If you don’t know anything about UPSC and want to start the preparation from scratch then this article will be quite helpful to you.
Table of content
- Eligibility criteria
- Age limit and no of attempts
- UPSC exam types with subjects
- Booklist for UPSC Prelims & Mains
- Optional subject list
- Tips to start your preparation from scratch
This will cover the UPSC Exam Pattern, UPSC Syllabus and, how to start preparing for UPSC exams from Scratch.
First, you need to know what this exam is all about, and what it covers. UPSC conducts competitive exams every year for various job posts.
In which, Civil Services exams are for posts like IAS, IPS, IRS, IFS etc.
Second, you should know about the exam eligibility criteria. You should have a college degree from any recognized university.
Educational Requirement for IAS Preparation
- A degree from a Central, State or Deemed university
- Any bachelor degree received through correspondence or distance education
- Any bachelor degree from an open university
- A qualification recognized by the Government of India as being equivalent to one of the above
- Final year student can appear in the exam
The other factor is the age limit but this depends on the candidate’s caste category. Age limit differs as per category, below is the list
Age Limit and attempt limits:
|General||32 Years||Up to 6 attempts|
|OBC||35 Years||Up to 9 attempts|
|SC/ST Candidate||37 Years||No attempt capping till the age limit|
|Physically Disabled||42 Years||General & OBC- 9 attempts|
SC/ST – No attempt caping till the age limit
If you are eligible as per the above table then you are good to go for UPSC Preparation.
If you wish to prepare for IAS then you need to qualify all 3 exams which are conducted every year by UPSC.
The 1st exam is Prelims, in which there are two papers. GS and CSAT. This exam is objective in nature. You will be asked 100 questions in Paper I and 80 Questions in Paper-II.
To write the paper, you are given two hours for each paper and both papers have the value of 400 marks. This exam works as a qualifier for the UPSC Mains exam.
|Prelims Exam(s)||Total No of Questions||Total Duration||Total Marks|
|UPSC Preliminary Paper I||100||2 Hrs||200|
|UPSC Preliminary Paper II||80||2 Hrs||200|
Negative marking is applicable and 1/3rd marks are deducted for each wrong answer.
Also, read – How to calculate Prelims Score with negative marking
Special Note – Prelims Paper II is qualifying in nature and you need to score 33% in order to pass the exam. Paper I marks are used for cut-offs. Both exams are objective in nature.
List of Books for UPSC Prelims of UPSC CSE:
|Economics||Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh. Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & OhriNCERT XI|
|Indian Polity||Indian Polity – M LaxmikanthNCERT IX-XII|
|CSAT||Tata McGraw Hill CSAT ManualCSAT II – ArihantVerbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal|
|International Relations||NCERT XII (Contemporary World Politics)Current Affairs|
|History||India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan ChandraFacets of Indian Culture – SpectrumNCERT XI (Ancient & Medieval)NCERT XII (Modern Indian History)|
|Geography||Certificate Physical Geography – G C LeongNCERT VI – X (Old Syllabus)NCERT XI, XII (New Syllabus)World Atlas|
This exam has 9 papers with two optional paper(s). This exam is an essay-based exam and you are supposed to write an essay like the answer to these papers. You could select two papers as an optional paper.
Special Note – Paper A and Paper B are qualifying only and you need to score just 25% in these two papers.
|Paper-A||Compulsory Indian language||180 Minutes||300 Marks|
|Paper-B||English||180 Minutes||300 Marks|
|Paper-I||Essay||180 Minutes||250 Marks|
|Paper-II||General Studies-I||180 Minutes||250 Marks|
|Paper-III||General Studies-II||180 Minutes||250 Marks|
|Paper-IV||General Studies-III||180 Minutes||250 Marks|
|Paper-V||General Studies-IV||180 Minutes||250 Marks|
|Paper-VI||Optional-I||180 Minutes||250 Marks|
|Paper-VII||Optional-II||180 Minutes||250 Marks|
Optional Subject List
|Agriculture||Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science||Anthropology||Botany||Chemistry|
|Civil Engineering||Commerce and Accountancy||Economics||Electrical Engineering||Geography|
|Mechanical Engineering||Medical Science||Philosophy||Physics||Political Science and International Relations|
Other than the above subjects, you could also choose your literature as optional subjects. Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.
List of books for UPSC Mains
|History, Indian Heritage & Culture[General Studies Paper 1]||An Introduction to Indian Art Part 1: Textbook in Fine Arts for Class XIIndia’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra India after Independence by Bipan ChandraHistory of Medieval India by Satish ChandraAncient India by R.S Sharma|
|Geography[General Studies Paper 1]||Geography of India by Majid Husain,World Geography by Majid Husain, World Atlas,Certificate Physical and Human Geography – G C Leong,Fundamentals of Physical Geography NCERT Class 11|
|Polity & International Relations[General Studies Paper 2]||Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth,Introduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu,India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri,|
|Economy[GS Paper 3]||Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh|
|Ethics[GS Paper 4]||Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination by Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary|
These books are mandatory to start the UPSC preparation from scratch and under no circumstances, you should avoid NCERT books. Apart from this, you will need more study material sources to complete your preparation.
List of useful study materials which you need other than UPSC books.
- 2nd ARC Report
- Annual reports by central ministries
- Finance Commission Report (latest)
- Niti Aayog Action Agenda
- Budget (latest)
- Economic Survey (latest)
- Current Affairs
- The Hindu
- Yojana Magazine
- Press Information Bureau
UPSC Interview – The final stage of UPSC preparation
Once you qualify in both the exams then you are called for UPSC Interview. This Interview is mostly to check your character, your thought process, your decision-making ability and your wit.
Interviews generally last for 30 minutes but it’s totally up to the interviewer. Interview scores are also added in your final cut-off list. This interview has a total of 275 marks.
Strategy for UPSC preparation from Scratch: How to start your UPSC preparation
Now you are equipped with enough information to start for the UPSC Civil Services Exam. Further, let’s see how you should approach exam preparation. If you follow these below points then you will be on the way of the kick start off your UPSC Preparation.
Previous Year Question papers – This is a must to do before you start IAS exam preparation. You must read previous year questions.
By doing this, you get to know the previous year’s questions and you also understand the pattern.
Make a study plan – Since you know now what to read then it’s easy to make a plan. Essentially, planning is an integral part of your preparation. Without laying a successful plan, it’s very hard to move further in your studies.
Study No more than 5-6 hrs – It’s a myth in our society that you need to study for at least 16-18 hrs to clear the IAS exam. However, it’s totally incorrect. You should have a focused approach.
News Paper – Without newspaper reading, you are going to have a lot of difficulty in completing your preparation. At least, you need to read the newspaper daily and you should make notes from it for revision purposes.
Essay Writing Practice – Essay writing is a must and everyone should start practising essay writing from day 1. You should start writing 1 essay every day for the successful result. Moreover, you should learn concise writing.
Less is More – You need to be very precise because too much information is available online and you easily get distracted. Therefore, don’t get confused and rely on a trusted source for information.
Selection of IAS coaching Center
Once you decide that you need to prepare for UPSC exams then the other questions which arise are the need for the UPSC coaching Centre. Assess this and if you plan to take the coaching then you should start as early as possible.
Decide the city
In my personal experience, I’ve seen many UPSC aspirants confused in deciding the city. Many want to go to Delhi or Allahabad. In my opinion, every city is good. If you are still confused then please read this article-
Read – Best Cities for IAS preparation in India.
I hope this article answers how to start UPSC preparation and if you have more queries then you could ask me on Whatsapp.