What is UPSC Exam ?

Answer: UPSC IAS is the most coveted exam held every year for the recruitment of IAS, IPS, IFS and other officers in Indian Civil Services. The exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in three phases – Prelims, Mains and Interview

What is the AGE LIMIT to apply for UPSC IAS Recruitment ?

Answer: Have a look at the age limit for UPSC IAS :

Minimum Age Limit: 21 Years

Upper Age Limit for IAS:

General  32 Years
OBC  35 Years
SC & ST  37 Years
PwD  42 Years

What is the Eligibility Criteria and Educational Qualifications for UPSC IAS/IPS/IFS 2020?

Answer: Have a look at the detailed eligibility criteria including the educational qualification for the UPSC IAS Recruitment:

Nationality Citizen of India OR

Tibetan refugee who came to India before January 1, 1962, OR

Indian-origin person migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Zaire, and Ethiopia

Educational Qualification Graduate Degree in any discipline

(no minimum percent required)

Age Limit As mentioned above

Is UPSC IAS Exam conducted Online OR Offline?

Answer: UPSC IAS Prelims & Mains Exam are held offline in pen and paper mode.

What is the EXAM PATTERN for UPSC IAS Prelims & Mains  exams?

Answer: The exam pattern is different for UPSC IAS Prelims and IAS Mains exam. The UPSC IAS Prelims is an objective multiple choice questions (MCQ) format exam and the IAS Mains is a descriptive format exams. Have a look at the detailed exam pattern of both the phases below along with the number of questions asked and marking scheme:

IAS Prelims Exam Pattern

Paper No. of Questions Total Marks Time Duration
Paper I: General Studies 100 200 2 Hours
Paper II: General Studies (CSAT) – Qualifying 80 200 2 Hours

IAS Mains Exam Pattern

Paper Name Time Duration Marks
Paper – A Any Indian Language

(objective) – Qualifying

3 Hours 300
Paper – B English (objective) – Qualifying 3 Hours 300
Paper I Essay 3 Hours 250
Paper II General Studies I 3 Hours 250
Paper III General Studies II 3 Hours 250
Paper IV General Studies III 3 Hours 250
Paper V General Studies IV 3 Hours 250
Paper VI Optional Paper I 3 Hours 250
Paper VII Optional Paper-II 3 Hours 250
Total 1750
Interview 275
Total 2025

Is there negative marking in UPSC IAS Exam ?

Answer: Yes, there is negative marking of 1/3rd marks for each wrong answer in IAS Prelims exam and in IAS Mains objective papers.

How to download UPSC IAS  Admit Card?

Answer: Candidates can download the UPSC IAS Admit Card easily by visiting the official website upsc.gov.in. Follow the given steps to download the IAS Admit Card:

Step 1: Visit upsc.gov.in

Step 2: Click on Admit Card download link

Step 3: Enter your Registration ID OR Roll Number and Date of Birth.

Step 4: Click on Submit button.

Step 5: Download UPSC IAS Admit Card

What is the SALARY of IAS Officer after 7th Pay Commission?

Answer: The Salary of an IAS officer is different for different grades and posts. Have a look at the pay scale or salary structure for IAS/IPS/IFS officers as per 7th CPC Pay Commission:

Pay Level Basic Pay Years of Service Required Posts
10 Rs 56,100 1-4 ASP/SDM/Assistant Commissioner
11 Rs 67,700 5-8 ADM/Deputy Secretary/Undersecretary
12 Rs 78,800 9-12 DM/Joint Secretary/Deputy Secretary
13 Rs 1,18,500 13-16 DM/ Special Secretary-Director/ Director
14 Rs 1,44,200 16-24 Divisional Commissioner/Secretary-Commissioner/Joint Secretary
15 Rs 1,82,200 25-30 Divisional Commissioner/Principal Secretary/ Additional Secretary
16 Rs 2,05,400 30-33 Additional Chief Secretary
17 Rs 2,25,000 34-36 Chief Secretary
18 Rs 2,50,000 Above 37 years Cabinet Secretary

What is the highest post of an IAS Officer?

Answer: The highest post of an IAS Officer in the state is of the “Chief Secretary” and the highest post at all-India level is of the “Cabinet Secretary” in Union Government.

What is the educational qualification needed to appear in IAS exam?

Answer: Any graduation  degree which may be regular or distant. The candidate must hold a degree from any of Universities incorporated by an Act of the Central or State Legislature in India or other educational institutions established by an Act of Parliament or declared to be deemed as a University Under Section-3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, or possess an equivalent qualification.

Can final year students of graduation apply for UPSC CSE?

Answer: Yes, candidates who have appeared at an examination the passing of which would render them educationally qualified for the Commission’s examination but have not been informed of the results as also the candidates who intend to appear at such a qualifying examination will also be eligible for  the Preliminary Examination.

When the proof of passing my graduation examination required  before UPSC?

