How to Prepare for UPSC Exam?

UPSC, or the Union Public Service Commission, is one of the most difficult and competitive exams in India that will provide an opportunity to work for the Indian government.

Getting a career starts with prelims, main exams, and finally the interview. You will get a chance to interview with the board once you pass the prelims and main exam. With proper planning, hard work and practice, you can score well in the UPSC exams.

Below you will find our guide on how to prepare for the UPSC exams.

Start Preparing At Least A Year Before The Exams

The prelims have two tests that cover a wide range of topics, so you need to start studying early if you want to do well.

The first test consists of 100 questions, and the second test contains 80 questions. Both tests contain multiple choice questions, and you get 2 hours each for the tests. While the first test focuses on topics such as geography, government, geological concerns, and politics, the second test is more about logic and reasoning.

Outline A Syllabus For Each Subject

By developing a syllabus outline, it will make it easier for you to study and give you a better idea of the exam topics.

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For example, if you are studying history, then the outline includes topics like the history of India, the Indian National Movement, freedom fighters, etc. For the second exam, you can also make an outline for topics like making decisions, communication skills, case studies on how to solve problems, and so on.

Choosing an Optional Subject

When it comes to choose optional subject, choose s subject that interest you. This way, you can develop your expertise on that subject further without losing interest.

During your interview, you will be tested on this subject, where you need to answer all the questions that are asked.

Divide Your Curriculum

To make your preparation less intimidating, you can divide your topics into smaller parts and study them separately to make it easier to learn them.

For example, if you are studying geography, then you can divide it into Asian geography, American geography, and so on. Furthermore, you can divide Asian geography into continents and subcontinents.

Find Out Your Strengths And Weaknesses

Every individual has various areas where they excel and also struggle. You can use this to your advantage and learn more about topics that you lack knowledge about and spend less time studying topics that you are good at.

For example, if your subject of degree was biology, you could spend less time on science and study more about geography.

Go Through Previous Test Papers

Reviewing old test papers will help you prepare for the exam by giving you an idea of the format of the questions. Just keep in mind that the question content changes every year, so don’t try to memorize them.

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You can find the previous year’s question papers on the UPSC website here.

Keep Up With The Current Events

Since your career is in the civil service, you need to be up to date on current events. The best way to gain this knowledge is by reading newspapers, magazines, etc. Make time for at least 1 hour to read the news every day.

You can also read books related to history, current events, public policies, etc. You can find a list of recommended books online for your preparation for the UPSC exam.

Preparing for the main exams

Once you have passed the prelims, the next step is to succeed in the main exams. To make enough time for learning, start preparing for the main exam while you are preparing for your prelims.

The time gap between prelims and the main exam is usually 4 months, which might not be enough to prepare yourself. That is why I mentioned earlier that you need to start preparing at least a year in advance.

There are 9 different types of essays on the main exam, and your optional subject is also on there.

Divide The Essay Preparation Into Sections

Just like your prelims, your main exam will also cover many topics. While the prelims will be in multiple choice format, the main exam will be in essay format, which makes it a bit challenging. Hence, it is a good idea to divide your syllabus into smaller parts while studying.

You can write essays from previous year’s exam papers, which will give you a clear idea of where you are lacking and where you need to improve.

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Before you start, set a timer to find out how much time you need to clear the essay and assess your abilities. You can find test papers on the UPSC website.

Improve Your Personality

Once the main exams are cleared, the next step is the UPSC interview. These interviews are not just about answering questions and assessing your decision-making abilities. The interview is to see your personality as a whole.

All of the questions are meant to show things about your personality, character, values, ethics, skills, and more.

The board will be evaluating you based on how quickly you answer and what you answer. Hence, stay true to yourself and stop guessing what they are thinking.

Study Samples and Interview Questions

To get an idea about the kind of questions asked, you can go through questions asked in previous interviews and try to answer them.

Dress Professionally

It goes without saying that your appearance is also as important as your interview. Dress well and maintain good hygiene. Your first impression is also important and gets counted during your evaluation.