How to Prepare for Civil Services Preliminary exam

Essential Steps to Crack CSAT

Preparing IAS Prelims requires three essential steps:

  • Fist involved step is Planning

  • Second is Implementation

  • Third is Continuous Testing


Process, Pattern and Strategy to crack IAS PreBefore starting your actual preparation you should have some adequate time in hand to cover the syllabus, that is why you should start at least 10 to 12 month in advance. Ideally 12 month preparation is adequate and if not 12 month, then at least of 10 months.

Some students ask that they can prepare for prelims in just 3 or 4 months time. Well, you can only prepare for the prelims in 3 or 4 months or even in 15 days or 20 days. But only if you got prior experience or gotten through the prelims before and covered the entire syllabus once. Then you can obviously prepare in just 3 month or 20 days :), depending on your preparation level or caliber. But, If you are new or fresher in this entire civil services examination process. Then you should start preparing for the prelims ideally before 12 months or minimum 10 month in advance.

Next step is to go through the entire prelims Syllabus of General Studies Paper - 1 & Paper 2, just to get the overview of whole prelims syllabus. So, assess the syllabus and If you don't want to get the book. But its always better to have a book in hand. There is always better you can readily refer to it. You can not logon to your computer every time or internet while preparing, that is a distraction in itself. So hand  y books will always help you.

Next step: Do you have some basic knowledge?
This step included to know your comfort level with the exam. If you are complete beginner to the entire IAS exam then you might be wondering; Am I capable of clearing this exam? Ofcourse, you are very much capable even if you don't have any basic knowledge. But having some basic knowledge will help you.

Another point in the Planning Process. After gone through the complete syllabus is to get right Books, Magazines & Newspaper for your prelim preparation. As well as the Newspaper is concerned, I always suggest The Hindu which is a very very reputed daily newspaper and questions are regularly asked in prelims as well as mains. If The Hindu is not available in your area then the second best option is Indian Express, these two are very good newspapers. As far as magazines are concerned, read one good Current Affairs magazine, like Civil Services Chronicle or Pratiyogita Darpan, Just one is enough. But, along with the current affairs magazine also read The Hindu Frontline, questions are asked in mains particularly. You can skip the political and ideological part of it and concentrate on the Environment, Science & Technology part and these are covered in Frontline Magazine regularly.


This is the second part of CSAT preparation. Now you have got the syllabus, right books, subscribed to the newspaper and magazines. But now without implementing or without actually going through it the most important part taking it into action. So, once you start preparing for the prelims, How you should?  You should not try to cover entire syllabus at once or all the topics like, trying to read History, Geography, Polity, General Mental Ability everything at once. You know, this is not a right approach.

The right approach is to pick one topic in Paper - 1 and pick 1 topic from Paper - 2 and you can divide it accordingly or may be study Paper - 1 in the morning and Paper - 2 by afternoon or in the evening. But don't go more that 2 topics. Lets say you pick Modern India History from Paper - 1 & General Mental Ability from Paper - 2 and prepare this simultaneously. Apart from these you should develop a habit of reading newspapers from at least minimum one hour everyday without fail and this is more that adequate.

Focus on the particular topics like:

  • Editorials
  • News articles of National interest
  • Sports news
  • Business news
  • and Science & Technology, these are the important topics.

Whenever you start with a topic, you should complete it before starting new one and it is very very important. This will help you in the third step of preparation.


Many people actually leave the Testing part,  But testing part of your preparation is basically like taking MOCK Test, attempting the previous years questions and that is the part of testing right till the end. But by that time, it is very very late to attempt course corrections because if you identified your weakness or you found that you are not prepared well for the particular part of subject. Then in the date when you actually prepare a new topic. Once you have cover a topic, refer the past Five Years question papers on that topic. And if you find that you have left certain topics and not covered very well, again you can go in through that, so you can attempt Course Correction right at that time itself. Which is very good instead of leaving it. Getting passed in very easy, just have to do these basics in the right way. Obviously Hard work is involved but that Smart Work, If you can do that you will surely succeed in prelims.

Group Preparation Tips

Normally, the aspirants preparing for the civil services examination do mistakes such as going directionless in the subjects and spending lots of time on that or at time even doing two extensive study where you don't find time to consolidate and reproduce it in the exam with the format required. So, Its always a challenge between doing a intensive study and extensive study. The best way is recommend is to find out if you have a group who is equally serious, equally competent and dedicated to preparation. And working as a group you may not deviate too much from the required path as a consciences the group would be able to get you in the right direction.

Recommended Books

General Studies Manual Paper - 1 [Buy from Flipkart]
About Book:
Previous questions, crack sets and trend analysis - Indian History, Geography, Indian Polity and GK.

General Studies Paper I [Buy from Flipkart]
About Book:
Application oriented questions, with sample and practise MCQs (Single correct options and multiple correct options), in accordance with the latest pattern.

General Studies Paper II [Buy from Flipkart]
About Book:
1000+ Sample and Practise MCQs Questions.

UPSC General Studies Paper 1 / Paper 2 Practice Sets (2 Books) [Buy from Flipkart]
About Book:
Designed with a whole new and polished approach after intensive analysis of the previous years examination pattern. 10 Practise Sets - GS (Paper - 1) and 15 Practise Sets CSAT (Paper - 2).


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