Key to Score High in UPSC Civil Services Exam

Key to Score High in UPSC Civil Services Exam

Key to Score High in UPSC Civil Services Exam

Since UPSC civil services is one of the toughest competitive examinations, it becomes a real challenge to clear it. But, the goal is not unreachable if you put hard work accompanied by a strategic study plan.

Almost 5 Lakh students appear each year in the preliminary examination of UPSC civil services.

Key to Score High in UPSC Civil Services Exam

Key to Score High in UPSC Civil Services Exam 

Since UPSC civil services is one of the toughest competitive examinations, it becomes a real challenge to clear it. But, the goal is not unreachable if you put hard work accompanied by a strategic study plan.

Almost 5 Lakh students appear each year in the preliminary examination of UPSC civil services. The first thing required to qualify the preliminary examination is to know the curriculum and the exam pattern as well and learning accordingly. To gear up the preparation, start with the basic textbooks allotted for the UPSC civil services examination. For more practice and facing question variations, go for the advanced books available in the market for UPSC civil service examination. Practising mock questions and appearing for mock tests regularly at least before one month of the scheduled date of examination is always suggested.

The next phase of the battle includes the Main examination. The real test starts from here. The preliminary exam is considered to be the process of elimination of the ineligible candidates.

The main examination comprises of essay type conventional questions and it is needless to say it is way tougher than preliminary examination. How well you have done in the preliminary one has nothing do with your performance in the main examination. Starting from exam curriculum to examination pattern, everything is so different in the main examination.

The syllabus and exam pattern is mentioned here vividly for your benefit.



Preliminary examination


This examination consists of paper I and paper II, each of them carrying 200 marks.

  • Paper I: 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, Inclusive development, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change - that do not require subject specialization.
  • General Science.


  • Paper-II: Comprehension; Interpersonal Skills.
  • Logical Reasoning and Analytical Ability.
  • 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).

Main examination

Paper A: language test of 300 marks(any Indian modern language by choice)

Paper B: English test of 300 marks

Paper I: Essay writing in any language of the candidate’s choice carrying 250 marks


  • Indian Culture - Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern Indian History from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
  • The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-independence Consolidation and Reorganization within the country.
  • History of the World will include events from 18th century such as Industrial Revolution, world wars, Redrawal of National Boundaries, Colonization, Decolonization, political philosophies like Communism, Capitalism, Socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.
  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  • Role of Women and Women’s Organization, Population and Associated Issues, Poverty and Developmental issues, Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  • Effects of Globalization on Indian society.
  • Social Empowerment, Communalism, Regionalism & Secularism.
  • Salient features of World’s Physical Geography.
  • Distribution of Key Natural Resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).
  • Important Geophysical Phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

 ( 250 marks)


Paper III:

  • Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.
  • Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States, Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure, Devolution of Powers and Finances up to Local Levels and Challenges Therein.
  • Separation of Powers between various organs , Dispute Redressal Mechanisms and Institutions.
  • Comparison of the Indian Constitutional Scheme with that of Other Countries.
  • Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.
  • Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; Pressure Groups and Formal/Informal Associations and their Role in the Polity.
  • Salient Features of the Representation of People’s Act.
  • Appointment to various Constitutional Posts, Powers, Functions and Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
  • Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies.
  • Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.
    Development Processes and the Development Industry — the Role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
  • Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes; Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.
  • Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Issues relating to Poverty and Hunger.
  • Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability, E-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; Citizens Charters, Transparency & Accountability and institutional and other measures.
  • Role of Civil Services in a Democracy.
  • India and its Neighborhood- Relations.
  • Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.
  • Important International Institutions, agencies and forum - their Structure, Mandate.

 (250 marks)


Paper IV:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.
  • Inclusive Growth and issues arising from it.
  • Government Budgeting.
  • Major Crops - Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country, - Different Types of Irrigation and Irrigation Systems; Storage, Transport and Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints; E-technology in the aid of farmers.
  • Issues related to Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies and Minimum Support Prices; Public Distribution System - Objectives, Functioning, Limitations, Revamping; Issues of Buffer Stocks and Food Security; Technology Missions; Economics of Animal-Rearing.
  • Food Processing and Related Industries in India- Scope’ and Significance, Location, Upstream and Downstream Requirements, Supply Chain Management.
  • Land Reforms in India.
  • Effects of Liberalization on the Economy, Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth.
  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
  • Investment Models.
  • Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.
  • Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology; Indigenization of Technology and Developing New Technology.
  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.
  • Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
  • Disaster and Disaster Management.
  • Linkages between Development and Spread of Extremism.
  • Role of External State and Non-state Actors in creating challenges to Internal Security.
  • Challenges to Internal Security through Communication Networks, Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges, Basics of Cyber Security; Money-Laundering and its prevention.
  • Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas - Linkages of Organized Crime with Terrorism.
  • Various Security Forces and Agencies and their Mandate.

