Blogs IAS Preparation & Strategy

Time Management for UPSC Mains Exam

Time management is key to clearing the UPSC mains exam. With the mains exam timetable out, we bring you some quick pointers on how you can best manage your time.

  • Create a practical plan: Often aspirants create mega plans on their study routine, which lack the practical aspect. With just 2 months for the mains examination, you need to create a plan which is realistic and doable. Understand which part of the day are you the most productive. Keep difficult subjects for this time. There are aspirants who are not productive in the afternoons, so they prefer to go for coaching in the afternoon batch. This is how you need to be smart with your planning and time management.

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  • Do not sweat over things: The time between the prelims result and the mains exam is when many students face a lot of anxiety. Sweating over the syllabus, the topics which you are not good at, etc. will not take you anywhere. Rather it is clearly a waste of your precious time. Shift your focus on things you know and revise them thoroughly.
  • Be regular with answer writing: The UPSC mains exams is all about answering every question in the best possible way, within the given time frame. It will be a mistake to think that you will manage the time once you have the question paper in hand. Rather every day dedicate a few hours to answer writing. The time you have invested in answer writing will help you in time management in the mains exams.

  • Take a break: Many aspirants believe in non-stop studies for the mains exam. End result is high-stress levels and exhaustion. Better time management for the IAS mains exam does not mean zero time for recreation. Rather, most toppers agree that regular breaks from studies and discussions are key to acing this exam. Take regular breaks but stick to your plan.
UPSC mains exam: Time management in the exam hall
  1. Stay away from panic
  2. Always answer the easy questions, first. Not only will you do justice to them, but it will also even boost your confidence
  3. Stick to the word limit. Never get carried away with questions about which you know a lot. Always keep the word limit in mind
  4. Use the break between two exams for light revision. Do not enter into unnecessary discussion with your friends and fellow aspirants.

UPSC mains exam is all about time management – before you take the exam as well as when you are in the exam hall.

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Blogs Exam Details

UPSC CSE Mains 2020 Time Table Out!

For those of you who have cleared the CSE prelims 2020, it is time to switch gears. The timetable for CSE Mains 2020 exam is out.

The exam begins on the 8th of January 2021 and goes on until the 17th of January.

The essay paper is on the 8th of January, followed by General Studies I and II on the 9th. The 10th of January is the exam on General Studies III and IV.  Post this, UPSC has provided a gap of 5 days.

On the 16th of January, aspirants will have their Indian Language and English Language paper. Followed by the optional paper on the 17th of January.

You can find the PDF copy here – IAS Mains 2020 Time Table

For more details, visit

We recommend you plan out your time and strategy in sync with the Mains 2020 timetable. Wishing you all the very best!!

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Blogs IAS Preparation & Strategy

NCERT Books for Civil Service Exam: To Read or Not to Read

Every novice in UPSC exam preparation, has this question – Should s/he read or not read NCERT books for civil service exams? In fact, we have even come across aspirants who do are not clear about the importance of the NCERT books even after their first or second attempt. This is why we bring you a blog solely to clear all the confusion and myths around this topic.

Are NCERT books enough for civil service exams?

Well, we will not say that NCERT books alone are sufficient for clearing civil service exams. The fact is these books form the foundation of your preparation for CSE. Skipping these books, and moving on to other textbooks and guides might hurt your scores in Prelims as well as mains examination.

Which NCERT books to read for civil service exams?

Now that it is clear that NCERT books are critical for CSE, the other logical question which arises is – “which NCERT books do we read?”

Well, as a serious candidate for CSE it is recommended that you cover all the humanities books from class 6th to 12th. Covering the relevant chapters from NCERT science textbooks will give you a major advantage in the Prelims examination. These books not only clear your basic understanding of the subject but also help you with answer writing in the GS mains exams.

NCERT Books for General Studies Paper I

NCERT History Books for CSE:

