How to Prepare for UPSC Prelims at Home?

UPSC is an entrance examination that is designed to recruit candidates for the higher Civil Services of the Government of India. You can imagine the amount of precision and long-term dedication one must have to clear this Civil Services Examination. With persistence and the right learning resources, you can prepare for the UPSC prelims at home.

To understand how to prepare for the UPSC Prelims at home, it is best to begin by learning about the prelims exam pattern. That is the only way to begin your UPSC preparation on the right note.

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern:

  • The Civil Services Examination is held annually to recruit for higher government posts. The UPSC CSE exam is conducted in 2 stages: preliminary and mains.
  • The UPSC CSE Prelims have objective type questions, whereas the UPSC CSE Mains exam consists of 9 subjective papers and an interview.
  • The first stage of the examination, i.e., UPSC Prelim, is a screening test to select candidates for the Civil Services Main Examination. The prelim comprises 2 compulsory papers that are conducted on the same day in two sessions. These exams are conducted offline.

UPSC CSE Preliminary paper pattern


Time Duration

No. of Questions

Total Marks

GS Paper I 2 hours 100 200 Based on cut-off

GS Paper II (CSAT)

2 hours

80 200 Based on minimum qualifying marks
  • Both the papers of the UPSC CSE Prelims exam will have multiple-choice questions.
  • Incorrect answers will give you negative markings of 1/3rd marks, i.e., 0.33 marks will be deducted for each wrong answer.
  • The language of the question paper will be both Hindi and English.
  • There is a cut-off for the UPSC Preliminary Exam that varies every year. However, only General Studies Paper I has qualifications based on the cut-off. If you score at par with the cut-off, you are qualified to appear for the UPSC CSE Mains.
  • The General Studies Paper-II of the Civil Services Preliminary Exam will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.

Now that you are through with the paper pattern, let’s look at how to start preparing for UPSC prelims at home.

1. Prepare a timetable

It is very important that you prepare a timetable even before you start your UPSC prelim preparations. Your timetable should be designed in a way that helps you cover each topic and each subject. You don’t need to prepare a long-term timetable. In the beginning, you can set a small target and prepare a short-term timetable to achieve the same. But do have a vision for your upcoming preparations too. Try to dedicate at least 40 hours a week to studying for your UPSC prelims.

2. Stay updated with news

You need to stay up-to-date with the news and current affairs as they are a part of your exam syllabus. There are also dedicated shows for UPSC aspirants that you can watch. Besides that, you should read the news daily and try to get a deeper insight into current affairs by researching them. You can watch debates and discussion panels regarding the same.

3. Read on exam-related subjects

When you are doing your UPSC preparations at home, you have to make sure that you go beyond just your NCERT books. Since the subjects are related to current affairs, history, and general knowledge, invest time in reading from other sources. You can read books, articles, published papers, or even watch documentaries. You have to be sure about your learning sources and make sure that you are consuming facts from trusted channels.

4. Watch old UPSC interview videos

Sure, UPSC prelims do not have interviews, but UPSC Mains do. When you have already made up your mind to appear for the Civil Service Examinations and serve the country, you must be prepared for everything. Watching old interview videos will give you a gist of its pattern. You can watch these videos and learn about the kinds of questions that are asked at the interviews and how the candidates respond to them.

5. Get trusted study materials

You will see many UPSC related books on the market, but only a few qualify as the trusted ones. Pearson’s UPSC examination books feature top-notch materials that are designed to help candidates with understanding the concepts and memorization. The books are written by trusted authors and cover contemporary topics that UPSC aspirants must include in their studies. When you are preparing for UPSC from home, you can rely on Pearson’s books as you can bank on their authenticity.

6. Solve practice tests

Pearson’s books have examination based questions that you can solve. Towards the last few weeks or days of your preparations, you should aim to solve as many practice tests as you can. Besides that, you should also solve the last few years’ question papers, which you can easily find online.

UPSC exams can be intimidating. But, there’s no need to panic or look down on yourself at any point in time during your preparation. Make sure you dedicate enough time to your studies and keep up with them throughout your UPSC exams.


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