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How to start upsc preparation from zero level?

UPSC is a highly competitive civil service exam conducted by the Union public service commission in India. The exam comprises three stages: the preliminary exam, the main exam, and the personality test or interview. The preliminary exam consists of two objective-type papers: the General Studies Paper I and the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT) Paper II. The main exam comprises nine descriptive-type papers covering a wide range of subjects such as Indian languages, English, essay writing, general studies, and optional subjects. The personality test or interview is the final stage of the selection process.

Understanding the UPSC exam structure and pattern is crucial for aspirants who want to start UPSC preparation from the zero level. It helps them to plan and prepare strategically for each stage of the exam, including the prelims, mains, and interview. Moreover, having a clear understanding of the exam structure and pattern enables candidates to identify their strengths and weaknesses and work on improving their weak areas.

Tips to Start UPSC Preparation from Zero level

The UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exam is one of the toughest competitive exams in India. It requires extensive preparation, planning, and strategy to crack the exam. Here are few tips to start UPSC preparation from a zero level:

Know the syllabus

Understanding the syllabus is crucial before starting the UPSC preparation. The UPSC syllabus comprises three stages- Prelims, Mains, and Interview. The syllabus is vast and covers different subjects, including History, Geography, Polity, Science & Technology, Current Affairs, etc. It is essential to go through the syllabus thoroughly and identify the topics that require more attention.

Read newspapers

Newspapers are a primary source of current affairs, which play a crucial role in the UPSC exams. Make it a habit to read newspapers daily and note down important events, facts, and figures.

Practice writing

The UPSC exams require excellent writing skills, which can be developed through regular practice. It is recommended to start writing on different topics and subjects, including essay writing, answer writing, and comprehension. Writing practice helps in improving analytical skills, articulation, and time management.

Join coaching classes

Joining coaching classes can be beneficial for aspirants starting from zero levels. Coaching classes provide structured guidance, study materials, and regular tests, which help in better understanding and retention of the concepts. It is essential to choose a reputable coaching institute with experienced faculties and a good track record.

Have a study plan

A study plan is a roadmap that helps in achieving the desired goal systematically. A well-structured study plan helps in better time management, revision, and focus. Make sure to set achievable weekly and monthly goals. Include time for revision, practice tests, and analysis of your performance. Allocate sufficient time for current affairs and newspaper reading.

Utilise online resources

The internet is a vast ocean of knowledge, and it is essential to utilise it for UPSC preparation. There are several online resources available, including study materials, videos, mock tests, and current affairs websites. Aspirants can join online forums, groups, and social media platforms, which provide insights and guidance on UPSC preparation.

Focus on basics

The UPSC exams test the basics of the subjects rather than in-depth knowledge. Aspirants should focus on building a strong foundation of the subjects and gradually move to advanced topics. When starting your UPSC preparation, it is important to build a strong foundation by focusing on the basics. Aspirants can start building their basics with the help of NCERT books. They cover the basics of every subject in a simple way. Aspirants can move on to more advanced materials after mastering the basics.

Revise regularly

Regular revision is crucial for retaining the concepts and information. It is recommended to revise the topics regularly and make notes for quick revision. Revision helps in identifying the gaps in knowledge and rectifying them.

Stay motivated 

UPSC preparation requires consistent efforts, dedication, and patience. Aspirants may face challenges, setbacks, and failures during the preparation journey. It is essential to stay motivated and focused on the goal, and not let the failures deter the spirit.

Take breaks

UPSC preparation can be overwhelming, and it is essential to take breaks and relax the mind and body. Aspirants should engage in hobbies, physical activities, and social interactions to de-stress and rejuvenate. A balanced lifestyle helps in better concentration, retention, and performance.

Common Mistakes to avoid while preparing for UPSC from scratch

Preparing for the UPSC exam from scratch can be overwhelming, and there are several common mistakes that aspirants tend to make. Here are some mistakes that you should avoid while preparing for the UPSC exam:

Neglecting NCERT books: The NCERT books are the foundation for UPSC preparation. Ignoring them can cost you a lot, and you might struggle with the basics.

Relying too much on coaching: Coaching centers can be helpful, but don’t rely solely on them. Self-study and research are equally important.

Ignoring the importance of current affairs: UPSC is all about current affairs. Staying updated with the news and events is crucial.

Overload of study materials: Too many books and resources can be confusing and time-consuming. Stick to relevant and quality materials.

Poor time management: Time management is key to success in UPSC.

Lack of practice: Practice is essential for UPSC, so solve as many mock tests and previous year papers as possible.

Getting demotivated easily: UPSC is a tough exam, and it’s normal to face failures and setbacks. Don’t get demotivated easily, try your best to accomplish your goal.

It’s common to make mistakes while preparing for competitive exams like the UPSC. Avoiding these mistakes can make your UPSC preparation smoother and more effective.


Starting UPSC preparation from a zero level requires commitment, dedication, and perseverance. By following the tips mentioned above, aspirants can create a structured approach and achieve success in the UPSC exams. Keep in mind that it’s never too late to start your upsc journey. With a clear plan and hardwork, preparing and passing UPSC exams becomes an easy task.