IAS Preparation Tips

7 Tips to Increase Score in UPSC CSE Prelims Exam

Written by Abhinash Chaudhary · 4 min read >
Score Good marks in UPSC Prelims

Every student wants to score good marks in the UPSC Prelims exam. And, why would you not want it? After all, you have prepared for this exam with so much dedication. 

Sadly, half of the aspirants will not even qualify for this exam but this is true. Last year almost 9 Million students appeared in UPSC 2019 Prelims but only 12000 students were called for Mains exam. 

Every year cut off scores get higher because of the ultra-competitive exam pattern. But what you don’t know is that you just need one seat. Now does it sound very tough? 

Table of Content

  • Clear Mind Set
  • Know Your Exam Pattern
  • Avoid Negative Marking
  • Revise, Revise & Revise
  • Special focus on Contemporary topics
  • Trim your syllabus
  • Time Management in exam hours

#Clear Mind Set 

Generally, People don’t give much attention to the mindset. However, what I see is that this is the most important thing to take care while preparing for the UPSC Prelims. 

If you have prepared very well and are not able to recall what you studied in the examination center then all of your hard work is of no use. 

That is why I give much emphasis on the right mental state or you can also call it Right Mental Attitude. Your mindset should be very positive. We, humans, tend to think too much about the results. 

Therefore, we feel pressurized all the time. This can literally be the worst thing to do at this time. Avoid thinking about the result and focus on your studies as much as you can. This will help in getting more correct answers. 

What you should do get right mind set

  • Listen or watch interview of successful candidates
  • Take a rest of an hour every day to do what you love most. 
  • Take proper sleep of minimum of 6 hours, your body should feel well-rested 
  • Take a day off from studying at least once a month
  • Avoid negative people 

#Know your Exam Pattern

First, you need to realise that this exam is very near. Therefore, don’t try to do something new.

Understand the exam pattern, scoring pattern and how you will be assessed. 

UPSC prelims exam is divided into two parts: 

Prelims ExamNo of QuestionsTotal MarksTotal TimeNegative Marks
Per question
Preliminary Paper I100 200 2 Hrs0.66
Preliminary Paper II 80 2002 Hrs0.83

Prelims exams are objective in nature. You will be given multiple choices of questions and you need to select one correct answer. Time will be flying but fortunately, only Paper I marks are used for Cut off. You just need to obtain 33% in Paper II to qualify.  

#Avoid Negative Marking

Negative marking was introduced in 2007 and since then it has been part of the UPSC Prelims exam. This is a big obstacle which stops you from scoring more. 

One wrong answer and you can slip in ranking by a great margin. Please ensure that the questions which you are attempting are 100% correct. If you have doubt then keep it for later and once you give all the answers then attempt for the hard questions.

How can you avoid Negative Marking?

  • Read the question carefully- You won’t believe but this is true that many students despite knowing the answer, select the wrong option just because they didn’t read the question correctly. 
  • Double-check your answer – Ensure that you double-check your answer before submitting the paper.
  • Practice Test Series – This is the high time that you practice test paper on a daily basis. UPSC Civil Services Exams are always evolving. Therefore, every day you should attempt two test papers to improve your accuracy and speed both. Also, know how to calculate UPSC Prelims Negative Marking

#Revise, Revise & Revise  

Everyone keeps on saying keep revisioning the syllabus. But how to revise nobody tells you. If you observe and follow the toppers of the previous year exams, they would only say one thing. Go through the NCERT books time & again. 

Remember, you scribbled all the learning on your notes while reading the books. This is the high time to use them. Remember don’t start anything new! 

Notes are the best things to study for the UPSC Prelims Exam. 

How should you revise your syllabus?

  • Revise subject wise, don’t mix-up your routine
  • Follow your own notes
  • Don’t start anything new
  • Read newspaper Daily
  • Revisit previous years question
  • Mug NCERT books (VI to X from OLD Syllabus and XI & XII from New Syllabus)

#Special Focus on Contemporary topics- 

The Current affairs section of the IAS exam is very vast. You are supposed to know everything that comes under the SUN, literally. However, there is a hack that many successful candidates have followed to get a good score in the Prelims exam as well as in the Mains exam. Mainly, they focus on contemporary topics.

Contemporary topics are those topics which are in attention right now. For example, COVID-19. You are likely to receive more questions related to COVID-19. This pandemic has also forced the world to change its international treaties. So you need to keep an eye on all these changes. The US-China trade deal is also a contemporary topic.

#Trim your syllabus

UPSC syllabus is long and by now you would have been familiar with this. Trimming your syllabus means removing some topics which are worth very fewer marks. You need to be very particular about what to read and what not to read. 

If you examine your syllabus carefully then you would learn that there are many topics which require less attention. And, questions are also less from such topics. 

Thus, you need to find such topics in your preparation and give less attention to them. This will save your time and you could focus on important topics. 

Time Management in exam hours

You will only get 120 minutes to solve 100 questions in Paper I and 80 questions in Paper II. So to say you get just over 1 minute for each question. So if you don’t spend your time wisely then you would miss a lot of questions. 

You need to use every second of the given time in your exam. So if you get stuck on any question, move on to the next without wasting time. Leave the doubtful question for the last minute of the examination.      

Prelims exams are near and if exams don’t get postponed due to COVID-19 then you have less than a month. Stay focused and keep studying. We wish you all the best for the Prelims Examination. 

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Written by Abhinash Chaudhary
Abhinash Chaudhary is a Passionate Blogger, Entrepreneur & Digital Marketer in India. He has been blogging since 2013 & writes about Education, Web Design, Web Development, SEO and Technology. Profile
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