducted in three stages: Preliminary Examination or Prelims, Mains Examination, and the Personality Test or UPSC Interview. Let’s help you understand the basics of these stages and some specific preparation tips that will help you in your UPSC CSE preparation.
UPSC Prelims being the first stage of the Civil Services Examination is the easiest of all the rounds of the CSE. However, if you are serious about UPSC 2023, it should not be taken for granted. Preparation for Prelims requires a proper study plan and a dedicated approach by aspirants to ace it.
Prelims is a screening test to select candidates for the Civil Services Mains examination. The UPSC syllabus for Prelims has two papers, namely General Studies I and CSAT (General Studies Paper-II), of 400 marks comprising objective-type questions. Before we look at the UPSC syllabus Prelims, let us go over the exam pattern for Prelims exam.
|Paper||Type||No. of Questions||Marks||Duration||Negative Marks|
|General Studies I||Objective||100||200||2 Hours||Yes|
|General Studies II (CSAT)||Objective||80||200||2 Hours||Yes|
The UPSC syllabus for Prelims General Studies Paper I is mentioned below:
Let’s pause a bit here. Are you getting nervous? The UPSC syllabus is enormous but don’t worry, we can help you make it easier. Watch Siddarth Singh Sisodia sir as he takes you through a proven master strategy on how to ace the UPSC 2023 exam.
Now that you are familiar with the UPSC CSE Prelims, let us move on to stage 2 of the exam.
The UPSC Mains examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of candidates rather than merely the range of their information and memory. Much of what you study for Mains will have its roots in the NCERT books therefore, make sure to read them thoroughly.
To prepare for UPSC 2023 Mains examination, here is what you should know.
|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|
Here is what the UPSC says about the CSE GS papers, “The nature and standard of questions in the General Studies papers (Paper II to Paper V) is such that a well-educated person is able to answer them without any specialized study.
The questions will be such as to test a candidate’s general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will have relevance for a career in Civil Services. The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, their ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio-economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.”
We have mentioned the entire UPSC syllabus for the Mains exam in this article so that you don’t have to search anywhere else. Have a basic understanding of the syllabus to excel in your UPSC 2023 preparation.
General Studies‐I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.
Related article: Preparation Strategy for GS Paper I- UPSC Mains
Take a break and check out this video by a former civil servant, Dr Awdhesh Singh, ex-IRS where he shares tips and techniques to increase your focus naturally and elevate your IAS preparation. This will immensely benefit your UPSC 2023 preparation.
General Studies‐ II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.
Related article: Preparation Strategy for GS Paper II- UPSC Mains
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|Must-know articles of the Indian Constitution||How to prepare Indian Polity for UPSC Prelims||How to Read the Newspaper Like a Pro for UPSC CSE 2023|
General Studies‐III: Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
Related article: Preparation Strategy for GS Paper III- UPSC Mains
General Studies- IV: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
Related article: Tips to Prepare Essay Writing for UPSC Mains
Before we move on to the next section, here is a video you must watch if you are preparing for UPSC 2023. We have compiled 25 of the most important MCQs from the previous 5 UPSC Prelims exams for every major subject. Go through them and simplify your UPSC 2023 preparation.
Watch this episode of 5 Saal 25 Sawaal where M. Puri sir will take you through the most important PYQs for Polity and their solutions. Once you are finished, check out the rest of the episodes as well.
Once candidates clear the Prelims and Mains, they appear for the final round of the UPSC exam, i.e the Personality Test, often known as the UPSC Final Interview. In your UPSC 2023 journey, this Personality Test will probably be the toughest round of all.
The candidates are interviewed by a Board that has a record of the candidate’s career before them. The candidates are asked questions on matters of general interest. The object of the Interview / Personality Test is to assess the candidate's personal suitability for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers.
The Interview / Personality Test is intended to judge the mental calibre of a candidate. In broad terms, this is really an assessment of intellectual qualities and social traits and interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, the balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, the ability for social cohesion and leadership, and intellectual and moral integrity.
It sounds tough but if you know how to prepare for it, you can clear the final interview easily. Here are 7 Quick Tips to Crack the UPSC Interview / Personality Test that you should read before you start your UPSC 2023 preparation.
And those are all the details you need to know about the UPSC exam. Now that you are familiar with that the UPSC syllabus, exam pattern, Prelims, Mains and Personality Test, let us understand how to plan your UPSC 2023 preparation strategy.
We have compiled a list of essential steps that will help you prepare better for the UPSC 2023 exam. Follow them to upgrade your exam preparation and stay ahead of the competition.
Complete the UPSC Syllabus: Once you are properly aware of the exam format and syllabus, make sure to cover the whole syllabus during your preparation. Don’t practice selective studying. It is like inviting unnecessary trouble. Starting from the NCERT books to the recommended texts, the syllabus should be covered comprehensively. As a UPSC 2023 aspirant, you can’t afford to leave any topic or chapter for granted.
Make Proper Notes: Retaining the whole study curriculum of UPSC is only possible if you make quick summary notes. The reason is that quick summary notes are convenient, easy, and less time-consuming to go through. Having self-prepared notes handy helps in focusing on important topics/questions without wasting much of your crucial time. For example, if you have hand-written notes handy, you will not have to revise the NCERT books page by page before the IAS exam.
