How to Prepare for UPSC PRELIMS 2021 in 2 months


Prelims is the first stage of examination and is important qualification stage to even attempt Mains and get in the race to secure a rank in the final list. Prelims require not just knowledge, but also tactics and a knack for attempting the objective paper.

How many questions to attempt?

You need to find out your Hit Rate or Accuracy aka how many questions you can get right in an general test. Once you solve 50 to 60 tests you can get a rough estimate of it. If you have a high enough hit rate or accuracy you can attempt 65 to 70 questions and clear the prelims by crossing the threshold. However if your accuracy is low enough and you might have to solve more questions to balance out the negative marking. So on an average the consensus is to solve around 80 to 85 questions for GS paper and not more.


Do’s and Don’ts

Here are certain Do’s and Don’ts as recommended by CSE toppers.


  1. Fix your booklist and revise them multiple time. Do not get lured by new materials in the market.
  2. Create a revision schedule to ensure timely revision of your notes.
  3. Solve test series as much possible. This helps in fillings the knowledge gaps.
  4. Solve last few years question papers as well, they help you understand the way UPSC asks questions and give ample practice and revision for the static part.


  1. Do not attempt all 100 questions. Flukes (तुक्का) for the sake of attempting more and more question can end up reducing your marks.
  2. Do not leave any part of the syllabus. The number of questions from a subject changes drastically
  3. Do not ignore CSAT because you have an degree in Engineering. CSAT paper is a lengthy one and it difficulty level is increasing every year. So it requires practice.

Last 30 days to Prelims: How to deal with common issues ?

Prelims is just round the corner. There is no time to waste. This is the time to Revise all that you have studied, practice some tests and chart out the strategy for the final exam if you have not done that yet. Here, we discuss some common issues which are faced by the aspirants during the last lap to the prelims exam.

Issues faced by aspirants:

  1. Feeling of not being prepared enough
  2. Low scores in tests
  3. Some parts of syllabus still not covered
  4. Have I covered enough current affairs?

Feeling not being prepared enough:

Even after you have prepared a lot for the prelims, you may sometimes feel that you have not done enough. It happens with most of aspirants even those who are already selected candidates. Many a times, it is related to comparison with your friends or marks/rank in a tests series. The only thing that you should take away from this, is that there is still a scope of improvement for you. Nothing more.

Points to keep in mind:

  1. Focus on your progress and improvement in test papers by maximising marks in the subsequent papers
  2. Quickly cover the areas/subjects that are weak without giving too much time. This way you will able to answer easy questions from this area.
  3. Solve some Part test series of a particular subject in which you have good command to regain your confidence

Low scores in Prelims mock tests:

It is but obvious to get dejected with low scores in the mock tests. But, we have known people who have scored less marks in the Prelims mock test series of various institutes and still performed very well in the CSE Prelims Exam.

Action points:

  1. The key is not getting worried over low marks in a test and identify the areas in which you have not performed upto your mark to strengthen it.
  2. Check if you are making any silly mistakes by not reading questions/options clearly.
  3. Check whether some your calculated guesses are going wrong and improve accuracy in these areas.    

If you are getting low scores in a particular subject for eg. Economics, you can resort to following strateg

  1. Solve previous year questions related to the subject, if not already solved [It can give idea of type and depth of questions asked in that subject along with some important areas from which most questions are asked.]
  2. Solve 4-5 part Test Papers exclusively on the particular subject and identify types of questions asked, mistakes done and weak areas in theses subject
  3. Revise the basic fundamentals and current affairs related to the subject [for Economics: Revise monetary policy and Inflation, Forex, export-import etc., Macroeconomics concepts of GDP, National income etc. and important microeconomic concepts like demand-supply, elasticity etc.]

Some parts of syllabus still not covered:

Syllabus given by UPSC is quite broad and it encompasses many a topics in just a single line. It is bound to happen that one has not read some topics relating to a particular subject. Frankly speaking, it is not possible to cover each and everything that comes under the ambit of terms mentioned in the syllabus.

We should cover all that we can in the given amount of time with our maximum effort possible. We can prioritise topics which are important from point of view of the examination.

Even if you have not covered certain subjects well for eg. Ancient History, there is no need to panic at the last moment. If you look at the types of questions asked from Ancient India in previous years, you will questions related to:

  1. Some particular terms and their meanings eg. Samiti, visit etc.
  2. Important socio-political, cultural features of significant kingdoms like Mauryas, Guptas, Harsha, Vijayanagar
  3. Jainism and Budhhism
  4. Important Art and Architecture locations and features

In short amount of time, refer to some sources/notes which provide quick reference on these topics and cover them quickly. It will give you the confidence that you have covered that particular subject to the extent that you will be able to answer some easy-moderate questions.  

Have I covered enough current affairs?

It is very difficult for someone to say that one has read all current affairs. There will always be something or the other left out.

You should cover as much as you can in the given time without compromising other subjects. Most of the aspirants read current affairs from Prelims booklet of good Coaching Institutes, Notes from The Hindu, PIB etc.  

Action Points:

  1. In the last 30 days, you should first revise the sources from which you have read.
  2. If you read from current affairs booklet, you can refer to Prelims Booklet of some other Institutes apart from what you have read.
    1. You will see many overlaps in topics covered, just mark those which you have not read
    2. It can somewhat remove your doubt that you have not covered enough.
    3. It will cover some of the important topics which may have been left out in the booklet you have already read.
  3. Other remaining current affairs will also be covered by the test papers that you have solved.  

We hope this article help you to buckle up and go on with the revision and preparation for the Prelims with a renewed vigour and confidence.

Credit CSE wiki