    • History: NCERT Class VI – Our Past
    • History: NCERT Class VII – Our Past -I
    • History: NCERT Class VIII – Our Past II and III
    • History: NCERT Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – I
    • History: NCERT Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – II
    • History: NCERT Class X – Themes In World History
    • History: NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History – I
    • History: NCERT Class XII – Themes in Indian History – II
    • History: NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History – III
  • NCERT Books on Indian Society for UPSC exam:
    • Indian Society: NCERT Class VI – Social Science: Social & Political Life I
    • Indian Society: NCERT Class VII – Social Science: Social & Political Life II
    • Indian Society: NCERT Class VIII – Social Science: Social & Political Life III
    • Indian Society: NCERT Class XI – Sociology: Understanding Society
    • Indian Society: NCERT Class XII – Indian Society
    • Indian Society: NCERT Class XII – Social Change and Development in India
    • IAS aspirants can also refer to the class 12 book for Sociology.
  • NCERT Indian Art and Culture books for civil service exam:
    • Art & Culture: NCERT Class XI – An Introduction to Indian Art
    • Art & Culture: NCERT Class XI – Living Craft Traditions of India (Chapters 9 & 10)
  • UPSC Preparation Books from NCERT Geography Books for IAS:
    • Geography: NCERT Class VI – The Earth Our Habitat
    • Geography: NCERT Class VII – Our Environment
    • Geography: NCERT Class VIII – Resource and Development
    • Geography: NCERT Class IX – Contemporary India – I
    • Geography: NCERT Class X – Contemporary India – II
    • Geography: NCERT Class XI – Fundamentals of Physical Geography
    • Geography: NCERT Class XI – India – Physical Environment
    • Geography: NCERT Class XII – Fundamentals of Human Geography
    • Geography: NCERT Class XII – India – People and Economy
NCERT Books for General Studies Paper-II:
  • Polity NCERT Books for UPSC
    • Polity: NCERT Class IX – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – I
    • Polity: NCERT Class X – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – II
    • Polity: NCERT Class XI – Political Science: Indian Constitution at Work
    • Polity: NCERT Class XI – Political Science: Political Theory
    • Polity: NCERT Class XII – Political Science I: Contemporary World Politics
    • Polity: NCERT Class XII – Political Science II: Politics in India since Independence
    • For Polity: Class 9 to 12 NCERT books should be read in detail, with a focus on 11th and 12th
NCERT for General Studies Paper III:
  • NCERT Books on Economy for UPSC
    • Economy: NCERT Class IX – Economics
    • Economy: NCERT Class X – Understanding Economic Development
    • Economy: NCERT Class XI – Indian Economic Development
    • Economy: NCERT Class XII – Introductory Microeconomics
    • Economy: NCERT Class XII – Introductory Macroeconomics
  • Science & Technology IAS Preparation Books from NCERT
    • Science: NCERT Class VI
    • Science: NCERT Class VII
    • Science: NCERT Class VIII
    • Science: NCERT Class IX
    • Science: NCERT Class X
    • Science: NCERT Class XI – Chemistry: Unit 14 & Biology: Units 4 & 5
    • Science: NCERT Class XII – Chemistry: Unit 16 & Biology: Units 8, 9 & 10
  • UPSC Books from NCERT on Environment & Ecology
    • Science: Class XII – Biology: last four Chapters (13 to 16)
NCERT Books for General Studies Paper IV
  • Ethics: NCERT Class XII – Psychology

As you can see the number of NCERTs which need to be covered for civil service exams is high and covers almost all the subjects. To make your preparation process simpler, we bring you a dedicated course on the NCERT books for the civil service exam.

What do you get from Skholar’s NCERT Course?

This course is the most comprehensive course on NCERTs in India compromising detailed coverage of 30 NCERT across subjects ranging from 6th to 12th standard. It is aimed towards building the basic concepts and foundation of your UPSC Civil Services preparation. The course entails coverage through interactive slides, images, flow charts, and other tools to make your understanding effective. With Skholar NCERT, Skholar strives to provide you with the best foundation for your UPSC preparation.

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Blogs Environment

Biodiversity Hotspots in India

The topic of biodiversity hotspots in India is important for both prelims as well as mains examination. From MCQs to short answers in the Mains exam, to at times a few questions thrown at you at the interview level – knowing the hotspots in India is a MUST.

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You might think what is so important about biodiversity and its hotspots is it in India or the world. The fact is in a world that is constantly battling climate change, it is critical that we not only preserve these hotspots but also work towards expanding its area.

Let us take a step-by-step approach toward this topic.

What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity comprises ecosystems, species, and genetics. In simple words, it is a complex web of the entire flora and fauna in a particular habitat.

Species richness along with species evenness are the two major components to define and measure biodiversity. The richness of biodiversity measured based on the number of species found in that particular region. Species evenness examines the proportion of species in a particular site. If a site has a more equal number of species then the species evenness factor is high and vice versa.

Biodiversity can be broadly divided into three levels:

a. Genetic diversity

b. Species diversity

c. Community & Ecosystem diversity

What is Biodiversity Hotspot?

The term “Biodiversity hotspots” was coined by Norman Myers. The phrase refers to the regions known for their high species richness and endemism.

To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot on Myers 2000 edition of the hotspot-map, a region must meet two strict criteria viz.