Answer: All candidates who are declared qualified by the Commission for taking the Civil Services (Main) Examination will be required to produce proof of passing the requisite examination with their application for the Main Examination failing which such candidates will not be admitted to the Main Examination.

Is it possible that one writes the Civil Services Main Exam in English and take the interview in Hindi or in any other India Language?

Answer:  UPSC give following options in this respect:

  • If you opt to write the Civil Services Main Exam in English, you may choose either english as the medium for interview or Hindi or any other Indian language opted by you for the compulsory Indian Language Paper in the written part of civil services mains examination as the medium for interview. However, if you are exempted from the Compulsory Indian Language paper, you will have to choose either English or Hindi as medium of interview.
  • If you opt for Indian Language medium for the written part of the Civil Services Main Exam, you can choose either the same Indian Language or English or Hindi as the medium for the Interview or Personality Test.

Q. If I apply for the Civil Services Prelims Exam but do not appear in any paper will it be counted as an attempt?

Answer: No,till now  an attempt will be counted only if you have appeared in at least one paper.But recommendations are to count it.

Q. If a candidate belongs to a community included in the OBC list of states but not in the Central list of OBCs is he eligible for age relaxation, reservation etc. for Civil Services Examinations?

Answer: No, only candidates belonging to communities which are included in the Central list of OBC’s are eligible for such concessions.

Q. Can I choose an optional subject (in Mains), which I have not studied at Graduate/PG level ?

Answer: Yes, you can choose any optional subject from amongst the UPSC’s list of optional subjects for Civil Services Main Exam.

Q. How to Choose Optional Subject for UPSC Civil Services Exam ?

There are many important aspects to be kept in mind while choosing an Optional Subject –  identify your interest in a subject by exploring about it through school level NCERT’s (Class 11th and 12th preferably), going through Optional subject syllabus and PYQs your comfort level in reading the subject.

3 things to be noted:

  1. Interest and academic background of the aspirant:
  2. Coaching ,guidance and material available in the subject:
  3. Contribution of the Optional Subject towards General Studies syllabus:

Q. Can I write different papers of Civil Services Main Exam. in different languages?

Answer: No, you have the option to write your answers either in English or in any one of the languages included in the Eighth schedule to Constitution.

Q. Generally, it is advised that the candidates should carefully study the last 10 years previous question papers of General Studies (Prelims) exam as these give a fair idea as to how the questions are framed from the respective themes of the syllabus and also indicate the difficulty level.

Answer: Yes, previous years’ papers help the candidates to know the trend and they must go through these papers again and again.

Q. Are individual marks secured in various papers or aggregate marks across all papers considered f or merit?

Answer: Total marks are considered.

Q. How tough is the competition in UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE)?

Answer: You can assess the level of competition from the following data:

  • of vacancies advertised every year: Between 1000 to 1200.
  • of candidates who filled the form: More than 9,00,000
  • of applications who appeared in the Preliminary exam. : Almost 4,50,000-5,00,000
  • of candidates who qualify the Prelims and become eligible to appear in the Mains Exam: Equal to 12 to 13 times the nos. of vacancies of CSE.
  • of Candidates who qualify Mains to appear in the Interview: 2-2½ times the Nos. of vacancies in the CSE. Thus one can say that CSE is one of the tough est competitive examinations.

Q. Will there be any exceptions to the above mentioned educational requirements?

Answer: In exceptional cases the Union Public Service Commission may treat a candidate who has not any of the foregoing qualifications as a qualified candidate provided that he/she has passed examination conducted by the other Institutions, the standard of which in the opinion of the Commission justifies his/her admission to the examination.

Q. I possess professional/technical qualification. Am I eligible to appear for UPSC CSE?

Answer: Candidates possessing professional and technical qualifications which are recognised by the Government as equivalent to professional and technical degree would also be eligible for admission to the examination.

Q. I have passed MBBS, but not completed internship. Can I appear for UPSC CSE Mains?

Answer: Candidates who have passed the final professional M.B.B.S. or any other Medical Examination but have not completed their internship by the time of submission of their applications for the Civil Services (Main) Examination, will be provisionally admitted to the Examination provided they submit a copy along with their application a copy of certificate from the concerned authority of the University/Institution that they had passed the requisite final professional medical examination, along with their application. In such cases, the candidates will be required to produce at the time of their interview original Degree or a certificate from the concerned competent authority of the University/Institution that they had completed all requirements (including completion of internship) for the award of the Degree.

Q. Can I clear IAS exam without attending classroom coaching?

Answer: Yes, you can if you are good at self-study. We are not against classroom coaching. There are good institutes and teachers who help aspirants save a lot of time and effort. But not all coaching institutes provide quality service, so if you wish to join one, do that after proper research. COACHING IS JUST A PATH ,YOUR DESTINATION IS FIXED ,YOU CAN JUST CHOOSE ANY PATH TO REACH THERE.Coachings just smoothen your path and reduse your time and task burden.

