How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam [Exam Pattern]

By | May 20, 2017
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How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam

In this article, we will discuss “How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam” by building a foundation and pushing yourself towards your dream every moment during your preparation for IAS exam.


How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam

How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam


This article helps the IAS aspirant in understanding the IAS exam pattern and procedure and different strategies which might be helpful for most of the IAS aspirants.

The very first step, every aspirant should follow, those are facing UPSC exam is to understand the exam pattern followed by the choice of optional subjects, which is one of the very crucial decisions that decides the marks you score in IAS Mains and then qualify for the interview round.

The India Civil Services exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) every year and the schedule of exam and notification are announced and updated on the UPSC website.

  • (Source: Competition Success Review/June 2017/69)


Now, Let us discuss ‘How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam” by understanding its exam pattern and schedule.


UPSC Exam (Preliminary test- Qualifying exam)


How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam

How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam


The very first step of the UPSC exam is to qualify preliminary examination which is an objective type exam whose score is not counted for the final rank and it is only a qualifying exam for getting into the next step of UPSC exam which is writing the Mains Exam.

The preliminary exam consists of 2 papers and the duration of each exam is 2 hours. These are:


PAPER 1: General Studies

The marking process of Paper 1 is counted alone while preparing a list of approximately 17,000 candidates who are declared qualified to write the UPSC Mains exam.


PAPER 2: Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT)

The marks of paper 2 are not considered for ranking but the candidates must score a minimum of 33% to pass the preliminary stage. (Source: Competition Success Review/June 2017/69)

The main objective of the candidate is to clear preliminary exam and qualify for the next step that is Mains Exam.

Candidates who clear preliminary exam are eligible for writing Mains exam and after clearing Mains, the candidate steps towards the final stage of the UPSC exam for IAS, i.e Interview round.


UPSC Mains Exam (Written test)

The second stage evaluates the candidates on the basis of three qualities:


How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam

How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam


  • Analytical or thinking ability.
  • Writing Ability.
  • Presentation skills.


Required Area of knowledge



To face Mains examination, one must be aware of current affairs of the past one year and should develop the habit of Newspaper reading (The Hindu) and analyze the different areas such as (Social, Economic, Political, Sports, and others)

Secondly, for the mains examination, one has to work on developing fast writing skills as this exam required lots of writing work and for getting this writing skills, one must start practicing through test series. By solving test papers helps candidates in developing a logical and consistent through the pattern.


This practice takes you to the test of optional subject knowledge and that should be chosen on the basis of:

  • Area of Interest
  • Access to quality study material
  • Taking quality mentorship


Division of marks in the Mains Examination


How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam

How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam


The Mains exam consists 1750 marks which are divided into 3 categories:


1) OPTIONAL SUBJECTS    500 Marks 2 Optional subjects of 250 mark each.


2) GENERAL STUDIES    1000 Marks 4 papers of 250 marks each
3) ESSAY WRITING    250 marks               –
   1750 Marks


Modes of preparation and Study Plan:


How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam

How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam


After well examine the exam pattern of the IAS exam. Now it is the time to discuss some very important modes of preparation to clear all the stages of the UPSC exam efficiently.

An IAS aspirant should make his/her study plan according to their comfort level and convenience and also making sure that they follow time and stress management techniques which are very important things which every candidate should follow while making their study plan and it will also help in stress free and smooth preparation of the vast syllabus of the UPSC exam.


Here are some important modes of preparation for every student, having different ways of preparation.


  1. Self-study: How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam

The candidates who like to prepare self and are keenly interested in the study, they should obey some rules of Self-study, these are:

How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam

How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam

a)   Learning ideal is a bit tough task, hence, a disciplined approach is needed for the candidates who likes to do self-study.

b)  Revision of each topic which you have prepared is must for better memory and efficiency.

c)  Self-made notes are the best for the short revision and it also helps in short point to point revision practice.

d)  The self-study should be targeted along with following regular study time table without any gap.

e) Go through the NCERT books of 6th to 12th standard and revise it as many times as you can which automatically builds a high foundation and strengthen the basics especially in the subjects like History, Geography, Environment, Economics, Social issues.

f) Online preparation is must for the candidates preparing by their own. Take benefits of all the resources available online like mock test papers, revision tests etc


2) Guidance from Coaching Centers:

If the students are getting a hard time concentrating alone and the exam is on the head then you can take the help from any good coaching centers available all over the places. A good coaching institute will help you in the following ways:


a)   Setting up a time-bounded routine and under guided preparation from experts and experience holders.

b)   You can also take benefits of group study which helps you in solving your individual problems while discussing with your peers. It will also build your confidence level and remove the doubts over the different uncovered topics.

c)   In coaching institutes, you will get a competitive environment where you can test yourself and your knowledge base by competing with the other aspirants doing the same job.

d)  You can also take the help of faculties of the institute in clearing your doubts.

e)   You can take the advantage of weekly test series conducted by the coaching centers and develop the reading habit from the newspaper and Magazine available in the library section of the coaching center.


3) Importance of the Test series

Whether you choose self-study or coaching, the most important part is practice. Test series makes you through with your preparation and regularly boost your confidence level after solving each test paper.


How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam

How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam


Also, test series helps you in following ways:

a)  Developing writing skills which are very important in cracking UPSC exam.

b)  A candidate gets an idea of the real environment of the kind of question asked in the exam, Practice of writing in free space answer sheets, distribution of marks in every question etc.

c) Candidates learn the art of time management through test series.


4)   The importance of Current Affairs in the IAS exam:


How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam

How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam


Current affairs play a very important role in UPSC preparation. In both prelims and Mains, more than 70% questions are linked to current affairs. It will also put an extra advantage when writing answers in the UPSC Mains exam as it improves the knowledge base which affects the answer you write down in your Mains answer sheet.


Conclusion: How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam

The above discussion clears us “How to Approach UPSC-CSE/IAS Exam “ and the things you can summarize from the above discussion which should be remembered by every UPSC aspirants are:

a)   Study regularly for minimum 6-7 hours consistently and sincerely.

b)  Make your own strategy, target and follow the same with full determination, learn from others but follow your own strategy which you believe is best.

c) And at last but not the least, according to the well-known quote

                                  “Practice makes the man perfect”

So practice hard and revise what you have studied on regular basis.




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