Exam Details 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.


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.

Preparation & Strategy

How to Start UPSC CSE 2021 Preparation?

How to Start UPSC CSE 2021 Preparation?

Recently, UPSC announced the dates of CSE Prelims and Mains Exam in its annual calendar. There are many aspirants who must be wondering about how to start their preparation of UPSC CSE which is considered as one of the toughest exams in the country. It is a three-stage exam which consists of Preliminary, Mains & Interview and the level of difficulty varies with each stage. And to complete the UPSC CSE’s ocean size syllabus, one needs a lot of planning, preparation & hard work. Without proper planning, there are high chances that one may get confused and lost and waste his/her time.

Therefore aspirants should note some important points before they start the UPSC CSE Preparation:

Know the Syllabus: The syllabus of UPSC CSE is vast and knowing the syllabus will help you in planning your preparation thus saving time. It will also help you in weeding out the unnecessary stuff.

Have a Strategy: Before you start your preparation, it’s important to have a proper strategy because it will help in what to study, when to study, how to study, and from where to study.

Follow Newspapers Regularly: Current Affairs are an important part of UPSC CSE and the best source for them is to follow the Newspapers regularly. Make sure that you read one newspaper daily and make notes from it

Select your books: Do thorough research of books required for the preparation of UPSC CSE and then make a list of books. Make sure that you stick to the list. Don’t read 10 books for one subject but read one book for a subject and revise it 10 times.

Make Notes: Notes help you in understanding a topic clearly. It will also help you in quickly memorizing and revision of the topic

Attempt Mock Tests: Attempting Mock Tests help in getting familiar with the Actual Exam. It also helps you in practising the tricks for the elimination of wrong options.

Eat Well. Sleep Well: As it is said Health is wealth, it is important to keep yourself healthy. Take small breaks in between your study hours. Exercise daily. And also make sure that you sleep for at least 8 hours daily!





Preparation & Strategy

UPSC CSE 2018 Topper Interview – Rishab CA AIR 23

Rishab CA has secured Rank 23 in UPSC CSE 2018. He achieved this feat in his third attempt and his optional subject was geography. In this blog, he talks about his experiences and what made him quit his job & start preparing for civil service exam. He also breaks some myths about UPSC CSE Exam preparation.

If you are a UPSC aspirant, then this blog will have a lot to help you with!

Tell us something about yourself and what motivated you to opt for civil services as a career?
I have done my graduation in Engineering in 2014 and after that, I started working in Infosys. During college, I was part of a club which did a lot of community development projects like career guidance program for government school students. So, from that, I developed an idea and interest in public services and this was a strong motivation point for me that I could take it as a career.

Is it necessary to leave your job to prepare for UPSC CSE?
There are people who prepare for UPSC along with their job. The availability of online resources and classes makes things a little easy for the person preparing for the exam along with his job. In my case, I felt that I could not do justice to both my job and as well as to preparation. So, I resigned from my job in Infosys in 2015 and then started preparing for civil services from August 2015

What are the tips for a person who wants to prepare for UPSC CSE while being in the job?
I would say that people who want to prepare for UPSC CSE being in the job then they have to divide a lot of time. They have to devout at least 4 hours for their study and Weekends or holidays should be completely devoted to their UPSC preparation. They have to manage their time with respect to their family, preparation and as well as to their work. So, this requires a lot of hard work and dedication

Many believe that UPSC CSE is a tough exam. What do you think about this?
I never felt that the exam is tough. Actually, the most difficult part is to have perseverance & consistency required for this exam. The subjects you study for this examination for example history has already been studied during your school and we are reading it once more for this examination. We are just applying this theoretical knowledge in the practical space.

Despite seeing two successive failures, what kept you going?
What kept me going in my attempts was I knew I could do it. I was very optimistic. I knew this exam was doable as every year hundreds of aspirant clear this exam so why not me. I always thought that I’m the right person for this examination & I could do it. In my 1st & 2nd attempts, I did certain mistakes and made sure that I do not repeat these mistakes in my third attempt. I ensure that I strategize my study plan which can help me clear the exam.

