23+ Tips to Crack IAS Exam in First Attempt | UPSC Topper Tips

How to Crack IAS Exam in First Attempt
How to Crack IAS Exam in First Attempt

Today we will touch one of the most complicated and equally easy question which comes in mind of every UPSC aspirant. How to Crack IAS Exam in First Attempt? Can we clear IAS Exam in First Attempt? etc. So, based on various toppers tips and my personal experience of clearing UPSC Exam, I would like to give you some basic and foundational tips which can change your perspective towards UPSC IAS Examination. We always search for materialistic things around us to crack IAS Exam, but there are few fundamental rules which can yield you success in UPSC IAS Exam in first attempt. So, without wasting any time, let us begin with 23+ Tips to crack IAS Exam in very initial attempt.

How to Crack UPSC in First Attempt?

If you think that I will provide you IAS Exam booklist, notes or some secret sources to crack IAS Exam, then you are wrong. Because you all are already equipped with the UPSC IAS Exam Booklist (which is commonly available on various online platforms). In spite of joining premium UPSC coaching institutes, many aspirant fail to qualify IAS (Forget qualifying in the first attempt!)

Main reason behind this is they search for shortcut tips and some magical books from coaching. But remember guys, these 23 Tips to Crack IAS Exam will definitely get you in top 100 rank in upcoming attempt. So, stay connected till the end of this guide.

These 23+ Tips to Crack IAS Exam will give you Guaranteed Success if you follow them rigorously!

23+ Tips to Clear UPSC Exam in First Attempt

So, without wasting any more time, lets switch to tips and tricks to crack UPSC IAS Exam in First Attempt.

1. Remove Insecurities from your Mind. 'Being IAS Officer' is a Mind Game.

Insecurities has killed more dreams than any other reason in this world. Aspirants take the decision to be IAS officer, but after starting the preparation, they get afraid about the competition for this exam. This creates insecurity in their mind that they might not clear UPSC IAS Exam in First attempt. This is the first step of their failure. If you want to be successful, you need to be sure and confident that you will make it through in your first attempt.

And do not worry aout the competition. Roughly around 10 Lakh aspirants apply for UPSC IAS Exam each year. But remember that your competition is with only 20,000 serious aspirants.

2. Once you have taken the decision, there must be no way back for atleast 2 Attempts

We all have habbit of clearing university exam with just 1 month of preparaion or at the max 23 months of preparation. But UPSC Exam needs vast coverage of different subjects which demands time. Your initial 5-6 months will be invested in clearing the basics and understanding the overall exam pattern. So, sometimes it may take 1 extra attempt than what you have expected. So, if you have taken the decision to be an IAS Officer, then you must atleast keep patience and faith in yourself for 2 UPSC IAS attempts.

Also Check: UPSC CAPF Syllabus (Chapter-wise Weightage!)

3. Don't Keep a 'Plan B' (which everyone recommends)

This advice may seem strange, but it works. If you want to crack UPSC IAS Exam in First Attempt, don’t keep a plan B while IAS preparation. Because it is human tendency to perceive more comfortable and easy career option which requires less efforts. If you have a Plan B, your could not give your 100% because your mind will be knowing that even if you fail in IAS Exam, you have a backup plan. Moreover, your energy will be wasted in thinking about the ‘Plan B’ which can destroy your main game. So, devote 1.5 years of your life wholeheartedly for IAS preparation if you want to crack UPSC in first attempt.

4. First Step= Choose Optional Wisely by going through Syllabus of Probable Subjects

If you will see the General Studies Paper 1,2,3,4 marks of successful candidates, you will notice that marks scored are more or less same. So, your Optional Marks decide whether you will be in the Final Merit List or not. And if you want the service of your choice, you need to score good marks which is directly proportional to marks scored in optional. So, choose your optional subject wisely.

Selecting subject of graduation can help. But I would recommend you to go through 3-4 probable optional subjects of your interest and select the best UPSC Optional Subject based on following parameters:

  • Your Interest in that subject
  • Availability of Study Material and Guidance of that Subject
  • Check previous year question papers for analyzing
  • Is that Subject Scoring (Marks secured by toppers)

5. Before beginning actual study, mug up 'Mains' and 'Optional Syllabus' (You Read it Right!)

Before beginning actual preparation, learn prelims and Mains syllabus by heart.Reasons of mugging up the UPSC Mains, prelims and Optional Syllabus is:

  1. You will know what exactly to study and what not to study
  2. Your preparation will be targeted and exam oriented
  3. You can make section-wise notes only if you are aware of GS Papers detailed syllabus

So, undergo this task before actual UPSC Preparation.

6. Mug up questions asked in UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam of Last 10 Years (From 2010)



Your approach to UPSC Preparation must be exam centric. Many aspirants do not check the previous year questions asked in Prelims and Mains due to fear of not able to solve them. But this is completely wrong approach. Because our end result is to solve questions in Prelims and Mains (To qualify this exam). So, it becomes necessary to know the type of questions asked in Prelims and Mains in last 10 years.

Study for IAS Exam considering End Goal in Mind!

7. No Option to Daily Newspaper Reading=Preferably 'The Hindu'

Daily Newspaper reading help us to (Editorial Reading):

  • Develop views on different issues happening in India and world wide
  • Have a good updated current Affairs with us
  • Good Content and Statements for Mains Answer Writing
  • Good comprehension and grammar skills

So, you can go with The Hindu or Indian Express for daily editorial reading.