Q. Will there be an individual cut-off for two papers in Civil Service Prelims?

Answer: There is no fixed cut off. The minimum cut off marks for Paper 2 is 33 percent. The Commission may fix a minimum cut-off mark for Paper 1 too.

Q. Will there be negative marks or different marks for Preliminary Questions?

Answer: There will be negative marking for incorrect answers for all questions except some of the questions where the negative marking will be inbuilt in the form of different marks being awarded to the most appropriate and not so appropriate answers for such questions.

Q. Which stream/subject should I choose for graduation to clear UPSC exam?

Answer: . Graduation should be based on your interest – it can be humanities, science, engineering, literature or management. For graduation, select any stream you like to study for 3-4 years. You are free to choose any optional subject for UPSC Mains and it may not be the one you studied for graduation. Most of the questions in the general studies paper in Prelims and Mains are related to Humanities background. But it is neither necessary nor advisable to take Humanities as your graduation stream just to clear UPSC exam. Graduation should be based on your interest – it can be humanities, science, engineering, literature or management. For graduation, select any stream you like to study for 3-4 years. You are free to choose any optional subject for UPSC Mains and it may not be the one you studied for graduation.

Will there be minimum qualifying marks for UPSC Mains Compulsory Papers?

Answer: The Commission has the discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all the subjects of the examination. Since 2015, the minimum mark were 25% for Indian language and English language. For GS1, GS2, GS3 and GS4 the minimum marks expected are 10%.

Q. Will UPSC deduct marks for bad handwriting?

Answer: If a candidate’s handwriting is not easily legible, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to him.

Q. Will there be minimum qualifying marks for UPSC Interview?

Answer: The interview will carry 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).

Q. Can candidates use calculators in UPSC Civil Services Exam?

Answer: Not for UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam. But candidates will be allowed to use the Scientific (Non-Programmable type) Calculators at the subjective type examination of UPSC, ie Mains Exam. Programmable type calculators will not however be allowed and the use of such calculators shall tantamount to resorting to unfair means by the candidates. Loaning or interchanging of calculators in the Examination Hall is not permitted. It is also important to note that candidates are not permitted to use calculators for answering objective type papers .They should not, therefore, bring the same inside the Examination Hall.

Q. Is coaching important?

Answer:  The vast syllabus, especially in general studies which the candidates find very difficult to do on their own in a shortest possible period. Moreover, the students are flooded with so many books that they get confused about consulting which ones. Class notes and Material provide a solution to this.

  • The candidates many times in their quest for acquiring knowledge lose track of time. They overdo the studies in some subjects at the cost of others. Coaching institutes cover the syllabus within the time period and thus are sought after.

However, the need for coaching could be removed wholly if the candidates could get the right study material and the right guidance for the examination.

Q. Should we prepare our own Notes?

Answer: Nothing could be better than this. However, the problem comes when one considers the wide syllabus, which is too vast if we include two optional papers and the general studies which in turn comprises so many subjects.

One can decide to pair his own notes in those areas in which one is weak, or there are many sources to consult, or on those topics which are very important from the examination point of view. Otherwise, it will be a Herculean task to prepare notes on individual topics.

But those candidates who have decided to appear in civil services exam during their graduation years may go for this as they have ample time to contribute.

Q. How many hours of study are sufficient?

Answer: . In civil services preparation, there is never a time when one feels that there is nothing more to study. The issue how many hours you can sit and read the text with understanding also connotes to analysis, deep processing of information, interrelating with your past knowledge base and making a view on the topic. Reading on the other hand is merely a passive activity where involvement of the reader is the least.We can thus conclude that studying for 8 hours is many times more fruitful than reading for 16 hours. That is to say ‘Quality’ is more important than the ‘Quantity’ invested.

Q. Can an average student also compete with the rest?

Answer:  In fact, most of the students who succeed in the Civil service were very ordinary students in their academics. But they knew, how add ‘extra’ into ‘ordinary’ to become ‘extra-ordinary’. That extra is provided by their firm
determination, an honest self-assessment and foolproof planning followed by strict implementation. In short, the hard work put in by them ultimately lands them at the summit of success.

Q. How does a good bio-data matter?

Answer: Bio-data matters during the interview and personality test. Personality test is based wholly or mostly on the basis of bio-data and the questions are framed on information provided by you. In fact, the-then personality is judged by the interview board on the parameters of suitability of candidates for the job. However, a bad bio-data may give some unfavourable impression on the members of the board and thus, a kind of judgment is formed by them consciously or unconsciously.

At the same time the members of the board are very experienced and they give full opportunity to candidates to thwart any pre-notions formed by the bio-data. So, the candidates by their performance in the interview have full opportunity to score high in the Interview.

But, the idea is that those candidates who are in their early academic years should try and see that their biodata is without any shortcomings.