What is that one change you made in your preparation that helped you to succeed in your 3rd attempt?
What most aspirants do as a mistake is that they focus exclusively on prelims and they take the subjects related to general studies or optional only after the preliminary examination. What I found is that the 4 months of time is not enough to cover the syllabus of general studies and optional subject. So that was something I changed. I synergised my preparation so that I prepare for both Prelims and Mains simultaneous. In my third attempt, I did a lot of practice and also attempted 30-40 mock tests for the mains exam. Also one should try to complete the optional syllabus before prelims exam

What difficulties did you face during your preparation for UPSC? How did you overcome those hurdles?
One difficulty was to ensure that I follow the study plan for preliminary and mains exam. As I told you that for my 1st attempt, I started my preparation from August 2015 and I was totally focused on the preliminary exam and I had only 3.5 Months for the mains exam which was very less. In my 2nd attempt, I covered the optional syllabus before the prelims exam. Another difficulty was finding the right guidance and mentor. Because I felt that a right a mentor can guide us through the right path. So, I met a few top rankers who guided me on how to write good answers and how to present ourselves in the interview.

It is generally believed that if you are preparing for UPSC CSE then you have to devout 14-16 hours a day. What is your take on this?
According to me 14 to 16 hours of study is a big myth. I don’t think that one is able to study for these many hours otherwise it will take a huge toll on the body. And I believe that studying for 8 to 9 hours consistently is enough for clearing the UPSC CSE Exam. One should stick to the study plan. Sleep Well. Eat Well.

With unlimited resources available, it is easy to get lost in the sheer quantity of study material. So, according to you what are key points one should keep in mind to not pile up the resources?
I will advise that instead of having 10 books for one subject one should have to study one book for a subject ten times. The list of standard books are available on the internet and they are also prescribed by the toppers. Just stick to those standard books and don’t go out of that.

How should one prepare for current affairs?
With respect to current affairs, one has to follow a newspaper consistently. During my preparation, I followed the ‘The Hindu’ Newspaper on a daily basis consistently. I used to follow PIB and magazines like ‘Down to Earth’, Kurukshetra, and Yojana regularly. I limited my current affairs preparation to these resources only.

How should one decide their optional subject for UPSC CSE?
According to me if you want to choose an optional subject you should love that subject. Because you have to spend a lot of time on that optional subject. If you don’t love your subject it becomes difficult to clear the UPSC CSE Exam. You have to see if the study material is available easily in the market. One should also go through the previous year question papers and syllabus. See whether the optional subjects helps you in general studies or not but this should not be the sole criteria for choosing an optional subject.

How do you feel after clearing this examination?
It feels good and happy to clear this examination. It has been a long term dream for me right from my college. This time it was special as I the cleared UPSC CSE exam in my third attempt and also my parents and friends are really happy with my success

Exam Details

UPSC CSE 2020 Prelims – Admit Card Released

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) had released the notification for Civil Services Exams (CSE) in February 2020. The CSE is conducted for the recruitment of IAS, IPS, IFS, and  Other Central Government Group A & B Services. The preliminary and mains exam is scheduled to be held on 4th October 2020 and 8th January 2021 respectively. This blog will provide you with direct download links for UPSC CSE 2020 Prelims Admit Card

Let’s read ahead and know all the necessary details

1. Important Dates

Commencement of Admit Card Download – 1st September 2020

Last date to download the Admit Card –  4th October 2020

2. How to Download the UPSC CSE 2020 Prelims Admit Card?

Candidates are required to download the UPSC CSE 2020 Prelims Admit Card Online 

  • Click Here To Download the UPSC CSE Admit Card
  • Take the print out of the detailed instructions and click on ‘YES’
  • Then select either Registration ID (RID) or the Roll Number 
  • Fill your Registration number or Roll number and Date of Birth. 

[Note: Registration Number is provided at the time of Registration. Candidates must check their email or SMS in case they have lost it]

  • Enter Captcha
  • Submit
  • Download Admit Card 

In case you have forgotten your RID, then:

  • Click of the Forget RID
  • Then Enter the Details: Your Name; Father’s & Mother’s Name; Date of Birth
  • Enter Captcha
  • Submit
  • Your RID will be sent to Your Registered e-mail id and Mobile No.

