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1. The Civil Services Examination conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is considered one of the toughest exams in the country.

2. The UPSC Civil Services exam has three basic stages. The first stage is Prelims which is objective in nature, the second stage is Mains which is a written examination and the third stage is the interview which is a verbal evaluation process.

3. It is written by lakhs of candidates every year aspiring to be a civil servant but the pass percentage in this exam is about 0.2 per cent.

4. Most candidates take about three attempts to crack this Exam. However, many students want to know the secret of cracking the exams in the first attempt.

5. Remember the quote "impossible is the word in the fool’s dictionary". If there is a will there is always a way. It is just that you have to follow some UPSC Mains Strategy to prepare for the exams.

Here are some UPSC Mains Strategy Tips


1. Time factor is very important. Keeping in mind that the timeline of the CSE exam shows that notification of the exam comes in February, and Preliminary and Mains examinations are held in June and October/ November, respectively.

2. The student should devise his preparation plan according to the above timeline and cover the entire syllabus before January 31.

3. The first four months i.e. February, March, April, and May should be devoted exclusively to prelims preparation.

4. However, after prelims, a candidate gets hardly three to four months for the preparation of mains so you should prepare for the mains way ahead and not wait after prelims. Remember, while preparing for UPSC mains, a significant portion of Prelims also gets covered.

5. The Mains-oriented preparation not only helps a student to cover the syllabus of prelims but also prepares him for the mains ahead.

  • Note: After Prelims it is of the utmost importance that you take some time off studies both physically and mentally for at least 10 days to rejuvenate yourself.
  • Viewing of the Syllabus

    1. The IAS syllabus is huge and you might feet discouraged but remember determination is the first and foremost factor in getting what you desire. In reality, most of it is what you have already studied before, so just brush up you past knowledge so as to give a fresh and a bright start to your preparations.

    2. Write down the whole syllabus into points and then divide them into sections according to your strengths and weaknesses. After this is done proceed with designing a study plan.

    3. Go through and learn the syllabus thoroughly. Check out the exam pattern and devise your strategy accordingly.

    Choosing the right optional

    The most important element of the mains syllabus is the optional subject. It plays a very important role in the UPSC CS Main Examination. The choice of optional subject should be as per your own level of comfort with any degree of interest in the subject and not be based on which topper has got the most marks on his chosen optional subject.

    Making a Timetable

    Decide and prepare a realistic timetable for yourself according to how much time you want to put in to what topics you want to cover. Make sure you follow it diligently. Do not make a timetable which needs more than 8 -10 hours of your day to dedicate to your IAS preparations.

    Following Daily Current Affairs

    Follow daily current affairs and keep yourself updated. Many questions that are asked in the examinations come directly from the newspapers. You should have the updated knowledge of important national and international events. There are many websites and newspapers like The Hindu, The Indian Express etc., which you can follow. However, you should be careful as to how to read a newspaper’, ‘what to read and what not to read’.

    Developing Writing Skills

    1. In an exam like the civil service mains studying the syllabus is not enough but the way of writing the exam is what counts the most. Writing down notes will not only improve your skills but will help you retain and go through the information and notes whenever you need.

    2. Just only studying but how skillfully you write the answers within 3 hours will help in deciding a topper or a failure. Practice writing essays and answers regularly. It is wise to evaluate yourself before UPSC evaluates you.

    Solving Mock Papers Regularly

    After coverage of a considerable portion of the syllabus, attempting mock tests is a must. Regular evaluations will help you keep track of your progress. You get to work out on your weaknesses accordingly which will help you keep yourself motivated.

    Practicing previous year question papers

    Practicing previous year question papers should be a part of your daily study routine. Apart from enhancing your knowledge, it will help you in forming your answers and eliminating options.

    Indulging in Quality Discussions

    Make it a habit of discussing all important developments according to the importance in the UPSC Exam point of view. This tip has been given by all former IAS toppers who have cleared the exam in their first attempt itself Good discussions will give you an edge over others not just in Prelims and Mains, but in interviews as well.


    1. Study matter is important but what you retain of it is of more importance. You need to revise thoroughly as it will help you clear UPSC in your first attempt. So it is necessary for you to devise a revision plan. It is advisable that at least one day of the week should be assigned for revision of what you have studied.

    2. The trilogy of the 'revision, consolidation, and assessment', must become a part of the preparation.

    Framing Questions

    You should develop a habit of framing your own questions and foretelling the questions that can be expected to be asked in the examinations. Keeping a separate notebook for recent developments in the fields of Economy, polity, art and Social Sector Schemes will help you in your revision for current affairs which is the most important part of the Mains.

    Maintaining a Healthy Diet and Regular Sleep

    The first and foremost part of exams is that you should maintain good health with a healthy diet and good sleep because IAS exams require extra study time.

    Other Help Topics

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