How to Clear UPSC Prelims? – 10 Tips to Clear UPSC Prelims 2023 in the First Attempt

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

How to clear UPSC Prelims in the first attempt is the question that most of the aspirants are currently looking for. As per the updated calendar, the UPSC Prelims 2023 is all set to take place on 28 May 2023 at various centres across India. 10 tips to clear UPSC Prelims in the first attempt are very much needed when the exam is only around a few days away. The UPSC Prelims is the fundamental and trickiest part of the exam and needs dedicated study. Candidates require sheer dedication and smart work to crack the exam in the first attempt by following the expert tips and tricks shared in this article.

One of the crucial tips to crack UPSC Prelims 2023 in the first attempt is to cover the entire syllabus and solve as many mock tests and previous year papers as possible. Through this article, we will be highlighting the tips and tricks needed to clear the UPSC Exam in one go!

How to Clear UPSC Prelims?

The UPSC Prelims is the first and the most difficult hurdle to clear in the UPSC Exam. Each year, lakhs of candidates appear for the exam and only some thousands are able to clear the cut-off. This exam requires consistent hard work, smart work, persistence and patience, the right UPSC Preparation strategy, time management, etc. to succeed.

Let’s now focus on the tips to crack UPSC Prelims 2023 in one go.

  1. Understand the syllabus
  2. Analysis of the previous year’s papers
  3. Sources
  4. Planning the correct strategy
  5. Revision is the key
  6. CSAT for UPSC Prelims 2023
  7. Avoid negative marking
  8. Attempt mock tests
  9. Stay confident and avoid negativity
  10. Access mindful techniques

Check how to follow each of these UPSC Prelims tips and tricks in a specific time frame below.

10 Important Tips to Crack UPSC Prelims 2023

The 10 tips to clear UPSC Prelims 2023 are elaborated below. Candidates who are preparing for the upcoming exam must read these tips to form a rock-solid strategy for themselves.

Understand the UPSC Syllabus:

  • Before starting with the preparation, one must go through the entire UPSC Syllabus word by word. One must understand the difference between the Prelims and Mains Syllabus.
  • Though the preparation for UPSC Prelims and Mains is integrated, there are certain topics that are different. It is always advised to get a PDF of the syllabus, which eases the preparation.
  • In the static portion of the syllabus, the major part remains unchanged unless and until notified. To cover the static part, UPSC Books along with the NCERT Books for UPSC are more than sufficient. If one remains honest with the syllabus and the sources, it can be very well covered.
  • The dynamic section of the UPSC Syllabus is vast and changes every day. It is important that the aspirant is updated with the Current Affairs and recent happenings. The sources can be fewer, but selective. The candidates are advised to refer to Current Affairs Videos, watch RSTV debates, read monthly magazines, and refer to websites and web sources from time to time to update their topics.
  • Interlinking of both the static and the dynamic part is crucial. According to the UPSC Exam Pattern, it is essential that the aspirant prepares both the portion well and in a holistic way.
  • For the CSAT Syllabus of the UPSC Prelims, attempting mocks, and having the hold on mathematical formulas and comprehension would definitely help you to clear.

Analysis of the Previous Year’s Papers:

  • Before starting the preparation, one must be aware of the exam pattern and the way in which the CSE exam is conducted. And this can be done using the UPSC previous year papers of Prelims.
  • One must focus on the areas from which the Commission has asked more questions. This exercise is necessary to demarcate the time which has to be allotted to the specific subject or the areas concerned.
  • One must differentiate the time and energy to produce the maximum results.
  • Do the basic mental workout on these points and also on areas that you feel are important for the preparation beforehand.


  • The most common issue with the aspirants preparing for the UPSC Exam is what to refer to and what not to. The markets and the web has a plethora of options and resources available, which only leads to confusion.
  • For basic learning, the NCERTs of all subjects are a must. This is because it will help you to understand the basic concepts. For advanced learning, one must refer to the standard books which are available in the market or in digital form.
  • Make concise and lucid notes of topics and subjects. It is always suggested to make notes on plain A4 sheets, which are easy to carry and later help in content addition or updation as well. For example, students can refer to the Economy Notes for UPSC, and Indian History Notes for UPSC to get a better idea.
  • Several lectures are available online on the BYJU’S Exam Prep Youtube channel, which can be utilized for the dynamic coverage of the topics.
  • Keep your resources limited and revise them multiple times. Make sure you revise the entire Prelims syllabus at least twice before appearing for the actual exam.

Planning the Correct UPSC Strategy:

Planning is one of the most important parts of the UPSC Prelims preparation, which helps in optimizing time management by using them more effectively. It lets you prepare the sequence of steps to achieve that specific goal. The right strategy involves:

  • Planning the targets. Micromanage your targets according to days, weeks, and months.
  • Get disciplined and plan out your daily routine. Try to cover the UPSC Syllabus in a feasible way.
  • Always do the smart work while preparing, and stick to the strategy.
  • Reward yourself for little achievements and never feel disheartened with low scores. Try correcting them and focus on that portion more.
  • “Read, Complete, Revise, Practice” should be the mantra for the preparation. It is the only way in which you can complete the huge syllabus in a timely manner.