Q. Could the civil services questions be answered in the regional languages?

Answer: Yes, aspirants can write answers in any language provided in the eighth schedule of the constitution of India.

Q. Preparation for Preliminary and Mains – Separate or Integrated?

Answer: Can knowledge be compartmentalized? No, in fact it is an integrated whole which gives a comprehensive understanding. Same holds true for the preparation. The whole subject should be understood in its entirety. Only then the requirement for the Preliminary and Mains could be fulfilled through particular emphasis on the orientation. The orientation for Prelims is towards a mix of factual information and understanding with a bias towards the former.

Q. When should one take his first attempt irrespective of the fact how many attempts the candidate has?

Answer: FIRST prepare than APPEAR. Many candidates appear in their first attempt taking it to be a learning experience. This is the biggest mistake they commit. UPSC attempts are very precious ones. Many candidates regret wasting their first attempt and wish if they had one they would have cracked the exam. The candidates must be very serious before appearing in the preliminary exam. They must complete the whole syllabus in their optional as well as general studies. They must check their performance by taking mock tests at home and work out the weak areas. The greatest benefit of the whole exercise is that there is a high probability that they get through the preliminary exam. If unfortunately, they could not, at least they came to know their grey and weak areas on which they need to concentrate. This enlightenment benefits them immensely in their next attempt. Those who waste their first attempt do not come to know about their shortcomings and in this situation may even waste their other attempts.

Q. When I see people around me who do not have final get selected in the prestigious services, then I lose self- confidence. What should I do in this situation?

Answer: Generally, we see most of the people around us who are not selected. Seeing them, your self-confidence should not be reduced because everyone is different and  has a different strategy. We should always remember that most of the candidates who are finally selected are also from among us.

Q. Why so many people fail in upsc?

Failure is an option. Failure can be for several reasons:

1) Time management

2) Resources management

3) Mind management

  • Time is limited in the examination hall, despite being, aware of the questions, one is not able to express correctly because one has not practiced properly.
  • Pressure management just before the examination is not done properly, so that the answer to the known question with the correct information goes wrong too.
  • Lack of Right Guidance on strategy.
  • No assessment of ability of a aspirant regarding time management, use of fact and writing style.


  • Keep a positive view, meet successful people, ignore negative thought.
  • Do not loose your self-confidence, you have immense potential use it to achieve your goal honestly.
  • Identify your short-comings and try to remove them. Go ahead with your determination by choosing your own way.

Q.What to do IF Family pressure is high on girls due to which there is no consideration in studies

  • Stay focused on your goal, concentrate with your full passion and energy to achieve your goals.
  • Take your parents and family in confidence which will in turn help you achieve your goal.
  • If success is achieved in the 1st stage, the trust of the parents and family increase and therefore work hard to achieve the goal in first go itself.
  • Do not think negatively for the next set of problems, try to improve the present. Become an inspiration for yourself, set small goals and fulfil them, thereby strengthening self-confidence.

Q. Is is possible to clear UPSC in one year?

Answer: Well, for the preparation of the IAS Exam, one or two years of intensive study is required because the syllabus is very wide and its is also necessary to have an understanding and hold on the subject and it takes a little time, but with the right strategy, better guidance, perseverance it can be done in one year also.Aspirants family background, academic ability and his basic understanding, plays a very decisive role. If everything is positive and favourable then success can be achieved even in one year by hard work.

Q. How to read NCERT books?

Answer: In NCERT syllabus subject matter is given in the form of stories and very simple language is used. Try to understand the theme of the story and link them with contemporary world.

  • It has lot of information in between the lines..
  • NCERT develops your understanding ability and play the foundational role in you preparation .
  • Try to solve the questions given in the book, this will improve your writing style and also the grip on the subject will become strong.

Q. Is it mandatory to read India Year Book?

Answer: Must be read, as it contains detailed information on the Government’s plans, policies and the achievements of the government and challenges before it.

  • If the whole book is not possible then read some selected chapters for example Environment, Finance, Culture and tourism etc. Communication and information technology, justice and law, Health and Family welfare, India and the world, Water resources, National Events, Scientific and Technological development etc.
  • These chapters are very important in terms of exam. Use them according to the syllabus.

Q. How helpful is the Test Series in preparation?


  • Extremely helpful, because we get atmosphere resembling the examination hall and performing well strengthen our mental abilities.
  • Through Test Series we evaluate our self-preparation because we cover whole syllabus in accordance with test series schedule that will benefit us in the exam. Test Series also motivate us to perform well under pressure.
  • If we get good score in test series, our self-confidence goes up and it also inspire us to work hard.

Q. If I am working then how can I prepare for the UPSC exam?

Answer: Nature of the job will matter, you will have to adjust with your routine, as well as time management also becomes important as quality of study is more important than the quantity.

