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10 Best UPSC Preparation Strategy (IAS Exam)

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How to Prepare for the UPSC Civil Services Exam at Home? It is the most common question asked by candidates who are aspiring to compete in one of the toughest exams in the world. UPSC Civil Services Exam is considered as most prestigious exam in India. So, it’s important to go with the right kind of UPSC preparation strategy and build a strong foundation.

In this UPSC Aspirants Guide, we will discuss the smart IAS Preparation Guide of the experts in the field and how you customize your strategy based on that. Let’s dive into the in-depth UPSC preparation Strategy/Civil Services Exam Strategy.

UPSC Preparation Strategy

10 Best UPSC Preparation Strategy

Here are the 10 best steps to follow for UPSC self Preparation:

1. Understand the UPSC Exam and Pattern

Before you start studying, make sure you know the UPSC exam pattern, syllabus, and weightage. Get details about the Preliminary, Main, and Interview stages and figure out which subjects are more important. Doing this will help you UPSC Time Management what to focus on and avoid spending time on things that won’t help you in the exam.

2. Build Your IAS Exam Study Plan

Making a realistic study plan and UPSC Time Management is really important to stay focused and make the most of your study time. Decide how much time to spend on each subject based on its importance in the exam and what you’re good or not so good at. Stay flexible with your plan but try not to change it too much just before the exam.

3. Choose Reliable Study Material

Choosing a reliable UPSC study materials is important. Use standard books like NCERTs, government publications, and trusted textbooks. Also, add in good coaching materials, online sources, and credible newspapers for staying updated on current events.

Check out: UPSC Archives

4. Make Notes and Revise Regularly

Making notes while studying helps in understanding and remembering things better. Create your own notes or use mind maps to make it more interesting. Review your notes often to see where you need more focus and to be well-prepared for exams.

5. Practice Answer Writing

UPSC Mains exam focuses a lot on your answer writing skills. Practice writing answers to previous years’ questions and mock tests within time limits. This practice will enhance your speed, accuracy, and how you present your answers, which are vital for doing well in the Mains exam.

6. Take Mock Tests and Analyze Your Performance

Practice tests are really useful for checking your preparation level and working on your weaknesses. Regularly take mock tests and analyze your performance to understand where you need to improve. Don’t feel down if you don’t do well; use it to learn and improve your preparation.

7. Stay Updated with Current Affairs

Current Affairs are really important for the UPSC exam, especially in the Mains and Interview stages. Read newspapers, watch credible news channels, and follow reliable websites every day. Stay updated on what’s happening in the world, government decisions, and social and economic topics to have a good understanding overall.

8. Join a Coaching Class or Study Group

Surrounding yourself with other UPSC aspirants can be highly beneficial. Joining a study group or enrolling in coaching classes can provide a supportive environment for learning, sharing knowledge, and discussing challenges.

9. Take Care of Your Physical and Mental Health

Preparing for the UPSC exam can be a long and demanding process. Prioritize your physical and mental health throughout this journey. Eat healthy, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep to maintain your energy levels and focus. Practice stress management techniques like meditation or yoga to cope with pressure and anxiety.

10. Believe in Yourself and Stay Motivated

Cracking the UPSC exam requires dedication, resilience, and a positive attitude. There will be ups and downs along the way, but never lose sight of your goal. Believe in your abilities, stay motivated, and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small.

UPSC Preparation Subject Wise Strategy

Here is a Subject-wise Civil Services Exam Strategy to help you crack the exam:

General Studies (GS) Paper-I

  • Focus: Indian History, Geography, Polity, Economy, Science & Technology, Current Affairs, and Reasoning.
  • Resources: NCERTs (Class 6-12), Reference books like Bipin Chandra for History, GC Leong for Geography, Laxmikanth for Polity, Ramesh Singh for Economy, Science & Technology from NCERTs and Yojana magazine for Current Affairs.
  • Strategy: Understand the core concepts from NCERTs, then supplement your knowledge with reference books. Practice MCQs regularly and stay updated on current affairs through newspapers and magazines.


