IAS Exam 90 Days Study Guide

IAS Exam Study Guide

IAS Exam 90 Days Study Guide for Aspirants

Dear Aspirants

The Civil Services Preliminary Examination will be held on August 7, 2016. This means you have less than 90 days to cover and revise your syllabus. But do not panic. We have devised an efficient study guide for you. Follow it and invest maximum time in revision.

Pattern of the Exam

By now, you must be familiar with the pattern of the examination. But let me put it here for you once more.

Paper – I General Studies- Will be counted for qualifying to the Mains exam 200 Marks Two Hours
Paper- II (CSAT) Aptitude Paper – Of qualifying nature, must score at least 33%. Marks not counted for going to mains. 200 Marks Two Hours


Time Table


Paper I

Current Affairs

Revise the current affairs for the previous 6-12 months, especially the last 6 months. Also, any major event that has happened needs to be studied in totality. Rememeber that UPSC will never test you on facts alone. You will be expected to relate those facts to the latest happenings.

For example, Zika Virus was in news recently. You don’t ‘just’ need to know the health aspect of it but also the regions of Africa where it was detected i.e geography as well as the socio-political and economic conditions for the respective regions.

If you have been a serious aspirant and have made notes from Newspapers like the Hindu, you’re in a safe place to revise. If not, you’ll have to go through websites that provide a monthly update on events around the world.


Pay close attention to environment policies, ecology and environment based topics. In recent times, environmental issues have been hitting headlines and attracting attention from global leaders and people around the world. A good number of questions are asked every year from environment related topics in the Civil Services Preliminary Exam.

If possible go through magazines like Down to Earth as well as Hindu’s articles on the environment including natural disasters, important species, biodiversity etc.


Economics revision for UPSC can be divided into 2 steps.

  • Stage 1: Understanding the concepts – Terms like GDP, REPO, Reverse REPO, CRR, SLR, Inflation Indices, Growth, Inclusion, Development and so on.
  • Stage 2: Understanding the application of the concepts – Application of the  fundamental concepts in day to day scenarios.  You have to apply here what you learned in stage one

Go through Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh in detail. Also, know the current affairs related to Indian economy from the last 8-9 months (at least). Relate those current affairs to the topics studies from Ramesh Singh.

Revise NCERT for Economics Classes XI and XII

Go through the important chapters of this year’s economic survey.


Go through Indian Polity by Laxmikanth at least three times before the exam. This is one of the best books for polity and has been written so brilliantly that you don’t even need to compile notes from it. The entire books has been written in note format for the convenience of aspirants. Any aspirant who has read Laxmikanth thoroughly will answer polity questions with ease in the examination.


Geography is an important topic for IAS Preliminary as well as Main Exam. The discipline of Geography is broadly divided into Physical Geography and Human Geography. The concepts of Geography need to be applied to questions related to Indian Geography as well as World Geography. The best source to study Geography is NCERT Text books/ICSE Books from Standard 6 to 12. Most of the topics are explained in very simple language in the basic text books and it’s really helpful for the exam. Other useful books for Geography topics are:

  1. Geography of India – Majid Husain.
  2. Oxford School Atlas – Oxford OR Orient Blackswan Atlas.

Give more importance to Indian Geography as far as prelims is concerned. 


History is divided in 4 parts – Ancient, Medieval, Modern and World History

Ancient History

Revise Ancient Indian History from OLD NCERTs. Go through the entire syllabus at least twice. Keep revising all the important facts.

Medieval Indian History

This section emphasises more on contemporary historians and sources of the medieval Indian History. To make your preparation strategies simpler in this section, all you have to do is to break this section into five subsections.

1) the Delhi Sultanates completely,
2) Mughals emphasising more on the reign of Akbar,
3) All the provincial dynasties
4) While for the Cholas, the Vijayanagar, and the Marathas be ready to answer major questions with a comparative and evolutionary approach.
5) In the last sub section, give importance to the people, society and movements during the medieval times that includes the Bhakti Movement; Sankaracharya, Ramanuja, Chaitanya, Kabir, Lingayats, Maharashtra Dharma; Sufi Movement and also the architectures from early Sultanates to the Lodis and etc.

 Modern Indian history

requires a chronological study. Go through Freedom Struggle by Bipin Chandra thorughly.  It will be advisable to revise topics in the following order –

British conquests and Indian reactions

British economic policy

Freedom struggle

Read about Subhash Chandra Bose in detail this time.

Science and Technology

Like other subjects, it is important to prioritize sub-topics inside science first.

From Chemistry side, topics like Nuclear Chemistry is important. Physics questions though few in previous year question papers, they revolved around day to day applied physics touching concepts like surface tension, capillarity etc.

All the gadgets and technologies currently in news can come in the exam. Wi-fi, IPTV, 3-D Printing, Blue-ray disk etc.  Technologies like Biotechnology, Stem Cell Research, Cloning, and Space Technology deserves special focus.

It can be seen that UPSC normally ask more questions from Biology than Chemistry or Physics. And even from Biology, more questions come from Zoology and Microbiology than Botany. So know  topics like genetics, micro-organisms/diseases  and physiology.

Art and Culture

A lot of students remain confused when it comes to this section. There’s nothing to worry. The following sources need to be referred.

  1. Art & Herirage book – NCERT is a very well written and attractive book. Although it does not cover the entire syllabus.
  2. Notes by Nitin Singhania are very good. He has covered all the topics.
  3. For visual arts i.e dance, drama, music etc I referred to videos and documentaries on You Tube

 Paper II 

The CSAT Paper II is qualifying in nature and a minimum of 33% has to be secured to be eligible to appear for Mains. Having said that, it is nonetheless less important. The paper tests a candidate’s decision making ability, clarity of thoughts, analytical bend of mind and problem solving skills, it’s more subjective rather than objective.

The following deserve your attention.

  1. Solving comprehension questions every day is critical. Equally important is analyzing your answers. By this time, we consider you have enhance your comprehension skills by solving sample papers and reading a lot from various sources.
  2. For Quantitative Aptitude,  Data Interpretation and Basic Numeracy, your basics should be 100% clear. Solve questions and analyze them to rectify your weakness. But don’t waste too much time in dealing with questions on a particular topic
  3. Logical Reasoning and Analytical Ability does requires a lot of practice. By now you must have learnt the short cuts to solve reasoning and analytical questions. As the exam is approaching, you can solve more of mock or sample papers within a set time. Also analyzing your answers is important to correct before the exam.

Keep practising from any good book like R.S Aggarwal or Arihant Publications.

Previous Year Question Papers

Solving previous years ( Atleast Five years) Questions papers is a MUST.

Now, don’t think that questions will be repeated. UPSC Never repeats questions but by solving papers you will get acquainted to the ‘type’ of questions asked and in what context. It will really boost your confidence. Also, it will help you manage your time well.


Mock Tests

Joining a regular test series will help you get a grip of the examination. Just mkae sure that the test series you enroll in, has the following :

  • It should allow you to schedule your preparation anytime.
  • A good number of students must be enrolled in the test series so that you can get a fair idea of your relative performance.
  • You must be able to track improvement in your performance.
  • They should give detailed analysis of the each paper.


All the very best !!

Useful Links for Aspirants









  • Abhinav Gupta

    Good Post


      Thanks for your feedback abhinav

  • MNA SD

    Sir, what is the cut off marks in upsc prelims 2016 ?


      It is hard to predict before the exam

  • Sahil

    I will try to follow it