Best Resources To Crack Civil Services Prelims Examination

Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a national level examination.

The examination is conducted annually for appointing various civil servants for the Government of India.

It is one of the most competitive exams in the country. Every year 1,000,000 (approx.) candidates apply for the exam.

The history of this exam dates back to the time of British India. It was initiated by the British government to appoint civil servants in the country. However, back then, both the motive and process of conducting this exam were significantly different.

At present, it is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). UPSC was formerly known as Federal Public Service Commission.

Vacancies for services like Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and Indian Police Service (IPS) are filled through this exam.

However, after clearing this exam, you become eligible for many other civil services.

List of Civil Services:

Here is a list of the services that you become eligible for after passing this exam:

All India Services

  • Indian Administrative Service
  • Indian Police Service

Group A Services

  • Indian Audit and Accounts Service
  • Indian Civil Accounts Service
  • Indian Corporate Law Service
  • Indian Defense Accounts Service
  • Indian Defense Estates Service
  • Indian Foreign Service
  • Indian Information Service
  • Indian Ordnance Factories Service
  • Indian Post & Telecommunication Accounts and Finance Service
  • Indian Postal Service
  • Indian Railway Accounts Service
  • Indian Railway Personnel Service
  • Indian Railway Traffic Service
  • Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax)
  • Indian Revenue Service (CBEC)
  • Indian Trade Service
  • Railway Protection Force

Group B Services

  • Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service
  • Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service
  • Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Police Service
  • Pondicherry Civil Service
  • Pondicherry Police Service

To work in any of the above-stated services, you need to qualify the civil services exam.

CSE is organized into three stages, namely:

  • Preliminary examination
  • Main examination
  • Personality Test (Interview)

However, in this article, I’ll talk about every information including tips to crack Civil Services Preliminary Exam. I’ll  discuss in detail all the necessary information and ways to prepare for the exam.

The preliminary exam is also known as the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT). It is the level 1 of CSE exam. It is more like a screening test to become eligible for the Civil Services Mains Exam. Its score is not considered in determining the final merit.

Who is Eligible for Civil Service Examination?

A candidate must fulfill the following criteria to be eligible for the exam:

  • He must be an Indian national.
  • He must be a graduate.
  • He must be at least 21 years old.
  • The upper age limit (on or before the date of examination) is as under:
    GEN-32 years
    OBC-35 years
    SC & ST- 37 years 

Click here for detailed information.

Also, maximum number of attempts depends on the category of a student. Here is the number of attempts allowed to different categories of students:

Category No. of Attempts
General 6
OBC 9
SC & ST Unlimited till 37 years of age.

Now let’s discuss the exam pattern and the resources that’ll help you prepare for the exam.

Exam Pattern

The prelim exam consists of two papers. Both the papers are objective type.

Subject Number of Questions Marks Time
Paper-I: General Studies & Current Affairs 100 2 marks each 2 hours
Paper-II: General Mental Ability 80 2.5 marks each 2 hours
  • For every wrong answer, one-third of the marks will be deducted.
  • There will be a negative marking for choosing more than one answer, too.
  • No marks will be deducted for not attempting the question.
  • The question paper for both the exams is bilingual, i.e., Hindi and English.
  • Blind candidates are allowed an extra 20 minutes for each paper.

Paper-I: General Studies & Current Affairs

  • Current affairs including events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movements.
  • Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, and 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, Bio-diversity and Climate Change.
  • General Science.

Paper-II: General Mental Ability

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. – Class X level)

This exam focuses on analyzing the memory and retention power of an individual. The key to crack this exam is conceptual clarity. Therefore, first of all, one needs to clear one’s concepts.

The questions will be of 10+2 level.

Note 1: Candidates need to score minimum 33% in Paper-II to become eligible for the mains exam.

Note 2: To be eligible for the mains exam, you need to clear both the papers of prelims exam. The candidate will be disqualified in case of absence in any of the exam. 

Books To Prepare For Civil Services Preliminary Examination

Paper: I

  • Current Affairs

The best way to get better at this section is reading newspapers. Spend at least half an hour reading newspapers, every day. Read newspapers like The HINDU, The INDIAN EXPRESS, and The TIMES OF INDIA. You can also buy the monthly edition of Pratiyogita Darpan.

  • Indian History

This section covers questions from India’s ancient, medieval, and modern History. So, you can refer the following books to prepare well for this part:

  • Indian & World Geography

Apart from the NCERT books, the following books are important:

  • Indian Polity & Governance

Read current affairs related to latest government schemes and policies. Whereas for the static portion, you can go for the books mentioned below:

  • Economic & Social Development

  • General Issues On Environmental Ecology, Bio-Diversity And Climate Change

  • Environment and Ecology: Biodiversity, Climate Change and Disaster Management for Civil Services Examination by Majid Hussain
  • NCERT Geography – Std VI to Std XI
  • NCERT Science – Std VII to Std X
  • NCERT Economy – Std XI
  • NCERT Biology – Std XII
  • NCERT Chemistry – Std XII
  • Shankar IAS – Environment
  • Notes from NIOS
  • ICSE Books- Std X & XI
  • Mrunal.org/ENB
  • India Year Book
  • Orient Blackswan School Atlas
  • Hindu Official website
  • Environmental Studies For Undergraduate Courses by  Erach Bharucha
  • Ecology and Environment by P. D. Sharma.
  • Down to Earth Magazine
  • Science Reporter
  • Economic Survey of India
  • General Science

Click here to learn about some other great resources to prepare for this section.

PAPER: II

Some Other Books

Other than the above-mentioned resources, you can solve mock papers and previous year papers. Solving these papers will help you improve your time management and speed. Also, follow NCERT books to clear your concepts.

Besides you need to work hard, be confident, motivated, and practice rigorously for the exam. UPSC Civil Services Exam is the toughest of all the competitive exams. 

Therefore, to conquer it, you need to go to great lengths.

Bonus Tips:

Here is a video by IAS Topper Artika Shukla (AIR 4). In this video, she has shared some quick and effective tips to crack UPSC prelims exam.

Hope this information helped 🙂

Posted by Shradha Krishali

An art-lover. A strong believer that your actions define the course of your life.

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