  • Target should set daily & weekly,
  • utilize weekend very well, revise what you have read throughout the week, assess your preparation through the tests.
  • Handling pressure needs a smart strategy, use manan technique to revise whatever you read, read selectively, and also work on writing skills.

How To Study Maps for UPSC IAS

Every year at least 3-5 questions are asked in the UPSC Prelims exam. It is enough to understand the importance of learning through maps for the UPSC Civil Services Examination. Moreover, detailing your answers with the help of Maps in UPSC Mains is a sure-shot way of getting more marks. Additionally, there are map-based questions as well as questions that you can attempt only if you’ve sound knowledge of maps in the UPSC exam.
Maps are surely one of the pain-points for UPSC aspirants. Most students often find themselves at sea when it comes to learning through maps for UPSC.



Neighbours :

  • Neighboring countries and their locations, states with whom they share the boundaries with, rivers that flow in and out of India, the oceanic region around coastal states, countries near to island territories of India.
  • Give relatively more importance to countries of Indian Subcontinent.
  • Study thoroughly India map for oceanic region around the peninsular part of India and the islands in the Indian Ocean. For example: Extent of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Countries closest to Lakshadweep Islands, Various channels – 10 degree, 9 degree, etc.


  • Keep a tab on the cities in the news. For example, Ratnagiri, Raigad, Kasargod were in news recently due to various reasons. So, you should know about their geographical location.
  • Study all the important cities on India map.
  • You should be able to point them and also be able to locate which city is to the west/east/north/south of a particular city.


  • You should be able to draw political map (an outline) of India by hand (Very important for Mains Paper GS I and GS II).
  • Learn about which states share boundaries with which other and how many states.
  • Make a note of important cities which were in news recently. Ex. Kasargod in Kerala came into the global limelight, after excessive use of the pesticide Endosulfan.
  • You should be able to identify the eastern/western/northern/southern extents of the states and UTs.
  • Whenever a new state is carved out from the existing territory of India, the subsequent changes in the state boundaries must be duly noted.


  • Study the important latitude and longitude lines on the India map. For example, you must study the states through which Tropic of Cancer passes.
  • Make a note of different states and places through which Indian Standard Meridian (i.e the longitude of Indian Standard Time) passes.
  • The states and important cities that fall on these lines.
  • Also, you must study ‘concept based’ lines, nature of coastlines, etc. For example: Division of India on the basis of 10°C isotherm.


  • Origin, flow routes, and tributaries of all the major rivers in India should be practiced well.
  • Also, identify the left bank and right bank tributaries of the rivers and practice by plotting them on map.
  • You should draw rough diagram on a blank paper for each important river drainage basin.


  • You should be able to point out lakes on political map and also identify which states share any particular lake.
  • Also, many lakes have certain unique features. Make a separate list of such lakes. For Example: Wular Lake (Jammu & Kashmir) is one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia.


  • Note down the extent and important peaks of all the mountain ranges i.e. both – Himalayan and Peninsular.
  •  You should be able to draw the full mountain range on a India political map and show the highest peak for it.
  • Study locations of various glaciers which are to the north of the Vindhyas.
  • Also, various rivers originating in these mountain rangers/ glaciers should be noted.
  • Study various gaps/passes, national parks, flora, fauna, states etc. lying within the geographical spread of such mountain ranges.
  • Adopt a comparative approach for the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats mapping.

Natural Vegetation:

  • The great diversity in the Indian natural vegetation should be studied in context of variation in the climate across India.
  • Make a note of spatial distribution of a particular type of forest across India. For example: Rainfall deficient areas of Rajasthan – Thorny Shrubs and no forest.

National Parks:

  • You should be able to locate all the important national parks, tiger reserves, wild life sanctuary, biosphere reserves, etc. and also their extent across states.

Important Places:

  • You should be able to identify all the important places in India, including pilgrimages, world heritage sites, nuclear power stations, ports, plateaus, wetlands, mineral rich locations, etc. and also other important physiographic features nearby.


You should have a rough idea of the position of all the important countries vis-a-vis India. Here’s an exhaustive list of all the important areas to cover from the world map:

Lines on the Maps:

  • Study the important latitude and longitude lines on the world map (like Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Arctic Circle, Equator).
  •  Note the countries through which each of the lines pass.
  • Also, study the International Date Line, Prime Meridian and which countries fall on which side. (Update such information from the current affairs magazine).

Physiographic Features:

  • Note all the important physiographic features that you come across in the NCERTs and standard geography/history/economy books.
  • NCERTs have many relevant maps and you must study all of them.

From Current Affairs:

  • For any important recent news, check out the required location on the Atlas maps.
  • Learn about the National boundaries and bordering nations. For example, if Syria is very much in the news, you should be able to tell which country shares border with which other countries in West Asia.
  • Also, you should know which countries border Mediterranean sea, or other nearby seas. etc.

Trade Hotspots:

Canals and sea-routes are extremely important to understand international relations. Hence, always remember the geographical locations of important channels and canals.


