Before you start, some nitty-gritty details about The Civil Services Examination (CSE) a nationwide competitive examination in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

Academic Qualification

  • Must be a graduate, hope you are. If not its ok better to start early. There is no minimum percentage requirement, but do not neglect college.
  • In last semester and awaiting your results, go ahead and apply.
  • MBBS degree holders must have completed internship before UPSC Interview.
  • Have a foreign University degree, get an equivalent certificate from ASSOCIATION OF INDIAN UNIVERSITIES. (Check your University here) And you are good to go.
  • Correspondence/Distance education degree valid if duly recognised by UGC/AICTE.

Age or Attempt Limit

Sr.No. Category Maximum age Attempt Limit
1 General 32 6
2 Non-creamy OBC 35 9
2 SC/ST 37 Unlimited
  • Age is counted as on the 1st August of the given year.
  • Physical Disabled candidate’s age limits: If PH-Gen then 42, PH-OBC (non-Creamy) then 45 years; PH-SC/ST then 47 years.
  • Disabled serviceman discharged from duty: if General then 32+3=35years, OBC then 32+3+3=38 years, SC/ST then 32+3+5=40 years.

Apply Online

  • You are not required to submit your caste certificates or mark sheets at this stage.
  • You need to choose your optional subject while submitting the form which cannot be changed. Choose wisely!

Stages Of selection

Stage I: Civil services aptitude test or Preliminary Examination

  • It is a Multiple Choice Question(MCQ) exam, Two papers 1) General Studies and 2) Aptitude test
  • No test of Optional subject
  • It is mandatory to appear for both GS 1 & GS 2 papers for the purpose of evaluation
  • If you have appeared in only one paper, it will be counted as an attempt

Stage II: Mains Examination

  • Cleared prelims. Good, now is the best part : Filling of an online form called Detailed application form(DAF)
  • Proof of Caste certificate, graduation mark sheets and also certificate of PH is mandatory to give
  • Here it contains one regional language paper, English paper, Four General studies papers and two optional papers

Stage III: Interview

  • Can be given in any language

UPSC Civil Services Prelims exam is common for both Civil Services and Indian Forest Services.

How to start

STEP 1:

Understand the exam structure thoroughly to plan according to your weakness and strengths, so that whenever you read you get a glimpse of syllabus and its relevance with what you are reading. So here it is

Paper 1 – General studies

Exam Structure

100 MCQ, 2 marks each = 200 Marks total

Penalty – 0.66 for every wrong answer

Duration – 2 hours

Syllabus

  • Current events of national and international importance
  • History of India and Indian National Movement
  • Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World
  • Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization
  • General Science

Paper 2 – Aptitude

Exam Structure

80 MCQ, 2.5 marks each = 200 Marks total

Penalty: -0.83 for wrong answers

Duration: -2 hours

It is a qualifying paper and only 33% (67 marks) passing marks have to be scored.

From the time this paper has been made qualifying, the difficulty level is somewhat higher than the previous year questions. There are no direct questions in the comprehension part, some analytical ability will help you solve this questions. This ability can be acquired through practising and practising alone. Solving previous year questions will help you analyse your week areas and work according to your strength and weakness. And then attempting various mock tests with a proper time will make you improving.

Also understand that this paper is only qualifying so make sure to give it an appropriate time without compromising on general studies paper.

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision making and problem-solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude etc.) (Class X level)
  • Data Interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. (Class X level)
  • English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level)

STEP 2:

It is always better to observe the previous year question papers of UPSC prelim, as to understand about the extent of syllabus and questions to save unnecessary wastage of time. Here is the analysis.

Tables showing the Subject wise questions asked UPSC prelims examination from 2013 - 2017. From the above graph we can understand as to how the weightage for history and environment is average throughout all these years. The trend of any particular subject is not certain as to make any sure shot prediction. So be prepared for any googly by UPSC. But keeping in mind the weightage of every subject will divert your energy in right direction.

Tables showing the UPSC cut-off marks of prelim examination from 2011 to 2016

Year Gen OBC SC ST PH1 PH2 PH3
2014* 205 204 182 174 167 113 115
2015 107.3 106 94 91.34 90.66 76.66 40
2016 116 110.7 99.34 96 75.34 72.66 40

STEP 3:

Start with the NCERT textbooks syllabus and topic wise, NCERT books are interactive and very basic in nature which makes you understand a topic better with a holistic view. Also many questions can directly be solved only on the basis of NCERT. For example,

2017 Prelim questions

Q. Democracy’s superior virtue lies in the fact that it calls into activity

  1. The intelligence and character of ordinary men and women.
  2. The methods for strengthening executive leadership.
  3. A superior individual with dynamism and vision.
  4. A band of dedicated party workers.

