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How to score good marks in UPSC Prelims

 How to score good marks in UPSC Prelims

Tuesday September 03, 2019,

7 min Read

UPSC examination happens in three rounds—Preliminary, Mains, and Personality Test. Each round is equally important to crack India’s toughest exam—the UPSC.

Due to the tough competition in the Public Services sector, the cut-offs of the UPSC Prelims is revised every year. The Prelims cut-offs are always higher than the previous year.


Things you must know about Prelims

  • Prelims—the first step: Unless you clear the qualifier round or the Prelims, you aren’t eligible for the other two rounds—Mains and the Personality Test of the UPSC exam. So, you need to clear Prelims to become an IAS officer or join other positions in the Administration.
  • Multiple choice questions: The questions asked in the UPSC Prelims are objective. It is divided into two papers—General Studies I and Civil Services Aptitude Test. The examination of both the papers takes place on the same day but different sessions—morning and afternoon.
  • Timings: The timing of morning session exam is 9.30 am to 11.30 am whereas the afternoon session exam happens from 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm. Two hours for each subject and 20 minutes more for blind students.   
  • Total marks: You can score up to 400 marks in the UPSC Prelims examination but the marks of Prelims is not added in the total UPSC score. It acts as a qualifier for Mains.
  • Number of questions: Paper I consist of 80 questions and Paper-II consist of 100 questions. 

Here are a few tips which will help you to clear UPSC Prelims with a good score:

Have a grip on the basics

  • For getting basics clear, there’s no book better than NCERT. Read NCERT from class VI-XII for the preparation of the UPSC exam.
  • You will have to read at least 40-45 NCERT books to have a grip over the basic concepts of geography, social science, polity, general science, and other subjects.

Limit your information

  • Taking reference from too many books, magazines, or newspaper will lead you nowhere. You will feel exhausted in the end and give up on preparation. So, limit your information and take help from one book or two at max. books for each subject.
  • Apart from NCERTs you will have to read basic reference books for each subject like for Laxmikant for Polity, Bipin Chandra for History, and Ramesh Singh for Indian Economy.
  • For current affairs, PIB, Rajya Sabha TV, The Hindu is recommended.
  • You can get online study material for the Prelims to form Elite IAS, one of the best IAS coaching in Delhi.
  • For Aptitude test, you can take help of books like Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual, Arihant’s CSAT, and RS Aggarwal’s Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning.

Understand the format

  • UPSC Prelims’ success ratio is 5:100. It means out of 100 candidates appearing for the Prelims only 5 candidates qualify the first round of the UPSC exam. 
  • In General Studies paper each question is of 2 marks whereas in CSAT or Paper-II each question is of 2.5 marks. There is a deduction of 0.33 marks for each wrong question.
  • You need not attempt all the questions because there is a negative marking. So, attempt only those questions of which you know the correct answer. After all, you need just 33 % to qualify the Prelims.


Go through previous year’s question papers

  •  Before you begin your Prelim preparation you have to go through the previous year’s question papers to know the question pattern.
  • Moreover, if you are solving the last five year’s UPSC question papers then you will understand some questions do repeat.
  • Solving previous years’ question papers will boost your confidence. But don’t try to solve the questions without much preparation because you might feel demotivated after not being able to solve many questions.


Go with the trend

  • Every year the trend of the question paper changes. If for example, this year many questions are asked from current affairs than next year won’t be same. It’s possible that the question weightage of general studies or any other subjects is more.
  • So, being in touch with previous years’ question papers and senior aspirants is a good idea.

Keep notes

  • Many aspirants cannot make notes which become hazardous for them in the last few months of the Prelim exam.
  • Keep making notes while you read the text from the book. It is tough to maintain a balance because the reading rhythm is disturbed when you have to write it down. But, believe me, no matter how it sounds, it worth your time and energy.  
  • Keep a register or a dairy and make notes in it. Notes shouldn’t be in paragraphs; use only points of one or two lines.
  • Notes are the savior for the last moment revision of each subject. You can’t read the whole book again in the last few weeks before the prelims. So, just avoid the pain and keep notes. 

Speed uptime

  • There is only two hours for both Papers in the Prelims. You have to manage the timing and keep the pace in solving the questions.
  • Don’t forget to take a mock test and solve online Test series for the Prelims. You can get an abundance of sample papers and a question bank with approximately 600 questions in it from Delhi’s best IAS coaching, Elite IAS Academy. So, join now to take advantage.
  • Keep a stopwatch to have a record of the exact time you take in solving the Prelims questions. Remember, you will slow in your initial days of preparation but as time passes you would become quick. So, don’t panic if you take longer time initially.
  • Always maintain your pace and try to finish the question paper before the deadline.        

Revision is the key

  • Without proper revision you can’t recall anything in the examination hall. So, make sure to revise the topics you have studied every single day. 
  • Revise from the notes. Don’t start over the books and pressurize yourself. You can’t complete 45 NCERTs and 20 reference books in two-three months. So, it better you make amazing notes and practice from them.
  • Take help of the Best IAS Coaching in revision as they provide a nut-shell description of each topic. 
  • Revision will help you to recall everything you have read in the last year. So, go for it sincerely.


What else to keep in mind during UPSC Prelims preparation?


The above mentioned tips for cracking UPSC Prelims are the basic ones. If you follow them properly then you can clear UPSC Prelims.

Apart from all these, you have to keep yourself healthy, both physically and mentally to get through the exam. You need to take good care of yourself. You also have to follow all these things:

  • Sleep properly
  • Don’t mess up with your study schedule
  • Don’t ruin your health by eating junks
  • Stop worrying too much about the result.

At last, I would like to wind up by saying that your hard work and dedication would help you to crack any other competitive exam in the world. So, have a firm belief in yourself and your preparation.

The result is a reflection of our effort. So, there shouldn’t be any excuses during preparation. If you are doing a solid preparation along with following the above tips then nobody can stop you to reach your desired goal of clearing UPSC Prelims.

All the best.