UPSC Prelims 2018: 4-Months Preparation Strategy (GS Paper-1)

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The UPSC 2018 notification was released yesterday. Brace up for the challenge. Its 4 months more for the UPSC Prelims 2018. Historical data and toppers reviews suggest that there is no hard and fast rule for the preparation because every year UPSC paper is unpredictable. Last few years we witnessed a total change of direction in the questions asked in a year followed by a paper that is totally prepared from the standard textbooks. Candidates who have sticked to a certain way have always faced difficulty while who had a comprehensive approach came out with flying colours.

It’s high time you have a comprehensive plan to stick on for the next 4 months and keep out all your diversions, laziness, doubts, apprehensions, demotivated minds aside and put conviction and determination to catch the train to Prelims 2018.The below strategy requires a disciplined study with a test series to religiously follow.

Strategy has been explained in 4 parts for the convenience of the reader.

  1. Importance of a Test Series
  2. Topics to cover and the books to follow (STATIC)
  3. Current affairs and reports(DYNAMIC)


1.Importance of a Test Series

A good test series for prelims is a part of the comprehensive preparation strategy. Its importance lies in the design of the papers which cover all the sections of the syllabus. The retention of a study session in these last 100 days may be around 50 to 60 percent only. The remaining 40 percent should be complimented by the test series.

A test series provides the live environment in engaging the student to attempt the questions and review one’s own preparation. Simply writing a test and counting the marks may not help in improving the performance. One needs to find where he/she went wrong in the question and spending time in the solution and analysing the question, marking the question for revision helps improve performance. Please do subscribe to a test series with detailed solutions rather than simple answers because questions as such may not be repeated in UPSC 2018 but the concept may.

Don’t wait for the syllabus to complete to take a test. Prelims mock test is never too early and one must try to attempt more questions and get them right. No one even the topper doesn’t know answers to all the questions, but we need to use elimination and even sometimes imagination to get to the right answer.

Don’t forget to follow a newspaper from now on. The budget period is one of the most interesting area for UPSC.

2a. Topics and Books for the Static Part

*One needs to understand the importance of Environment for the Prelims as it is a combined test for both the Civil Services and the Forest Services.

Topic Book Strategy
Indian Polity Laxmikanth(10 study sessions) It’s the most sacred book for Polity and Indian Constitution. Don’t leave any chapter from this book. Even toppers complain that they forget things here so don’t make the mistake of studying without revision.Make sure you revise this book at least 4 to 5 times before prelims 2018.Mark questions in the test series that trouble you.
Indian Economy NCERT 11th  Macro Economics

Micro Economics –Concept of money, supply and Demand (5 study sessions)


One needs a very clear understanding of the concepts and questions from this section. The best way to start is by doing NCERTs. Questions are normally straight and are based on current scenario.
Indian History Ncert 6th to 12th

Spectrum modern History

(20 study Sessions)

Modern History with emphasis on events, persons, places and chronology. Ancient History on topics like religion, way of life, instruments and places. Medieval mostly consists of religious leaders and invasions. A vast topic which needs a very selective reading based on previous questions.
Indian Culture Ncert Fine Arts 11 -Selective study from CCRT website and Spectrums Indian facets of culture

(6 study sessions overlap with ancient history)

A complete study with a understanding of Jainism and Buddhism and the differences. Arts, tribes, dances, monuments in news should be given special attention.
 Geography Ncert 8,9,10 ,11,12

G.C.Leong  (12 study sessions)

Processes, phenomena and the locations in news. Very important and easy scoring if properly studied.
Environment Class 12 biology selective topics

Shankar’s Environment text book (12 study sessions)

One of the most important Topic. Organisations, new schemes, UNFCCC, IUCN lists, National Parks and heritage Sites.
Science &Technology Mostly Current affairs and Science topics from Ncert (Discrete: Study in gaps) Please follow newspaper and test series. Latest advancements in technology, space science, biotechnology etc.

UPSC CSE 2018 

2b. Current affairs and reports (Dynamic)

For this Dynamic portion of the syllabus, test series can help a lot where a candidate understands the importance of a topic after he faces a question. Only reading may not help last a memory but attempting questions does.

Subject Source Strategy
Monthly Current affairs Monthly compilation from June 2017. Mark important topics and revise weekly subject wise
Economic Survey 2018 Ministry of Finance Website

(spend a good 10 study sessions and understand the topic.)

Before going through Summaries of coaching Institute give a complete reading. Make notes in the second reading only.
India Year book Hard Copy will be released Selective reading with emphasis on newly added topics. Note down statistics.
Govt Schemes Any coaching material Study department and ministry wise and identify the similarities and differences in target areas of the schemes.

Importance of Revision

Yearlong study may not yield results if these 100 days are spent judiciously. Major part of this strategy allocates time to revision. Revise every topic you read in these 100 days and if you think you may not allocate time for revision then leave the topic. Revision is paramount.

  • Make weekly and monthly revision plans. In the last 50 days don’t study new topics.
  • Analyse your tests. Revise the questions you have marked in your tests. Revise your basics.      
  • Revise Schemes. Revise is the word for everything from now.


  • Subscribe to a test series and write a test for every 3 to 4 days.
  • Mark the topics and questions in which you faced difficulty.
  • Start revising the standard books given above.
  • Purchase monthly magazines and revise them topic wise. No need to follow trivial information.
  • Don’t wait for the syllabus to be completed to take a mock test. The question may not come as such we are concentrating the approach and the importance of the topic.
  • Never take weekly holiday. Its war time only a few hours break daily.
  • Keep your mind fresh now that you have decided to take up this 100-day challenge. Don’t get unpleasant things ruin your day and demotivation has no place now.
  • Charge up and brace for the IMPACT.

Hope this helps!


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