Civil Services Examination(CSE) is one of the most prestigious and most competitive examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission of India. Every year lakhs of candidates appear for prelims but only few ten thousands qualify the first phase.

Approximate statistics for the year 2020 is as many as 10,40,060 aspirants applied for the exam, out of whom 4,82,770 appeared in it. A total of 761 aspirants have cleared the prominent Civil Services Examination 2020. 

Can you think of the reasons why there are lakhs of students who are unable to clear the examination?  Let us discuss a few pointers on the UPSC preparation strategy for beginners.

Stages of the Civil Service Examination 

As most of you already know, the Union Public Service Commission exam has 3 stages, that are, Preliminary, Mains, and Interview.

UPSC Examination Stages

UPSC Prelims Exam

The Union Public Service Commission Preliminary exam includes 2 exams that are General Studies-I (GS-I) and General Studies-II (CSAT).

UPSC Main Exam

The Union Public Service Commission Main exam includes 9 papers in total. Containing Essay Paper, 4 General Studies Paper, 2 Optional Papers and 2 Papers of Language. 

UPSC Interview or Personality Test 

The Union Public Service Commission Interview is the last stage of the Civil Service examination. The last result is announced after the Personality Test based on the total scores of the Main and Personality Test.

While preparing a detailed strategy for the Civil Service examination, most of the Civil Service candidates find themselves at sea. Therefore, to lessen your burden and make your preparation more effective, we have assembled this Union Public Service Commission Preparation Guide. So read on to learn more.

Preparation Tips and Tricks

Given below are a few tips and tricks for the preparation of the Union Public Service Examination:

Know the Exam First

For any examination, before preparing it’s very crucial to realize the nitty-gritty of the examination well enough. Go through the official notification of the Union Public Service Commission examination previously in order to notify yourself of the examination timeline, syllabus, eligibility criteria and pattern.

Once you are through that, grab the last year question papers and go through them to get a better idea of what is certainly asked in the examination. If you give a serious percentage of time to do this practice, you will save a significant amount of time during your preparation journey! 

Or, you can also go through the contents on UPSC Pathshala to get detailed data about what the examination is! At this point in time, you should as well start browsing through the news. 

Also Read: UPSC 2022 Exam Date Calendar: Latest Updates and All-Year Round Calendar

Understanding the Exam Pattern

For a beginner, the first approach should be understanding the exam pattern, this is very important. CSE is conducted in three phases. First is the Preliminary exam(multiple choice questions with negative marking), second is the Mains exam(Subjective answer) and third is the Interview(Personality test). The student needs to prepare mentally for all the phases of the exam.

Also Read: UPSC Exam Pattern 2021: Check the Exam Pattern to Buckle Your Preparation

Syllabus Analysis

Next and the most rightful approach for a beginner should be understanding the detailed syllabus of the first two phases of CSE. Analysis of the syllabus is required as this will give the candidate an idea of how vast the subjects are to be covered and what duration will he/she need to cover the syllabus.

The appropriate UPSC preparation time should be at least 12 months. It, therefore, becomes very important to read the Syllabus brochure issued by UPSC.

This also allows a candidate to decide what not to study. For an exam that is so vast, the need of the hour is to also eliminate all the unwanted material. This material is a real-time killer without giving much output in return.

Making a List of Reference Material

After analyzing the syllabus, the candidate needs to prepare a list of textbooks required for reference. Choice of textbooks should not be of a very advanced level. The examination difficulty level for both Preliminary and Mains(except optional papers) is up to XII std and the level for optional paper is up to Graduation and/or Honours in that specific subject.

It is very important to understand that for one subject to refer to not more than 2 textbooks, the more textbooks you refer to the more confused you get. The key lies in reading fewer books but revising them again and again.

For making a list of reference books, please refer to authentic sources. Today, a number of sources are available online for free.

The majority of these sources are not up to the mark. For making your list please contact a person who has attempted the exam, or better someone who has cleared the exam. Such an authentic list is what you need.

Also, you can refer to other online content like videos and infographics for better understanding.

Analyse Your Strengths and Weaknesses

It is very important to find out what subjects you are weak in, as this is the subject on which you will be spending a lot of time studying. Also, find what chapters/topics you’re weak at of a particular subject, this will help you to plan your studies well.

Your strength is also very important. Scoring good marks in UPSC is very important. In such a scenario one needs to pay close attention to one’s strengths. For it is these subjects that he can score well in.

Prepare a Daily Study Plan

Do not stress yourself about preparing a plan which involves 10 – 12 hours of constant studies and keeps breaks after every change of subject. Also, do not study only one subject the entire day, prepare a timetable which includes a variety of subjects which you are both strong and weak at.

