What Do You Need to Know About the UPSC Online Exam?


What Do You Need to Know About the UPSC Online Exam?Becoming an IAS (Indian Administrative Service) is the dream career of millions of students living in India. Anyone who is pursuing it knows how difficult it is to crack it.

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is the Central Authority supervising the whole recruitment procedure. UPSC is responsible not only for conducting IAS exams but others like Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), etc. The authority recruits more than 20 services under a common exam called UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE).

Lakhs of aspirants apply to become a part of the institution every year, but only a few get the chance. What is the difference between the ones who crack the exam and the ones who cannot? The answer is their exam preparation strategy. Before starting the preparation, the first question that pops up in one's head is, "how to prepare?".

Firstly, let's get to know about the UPSC online exam.

Stages of the UPSC Online Exam

There are three stages of clearing the UPSC Civil Services examination: Prelims, Mains, and Interview.


The Preliminary examination consists of two exams that are General Studies-I which contains 100 questions, and General Studies-II (CSAT), which contains 80 questions. Both exams are of 200 marks each. The questions in prelims are an objective type or Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ). For every incorrect question, there is a negative marking at the prelims stage. The General Studies-II (CSAT) is qualifying, and the applicants have to score 33% to pass on to the next level of the IAS exam, i.e., Mains.


The second stage is the Mains exam. It is a written descriptive type exam and consists of 9 papers. These papers in IAS Exam (Mains) are Paper-A (Compulsory Indian Language); Paper –B (English). Both these are qualifying in nature, while there are other papers like Essay, General Studies Papers I, II, III, and IV, and Optional Papers I and II, which are considered for the final ranking.


The third stage is the UPSC Interview/Personality Test. This is for candidates who have cleared the Mains exam with the required cut-off marks. These candidates have to appear for an interview before the UPSC Board Members. The Commission sends an e-summon to candidates who qualify at this stage. They are invited for a face-to-face discussion with board members. The board tries to assess their personality traits and asks questions related to their hobbies, current affairs, general knowledge, situation questions, etc.

There are certain requirements relating to the candidate's nationality, age, number of attempts and educational qualification, etc. The UPSC conducts the exam once a year. The candidate must be between 21-32 years (upper age relaxation for reserved candidates) to be able to give the exam. If the aspirant belongs to the general category, he must be an Indian citizen with a graduate degree and must not have attempted the IAS exam more than six times. Although, there are certain relaxations for some people.

To clear a UPSC exam, the aspirant must know his books well. The candidates spend the majority of their time seeking the answers to questions that come up in their minds. There are innumerable books available in the market for the aspirant to read, but the time is limited. So the aspirants must choose their books wisely and stick to specific resources. They must keep on revising the same book rather than referring to too many new books. This will result in a lack of revision as well as confusion with the new book.

The type of books that the aspirant refers to must be a wise mix like NCERT books, online sources, newspaper notes, magazines, etc. Avoid reading books that are unverified, as they may hold wrong information.

Top Tips To Crack The UPSC Exam

Some tips that can be used while preparing for the UPSC exam are

  1. By analyzing the trend, it was seen that more current affair-based questions are asked in both prelims and mains stage of the IAS exam. Go for sources that are credible and hold verified information like PIB, The Hindu, Yojana, etc. Align the recent occurrences as per the IAS exam syllabus. For the IAS exam, current affairs usually include events of national and international prominence in the last 10-12 months.
  2. Look through the past years' IAS exam questions to measure the amount of practice required from your end.
  3. Read the NCERT books and construct notes. Prepare notes in two ways that are a short type of notes for Prelims and descriptive notes for Mains.
  4. The preparation for Prelims and Mains exams must be done simultaneously until 1-2 months are left for the Prelims exam. Determine the syllabus which is overlapping between Prelims and Mains and concentrate on those areas first.
  5. Choose an Optional subject for the IAS exam based on your skill, curiosity, and knowledge. Some optional subjects have a significant overlap with the General Studies syllabus in Mains. However, the syllabus of the latter is rather vast, so make sure to do your due diligence before finalizing one.
  6. Run through the typical books for each subject. Find the IAS exam book list, Current Affairs notes, NCERT notes, and other information on the internet through a verified website.
  7. Do not underestimate the CSAT paper in Prelims and Ethics paper in Mains lightly.
  8. The two qualifying language papers in Mains also hold utmost importance as failing to score at least 25% in them will automatically eliminate the candidate from the IAS exam process without even considering the performance in other papers.
  9. Make some time to practice solving MCQs for Prelims and writing practice answers for Mains.
  10. The candidate must revise what he has studied multiple times, update the notes, and revise some more.

Wrapping Up

Appearing, studying, and cracking the UPSC exam is not easy. Lakhs of students apply every year and fight for the few thousand seats available. UPSC examination is one of the most difficult but aspirated courses by students. The only solution to cracking this exam is knowing the books well and knowing what to study.


  1. Are online UPSC preparation courses suitable for beginners?

A: Yes, online UPSC preparation courses are suitable for beginners as they provide comprehensive study materials, guidance, and support to help students build a strong foundation in the subject.

  1. Are online UPSC preparation courses affordable?

Yes, online UPSC preparation courses are often more affordable than traditional coaching centers as they eliminate the cost of renting a physical classroom, and this cost-saving is passed onto the students.