UPSC Civil Service (Main) Examination 2018: Preparation strategy, Exam tips and tricks

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UPSC Civil Service (Main) Examination 2018: Preparation strategy, Exam tips and tricks

UPSC Civil Service (Main) Examination 2018: UPSC has announced the results for Civil Services (Prelims) held on June 3, 2018. This year, approximately 3 lakh aspirants appeared for the Prelims exam, out of which an estimated 10,500 will now attempt the Main Exam. This year, the cut-off for the Prelims is expected to be lower versus that of previous years. However, the cut-off for the Main Exam has been on the rise. In fact, this time round, with the vacancy being around 782, the cut-off for Main is expected to be even higher. Thus, a sound preparation strategy is crucial, not only to clear the cut-off but also to secure a higher rank.

While what constitutes a sound strategy will differ from one individual to another, what should be the same for anyone preparing for the Civil Services (Main) exam is their attitude. Rather than thinking they are sitting for an exam, every candidate should believe that they are just one step away from contributing to the progress and development of the country.

On the one hand, such an approach will help them gain an understanding of the various issues concerning the society; while, on the other, it will gear them up for the requirements of the exam, thus giving them an edge over other aspirants.

How to prepare UPSC Civil Service (Main) Examination 2018?

Overall strategy:

  • Keenly analyse the previous five years’ question papers. Pinpoint the focus areas in each. Thereafter, develop your own strategy for the different sections based on your findings.
  • Keep the time table of the Main exam in mind. This year, for the first time, aspirants will be getting a week and a gap for optional subjects. So, try and allot time in a balanced manner to optional subjects as well as the GS papers.
  • Try and cover the entire syllabus. The exam has a reputation of being unpredictable. One way of tackling this is to analyze the previous years’ papers. To do that, you first need to cover the syllabus of all the four papers of GS, as well as the optional papers.

Current Affairs:

Undoubtedly, a consistent point of concern for almost all CSE aspirants; mainly due to the vast syllabus, which makes it difficult to prepare all the relevant topics. A word of caution: most students end up cramming the present year’s current affairs; when, in reality, it has been observed that at the Main level UPSC includes current affairs related to the past 2-3 years. Here again, going through the previous years’ papers in detail will prove to be invaluable.


Develop an in-depth understanding of burning issues. Watching, or listening to, quality debates will be of immense help.

Ethics (GS-4):

Connecting, at a deeper level, with the society around you will surely help in coming up with better answers and solutions. Delve into the reasons behind the thoughts of important personalities. For case studies, track issues from our day-to-day lives. Keep challenging yourselves with various problems plaguing the society; and try to come up with your own, genuine solutions. This, in turn, will help you a lot in case studies.

Answer Writing:

Your knowledge serves little purpose if you cannot communicate it well to the examiner. So, it is of utmost importance to hone your answer-writing skills. Remember, writing answers that catch the eye of the examiner and compel them to read is an art. And like any other art form, rigorous practice is needed to present your views in limited words, but in a balanced manner.

Bookmark this page using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + D to refer to this page and check your results and other exam-related updates. All the Best!

Best wishes – Gc tutor

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