How to Prepare for UPSC?

How to Prepare for UPSC

Preparing for UPSC exams can be a cumbersome and complicated process. Owing to its vast syllabus and different sections on which it assesses the students, it has made its place amongst the toughest exams in India. Conducted for various public administration posts in the Indian government, these government exams aim to evaluate a student’s knowledge of diverse disciplines from Geography and General Awareness to Indian Polity and history. If you are aiming to appear for these competitive exams, here is an exclusive blog on how to prepare for UPSC, from curating the right preparation strategies to gathering the best study materials.

Also read: Public Administration Syllabus for UPSC

How to Prepare for UPSC?

The Union Public Service Commission is a prime recruiting body that holds the responsibility of conducting recruitment examinations for All India services and group A & group B of Central services. They shortlist the best candidates for the posts under Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) etc. UPSC exams are conducted in three main successive stages, i.e. Preliminary, Mains as well as Interview. 

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right”– Henry Ford. The first and foremost success mantra you need to keep in mind for UPSC exams is to have persistence and perseverance. The below sections elaborate on the best strategies as well as useful resources you must have while exploring the best answer on how to prepare for UPSC. 

Meticulous Research

Certainly, gearing up for one of the trickiest competitive exams is a daunting task. To begin on imparting the mantra on how to prepare for UPSC, the most important tip is that you must carry out extensive research on its pattern, syllabus as well as preparation guides. Further, check out the insights from UPSC toppers which will assist you in finding the right track for your preparation. Once you have done your research, the next step is to create a study plan and timeline and making sure to adhere to it throughout your preparatory phase.

Choose Optional Subjects Wisely

Another prominent tips recommended by many IAS toppers on how to prepare for UPSC is the careful selection of optional subjects. There are scores of optional subjects available for these exams which candidates can choose as per their area of interest. While opting for these subjects, make sure that you are familiarised with the discipline you are selecting. Generally, it is advised to select those subjects in which you have done the graduation or have expertise in. 

Read a Newspaper Everyday

Staying updated with the current affairs is also a key preparation tip you must have come across. If you are exploring the best preparation strategies on how to prepare for UPSC, reading one newspaper daily is a common one you will find. The most popular one for government exams is the Hindu newspaper which is renowned for its commendable language and writing style as well as analytical editorials. You can also subscribe to its digital edition if you are unable to buy its hardcopy. Some of the other newspapers are Indian Express (Explains series online), Navbharat Times, Dainik Bhaskar, amongst others. Not only will these assist you in comprehending the major current events but will also improve your writing style and vocabulary. The major competitive exam magazines you can subscribe include, India Yearbook, Yojna, Kurukshetra, Civil Service Times etc. 

Check Out: English for Competitive Exams

Familiarise Yourself With the Basics of History, Political Science & Geography

NCERT books for UPSC are amongst the recommended study materials for these competitive exams. Make sure to go through the NCERT history books of 11th and 12th to familiarise yourself with the conceptual basics as these are the best exam guides on how to prepare for UPSC. Moreover, you can choose from various books to learn the basics of different disciplines covered in class 6th to 12th and Tamil Nadu Board books, because of their simplicity in language and structure. Since, Political Science, Geography and History form an important aspect of the UPSC syllabus, there are many other preparation guides you can opt for. Check out spectrum books, Bipin Chandra’s India’s struggle for Independence, GC Leong’s Physical Geography, Majid Hussain’s Geography books, Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh and Laxmikanth’s analytical works on Indian Polity

Check Out: Geography for UPSC Preparation

Practice Mock Test Series

You can find a plethora of previous year question papers and mock test series online curated especially for government exam aspirants. These mock test series will help you understand how self-assessment is an essential aspect you need to inculcate in your study routine to effectively prepare for UPSC. Practice mock tests will assist you in identifying your strengths and weaknesses and comprehending which topics you are good at and the ones you need to work on.

Also read: Public Administration Books 2021

Timely Revision

Until the final exam day, you need to follow a persistent approach towards incorporating timely revision of your notes. Make sure to go through all the important topics and books while preparing for UPSC and don’t forget to take efficient breaks on a timely basis to let your mind retain all you have learned.

UPSC Previous Year’s Question Papers 2021

Solving the previous year’s question paper gives you an insight into the pattern & marking scheme of the examination. It will help you to understand the format, types of questions in the UPSC Examination. It will also help you to manage your time & evaluate your strong & weak points. Here are some of the previous year’s question papers for the UPSC examination based on the subjects.

General StudiesLiterature SubjectsOptional SubjectsCompulsory Subjects
General Studies Paper 1English Literature Paper 1Economics Paper 1English Compulsory
General Studies Paper 2Hindi Literature Paper 1Geography Paper 1Hindi Compulsory
General Studies Paper 3Sanskrit Literature Paper 1Law Paper 1Sanskrit Compulsory
General Studies Paper 4Punjabi Literature Paper 1Management Paper 1Punjabi Compulsory

Click Here for more Previous Year Question Paper of UPSC 

Tips from Toppers

UPSC is among the toughest exam in India but there are applicants that are able to clear their exams in the first attempts as well. It is always a good idea to take help from toppers, they can motivate you, guide you in the right direction & share some useful exam & preparation tips as well. Here are some of the interview videos of UPSC toppers sharing their success mantra, tips & aspiring you to crack the UPSC examination.

Pratibha Verma secured the third rank in the All India Civil Services Exam in the year 2019 & was among the top women toppers. In her second attempt, she secured 489 rank & placed as Income tax commissioner in Nagpur. She wanted to do more better & started preparing for IAS again & became a topper in her third attempt. Here is the interview of Pratibha Verma sharing her success story & tips to crack the UPSC exam.

Courtesy: Rajya Sabha TV

Chandrajyoti cracked her UPSC examination at the age of 22, in her first attempt & without any coaching. She covered her syllabus & preparation for the UPSC examination within a year.  Here is the motivational story & tips by Chandrajyoti herself.

Courtesy: Jagran Josh

Also Read: IPS Lakshay Pandey’s Tips for Scoring Perfect Marks in UPSC

Best Books for UPSC Preparation

There are plenty of books available in the market but it is essential that applicants refer to the right books. With the help of the right books, students can prepare better & ace their exams. With the number of books available , it becomes difficult to select the right one. Here are the books suggested by toppers for preparation & revision of the UPSC examination. Here is the list of books.

Indian Polity by M LaxmikanthClick Here to buy
Indian Art and Culture by Nitin SinghaniaClick Here to buy
Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng LeongClick Here to buy
Indian Economy by Ramesh SinghClick Here to buy
A Brief History of Modern India by Rajiv AhirClick Here to buy
Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning by R S AggarwalClick Here to buy


Can we refer to NCERT books as well for UPSC preparation?

Yes, NCERT Books are always recommended for UPSC preparation

What are some of the popular UPSC essay topics?

UPSC essay topics are mostly on the judiciary, current affairs, environmental issues, etc.

What is the syllabus of UPSC Exams?

The UPSC syllabus generally covers General studies, Essay topics, current affairs, Literature subjects, etc.

Are there any questions related to history & geography as well in UPSC Exam?

Geography & History are among the optional subjects of the UPSC Exam.

Hopefully, this blog has provided you with profound insights on how to prepare for UPSC. Aiming to explore the field of Public Administration? Book an e-meeting with our Leverage Edu experts and we will assist you in picking the best course and university that can equip you with the right knowledge and exposure in the domain of Public Administration thus enabling you to take an informed step towards a rewarding career in this field.

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