  • You should purchase blank Political India maps from market.
  • First learn to draw guidelines on such blank map. You can use Latitude 76 °E, latitude 92 ° E, Indian Standard Meridian and Tropic of Cancer as guidelines for mapping work.
  • With the help of these guidelines, start plotting important places/features on your blank Political India maps.
  • This method will help you to learn which important place/feature lies in which state/s.
  • When you get comfortable with Political Maps then repeat the above process on ‘blank Physical India’ maps.
  • You can create your master record of all such Physical India maps. Value addition can be done by writing one liner unique quality / feature about the entry on the map itself.
  • You can adopt the method mentioned above for World Maps also.

Drawing Schematic Maps of India/World:

  • Search for a small size India Physical (Blank) map outline in google. By using it as a reference map, try drawing India map outline on a blank page.
  • You must divide your map outline in 4-5 parts. Then practice each part separately.
  • When you are comfortable in drawing all parts of India map then you can start drawing complete India map outline.
  • Start from the top i.e Jammu & Kashmir and then draw map in clock-wise direction. You can adopt similar method for World Maps also.

Note to Students:

  • Studying maps is not an additional burden and can be done as recreational work during your study breaks.
  • Mind maps of India and world will make study of large portions of current affairs, geography, world history, economy etc.
  • very intuitive and they will aid greatly in understanding.
  • Map work is not useful in scoring easy marks in the prelims, but being able to draw good maps and locating important places/features will be very useful, especially in GS-1 Geography/History and GS-3 Economy.

Using Maps For Understanding International Relations & History

First and foremost, you should understand that learning through maps for UPSC is not limited to Geography solely.

There are other subjects like International Relations, World History, and Indian History, Art & Culture that require a decent hold of maps in order to fully understand the topic. Let’s discuss what all subjects should be covered while learning maps for UPSC other than geography:

  1. International Relations: Study of news reports such as presidents’ visits, prime-ministers’ visits to other countries is incomplete if you do not know the geopolitical importance of that visit. Hence, whenever you study such a report, it is important that you couple it with studying the location of the country vis-a-vis India. Plot the country on the map and revise it multiple times to retain its location. Moreover, to understand the relations between the different countries, it is important to have an understanding of their geographical locations.
  2. World History: The events in world history would only make sense if you couple it with the geographical location of the countries. For example, when we study the Old Silk Route, it is important to know the geographical locations of the countries involved to understand the importance of such trade networks.
  3. Indian History: The geopolitical conditions have always been at the center of historic events. Moreover, the choice of route for the foreign invaders has largely been north-west if they came via land route and coastal regions if they came via sea route. With map-practice it would be easy to understand the factors that govern such scenarios. Hence, you can use the atlas to understand Indian history in a better way.
  4. Current Affairs: Another important area that should be covered is current affairs. You should know the location of whichever country is in the news on the world map.

Important Tips for UPSC CSE Interview

How should one prepare for UPSC CSE Interview?

What is central to the success of an interview are the levels of confidence and composure exhibited by a candidate before the Interview Board.  That will show that the candidate is in control of himself and the interview. A thorough preparation on the various topics of Current Affairs, optional subject, the subjects of study at the college level and the details indicated in the DAF will enable the candidate to gain enough confidence & composure. Sufficient levels of mock interview sittings will further help to enhance the above qualities.

Identify the topics on various subjects of relevance and prepare them comprehensively.  A thorough coverage of two newspapers (The Hindu & The Indian Express), Rajya Sabha TV programmes like Big Picture, India’s World, World Panorama etc. will give a candidate enough critical thinking and analytical ability to face the questions confidently.

How to groom oneself for UPSC IAS Interview?

The parameters that can help a candidate to develop his/her personality for the IAS interview include – good etiquettes (i.e. socially & culturally acceptable behaviour), a sound value system and balanced personality (i.e. rounded-personality) where the candidate is able to display honesty, integrity, fairness, empathy, sensitivity towards the problems of depressed sections of the population sincerity, commitment, willingness to assume responsibility etc.  Formulating answers to various questions raised by the Interview Board, that reflect the above personality traits will create a good impression about the candidate in the minds of the Board Members.

Type of questions asked in UPSC CSE Interview

An IAS interview is conducted in a cordial and friendly manner.  The Board makes the candidate to feel comfortable and encourages him to participate in the interview.  It’s a purposeful and formal conversation with the Members where the candidate is expected to be polite, respectful and formal in his approach towards the Members. The Members of the Interview Board do not come prepared with a list of questions to test the candidates.  They slowly start a conversation with a candidate and based on his/her answers, further develop the interview.  It’s not a quiz programme. It is extremely difficult to predict questions and identify what is called “best” questions.  In fact, a candidate leads the interview with his answers.

Is it important to answer all the questions in IAS Interview?

