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UPSC PRELIMS Tips/Strategy (Do’s & Don’ts) from Mohan Sir, IASbaba Founder

How to crack UPSC PRELIMS using Common Sense (Elimination Technique) & Common Mistakes made by students – PART 1

[VIDEO] Prelims Simplified – Solving 2019 Prelims Questions using Common Sense – PART 2 By UPSC TOPPER – IASbaba’s DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS PRELIMS (CAP) – TO THE POINT


UPSC General Studies Prelims Strategy 

UPSC Prelims Strategy for Preliminary Examinations. A detailed UPSC Prelims Strategy for every UPSC Preliminary Examinations & Basic Gyaan in details.


Before you go through the detailed strategy of each section (click above), go through the basic gyaan (scroll down – relevant for both the beginners and veterans).


The Examination shall comprise of two Papers of 200 marks each

  • General Studies – Paper I
  • CSAT – Paper II


1.      General Studies (Paper I) 100 200
2.      CSAT (Paper II) 80 200
  • Both the question papers will be of the objective type (Multiple Choice Questions).


  • The question papers will be set both in Hindi and English.


  1. In the First paperGeneral Studies, questions will be asked from Current Affairs, Geography, Polity, History, Economy, Science & Technology, and Environment/Ecology.
  2. In the Second PaperCSAT, questions will be asked from Aptitude, Reasoning, Comprehension, Decision-Making (Qualifying with 33% marks)

Note: A detailed strategy for both the papers (Paper I and II) has been provided   STRATEGY We believe in the mantra:

‘Every individual is unique, Every individual is talented, and Every individual has immense potential’

A lot of us put hard work, but not SMART work. And then due to the scarcity of resources (to go for coaching, quality material etc.) and lack of direction (multiple book lists, tons of materials etc), many aspirants fail to realize their dreams. We aspire to bridge this gap for willing and capable individuals. And, this is where a right mentor comes into play. Clearing UPSC exam is not rocket-science. You can find a lot of gyaan online and offline on what to read, but not how to read. !!   So, some Basic Gyaan before you go through the strategy: UPSC requires a generalist for serving the highest echelons of administration in India. A generalist is someone who knows something about everything, but not everything about something (called scientists or researchers). Your approach while reading should be somewhat like a generalist, i.e. jack of all trades master of none.

For example, if you are reading about floods, you should focus on understanding their causes; implications (+ve and –ve) – impact on human property and life ; their mitigation and management. You need not read scientific literature about floods, river flows, meandering etc. At most, read what they are and how are they related to an earthquake.

You can clear the Civil services Prelims in one shot. You don’t even need to know everything under the sky. You should read with the approach of a generalist. Understanding concepts should be the first priority because mugging up will neither help you in Prelims nor Mains.

  So focus on basic understanding; and wider coverage rather than detailed studies and intensive coverage.   Just remember these few things for efficient and effective studies:

  • Don’t read a book from Cover to Cover.
  • Don’t make notes in the first reading itself.
  • Keep your booklist short and simple. Better to read one book for each topic thoroughly, than flip through multiple sources.
  • Read carefully and between the lines since Prelims questions can be tricky.
  • Preliminary Exam is all about ‘identifying’ the correct answer among the 4 options given. So don’t worry about remembering facts for the exam. It’s all about elimination of the wrong options and identifying the correct answer. Focus should be more on understanding the concepts.

Now, in the Prelims strategy for each domain, you will find pages and pages long strategy given by us.   Why do you need such long detailed strategy?

  • GS Syllabus is like an Ocean. You may know what books and material to read, but not,
    • What exactly to read?
    • What to avoid?
    • Which most relevant themes to pick up from the material?
  • UPSC is well known for surprises. So, you might read everything, yet you will miss exactly what UPSC demands from you. For e.g. finish the whole syllabus of culture, and you may still end up scoring zero in culture in Prelims.
  • The Syllabus has a lot of GREY areas especially in Science & Tech, Environment & Biodiversity. They have been dealt in detail with examples; the pattern of past year UPSC questions; and possible questions have been framed from Current Events.
  • Moreover, we have given

o  Analysis of Prelims question papers trends & themes from 2011-2014 to inform aspirants with the latest thinking of UPSC. For e.g. 2014 paper pattern was a radical shift from 2013, 2012 and 2011.

o  A general idea about the subject both @ macro and micro level of weightage given to each Subject (since 2011)

o   A Basic guide/framework for each Subject, Topics, and Sub-topics

o   What to ‘focus on’ from Prelims perspective with examples

o   Important aspects of each Subject, topics, and sub-topics  

o We have given different strategy for every domain say Polity, Economy, Geography, History, Environment, Science and Technology and Current Events


  • Finally, at the end of the discussion of each subject a link is provided where you can access all the previous year UPSC prelims questions related to a particular subject segregated topic wise.

The sailor is you who is adventurous and risk-taking. We will be the magical compass guiding the sailor to his destination. The journey might not be smooth; there will be ups and downs. Don’t take the journey too seriously. Just enjoy the process 🙂 

  NOTE:  Click on the tabs for ‘DETAILED STRATEGY’ on every Subject

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