How to crack prelims in 50 days

“Successful people are just those with successful habits.” — Bryan Tracy

To chase a big goal, set yourself up for daily progress with productive habits. In order to crack prelims in 50 days you need to be consistent and disciplined. Time management is the key to success.

The IAS Prelims exam is just a few days away. It will be held on 2nd June, 2019. Many IAS aspirants might be wondering if it is possible to crack the UPSC Prelims in just 50 days. The answer is a resounding YES. People have done it before and you can do it too! You just need to follow a plan and work really hard. Remember, nothing is impossible!

Just follow the steps given below and see for yourself what magic you create!


# 1: Know The IAS Exam Pattern

There are three stages for the IAS exam:

  1. UPSC Prelims
  2. UPSC Mains
  3. Personality Test

You have to clear the prelims exam to be eligible for the IAS Mains exam.

The Prelims consists of two papers – General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II (which is more commonly known as the CSAT)

Total Marks 200 200
Duration 2 Hours 2 Hours
No. of Questions 100 80
Objective Type Yes (MCQs) Yes (MCQs)
Negative Marks Yes (1/3rd) Yes (1/3rd )

Paper- II (CSAT) will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualify marks fixed at 33%. It means UPSC will evaluate Paper- II first. If candidate secures 33% or more marks in Paper- II than only Paper- I will be evaluated


There are three types of MCQs in the IAS Prelims. They are:

MCQ – single response correct

Heat energy received by the earth from the Sun is due to :

(a) Convection

(b) Radiation

(c) Reflection of light

(d) Transmission of light

Ans. (b)


MCQ – many responses correct

Consider the following statements.

(a) Coral bleaching refers to the loss of colour of the corals that form the highly fragile ecosystems, coral reefs.

(b) Coral reefs are located in circumtropical, shallow tropical waters along islands and continents.

(c) The coral reefs are referred to as ‘tropical rainforests of the ocean’.

(d) Coral cannot survive in the waters having either very low temperature or very high temperature.

Which of the above statements are incorrect?

(a) Only 1 & 2    (b) Only 2 & 3

(c) Only 1 & 4    (d) None of the above

Ans. (d)


MCQ – match the following

Match the following items given under List – I with that of List – II.

List – I List – II
StateNative Language
1. Sikkim A. Garhwali
2. TripuraB. Pahari
3. Himachal Pradesh C. Kokborok
4. UttarakhandD. Lepcha

Choose the correct option from the following codes:

A. 1 – C           2 – D        3 – A       4 – B

B. 1 – D           2 – C        3 –  A       4 – B

C.  1 – C           2 – D       3 – B       4 – A

D.  1 – D          2 – C       3 –  B       4 – A

Ans. (d)


# 2: Know The IAS Prelims Syllabus

IAS Syllabus for GS Paper I:

  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization General Science.

IAS Syllabus for CSAT:

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills;
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy & Data Interpretation

Download the UPSC Prelims syllabus.


# 3: Go Through Previous Year Question Papers

It is very important to go through the previous year UPSC question papers to get a fair idea of the kind of questions asked by the UPSC so that even with the time crunch, you will know the pattern of questions. This will help you prioritize your studies.

Download the previous years IAS question papers here.


# 4: Assess Yourself

Always assess yourself through mock tests. This is very important for the prelims since you have negative marks here. There are two key factors here:

  • You must complete your paper.
  • You must be careful while choosing an option since you will be penalized for wrong answers.

This is where mock tests can help you in the following ways:

  • You can know exactly how much time you can and are able to spend on a question.
  • You can learn the art of intelligent and smart guessing.
  • Practicing mock tests will increase your speed of answering the questions.
  • You will be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. You can know for what topics you need more practice, etc.
  • Test yourself with AA Shah’s Prelims Test Series and boost your chances of clearing the UPSC Prelims 2019.


# 5: Subject-wise Strategies for IAS Prelims

  • For prelims, you must concentrate more on Modern History and Art & Culture.
  • Reference Books for history (for prelims):
  • History of Modern India – Bipan Chandra
  • For Art & Culture – NCERT Books or Spectrum

In this subject, you topics from Indian Geography and World Geography are covered. Indian Geography is given more weightage in the UPSC Prelims. Here, you must focus on:

  • Indian Physiography
  • Climate
  • Rivers of India
  • Soil and Types of Soil in India
  • India’s mineral wealth
  • Forests
  • Agriculture
  • Human Geography
  • Wildlife and conservation
  • Geography in news and Places in news

In World Geography, you must focus more on Earth, Universe, Land Forms and their Formation, Wind System, Atmosphere, Clouds and Precipitation, Hydrosphere, and Climate Types and Climatic regions of the world.

  • Books for geography (for prelims):
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography – G.C. Leong
  • NCERT XI- India Physical Environment

In polity, questions asked are both static and dynamic in nature. So, give importance to any significant judgements given by the courts, any new bills and acts passed by the Parliament, etc. Always relate what you read to the UPSC Syllabus.

Books for polity prelims:

  • Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations – M. Laxmikanth

In the case of economics, if you don’t have economics background, just make sure get your basics right. For the basics, go through the NCERTs.

Topics to be covered for prelims:

  • Banking
  • Inflation
  • National Income Accounting
  • Securities Market
  • Schemes
  • Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh
  • Go through the Budget and Economic Survey (selectively).

Topics to be covered:-

  • Go through NCERTs for basics on General Science
  • Go through The Hindu’s Science & Technology section for current affairs on science and technology.

Topics to be covered:-

  • Current affairs
  • Various Climate and Environment Convention
  • Various Treaties
  • Book on Environment by Neeraj Nachiketa
  • CURRENT AFFAIRS A.A. Shah’s monthly magazine from June 2018



In the case of CSAT, it is imperative that you score a minimum of 33% in order to qualify for the IAS Mains exam. Practise questions from ‘CSAT Manual: General Studies for Civil Services Preliminary Examination (Paper – 2)’ by TMH for a good understanding of the topics covered in this paper.

Click here to join Test Series for Prelims 2019 for GS 1 and CSAT

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