How to Start UPSC Preparation from Zero Level?

“How to Start UPSC Preparation from Zero Level” is a concern many aspiring UPSC candidates share. The UPSC exam is known for its rigor and demands a well-rounded approach. Whether you’re a beginner with no prior exposure or someone looking to rebuild their preparation strategy, starting from scratch requires a thoughtful and systematic approach.

Without any delay, let’s look at some of the points you need to consider while starting your UPSC preparation.

Tips to crack UPSC from Zero Level

Tip #1: Be prepared Mentally

Starting your UPSC journey from scratch demands more than just books – it requires a robust mental game. The UPSC exam isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Think in terms of months, even a year or more. You’ll need a consistent focus that borders on obsession. But don’t worry; that’s where your mental preparation comes in.

You’ve got to keep your chin up when you stumble. Failing a few times is part of the journey. Learn from it and get back up. Time management is another beast to tame. Juggling studies, revisions, and life isn’t easy, but it’s essential. You can also prepare UPSC from home

Tip #2: Understand the Exam Pattern and Eligibility Criteria

Before you jump into UPSC preparation, let’s get a grip on what you’re signing up for. The UPSC journey is a three-act play. First up, the Prelims – two objective papers on general studies and aptitude. Clear that, and you’re on to the Mains – testing your descriptive skills on various subjects. Lastly, the Personality Test, where you chat your way to proving you’ve got what it takes for civil services.

But wait, are you eligible? For that, you need to be an Indian citizen aged 21 to 32 (with some age relaxations for special cases). A degree from a recognized university is your ticket in. So, before rolling up your sleeves, ensure you know the drill and meet the requirements. 

Tip #3: Get a Grip on the Syllabus

To conquer the UPSC exam, understanding its extensive syllabus is a must. Start by comprehending the syllabus for both the Prelims and Mains exams. For Prelims, focus on general studies, including history, geography, economics, science, and current affairs. Additionally, hone your aptitude in areas like logical reasoning and data interpretation.

Mains syllabus delves deeper, with papers on essay writing, language comprehension, and various subjects like history, geography, and ethics. Familiarize yourself with the specific topics mentioned in the syllabus.

Tip #4: Create a Study Plan

A well-structured study plan is vital for successful UPSC preparation. With a clear plan in place, you can allocate time wisely. It tells you when to focus on history, when to dive into geography, and even when to take a break. 

Plus, it’s not just about reading – it’s about revising, practicing, and keeping up with the latest happenings. With a study plan, you’re not wandering aimlessly; you’re on a clear path, making the most of your time and energy. 

Tip #5: Gather Study Materials and Resources

It is essential to have the right resources for your UPSC preparation. Here are some important study resources for UPSC preparation:

  1. NCERT Textbooks: Essential for building solid fundamentals across various subjects.
  2. Standard Reference Books: Recommended books for each subject as per the UPSC syllabus.
  3. Newspapers: Stay updated with current affairs using newspapers like The Hindu, Indian Express, etc.
  4. Magazines: Read magazines like Yojana, Kurukshetra, and Civil Services Times for in-depth analysis.
  5. Previous Year Papers: Practice old papers to understand exam trends and question patterns.
  6. Mock Test Series: Join reputable test series for Prelims and Mains for realistic practice. Try Agrimguru’s free test series here.
  7. Current Affairs Compilations: Monthly magazines or online platforms providing summarized current affairs.
  8. Government Reports: Study reports like Economic Survey, Budget, and NITI Aayog documents.

Remember, the key is quality over quantity. Select resources that align with your learning style and needs.

Tip #6: Practice Time Management

In the UPSC journey, time is gold. Managing it means a smoother journey. Here’s the trick: give each topic time so no one’s left behind. Ever tried the Pomodoro thing? Study hard for a while, then chill.

But remember, it’s not just piling on hours – it’s about making those hours count. 

Tip #7: Enhance Answer Writing Skills

Clearly writing your answers is vital in UPSC. It’s about explaining ideas well and keeping them brief. How? Know what the question wants, arrange your points logically, and hit the highlights. Practice different questions to find your groove.

Writing clearly and comprehensively is like a superpower for UPSC. So, work on it, and watch your answers become your ticket to success. 

Tip #8: Stay Updated with Current Affairs

Staying on top of current affairs is a game-changer for UPSC. Regularly read newspapers, reliable news sources, and current affairs magazines. Cover national and international events, government policies, and socio-economic trends. Note down key points and their relevance to UPSC syllabus areas. 

Link current events to your subjects for a holistic understanding. Include current affairs in your study plan and revision routine. Stay updated – it’s not just about knowing what’s happening; it’s about standing out in the UPSC crowd.

Here are five of the best newspapers for UPSC preparation:

  • The Hindu
  • The Indian Express
  • Livemint
  • Business Standard
  • Hindustan Times

Tip #9: Practice Mock Tests and Previous Year’s Papers

Want to boost your UPSC game? Practice with mock tests and past papers. Mock tests mimic the real deal, helping you get familiar with the exam format, manage time, and fine-tune your strategy. They’re like dress rehearsals for success. 

And those old papers? They give you a taste of the questions that have already appeared on the UPSC stage. You’ll spot patterns and trends that help you prepare better. So, don’t skip these practice sessions. They’re the secret sauce to building confidence and nailing that UPSC exam.

Tip #10: Seek Mentorship and Guidance

You don’t have to go solo on the UPSC journey. A mentor is like a friend, showing you the way with personalized advice and real-life insights. They’ve been there, done that, and can save you time and stress. They’ll keep you motivated and on track, plus help you dodge common mistakes.

From study tips to moral support, mentors are your secret weapon. Don’t hesitate to ask for their help – they’re like your study buddy who knows all the shortcuts to UPSC success. Any online or virtual preparation websites are also helpful.

Tip #11: Stay Motivated and Stay Positive

A positive mindset is the best asset that you could possibly have. Believe in your abilities, and tackle setbacks as stepping stones, not roadblocks. Stay inspired by setting small goals and celebrating milestones. Surround yourself with positivity – it’s infectious. 

Keep your why close – remind yourself why you started this journey. Motivation is your fuel, so recharge regularly with breaks and hobbies. Remember, staying positive isn’t ignoring problems; it’s facing them with the belief that you can overcome them. With a sunny attitude and a determined spirit, you’ll tackle UPSC’s twists and turns with grace and grit.


Perseverance fuels success in the UPSC exams. It’s the driving force to overcome challenges, setbacks, and self-doubt. Staying committed and pushing forward, even when it’s tough, is what turns dreams into reality. It’s the bridge between where you are and where you want to be.

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Agrimguru is a one-stop solution for UPSC preparation. 

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