Subject Wise Preparation Strategy For UPSC Prelims

subject wise preparation strategy for upsc prelims

UPSC exams are considered to be quite tough, but if you are well prepared with your subject wise preparation strategy for UPSC Prelims, then you can prepare for this examination in the best possible way. This article will help you to build the perfect subject-wise preparation strategy for UPSC Prelims and apply it effectively.

The UPSC CSE Prelims exam consists of two papers, Paper-I and Paper-II.

Paper I is general studies that test your knowledge of current affairs, history, polity, geography, economy, and general science. The second paper is for the aptitude test which tests your problem-solving skills in mathematics and reasoning.

UPSC Prelims Examination Syllabus

To formulate a subject wise preparation strategy for UPSC Prelims preparation we first need to understand the IAS syllabus.

UPSC Prelims Syllabus Of GS Paper I

  1. Current events of national and international importance.

  2. History of India and Indian National Movement.

  3. Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.

  4. Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

  5. Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.

  6. General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity, and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.

  7. General Science.

UPSC Prelims Exam Syllabus of CSAT

  1. Comprehension

  2. Interpersonal skills including communication skills

  3. Logical reasoning and analytical ability

  4. Decision making and problem-solving

  5. General mental ability

  6. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. – Class X level)

How To Prepare For Any Subject For UPSC CSE Prelims

Here is the basic overview of how you can plan out your subject wise preparation strategy for UPSC Prelims.

  1. Read the UPSC Syllabus carefully of the particular subject to learn about what to cover in that subject and are able to filter out the irrelevant topics. Hence help you to maintain your focus on UPSC Preparation.
  2. Examine previous years’ papers: This will enable you to understand the level of the question and the type of questions asked in UPSC Prelims.
  3. Start your UPSC Prelims Preparation with NCERT of the subject that you have to cover. In this way, you are able to develop a strong understanding of the key concepts of that particular subject.
  4. Next, raise your level of preparation for UPSC Prelims by covering that particular subject from its standard books. Keep the study resources limited as the quality of study matters not the number (quantity) of books.
  5. Apart from the preparation for the IAS exam from study materials, attempt mock tests subject-wise to enhance your UPSC IAS preparation.

Subject Wise UPSC Prelims Exam Preparation Tips

Follow these pro tips for your subject wise preparation strategy for UPSC Prelims:

Science And Technology

Being abstract in nature, this subject follows no set pattern. Mostly, the questions asked in this section are analytical in nature.

Clear your basic concepts from study material like the NCERT books of science. Your focus should be on the recent development in the field of science and technology. So cover the current affairs of science and technology from newspapers.


Generally, concept-based questions are asked in UPSC Prelims. So you are required to have basic concepts. Read NCERT for this subject to clear basic concepts and raise your level of understanding from the standard books. Cover current affairs from the economic section of newspapers for your preparation of economics.

Environment and Ecology

There is a significant overlap of the UPSC syllabus of Environment and Ecology with Geography, Science and technology, and current affairs. Hence covering its syllabus properly will give an edge to the stated subjects as well.

Make your basic knowledge clear and cover the current issues from newspapers.

Wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, their locations, endangered species in India and their habitat, and various international conventions on climate change, etc. are important topics that need your attention.

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While preparing for Polity, your focus should be on the topics such as the Constitution, Panchayati Raj, the federation structure of India, the election process, etc.

Also, Fundamental Rights and Duties, Directive Principles on State Policy, President, and Parliament are important that need your attention under the constitution section.

The best thing about this subject is that the questions are more or less direct in nature and can easily be answered if you study properly.


World Geography can be covered by map reading as basically the questions used to be on current development. A thorough understanding of Indian Geography is required as the questions from Indian Geography are more than World Geography.

Have proper knowledge of physical India as well as knowledge of the location. This will be beneficial to the candidates in the topics of economics and human aspects of Indian Geography.


Fact-based questions are generally asked from Ancient and Medieval History whereas questions from Modern History are conceptual.

The questions under Indian History are mostly asked from Modern History, particularly between 1857 to 1947 period. Such as the 1857 uprising revolt, social reform movements, the National movement under the Indian National Congress, etc.

Study this subject thoroughly as it is one of the most important subjects of UPSC Prelims as a lot of questions are asked from this field. Know more about the preparation strategy of History from the linked article.

Art & Culture

This section has gained the popularity in UPSC Civil Services Exam with time and hence become important in UPSC Prelims. While covering this section, give your attention to dance forms, paintings, architecture, folk cultures, etc.

To prepare for this subject, go through the previous year’s paper as this will help you to know the type of questions asked and the exam pattern. Also, cover the current affairs related to art and culture which were in news. This way you will be able to prepare it well.

Current Affairs

Current affairs are one of the core sections of the UPSC CSE Prelims as it is covered in every section/unit of the UPSC Prelims.

Questions regarding international relations, social justice, economics, science and technology, defence, security issues in news, government initiatives, etc are asked in UPSC Prelims.

Prepare it from the daily newspapers like “The Hindu” or “Indian Express” to stay up to date about the current events happening across the globe. Spend one or one and a half-hour daily on this section.

Besides daily newspapers, cover it from weekly news gist or from monthly magazines. These weekly or monthly magazines will serve as a revision tool that will help you to revise the current affairs and will help you to learn about that news that you might have skipped before.

It is considered tough to be covered as it does not have a specific syllabus. Candidates must know how to correlate these current issues with the UPSC CSE Syllabus. So make proper notes of the current affairs as this will save enough time in revising it.

These were some of the tips to help you sketch out your subject wise preparation strategy for UPSC Prelims. Know more about how to read “The Hindu” newspaper to cover current affairs and how to study it’s editorial section from the linked article.

Read: How to study the editorial from the Hindu newspaper.

Read:9 Effortless Tips: How To Read “The Hindu” Newspaper For Current Affairs For UPSC


Remember, try to cover everything mentioned in the UPSC Prelims Syllabus and give equal importance to every aspect of the syllabus as no one knows what comes in the exam.

You need to understand that at times, even if you feel you have covered enough syllabus, you still may not gain marks in a particular subject. The reason is that a candidate who reads the Question Paper critically and knows exactly how to plan his/her time will not only save time but get better marks rather than going by the books alone.

Thus, the most common way is to successfully identify your weakest areas and then focus on those with more study hours.

We hope we could help you make the best subject wise preparation strategy for UPSC Prelims. And if you need to create a study-plan especially suited for you, consider using our Examarly app for personalized and concise study plans!

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