  • Must have at least 1,500 species of vascular plants as endemics (> 0.5% of the world’s total)
  • Should have lost at least 70% of its primary vegetation habitat

These sites support close to 60% of the world’s species and hold an extremely high share of endemic species. This is why they qualify as biodiversity hotspots.

Biodiversity Hotspots in India

The four biodiversity hotspots in India are:

  1. The Western Ghats
  2. The eastern Himalayas
  3. The Indo-Burma Region
  4. The Sundaland
Biodiversity Hotspots in India
Biodiversity Hotspots in India

Biodiversity hotspots in India are an important topic for the IAS Exam and are under UPSC Mains GS-III syllabus. Register for more information!

Blogs IAS Preparation & Strategy

How to Prepare for CSE 2021?

Are you aiming to crack the CSE 2021 exams? Whether you are a fresher, or someone who has already given few attempts – we are sure there is a certain kind of confusion when it comes to preparing for IAS from the scratch. This is why it is essential to do some background work before diving into the UPSC preparations.

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Regarded as the mother of all the competitive exams in India, this is perhaps the only exam where a doctor, an engineer, a student from a humanities background, and even an MBA from some premier institute compete on the same grounds. UPSC CSE exam, therefore, is a true leveler in its selection criteria.

Often CSE aspirants get overwhelmed not just by the scope of the syllabus, but also by the range of students aspiring to crack this prestigious exam. Yet, the fact is you do not have anything to worry about. With proper guidance and strategy, cracking CSE 2021 should be pretty achievable for you.

How to Prepare for CSE 2021: Top 5 Tips
  1. Stick to Syllabus: Before planning on how to study, you should know what to study. Getting a sense of boundary to the vastness of UPSC CSE is very important. So, prepare according to the syllabus.
  2. Restrict your Resources: Enthusiasm in preparation should not turn into a race behind study materials. You should wisely pick the books/materials and limit yourself to them.
  3. Analyze to Understand: Analyzing previous year papers gives an understanding of the Civil Service Exam. It is the key to know how to prepare. So, go through the last 3-4 years of question papers.
  4. Practice to Perfect: Preparation should be a process of realizing your strengths and weakness to perform better. This is possible only through mock tests and regular answer writing practice.
  5. Stay Motivated: CSE preparation is more of a marathon than a sprint. Maintaining energy levels and bouncing back from lows requires you to remain motivated throughout the process

Remember right planning and consistent focus is the key to clearing the civil service exam.

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IAS Preparation & Strategy

Top 5 Tips to Prepare for CSE Mains 2020

It is over a week that the CSE Prelims 2020 took place. We are sure most of you reading this would have not only hunted down each set of answer key but also vehemently debated and argued about the expected cut-off too. Prelims cut-off, the golden number which, will open the doors of Mains examination and subsequently take you to the interview round.

With one week down, now it is time to move away from discussions on Prelims cut-off and focus on the CSE Mains 2020. We bring you the top five tips to prepare for the UPSC mains examination in a holistic manner.

Top 5 Tips to Prepare for CSE Mains 2020

Tip 1: Start answer writing practice

If you thought time management was a task during the prelims exam, trust us it is going to be even tougher for CSE mains 2020. This does not mean time management, is not achievable. With consistent practice and thoughtful planning, not only can you attempt all the questions – but can also save a decent amount of time for revising your answer sheet.

One thing to particularly focus on is the amount of information to be written for short answers. Often in a bid to answer the question perfectly, students spend a lot of time providing more information than is needed for short answers.

So, how long should an answer be? Regardless of whether it is a short answer or a long answer question, one should stick to the word limit. This should be one of the prime focuses of your answer writing practice.

Tip 2: Revise repeatedly

As much as you trust your memory, it is critical that you keep revising chapters and subjects on a regular basis. While doing revision can be boring it trains your mind for quick response during the mains examination. You can form a study group and share the topics each of your study buddies can revise and discuss. This method will give you a fresh perspective on even the conventional subjects like History and Geography.

Read: Quick Revision Strategy

Tip 3: Improve essay writing skills

Never underestimate the power of a very good essay. If you go through the mark sheet of CSE rank holders, you will find not only did they score well in optional – often it was their score in the essay paper which made a major difference in their ranking. Unlike the GS and optional papers, the essay paper is the best opportunity for you to showcase not only your knowledge but your personality as well.

Few things to keep in mind while writing an essay:

  1.       Always provide a balanced outlook on the subject
  2.     Write in clear and simple English. Short sentences are the key to keeping the reader hooked
  3.       Try to make a point by quoting recent events – This will reflect your knowledge of current affairs
  4.     Write the essay keeping the layman reader in mind. Avoid too many jargons.
  5.     Always end the essay on a positive note or a viable positive solution.