  • Focus: Basic reasoning skills and analytical ability.
  • Resources: Online resources and mock tests.
  • Strategy: Practice online resources and mock tests to improve your reasoning and analytical skills. Focus on areas like verbal reasoning, data interpretation, and logical reasoning.

General Studies (GS) Papers I-IV (Mains)

  • Focus: Indian and World History, Geography, Polity, Economy, Science & Technology, Environment, Disaster Management, Ethics, International Relations, and India’s Social & Cultural issues.
  • Resources: NCERTs, Reference books, Government reports, and Academic journals.
  • Strategy: Go beyond NCERTs and delve deeper into each subject using reference books, government reports, and academic journals. Develop in-depth understanding and critical thinking skills. Practice answer writing under time pressure.

Optional Subject (Mains)

  • Focus: A chosen field that you’re comfortable with and has potential for high scoring.
  • Resources: Subject-specific books and study materials.
  • Strategy: Choose a subject you’re interested in and has enough resources available. Refer to subject-specific books and study materials. Practice answer writing and develop unique insights for your chosen subject.

Check-out: UPSC Optional Subject list 2024

Civil Services Exam Strategy

1. Know your DAF inside out– Be prepared to answer questions about your educational background, work experience, hobbies, and other details mentioned in your DAF (Detailed Application Form).

2. Stay updated on current affairs– Follow newspapers, magazines, and online news sources to stay informed about important events and issues. Be prepared to discuss them and offer your own insights.

3. Practice mock interviews- Mock interviews with experienced mentors or fellow aspirants can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, improve your communication skills, and get comfortable with the interview format.

4. Focus on your personality– Project confidence, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude. Be articulate, concise, and avoid ambiguity in your answers.

5. Dress professionally and maintain proper body language– Make a good first impression by dressing appropriately and maintaining eye contact with the interviewers.

Myths about Preparing for UPSC at Home

Some of the myths correlated to preparing for UPSC at home are:

One will clear the UPSC at home only if he/she has joined a coaching.

That’s not the truth. You can clear the exam even by self study. you have to be just dedicated enough with right strategy.

One who is not good in academics cannot think of clearing the exam

In this digital era there are many top coaching institute that provide proper guidance online. So there is no question of learning and guidance.

Note Making is compulsory

It’s the choice of the individual choice whether they should make notes online/offline or even avoid them. But for active learning It is must for the exam like UPSC.

Belonging to a Hindi medium reduces the chance of selection

UPSC has nothing to do with the medium in which you got your education. They consider your knowledge and your personality, no discrimination is done based on the language.

One who belongs to a village or remote area cannot succeed

In this information you can lean anything for free. there are lots of good content for upsc, you can take one to one guidance from the experts online and many more.

How to Prepare for UPSC at Home?

Cracking the UPSC exam from home is tough but rewarding. To succeed, start by understanding the syllabus well and picking good books and online resources. Make a realistic UPSC Study Techniques and focus on active learning: take notes, read analytically, and practice previous year papers to stay sharp. Use mock tests for the Prelims and practice answer writing for the Mains to manage your time effectively.

Stay motivated! Create a good study area, join supportive groups, and take care of your health—your mind matters. Believe in yourself, adjust your strategy as needed, and use technology like online lectures, podcasts, and practice questions to your advantage. Consistency and dedication are crucial. Now, go ahead and ace the UPSC from the comfort of your home!

Check-out: UPSC 2024: Exam Date, Eligibility, Notification, Syllabus

UPSC Preparation for Beginners

Here is a brief UPSC Study Techniques for Beginners:

  1. Prepare a IAS Exam Study Plan for one year as per your time. It should be a micro plan, divide your year into different slots and decide which subjects you will within that interval.   
  2. To begin the preparation, It are recommended to start UPSC Preparation with the NCERT books. There is no alternative for NCERTs, these will act as a base for your preparation and make your foundation strong and clear.       
  3. Along with this, you must start reading the best newspaper for upsc. The best newspaper for upsc is ‘The Hindu‘ or ‘The Indian Express‘ . It’s up to you which one to read.