3. Important Exam Guidelines

  • Check the e-Admit Card carefully and bring discrepancies, if any, to the notice of the UPSC immediately.
  • Mention your Name, Roll Number, Registration ID, Name and Year of the Examination in all the correspondence with the UPSC. 
  • Bring the e-Admit Card (print out) along with the (original) Photo Identity Card, whose number is mentioned in the e-Admit Card, in each session to secure admission to Examination Hall. 
  • Entry into the Examination Venue shall be closed 10 minutes before the scheduled commencement of the Examination i.e. 09:20 AM for the Forenoon Session and 02:20 PM for the Afternoon Session.
  • E-Admit Card must be preserved until the declaration of the final results of the Civil Services Examination, 2020. 
  • There will be penalty (Negative Marking) for wrong answers marked by a candidate in both the question papers of the Examination.
  • Answers other than those made by Black Ball Point Pen will not be evaluated. 

COVID 19 Guidelines

  • Wearing of mask/face cover is mandatory for all candidates. Candidates without mask/face cover will not be allowed entry into the Venue.
  • Candidates, however, will have to remove their masks for verification, whenever required by the Examination functionaries.
  • A candidate may carry his/her own hand sanitizer (small size) in a transparent bottle.
  • Candidates to follow COVID 19 norms of ‘social distancing’ as well as ‘personal hygiene’ inside the Examination Halls/Rooms as well as in the premises of the Venue.
Exam Details

UPSC CSE Notification 2020 – Complete Details

The much-awaited Civil Service Exam (CSE) 2020 Notification was released by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). UPSC conducts the CSE to recruit officers for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Other Central Services, Group ‘A’ & Group ‘B’.

UPSC CSE Notification 2020 – Important Dates

Release of Notification: 12th February 2020
Beginning of Online Application: 12th Feb 2020
Closure of Online Application: 3rd March 2020, till 6:00 PM
Prelims Exam Date: 4th October 2020
Mains Exam Date: 8th January 2021



  1. For the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Foreign Service and the Indian Police Service, a candidate must be a citizen of India.
  2. For other services, a candidate must be either a citizen of India, or a subject of Nepal, or a subject of Bhutan, or a Tibetan refugee who came over to India before 1st January 1962 or a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia and Vietnam


  1. The minimum age is 21 years and maximum age is 32 years as on the 1st of August, 2020 
  2. The candidate must have been born not earlier than 2nd August 1988 and not later than 1st August 1999
  3. Age Relaxation is given for certain categories

Minimum Educational Qualifications

  1. The candidate must hold a degree of any Universities

Number of Attempts

  1. General: 6
  2. OBC: 9
  3. SC/ST: No Limit (up to the age of 37)
  4. PwD: 9 

Application Fees

  1. 100 Rupees for UPSC CSE Preliminary Examination
  2. Candidates selected for the Main Examination will be required to pay a further fee of Rs.200/- 
  3. Female/SC-ST/Disabled candidates are exempted from paying the fees.

UPSC CSE 2020 Vacancies

The number of vacancies to be filled through the examination is expected to be approximately 796 which include 24 vacancies reserved for Persons with Benchmark Disability Category

UPSC CSE 2020 Posts

  1. Indian Administrative Service.
  2. Indian Foreign Service.
  3. Indian Police Service.
  4. Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service, Group ‘A’.
  5. Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
  6. Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), Group ‘A’.
  7. Indian Defence Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
  8. Indian Revenue Service (I.T.), Group ‘A’.
  9. Indian Ordnance Factories Service, Group ‘A’ (Assistant Works Manager, Administration).
  10. Indian Postal Service, Group ‘A’.
  11. Indian Civil Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
  12. Indian Railway Traffic Service, Group ‘A’.
  13. Indian Railway Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
  14. Indian Railway Personnel Service, Group ‘A’.
  15. Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force, Group ‘A’
  16. Indian Defence Estates Service, Group ‘A’.
  17. Indian Information Service (Junior Grade), Group ‘A’.
  18. Indian Trade Service, Group ‘A’.
  19. Indian Corporate Law Service, Group ‘A’.
  20. Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service, Group ‘B’ (Section Officer’s Grade).
  21. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli
  22. Civil Service, Group ‘B’.
  23. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli 
  24. Police Service, Group ‘B’.
  25. Pondicherry Civil Service, Group ‘B’.
  26. Pondicherry Police Service, Group ‘B’.