Tip 4: Try your best to cover the syllabus

As simplistic as this tip might sound, often several aspirants leave out a particular section of the syllabus thinking they will make up for it through other segments. More than often, this strategy works against them. For instance, maybe international relations is not your cup of tea. Yet, you can not totally leave it out. Try your best to have the most basic understanding and equip yourself to craft some decent answers on this topic.

Tip 5: Relax, do not be overwhelmed

For decades, aspirants are writing the CSE mains examination and even cracking it with flying colors. Do not get overwhelmed by the size and scale of this examination. Always keep in mind “You are in it, to WIN it”, and things will start working your way. Also, do not lose your peace by over-thinking about the prelims cut-off/ result. It will only deviate your mind and led to wasting of time.

Be particular about taking regular breaks, exercising, and eating healthy food. We are sure, a movie once in a might also help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated for the grind.

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Exam Details

UPSC CSE Prelims Exam Analysis | Cut-off Analysis by Expert

UPSC CSE Prelims Exam is being conducted today on 4th October 2020. The prelims exam was supposed to be conducted in May but due to the pandemic, was rescheduled. In this post, we bring to you UPSC CSE Exam Analysis for Prelims 2020.

The UPSC Preliminary Examination consists of two papers: General Studies Paper 1 and Paper 2. The score in Paper 1 decides the ranking of the candidates. Each paper carries 200 marks, out of which candidates need to secure a minimum of 33% to qualify.

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern

Paper Total Questions Marks Time Duration
Paper-I: General Studies 100 200 2 Hours
Paper-II: CSAT 80 200 2 Hours

UPSC Prelims Exam Time

  • Paper 1: 9:30 am to 11:30 am
  • Paper 2: 2:30 am to 4:30 pm

For detailed UPSC Prelims Exam Analysis + Answer Keys, visit Skholar’s YouTube Channel.

UPSC Prelims 2020 Question Distribution – Paper 1

Subjects No. of Questions
Polity 17
Environment 14
Agriculture 9
Geography 7
Ancient India 4
Medieval India 1
Modern India 9
A&C 4
Economy 22
S&T 13
Total 100

UPSC Prelims Exam Analysis 2020

1. This year’s weightage for Science & Technology and the Economy has increased.

2. Nature of Science & Technology questions were also application oriented.

3. Weightage for Polity, Modern India, Geography has almost been similar to last year.

4. There are some important deviations from last year’s paper.

  1. Agriculture as a topic has gained significance this year.
  2. Agriculture questions were mostly oriented towards the economy and environment. For example, economy questions on MSP, agri procurements, etc. and environment questions like eco – friendly agriculture practices were asked.
  3. Questions on ancient/medieval terminologies have resurfaced this year.
  4. Weightage for Current Affairs has significantly come down.

5. Overall CSE Prelims Paper I (GS) was more on the difficult side.

Detailed Analysis of Economy

Detailed Analysis of Modern History

UPSC Prelims Cut-off Analysis

Here was the detailed analysis of UPSC CSE Prelims. Watch out this space and stay tuned to Skholar’s YouTube channel for more updates from our faculty.

IAS Preparation & Strategy

Last Minute Tips for UPSC Prelims 2020

The UPSC CSE 2020 Preliminary Examination will be held on October 4th, 2020. This year has been difficult for everyone due to the pandemic and till yesterday, there were news going on around the postponement of the prelims. Now, that the exam is happening on the scheduled date, you just have few days in hand. You have done your preparation and during these remaining days, keep your motivation high and take good care of your health and mind. Without wasting much of your time, here are few last-minute tips for UPSC Prelims exam that you should consider.

1. Revise your Own Notes

The last few months or year, you must have curated various notes from friends, toppers, teachers, and websites. Now is the time to glance through just your own notes, things that you have noted, summaries that you have made. Do not waste your time learning something new now. Instead, revise your notes and refresh your preparation.

2. Take Mock Tests

You can attempt mock tests to get in the examination zone. Focus on your speed and your method of approach. Give a break on the last day before the exam but till then, attempt UPSC CSE mock tests and sharpen your preparation.

3. Avoid Distractions

Try to avoid all distractions that you can, be it socializing with friends, social media, or irrelevant news. If you want to take a short break, watch motivational videos of IAS and IPS officers. Those videos will give you instant motivation to stay positive.

