Are you going to appear for Prelims 2021? Looking for a perfect plan or strategy to approach? In this article, you will find everything about the prelims paper and how to make a timetable for upsc preparation? Moreover, here are tips to clear your paper in 3 months. Follow these tips and strategies to ace your paper.

With proper strategy and tips, you can easily clear your exam even if it’s your first attempt. Read this article till the end to clear your paper in one go.


UPSC civil service exam is one of the exams conducted by UPSC. It is the most anticipated and prestigious one. Successful candidates are recruited for various posts like IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS, and so on. But it is not an easy one. Among lakhs of students, only some hundreds can clear it. This exam is conducted in two phases: Preliminary and Mains examination.

The preliminary examination consists of two papers and the mains examination has two stages: The written exam and the Interview. The written exam consists of nine papers and an interview is a face to face interview with a panel.

UPSC CSE Prelims 2021

UPSC Prelims consists of two papers. This paper is a qualifying stage for the next part. Every year lakhs of students appear for the prelims exams but only some thousands of canThe written clear it.

To prepare a 3-month timetable for UPSC you need to understand prelims well. Here is a close analysis of prelims.

Paper GS Paper I  GS Paper II (CSAT) 
Number of Questions 100 80
Total Marks 200 200
Negative Marks ⅓ rd per the wrong answer ⅓ rd per the wrong answer
Time Allotted 2 hours 2 hours
Mode Offline Offline

UPSC Prelims Syllabus

General Studies I

Current events of national and international importance.
History of India and Indian National Movement.
Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
General issues on Environmental ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.
General Science.

General Studies II (CSAT)

Interpersonal skills including communication skills
Logical reasoning and analytical ability
Decision making and problem-solving
General mental ability
Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level)
Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. — Class X level)

Also Read: 11 IAS Preparation Tips for Beginners: How to Start from Ground Zero?

How to Prepare a 3 Months Time Table for UPSC Preparation?Things to Consider Before Constructing a Timetable

Here are some important things you need to consider before constructing a timetable.

Analyze the Question Paper

Before you start making your timetable, analyze the paper first. UPSC is one of the toughest papers given its unpredictability. Therefore, first of all, analyze the paper first. Start by analysing ten years of question papers. If you will  analyze the paper in detail you will find out:

UPSC Questions 2020

UPSC Questions 2019

Read the Syllabus in Detail

Now read the syllabus in detail. This will make sure you don’t miss out on any topic. If you have missed any topic, prepare for it. Make sure to read the syllabus at least three times. Every time you will find a new topic to study.

Also Read: Which Books are Best for UPSC Prelims 2021? Carve your Path to Success with the Right Study Material

Current Affairs

Current Affairs is an important aspect of prelims exams. They share a major proportion of paper. Every year the number of questions from current affairs is increasing. And it can essentially be a game-changer for your exam. Study current affairs daily.

Mock Tests

A Mock test is important to evaluate yourself. By solving as many mock tests you can have a good look at where you are struggling. This will help you to customize your timetable accordingly. Make sure to give at least two days in a week to solve mock tests.

To analyze the questions and answers carefully to understand the pattern, your strengths and weaknesses.


Revision is the key to your success. Proper revision is important when you only have some months in your exam. You should avoid reading any new books or topics prior to 3 months to your exam. Moreover, re-read your notes more than 3 times.


NCERTs is the best book for your prelims preparation. They help you to get a basic idea about the core subjects. These are published for a basic before, understanding of different subjects. They are written in simple and clear language.You sould read all recommended NCERT books.


Candidates often get busy in preparation paper I and often ignore CSAT. But this is your rave mistake. CSAT is a qualifying stay and you need at least 33% marks to clear it. Without this, you cannot dream to clear your prelims exams.

If you are comfortable with maths, you only need to devote your 2 hours daily to solve CSAT questions. But if you Struggle with maths then make sure to devote more time.

Rest Well

Taking a break and resting well is very important to boost efficiency. It is a long and tiring journey therefore you need to take proper rest and sleep well to run longer.

Recreational Activities

While many think you need to lock yourself to prepare for UPSC. But this is not true. You should ensure proper rest and allocate time for recreational activities. Devote at least one hour daily for any recreational activity or hobby.

Construct a Time Table for 3 Months UPSC Preparation

Time table is an important thing for your preparation. This will help you to allocate your time properly among various topics. Having a roadmap will give you a set direction about how to prepare your UPSC. Moreover, when you have just 3 months you need to allocate your time properly. You need to construct your timetable according to yourself.

90 Days-Breakup

Polity 15 days
History 15 days
Geography 15 days
Art and culture 5 days
Science and Technology 10 days
Environment  and Ecology 10 days
Economy 10 days
Current Affairs Daily
CSAT 10 days

Daily Preparation Strategy

Time Timetable
5:00 am Wake-up
5:00 to 6:00 am Morning walk and yoga
6:00 to 7:00 am Fresh up and Breakfast
7:00 to 8:00 am Read newspapers
8:00 to 11:00 am Study slot-I
11:00 am to 12:00 pm Break
12:00 pm to 2:00 pm Study slot-II
2:00 to 3:00 pm Lunch
3:00 pm to 5:00 pm Study slot-III
5:00 to 6:00 pm Exercise or Recreational activity
6:00 to 7:00 pm Relax and evening snacks
7:00 to 9:00 pm Study slot-IV
9:00 to 10:00 pm Dinner
10:00 to 10:30 pm Unwind and relax
10:30 pm Sleep

Also Read: Strategy for UPSC CSE Preliminary Exam: Steps to Clear Prelims in the First Attempt

Topic Wise Approach Towards Different Subjects of Prelims

The prelims exam is the screening test for your mains exam. Therefore this is the most important paper for your UPSC journey. Here is a close analysis of different topics of prelims.

