How to Crack UPSC in First Attempt - Tips, Study Plan, Strategy

By Shubhra Anand Jain|Updated : January 5th, 2023

How to crack UPSC is one of the most frequently asked questions by any UPSC aspirants. Union Public Service Commission conducts the Civil Service Examination (CSE) to recruit suitable candidates for IAS, IPS, IFS, and other related services. UPSC gives 6 attempts to crack the IAS Exam for General category candidates. Therefore, every candidate aims to crack the UPSC Exam on the first attempt. Most aspirants wonder about How to crack UPSC in first attempt or ‘How to prepare for IAS’!

One of the biggest challenges a candidate's face is keeping the preparation on the right track. As per statistics, lakhs of candidates apply for the UPSC IAS Exam every year, out of which only thousands make it to the Mains exam and thereafter for the Interview. To crack the IAS Exam, you must have firm determination, perseverance, and consistency to qualify for each stage. In this article, we have tried to answer how to crack UPSC in first attempt in an extremely comprehensive way.

Table of Content

Strategy to Crack UPSC in First Attempt

To crack UPSC in first attempt, candidates must carefully read the basic NCERT Books from Class 6th to 12th level. We will provide you with some of the sure-shot strategies you need to follow. Well, that's UPSC's prep strategy! The strategies are curated by the experts to assist the aspirants in scoring well in the exam:

Clear your Basics

As a candidate, it is very important that one must be clear with the basics. The basics lay the foundation of the subject. It is always advised to get a hand with the detailed UPSC syllabus before starting the preparation. Limited resources with exhaustive revision play a crucial role in the selection for the IAS exam.

Current Affairs

Current Affair is an integral part of the UPSC Civil Service Examination. The relevance of current affairs in the UPSC Exam can be accessed from the fact that it is an indispensable part of the preparation, and to score well, one needs to have a basic understanding and conceptual clarity of news events nationally and internationally. One should always prefer quality over quantity; for that, a candidate can consider reading The Hindu or The Indian Express.

☛ Click Here To Watch Daily Current Affairs Video for UPSC Prelims Exam

Practice UPSC Question Paper

Solving the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers gives conceptual clarity about the IAS Exam and the difficulty level. Solving PYQs also helps in time management and allows a candidate to get an idea of what areas to focus on more to clear UPSC in the first attempt.

Peer review and proper guidance

Review is mandatory. Candidates should review their answers at least 3 to 4 times before taking the exam to develop the confidence to crack UPSC on the first attempt. Proper guidance from mentors and exhaustive practice do the work for qualifying for the UPSC Exam.

Aptitude test

Candidates often overlook the CSAT Exam during their IAS Preparation. To clear the aptitude test, one needs to have intense practice and be well-versed in the UPSC CSAT Syllabus. The main topics for aptitude tests are comprehension, mental ability, logical reasoning, etc. 

Proper sleep

Proper deep sleep of nearly 8 hours is very much necessary. As the saying goes, All work and no play make Jack a dull boy; the same is true with sleep. Better consistency, grasping, and retention power are possible only when the mind is fresh and works properly. 

How to Crack UPSC in First Attempt?

Before starting the preparation for the UPSC exam, one of the foremost things to do is to get acquainted with the syllabus, which includes UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus. The UPSC Civil Services exam, being the hardest test in the nation, requires something other than preparation.

The UPSC exam consists of two stages:

  •  Civil Service Examination (Preliminary) (Objective Type) to select candidates for the main entrance exam; and 
  •  Civil Service Exam (Written and Interview) to select candidates for different departments and positions.

The best way to improve your chances of clearing the UPSC exam in the first attempt is to remain consistent, follow a well-planned study schedule, revise frequently, and test your level of preparation.

  • It is important to complete the syllabus timely, but it is more important to revise and attempt UPSC mock test to test comprehension. 
  • To begin with, be clear about the UPSC Exam Pattern to ensure that your planning is systematic and productive.

UPSC Paper Pattern

The preliminary exam consists of two objective MCQs paper-set (General Studies and CSAT) with a maximum score of 400 points (200 each). The UPSC Prelims are for screening purposes only; scores obtained in the UPSC Prelims are not considered for determining the candidate's final rank. 