4. Have Enough Sleep

Do not over stress yourself in these last few days. Eat healthy food and have enough sleep. Last year’s topper IAS Officer Abhishek Saraf suggests, “Aspirants must not revise beyond 8.00 p.m. on the eve of the examination. A good night’s rest is extremely important to be able to focus on and answer the questions well.” (Source:

5. Go through the new rules

Due to the pandemic, there are certain new rules. Go through them thoroughly and be prepared to avoid any kind of unwanted hassle on the exam day.

  • Wearing masks is compulsory for candidates appearing for the exam
  • You can carry your own sanitizers in transparent bottle only
  • Download your e-admit cards and carry the printout for the exam

Last but not the least, stay positive and maintain your calm. Hope you found these tips for UPSC prelims helpful. All the best from the entire team of Skholar for UPSC CSE Prelims 2020.

Exam Details IAS Preparation & Strategy

UPSC CSE Previous Year Question Papers | Topic Wise Analysis

UPSC CSE is conducted in three stages: Prelims, Mains, and Interview. Prelims consist of 2 Papers – General Studies and CSAT. Every year lakhs of aspirants sit for the Prelims exam but only 10000 to 16000 get a chance to appear in the Mains exam. Before one starts preparing for UPSC CSE, it is important to have a strategy to tackle the exam and analysing the previous year question papers is an important part of the strategy.

In this article, we will be looking at the number of questions asked topic-wise in the UPSC CSE Previous Year Exam but before that let’s know the importance of previous year question papers.

Previous Year Question Papers play an important part in the preparation of UPSC CSE. They help you to figure out the nature of the questions asked in the exam. Going through the previous year question papers assess your knowledge and also provide you with information. It also tells the weightage of a topic in terms of the number of questions asked in the exam which makes it easy for an aspirant to decide whether the topic is important or not.

The number of questions asked from each topic in the UPSC CSE Prelims is shown below in the table:

Topic 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Art & Culture 2 6 2 3 3
History* 14 1 12 13 12
Polity 13 11 21 6 11
Geography 8 9 8 3 14
Science & Tech 12 6 8 7 6
Environment 20 11 14 16 13
Economy 16 11 18 15 18
Current Affairs 15 31 17 37 23

*History consists of Ancient, Medieval, and Modern History of India

That is all from us in this blog for now. We will continue to update this blog with the Previous Year Question paper pdf of the exams listed as and when they are published. Keep staying updated, visiting this page. All the best for your exam preparation.


IAS Preparation & Strategy

Strategy for Clearing UPSC CSE Prelims- Priyanka Shukla IPS

Strategy for Clearing UPSC CSE Prelims

UPSC CSE is a three-stage exam which consists of Prelims, Mains & Interview. Aspirants who clear the Prelims, appear in the subsequent stages. Every year lakhs of aspirants appear for the UPSC CSE Prelims but only a few thousand make it to next stage i.e. Mains. It takes a lot of hard work, patience, smart work, persistence & planning to clear the UPSC CSE Prelims Exam.

In this blog, we are providing you with a strategy for clearing UPSC CSE Prelims exam by Priyanka Shukla IPS which will help you to clear the Exam and any confusion regarding it. So read along to know the strategy.

  • Confined Book List: Create a basic book list of your own on the basis of toppers’ talk. Go through books which is very common among the aspirants who are preparing for UPSC CSE. Just make sure that you are not reading each and every book for a subject that is available in the market.
  • Revision is the Key: Multiple readings of a book is required so as to make sure that you don’t forget the stuff that you have read. You should not miss the question that everybody is attempting successfully. Make short notes and keep revising it on a regular basis.
  • Making Short Notes: Make short notes of what you read as it will help you in understanding the topic & revision. Ensure that the notes you make are legible and easy to understand.
  • Go through Test Series: Test series help you in assessing your knowledge and it can also be the source of information also. Test series helps you in understanding what the optimum number of questions you should attempt in prelims to clear the cut-offs. It also helps you in maintaining accuracy.
  • Current Affairs: Follow Newspapers like The Hindu, The Indian Express etc on a daily basis. Supplement your daily newspaper readings with Monthly Magazines and Daily News Analysis videos which will help you in revision.
  • Attempt Previous Year Questions Papers: Apart from Test Series, going through Previous Year Questions Papers is also important as it will give you an idea of which type of questions are asked in the UPSC CSE Prelims Exam. They provide a clue to a new question. They also help you in choosing the resources needed for preparations. Ensure that you attempt last 10 Year Question Papers for Prelims.

About Priyanka Shukla

Priyanka Shukla secured a rank of 109 in UPSC Civil Services Exam 2018 and this was her 4th Attempt. On the basis of CSE 2018, she was allotted Indian Police Service (IPS) and got Madhya Pradesh Cadre. She is currently undergoing training at Sardar Vallabhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA), Hyderabad.