Part-1 Preface to the Strategy of UPSC Civil Services Examination

Crack Civil Services in a single attempt is not an enigma. There are simple principles, if follow with confidence and dedication, brings you at the door of success. Please read them patiently and take time to think over them.
By IT's Research & Analysis Wing
May 02, 2017


  • Preface
  • Civil Services Examination: Schedule and Pattern
  • Nature of the examination
  • Common mistakes aspirants do while preparing for Civil Services.
  • How to achieve your aim?
  • We are happy to help you
  • We demand only one thing- Your Dedication
  • Conclusion

This is the first part of the series of Strategy for UPSC Civil Services Examination by IASToppers. To read subsequent parts, click here.


Hello Friends,

Welcome to IASToppers.com

Here, we ‘IASToppers’ come with an all new series of documents covering wide aspects of strategies to crack the country’s most prestigious examination: “Civil Services Examination”, also popularly known as IAS Examination.

These series of documents will be your ultimate guidebook in your preparation journey whether you are a new comer or experienced one.

It’s our genuine effort to introduce you with all possible ways to crack the exam. We humbly request you to take a note that all methods or ways suggested by us are not the only ways to crack the exam. There are so many other ways also exist, by use of which aspirants can get a success. We urge you to rationally decide which ways best suit to your preparation.

We have prepared this series of documents after some rigorous deliberations with previous years’ Toppers and also with aspirants who have wide experience of preparations in Civil Services Examination.

Our methods or ways are among the thousand ways to crack the exam.


Civil Services Examination: Schedule and Pattern

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts every year the Civil Services Examination (CSE), popularly known as IAS exam.

Exam process lasts for around more than one year i.e. from issuance of official notification to final result.

Below given is the timeline of the tentative calendar/schedule of CSE, which is released by the UPSC prior a year in their online notification. UPSC’s official website is: www.upsc.gov.in/

ias toppers ias exam Calendar

The UPSC CSE consists of 3 stages:

  1. Preliminary Exam,
  2. Mains Exam, and
  3. Personality Test/Interview.

1. Preliminary Exam:

First stage of the exam is Preliminary Exam which is a screening test for candidates.

It comprises of two papers with questions of objective or MCQ type (with ‘Negative Marking’).

Structure of the Preliminary exam is as follows:

ias toppers ias prelims exam pattern

2. Mains Exam

First stage of the exam is Mains Exam. It is a written examination and comprises of 9 papers.

Paper-A (Compulsory Indian Language) and Paper –B (English) are qualifying in nature, while the other papers like Essay, General Studies Paper I, II, III, and IV, and Optional Paper I and II are considered for the final ranking.

ias toppers ias mains exam pattern

3. Personality Test/Interview

Candidates who clear the Civil Services Mains Exam with the set cutoff marks will qualify for the final stage of the exam i.e., the Personality Test or Interview round with the UPSC Board Members.

The final round that is the personality test will be held only in the UPSC Bhawan in New Delhi. 

Marks of the Personality Test/Interview is 275 Marks. So, final merit list is made by counting marks you secured out of the total 2025 Marks i.e.1750 Marks (Mains) + 275 Marks (Personality Test/Interview).


Nature of the examination

For the last few years especially from 2011 onwards, the structure of UPSC civil services examination went through a series of radical changes.

Now let’s take a look at changes we all witnessed in last few years in civil services exam.

In 2011, for the first time CSAT paper was introduced. [Before 2011, prelims exam had two papers, one of general studies and second of students’ choice of optional subject. Here optional paper was replaced with one Aptitude test paper]

In 2013, structure and syllabus of Mains examination was completely revamped. Even marks of personality test (the last stage of the exam process) was also changed from 300 to 275.

In 2015, prelims’ Aptitude paper was made qualifying. Now marks of General Studies paper-1 is made decisive in your eligibility for Mains exam.

Not only structure or syllabus, but also the nature of questions asked in the exam have changed in post-2011 era.

All these changes demand an alteration in all stereotype ways of preparation. Many students are still trying to crack the exam with all those blunted tools which have lost their importance with time.

If you really wish to get through this quite difficult exam, you need an authentic and effective strategy which will guide you throughout all stages of your preparation.


Common mistakes aspirants do while preparing for Civil Services

  • Reading many strategies and fail to follow any single one
  • Lack of planning
  • No place for periodical revisions
  • Half-heartedness or irregularity in implementation
  • Buying too many books or study materials
  • Avoid mock practice of Prelims and writing practice of Mains papers
  • If buy any mock papers, show lethargy in their practice
  • Not choosing the right optional subject

Other hurdles include not referring UPSC syllabus meticulously, devoting too much time on single subject, addiction to social media etc.

The above list of mistakes/hurdles is not exhaustive. Our intention here is to show you some of the common obstacles which individually as well as collectively make impossible your success in Civil Services.  

