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What is the best strategy to prepare for UPSC Civil Services Exam 2021?

The journey of UPSC can prove to be a life-changing experience in the life of any candidate. UPSC has decided the date for Prelims exam for 2021 and it is 27 June. So, the clock has been started for the candidates who are planning to appear for UPSC CSE 2021. The most common question that comes in everyone’s mind especially the beginners that How to Prepare for UPSC Civil Services Exam 2021.

It will be better to read some basic books at the starting of the preparation or at the initial stages so that an understanding is developed which is required to crack the examination and also to fulfil the responsibilities of a civil servant effectively.

It is rightly said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

What is the best strategy to prepare for UPSC Civil Services Exam 2021?_40.1

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Here, we are mentioning some essential books and plan to create an understanding regarding the syllabus of the UPSC Civil Services Prelims Exam and how to prepare.

Names of the Books are as follows:

– All NCERTs (6th class to 12th class)

– For Polity Laxmikanth

– For Ancient Indian history Tamil Board book

– For Modern Indian History Spectrum

– For Science and tech Tata Mcgrawhill

– For Indian art and culture Nitin Singhania

– For Environment ICSE Books, Monthly magazines and newspapers

Things to Remember

– It is necessary to understand that strategy should always be Mains perspective. If you are preparing for Mains automatically most of the Prelims will be prepared and also try to finish the maximum syllabus of Mains before prelims.

– Or we can say that complete the Mains syllabus at least once before the Prelims.

– Answer writing practise should be there and it will be better to have a good answer writing practice before Prelims.

– Revise the whole week work on Sunday or frequent revision is required.

– If you want you can also make short notes of General Studies topics.

– Analyse previous Years questions before starting with any subject.

– Cover the newspaper on daily basis do not leave for many days incomplete.

– Study daily with consistency for about 6 to 8 hours or according to your capacity. During the course of preparation, you may don’t feel like studying on some days but you will have to study and focused.

UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2021: General Studies and CSAT for CSE

List of the basic minimum resources or books with some important topics subject-wise are mentioned. This will help the freshers to plan the preparation accordingly.

Subject Sources
  • Indian Economic Development- 11th NCERT
  • Macroeconomics- 12th NCERT
  • Economic Survey, Budget
  • Niti Aayog Report
  • Agriculture- Recent Trends & Problems, Schemes, initiatives & programmes ( From magazines, PIB, newspaper, etc.)
  • M.Laxmikanth
  • D.D. Basu
  • Focus on Bills, Acts in the news as it can be asked in Prelims and Mains
  • RSTV videos
  • Class 8th NCERT (Resources and developments)
  • Class 9th NCERT ( Contemporary India -1)
  • Class 10th NCERT (Contemporary India -2)
  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography- 11th NCERT
  • Physical Environment of India- 11th NCERT
  • Human Geography- 12th NCERT
  • Indian People and Economy- 12th NCERT
  • Certificate Geography- G.C. Leong
  • Map book
  • Mains- Savinder Singh, Khullar/Majid Hussain
  • Interlink with Mains topics such as Disaster Management.
  • Biology class 12th NCERT- Last 4 Chapters
  • ICSE Books
  • Newspaper, Monthly magazine

Topics to be covered are:

