How to Clear UPSC Prelims in the Very First Attempt

Pub: May 14, 2021

The Civil Services Examination conducted by UPSC is written by lakhs of candidates every year aspiring to be a civil servant. The examination is conducted in three stages – Preliminary, Mains and Personality Test. The Preliminary examination consists of two objective papers, clearing which will take the candidate to the Mains Examination which consist of written examinations. The final stage is the Personality Test conducted by the UPSC Board.

A smart and efficient strategy is required for clearing UPSC examination in the first attempt itself. It is not hard work alone that takes you to the objective, it is smart work as well. So to find the answer to the question – “How to clear UPSC in first attempt?” or “How to clear IAS in first attempt?”, then read ahead. The following is a set of rules that you need to strictly adhere to, to make sure that you clear UPSC Prelims in the first attempt itself.


  • Rule #1 – “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles” – Understand the pattern of the examination in and out.


As per the latest pattern of Civil Services Prelims examination, there are two papers – General Studies (GS) Paper I and CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test) Paper II.

UPSC has made the CSAT paper as a qualifying paper which means you need to a score a minimum of 66 marks out of 200 alone. The mark you score in the first paper, General Studies, determines whether you have cleared Prelims or not.

Once you understand the pattern, you need to understand the syllabus inside out. You need to identifystandard books for each of the topics in the syllabus. There are a plenty of books and materials available in the market. It is not the multiplicity of books but your depth in the subject that helps to score marks.


  • Rule #2 – “You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation” – Your basics need to strong.


You should read and understand NCERTs of basic topics before you venture into standard books. An analysis of Previous Year UPSC questions will reveal that many of the questions can be solved with a proper understanding of NCERT textbooks. Dust off your old NCERT books and start brushing up the topics.


  • Rule #3 – “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” – Revision should be the keystone of your preparation.


Revision is the most important weapon that helps you clear UPSC in the first attempt. It is not how much you study that matters, but how much you retain. So you should have a proper revision plan. Ideally one day of the week should be assigned for revision of what you have studied that week.


  • Rule #4 – “There never was a time in our history when ignorance of current affairs could be so dangerous.”– Similarly, Ignorance of Current Affairs will cost you the Prelims


UPSC gives much emphasis to Current Affairs in both Prelims and Mains examination. Questions based on current affairs can be of two types. First typeis directly from current affairs – dynamic questions. For example, last year’s prelims had a question on Inter-Creditor Agreement signed by Indian banks recently. Second is the static questionsbased on current affairs. For example, if there is a lot of buzz around the role of the speaker or money bill, there can be a static question on that area.


  • Rule #5 – “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is PRACTICE.” – Do more practice tests to hone your prelims solving skill.


Solving prelims is an art. An art which could be mastered through practice. A good prelims test series can take you a long way in ensuring that you clear prelims in the first attempt. A good test series also helps you identify areas to focus while studying. A test series also helps to study through questions.


Moreover, there is a pattern in solving prelims paper. You are supposed to attempt the paper in three rounds. In the first round you attempt only those questions which you are very sure of. In the second round you attempt those, for which you have shortlisted your choices down to two. In the last round you attempt the difficult ones – the ones in which you could only eliminate one out of the four choices. But this cannot be done overnight. You need to practice this through a proper test series.


  • Rule #6 – “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Do proper planning and scheduling and try to stick on to it.


Whether you are preparing full time or part time, you should have a study plan or schedule to help you cover the syllabus. Joining institutes like iLearn IAS- the best IAS Academy in South India, can help you prepare a plan and keep you focused on your studies. Happy Learning.

All the best!

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