IAS is considered the toughest exam in the country due to its vast syllabus, high competition, and unpredictability. It is certainly not easy to crack and is far from a cakewalk. But nothing is impossible. Conducted by the UPSC board, it aims to recruit the best civil servants for IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS, etc., to serve the country.

Lakhs of people appear for the civil service examinations, but only a select few make it. To make it into the list of qualified aspirants, you need not take drastic steps such as enrolling into the top institutions or isolating yourself from everyone. Then the common questions that arise are, how to crack UPSC exam? or how can I crack IAS? Well, for that, you need to take some steps and make progress in the right direction.

To crack UPSC, aspirants require the right planning, focus, approach, and strategy. Here is a simple yet important step-by-step strategy to crack IAS:-

Know the Exam

Stages Of UPSC Exam

Many of you may already know, but to clear UPSC, one has to successfully pass three stages of tests namely:

  1. Prelims
  2. Mains
  3. Interview

Know the Pattern

When preparing for a tough and competitive exam like UPSC, keep track of everything and know all the information about the exam.

Prelims, Mains and Interview

The primary purpose of Prelims is to filter potential candidates. For prelims, there are two papers known as General Studies-1 and General Studies-2 or CSAT. Both the exams are objective types with multiple choice answers and are conducted on the same day for 2 hours.

After scoring the cut-off percentage in the Prelims, you are now eligible to write the Mains exam. The candidate has to appear for 9 papers in the Mains stage. They are Paper A, Paper B, Paper 1 to 7. All the papers are for 3 hours.

After the successful completion of Prelims and Mains, the final round will be the Interview round. It is entirely different from the other two rounds, where a panel will assess your suitability for a civil services career and associated responsibilities.

Prepare a Time Table

UPSC has a vast syllabus, and with the competition that prevails, it is imperative to have a proper strategy to crack IAS.

After assessing the time left for the exam and the syllabus needed to be covered, prepare a personalised timetable wholly based on your preparation status.

A proper time table will help you:-

  1. Stay organised with a proper daily routine.
  2. Keep track of your preparation status.
  3. Know your deadlines and work accordingly.

It is also essential to prepare a realistic timetable which you can follow and stick to it. Do not overwhelm yourself with all the syllabus. With proper planning and execution, work towards your goals slowly.

Strengthen Your Basics

Despite the depth and toughness Prelims and Mains paper possess, it is vital to have a strong foundation of the basics.

NCERT textbooks from class 6th to 12th will help you understand the basics of the core subjects. As the government prescribes NCERT for students, the notes are highly diverse. In multiple papers, there were direct questions from the NCERT textbooks themselves.

Do not overwhelm yourself with all the other resources that are available on the internet. Stick to the basics and rely on NCERT and quality sites like UPSC Pathshala to brush up your skills.

You can get copies of NCERT textbooks from the NCERT official website for free.

Make Notes and Revise

As the UPSC syllabus is vast, making notes will help you remember all the topics wisely.

No matter how much you study, if you don’t revise with the same zest and dedication, your chances of success will reduce. Both studying and revision should go hand in hand.

If you study the whole week, make sure you spare some time on the weekends to revise the entire syllabus or put up some time every day for revision in your timetable. Your own short notes on all the topics in every subject will help you revise faster.

Studying, making notes and revision is a cyclic process during your preparation for UPSC.

Read Various Newspapers

From the time you decide to write the service exams or before, it is extremely important to inculcate the habit of reading the newspaper every day. From improving your current affairs to acquiring general knowledge, newspaper reading will help in many ways.

However, it is advised not to confine yourself to only one language newspaper or only one newspaper. To avoid limiting your learning, read newspapers in languages you are aware of and try to read more than one paper because sometimes there’s a chance to miss out on some news by a particular newspaper. So read as many papers as you can to be well-informed.

Solve Previous Papers and Attempt Mock Tests

After finishing a topic, search for questions that appeared in the previous papers on the same topic. It is advised to go through the last 10 years of question papers because it will give you a clear idea of the structuring and posing of questions.

At least a couple of months before the exam, start giving mock tests. They will certainly help you assess your knowledge and your understanding of the subject. Most importantly, after a particular mock test, you can reflect on the mistakes you made, understand them and certainly, never repeat them.

Taking mock tests will help you understand the exam atmosphere, boost your confidence, and evaluate your skills.

Appearing for pan-India mock tests will additionally help you understand the competition you are getting into and know where you stand in the upcoming UPSC exams.

Practice Descriptive Writing

As a large part of the Mains exam is a descriptive test, it is important to have proper practice for writing the descriptive answer part.

Most of the students would be under the assumption that writing will take up or waste a lot of time. But, instead of just reading the descriptive part answers and understanding the content, practising it in writing will help you analyse the time taken to write, proficiency, memory, accuracy, and depth of knowledge.

Hence, during the Mains preparation, practice the writing part too. These simple tricks practised well will make you stand out.

Prepare for the Interview

This round is different from your first two stages and it completely focuses on your personality.

After the completion of Mains, focus on the interview round without bothering about your results.

A panel judges the final Interview round, also known as the UPSC personality test from the UPSC board. They will analyse everything from your body language, dressing style to command over the subject. Most of the questions will be related to your hobbies, interests, social issues, current events, and developments in your subject.

Try to practice for the round by taking mock interviews. Stay focused, calm, and be honest.

Take Care of Yourself

Most importantly, take care of yourself. As cliche as it may sound, it is crucial to take proper care of your physical and mental health. For good mental and physical health, get enough sleep, eat healthy food, drink enough water, exercise, and meditate.

Cracking India’s toughest exam that requires all your attention and time span can be daunting and stressful even for mentally strong people. But, it is important to understand that stress and anxiety are completely normal in the process of achieving such big goals.


Whether you take coaching or study on your own, a personal mentor will always work towards your improvement. The mentors at UPSC Pathshala are well experienced. From answering all your questions on how to crack the UPSC exam to keeping track of your status, they help enhance your chances of success. Watch our free demo class and experience the teaching methods at UPSC Pathshala before you make the next best decision of enrolling with us.

For more proven strategies, tips, and tricks, make sure you follow all the latest news by UPSC Pathshala.

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Applied Strategies to Crack IAS: Know the Right Tips & Tricks for UPSC Preparation
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Applied Strategies to Crack IAS: Know the Right Tips & Tricks for UPSC Preparation
Lakhs of people aspire to prepare for UPSC every year. But the question is, how to crack UPSC exams? Know the right strategies to crack it and get one step closer to your dream job.
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About the Author


Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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