Zero to Hero – The Right strategy to clear civil services Examination- Beginner Series. 

Now, You have completly decided to take up the civil services. But don’t know how to start the preparation. No worries. You will get everything in a few minutes of reading. 

See the Syllabus

Once you decided to start your civil service preparation, your first duty is to see the syllabus. Understand what the syllabus is expecting from us. What are the subjects we have to study, mainly how the syllabus of prelims and mains differs? 


You have seen the syllabus now, But at first, you cannot get many things from the syllabus. Over some time, you will get it automatically. 

Don’t worry now. Let’s move to the next area. 


After analyzing the syllabus, you have to start your preparation with the NCERT. Many aspirants think that NCERT is not necessary if they are thorough with standard books. 

But that’s not true. 

UPSC has a custom of asking some direct questions from NCERT

Even in prelims 2020, some fundamental questions related to constitution and bureaucracy are from NCERT. 

So, don’t forget to read the NCERT’s. 

You have to read the NCERT first, thorough with the concepts and then move to the standard books. 

Some important NCERT’s

  • 6-12 – Geography NCERT’s
  • 11th – Constitution at Work NCERT
  • 11th – Biology NCERT
  • 11th – India Economic Development NCERT
  • 12th – Macro Economic NCERT

Please refer the book list here – Prelims Book List 

Standard Books/Sources

Its an essential part of your entire preparation. You should become a District Collector, not become a book collector. 

When I began my preparation, I used to buy all the books available in the market and showcased in my study room. But over a period of time, I realized that only the limited number of books are necessary to clear this examination.

So I strongly recommend you to buy the books which I have listed for you. Don’t buy any other books. Please take it as my order and obey it. No compromise. 

Current Affairs

We have seen some crucial things about the syllabus and books, now let’s talk about Current affairs. 

Make a practice of reading the daily Hindu. At first, The Hindu vocabulary might be challenging for some of you; later, you use to be. 

When you are at the beginning stage, you cannot take notes from The Hindu because you don’t know which news you have to follow and which news you have to omit.  

For that, I have a trick. Have the syllabus aside while reading the newspaper and see whether the news comes under the syllabus. If its then read the news, or else omit it. 

As per our syllabus, you have to follow the news related to Government policies, Schemes, Initiatives, International relations, Science and tech, Economy.  

Political, Sports, Cinema News are not needed. 

Even after selecting the news, you cannot take notes because you don’t know how UPSC frame questions from the news. This will comes by practice. 

To overcome this, please see the previous five-year papers and see how UPSC has framed the question. Now you might get some idea. 

Note: Please follow our GetintoIAS Daily News-Telegram channel for the Daily Selected News from The Hindu. {search Getintoias daily news in Telegram or @getintoiasca}

Do Integrated Preparation

Many aspirants, when they were preparing for their first attempt, they only focus on prelims preparation. They entirely omit or forget mains preparation. Because due to a lack of confidence and laziness, they don’t do it. 

But anyone who wants to crack the exam must do the integrated preparation. That means you have to study the prelims + mains simultaneously, and then before four months for the prelims, you have to start focusing on the prelims alone, leaving behind the mains. 

The above methodology is the best way to do a prelims cum mains preparation. 

For example, If you appear for June 2021 prelims, you have to start your preparation one year before your prelims. That means you have to start it from June 2020. 

From June 2020 to February – 2021, you have to focus on Mains – General Studies, Optional, Answer Writing for Optional and General Studies, and Current Affairs. 

From February 2021 to Prelims 2021 – You have to shift your focus entirely to the prelims. You have to solve more tests, put more emphasis on GS and CSAT. 

You can stop the answer writing in this period. Also, you can stop reading. You’re optional too. 

Choosing Optional

For mains, you have to choose one Optional paper. While selecting the optional, you have to be very careful because choosing the wrong optional is like setting a bomb to your own house. Why I am telling is, Optional marks are very much crucial for your mains cut-off. It will decide whether you are IN or OUT. So be careful. Please consult with seniors and teachers. They will properly guide you. 

Don’t consult with your coaching classmates. For sure, he will guide you wrong. Because he too beginner like you, what can you expect from him?

While writing this, I remember an incident. When I was not much aware of choosing optional, I asked my friend who sat behind me in the coaching classroom. 

Me: Hey XXX, Sir, asked us to choose the optional paper next week. have you decided?

He: Oh. Yeah. I decided. 

Me: What’s you optional? 

He: Public Administration

Me: Why you have chosen Pub Ad (Its the Short form of Public Administration)

He: Because we all going to work with the public, hence I have chosen Pub Ad. 

Me: Oh. Then what optional can I choose XXX?

He: Don’t worry, da… Choose Pub Ad.

Me: I chose Pub Ad, Believing his words -“we all going to work with the public – so it will be helpful for me to handle the public in the future.” 

See. How foolishness. I have Chosen Pub Ad as my optional without knowing anything about it and not even seen the syllabus

I joined in it. 

The class started. I was not comfortable with the teacher as well as with the subject. 

To be honest. I’m not too fond of it. 

After two months, I again consulted the same friend who gave the advice to join Pub Ad. He said, Even I too don’t understand anything. So I decided to take Sociology. 

After hearing this, now I was damn clear with one thing that I have consulted the topic with the wrong person. 

But God’s grace, I got a senior who showed Tamil Literature could be chosen as an optional. Now, I am a Tamil Literature Student. I love it.   

Test Series

Now, You have studied the static subjects like History, Geography, Economy, Polity, Environment, Optional and current affairs. But still, you have left one thing. 

What is that?

Yes. That is Test Series. I would say, solving the test series is the most critical aspect of this entire preparation. 

Only test series can say your weakness and strength. For both mains and prelims, you have to attend test series. 

So simultaneously, you should write the test to check where you are.

I hope I have shared some valuable points. If you have any other queries, let me know in our telegram group. I will add the answer here.    

To reach us at [email protected] or through our Telegram Group @getintoiasofficial

About the Author: Gunaseelan VG

Founder of GetintoIAS, Kind-hearted and helping aspirants across the nation to achieve their dream.
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