8. Atleast 1st Reading of Optional Subject Must be done before Prelims Exam

Do not underestimate Optional Subject preparation which is indirectly deciding your future. Your understanding and first reading of optional must be completed before the prelims exam. Because majority of time between UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains must be invested in answer writing and mains test series (And not in learning new topics!)

9. Study for UPSC exam from Mains Point of View (Prelims specific in last 2 months only!)



Your Final Selection in Merit List will be based on Marks scored in Mains and Interview. Prelims examination is just qualifying in nature. Even if you score 200/200 marks in Prelims, you will stand equal to all other aspirants in Mains examination. So, set your priorities accordingly.

10. Start Answer Writing from 2nd Month of Preparation (Please don't Ignore)

Most difficult part of UPSC IAS Preparation is to write impressive answers that to in limited time and limited word limit. This can be achieved only with Daily Answer Writing Practice (Many aspirants do not practice answer writing with a fear to fail. But don’t worry about quality of your initial answers. It will improve with time and sufficient practice)

Also Check: AFCAT Exam Preparation (Score 200+ Marks)

11. Let the Question Paper Guide your way (Your best Guide)

Your biggest guide and mentor during UPSC IAS Preparation will be Previous Year Question Papers of Prelims and Mains (Along with detailed Syllabus!)

12. Even a day of distraction can be Risky (Break is OK)

Break in preparation is different from distraction. You can take a healthy break once in 20-25 days to refresh your mind. But if you are getting distracted by any external things like wasting time with friends, family functions, marriages, movies, web series, other bad habits, etc, then no one can save you from failing the exam. Remember that Every minute thing counts in Final Result. 

13. Follow only 1 Guru or 1 Strategy. Don't keep on switching

Take ample time to design a IAS Preparation Strategy for you. But make sure that once the strategy is finalized, you do not change it till final selection.


14. 1.5 Years Current Affairs is recommended for Prelims (Monthly Magazine + Personal Notes)

Along with Personal Section-Wise notes for Mains examination, you must also refer to monthly Current Affairs compilation so that you do not miss any important current affairs. You can follow Insights IAS or Vision IAS (Any One) for current affairs preparation.

15. Use 10% Rule for Notes Making (GS+Optional+Current Affairs)

Notes are made with the purpose to revise whole topic in vesry less time (at the time of exam). If yo are making extensive notes, you will end up making 2-3 notebooks of notes for each paper which is practically impossible to revise before exam.

So, if you are reading an article of 1000 words, its notes must be between 80-100 words maximum (even less will do!)

16. Before Mains, your whole Notes must be compressed in 100 Pages

Follow the rule of 10% strictly in notes making. Because before prelims and mains examination, we must have a compressed notes (which will explain the topic in minimum words) which can be practically revised before the actual examination in 1-2 hours. 

17. Whatever you are reading, make sure that you could 'REPRODUCE'

We are not here to do PhD in any subject. Our aim is to qualify UPSC IAS Exam in first attempt. So, whenever you are reading from any source, understand the topic in such a way that you could reproduce it in Prelims and Mains Examination (Always keep a end goal in Mind!)

18. Give Your 100% Each Day (Avoid Overthinking)

Divide your “Year Long Preparation Plan” into short term daily targets and stick to it on daily basis. And give your best on day to day basis.

It is said that if you will give your 200% on daily basis, you are answerable to no one.

19. Meditation and Decent Physical Activity is Must

Meditation and regular physical activity (Minimum 10-15 minutes) will keep you mentally and physically fit during your preparation phase. Maintaining mental stability and peace is must if you want to crack UPSC exam in first attempt.

20. Remember that you are already ahead of other college friends who are not preparing (No need to compare)

Don’t compare your life with your friends who are doing job and enjoying their life. Detach from social media and other communication sources to maintain isolation. Remember that you are on a mission to achieve something bigger in your life and impact life of millions of Indians (which they cannot even imagine in their lifetime!)

Also Check: Government Exams After Graduation (Class 1 Posts)

21. Follow Rule of 33% Studying, 33% Revision and 33% Answer Writing

Don’t just focus on studying new topics of IAS Prelims and Mains syllabus. Devote equal time for Revision as well as Mains Answer writing practice. Because studying and writing answers in exam hall is completely different thing. If you want to score good marks in UPSC IAS Mains exam, you must be master at answer writing which can be achieved only with rigorous practice

22. Hard Work Beats Talent when Talent Doesn't Work Hard

Thats 100% true. So, make sure that you hustle during your 1.5 to 2 years of UPSC Preparation (From day 1 to Final day of result!)

(You must be an example of Talent + Hardwork for best result in IAS Exam)

23. "Don't Take Right Decision, Take the Decision and Make it Right"

This is the most important advice which I would like to give you. During your IAS Preparation, you may think that you have taken few wrong decisions. But don’t worry about it. Because even after taking many decisions, you will always think that decision taken by others was good than yours. So, don’t wait for right decision. Take your personal decision based on your circumstances, and prove it right.

We have seen 23+ Tips and tricks to Crack UPSC Exam (IAS Exam) in first attempt. If this detailed guide have helped you in some or the other way, do post your ‘Genuine Reviews’ and ‘Thoughts’ about IAS Exam Preparation. Sarkaari Service will be glad to hear you and clear your A to Z doubts related to clearing IAS Exam.

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