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UPSC Prelims 2021: Last 3 months Strategy for UPSC preparation

On 27th June 2021, Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) will conduct the Civil Services Examination (CSE) Prelims. All the dates related to the recruitment examination including CSE 2021 are provided in the UPSC calendar 2021.

Before going into the details of the strategy for the preparation of UPSC examination 2021 for Prelims let us check about the exam pattern.

UPSC Prelims 2021: Last 3 months Strategy for UPSC preparation_40.1

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UPSC Prelims Exam pattern 2021

The Prelims exam of UPSC consists of two objective type papers namely General Studies I and General Studies II or CSAT and the total marks is 400. Both the papers held on the same day in two sessions through offline mode.

The Admit Card for UPSC Prelims Examination would be released on the official website of UPSC 2 or 3 weeks before the date of the UPSC Examination.

Check UPSC Prelims Examination Syllabus 2021 in brief

General Studies Paper-1 Syllabus:

– Current events of national and international importance.

– History of India and Indian National Movement.

– Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.

– Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

– Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.

– General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change- that do not require subject specialization.

– General Science.

General Studies Paper-2 (CSAT) Syllabus:

– Comprehension.

– Interpersonal skills including communication skills;

– Logical reasoning and analytical ability.

– Decision-making and problem-solving.

– General mental ability.

– Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level)

– Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. – Class X level).

– English language comprehension skills – Class X level.

Detailed Syllabus: UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2021: General Studies and CSAT for CSE 

3 months preparation strategy for UPSC Prelims 2021 is as follows:

Below mentioned strategies may help the candidates to score well in the UPSC examination.

After doing research and analysis of the optional subject and others now this is the time to focus on revisions, and the sources listed below:

Current Affairs

As we have seen that every year the ratio of questions from each section varies and there is no decided pattern for GS prelims. Therefore, a candidate should prepare the current affairs for the last 18 to 24 months.

Candidates can prepare current affairs from:

– Newspaper: The Hindu, Indian Express, and Mint

Note: Don’t devote more than 30 minutes to newspaper reading. It is better to concentrate more on editorial, national, international and sports news section.

– Video analysis of The Hindu

– Yojana/Kurukshetra Magazine

– Adda 247 Current Affairs, Monthly ebook magazine

– Adda 247 Daily UPSC Quiz

Key areas to be focussed on are:

– Cover current of the last 18-24 months

Prepare International Relations, Science and Technology, Environment, Defence, etc.

– Also, some editorial section is important for Polity and Essay papers in Mains Exam.

Also, to note that candidates should prepare for UPSC Prelims and Mains simultaneously as their syllabus overlaps but now this is the time for revision and practice test papers, go through previous years papers, etc.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 18 March, 2021


Topics to be covered and revised are:

Ancient, medieval, and modern history as well as the Indian National Movement. No doubt the syllabus is vast but if studied thoroughly then can help to solve 5 to 7 questions in the UPSC Prelims Examination.

Key areas to be focussed on are:

Indian Independence movement:

Main congress sessions with the year, president and important resolutions

Significant viceroys and their period with important decisions

The Government of India Acts 1909, 1919, 1935 and charter acts

Ancient history:

Hindu philosophy, Buddhism and Jainism

Mauryan and Gupta Period

Art, architecture and scientific development during that period

Art and Culture

Several Schools of Indian Philosophy like Samkhya, Nyaka, Yoga, Vedanta, Purva Mimamsa, etc.

Religious Movements like Jainism, Buddhism, etc.

Archeological (Inscription or Epigraphy, Numismatics or Coins, monuments, etc.

– Foreigners like Greek, Chinese, Arab Travellers, etc.

Medieval history:

Important kings such as Sher Shah, Akbar, etc. and

Delhi Sultanate, etc.

References are:

Class 6-12th NCERT books for History

Spectrum – A brief history of Modern India

Bipin Chandra’s Struggle for Independence, etc.

Indian Polity

One book mainly suggested by the candidates and experts is Indian Polity by Lakshmikant. It should be read thoroughly with frequent revisions. Read all the articles thoroughly.

Key areas to be focussed on are:

– Current events, like any changes in the constitution, new acts or amendments, and schemes.

– Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties, Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP).

– Committee system, parliament, and parliamentary proceedings

– Judiciary

– Constitutional bodies


The syllabus of UPSC includes Indian and World Geography and every year it has been seen that around 1 or 2 map based questions are asked in the UPSC prelims examination.

Key areas to be focussed on are:

Solar system

Latitudes and longitudes

Layers of the atmosphere

Global atmospheric wind, cyclones

Pressure belts

Revolution, rotation and seasons


Types of rainfall

Koeppen classification

Jet streams, ocean currents

El Nino, La Nina

India’s physical geography (NCERT)

Rivers, hills, soil (India)

Mineral resources (India), Geological history of India

Basics of agriculture (NCERT)


Some of the references are:

– Class 6-10 NCERTs – World Geography topics, etc.

– Class 11, 12 NCERT

– Oxford Atlas

– G.C. Leong – Physical Geography


Topics included in Economics are from the economy, social development – poverty, inclusive growth, and social sector initiatives, etc.

Key areas to be focussed on are:

– Current events topics like new bills and important committees

Focus on basic and fundamental concepts like:

– Growth and development, poverty, unemployment, inflation

– State of the national and global economy

– Major committees and bills

– Latest budget and economic survey

Some of the references are:

– Class 11 and 12 NCERT

– Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh (reference only for important topics)

– The Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma (for basics)

– Economy Survey

Environment and Ecology

Topics included in the Environment and Ecology is related to biodiversity, climate change, etc.

Key areas to be focussed on are:

– Current affairs, important declarations, conventions

– IUCN’s Red List

– Biosphere Reserves, Tiger Reserves etc.

– International bodies, etc.

Some of the references are:

– Class 12 Biology (Only environment topics)

– Shankar IAS notes, cover current topics related to the environment from magazines as well.

General Science and Science and Technology

It has been seen that most of the questions asked from this section are related to current events. Therefore, some basic concepts of clarity should be there and can’t be ignored.

Key areas to be focussed on are:

– For basic science concepts, refer to NCERT books selectively as in-depth or detail knowledge is not required.

– Focus on the current affairs part

Some of the references are:

– Class 6-10 NCERTs

– Science Reporter Magazine

Day-Wise Preparation Schedule

Subject/Topic Number Days for Preparation (approx.)
Polity 13
Geography 12
History 13
Economy 10
Science & Technology 10
Environment 11
Current Affairs 20
Revision 10
Total 99 days

Note: Preparation of CSAT depends on an individual’s grasp on the subject during these three months approximately. So, don’t miss CSAT preparation and arrange your schedule accordingly. Make efforts according to the demand of paper and analyse previous year’s papers and practice as much as you can.

In Brief:

– Define your priorities.

– Prepare or revise first your weak portions.

– It is important to develop a schedule.

– Revise as much as you can.

– Go through Previous Years UPSC Prelims Papers.

– Give Mock Tests

– Practice and solve papers as much as possible

– Special focus on Current Affairs

– Analyse answers after the test

– No need to study new books or study material

– Be confident and take care of your health during the course of preparation. Take necessary precautions at these times of pandemic.

All the Best!

IAS Prelims Mock-Test 2021 – Set 122, 18 March




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