Tips For Preliminary Exam


This is the first stage of the exam and should never be taken lightly. The preparation should be such that you should not have any doubt about clearing the exam. The prelims should only be a passing phase. If you prepare well for the mains exam and be clear about the basics, then prelims should not be problem. The preparation for the prelims should start from January. The main focus should be on the optional subject first. At the same time the GS should be done regularly. Since there is well defined syllabus for the optional, you should prepare thoroughly in all aspects and score as much as possible. On the other hand, the GS preparation should be good on the basics.

The prelims is a test of recognition. It is sufficient if you can recognise the correct answer from given choices. So if you are strong in basics this should not be problem. Do not spend too much time in memorising facts. Its fine if you can recognise it. Prepare some mnemonics which will help you in recognising the right answer.

Practising previous papers and the tests is very important. It will help you in time management and also in identifying the weak areas. This practise should be right from the beginning and not in the final stages.


 General Studies:The GS paper is feared by many at the prelims stage. There is an opinion that very difficult questions are asked from wide areas. While preparing for the GS paper, the first efforts should be to analyse the previous years' papers and then start preparation. Even while studying, you should keep looking at past questions. This will help in a focused preparation. In GS, it is equally important to know what not to study.
The score required is around 80-90 out of 150 to clear the prelims. So here it is to be remembered that you can afford to lose 60 questions. If suppose, you make 65 correct answers, then out of remaining   85 questions, there is probability of another 20+ being correct due to good guesses. To get 65 really correct, it is sufficient if you can be strong in basics. The questions are also given in such a way that 70-80 questions are easy, 50 questions difficult and another 20-30 very difficult which none can answer. Many aspirants orient their preparation keeping in view those 30 very difficult questions. This can be counter productive since it is not possible to master all areas in GS and while trying to remember too many facts, the basic clarity will be lost.


So, preparation should be made in such a way that in every area the basic understanding is very clear. All the basic questions should be answered correctly in the exam. That is sufficient to qualify for the mains.


The areas to be covered are the history from ancient to modern period. The basic understanding can be obtained from below 10th NCERT books. The focus should be on modern Indian history which is covered in the mains. The basic contours in other areas is sufficient. Some cultural aspects should also be covered.
The NCERT books are good enough for the purpose.




The Constitution and various related aspects should be done well. Some articles and facts should be memorised. It is better to prepare this area well since it will be helpful in mains and inteview.
The Indian Polity by Laxmikant and NCERT books are sufficient. Also refer, DD Basu.


The basic concepts are being asked along with current affairs based questions. The basic clarity can be obtained from the standard books. The current affairs can be studied from Economic Survey and the newspapers.
Economic Survey
Dutt & Sundaram or Mishra & Puri or IC Dhingra


Some times the questions are asked very difficult that even science graduates cannot answer. But the preparation should be in such a way that all the basic questions can be done correctly. The questions are also asked in applications orientation.
NCERT books
What, Why & how books by CSIR.


 Mental Ability:
Do lots of practise from previous years papers. The preparation can also be made from some standard guide like the TMH Publications.The speed and accuracy should be practised.


 Current affairs:
This has become a very important component. The preparation should be continuous from the sources given in mains strategy. The notes should be focused on the factual aspects that come in the news. Many questions are asked from this area, so prepare thoroughly. The efforts will be useful for all stages of the exam. It should become a part of your daily routine.


 General Knowledge
Quite a few questions are asked from this area. Some difficult questions are also asked. Do not spend too much time in memorising unnecessary facts. You should have a broad awareness about various fields. At the same time, focus more on areas which have been asked in the past.
India Year Book - This is important for the prelims and also for some mains two mark questions. But do not read every thing given in the book, be logical and concentrate on the basics which can be asked in the exam. You should prepare notes on the various terms that are given in the book. Do not focus too much on unnecessary facts given in the book.
Manaroma Year book - This book should also be taken as reference.
For the GS prelims, If you want a compilation of all material at one point then can refer some standard guide like TMH. But do not ignore the NCERT and other books since they give better clarity.


 Public Administration:
This subject has become very popular as a prelims optional. The main reasons are:


-          availablity of good coaching and study material


-          guidance is easy since many seniors opt for it


-          subject matter is easy to understand


-          syllabus is quite manageable


 However, a very good score is required and the competition is tough.
The main source for the prelims is the TMH guide by Laxmikanth. It is a very good compilation from various sources in exam orientation. The questions and tests given at the end are up to the UPSC standards. The preparation should concentrate mainly on this book. The preparation should be such that any question based on the material in this book should be answered. The study should be thorough including the various questions given in the book.
Since the questions can be factual and can be asked from anywhere, there is need for wide study. But the first effort should be to study TMH thoroughly and the main standard books to gain basic clarity. After that some time can be spent every day in scanning various material for the additional study matter. Here, you should not spend too much time and also should not read from end to end, but only scan for areas that you have not done before or some new facts.


-          Awasthi and Maheshwari- Public Administration


-          Prasad and Prasad - Thinkers


-          Ramesh Arora - Indian Administration


-          Mohit Bhattacharya - New Horizons in Public Administration.


-          Maheshwari - Indian Administration


-          IGNOU books.


Practise lots of tests from anywhere you get. Identify the weak areas and focus accordingly.
Note the following points:


-          make a  note of the mistakes that you make in the tests and try to rectify them


-          if you do not understand the question, look at the Hindi translation and see if you can gain clarity on whats being asked.


-          prepare mnemonics sheets to remember various facts. Read them again and again, especially before the exam date.



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