Strategy for Beginners: Target UPSC 2018 and Beyond

The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a nationwide competitive examination in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment to various Civil Services of the Government of India, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) among others. It is conducted in two phases – a preliminary examination consisting of two objective-type papers (general studies and aptitude test), and a main examination consisting of nine papers of conventional (essay) type, followed by a personality test (interview). 

Important Strategy for UPSC 2018 for Beginners:

1. Read the service profiles given on to get the hang of what is one aiming for and other relevant information like recent vacancies and allocation.



2. Read the latest notification to get the hang of the current examination process

2.1. Download the latest notification from UPSC website (

2.2. Go to ‘Examination’

2.3. Go to ‘Active Examinations’ (


2.5. Go to ‘Download Notification’ (latest as on date 19.03.2017) (


3. Go through the pattern and syllabus of the exam given in the notification to acquaint oneself of the exam and process (also, try to select probable optional subject/s)



4. Check previous question papers of prelims and mains examination, this will help one to get the feel of the exam / focus areas and try and develop a sense to judge what is relevant and what is not from the ocean of information. (For quick acquaintance and to get a feeler of what’s in store, one may take ‘Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination 2014’ and ‘Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination 2015’ question papers in exam-like setting, like mock tests, and check the score from official answer keys.)

4.1. Download previous question papers from UPSC website (

4.2. Go to ‘Examinations’

4.3. Go to ‘Previous Question Papers’ (

4.4. Download answer keys from UPSC website (

4.5. Go to ‘Examinations’

4.6. Go to ‘Answer keys’ (

…Once you are comfortable and acquainted enough with 1, 2, 3 and 4 then you can move on to…



5. Start reading daily newspaper, try to develop a balanced perspective on relevant issues


6. Start with basic NCERT / NIOS books / IGNOU notes …Once you are in the groove for 5 and 6 then you can move on…


7. Move on to subject/topic specific material for in-depth understanding from IGNOU notes / Standard books / various websites / coaching material etc. (check the documents / files section of the UPSC CIVIL SERVICES ASPIRANTS group for starters)

…While one is consistently following / revising 5, 6, and 7 one should also spare a thought on selecting an optional subject from the list of probable optional subjects…


8. Read basic text books/previous years question papers to select the best among the probable optional subjects. Decision parameters may be interest, extent of syllabus, availability of material etc.


9. Once the optional is selected, one should follow steps 6 and 7 for subject specific study as well.


10. List of Useful websites

1. All official information regarding the exam at any stage

2. IGNOU material

3. NCERT books

4. NIOS Books

5. India Year Book 2017

6. Government press notes

7. Newspaper Opinion/Editorial

8. Current Affairs

9. Frontline magazine

10. Yojana magazine



11. Institute of peace and conflict studies: foreign affairs

12. Ministry of External Affairs useful for India-World relations

13. Constitution of India, Central Acts, Supreme Court

14. PRS legislative research

15. Country comparison charts

16. National portal of India

17. For environment

18. Ministry of Finance

19. For latest budget and Economic Survey

20. Department of Personnel & Training

21. Department of Science and Technology

22. India Brand Equity Foundation

23. Official websites of Government of India



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