  • The number of candidates admitted to the UPSC Mains Exam is approximately twelve to thirteen times the number of vacancies estimated to be filled during the notified year.
  • Only applicants declared qualified by the Commission for the UPSC Prelims are admitted to the Mains examination.

How to Clear UPSC in First Attempt - Prelims Stage

With discipline and dedication, UPSC Prelims can be cracked in one go. The UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains are mostly integrated. The UPSC Prelims checks upon the conceptual and factual information of the candidate.

Mostly the mains syllabus of the UPSC exam overlaps with the UPSC prelims syllabus, leaving a few topics. Considering if an aspirant has a dedicated one-year plan to crack UPSC Exam, he can follow the time-table given below:

Month 1

The first month should be spent reading about the exam and the UPSC Syllabus and understanding the essence. Be sure of the entire UPSC Exam Pattern. Following this, the aspirant should start reading a newspaper that offers quality content and helps to prepare for current affairs.

  • Candidates are also advised to visit BYJU's Exam Prep daily for news analysis and exam-related info and news.
  • After this, get hold of all the required UPSC Books and start preparing.
  • One can also seek guidance from mentors or seniors preparing.

Months 2 – 5

The next two months should be spent reading the fundamental books of the General Studies papers, including NCERT textbooks. Start your reading so that both prelims and mains portions are covered.

  • Periodic revision, along with solving mock papers, builds up confidence for the UPSC Exam.
  • Current affairs are important at every stage and so make notes as you read the newspaper for current affairs.
  • The latter part of this time frame should be focused on completing the UPSC Syllabus at least once. 

Months 6 – 8

During this phase, you should decide on your Optional Subject for UPSC. Go through your interested subject's PYQs, their trend pattern, and selection rates. Once the optional is finalized, you should start your optional preparation, apart from continuing your GS preparation.

  • This is also the right time to join a Prelims Test Series, to access the level of preparation.
  • It is advised to practice mocks from at least two sources.

Months 9 – 12

During this period, one must also start with the answer writing practice for the UPSC Mains Exam. Continue your newspaper reading and give emphasis on editorials to gather good and unbiased opinions/views on a single topic.

  • The reading of topics can be complemented with government magazines like Yojana and Kurukshetra.
  • Due to time constraints and considering the cost-benefit ratio, it is advised to read the standard summaries of basic reports, such as the ARC.
  • At this time, one should also join a Mains Test Series.
  • By the end of this phase, you will have taken your UPSC Prelims Exam.

Post UPSC Prelims Exam Strategy

After attempting the UPSC Prelims, a candidate gets a fair idea of where he/she stands. To access the performance in the UPSC Prelims, one must start with the UPSC Mains Syllabus Revision.

  • Give adequate time for revision.
  • Without it, you cannot recollect whatever you may have read.
  • Solving PYQs and mocks does the deal here!

Tips to Crack UPSC in First Attempt - Mains Round

Mains exam demands not only our memory and intelligence but also endurance. Revise and practice daily for at least 6 hours to be accustomed to the answer writing pattern. Usually, aspirants tend to focus on revision and ignore practicing.

  • The examiner marking the booklet will only award marks on the points that make sense or are factually correct, so practice and perfect answer writing.
  • A candidate should ensure that all topics related to the IAS syllabus and current affairs are comprehensively covered.

Focus on quality rather than quantity of topics. Just keep the following points in mind before appearing for the UPSC Mains Exam:

  • Use the internet extensively; the target is to gain knowledge through books or the internet.
  • Go through the past five years' question papers to understand the breadth and depth of questions UPSC usually asks.
  • Try to superimpose current affairs with the GS Papers.
  • For the ethics section, try presenting famous case studies or examples.
  • In GS, you might come across questions on topics that were not previously prepared; you still must try to answer and mention the basic points related to them.
  • Try inculcating maps, flowcharts, and mind maps for better answer presentation. This saves time and conveys the answer in a more presentable way. 

How to Crack UPSC Interview in First Attempt?