It does not matter if a candidate is not able to answer a few questions.  In fact, hardly any candidate manages to answer all the questions. If you have failed to answer some questions, remember that you haven’t spoiled your interview.  Go on answering the subsequent questions. What’s more important is the quality, originality and clarity with which the other questions are answered. There had been instances whereby answering just one-third of the questions, candidates had scored two-third of the marks.  However, if you are totally blank on a question, better politely and respectfully state that you do not know the answer.

Is it important to have excellent communication skills to clear UPSC CSE Interview?

It is not necessary to have “excellent” communication skills to score high marks in the interview.  It is possible to score 70% plus marks with “average” communication skills but with thorough knowledge of the subjects, clarity of thought, clear opinion on various controversial issues, balance of mind, alertness of mind and a balanced personality.  Remember, it is a test of your personality and not an oratarial competition.

Books for Geography Optional in UPSC CSE

Which books to refer to for Geography Optional ?

There are actually 8 books that cover almost 80-85% of the syllabus.

It is updation, enrichment and deeper conceptual clarity that requires more books and coverage of current affairs based questions. Sincerely managing GS goes a long way in helping geography too.

Basic books

  2. Made Simple Series by Rupa Publication-Vol-I & II
  3. A certificate course in geography by Goh Cheng Leong

Reference Books

  1. Physical Geography- By Savindra Singh (If one wants to avoid specialised books for Physical Geography syllabus. There are 5 specialised books by Savindra Singh have certain specific chapters which are not covered through the above book. Coverage of above Physical Geography text book covers almost 80% of the physical geography syllabus). For the other topics of the Physical geography syllabus, one has to refer to about 2-3 chapters from each of the below books: One can take photocopies of the select chapters from libraries and study rather than buying these books
  1. Geomorphology-By Savindra Singh
  2. Oceanography- By Savindra Singh
  3. Climatology- By Savindra Singh
  4. Environment Geography-By Savindra Singh
  5. Biogeography- By Savindra Singh
  1. Indian Geography by D R Khullar
  2. Human Geography by Majid Hussain
  3. Models and theories by Majid Hussain
  4. Geographical thought by Dixit
  5. Geographical thought by Sudipta Adhikary ( A good supplement for Thought topics)
  6. NCERT class X text book, (Old Edition) is good for Economic Geography Coverage. It will also help GS geography topics like- World Industries, World Resources distribution and trade.
  7. Settlement Geography by K Siddhartha

Other References:

Like in all other subjects, and in GS, students must read up various magazines and current affairs based enrichment. Some of the sources one can be regular with are:

  1. Yojna
  2. Kurushektra
  3. Greagraphy and You
  4. NITI Aayog reports (particularly, those on Agriculture, Infra, Regional development, Rural development etc)
  5. Select UN docs on Population, development & Env. (UNDP is most helpful)

How to Prepare from Newspaper & Editorials for IAS

Editorials/Op-Eds in newspapers are useful sources for adding analytical points to the facts on any issue. For example, while discussing any new law, you can read about the various provisions of the law from the summary of law itself but to analyze it further, you will need to understand the pros/cons. merits/demerits, or advantages/limitations, shortcomings etc. of the law. It is here Editorials/Op-Eds and other Columns are useful (as some knowledgeable people write such columns).

How to Read the Newspaper for UPSC?

  • Reading The Hindu for your IAS preparation is strikingly different from casual reading.
  • When you casually read the newspaper, you do it more for the purpose of gaining information regarding all the socio-economic and political happenings of the previous day that might have an impact on our social lives.
  • Newspapers are also a good source of entertainment for the intellectual mind.

Things to Keep in Mind

The objective behind reading newspapers becomes more defined when inserted in your study process. When you are reading the newspaper for UPSC, you must prepare yourself to target the following objectives:

  • To keep a reliable record of the crucial figures and facts
  • To gain a deeper understanding of the various political, social and economic issues presented in the paper
  • And, most importantly, to have access to significant current affairs

Now that you’ve established your objectives clearly, let us learn how to read the Hindu in 60 minutes optimally.

Tips for Effective and Faster Reading of the Newspaper

Before we start, always remember that you will not be a pro at it from the very first day. And in case, you feel you’re spending more than 60 minutes on reading the news, do not worry.

Application of these tips effectively will take some initial practice, but once you get used to the technique, you will be able to achieve the desired results.              

Page by Page Review of The Hindu:

The Front Page

The front page contains major note-worthy news stories, but not every headline is important. Identify the headlines to its corresponding subjects under your syllabus. A majority of crucial headlines will be continued on page 2.

Pages 2, 3, 4, 5, And 6 – Local News

These are the “regional/ local news” pages, and carry news specifically relating to the respective states. Since the news is going to vary from city to city, these are not crucial from the UPSC point of view.

