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Planning to appear for UPSC Prelims? Important topics you shouldn't miss

Planning to appear for UPSC Prelims? Important topics you shouldn't miss

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 17 Jan 2018, 11:04 pm

The notification for UPSC Civil Services Examination or the IAS examination as it is commonly called has been released and application process has also started. The last date for application is March 6th, 2018. It is a three-tier examination. The Prelims is set to be conducted on June 3rd, 2018, clearing which will allow the candidates to appear for the Mains. So that gives candidates roughly few months to kick-start their preparations.

It is the toughest examination of the country. The syllabus of IAS exams is vast and the competition gets tough each year. So, simply merit may not help aspirants to ace it. Planning and strategy are the most important tools needed to clear IAS Prelims. To start with, one should be very well aware of the syllabus, the nature and the duration of the exam. For the help of the candidates, it is given below,

Paper I

Duration: 2 hours

Marks: 200

No. Of Questions: 100

  •  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, Bio-diversity, and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization
  • General Science


Paper II
Duration: 2 hours
Marks: 200
No. Of Questions: 80

  •  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)



  •  Paper II is of qualifying nature. The minimum qualifying marks have been fixed at 33%.
  • Both the papers are compulsory to attend.
  • Papers will be set in both English and Hindi
  •  Both the papers will be of Objective Type i.e. will have Multiple Choice Questions
  •  Marks of the preliminary examination will not be counted in the main examination
  •  Duration of each paper will be 2 hours. Blind candidates and the candidates with Locomotor Disability and Cerebral Palsy, where dominant (wilting) extremity is affected to the extent of slowing the performance of function (minimum of 40% impairment), will be allowed an extra time of twenty minutes per hour for each paper.
  • Each question will have four alternatives for the answers. There is negative marking for wrong answers. For each wrong answer by the candidate one-third of the marks (0.33) assigned to that question will be deducted. Answering more than one alternative will be treated as wrong answered.

Once the syllabus is understood properly, we should take into consideration the trend of previous years’ questions. By evaluating previous years’ papers it has been observed that most of the questions for each of the topics are related to the happenings in the country or around the world in the current year or the previous year, related to socio-economy, politics, culture, environment, history and geography. They should also be well informed about the recent technological advances and scientific achievements, international treaties, and conventions. They should make it a habit to follow the news and be up to date about all the current events.

Let us now discuss some of the most important topics for IAS Prelims that the aspirants should prepare very well without giving a miss.


Economics is one of the most significant topics for IAS prelims. Previous years’ trends have shown that almost 20 to 25 questions are asked from this subject. The syllabus is quite vast but the focus should mainly be on the fundamental concepts and current affairs. To be updated about recent economic developments and changes is very important. Candidates should have clear knowledge on various concepts such as growth and development, inflation, poverty, unemployment and national income. They should be updated about the current conditions of the global and national economy, budgets, and economic surveys. Apart from all that some of the topics that should be covered include:

  •  Taxes and reforms
  •  Depreciation and appreciation
  •  Demonetization
  •  Banking systems and Basel III
  •  Fiscal deficit and budget
  •  GDP, GVA etc
  •  Convertibility of rupee
  •  FDI and FII
  •  National schemes and programs
  •  Finance commission and recommendations
  •  Demographic transitions
  •  Unemployment and poverty in India
  •  Inflation rates


Polity is quite an important subject for IAS prelims as many as 5 to 20 questions can be asked on this subject. It is important for all the three tiers of the examination. Students should have a clarity on topics such as fundamental rights and duties, parliament and its proceedings, constitution, articles and amendments, judiciary and constitutional bodies. Current political events should be focused upon, including bills and amendments, new schemes, changes in the constitution and recent Supreme Court verdicts. Few other significant topics are:

  •  Panchayati Raj and PESA 1996
  •  Judiciary
  •  Non Proliferation Treaty and MTCR
  •  Distribution of Powers between union and states
  •  Parliament and State Legislature
  •  Council of Ministers, Speaker, Governor, CAG, President, Prime Minister and Attorney General
  •  Forest rights act 2006
  •  Indian membership in regional establishments
  •  Different committees of parliament
  •  Passing of bills


The current question trends showed the number of questions from history to have decreased slightly. But nevertheless, history is quite important because not less than 7 questions can be asked on this subject. Students should concentrate more on the Modern Indian History focusing on the Indian Freedom Movement. In ancient and medieval history topics such asMauryan and Gupta periods, Buddhism and Jainism, Hindu philosophy, basic art, culture, architecture and scientific advancements of the eras, Mughal rulers, and their dynasties are some of the important ones. Most of the questions on this subject are repeated from previous years. Few other topics that should be covered are:

  •  Governor-generals and viceroys
  •  Medieval dictionary
  •  Important dynasties in medieval India
  • Land reforms and revenue systems
  •  Rock cut monuments
  •  Freedom struggle and other important movements
  •  Ancient times taxation and administration


Geography and Environment

This portion covers both national and world geography. Students should possess the basic knowledge about earth, the universe, and the solar system and natural phenomena. High school textbooks from Class 6 to 10 can be followed for the basic concepts. Current affairs in geography are very important and students should be well updated about the same. Questions from geography overlap with environmental and agricultural questions and almost 35 to 40 questions are asked from altogether. The significant topics to be covered are:

  •  Floods, earthquakes, cyclones
  •  Temperature and precipitation
  •  Ocean Currents
  •  Location of countries between seas
  •  Climatic conditions of various regions
  •  La Nina and El Nino
  •  Natural Vegetation, Flora and Fauna
  •  National Parks, Wetlands, Biosphere Reserves and Wildlife Sanctuaries
  •  Types of soils and conservation
  •  National Green Tribunal
  •  Rivers of India and their protection
  •  National Highways

Environment and Agriculture

The subject Environment and Agriculture is important because a major part of current events are related to the environment. So a considerable number of questions are from this portion. Students must be familiar with the fundamental concepts regarding the environment and global initiatives taken for its preservation and for protecting it. Some of the important topics to cover are:

  •  Eco-friendly technologies
  •  Agriculture, crops, drainage, and irrigation
  •  International treaties, meetings and organizations regarding the environment and its preservation
  •  International Reports
  •  National schemes for agriculture and irrigation
  •  Recent Government reports regarding the environment

General Science

Current affairs and latest news regarding the science world dominates this part of the syllabus. But students need to have good knowledge of the concepts as well. For basic concepts, high school textbooks can be consulted. Fundamental concepts should be about everyday science, mobile technologies, nanotechnology and biotechnology. On an average 8 to 10 questions can be expected from general science. Some of the other important topics to be covered are:

  •  Medicine and public health
  •  Government schemes and technology related to public health
  •  Bt- crops
  •  Communication technology, 3G and 4G
  •  Food and chemicals
  •  Diseases and causes
  •  Nuclear energy
  •  Work and energy
  •  Gravitation
  •  Light and matter
  •  Genetics, DNA and stem cells
  •  Renewable energy sources and eco-friendly energy sources
  •  ICT
  •  Plant and animal classification

Important tips:

Cracking UPSC conducted Civil Service Examination is no easy task but as the saying goes “Try and try and you will succeed”, one should never stop trying. More than studying you have to plan your course of study. Strategies and time management are very crucial. Revision is a must after learning a topic and before moving over to the next one. Solving previous years’ papers may help students get an idea of the expected questions because the pattern of the questions is usually the same. For current affairs, newspapers such as Hindu and Indian Express are recommended to be followed. Students can enroll for test series offered by various institutions to help them evaluate their progress.

Planning to appear for UPSC Prelims? Important topics you shouldn't miss

India Blooms News Service
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