  • Introduction to Environment & Ecology
  • Ecological Hierarchy: Habitat & Niche
  •  Ecological Principles
  •  Ecological Succession
  • Ecosystems Definition & Concept
  • Ecosystem Dynamics: Pyramids, Food web
  • Biomagnification and Biochemical cycles
  • Biomes: Forests, Grasslands, Mountain & Desert Ecosystem
  • Aquatic Life: Zones of the Ocean, Coral Reefs & Mangroves
  • Aquatic Life: Conventions-Montreux, Ramsar Convention
  • Biodiversity: Basics and Concepts
  • Biodiversity: Keystone, Indicator and Invasive species
  • Biodiversity Hotspots, Eco-regions & Megadiverse Regions
  • Biodiversity: Uses & Values
  • Biodiversity: Biogeographic Classification of India
  • Biodiversity: IUCN Classification & Red List
  • Biodiversity: Ex-situ & In-situ Conservation
  • Biodiversity: UNESCO, CBD & Cartagena Protocol
  • Biodiversity: Nagoya Protocol; Aichi Targets
  • Environment: Pollution-Air, Water; carcinogens
  • Environment Impact Assessment: Recent issues
  • Environmental Laws & Institutions
  • Environment: Schemes & Policies
  • International Environmental Governance, etc.
  •  Ancient History: Cover Old NCERT,(Class XIth, RS Sharma)
  • Tamil Board, (Class: 8,10,11,12,13,14 (Ancient India) Quiz
  • Indian Medieval History- Satish Chandra( Old NCERT )
  • Indian freedom struggle- Spectrum
  • Bipin Chandra- India’s struggle for Independence
  • Bipin Chandra- India’s struggle after Independence
  • World History- Arjun Dev NCERT
Art and culture


  • An introduction to Indian Art- 11th NCERT
  • Focus on art and culture chapters of Indian Ancient History- R S Sharma( Old NCERT )
  • Indian Medieval History- Satish Chandra( Old NCERT )
  • CCRT
  • Art & Culture: Nitin Singhania’s notes
  • Watch videos on youtube. Audio-visual helps memorize better,
  • Focus on country-country relations – static and current developments
  • Newspapers and Magazines will help
  • V.N Khanna

Topics to be covered:

  • India and its neighbourhood-relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.
  • The Indian diaspora, Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate etc.
General science
  • NCERT- 9th
  • NCERT – 10th
  • Newspaper and monthly magazine
  • ARC- Ethics in Governance
  • Remember definitions
  • Subba Rao- For case studies

Topics to be covered are:

  • Fundamentals of Ethics, Morality & Legality
  • Determinants of Ethics & Ethics in Public Life
  • Dimensions/Branches of Ethics
  • Human Values: Values & Skills
  • Fundamental Values Vs. Instrumental Values
  • Aptitude & Foundational Values of Civil Services
  • Concepts of Neutrality, Anonymity and Commitment; Morality of Civil Servants
  • Contributions of Western Moral Thinkers
  • Contributions of Western Moral Thinkers
  • Contributions of Indian Thinkers
  • Contributions of Indian Religious Philosophy
  • Attitude: Types & Functions of Attitude
  • Ethics & Law: Enforcement of Ethics through Civil Services Conduct Rules & Code of Ethics
  • Ethics & the Law: RTI Act, Citizens’ Charters
  • The challenge of Corruption: Laws and Regulations
  • Probity in Governance
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Components of Emotional competencies
  • Corporate Governance: Ethics and Probity
  • Case Studies Session
  • Ethics: Paper related Terms & Glossary
  • Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service; associated case studies
  • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; associated case studies.
  • Ethics, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service; associated case studies, etc.
Other Mains topics
  • Society- Indian Society- 12th NCERT, Social change and Development- 12th NCERT
  • Governance- ARC report, Adda Videos and study material
  • Social Issues- ARC reports, Newspaper, PIB, PRS, Frontline
  • Disaster Management- ARC Report ( Crisis Management )
  • Security- Challenges to Internal Security of India- Ashok Kumar

Topics for Society:

  •  Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues.Poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  • Effects of globalization on Indian society. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism, etc.

Topics for Governance:

  •  Governance: Meaning & Concepts
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability
  • Ministries & Departments of Government
  • E-Governance-applications & models
  • E-Governance: Successes, limitations, and potential
  • Role of Civil Services in a Democracy
  • Transparency & Accountability: Meaning & Concepts
  • Citizens charters, RTI, institutional and other measures
  • Transparency & Accountability: Public Services Delivery Act, SEVOTTAM Model
  • Vulnerable sections: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
  • Schemes & Programmes: performance and evaluation
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger
  • Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States, etc.

