Guide to Prepare for UPSC Stages: Prelims, Mains, and Interview

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is one of the most prestigious examinations in India. The selection procedure is rigorous due to less number of seats and the higher percentage of candidates appearing. Cracking this exam brings a lot of challenges and changes in the applicants’ lives. The UPSC Civil Services examination requires a lot of hard work and dedication. There are three stages, namely the Preliminary exam, the Main exam, and the Interview. UPSC CSE result depends on the scores you acquire at each stage. You need to clear the Preliminary examination to be eligible for the mains and so on. Read this blog to get insights on each stage and how to ace your performance.

All About Prelims

The preliminary examination is the first step to UPSC. The Prelims examination comprises of two papers, which include General Studies and Aptitude Test. The General Studies paper comprises questions on current affairs topics, geography, economics, and Indian politics, among other optional papers. The Aptitude Test is designed to test the candidate’s analytical and logical reasoning skills.

Follow these Preparation Tips To Clear the Preliminary Examination


Understand the syllabus

Understanding the syllabus is the first step towards getting started with your preliminary preparation. You can go through reliable sources that provide precise information on syllabus and curriculum.

Make a study plan

Plan your study schedule in accordance with the syllabus. After commencing with the preparation you will be able to identify your weaknesses and strengths. You can then introduce further changes in terms of time allocation on different topics.

Read newspapers and magazines

Current affairs comprise the highest marks in the UPSC exam structure, therefore it is essential to stay updated with the current news and ongoing topics. You can upgrade your current affairs skills by reading newspapers and magazines.

Refer to standard books

It is crucial to stick with one book, reading from different books might lead to confusion and mix up of the concepts. NCERT books and other expert-recommended books are considered to be helpful in acing the examination with good scores.

Practice mock tests

Mock tests can help you track your performance by providing a detailed statistical report on your scores. You can brush up on your knowledge and revise the previous concepts by taking a mock test.

All About Mains


The Main exam is the second stage after clearing the preliminary papers. It consists of nine papers designed to analyze a candidate’s in-depth understanding of the subjects. These papers include essays, four General Studies papers, two optional papers, and two language papers.

Tips for Mains Preparation

Understand the syllabus

You must aware yourself of the syllabus and concepts comprising the main papers. The syllabus will give you an idea of the topics you must cover.

Make a study plan

Prepare a study routine by mentioning details on subjects and concepts that you need to cover and the timings. Through this, you can speed up your writing time and enhance your study prospects.

Read books related to the topics

Mains examination is an in-depth explanation of the preliminary stage along with an introduction to some newer topics and concepts. It is advisable to refer to books recommended by experts.

Practice writing essays

The essay paper is a crucial part of the Main examination pattern, you can brush up your essay writing skills by regular practice and enhancing your vocabulary. This section tests your ability if creative writing.

Practice answer writing

Understanding the concepts and practicing answer writing can do wonders in achieving good scores. The main paper requires structured answers.

Crack Interview


Interview is the final test of the UPSC examination after qualifying for the mains. The interview stage tests a candidate’s personality, communication skills, and knowledge of current affairs. There are a few main tips that you must follow to ace the interview.

Tips For Getting Interview Ready

Read newspapers and magazines

Like prelims and mains, the interview also requires the candidates to stay updated with the latest current affairs topics. The interviewer tests your knowledge based on your answers and the style of framing and representing them.

Practice mock interviews

You can practice your interview skills by watching sample videos. You can find such videos on the web or you can also access question answers in written pdf format. You can frame your own answers but it is important to note that those questions are just for practice purposes and the actual interview varies.

Wrapping Up!

The above-listed tips and information give a detailed understanding of the UPSC stages, mainly prelims, main, and interviews. You can adhere to the tips listed above to achieve better scores in the examination stages. UPSC CSE prelims result depends on the 3 Ps which are patience, perseverance, and practice. Consistency is the key to ace your preparation with the same, and you can have the aspired result of UPSC civil services.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which Section Requires more practice?

The current affairs section comprises a high percentage of marks, yet it is crucial to stay updated with the recent ongoing topics in the news. You can brush up your current affairs skills by reading newspapers and watching reliable news channels and noting down the updates in your own language structure.

  • What should I wear for the interview?

You must dress appropriately as it reflects your personality. Therefore it is also important to be confident in what you are wearing. As a male, you have to wear formal along with closed-toe shoes and a tie. As a female, you can wear formal or Indian wear including a saree and salwar kameez.

  • What optional subject should I opt for?

You can go through the subject matters and decide as per your strengths and weaknesses. It is advisable to take subjects at which you are good to ensure a better balance between the examination sections.