The question which first comes to mind is if it is possible to crack Prelims of the UPSC examination held by UPSC in two months. But the answer should be positive. It is always possible if one aspires to do it. Here one can get a strategic suggestion methodically describing ways to crack the UPSC in this article.  Though every year uncountable numbers of aspirants thrive for this gaining eligibility for passing this exam only gets it in the ratio of 1:12 r for mains exam. So, if one wants to get success in this domain one must be careful about time management and methodical preparation. Have a look at it!

Strategic ways of preparation for IAS prelims examination

Know the pattern of prelims exam UPSC:

Knowing the pattern of the exam is important for setting up every strategy for preparation. It will help in reducing the chances of messing up with time management too.

Paper pattern for the UPSC prelims exam:

Paper I: General Studies- It is just a qualifying paper of 200 marks with 100 questions consisting of 100 questions in total. 

Paper-II: Aptitude – This paper is also like the previous one as it is also a qualifying paper. A candidate must score 33% for qualifying and being eligible to appear in the Mains exam. This 200 marks paper is of 2 hours containing 80 questions.

There is the concept of negative marking in the UPSC Prelims exam.  A penalty of 33% marks (0.83 ) marks for each wrong answer is taken. There is no negative marking in decision making and problem-solving areas.

Follow the syllabus minutely

Collect the updated syllabus from the official website of the UPSC:

Collect top materials and relevant guide books:

Paper I- General Studies 

Reference books are as follows:


  • NCERT books (class six to twelve) are important material to go through each detail of general studies. Otherwise one might miss a point. For Ancient Indian history, one can follow RS Sharma, for Medieval India Sathish Chandra is a good option and for Modern India, it is Bipan Chandra.
  • History of World by Arjun Dev is also a must-read.


  • For Geography NCERT books from 6th to 12th is necessary.
  • For Contemporary India from class 9th to 10th standard books needed. Fundamentals of Physical Geography only class 11. For India Physical environment only 11 Standard is needed. Fundamentals of Human Geography only class 12. For India People and Economy only of class 12 will do. 
  • School Atlas is needed by Oxford for geographical references.

Indian Polity 

Political Science NCERT books of class 11 and 12 are needed. Apart from this Indian Polity by Laxmikanth is a good option to follow.


  • Books of NCERT of classes 11 and 12th standards are needed excluding part of  Microeconomics.
  • Shriram IAS Economics booklet and Indian Economy by Sanjeev Verma are selective options to follow.


Follow all NCERTs from class 6 to 12. Also, follow The Hindu Newspaper ( for science and technology on Sunday).

Art and Culture:

Follow NCERT of the 11th standard. Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania is a well-deserved option to follow.


Follow the Science Biology of 12th standard NCERT especially from chapters 13 to 16. The premium choice should be Shankar IAS Environment Material and also IGNOU Environment materials.

Current affairs:

Follow The Hindu Newspaper and The Indian Express.


Read Yojana, Kurukshetra Frontline along with Economic and Political Weekly


India Year Book by PIB Publication is a must-read. 

Paper-II –Aptitude-

  • CSAT reference books
  • Verbal reasoning by Kapla is a must-read one.
  • Verbal and nonverbal reasoning by RS AGGARWAL should always be at hand.

Follow all previous years questions:

It is important to follow at least the previous five years’ questions for a better understanding of the concept and time management.

Strategies for preparation

Preparation of mind:

Yes! It is the most important part. Prepare the mind for gaining confidence.

Stay fit:

Physical fitness is necessary as even after passing in the mains there will be a medical check-up for final recruitment.

Schedule every day specifically:

It is important to schedule a day from morning to night allotting time with each subject.

Know the weak areas while studying:

It is not necessary to study 22hours a day! It is important to slot time with strategy. The weakest part of the syllabus should get the most attention every day.

Analyze subjects:

It is important to analyze two papers as mentioned earlier. General studies will ask more revision parts rather than an aptitude test. But that does not mean that one will not study properly the Paper II. If one already has some previous knowledge about general studies like history, geography, political science and some current affairs it would help to boost the preparation. If one has a strong mathematical background it would make one put less effort into Paper II. So it depends on the candidate how to start, revise and finish every material. 

Remember important dates and formulae:

Keep charts of historical dates, mathematical formula and other information on the wall to have a glance whenever possible. 

Keep a record of daily important events on news:

A note on a diary to record daily important events will help to keep everything organized.

Keep updated to video tutorials:

Video tutorials are effective for quick audio-visual learning. It will be effective for 60 days of preparation.

Clear doubts in time:

Doubts are common in learning. If one faces any doubt while studying clear it by searching online or seek help from any offline UPSC related materials.

Keep a track of improvement areas:

While practicing papers and study materials keep a track of improvement areas. If there are some areas of certain subjects stuck in the same place, seek special help from professionals.

Keep a sense of time management:

  • Keep watch on the eyes for finishing the paper every time in time with accuracy. Otherwise, in the exam, it will be difficult.
  • Allot every week with new levels of challenge for self-improvement:
  • Keep level higher week by week for better preparation and performance.

Follow NCERT materials first of all:

Before diving into any special book start with only NCERT materials for a better foundation of knowledge.

Keep all reference books at reach:

Reference books will boost up study after finishing everything with NCERT books. But follow only selective reference books to complete within 60 days.

Keep count on every day:

It is possible to keep a count of every day’s study. If any topic is missed, note down and finish the next day.

Follow the newspaper regularly:

It is a neglected part of most of the average candidates. But it should be the most important part of one aspirant’s day.

Revision and mock tests are necessary:

Revise everything for the last fifteen days of preparation at least. Never overboard with unnecessary knowledge. Repeat what has been read before only. Analyze weak points with mock tests every three days at least.

Never get saturated with knowledge:

Saturation with information and learning might bring monotony in mind. If it feels like that take a break for a while.


Never put stress on the mind. A stress-free mind always wins a race gracefully.

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About the Author

Akshay Palande

Akshay Palande is a passionate teacher helping hundreds of students in their UPSC preparation. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering and double masters in Public Administration and Economics, he has experience of teaching UPSC aspirants for 5 years. His subject of expertise are Geography, Polity, Economics and Environment and Ecology.

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