Best Books for UPSC Preparation for Beginners

History: NCERT of class, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th.

Geography: NCERT of class 11th and 12th.                

Indian Polity: Current Affairs and News related to Political Science

Economics: Economic Survey, Budget, and International News related to Economics.

International Relations: Current Affairs related to Relationships between India and other countries.

  • Keep a copy of the last 6-7 years of  Question Papers to get a glimpse of the questions being asked and try to solve them.
  • Give multiple mock tests and practice answer writing once you have completed the syllabus. A good answer will catch good marks for you.

Choosing the Optional Subject for UPSC

Optional subject is play crucial get you in the merit list. So it’s important to select the subject wisely. Choose the subject of your interest, you will soon get bored if it is not interesting to you or you are not enjoying reading it.

Best Optional Subject for UPSC

It is recommended to run by Interest but it is also a good idea to take a look on the data to find the overlaps of your interests and the subjects that fetch you good marks. To begin the preparation, recommendation is to start UPSC Preparation with the NCERT books.

Best Optional Subject for upsc

(Approx) Number of Aspirants

Syllabus Overlaps with



GS I, GS II, Essay



Prelims, GS I and GS III



GS IV. Essay

Political Science


Prelims, GS II



Prelims, GS I

Public Administration


Prelims, GS II

UPSC Preparation Tips for Beginners

  1. Keep limited resources if you are following a specific booklist or any resource for a topic, please don’t deviate from that.
  2. Have a consolidated study for the upsc prelims and upsc mains examination. 
  3. Revision is the key to success in IAS exam.
  4. Include flow charts and maps in your answers.
  5. Reduce Your Socializing.
  6. Don’t study continuously for hours. Take small breaks in between to increase your productivity.
  7. Keep the Spirit High. There might be ups and down, have faith in yourself.
  8. Practice your hobby. This will keep your mind fresh after studying for hours.
  9. Anytime you feel low just remind yourself why you started the journey.

Related :

FAQs on 10 Best UPSC Preparation Strategy

How should I start preparing for UPSC?

Begin by understanding the UPSC exam pattern, syllabus, and previous years’ question papers. Create a IAS Exam Study Plan, focus on conceptual clarity, and build a routine for comprehensive coverage of topics.

How can I start preparing for UPSC from zero level?

Start by familiarizing yourself with basic NCERT books for subjects like history, geography, economics, and political science. Gradually move to standard reference books and enhance your knowledge through newspapers, magazines, and online resources.

Can I start my UPSC Preparation Without Coaching?

Yes, you can start your UPSC preparation without coaching by utilizing self-study resources, such as NCERT books, standard reference materials, online courses, and practice tests, along with a disciplined and strategic study plan. Many successful candidates have cleared the UPSC exam through self-study by leveraging available resources and maintaining consistent preparation.

Is 1 year enough for IAS preparation?

The preparation time required varies for each candidate based on their background, understanding, and consistency in studying.

Can I crack UPSC in 1 year?

Yes, it’s feasible with focused study, a well-structured strategy, and consistent effort.

Which books should I read for UPSC?

Refer to NCERT textbooks for a strong foundation. For specific subjects, refer to standard books like Laxmikanth’s ‘Indian Polity,’ Bipan Chandra’s ‘India’s Struggle for Independence,’ Ramesh Singh’s ‘Indian Economy,’ among others.

What should be the UPSC Preparation Strategy for working professionals?

Working professionals preparing for UPSC should study early in the morning or late at night, use weekends and holidays for more study time, focus on important topics first, use online study materials for convenience, and practice old exam papers and mock tests to get better at managing time and answering questions.

Last Updated : 22 Feb, 2024
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