Now, it is a common strategy to focus initially on weaker subjects and keep the strong subjects for later but try to avoid this. Keeping a balance in your weaknesses and strengths is a better approach.

Devote no more than 1 hour daily for current affairs, candidates generally fear the current affairs zone, they spend more than 3-4 hours reading news, magazines, editorials and thus do not get much time to cover other subjects.

Be selective about current affairs, and 1 newspaper,1 magazine and surfing the recent news headlines is more than enough. Keep revising the topics on a regular basis to develop a good grip on the subject.

Solve Previous Years Question Paper

This will make you understand the difficulty level of questions asked in the exam. Anybody who is appearing for the exam must have a clear idea of the type of questions that will be asked in UPSC.

It will give you an idea of how well you are prepared for CSE. The best way to solve papers is to create an examination environment at home and attempt prelim paper or Mains paper by allotting yourself the same duration to complete the paper as is required for the actual exam.

This way you will know how much time you’re wasting on what questions and what questions you need to allocate more time to. Solving papers act as a feedback loop that will help you improve your preparation.

Also Read: Last 25 Years UPSC Prelims Question Papers with Answers: Check this to Boost Your CSE Preparation

Frame Your Own Questions

A good approach for studying any topic is to frame as many possible questions on the topic of both MCQ type and subjective type, this way you’re creating your own bank of Questions. Framing own questions also allows a student to look at all the concepts from various aspects. This helps him develop a varied and wide point of view.

Practise Test Series

2 months before the preliminary examination, you must include a mock test-based learning strategy. It will give you the actual feeling of the exam. Once you attempt the mock test, you will understand your weaknesses where you need to work. So that you can focus on the points that require more work.

# You will be able to examine your performance by taking mock tests. 

# Go through your doubt areas and check on the topics that you might have forgotten. 

# It will prepare you well for the examination as well as help you in managing anxiety during the real examination. 

Answer Writing Practice and Revision is a Must

Revision and answer-writing practice play a crucial part in the whole scheme of the Union Public Service Commission preparation, particularly for the Civil Service Mains Examination.

Once you have finished a topic from the standard books as well as NCERT, then you can begin answer-writing practice. If you do the answer-writing practice before then it will be an ineffective exercise because for the details of the answer you have to depend on books.

At this phase, it’s also crucial to incorporate constant revision. You need to keep your Saturdays and Sundays free for a wholehearted revision of whatever fresh you have understood during the week. 

Enhance Your Knowledge with Basic Books

Once you have completed all the related NCERT books, it is time to broaden your understanding by reading the basic books. You can obtain the whole booklist for the Union Public Service Commission preparation in UPSC Pathshala. 

At least 2 times try to read the books and then create your own notes by going through the topics. Later on, use them for practice answer-writing 

You should join UPSC Pathshala to watch live and recorded video lectures for significant topics to enhance your understanding.

You Can Join UPSC Pathshala

There are some topics that are tough to prepare by yourself. So it is advised that you should take guidance from the professionals. Given below are a few major advantages that you can obtain if you join UPSC Pathshala.

Helps You Save Time

You don’t need to cover a long distance in order to prepare for the Civil Service Examination. As you can prepare just by sitting back at home. You will be able to fully utilize the time and give full focus on preparation.

Lectures are Recorded

You don’t have to stress yourself about missing out on important lectures as you will get the recorded version of the lectures. You can play and watch as many times as you want.

Trained Mentors

The journey becomes easier when you get guidance. UPSC Pathshala Online coaching assists you in this interest by supporting you to connect with professional mentors whose knowledge can benefit you in clearing the Civil Service Examination.

Test Series

UPSC Pathshala conducts frequent mock tests to analyse your performance. According to that, trained experts will help you in those areas. So that you avoid such kinds of mistakes in the exam and to make sure you understand the topics properly.

Also Read: Which is the Best Online Coaching for UPSC? A Comparative Study to Help You Make the Right Choice


In this article, we discussed in detail the tips and tricks for the Union Public Service Commission preparation. If you follow them you will have a better knowledge about the exam and might as well clear the Civil Service Examination. So all you need to do is focus fully on the preparation. Without diverting your mind and aim for the ultimate goal of cracking the Union Public Service Commission Examination.

Also Read: UPSC Exam Subject List: The Ultimate Preparation Strategy for the Civil Service Examination

Content Protection by
Gearing-up for UPSC CSE 2022 Preparation? Here’re Some Powerful Tips that You Need to Follow
Article Name
Gearing-up for UPSC CSE 2022 Preparation? Here’re Some Powerful Tips that You Need to Follow
The main thing that makes you stand out from the crowd is how you do your preparation. Because every candidate has the same syllabus and the same content to study. So an effective preparation strategy is what you need. Read on to learn more.
Publisher Name
UPSC Pathshala
Publisher Logo

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.

View All Articles