How to score 125+ in Prelims?

  • The cut-off for UPSC Prelims is usually around 110-120 marks for General Category in GS 1. With proper preparation and practice tests, it is quite possible to clear the Prelims in the very first attempt itself. Integrate Current Affairs preparation and revision into your daily plan. Try to minimise the sources as too much information will simply cause more confusion. Follow standard sources like The Hindu, Yojana, PIB so on, and if you want consolidated easy-to-read UPSC specific information from these sources, check our UPSC Current Affairs link ( **provide link here).
Study strategy
  • Read the NCERT books as they will give the basic concepts. Other than NCERT books, the essential books for Prelims are Indian Polity by Laxmikanth, Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh. For the complete book list for UPSC Prelims. ( **give link to booklist tab)
  • Practice reducing incorrect answers as there is negative marking in UPSC Prelims. Either, the candidates attempt very few questions as they are afraid of negative marking or they carelessly attempt questions without knowing the answers. Give Prelims Test series or join IAS coaching if you feel you need it. The basic idea is to revise, make mistakes, revise better and finally make fewer mistakes in the actual Prelims exam
  • Along with books mentioned in booklist , get a printout of the syllabus and read it carefully.
  • And when you start, It is recommended that you begin with NCERT books. Read and revise them methodically to gain absolute conceptual clarity. They form the foundation of your knowledge which will help you immensely through all stages of the exam.
  • Do not be scared at the long list of books. For a beginner, one year is more than enough to cover the complete syllabus of GS (prelims and mains) and optional.
  • In the book list, wherever it is mentioned selective reading, it means there’s no need to read the book cover to cover. Go through the past five years’ question papers to understand the kind of questions UPSC usually asks. It’ll give you a good perspective of what’s important and what’s not.
  • For the same topic, do not refer to more than one material. For example, take India’s freedom struggle (1857-1947). If you read that portion from the Spectrum publications, there’s no need to do the same again from Bipan Chandra’s book. Read the latter to cover those parts not covered in the former.
  • Use internet extensively. Eg Youtube’s PMFIAS channel is an excellent resource for understanding complex Geography topics. Similarly, for Art & Culture, watch videos of classical dances, folk dances, puppetry shows on Youtube so that you could memorise their features better. In Science & Tech, if you come across a term, say, Blockchain Technology, go to Youtube and see explainer videos. Even for Environment, suppose you read about endangered species such as the Red Panda and Malabar Hornbill, Google them and see how they look. Visuals stick in your mind far longer. Your target must be to gain knowledge, be it through books or through internet.
  • If you are taking coaching, by all means read their notes. But please keep in mind that you cannot just read those coaching notes and neglect these standard books. For example, take Polity topic. A coaching institute’s notes will never cover the complete subject, only Laxmikanth does. So even if you refer to your coaching notes, you still have to read Laxmikanth and know it like the back of your hand. This principle applies for all subjects.
  • For all subjects, you have to superimpose current affairs over it. To illustrate, in Polity topic, apart from reading the static theory portion, you need to keep an eye on current happenings. For example, if the Govt brings in Constitutional amendment for GST, you must read both about the major provisions of the amendment and the Constitutional amendment procedure itself. Do this for all subjects.
  • To perform well in Prelims, revision is crucial. Without it, you will not be able to recollect whatever you may have read. So please dedicate adequate time for revision before the actual exam.
  • To succeed in this exam, the source of material is not important. What’s important is you to understand the concepts, memorise the facts well and have a firm grip over the entire syllabus.

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