Now forget the above negative list mentioning what not to do. You simply need to focus on what to do to crack the exam, if you’re truly committed to do so.


How to achieve your aim?

Crack Civil Services in a single attempt is not an enigma. There are simple principles, if follow with confidence and dedication, brings you at the door of success. Please read them patiently and take time to think over them.


1. Make your mind:

The foremost requirement to get success in any exam of the world is your conviction. If you are totally serious to get through the one of the most difficult exam of the world i.e. Civil Services Examination, you first need to make up your mind to strive towards achieving it by any cost.

We believe that if you have the strong conviction to clear the exam, no hurdles or difficulties can prevent you to get success.

So friends wake up and make up your mind and be prepare to work systematically to come over successfully any challenges throw at you for the next one year.



2. Planning:

Planning is the most essential part which largely decides your success. We insist that while preparing for the CSE, everything should be planned. Your planning should be not only for a year or a month, but also for a week and even for a day.

One important thing, generally aspirants miss to follow, is the integrated preparation of Prelims, Mains and Interview. Current pattern of UPSC CSE demand an integrated approach.

What to read or say to choose appropriate books or study materials is the part of planning as well. There are many books and study materials available in the market, which are prepared not keeping UPSC CSE syllabus in mind.

To sum up, you should make your own plan. Everyone has his/her own way of preparation. So, prepare plan accordingly.

Don’t worry, we’ll help you to draw out a customized plan. It is important to note that our Programme is already based on Micro-Planning. Moreover, we’ll give you a daily routine raw plan, with the help of it you can easily prepare your own plan yourselves.    



3. Implementation:

We like to write only one line for implementation:

“Do Anything & Everything to Complete Your Plan.”

This simple principle demands your sincerity towards your goal and this sincerity culminates into consistency, which is the most essential part, after planning, decides your graceful destiny.

Be consistent in reading, revision and the last but not the least, practice.



4. Faith in yourself, in resources you choose and in your planning.

Many times, students start preparation with great enthusiasm and zeal, but after few months, when they advertently or inadvertently start comparing their resources with their fellow aspirants, problems start. They slowly loose hold over their preparation and their confidence starts diminishing even if the resources they choose is the best of all times or they have already achieved good command over the preparation. This is the most common problem, find in almost every aspirant.

Here, we don’t mean to say that you should never compare your resources with any one. Our philosophy is simple to follow: take your time before choosing any single book or resources and if you choose them after in-depth analysis, you should keep faith in them. The logic behind it is that if you have any single doubt after reading particular book, your hard work doesn’t bear fruits to you.

In short, you should have faith in yourself whether it is a case of your selection of books, following your planning or your hard work.



5. Patience:

As the whole exam process lasts for around one year, keeping patience is inevitable. But here the most important thing is that your success is decided not on how many years or months you keep patience but on what you have done while keeping patience.

So, keep calm and have patience, draw out your own plan, implement it with confidence and consistency, revise and practice as much as possible, the success will not be far from you. Take my word as gospel…



We are happy to help you

We are a group of passionate hard working people want to make transformative impact in everyone’s life who are connected with us via this platform.

We believe that everyone has a right to dream and we are here to help them in their journey towards their dreams.

‘Your journey is our passion’.

We genuinely put our efforts towards giving everyone level playing field irrespective of their background and making a positive difference in their preparation.

We believe in providing the best or nothing.

We always strive hard to achieve an extra mile of perfection.

We always work towards planned smart work instead of unplanned hardwork.


We demand only one thing- Your Dedication

Are you serious?

The intention behind asking this question is to evaluate the strength of your desire to become IAS. You may find almost every aspirant engaging with this exam always busy and in a kind of hurry. They are preparing almost all days in a week but unfortunately did not clear any part of the exam even once.

On the basis of above case, we cannot conclude that this exam is unconquerable. It may possible that aspirant is missing any link which decides his/her success or he/she is putting efforts in wrong directions.

Observing so many cases of failures, we here sum up all possible hurdles which you might face while preparing CSE.    

With this, we here also discuss the reasons because of which your certainty to get success in your goal, seems clear in initial period, goes thin & dim at later stages of your preparation.



In 1953, Edmund Hillary and fellow mountaineer Tenzing Norgay were the first two people to reach the summit of the tallest peak on Earth, Mount Everest.

The grueling expedition required extensive planning and the climbers displayed remarkable self-control during the ascent. Hillary reportedly summarized the lesson of the adventure with this eloquent quotation:

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”



This is the end of the part 1.

In second part, we will discuss in detail about Some common exam related Myths prevailed among CSE aspirants and will also try to clarify them.


If you find this part of Series on Strategy helpful, please like and share.

Thank you

Strategy 2020


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