Do you have only 6 months or less before the next UPSC Civil Service Prelims? Don’t worry. You can clear the Preliminary Exam within this short time-frame – provided you follow the right strategy.
Remember, there is no UPSC Mains unless you clear UPSC Prelims!
Unless you clear the cut-off score of the UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam, you will not be allowed to sit for the Main Exam.
Never underestimate the importance of UPSC Prelims. Only 3 out of 100 candidates who sit for Prelims, clear the cut-off score. Yes, the ‘Prelims Hurdle’ is more difficult to cross than Mains.
We have seen many bright candidates lose out in UPSC Prelims due to their over-focus on the UPSC Mains stage.
Concentrate more on Prelims Questions now!
If you haven’t cleared prelims before, we strongly recommend you to devote at least 75% of your preparation time in the last 6 months before Prelims (December – May) entirely on Prelims topics.
ClearIAS always focus a Prelims cum Mains Integrated approach.
We have clearly mentioned what you should study in the respective months to ensure that your preparation most suits the requirements of the UPSC Civil Services Exam cycle.
The Importance of the Right Strategy!
To crack IAS in the first shot, you need the right strategy. Candidates often find Civil Services Exam a hard nut to crack not due to lack of hard-work or potential, but due to lack of right strategy.
ClearIAS has written a lot of articles on this website covering useful strategies for the IAS exam. You can read them from the link – UPSC Prelims Guidance.
In this post, we shall explain some winning strategies for you to to be adopted in the last 6 months.
Winning Strategy 1 – The Reverse Approach
Imagine that today is the D-Day! If you are going to appear for the UPSC Preliminary Exam today, what’s your idea about the exam?
By following the reverse approach, we recommend you start by analysing previous year UPSC prelims question papers. Though the UPSC syllabus has mentioned many areas, you can see that more questions come from certain areas.
Not sure how to get previous year UPSC question papers? There are two ways.
- Download UPSC prelims question papers (PDF) from the official UPSC website.
- Practise UPSC prelims question papers (online) in ClearIAS Mock Exam platform.
Let us look at a sample UPSC CSE Prelims Question Paper of General Studies Paper 1. See the weightage of questions asked from each section.
General Studies Paper I (Sample Question Paper) – Syllabus Area vs Number of Questions
|Subject Area||Number of Questions*|
|Indian History and Culture – History of India and Indian National Movement.||16|
|Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.||14|
|Indian Polity – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.||12|
|Economics – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.||15|
|Environment – General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change||18|
|Total||100 Qns (Marks 2*100= 200)|
|* The above-mentioned weightage of subjects/marks may not remain the same in the coming years. It’s just for basic understanding.|
Winning Strategy 2 – Follow a Test-Based Approach
There is no strategy which can beat ClearIAS test-based approach.
By a test-based approach, we don’t mean taking periodic exams to evaluate your preparation. It’s the reverse. The exams will be the basis of your preparation.
Enroll now in ClearIAS Prelims Online Mock Test Series. You will get access to all uploaded exams and upcoming exams in the test series.
We will also give you a timetable to follow. There will be regular mock exams on weekends (Sundays).
This approach has the following advantages:
- It will help you cover all the recommended textbooks and online study materials within a timeframe.
- You will get proper exam practice. You can analyse your performance, find your strong and weak areas, compare your marks with peer across India, and avoid mistakes in the actual exam hall.
- You can learn a lot from the mock exam questions as well. This method is much faster than learning from textbooks.
- And if you are lucky, many questions in actual UPSC prelims may be directly or indirectly answered from the mock questions.
Winning Strategy 3 – Learn how to cover NCERT Texts Faster
NCERT Textbooks (from Class 6-12) are very fundamental in UPSC Preparation. However, do you have time to read and revise all of them – in the next 6 months?
Remember that NCERT Textbooks are not the ‘end’ of UPSC CSE, and you have a lot of other books and materials to cover as well. NCERTs are just the basic texts.
Then, is there any shortcut to cover the most important questions that can be asked from NCERTs?
Yes, learn from ClearIAS NCERT Mock Exams.
We have 8 NCERT-based Mock Exams as part of ClearIAS Prelims Test Series. This means you can quickly cover almost 800 most-important questions that can be asked from NCERTs.
ClearIAS also has many easy-to-learn free online study materials, which will help you learn even faster than NCERTs at times. You can check them on our downloads section.
Winning Strategy 4 – Learn from ClearIAS Current Affairs Capsules
ClearIAS Current Affairs Capsules (CCC) are eBooks which contain all important questions (MCQs) based on the Current Affairs for each month.
As we provide Current Affairs in an MCQ format (with reference links), it makes learning interesting and faster. Moreover, you will get many questions in actual UPSC Prelims from the CCCs and ClearIAS Prelims Test Series – directly or indirectly.
Though CCCs are designed for Prelims, the Learning Zone in the PDFs is equally useful for Mains as well.
Winning Strategy 5 – Don’t neglect CSAT Paper!
To clear IAS prelims, you need at least 66 marks out of 200 for CSAT (GS Paper 2), however high are your marks in GS Paper 1.
Don’t be over-confident about General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT) paper unless you are consistently scoring above 100 marks in ClearIAS CSAT Mocks.
Analyse previous year CSAT Papers. See if there is any pattern. Find the priority areas. See a sample below.
General Studies Paper II (Sample Question Paper) – Syllabus Area vs Number of Questions
|Subject Area||Number of Questions*|
|General Mental Ability||6|
|Basic Numeracy and Quantitative Ability||10|
|Decision Making and Interpersonal Skills||6|
|Total||80 Qns (Marks 2.5*80 = 200)|
|*The above-mentioned weightage of subjects/marks may not remain the same in the coming years. It’s just for basic understanding.|
If you think that scoring 66 marks out of 200 for CSAT is not a big deal, you may be mistaken. We have seen many candidates who end up worrying after the exam.
The difficulty level of this paper is steadily increasing. You need to take this paper seriously.
Winning Strategy 6 – Follow the 80-20 Principle
The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, is a management theory which states that 80 percent of the output from a given situation is determined by 20 percent of the input.
So prioritise your time, effort, and study materials.
Put effort on the 20% area which can bring 80% results.
Can you clear UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam with just 6 months of preparation?
Even if you start preparing now – if you adopt the right strategies, do the smart-work, learn what is needed, and don’t go behind everything under the Sun – yes, you can clear UPSC CSE Prelims with just 6 months of preparation.
The best way to clear civil service prelims in the first attempt is to have a positive mindset and a practical strategy.
For this, we recommend a test-based approach.
You can join ClearIAS Prelims Online Test Series any time, and take mock exams based on your convenience before next Prelims. However, we strongly recommend you to join at the earliest.
Once you join, you will get access to already uploaded mock exams, as well as upcoming mock exams.
A blind study mugging up a lot many things will neither help you in Prelims nor Mains. The right strategy should be a mix of ClearIAS online mock exams, ClearIAS study materials, and the recommended books.