Devote Extra Time to General Knowledge & Follow Current Affairs: Following current affairs and keeping a check on general knowledge is an important part of the UPSC syllabus. A good grasp of general knowledge can be achieved by reading different books, journals, and articles. Reading newspapers daily is the most effective means of keeping yourself updated on current affairs.
Practice Writing: Unlike Prelims, the Mains examination demands written answers. Acquiring the habit of writing and mastering it is a prerequisite for scoring well in the UPSC 2023 Mains exam. This habit can accompany you a long way to a successful end of your IAS journey. Set aside some time to practice full-length mock tests or subject-specific mock tests.
Keep Revising: All of your study efforts can go waste if you don’t revise. Since the UPSC syllabus is vast, it is impossible to retain it for a longer period. Inculcate the habit of revision in your daily study routine as soon as you start with the NCERT books in the beginning. It will be much easier for you to prepare for the exam. Revision is the key aspect that enhances our memory and learning.
Analyze yourself: Timely analysis of your preparation is the most vital tool for getting the desired results. Be accountable and responsible for yourself. Analyze your exam preparation regularly and the best way to do this is to attempt a Mock Test. Do a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. Proper analysis will not only help you to work on your weak areas but will also help you to prepare for the UPSC exams effectively.
Solve Previous Year Papers and Take Mock Tests: Solving practice papers such as Mock Test Papers, and Previous Year Papers (PYQs) while preparing gives you a tremendous amount of confidence. You get a fair bit of idea about how to present the answers in your exam. Attempting practice papers also gives you a reality check so that you can direct your IAS exam preparation accordingly. The number of practice papers attempted during UPSC preparation is directly proportional to scoring good marks in the exams.
Next, let us look at a list of recommended books for you to read during your UPSC 2023 exam preparation.
One should refer to the books listed below for their UPSC 2023 Prelims Preparation:
|General Studies Paper I||Indian Polity by M.Laxmikanth India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh Oxford World Atlas For Current Affairs- The Hindu/The Indian Express Class 8th-12th NCERT books (History, Geography, and Polity|
|CSAT||English Grammar and Composition: Wren & Martin Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning: RS Aggarwal TMH CSAT Manual|
Here is the list of books you should refer to while preparing for the UPSC 2023 Mains examination:
|General Studies Paper I||India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra India After Independence (1947-2000) by Bipan Chandra From Plassey To Partition And After by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay The Story of Civilization, Part 2 by Arjun Dev, NCERT Mastering Modern World History for Class XII (Old NCERT Book) Introduction to Indian Art for Class XI (NCERT book) Geography of India - Majid Hussain World Geography- Majid Hussain Oxford Atlas Central Physical and Human Geography by GC Leong Indian Geography by D.R Khullar Geography NCERT books (Class XI and XII) XI Standard NCERT book on Indian Society (Chapters on Unity & Diversity and Population Issues) XII Standard NCERT book (Chapters on Communalism, Secularism and Urban Issues such as Poverty, Housing, etc.)|
|General Studies Paper II||Constitution of India at Work (Class XI) NCERT Book Indian Polity by Laxmikanth Governance in India Paperback by M. Laxmikanth From Government to Governance by Kuldeep Mathur Ethics in Governance, ARC Report Citizen-Centric Administration (Chapters 2, 5, 6, 7 & 8 only and box items in the report) Human Development Report & World Development Report Panchayati Raj in India by Kuldeep Mathur International Relations by Pavneet Singh|
|General Studies Paper III||Indian Economic Development - XI Standard NCERT Book Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma Introductory Macroeconomics XII Standard NCERT Book (Ignore all diagrams & mathematical formulas) Economics Dictionary published by Collins & Penguin The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper Certificate Physical & Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong (Second Half of the Book) XII Standard NCERT Book on Biology (Chapters pertaining to Ecology) Indian Year Book (Chapters on Environment) Chapter on Climate Change from Economic Survey India’s Security in a Turbulent World by Jasjit Singh, published by National Book Trust of India Class VIII, IX, X Standard NCERT Books on Biology Environment and Disaster Management – Tata McGraw Hill|
|General Studies Paper IV||Ethics in Governance, ARC Report Lexicon by Chronicle Publications The Books on Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude published by Access Publication Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary|
And with that, you are done! Now you know everything that is to know about the IAS exam and are ready to get started on your preparation for UPSC 2023 or further.
Here is another tip. Throughout your UPSC 2023 preparation, there is a lot of work you will have to do. You have to go through a ton of books, make notes for each topic, chapter, and subject separately, get hold of Prelims and Mains mock tests to practice, stay up to date on current affairs, and revise it all when you are done.
That is a lot of work. But you don’t have to do it by yourself. You can simplify your UPSC 2023 preparation by taking the help of a reliable study partner like PrepLadder.
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Arindam is a Content Marketer who looks after the Medical Super Specialty segment, specifically the NEET SS category, at PrepLadder. He aims to help aspirants crack exams and realize their dreams through his work.
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