Revision is the Key:

  • Revision has been and always will be the prime key to success in any competitive exam. The UPSC exam puts us in a habit to read a lot from various sources available. What we do not focus on is the revision part. Revision is necessary at all times, therefore it is one of the important tips to clear UPSC Prelims in first attempt. The human mind tends to forget information if not revised at regular intervals.
  • The UPSC Prelims exam time of 2 hours and multiple questions does not offer a lot of time to sit back and recall the facts.
  • To utilize the time (every second of it) in the exam hall, one must be very active in choosing the correct options to get the lead in the exam.
  • Book weekends for the sole purpose of revision. Revise whatever you have studied for the entire week.

CSAT for UPSC Prelims 2023:

  • CSAT needs good practice. Covering the major aspects of comprehension, logical reasoning, and data interpretation need mental accuracy and quickness.
  • Candidates not from a Science or math background tend to practice more for the aptitude tests.
  • The CSAT Exam is qualifying in nature and needs only 66 marks (33%) to qualify. But this should never be taken lightly and practiced the same as other papers of the UPSC Exam.

Avoid Negative Marking:

  • To successfully clear the UPSC Prelims 2023, one must analyze the exam pattern from the very beginning. UPSC Prelims is an exam of elimination, and therefore, one must limit their negative marking and choose wisely whether to answer the question or not, in which they have slight or no idea.
  • To get a clear picture – if one attempts 70 questions right then one can definitely afford to get 30 wrong and still be in the race. If questions which completely known are less than this number may be the 60s-50s, then one cannot afford the negative marking much, as he or she will be out of the UPSC Prelims. The safe score lasts between 100-115, taking the margin of +5 and -5. Therefore, to get away with the fear of negative marking, practice ample PYQs, and mock tests.

Attempt Mock Tests:

  • The UPSC mock tests should be attempted in an exam-like setting and must be in line with the candidates’ study timetable.

Tips to Clear UPSC Prelims in First Attempt (For Beginners)

For beginners, it is comparatively difficult to clear UPSC Prelims in the first attempt as they have no prior experience of attempting the paper in a real setting. However, many candidates who have cleared UPSC in the first attempt are beginners. Along with the tips to clear UPSC Prelims shared above, read the following two tips which are specifically beneficial for beginners.

Stay Confident and Avoid Negativity:

  • The entire process of the UPSC Civil Services Exam is quite long and hectic, which at times can become very overwhelming for the aspirants. The most important thing for the aspirant is to not let their distractions and negativity overtake their preparation process.
  • The Civil Services Exam demands utmost discipline and regular hard work along with patience. So one needs to have a positive and motivated approach in tough times.
  • ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!’ The UPSC Exam tests the candidate on all aspects, not just academics. It is very essential to engage oneself with some kind of hobby or recreational activity or sport that is refreshing as well as productive.
  • Social life is important as it refreshes the mind. Do not completely cut from it but be mindful of distractions in them.
  • Avoid negative thoughts and never indulge in time-consuming unfruitful conversations. Confidence is the key to cracking the UPSC Prelims exam.
  • Stay motivated and positive throughout the journey, irrespective of the consequences.

Access Mindful Techniques:

  • Mental consciousness and awareness are of utmost importance in this exam room. The high-level preparations will not reap fruits if the candidates do not know how to handle the stress.
  • Remove any sort of anxiety. Do meditation, yoga, walking, or exercise, whichever brings you mental peace and calmness.
  • Do not lose your appetite. With a healthy body comes a healthy mind.
  • Read daily and don’t leave anything for the last hour. Avoid reading any new topic just before the exam.
  • Proper sleep of 7-8 hours a day is essential for a productive mind. Cutting on sleep time will lead to non-remembrance of what you had studied the entire day.
  • Lastly, be easy with yourself and stay calm, composed, and collected. You have got this honestly if you dedicatedly stick to the preparations and daily study schedule.

How many Marks required to clear UPSC Prelims?

There are two papers conducted in the Prelims exam which are General Studies Paper 1 and General Studies Paper 2 (also known as CSAT). CSAT is qualifying in nature. Candidates must get at least 33% marks to clear it. On the other hand, GS Paper 1 decides the rank of candidates and decide their merit for the Mains exam. Both papers carry a total of 400 marks and to be completed in the duration of 2 hours each.

Paper Nature Total number of questions Total marks Maximum Time Marks required
GS 1 Ranking 100 200 2 hours Prescribed cut-off
CSAT Qualifying 80 200 2 hours Atleast 33%
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