UPSC Interview is the last and final leg of the preparation journey for the UPSC Civil Service Examination. Although the final merit is prepared by the combined score of the UPSC Mains Examination and IAS interview round, the trend suggests that the top scorers of the interview round are also the top scorers of the UPSC exam. To crack UPSC Interview in first attempt, one needs to follow the UPSC interview preparation tips recommended below:

Prepare your DAF Thoroughly

In the UPSC Interview, questions can be picked up from the Detailed Application Form, ranging from personal information to academic background. The DAF serves as the motivation for all the primary questions that are asked in the UPSC interview.

Take multiple Mock UPSC Interview

Rehearsals with the mock interview before the final interview helps in avoiding mistakes. Expert mentors and seniors can help with that. It is crucial to solve several mock papers of both Prelims and Mains to track your improvement and understand your weaknesses.

Opinion on Current Issues

One should prepare current affairs for about six months so that, as an aspirant, one can answer questions critically concerning the current topics in a brief and succinct manner. Learning current happenings worldwide familiarizes us with multiple things and new innovations.

Think and Answer

The UPSC Interview panels check on the behavioural and emotional intelligence of the candidate. Situational questions must be answered within the ambit of the constitutional power that your preferred service holds.

  • If you don't know an answer, be calm and composed and simply pass the question.
  • An important thumb rule for UPSC Interviews is not to lie or fabricate your answers with false information.

Dress Neatly

It is always advised to look presentable on the day of the interview; hence, dress in formal attire. For men, a light-coloured shirt and dark trousers should give a professional appearance. A simple churidar or saree is recommended for women aspirants.

Good Sleep

A stressed mind never performs well. Stressing might reduce efficiency, so sleep well and avoid taking unnecessary loads! Maintaining good wellness during the UPSC preparation is required to excel in these exams. Studying late at night can deter one's circadian rhythm.


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How to Crack UPSC in First Attempt FAQs

  • The tips to crack UPSC in first attempt have been listed here by the experts. The UPSC exam is the most sought-after, and the aspirants must prepare well for the selection process.

    • Read NCERT textbooks to get your basics right.
    • Go through the previous year's test papers to understand the pattern.
    • To cover the vast UPSC syllabus, you must plan your day, week, and month. Have daily or weekly goals and strive to achieve them.
  • Yes, with the right approach, time management, and the help of the right books for UPSC, one can clear the exam in just 6 months. Even if you start preparing now, do the smart work, learn what is needed, and don't go behind everything under the Sun, you can clear UPSC Prelims with just 6 months of preparation.

  • UPSC exam is tough as far as its syllabus is considered. The diversity of subjects demands more determination and long study hours. Having said that, it’s extremely hard for anyone who isn’t willing to put in the time, patience & dedication it takes to crack the exam. But if a dedicated regular student is willing to put in the work it takes, it isn’t as hard as people assume it to be.

  • Weakness depends on your interpretation. If you consider yourself weak because you scored less in your academics, maybe that doesn’t necessarily mean you’d become unfit for the UPSC Exam. With many success stories, aspirants who were average yet cleared the exam proved that one needs sheer dedication for the IAS Exam.

  • With all the resources available with a single click on the device, it is very much possible to clear UPSC in first attempt. If you have an internet connection, you have an assembled class, i.e., a blend of all good lecturers from different sources.

    • First, candidates must be well versed with the IAS syllabus and the books for UPSC to study.
    • The UPSC exam needs smart study with smart work.
  • Cracking the UPSC exam with just one day of preparation is impossible unless you are a robot or God's lucky person. So don't procrastinate to study before the exam; study daily for at least 5 hours to crack the UPSC exam.

  • The most important tip to crack UPSC is understanding the UPSC pattern and procedure, thoroughly going through the UPSC syllabus, learning crucial subjects from a few recommended books, watching video lectures online, and reading the newspaper regularly.

  • One year is more than sufficient for UPSC preparation. Candidates do not require coaching and can clear the exam with self-study if they prepare well with the right direction and exam technique. Students should make a perfect timetable and follow it rigorously while preparing for different UPSC subjects.

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