How to prepare for UPSC Prelims examination in 60 days

It is possible to prepare for UPSC Prelims examination in 60 days, but it will require a lot of hard work and dedication. To achieve this, for the next 60 days, you will have to study for 10 to 12 hours on regular basis. It means you will be having (60 x 10) = 600 hrs approx.

Every year lakhs of students appear for the prelims examination indeed it’s a tough examination, so now to crack prelims in this limited period you have to stick yourself with a single strategy. Switching strategies could be dangerous in this limited time frame.

Now we will discuss step by step process to complete your prelims preparation in 60 days. The process which we are going to share with you is not any shortcut formula, it will only work if you devote 10 to 12 hours on regular basis.

Step 1 – Understanding the pattern of UPSC Prelims exam 

In prelims, there are two papers consisting of 200 marks each. Paper 1 is general studies and paper 2 is aptitude. For paper 2 you have to score at least 33% in order to qualify.

Papers Duration Questions Marks
Paper I – General Studies: It is a qualifying paper to write the mains exam 2 Hours 100 200
Paper II – Aptitude: This paper is of qualifying nature, but the candidate must score at least 33% marks in this paper and marks of this paper are not counted for writing the Mains examination. 2 Hours 80 200


There is “Negative Marking” in the Prelims exam.  There is a penalty of 33% marks or 0.83 marks for every wrong answer. Though decision making and problem-solving section don’t have negative marking.

Step 2 – Understanding the syllabus of UPSC Prelims exam 

Before you start the preparation or select the books, it is important to understand the subject and syllabus, so you can make the right decision. If you look at the syllabus of civil services prelims examination, then you will find that there are two papers consisting of 200 marks each. While the marks of paper – 1 will be counted in the merit list of prelims whereas the paper – 2 is of qualifying nature.

It is simple to cover the paper 2 of prelims syllabus with a single book but most of the aspirants are confused with the topics of paper 1 in prelims, that’s why we have provided the breakdown of these topics and accordingly selected the materials.

UPSC Syllabus for Paper I – (200 marks) Duration: Two hours (Counted for the merit rank in the Prelims)

Topics Broad Meaning
Current events of national and international importance. Here you need to look at the newspaper and divide the Important events as national & international. Check example here
History of India and Indian National Movement. History of India is a broad term, which means you have to cover Ancient, Medieval and Modern Indian History. Indian national Movement is the part of Modern Indian History. It also includes culture and Society.
Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World. We think this one is simple to understand because they have clearly mentioned the three important branches of both India and World Geography.
Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc. For this you need to focus on two things, the first one is the static portion of Indian Polity and Governance, the second source will be current affairs.
Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc. This topic can be covered with the help of NCERT books for Economics, books on Economic Geography, Human Geography and Current Affairs. So here the two main sources of preparation will be NCERT books and Current Affairs.
General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity, and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization. For this section current affairs are really important, you have to pick up the popular and trending issues related to this topic from newspaper and work on those concepts. For covering those concepts and static portion NIOS materials will be really helpful. Although there are study materials in the market which we have suggested below. But self-made notes will be the best option.
General Science For this portion again two sources are really important. First, one is NCERT books on Science & Tech and second on is Current Affairs. NCERT books will clear your basic concepts which you have already learned in the school. Current topics of science and tech will keep you updated on the happenings, which is really important for the examination.


UPSC Syllabus for Paper II- (200 marks) Duration: Two hours (Not counted for the merit rank in Prelims but a qualifying Paper; just needs 33% marks)

  • 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).

Step 3 – Collecting reference books & Study Materials

In this section of the website, we have shared all important books for UPSC Prelims and mains examination, but for now, you just need to focus on prelims books listed below for Paper 1 & Paper 2

Important books for prelims paper 1 

Important books for prelims paper 2

Above mentioned books are basic reference books, followed by everyone while preparation. Make sure to purchase the books mentioned above, as these books will also be helpful in UPSC Mains preparation.

Step 4 – Make a Time Table & Start reading 

Now you are acquainted with books and syllabus for UPSC Prelims examination, now its time to plan and organise your preparation. In this article, we have shared scientific ways to study for a longer period of time. In order to crack this examination in a limited period of time, you have to study at least 10 to 12 hours on regular basis.

You should set a target to finish the book readings in the next 45 days and 15 days should be reserved for practice set and test series.

Step 5 – Practice & Practice 

Only reading books will not help you to crack the UPSC Prelims examination. Make sure you are also practicing the previous year question papers, in this article we have suggested some of the best practice set available in the market. If your pocket allows then also join test series of reputed institutes (It’s your choice).

Going through previous year question papers will help you to understand the pattern and quality of question asked by UPSC. It will also help you to understand the way you should read the topics.

Step 6 – Standard procedure to be followed 

If you are finding it clumsy to make the schedule and time table, then don’t worry we have the plan for you.

  • First, start with NCERT Books, to get the basic knowledge and develop a strong foundation.
  • Then go through the previous year question papers, to understand the pattern and quality of the question.
  • Now revise NCERT Books, with standard reference book mentioned above
  • Last 15 days should be reserved for practice set and test series
  • For paper 2 make sure you are practicing on a regular basis
  • Make sure to read current affairs of the past 1 year 

Apart from these tips, you will require a lot of motivation and dedication to reach the goal in a short period of time. UPSC civil services prelims exam is an entirely different exam from any other exams. No one knows what will come in the exam, so explore yourself till you get it. All the best.

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