Topics for Disaster Management:

  •  Introduction to Disaster Management
  • Types of Disasters: Classification
  • The occurrence of Disasters worldwide
  • Disaster Management Act & Apparatus [Evolution & Future]
  • National Disaster Management Plan
  • Government Initiatives to reduce vulnerabilities
  • Application of ICT & Space Technology in Disaster Mitigation
  • International Organisations & Associations dealing with Disasters
  • Economic & Social Impact of Disasters, etc.

Social issues

Topics to be covered are:

  • Vulnerable Sections: Basic meaning & Indexes
  • Role of Women, NGOs and associations
  • Women:  Laws and their analysis
  • Women: Schemes & Policies
  • Children: Laws & analysis
  •   SCs/STs: Constitutional Safeguards and laws
  • Schemes & Policies related to SCs/STs
  • Senior Citizens-Constitutional Provisions & Schemes
  •   Judiciary and Vulnerable sections
  • LGBT: Legal status; jurisprudence and challenges
  • Discussion on Mains Answer writing
  • Disability and Disabled: Legal provisions & Challenges
  • Role of NGOs, SHGs, Donor agencies
  • Effects of Globalisation on Indian Society
  • Urbanisation: Problems & Solutions
  • Communalism, Regionalism & Secularism
  • Caste & Religion
  • Population issues: Decoding Census-2011, etc.
Internal Security

Topics to be covered are:

  •  Role of External State and Non-state Actors in creating challenges to Internal Security.
  • Challenges to Internal Security through Communication Networks, Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges, Basics of Cyber Security; Money-Laundering and its prevention.
  • Insurgency in North East
  • Naxalism in India: Causes & Solutions
  • Militancy in North East
  • Internal Security & International Relations Affairs linkage
  • Linkages between Development and Spread of Extremism, etc.
Current affairs
  • Read newspaper keeping both Prelims and Mains syllabus
  • As per your capacity and interest make notes
  • Cover Current Affairs issue- wise and not date wise
  • Revise Current Affairs with a monthly magazine
  • Attempt test series
  • And current notes of Adda247
  • Videos based on current burning topics of Adda247

It will be better to separate the topics or study as per your level. We have just provided an idea that in this way you can cover topics and strategize your preparation.

What is the best strategy to prepare for UPSC Civil Services Exam 2021?_50.1

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Key facts:

– It is important to know the basics of the exam. Analyse previous years papers, you should know how and what is asked in the exam. You can also see some Youtube channels of experts including Adda247. This will help in the preparation and understanding the basics of an exam.

Strengthen and build your foundation: Cover NCERTS from 6th to 12th class and develop regular reading newspaper habit. For building the foundation start reading some standard books for each subject. Always remember it is necessary to limit the resources and frequent revision. It will be better to read one book for each subject with a thorough understanding and revise it multiple times.

– The key to success is revision and consistency in studies.

Answer- writing practice for Mains also plays an important role in the examination.

– You can start Prelims focused preparation about two months before the Prelims. Try to give full mock tests in a simulated environment and also take precautions while giving Mock tests due to COVID-19.

– For Interview preparation, you should be confident about yourself, work on soft skills, groom personality, read newspapers regularly, etc.

We can’t ignore the fact that each stage of the UPSC Civil Services Exam is an elimination round where the UPSC declares cutoff after the declaration of the result. So, it will be better to check out the cutoff for all the three stages.

Adda247 brings you online courses and Youtube videos of several current burning topics and also subject-oriented to help in the preparation. During COVID-19 you will be able to start the preparation of the UPSC Civil Services Exam from home itself under the guidance of an expert. Check out the details and courses.

Best of Luck!

UPSC CSE Mains 2020 Detailed Syllabus: GS Paper-I (Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society)

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