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How to crack UPSC Civil Services Prelims Exam in the first attempt?

Hello IAS aspirants, Have you ever heard of the term “Lakhon Mein Ek”, the Hindi equivalent of “One in a Million”? Well, it is most suitable for students who apply for the UPSC Civil Services Prelims Test. 

Mathematically, the chances of qualifying the exam are very poor. And since the likelihood is so poor, even the toppers are not sure if they’ll be able to qualify the exam or not before they get a rank.

It is a known reality that information alone does not assist you in qualifying for the test. It is normal to panic amid this confusion. 

Also, because of the extension due to lockdown, multiples have raised anxiety. 

If you are an aspirant for this civil service test, you must already be aware that due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the exam dates are being postponed by the commission. The preliminary examination was postponed until 4 October, with the main examination taking place on 8 January 2021. So for the preliminary test, you have about 1 month left and there are already 4 months left for the mains exam.

However, some have cracked the formula to qualify the test, and again and again, they crack prelims even though their training doesn’t look that sound.

So from our experience and understanding of the exam, we have decided to share how common sense and simple understanding will enhance your performance in the exam and help you get those 10 – 20 marks extra. 

We encourage you to faithfully go through the article and make notes for your reference and try to apply certain methods in the next mock test that you take.

Approximately 8 lakh applicants registered for the CSE prelims in 2018, of which only around 10,500 applicants qualified for the main exams, all vying for a mere 780 vacancies.

However, even this mountain can be scaled with good management of time, undeterred attention and a disciplined routine.

Once you are done, you will be qualified to get recruited in top Indian government services like Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and many other Group A and Group B jobs.

Where can you launch your Civil Service Exams trip?

There are three levels of CSE- the prelims, the mains and the interview call. The candidate has to pass each stage before going on to the next.

Let’s take a look at some of HariMohan Sir’s tactics to improve your chances of cracking the examinations noticeably.

  • Time is imperative – If you do not have a timetable, there is no way that you can cover the vast ocean of the CSE syllabus. Every day, set aside a certain amount of time to research and try not to break this habit. Without losing other subjects, giving more time to challenging topics. You could find this easier if you chose to join a good coaching institute that will compartmentalize and plan your time.
  • What to explore –The Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) syllabus is what you have studied in school your whole life, all bundled into one. General studies will cover topics such as Indian national movements, Indian politics, fundamental economic understanding, Indian geography and world geography, current affairs, general knowledge, etc. Apart from these, your English, arithmetic, logic, analytical abilities, interpersonal skills, etc will also be tested. So very carefully order your study materials. You can take support from a government career coaching institute that will have previous years’ question papers to go through before purchasing any books. After purchase, make some notes and customize what you are going to research. Keep your ears open via the internet and regular news for educational videos, both national and international current affairs and general information.
  • Does research and coaching in groups assist- You should take special coaching courses for the training of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE). With time management, this will benefit you immensely, keep you on a proper schedule and won’t let your attention go astray. You can catch up on anything you might have missed by having a career counsellor or personalized study materials. However, without a guide, you can still study for the exams, but in that situation, you must find a fixed routine to follow.
  • Training does make you great- What will save you is the continuous revision and mock articles. Pick an app that allows you, with a fixed timer, to take several mock tests and assess where you stand. Work on the areas where changes are needed.
  • The final push: Inside the exam hall- You have entered the examination hall, prepared yourself well, and you are encouraged. However, all of these would be of nought if you let tension take over you during the test. Keep a relaxed attitude and prioritise. Try to gain as many marks as possible on the questions whose responses you are completely confident of, starting from easier to tough. There are negative marks, mind, so keep the guesswork away. Do not waste too much time on one question and miss out on other questions. Whether or not you understand the answer, split your time in such a way that no questions are unanswered. Don’t make stupid mistakes, all because you were in a rush, like marking the wrong answer during the MCQs or ignoring a question. After these major and small specifics are taken care of, you are ready to go.
  • Break the Subjects- You need to split your studies into separate months now. List down the subjects which are there for both Prelims and Mains.

In all, in General Studies, there are 9 subjects:

  1. History
  2. Geography
  3. Polity
  4. Economics
  5. Environment
  6. Science & Technology (S&T)
  7. International relations
  8. Internal security
  9. Ethics.

Your intention now is to finish learning these subjects and to revise them as well. Keeping this in mind, in the different months we have, let us split up the syllabus now. Mind to stay for analysis and rehearsal for the last 2 months.

  • Do not Waver- Lastly, with enthusiasm and perseverance, you must work hard and think about your dream. You may be tempted to give up because of the sheer enormity of the challenge before you. Know the prelims are just half the fight. You can not afford to lose motivation at this point itself. So buckle up, study hard, and go the extra mile. Do not look at the exams as a burden but as a golden opportunity to improve your talent.
  • Study as per the pattern of review
  • Source wisely
  • Focus on current affairs
  • Project
  • Have targets
  • Revise
  • Papers on practice tests
  • Have devotion and passion

For Preparation Of Preliminary Review Sources

These books are written in a very clear language, and NCERT books play a crucial role in your planning. Moreover, NCERT books have a luminous and impartial view which is what a candidate wants in his preparation. In the past, several questions have been raised directly from NCERT which makes them more important.

The NCERT books are structured for children to grasp the concepts clearly and thus it is essential for a candidate who is studying for civil services to read NCERT before jumping on to any other outlets or regular books. Reading NCERTs before regular books will also allow him to understand the material of books clearly.

The best way to read NCERT books is to believe that you are a student at school. This will encourage you to relate the stuff and make you more relaxed while reading these books.

Other Regular reference books and sources for UPSC Prelims Preparation

  1. Indian Economy: Ramesh Singh
  2. Certificate Physical and Human Geography: Goh Cheng Leong
  3. Indian Art and Culture: Nitin Singhania
  4. Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations: M. Laxmikanth
  5. Oxford School Atlas: Oxford Publishers
  6. A Brief History of Modern India: Rajiv Ahir
  7. Economic Survey: Ministry of Finance
  8. India Year Book
  9. Current affairs: The Hindu and Indian Express Newspapers and Chahal’s Monthly Magazine


You will cover a lot during this period if you follow the tips, and will have a good result in the test. 

During this preparation ensure that you read the newspaper daily or at least refer to some current affairs notes and keep yourself well informed of the various regions of the world and topics like space relationship of India. Even if you initially give 5 hours daily for your training and increase it to 10 hours later, you can finish the syllabus comfortably and succeed in cracking the exam.

We hope you liked this article and found it useful and learnt something new today. Liked it? Why not share it with your friends then and let them know something useful too! And don’t forget to bookmark our site. You can just press Ctrl + D to bookmark easily. Thank you. 

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