Preparing for UPSC IAS Prelims

Papers: There are two objective type (MCQs) papers in the Preliminary Examination: 

  • General Studies Paper 1 (General Awareness and Current Affairs)
  • General Studies Paper 2 (Aptitude, Reasoning, Data Interpretation & Language Comprehension)

Examination Details:









Total marks


No. of questions

Negative Marking


Required marks to qualify

General Studies Paper I


2 hours



Marks counted for ranking

Cut-off prescribed by UPSC

General Studies Paper II


2 hours



Qualifying only

33% (66/200)

Only the marks obtained in the GS paper 1 will be counted in the ranking. The cut-off marks (minimum marks required) in this paper will be determined by the commission and declared to the public only after the final result of the UPSC civil services is out.
For incorrect answers 1/3rd of the marks allotted to each question is deducted. 
When to start preparation:

  • Preparation for Preliminary should start at least one year before the actual examination.
  • Have a feel of the Preliminary examination by looking at the past years papers.

The important topics of Paper I are:


  • History
  • Geography
  • Polity and Governance
  • Economy
  • Environmental Studies
  • General Science
  • Current Affairs
  • The important topics of Paper II are
  • Comprehension and Communication Skills
  • Reasoning and Decision Making
  • Basic Numeracy and Data Interpretation

Preparing for Paper I

  • For Current Affairs, one should regularly read national newspapers like `The Hindu’, The Indian Express, Times of India etc.
  • Make daily notes of key issues.
  • For the other topics of Paper I like History, Geography, Polity etc read standard textbooks

Preparing for Paper II

  • Practise, practise and practise!
  • For Paper II, one should do a lot of practice by solving numerical problems and comprehension exercises.

Important tip: The focus should be more on Paper I  in the ratio of 70:30