(250 marks)


Paper V:

  • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, Determinants and Consequences of Ethics in - Human Actions; Dimensions of Ethics; Ethics - in Private and Public Relationships. Human Values - Lessons from the Lives and Teachings of Great Leaders, Reformers and Administrators; Role of Family Society and Educational Institutions in Inculcating Values.
  • Attitude: Content, Structure, Function; its Influence and Relation with Thought and Behaviour; Moral and Political Attitudes; Social Influence and Persuasion.
  • Aptitude and Foundational Values for Civil Service, Integrity, Impartiality and Non-partisanship, Objectivity, Dedication to Public Service, Empathy, Tolerance and Compassion towards the weaker-sections.
  • Emotional Intelligence-Concepts, and their Utilities and Application in Administration and Governance.
  • Contributions of Moral Thinkers and Philosophers from India and World.
  • Public/Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public Administration: Status and Problems; Ethical Concerns and Dilemmas in Government and Private Institutions; Laws, Rules, Regulations and Conscience as Sources of Ethical Guidance; Accountability and Ethical Governance; Strengthening of Ethical and Moral Values in Governance; Ethical Issues in International Relations and Funding; Corporate Governance.
  • Probity in Governance: Concept of Public Service; Philosophical Basis of Governance and Probity; Information Sharing and Transparency in Government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work Culture, Quality of Service Delivery, Utilization of Public Funds, Challenges of Corruption.
  • Case Studies on above issues.

(250 marks)


Paper VI: optional subject (250 marks)

Paper VII: optional subject (250 marks)


Mainly test of personality and not knowledge is done. Questions are asked to test mental alertness, leadership ability, moral senses, potentiality etc. (275 marks)

If the above-mentioned table consisting of lots of topics to study is scaring you, we would like to tell that the upcoming discussion regarding how to study hard in a smart way and the tricks and strategies to score higher is going to boost your confidence.

But before you start, here is a gentle reminder for you to make you ready for every sacrifice to crack the examination

Know Why Are You Doing This?

You should be very clear about why do you want to do this? If the answer is clear to you, the rest of the tasks get easier for you to crack the UPSC examination. And you will not complain about the difficulties you come across and put your hundred per cent into it.

So, if you know why are doing this, you are now ready to listen to the smart tricks and strategies for clearing the examination:

Proper Knowledge And Skill:

The game starts with the knowledge but ends with skill. Especially for the preliminary examination, tireless practice along with knowledge makes it easier to clear the round. The practice gives you a lot of confidence. So, practice a number of mock tests.

Identify Your Mistakes:

Analyze your mistakes regularly and try to find out why is it happening, whether it is due to the knowledge gap or it is just an over risk. Work on identifying the mistake and rectify it.

Syllabus Based Newspaper Reading:

The newspaper is written for everybody and you do not need to read every bit of it. Find out your study material from the newspaper. Pick up the topics that have long term perspective in terms of time and connect to a large number of people. And most importantly, see if it is connected to the syllabus.

Alert Reading While Attempting:

Read the questions carefully before answering it. It contains so many guarded words that students tend to overlook and make mistakes. If you consider seeing it thoroughly and carefully, it might appear to you the context of the question has changed.

Practice Writing In A Time-Bound Manner:

Be your mentor and try to complete the paper in a scheduled time. Let's say seven questions in one hour. Practising essay writing in a time bound manner makes you habituated with the writing skill that you require in the hall.

Reduce Negatives By Ample Revision:

The negative goes down with more and more revision. You attempt a question only when you have heard about it. And the problem arises when you have heard about the topic, you have the acquaintance, but you cannot answer. So, revision is necessary because it engages you with the topic by analysing it. Your two hours before sleep should be dedicated to the revision of the topics you have already read.

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