Source: NEW NCERT Class 8, Social and Political Life, Chapter 3, page 32

“The take-off point for a democracy is the idea of consent, i.e. the desire, approval and participation of people. It is the decision of people that creates a democratic government and decides about its functioning.”

So, since democracy requires voters’ decision making- hence intelligence and character are called in.

Q. Out of the following statements, choose the one that brings out the principle underlying the Cabinet form of Government:

  1. An arrangement for minimizing the criticism against the Government whose responsibilities are complex and hard to carry out to the satisfaction of all.
  2. A mechanism for speeding up the activities of the Government whose responsibilities are increasing day by day.
  3. A mechanism of parliamentary democracy for ensuring collective responsibility of the Government to the people.
  4. D. A device for strengthening the hands of the head of the Government whose hold over the people is in a state of declineA band of dedicated party workers.

Source: NCERT Class 9: Democratic Politics: Chapter 5: Working of the institutions, page 87

“Since it is not practical for all ministers to meet regularly and discuss everything, hence the decisions are taken in Cabinet meetings. That is why parliamentary democracy in most countries is often known as the Cabinet form of government.”

For Paper 1


Geography
NCERT - Click to download
  • 6th – The Earth: Our Habitat
  • 7th – Our Environment
  • 8th – Resources & Development
  • 9th – Contemporary India 1
  • 10th – Contemporary India 1I
  • 11th – Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 11th – India – Physical Environment
  • 12th – Fundamentals of Human Geography, 12th – India – People & Economy
Polity
NCERT - Click to download
  • NCERT Class IX – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – I
  • NCERT Class X – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – II
  • NCERT Class XI – Political Science: Indian Constitution at Work
  • NCERT Class XI – Political Science: Political Theory
  • NCERT Class XII – Political Science I: Contemporary World Politics
  • NCERT Class XII – Political Science II: Politics in India since Independence

M.Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity: Buy

Environment-Biodiversity and agriculture
NCERT - Click to download
  • Science: Class XII – Biology: last four Chapters (13 to 16)

Environment by Shankar IAS Academy Buy

NIOS Download Here

History
NCERT - Click to download
  • NCERT Class VI – Our Past
  • NCERT Class VII – Our Past -I
  • NCERT Class VIII – Our Past II and III
  • NCERT Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – I
  • NCERT Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – II
  • NCERT Class X – Themes In World History
  • NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History – I
  • NCERT Class XII – Themes in Indian History – II
  • NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History – III

Old NCERT history books Click Here Download

  • Ancient India (class XI) by RS Sharma
  • Medieval India (class IX) by Satish Chandra
  • Modern India (class X) by Bipin Chandra

Pratik Nayak’s Lectures on Freedom Struggle Click Here To Download

A Brief History of Modern India by spectrum publication Buy

India's Struggle for Independence: 1857-1947

by Bipin Chandra Buy

Economy
NCERT - Click to download
  • Economy: NCERT Class IX – Economics: Economics
  • Economy: NCERT Class X – Understanding Economic Development
  • Economy: NCERT Class XI – Indian Economic Development
  • Economy: NCERT Class XII – Introductory Microeconomics
  • Economy: NCERT Class XII – Introductory Macroeconomics
Mrunal.org

Budget & Economic Survey Download Here

India Yearbook Ch.7,13,14,19,21 Buy

Science
NCERT - Click to download
  • Science: NCERT Class VI
  • Science: NCERT Class VII
  • Science: NCERT Class VIII
  • Science: NCERT Class IX
  • Science: NCERT Class X
  • Science: NCERT Class XI – Chemistry: Unit 14 & Biology: Units 4 & 5
  • Science: NCERT Class XII – Chemistry: Unit 16 & Biology: Units 8, 9 & 10

Bhaske sir’s book Buy

Newspaper: The Hindu / Indian express

For Paper 2

From the time this paper has been made qualifying, the difficulty level is somewhat higher than the previous year questions. There are no direct questions in the comprehension part, some analytical ability will help you solve this questions. This ability can be acquired through practising and practising alone. Solving previous year questions will help you analyse your week areas and work according to your strength and weakness. And then attempting various mock tests with a proper time will make you improving.

Also understand that this paper is qualifying so make sure to give it an appropriate time without compromising on general studies paper.

Maths and arithmetic (Basic numeracy)

R S Agarwal Buy

Fast track Arithmetic Buy

Reasoning (General mental ability, Logical reasoning and analytical ability)

R S Agarwal Buy

M K Pandey Buy

Higher level reasoning and also understanding of questions like Inference, Assumption and conclusion.

Comprehension

R S Agarwal Buy

M K Pandey Buy

Higher level reasoning and also understanding of questions like Inference, Assumption and conclusion.

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