Ancient History

Topics to be Covered
Pre Historic Period
Indus Valley Civilization
Vedic Period
Pre Mauryan Period
The Mauryan Empire
Post Mauryan Period
Jainism and Buddhism
The Gupta Period
Post Gupta Period
Southern Dynasties
Recommended Books


# India’s Ancient Past by RS Sharma

Medieval History

Topics to be Covered
Central Asian Politics and the Advance of the Central Asians
The Empires of North India
The Mughals
The Deccan
The Marathas
The Bhakti and The Sufi Movements
Recommended Books


# History of Medieval India – Satish Chandra

Modern History

Topics to be Covered
India in the late 18th century
Revolt of 1857
Governor- Generals
Peasants and Tribal movements
INC and their role
India under East India Company
Moderate and Extremist
The Gandhian phase of Struggle for Swaraj
Non-Cooperation Movement
Civil Disobedience Movement
Government of India Act
Towards Independence: Partition of India
1905 to 1947:- Freedom struggle movements- the role of women and youths
Role of a freedom fighter– newspapers, journals, slogans, main activities, etc.
Recommended Books

# Modern India (class X) by Bipin Chandra

# India Before Independence: Bipan Chandra

Art and Culture

Topics to be Covered
Indian Culture
Indian Architecture, Art and Crafts, Paintingmoleculesare
Indian Music and Dances
Indian Language and Literature
Fairs and Festivals
Media and Culture
Recommended Books

# Art and Culture XI and XII (NCERT)

# Indian Art & Culture – Nitin Singhania

Indian Polity

Topics to be Covered
Historical Background and Evolution of the Constitution, Preamble
Citizenship and the Fundamental Rights
Directive Principles of State Policy & Fundamental Duties, Union and States
The Union Executive and the Parliament, Judiciary
The State Executive and the State Legislature, Constitutional and Non Constitutional Bodies
Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies
Recommended Books

# Political Science: VI to XII (NCERT)

# Indian Polity: M. Laxmikanth

# Indian Constitution: DD Basu


Topics to be Covered
Human and Economic Geography
Water Resources
Energy Resources and Industries
Recommended Books

# Class VI to XII NCERTs

# Certificate Physical and Human Geography – Goh Cheng Leong.

# The Orient BlackSwan School Atlas / Oxford School Atlas by Oxford University Press


Topics to be Covered
Government Budgeting, Taxation
Banking, Money and Securities Market
Role of Agriculture in Indian Economy
International Institutions
Industries and Services Sectors
Five years plan
Recommended Books

# Economy Class VI to XII NCERT

# Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh

# Yojna & Kurukshetra

Science and Technology

Topics to be Covered
Cells biology Genetics Disease and Defence Mechanism
Origin and Evolution of Life Respiration Reproduction and Nutrition
Biotechnology and Biofuel Generation
Chemical Reaction Atoms, molecules and compounds
Acids, Bases and salt Periodic table
Space and Defence Technology Nuclear Energy IT
NanoTechnology Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
Recommended Books

# Science VI and XII NCERT

# Lucent Manual

# Internet resources

Environment and Ecology

Topics to be Covered
Ecology and Functions of an Ecosystem Biodiversity Land Ecosystem
Aquatic Ecosystem Waste Management Pollution
Ocean Acidification Environment Impact Assessment Greenhouse Effects and Climate Change
Recommended Books

# Biology Class XI and XII NCERT

# Shankar IAS book for Environment

Current Affairs

Current affairs of 1 year and 6 months should be covered as compulsory. And other such events so national and international should be covered.


# India Yearbook

# Newspapers: The Hindu, the Indian Express, etc


For CSAT try to solve as many questions as you can. Try to improve your speed so that you can answer all questions of the paper.

Recommended Books

# R.S Aggarwal

# Arihant Publications

Also Read: Books for UPSC Beginners: UPSC Preparation Guide for Beginners for IAS Exam

UPSC Pathshala: UPSC Courses

To boost your Prelims preparation, you can take these courses of UPSC Pathshala:

#1. Prelims Crash Course 2021

#2. Prelims Cum Mains Crash Course 2021

These courses have best quality video-contents, practice tests and mock tests, private guidance, live classes and are at best prices.


Prelims is the screening test for UPSC mains exams. With proper strategy and preparation, one can easily clear it in their first attempt. Follow these steps and make a perfect, customized timetable for yourself.

Moreover, read this article carefully to find everything you need to know for your preparation. For more such articles, upsc preparations tips and guidance for UPSC visit UPSC Pathshala. Here you will find relevant articles, customized courses, expert mentors and many more.

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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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