UPSC CSE 2020 Selection Process

  1. Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective type) for the selection of candidates for the Main Examination
  2. Civil Services (Main) Examination (Written and Interview) for the selection of candidates for the various Services and posts noted above

UPSC CSE 2020 Pattern

Preliminary Examination

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


Mains Examination 

Papers Nature of Paper Duration Marks
Paper – A Any Indian Language Qualifying 3 Hours 300
Paper – B English 3 Hours 300
Paper-I Essay Written Papers will be Counted for Merit 3 Hours 250
Paper-II General Studies I 3 Hours 250
Paper-III General Studies II 3 Hours 250
Paper-IV General Studies III 3 Hours 250
Paper-V General Studies IV 3 Hours 250
Paper-VI Optional Paper I 3 Hours 250
Paper-VII Optional Paper-II 3 Hours 250
Sub Total (Written Test) 1750
Interview/Personality Test 275
Total 2025

That will be all from us in this article. We will keep updating more information.  Keep checking this space for the latest information on UPSC CSE & State PSC exams.

Preparation & Strategy

UPSC CSE 2019 Topper Interview – Shishir Gupta AIR 50

UPSC CSE 2019 Final result was declared on 4th August 2020. A total number of 829 candidates have been recommended by the commission for IAS, IPS, IFS and other Central Services Group A & B.

Shishir Gupta who got Rank 50 in UPSC CSE 2019 has shared his experience and how he decided to go for Civil services in this blog. All the candidates who are preparing for the UPSC CSE could learn a lot from this blog. So, let us begin!


Tell us about yourself and when did you decide to go for the Civil Services Exam (CSE)?
Hi, I am Shishir Gupta and I graduated from IIT Bombay in 2013. After Graduation, I started working at a company and there I got an opportunity to sponsor a child’s education which made me realize that I’m not satisfied with my current job. Then I decided to leave my job and start preparing for Civil Services Exam in 2014

How many attempts have you given and what were the results?
UPSC CSE 2019 was my 4th Attempt.
My results so far
1st Attempt: In CSE 2016, Cleared Prelims; Mains Not Cleared
2nd Attempt: In CSE 2017, Reached till Interview Stage
3rd Attempt: In CSE 2018, Couldn’t Clear Prelims
4th Attempt: In CSE 2019, I got Rank 50

Did you take any Coaching for UPSC CSE?
I was not confident about the quality of coaching centres and therefore I decided to rely on self-study. But only for Ethics & Polity, I took coaching during the 1st attempt.

What was your Optional Subject?
My Optional Subject was Mathematics.

What was the reason behind taking Mathematics Optional?
I was good in Mathematics since school days as I have prepared for IITJEE and also, I was the Mathematics Assistant at IIT Bombay.

What were the challenges that you faced while covering the mathematics optional?
First of all, the syllabus of mathematics is very lengthy and takes a lot of time to cover. The syllabus is not covered that much in college also. Secondly, it does not help in general studies.

What are the factors that should be taken into consideration before selecting an optional subject?
Look at the syllabus of an optional subject and previous year question papers. Go through the previous year topper’s strategy to know about how they covered each and every topic of the optional subject. Also, see whether it helps you in the general studies or not

What is the advice you want to give to aspirants?
I will advise that neither start your UPSC CSE Preparation nor choose an Optional Subject just because someone suggested you to so!

How failures helped you?
My failures in my previous three attempts made me introspect my preparation strategy and rectify my mistakes.

How was your interview experience?
My interview was to be held on 23rd March 2020 but got postponed to 20 July 2020 due to Covid-19. I was allotted to Sujata Mam’s Board. No one removed their mask & gloves and we all were maintaining the social distance. No questions from current affairs were asked in the interview