Page 7 – National News Stories

This page is indispensable as it carries news directly linked to national importance. On this page, we advise you to pay attention to key terms like high court verdict, supreme court verdict, government policies, new reforms, parliamentary debates, etc.

Make sure that you make substantial notes that can be referred to at the end of every month. While making notes, do not pen down elaborate details regarding the report, instead, jot down keywords and phrases that catch your eye.

Page 8- The Editorial Page

  • Undoubtedly, The Hindu’s most crucial page from the examination point of view

Start with the two articles on the left margin.

  • When you are reading the news for UPSC, the next step is to carefully read the ‘lead’ Article. The Lead Article will be an exemplary analysis of a trending impactful current issue.
  • ‘Letters To The Editor’ will give you a sneak peek into varied opinions, and is worth a read to gather useful insight.
  • Don’t spend more than 40 minutes on this section. Keep your opinions unbiased.

Page 9 – The Perspective Page

  • A good page to comprehend varied perspectives on important current issues.
  • Page 9 is also the ‘Op-Ed’ Page, or ‘Opposite The Editorial Page’, and contains the personal opinions of an author who is not part of the newspaper’s editorial board.

Pages 10 And 11 – General

  • These contain general news.
  • You mustn’t get into an in-depth analysis of political news or issues mentioned. just read the headlines at a glance.

Page 12 – The World

  • The UPSC syllabus consists of International Relations.
  • This is the page where you’ll find related news that will help you with your exams. If you see mention of any impactful news, you must spend a few minutes here.

Pages 13 And 14 – Business

  • When you are reading the news, you must focus on growth parameters, trends, fiscal policy, monetary policy, as well as socio-economic news pertaining to health, women and education.

Sports Page and Life Page

We advise you to spend minimal time in the sports section. Just make a note of any major achievements or happenings.

Self Preparation Strategy for UPSC CSE –

Being able to clear UPSC CSE without joining any coaching institute, depends on a person’s will to work hard. It is not an impossible feat but you need to be more focused and diligent in your approach than ever before. This is an age where information is available in plenty for free, but you need to make sure that you don’t get lost in the sea of information and instead are able to pick out the more important ones and follow them assiduously and in an organized manner.

Going through the exam syllabus will give you a broad idea about the kind of resources/study material you will need for your preparation. Additionally, go through previous year UPSC CSE Exam question papers (at least last 5 years) to analyse the nature of questions asked and the more important topics of the syllabus.

Keep your sources minimal and follow the best sources available. Start with NCERTs for basic foundation of subjects like Geography, History, Economics, etc. and then you can move on to standard textbooks.

Your main goal is to cover the syllabus comprehensively and for this you need to meticulously set sub-goals. Divide the syllabus into topics and assign time for each topic (treat these as your sub-goals), as per the time left for your preparation. Make sure the time table covers the entire syllabus. Plan it well to have sufficient time for at least 2-3 cycles of revision before every stage.

Stick to this plan and follow it religiously for the rest of your preparation period. This might prove to be your biggest challenge, but try your best not to deviate from the plan or lag behind.

Current affairs are a significant part of UPSC CSE. It’s highly important that you make a habit of reading a newspaper every day (preferably The Hindu or the Indian Express). Focus more on Government websites of various important ministries andPIB for authentic information. You can follow RSTV for news bulletins and debates (The Big Picture), etc.

Try to gradually make your own short notes on NCERT books and news articles. They will prove immensely helpful for quicker revision as well as retention purposes.

But it’s not enough to merely read newspapers and remember facts, it’s equally important to analyse the information and have an opinion about it. This is especially important for the Mains and Personality test stages. Thus, try to not just mug up facts but rather have an in-depth understanding of the topics.

You must test yourself through mock tests to determine your speed and accuracy and identify your weak areas.Don’t postpone mock tests till the very end. This entire practice is to timely identify your weak areas and work on them to improve your chances of clearing the exam. Mock Tests provide insightful feedback on your performance, thus give them adequate importance.

When you’re preparing for the exam on your own, there is a chance you will miss out on something important. To avoid this, it is important that you network with your peers at regular intervals. Networking will give you an opportunity to exchange ideas and preparation tips with your peers. It shall also help you to exchange your success, struggles and common problems and you will find encouraging words for motivation.

Anywhere, through your preparation, at any stage, if you feel you need guidance, don’t hesitate, as it might not be a risk worth taking. Ultimately, follow what seems to work best for you because each person has to chart their own journey.

All the best for the preparation!

Strategy and guidelines for World History Preparation for UPSC Mains Exam: World History is a newly added section for UPSC Civil Services Mains. But, interestingly, only events from the 18th century is included in the syllabus for GS Paper ie. events from and around AD 1700. A thorough understanding of world history will help candidates not only in GS Paper 1 but also for International Affairs Section in GS Paper 2 and also in the Essay Paper and hence ClearIAS.com advises candidates to put sincere effort in mastering the area.

UPSC Syllabus for World History in GS Mains

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.